Possibility Space Founder Gage Galinger on Outsourcing, Procedural Content, and Adventure in Warrior Epic

Gage Galinger talks Warrior EpicSteve recently had a chance to sit down with Possibility Space founder and CEO Gage Galinger to discuss the company’s upcoming free-to-play MMO, Warrior Epic. Topics discussed include the game’s outsourcing of production to China, procedural content, and the micro-transaction model.

Read on for the transcript.

The MMO Gamer: First of all, for those of our readers who may be unfamiliar, could you please introduce yourself to us and tell us about what it is you do at Possibility Space.

Gage Galinger: My name is Gage Galinger and I’m the CEO and founder of Possibility Space. What we are doing at Possibility Space is trying to bring the free-to-play model to Western gaming, and we are building an original IP called Warrior Epic, which will be launching very shortly.

The MMO Gamer: I think that is a very important point to repeat, that Warrior Epic is an original title. I have to admit that when I first saw it, the initial impression was that it was an import title coming out of East Asia.

But, there is a reason for that. Could you talk a little bit about how the game is being developed?

Gage Galinger: Basically, the founders and management of the company all come from the Western game industry. We moved out to China to take advantage of a more efficient labor base so that we could have more creative freedom to do what we wanted to do.

One of those things that we wanted to do was make a free-to-play game that we wanted to make. That wouldn’t have been possible trying to do it from the US, because the funding requirements were too high.

So, while it’s true that most of our development happens in China, the game is original IP, and it is built for a global audience, it’s not the same vein as traditional free to play imports from Korea and China.

The MMO Gamer: Is there a dollar or percent value that you could affixed to how much it would have cost to have developed this game in say North America versus how much it’s costing you now to develop it in China?

Gage Galinger: I can’t give a dollar figure, but I can say that all in, the total budget for Warrior Epic is significantly smaller than anything that it would have taken in the West.

If I had to put a ratio on it, I would say three to four times more expensive to do this in the West than it would have been to how we did it in China, the reason for that is not entirely about labor cost, it’s also about efficiency.

There’s just certain advantages you can take advantage of in a different labor market than in the US, which is a very high overhead of operations cost.

The MMO Gamer: You haven’t experienced any quality control issues with moving operations to China?

Gage Galinger: You definitely have those types of challenges, it’s a give and a take. I’d say the efficiency and productivity of our crew in China is much, much higher than anything I’ve experienced in the West.

But of course there’s a cultural barrier to get over, there’s not so much a language problem.

Gaming is different over there; the hardcore player is more prevalent and more hardcore. So there are some cultural things that you have to get over in the game design, if there has been a challenge, that’s been the challenge.

The MMO Gamer: The game is micro-transaction based, and that’s something that has almost at 100% acceptance in the East, but not so much currently in the West.

During our conversation prior to the interview, you said that you didn’t believe that was something that traditional publishing companies could bring to the mainstream gamer. Why is that?

Gage Galinger: If you look in the game industry, independent studios are the fuel for pretty much all the creativity that goes on. The expectations of a major publisher are quite a bit different in the limitations that a publisher like EA or Activision works under are a completely different set of rules than an independent studio works under.

So, any time you are taking a major chance, it’s going to happen in the independent space. This is the fuel for the publishers, ultimately the publishers come in and they see what worked in the independent space and that’s when they move in, they move in when they know it’s going to work, but the pioneers are always independent.

I think you can look to the mobile space to see that. All the major publishers sat on the sidelines while the early mobile game companies fought it out. Jamdat emerged as the winner, and EA went in and bought Jamdat at any price. That’s pretty much what happens anytime there’s a new business model. The big players sit on the sidelines until the little guys fight it out and establish what works.

The MMO Gamer: Of course there’s always your point that Western titles cost three to four times as much, and there’s a certain hesitancy there to give the game away for free after investing so heavily in it.

Gage Galinger: I think that’s one of the reasons the model hasn’t taken off in the West, yet.

There’s been some early… and honestly I’m surprised to see how quickly people have responded to this. Much quicker than they responded to other paradigm shifts like mobile. Some of the mistakes I think that have been made in the West is that they’ve charged money for things players expected to be free. Or they’ve mixed models, like retail purchase and then item sales.

In a previous generation of the same game like a Tiger Woods golf game, the golf courses would have been something you unlock, in the next version it’s something you pay for, of course the user doesn’t feel good about that.

The free-to play-business, its more than that it’s just free to play, it’s a fundamentally different game design. If you are designing your game to be free-to-play, it’s not something you can retrofit two years into development, you have to designed the game from day one, otherwise it’s going to be hard to make it work.

Continued on next page…

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Comments

  1. Possibility Space Founder Gage Galinger on Outsourcing, Procedural Content, and Adventure in Warrior Epic http://bit.ly/GseHj

  2. Great interview. Do you have a handle on how many developers are outsourcing or looking to outsource some of their content creation to China/India? It seems like a viable solution for smaller studios who want to create large worlds on a small budget.

  3. I don't think I've ever seen hard numbers in that regard, but there's been a "Game Outsourcing Summit" the past two years at GDC, which I always find a little bit odd..

    Almost as if GM were holding a seminar titled "Moving Production Jobs to Mexico to Maximize Shareholder Value," in the middle of a UAW union hall in Detroit.

  4. The MMO Gamer interviewed Possibility Space CEO about design decisions and challenges in developing Warrior Epic: http://bit.ly/FsIhI

  5. The MMO Gamer interviewed Possibility Space CEO about design decisions and challenges in developing Warrior Epic: http://bit.ly/FsIhI

  6. Speranza says:

    "We moved out to China to take advantage of a more efficient labor base so that we could have more creative freedom to do what we wanted to do." That bothers me greatly, more on a non gamer level so I won't discuss it here.

    This new game design of "short time online gaming" is highly appealing to me. As I have gotten older, aka out of high school, I find time a short commodity. First experiencing rewarding quick gameplay in EVE and now seeing it coming up in Warrior Epic, Global Agenda, and others I've very excited about this trend in gaming development.

    Thanks for the cool article Steve.

  7. And it took less than 6 months after "official launch" before PS gave up and sold the game (Warrior Epic). Nice vision Gage! Now maybe the game will get the attention it deserves.

Trackbacks

  1. […] the game and for the beta signup, visit the official website. You can also check out our recent interview with the developers of Warrior Epic, Possibility […]

  2. […] has officially launched. You can find our GDC interview with the founder of Possibility Space here. “During the closed beta, we worked closely with the community to deliver an immersive and […]

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