Last time, I posted the first part of the JPS studio mission. That covered our reason for being and our Primary Values:
- Player-driven narrative
- Quality gameplay and quality presentation
- Collaborative company culture
A couple of folks commented that those Primary Values seemed surprisingly Profit and/or Business oriented, rather than Art oriented. I’m going to have to come back to that some time, in a later post, but before that, I want to talk about the Junction Point “Secondary Values .” These support the Primaries (obviously) and, if you were surprised at how conscious we were about Business before, fasten your seatbelts. The studio’s Secondary Values are
- Innovation (all right–one for the Art crowd!)
- Partnership (huh?)
- Profitability (uh oh…)
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
For some developers, it may be enough to refine and polish. We strive for something different, something more—we want to change things.
As an adjunct to “Quality,” and as a natural outgrowth of the value we place on player empowerment, all Junction Point Studios games showcase some feature or combination of features players have never seen before. Each game advances the state of the art in some demonstrable way.
In a business crowded with sequels and “me-too” product, however professionally presented and packaged, we believe the marketplace demands—players demand—novelty in setting, in tone, in graphical style and/or, best of all, in gameplay (notably, for us, the areas of player expression, player experimentation, player choice and obvious, significant consequences). Note that none of this precludes working on sequels, licenses or collaborating with others in the creation of characters, worlds, stories or anything else.
From a practical standpoint, this secondary value leads to questions like “Does this game advance the state of the art in any demonstrable way?” and “Is there an approach to this problem or a way to implement this game system that will be new to players while remaining true to our primary values?”
Though our internal corporate culture is our primary concern, the business of game development is increasingly one of cooperation and collaboration with groups outside the “home office.” We work, more and more, with individual contractors, outside companies that create assets for us and, of course, funding and publishing partners.
We treat these external resources as much like internal team members as we can—with the same respect and honesty with which we treat each other. In particular, we work closely and openly with publisher representatives in Development, Testing. Marketing, PR and Sales to provide them the information and materials they need to do their jobs as effectively as possible—they’re part of the team, too.
From a practical standpoint, this secondary value leads to questions like, “If I had to promote this game, what would I want and can I help deliver that?” or “If I were a tester, would I have the tools I need to help find bugs that will compromise our other values?” or “If I were a contractor, would I feel like part of the Junction Point Studios team?”
Our goal is to create high quality, innovative games, but to do so, we must generate sufficient revenue to sustain a viable business. We must, in other words, remain profitable.
In part, we achieve this through a focus on quality. In addition, we achieve this by making our games as accessible to as many players as we possibly can. We strive to reach an ever larger portion of the growing game audience. And we maximize potential sales by giving our publisher the tools to do the best job possible of marketing our work.
(Note: If you’re a publisher or other potential funding partner, you might want to stop reading here or, at least, skip the next paragraph.)
However, it’s important to note that we do not believe that the only question—or even the most valid question—one can ask about a game concept, or a finished product, is “Will this game generate maximum profit?” Profit, yes, absolutely, but the desire to make money may be tempered, at times, by our other values, as outlined here.
From a practical standpoint, this secondary value leads to questions like, “Is there a way to save money on this aspect of development without compromising our other values?” or “Is there a way to increase the revenue-generating potential of this game without increasing cost or risk?”
To achieve our goals, we must live up to three implicit “contracts”:
- We have a contract with each other requiring that we work together to the highest possible standards and with utmost respect. We strive to satisfy our individual and collective creative desires, to advance the state of the art in gameplay and to help our teammates grow as people and as professionals. Collaboration and the unfettered exchange of ideas are paramount.
- We have a contract with players requiring that we offer them maximum entertainment value. We embrace players as collaborators in the creative process—as much the authors of their own, unique gameplay experience as we are. Our games provide tools to encourage their creativity and active participation in the story. We never lose sight of the fact that our players are as smart and demanding as we are.
- We have a contract with our publishers requiring that we work to remain solidly in the black. Our decisions may not always result in maximum return on investment but we will always make enough money that our publishers will, without hesitation, continue funding our efforts.
So there you have it. The full version of the JPS mission statement—the one I probably should have kept to myself. Let me know what you think. Am I crazy? Does this sound like a reasonable set of values? Does JPS sound like a cool place to you? Talk to me, people!