Developer Pop Quiz is a weekly interview series in which we ask developers from around the industry the same 10 questions and post their responses.
Things could have gone very differently for Capcom Producer Rey Jimenez who, while in college, could have headed down the lucrative career path of a pager salesman. However, with the expert guidance of a friend, he got his foot in the door as a tester, and has worked his way up to Producer at one of the most respected companies in the games industry. Find out more about Mr. Jimenez's gaming past, what he thinks about future of indie games, and feel free to make guesses at which IP that he was psyched to work on got canned in this week's Developer Pop Quiz.
Name: Rey Jimenez
Job Description: To crush you enemies, to see them driven before you…wait, I'm mean manage the schedule, budget, and quality of the titles that I'm working on.
First title worked on: "Mega Man Collections Volume 2"
Most recent title worked on: "Bionic Commando Rearmed 2" and some other secret stuff
What game has most influenced you, and why?
"Street Fighter II." At it's heart, it's a simple game... beat on one opponent until dead. As long as you're playing a good one, they are enjoyable on almost any skill level, but have incredible depth to them. If you're so inclined, one can really dissect them and become very good through practice and understanding of what’s going on in the game and with your opponent. Almost like reverse designing a game.
What are you playing right now?
"CCCC-razy Taxi" on XBLA. Man, I love that game. So simple, but engaging and compelling. I used to play that on my DC constantly, but I'm loving not having to use that UFO of a controller. I really miss the old Offspring and Bad Religion tracks though. The new ones just aren't doing it for me. I guess I could always use a custom soundtrack, but I haven't really taken advantage of a lot of the new fangled features of the current gen systems. For more current games, I'm also working through "Enslaved" by Ninja Theory. I'm enjoying the story presentation a lot.
What was your first break in the games industry?
During my college years I was piddling away working at a mall kiosk selling cellphones and pagers (HA!) and one of my co-workers got hooked up with a job testing at Namco. I was pretty intrigued at the concept of being game tester and he was able to get me a job there too. Until that point, I never entertained the idea of working in the game industry, it was just something liked to do. Heck, I don't even know if I knew that testing games was a job. You'd think that with all of the game developers in the area where I live, I would've been more in tune. After a short stint there, I went to Capcom and have been here ever since.
What's the best advice you've ever gotten?
Don’t be afraid to ruin the mood of a meeting in order to get a point across.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Past successes. That doesn't mean copying what's been done before, but finding the key points of successful past titles that are applicable to what I'm working on and incorporating and innovating on those ideas. That goes from game content to production work.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned about game development?
Ideas are a dime a dozen and don't mean too much on paper. It's the execution that makes or breaks an idea. The best idea can be a giant turd if not executed well. Vice versa, the worst idea in the world can be a success if executed well. So making games is very much a team task on multiple levels. A great game designer can't do much without great artists, engineers, and producers. This is applicable on the micro and macro levels of the game development process.
What has been the low point of your career?
The regrettable, but necessary (and for the best in the end), decisions to cancel some projects that I was extremely excited to be working on. Kinda goes with the last question above. They were great ideas and for an IP I'm incredibly stoked about, but if the execution isn't working for whatever reason (and that list can be humongous). It's better to cut our losses and move on. I'm hoping we'll be revisiting those concepts again. Man, if you guys knew some of the things I know...
What do you think is the biggest problem current games suffer from?
Trying to be too much. I would rather a game do a few things extremely well, rather than do too much at a lower quality level. With today's tech, gamers want games to be this giant mass of content. I think it causes games to lose their focus and with finite resources, something is going to go down in quality to compensate.
What is the most important thing that has happened to gaming in the last 10 years?
The rise of indie gaming. Goes along with the last question also. Small indie developers have extremely limited resources, so the titles that they create have to be focused on a few key gameplay elements and attempt to do them as well as possible. Their success also shows that a good game doesn't have to be the cutting edge of graphic technology in order to be excellent. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against big budget and bright and shiny games at all. I love games of all production scopes. I just think indie games are focused on the heart of why we game and my hope is that these guys get to prove themselves and work on bigger projects and work their ideas and philosophies into more mainstream games.
Where do you see gaming in 5 years?
Increased trending to digital delivery for console games and not just for XBLA/PSN titles. This is pretty much the norm for PC games and there's no reason that it can't/shouldn't happened for console games. There's the attachment to having the physical goods, but I think that will go. As large hard drive space becomes cheaper for the consumer to have on their console and internet connections for users becomes better (speeds and install base), it should become a bigger part of console gaming. This is a win for gamers too. Not having to pay for the manufacturing of discs and manuals means that more can be diverted to game content.