Having quitted his very own Naughty Dog a few years ago (2004), Jason Rubin has quietly disappeared from the videogames industry radars. But what has the creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter (and Way of the Warrior) been on lately? Comics. And a weird internet mash up tool that now is part of the MySpace family. Well… what about videogames? Find out reading this short and peace-inspiring interview with the man itself. Enjoy. 🙂
Zave: Are you working on the Iron Saint game or some other videogaming projects?
Jason Rubin: I am not currently working on an Iron Saint video game, though obviously the thought has crossed my mind. Right now I am focused on bringing out the trade paperback, foreign sales, and digital distribution for the series. I am extremely optimistic about digital comics. I think the social networking and crowd knowledge advantages, as well as the ease of purchase and other improvements could lead to an upswing in the comics business.
I am always working on something, and I focus on games, comics and the Internet. I have a couple of other projects underway right now, including a comic series called Mysterious Ways (www.mysteriouswayscomic.com) and some gaming projects, but unfortunately you caught me before I can talk about any of them.
How do you feel having quit one of the greatest development team in the industry? How did you manage to start from scratch once again?
Jason Rubin: I have no regrets. I needed to explore other things and I got that chance.
I agree that Naughty Dog is one of the best in the business and I congratulate them on their success. I was there to applaud their AIAS Game of the Year award in Las Vegas this month and I couldn’t be happier for them.
I did start another company from scratch. It was called Flektor, and it was an Internet media mashup tool. Eventually we sold it to Fox/MySpace and they integrated the technology into MySpace.
I have been able to work with ex-Naughty Dogs at every new company and with every new project since I left the company. For example, much of the core programming team at Flektor was ex-Naughty Dogs, and Dreamhive, the company that rendered the Iron Saint 3d movie test, had ex-Naughty Dogs on it. So I get to keep working with ex-Naughty Dogs, and I keep in contact with those that are still at Naughty Dog.
When you left Naughty Dog, was this the “path” you foresaw for you career or has something changed in the way?
Jason Rubin: When I left Naughty Dog I had no career path planned. I just knew that I needed to take time off and rest, and that I wanted to try a lot of different things, not just games.
To put it in perspective, even ignoring the pre-Crash games, I spent twice as much time without a vacation, a full 10 years, between Crash Bandicoot and Jak 3 as I have spent doing other things since! I know it seems like a long time since I left, but it was much longer that I was working on those projects. And I am only 40. I have 25+ years of work ahead of me!
When you quitted Naughty Dog, rumors circulated about you joining Nintendo: was any of those rumors real?
Jason Rubin: I have never spoken to Nintendo about video game projects. There is no reason for this, because I love Nintendo and their games, but for whatever reason I have never done so. I’m afraid that was just a rumor. Again, I wanted time off after Naughty Dog. I wasn’t talking with anybody about work.
Lately you spoke about the Jak & Daxter games, specifically how, introducing a deeper narrative element, the team could create a better game, something that eventually lead your ex-team to create a cinematic masterpiece as Uncharted. As a platform games lover, I think that the genre didn’t need any elements that could only water down the core mechanics of the game. Would you like to insult me?
Jason Rubin: The classic platformer is indeed a great game style, and it is pure. I can see why you would love it. But at the same time, I think the Uncharted titles speak for themselves. They are also great entertainment. As a gamer myself, I loved the mixture of story and action.
Your career in the games industry have been portrayed by the creation of successful characters, so your transition in the world of comics sounds to me natural. Do you have a new character for a new videogame that you keep thinking’ about?
Jason Rubin: I have far more ideas than I have time to bring them to life. I saw Star Wars in the theatre in1977 (I was 7) and it blew me away. I started making games to “create worlds” like George Lucas had for Star Wars. That still makes me happier than anything else in life. I feel very lucky to have had a chance to do it as a career.
Did the world really need a bandicoot?
Jason Rubin: Did the world NEED Crash Bandicoot? Probably not. But Crash made a lot of people happy, and I think the world does need more happiness. I wish I could create world peace, but I can’t, so maybe by creating something that brought joy, and which was sold in over 100 countries around the world, I contributed in a very very small way to something good.
Last question and then it will be all over: which will be the best videogame of 2010?
Jason Rubin: There are two problems for me on answering this question. The first is that I don’t believe there is a perfect video game for everyone. The video game industry (through the AIAS) recognized the incredible effort, breakthrough gameplay, and polish that went into Uncharted 2. And thus gave it the Game of the Year from the industry’s perspective. I think that’s fair. But to say that any game is the best for gamers is impossible, so I wouldn’t try.
The second problem is that you can’t predict how a game will play. Good ideas can be ruined if done wrong and average ideas can be addictive if done right. So I’ll play as many as I can this year and see what I like. I encourage everyone to do the same.