Abbie Heppe outlines the beginning days of Respawn Entertainment.
Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall is now out and about, and going great guns both commercially and critically. Community Manager Abbie Heppe recently spoke to OXM about the various pressures of starting out, along with how comfortable the team was during development.
“Well, the guys had come from Infinity Ward, and they made a deal with EA after that all happened that we would own our own IP. I don’t know the monetary terms of the contract. And then we had to do vetting for an engine, and we had an office that was more than folding chairs and people sitting around on iPads, although that was a little before I got there.”
Heppe also says that due to being independent from EA, there was a very strong drive to bring something out soon. “And then there was a lot of arguing about what the game should be and where we were going with it. But it wasn’t like in ten years maybe we’ll put together a game, it was a very driven [experience] – we need to make something as a studio, we’re independent, we’re not owned by EA, we need to step on it. But also there were a lot of expectations about where the team had come from. There was a lawsuit that happened during it, which was insane – that’s a stressful thing when you’re already stressed about living up to the expectations that are upon us.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves so I guess that’s sort of moot. Looking back on it, having gotten to the point when the game is out, is a surreal experience. I start to remember when those things happened and it feels like so long ago. It really – I think the size of our team helped even though we can’t do some of the things that larger studios can do just because we don’t have the hours of human labour – we’re small, we can communicate with each other easily, everyone sits together and there’s a lot of collaboration. The passion of the team carried through a lot of the harder parts.”
The overall structure of Respawn is also fairly simple. All team members coordinate with each other and welcome suggestions while co-founder and CEO Vince Zampella was always approachable. What about people labeling Titanfall as a “Call of Duty killer”?
“We don’t pay any attention to it, honestly. Well, that’s not fair – we work in the video game industry, we’re not blind. But we don’t really – we’re just doing our own thing. People just want to focus on Titanfall, we don’t want to make someone else’s game. It’ll be interesting to see what influence Titanfall has on shooters, and if it makes any lasting contributions to the genre, I think that’s really cool, but we don’t do anything like – it’s not like keeping up with the Joneses!”
Titanfall is still to release on the Xbox 360 – it was recently delayed to April 8th in North America and April 11th in Europe.