Stuart Black Leaves City Interactive, Goes Solo
File this under ‘news that only half makes sense’. Veteran developer Stuart Black – creator of gun-porn shooter Black, and the original lead on the disappointing Bodycount – has left his position with City interactive after just 2 years. Black joined City Interactive in 2010 after his abrupt departure from Codemasters. How abrupt? I had a lengthy and fun conversation with him at E3 2010 during my hands on with the Bodycount demo during which he made Bodycount sound like his passion project. That was in early June. He announced he was quitting Codemasters in July.
Black never commented on his decision to quit Codemasters, but evidence suggests he did so over what appeared to be a disagreement about the direction of Bodycount. He is, however, talking about his decision to leave City Interactive, and it sounds like he experienced some of the same problems. Recently he was removed as creative lead for his first project with CI, a WW2 game called Enemy Front. This was apparently the last straw for him. “All I care about is making games,” he told GI. “I really just want to make a really f***ing cool game. I really don’t care about any of the other stuff, the politicking or whatever is involved when you get in any large group of people.”
Politicking? Hmmm. “And I kind of felt,” he said about having been made redundant (IE let go from the project), “regardless of how they framed it as ‘we’re making you redundant because of strategic and financial reasons’ it’s inevitable, I would do the same, that people are going to think ‘he f***ed that up.’ The only reason you get rid of your creative director halfway through is because they f***ed up in some significant way. So I kind of felt I looked really bad, my credibility is really going to take a hit from this when people start hearing about this and I just felt like I’ve got everything to prove. And it just comes down to making a game, so let’s just make a f***ing game.”
If I had to guess, Black didn’t get along with his employers. That’s not a bad thing; I talked to him for almost an hour and wanted to make him my new best friend. He has strong opinions and a bleak sense of humor informed by writers like Grant Morrison, and I wouldn’t be shocked if that isn’t what his bosses want to see in a game. He might also just not like being micromanaged. Either way, he’s not looking for a new corporate home, instead, he’s going it alone. He plans to work on an iPhone game, and then a proper console/PC game using the Unreal engine. Of course, ‘plans’, and ‘will’ are two different things. Right now, he doesn’t have anything setup.
I’m talking to a few people, I’ve got a couple of threads on the go at the moment. I’m looking at doing something on the iPhone, the iPad, with some chaps at Leading Light, a concept company based here in Guildford. And there’s something I want to do on the PC, through Steam possibly. I’ve been messing around with the Unreal engine so I’m looking at doing something there as well with that. That’s something that’s a little bit longer term, something we can maybe build a bit of a franchise base around and do. I’m very interested in episodic content, and looking at different ways of how we make content.”
Here’s hoping he does indeed get this off the ground. There’s a great game in this guy. I want to see him make it.