Monday, July 2, 2012

Seth Killian joins Sony's Santa Monica Studio

We previously mentioned on our blog that Seth Killian left Capcom and his position as the Community Manager and Special Combat Advisor. Since then, people wondered what was next for Seth Killian. Well, today Seth announced that he has joined Sony as the lead game designer for the external group at the Santa Monica Studio which means he will be involved with the development of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Seth explains in his PlayStation.Blog post:
"Fighting games are very close to my heart, and as someone that’s spent much of my life with traditional fighters, All-Stars has been a great opportunity to take a step back and rethink fighting fundamentals from the ground up. The entire team was put together from scratch to create this game, and they are loaded with fighting game superstars (including some impressive tournament credentials–I’m not even the first EVO finalist to join the team!) who love great combat just as much as I do."
Seth then goes and talks about PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
"All-Stars is also a total love-letter to Sony fans. From the characters, to their special moves, to the incredible level 3 supers, and the stages themselves, I’m not sure there’s ever been such a giant dose of fan-service in Sony history. Beyond great character designs or all the ingenious little ideas that make combat feel great, the real test of a great game to me is that “just *one* more game!” feeling. If it’s 3am and you have to work the next day, but you’ve still got the urge to play again, you know you’re doing something right. You only have to walk through SuperBot’s studio and see all the staff being scolded to stop playing their own game and get back to work to know that they’ve really got something special cooking."

After the announcement, Seth sat down with different gaming websites to answer their questions. Seth had a lot to say. In an interview with Gamespot, Seth Killian was asked "What prompted your decision to leave Capcom?"
"Capcom was (and is) very close to my heart. The teams there have been extremely gracious with me, and showed a great deal of trust in me to work on the fighting titles specifically. Towards the end of my time, that trust extended to titles even outside of the fighting genre, but to focus purely on the design side at Capcom would have required that I move to Japan full time, which wasn't a path for me (also, my Japanese is really, really bad)."
Seth also touches up on what makes All-Stars more than just a Smash Bros. clone when asked, "Who do you see as the greatest competition for Sony PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal?"
"Frankly, it's greatest competition is itself. There's inspiration from games like Smash Bros. and Marvel vs. Capcom, but it's a fundamentally different kind of experience. The core is definitely there, and it's got that infectiously fun quality that makes you want to play again immediately after a match ends (I haven't mashed so hard on the countdown timer since SF2!), so I think its success will come down to people giving it a chance to win their hearts.
You would obviously be missing out on a lot if you dismissed, say, a King of Fighters or a Mortal Kombat as "just Street Fighter with some different stuff," so I'm hopeful that people will take a second to really understand all the amazing stuff the SuperBot team has poured into All-Stars so far. It's got a fundamentally different approach to the genre in some respects, but one that creates a ton of interesting situations and new ways to think."
I found Seth's interview with The Verge the most informative and you really get an idea of why Sony hired him for their projects. Here are some of the most interesting tidbits from the article:
 "I am intensely interested in balance," Killian said, "but to do it right means taking time to try and understand not just a few characters, but the whole ecosystem of All-Stars, which takes some time. That said, the target is definitely to make it withstand and even shine under serious competitive pressure. It's a fun game that you can just mash around in with friends, but the SuperBot team includes a lot of stone-cold fighting game killers who want to build something they enjoy too, and you only have to look around the office to find them all playing for fun and smiling."
"Taking what people think of as a 'fun' or 'party' genre and sticking a bunch of extremely technical and smart players on the project has this amazing result – a game on very serious underpinnings with a zany fan-service wrapper. It ends up being something total noobs can have fun with while also rewarding smart players and clever mind reading. The noob won't beat the good player, but the weirdest thing about All-Stars is that I have fun even when I'm getting owned. Usually when I get creamed in a fighter, I get kind of depressed, or feel helpless, or maybe even angry."
Seth also talks about the fighting game genre in general and how it might just collapse under its own weight.
 "I think it's a very interesting time [for fighting games]," Killian says. "The market is crowded – not because there [are] so many fighters relative to other games, but because most fighters tend to require such a large time investment from their players. If the games are very hard to learn, but also need that time investment to shine, they have to compete with each other or even cannibalize their own player bases from previous installments. That fragments the player base across titles, and the fewer players playing any particular game mean that your skills (that investment) are less admired or valuable. That's a dangerous time for the genre, because it risks collapsing under its own weight – if you're the best at something nobody really plays, why bother?"
Seth Killian is a smart man so it's been a smart move to have him work with some of Sony's best in the industry. Like in all forms of entertainment, it's a huge gamble. Here's hoping everything works out for the guy that practically revitalized Street Fighter.

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