The Playstation and Me: David Jaffe, Part 2

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Catch up on the conversation here: The Playstation and Me: David Jaffe, Part 1.

In this next part of my talk with David Jaffe, he discusses the possibilities that the original Playstation opened up and  the way it changed how the mainstream thinks about gaming. Read on.

So, when Playstation shows up, what did it mean to you then?

Oh yeah. I was there the day the Playstation walked in. And it was like, what is this? What is this thing they’re talking about? I remember they showed us, they gathered us around, and Rich Robinson –who ran the group at the time–showed us a videotape from Japan. The gist was basically, OK, Sony is getting into the console market. And at the time, we were making games for Sega. We were making games for Nintendo. And the idea was like “what?!” It wasn’t even on anybody’s radar–internally, at least–that we’re going to become a first party console creator. And so he showed us the videotape. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic but I felt it: A corner had been turned. It was a watershed moment.

Because, especially as a designer, we had been so used to 2D. And yeah, you’d seen a little bit of 3D in military simulations and certain PC games were doing it. But most gamers’ radar was locked to 2D. And as a designer, it was getting to the point where you couldn’t do much more with it. If you remember at the time, it was ‘94, ‘95, and it was like, everything was sort of an acute mascot character, kind of aping Mario and Sonic. And it was like, how much more of this can we take? We wanted to do what now are such simple things like, “Hey, let’s change the camera for a new perspective so it gives the player a little bit of new gameplay, and a new sense of drama.”You couldn’t do that in 2D. You could, but it became an entirely new huge endeavor on the part of the creators of the game to do that. Suddenly, here we were with 3D, and it was really like being given a little movie set where you could fly your camera around your level and you can cut cameras. I mean, that was a revalation. We were like, “Oh my God!  You can actually go in for a close up. You can change from a side view to an over the shoulder view. Are you crazy?”  I remember Disney had put out this game on the PC called Stunt Island. This was after we had seen the Playstation videotape. It really was having to rewire our brains of how do you make games in 3D. Because they had this game called Stunt Island where you could create your own 3D little landscapes.

And I remember we spent days going, “Well, shit, how do we keep the player from just going wherever they want, whenever they want? And how do we create a game?” So it was all of this new thinking that watching that video kind of created amongst me and my fellow designers at Sony. That was just absolutely amazing! It was in the graphics obviously. The big demo, the famous demo that everybody saw was the dinosaur. Jurassic Park had just come out. They basically had this tech demo where you could kind of rotate around a dinosaur, and I think you could make him growl or snap or whatever. And they was just, holy cow, this is amazing. I think that was the moment. And then the other moment was being at E3, the very first E3 in ‘94, ‘95. It was ‘95 I think. I don’t know if you were at that E3?

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