Talking to the founding fathers of Radar Group
With a tag line like “Welcome to RADAR. Original thinking at work.” on their website you might think that Radar Group was full of it. Fortunately Radar Group wants you to think they’re full of it, full of ideas that is. Their a new kind of video game company that will attempt to revolutionize the way video games are made and the way their made into different media like television shows or movies.
“We’re something our industry desperately needs,” says Scott Miller, Radar’s Chief Creative Officer. “Radar is teaming up with many of the industry’s top independent studios to help them create original IP in which they own a substantial ownership stake. Why is this important? Because in today’s industry it’s nearly impossible, unless you’re Epic or Valve, to create original games and not give away full IP ownership to the publisher. Radar believes that creators should share ownership, and all of the long-term benefits that come from that.” (First Official Press Release, March 2008)
With a few interviews and only one press release there aren’t very many details about the inner workings of Radar Group. To wet my curious appetite and to give readers a special look into the company I asked a few questions and got back responses from three of the most creative guys working for Radar; Scott Miller Chief Creative Officer, Raphael van Lierop Executive Creative Director, and Will Kerslake Creative Director.
What Inspired you to join/found Radar group?
Scott Miller, Chief Creative Officer - There is a giant opportunity within our industry to help indie studios create original IP in which they, co-own, which for indie studios in the Holy Grail that's nearly impossible to reach. Radar will help many studios achieve creative and financial independence, so that our industry is more populated with Valve's, Epic's and Remedy's.
Raphael van Lierop, Executive Creative Director - We founded Radar on the premise that original game IP developed by strong independent studios is at the heart of the game industry’s creative engine. Our goal is to ensure that talented developers can gain the opportunity to create successful games and new brands at the same time, and reap significant rewards for their efforts. This is a very different reality to what most independent studios currently face, where they often end up stuck in a cycle of work-for-hire projects based on ‘safe’ licensed properties, mostly coming from outside the game industry itself.
For me personally, I am passionate about creating excellent games and working with the most talented people in the industry. I’m also always trying to learn more and improve my skills, and Radar gives me the opportunity not only to play a role in guiding the creation of multiple new game properties, but also to work with several talented partners on both the developer and publisher sides. I’m definitely learning a lot, and quickly.
Will Kerslake, Creative Director - From a creative aspect, working for a company focused on original IP has a massive amount of appeal. There is a lot of pressure out there to make safer licensed titles, which is unfortunate as all the really big games in our industry, outside of sports titles, have all been original IPs.
I was also drawn to the company structure. By working collaboratively with other developers we can keep the core team small. Radar can maintain the flexibility of a smaller company to respond to changes in the industry, while then working with our development partners to create both the high quality and scale of content that gamers now expect.
The shared ownership of the IP with the developer is another big part. Having co-founded a small studio earlier in my career it’s incredibly difficult to spend years working on a title only to give it all away to the publisher at the end of the day. Knowing that they share in the IP when it’s completed gives our developer partners a massive incentive to put together the best game possible.Where do you see Radar Group and the Electronic Gaming Industry in 5 years?
Will Kerslake - A massive amount can happen in five years in this industry. The last five years have seen an explosion in innovation of the player interface, changing how we think about interacting with games. We’ve got the Wii controller, touch screens and living rooms filled with guitars and drum kits. The next five years will likely bring along some other big innovation we can’t predict yet. That’s a big reason that I like Radar’s smaller structure and collaborative approach. It will allow us to rapidly adapt to changes in the industry as well as spot and incubate independent teams with innovative concepts.
Raphael van Lierop - In 5 years, I hope we will have firmly established ourselves as the premiere creative partner for developers and publishers in the game industry. I also believe that we will have proven our cross-media approach to IP development can be successful, as we see multiple Radar co-creations find new life, and thrive, in other media.
Scott Miller - In five years this industry needs to grow a sack and stop retailers from reselling games, at least with 2-3 months of a game's initial release. Resells are hurting everyone except Gamestop. Gamers might think they're benefiting too, but only on the short run. In the long run, developers are losing so much in revenues that they cannot build up the reserves needed for creative and financial independence.
How have you learned from your experience in the electronic games industry and how are you applying those experiences to managing/working for Radar Group?
Raphael van Lierop - At Relic Entertainment, I worked as all levels of producer and learned a huge amount about game development, project planning and organization, and team leadership. These skills were invaluable to my work as creative director at 3D Realms, where I took on a more creative-focused role in collaborating with Recoil Games in the creation of Earth No More. At Radar, I am able to utilize my combined production and creative direction experience in supporting our development partners in the creation of their games, as well as to build infrastructure internally at Radar so that we can provide value in terms of the creative guidance and experience we can bring to our studio partners. Game development is a complex effort with a huge amount of moving pieces – being able to see and manage the needs and demands of partners on all sides of the equation is a pivotal part of successfully bridging the gaps in the traditional developer/publisher relationship.
Given the opportunity to create a game about your life what category would it fall under (shooter, rpg, adventure, sim, puzzle, strategy)?
Raphael van Lierop - It would be a shooter. It would feature a scientist…a physicist probably…with glasses. He shows up to work one day, and somehow – through no fault of his own of course – causes an inter-dimensional rift in space/time that allows aliens to invade our plane of existence. And all I would have to fight them was a lousy crowbar.
Will Kerslake - Umm… Microsoft Office. I spend an average day spending 8-12 hours staring at Word, Excel, or some Wiki page. I can’t imagine anyone would actually want to play that.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I'm 23 year old college student who is so into gaming he likes to write about it. Ever the conscientious gamer I only buy games based on personal experience, reviews, and price. I know how important sites like Gaming Nexus are when trying to reach an informed decision. I was burned at an early age when I purchased Superman 64 the day it came out. Since then I've collected a growing stack of magazines and URLs and am now happy to give back to the media that has saved me from such awful titles like Aquaman and Turok: Evolution. Look for my wit (or lack there of) to grace your web browser in the form of news posts, reviews, and other interesting articles. I enjoy music rhythm games (guitar hero, rock band), FPS, RPG, racing games, Fighting , RTS, and just about any other genre or genre defying game. However sports titles do tend to bore me. Unless you count Skate. Skate is amazing.
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