[Interview] Dana Jan, Game Director at Ready at Dawn

We sat down with God of War: Ghost of Sparta's game director to talk about his career, the future of Ready at Dawn, the PSP2, Kevin Butler, motion controls, 3D, and, of course, Ready at Dawn's upcoming game.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: October 30, 2010
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TPS: Can you tell me what happened in '08 when you guys packed up all your PSP dev kits?

DJ: Yeah, that was a mistake. Somebody shipped those back. Those were supposed to be t-shirts that didn't come out right. Just kidding! No, I mean... It's funny. Yeah a few people asked about that. We thought we weren't going to make anymore PSP games. That's the truth. We actually put them in boxes and we were done with them. You don't own the dev kits. Sony leases them to you or something I think that's how that works. So to not be making a PSP game and to have dev kits sitting around the office costs money. And they have other developers that are going to need them if they're making games. Because there's only so many of them out there. And we happen to be one of the biggest PSP developers, or maybe the biggest PSP developer, so we had one at every person's desk. Like literally the whole office had one per station. I think, anyway. We were like, "Okay, cool. We've made two really good games on the PSP and we'd like to kind of stretch our wings, so to speak, and try some other stuff. We didn't, right away, have another God of War game lined up. We weren't going to make one. And there was no plans from Sony to make one. So we're like, okay, this might be our chance to go strike out and try some different stuff.

And so we looked around and Chains of Olympus came out and started doing really well. And then we got into talks again about making another God of War game. And there was some negotiating that goes back and forth and they asked us how we felt about it. It turned out, if anybody else was going to make another one for these and try to outdo Chains of Olympus... it probably made sense for it to be us again. I think we probably, at the time, had the most experience on the system in terms of making an action/adventure game. We proved that in a short amount of time we could make Chains of Olympus and it turn out to be the success story that it is.

I think they figured it was the smartest thing not to go through another headache with somebody else trying to go through everything the same thing we did on the first game. To make a better God of War with us was just the smarter thing. We felt we could make a better game still. Which was not easy. It's definitely hard because it's a difficult game to make. It's packed with a lot of gameplay. It's very diverse. Everything's fresh and new every few minutes so you have to make new stuff. So to do it in a short amount of time, about the same amount of time as we spent on Chains of Olympus, to make more game, better game, and bigger game all at the same time is difficult.

So we got the dev kits back. They went off, we'd taken a picture of it and I don't think we'll ever take a picture of that again. We joked that at the end of this game we should take the same picture again. Just line them all up and take another picture. Be like, "This time for real!" So you guys have something to ask us about when they come back again. They came back. We thought we were done at the time. That's pretty much it.

TPS: So it wasn't because Sony sent you new PSP2 dev kits?

DJ: No. No...No. It's literally... the same boxes actually came back. A lot of them were the same serial numbers as we had before. So we were like, "Oh!" You open up the box and you're like, "Oh, I remember you Debra. Hey there Tommy." It's like your kids - they come out of a box. Yeah... it's just like that.

TPS: So you don't have the PSP2 yet?

DJ: No. We're actually on the PSP3 now. [Laughs] I know you guys are stuck on trying to "pimp out" information about this supposed PSP2.

TPS: One of those devs... didn't they...? I think a Mortal Kombat dev or someone, said that they have one?

DJ: I don't know. I've heard all sorts of rumors about that thing. Let's put it this way-...

EL: I've seen what you've seen in terms of-
DJ: I haven't seen it either.

EL: Some...producer? Maybe?

DJ: Did they show a picture? Because that's what I want to know.

EL: It was literally just part of a quote.

DJ: Ever since the awesome iPhone 4 Gizmodo thing I'm all about people releasing pictures of hardware before it's done. That's what makes it real.
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