Denis Dyack loves his games with an undeniable passion.
As "Too Human" nears its August release date, Dyack has stepped up his media presence and brought "Too Human" to the conversational forefront.
You may have heard about his "Too Human" post on popular gaming forum NeoGAF, where he called out his own community and asked them to pick a side -- for or against.
Last year at E3, I asked former Microsoft Game Studios head Shane Kim (who's since been promoted) what he thought of Dyack's unconventional public relations methods. This year, I had an opportunity to ask the new head of MGS, Phil Spencer, the same question. "Too Human" isn't far off.
I wanted to know what he thought about Dyack's recent comments to the public.
"I've never tried to shut down someone's passion for a game," he told me and a crowd of journalists at lunch yesterday. "I think that's part of what ["Too Human"] is about."
"I look at the passion that Denis shows around Too Human as critical to what Too Human is and what Silicon Knights is," said Spencer. "He [Denis] tell us when he's going to have certain discussions and gives us a head up on what those discussions are. It is his company, he is the spokesperson for that company, [and] he realizes we have a strong developer-publisher relationship."
Shane Kim told me something not similar last year. "We don't own Silicon Knights, so he's not an employee and I don't tell him what to do," said Kim. "I respect developers who are passionate about what they do and some developers take different approaches to stuff like that. Denis happens to be a guy who wants to get engaged with the community and say "hey, this is why this is" and so forth."
Spencer is well aware of the NeoGAF entry. In the post, Dyack asked message board members to declare their support (or lack thereof) for the game, and made a bet with the users regarding the Metacritic score. It's not exactly common for a developer to put their community on the spot like that.
Dyack did give Spencer and his team at MGS a heads up before he published his thoughts -- but Spencer made clear it wasn't Microsoft's call on whether it was published. Microsoft never even looked at the post before it appeared online.
"I know the post well," he joked. "In some ways, I applaud [him pointing out the lack of] accountability systems that's in place in some of the forums; it' something that he was trying to bring to the forefront and really just spark some conversation. I think he's done that. [group laughter] I actually think in a positive way. There is this anonymity that's involved in forums and who people are and if you listen to what he says on that, I think there's a lot of valid points in the discussion that he makes there."
No matter the reaction to Dyack's latest public musings about "Too Human," Spencer denies it has altered Microsoft's relationship with Dyack, Silicon Knights or the future of the "Too Human" franchise.
"I think our relationship remains strong, absolutely," he said.