Interviews

Crackdown 2

Ruffian on switching studios, DLC and Halo betas

The sequel to perhaps the biggest sleeper hit on Xbox 360, Crackdown, arrives in the shops next month.

Ahead of the sequel's release we caught up with Ruffian Games producer, James Cope to talk switching studios, ambitious DLC plans and missing the Halo Reach beta.

How have you found working on Crackdown 2 with all the hassle of forming a new studio and team going on in the background?

It hasn't gone entirely smoothly. We've had to learn very quickly. I'm very, very proud of what we've had to do in such a short space of time. We've been lucky but it's also been down to insanely hard work from our team; they've worked themselves ragged. I'm seriously worried about their state of health. We've worked hard and we've got a game that we're now proud of.

The fact that we exist is down to luck and the desire and passion that we have to create videogames. We're very thankful for the opportunities that we've had. It's been a combination of luck, opportunity and really hard work and hopefully it's a benefit to the gamers who get to see the game that they wanted some time ago.

How exactly did Ruffian end up with Crackdown after Realtime Worlds made the first game?

I can't tell you anything from Realtime's perspective - I wasn't party to any of that discussion - but what I can say from our perspective is that we exist because we're video game developers and we're video game players and it's our dream to have our own studio and make the games we want to make.

Thanks to some people like Garry Liddon and Gareth Noyce who saw an opportunity to start working under their own studio moniker we were able to do that. There's a long history to it and it's all down to those guys and their company called Xen, who were a contract services company some time back.

They were working very closely with Microsoft and we used to go in as a sort of commando team to help game projects that were in trouble. We've worked on some great titles for Microsoft. You always get to that point in any game, where you need man power - and that's what we used to do.

So we had that longterm relationship with Microsoft anyway and that's how we were involved in Crackdown. That's how we felt there was an opportunity there one day to make our own studio. We were very lucky to do that and we were lucky to get to work on Crackdown 2.

I think the benefits for everyone are clear; we get to play great games from Realtime and we get to play great games from Ruffian. There's no animosity there at all; we're still in contact and we like what each other's doing.

What was the motivation for those senior Crackdown team members to leave and join Ruffian? Why did they decide to do that?

Because they wanted to make console games. That was it really. We believe passionately in core video game experiences and that's what we wanted to make. Some people felt that for want of better words they weren't able to do that elsewhere. And I'm not saying that's just a Realtime thing; that was a period in the industry where studios like Midway were shutting down - we tried to get a bunch of designers from them.

Ruffian again - coming back to this thing of luck and opportunity - was set up at a time in the British games industry when it was seriously concerning for people. Studios were closing - Free Radical had gone down - and all that sort of stuff. We saw this as a great time to bring people together who wanted to make core games.

Some would say that sounds like a BAD time to set up an independent games studio...

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