Eat Sleep Play | Buzz Blog

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eat Sleep Play

Posted By on December 26, 2008, 10:02 AM

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When you think video game companies, California and Japan tend to be the two places you think of location wise. But did you know there are quite a few here in Utah?

--- Eat Sleep Play started up in March 2007 by Incognito head Scott Campbell and “God Of War” designer David Jaffe, giving a new home to the “Twisted Metal” series, and another company working with Sony to put out games exclusive to the PS3. I got a chance to visit their downtown SLC offices for some pictures and chat with Scott Campbell about his time in gaming, starting the company, where they're headed and a few other topics that came up. I also sent questions to the out-of-town Jaffe but he declined to respond.

Scott Campbell

Gavin: Hey Scott, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Scott: I was born and raised in Seattle, WA and graduated from Seattle University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering - (yes, I am way off the "beaten path".) I worked as an engineer for a few years and then got involved with hi-res 3D graphics at Evans & Sutherland here in Utah.  After about 8 years with E&S I went to a start-up company called Singletrac to make Playstation video games for Sony - this is when David Jaffe and I first started working together on the “Twisted Metal” series (other Playstation games included, “JetMoto”, “Warhawk”, “Rogue Trip”).  In 1999, I started Incognito Entertainment with a core group of talented developers from Singletrac.  We made a bunch of games including; “Twisted Metal Black” (with Mr. Jaffe), “War of the Monsters”, “Downhill Domination”, “Twisted Metal Small Brawl”, “Calling all Cars!” (with Mr. Jaffe), “Twisted Metal: Head-On, Warhawk”.  In 2002, Sony acquired Incognito.  In 2007, David Jaffe and I started Eat Sleep Play, again with a core group of talented developers from Incognito.  Our first title was “Twisted Metal:Head-On” and Lost for PS2 - now we are busy doing a big title on PS3 (I'm sure you can guess what that is)

Gavin: What first got you interested in gaming, and what were some of your favorite games growing up? 

Scott: Some of my favorite games growing up were Pinball, Defender, Asteroids.

Gavin: How did you go about getting educated in programming and other areas? And what were those experiences like? 

Scott: My engineering background gave me the programming experience and I picked up modeling while at Evan's & Sutherland.  These experiences were great because it always felt like I was on the cutting edge of technology rather than working on some obsolete piece technology.  It open many doors including the door to video games!

Gavin: What were some of your first breaks getting into the industry?

Scott: Joining up with Singletrac was both exciting and scary because we were working on the next generation of game consoles (PS1) - we were really making it up as we went and luckily, our first games, “Twisted Metal” and “Warhawk” were both hits.  We really did not expect anyone to buy them because they were so different than the 2D games everyone was used to playing.  Had these first titles not been successful, Singletrac would have probably gone down in flames - so I would consider that a killer first break!

Gavin: What was your time at Incognito Entertainment like, both positive and negative? 

Scott: Like any experience, there is always going to be the good, bad and the ugly.  The positive experiences were working with the many talented developers on some really fun products, having complete freedom to run a company the way you envision a company should be run, making money on game sales and company sales.  The negative experiences were losing some of our independence after the acquisition, losing our small company culture when we started to grow. 

Gavin: Prior to your current company, what were some of your favorite games you worked on? 

Scott: I really enjoyed working on “Downhill Domination” (extreme mountain bike game) - it's not often you have the opportunity to turn a passion into a video game. 

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start Eat Sleep Play? 

Scott: Over the past years David and I have always discussed the possibility of starting a company together – every time we've worked and collaborated on projects we've had fun and gotten good results.  As soon as we both fulfilled our employment commitments with Sony, we decided to break off and start Eat Sleep Play. 

Gavin: Was it difficult getting everything set up, or were things pretty easy going? 

Scott: Having been involved in three start-ups, it was actually pretty straightforward.  One of the toughest challenges we had was coming up with a good name that had not already been taken - this was a very frustrating process that took a few months to finally settle on a name that we could trademark.

Gavin: I'm sure you get asked this a lot, but I have to know. Why Utah for the location? 

Scott: The development team has been located in Utah since the Singeltrac days so it made sense to keep it located here in Utah.  One of the biggest challenges to being in Utah is recruiting out-of-state talent.  I am a transplant from Utah and so I can relate to candidates reluctance to relocate - I had them myself before moving here.  We sell candidates on the great outdoor activities you can do in Utah - it's one of the best states as far that's concerned!

Gavin: What were the first few months of production like after you started up?   

Scott: Again, having done this now for the third time it was pretty smooth - we had our share of hiccups but nothing serious.  We're located in a really cool building with lot's of character and personality, the Salt Lake Hardware Building - you should include some pictures!

Gavin: I read there was a deal to make games specifically for Sony. Why Sony, and do you plan to make games for others when the deal is over? 

Scott: Over the years, we've had a great relationship with Sony - they've been awesome to work with!  So adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" definitely applies.  We are also looking at breaking into the casual space with our own IP so we're pretty excited - it will be a great balance doing games for Sony and also doing our own casual games.

Gavin: Without giving out grand secret details, tell us about some of the titles you have in the works right now. 

Scott: We are not at liberty to disclose this but you can easily find out by searching the net or you can probably guess what title we're doing - it will be on the PS3.

Gavin: Going local, what do you think of the local gaming shops and audience here in Utah

Scott: There is a pretty strong gaming community here in Utah.  There are about a half dozen or so game development studios including Disney and EA. 

Gavin: Do you wish more gaming tournaments made their way here, or are major gaming competitions best suited for places like Vegas? 

Scott: It would be cool to see more gaming tournaments here in Utah - I don't really follow them but I think it's cool that gaming competition has gotten big enough to be played out in places like Vegas. 

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote? 

Scott: I would like to plug the following message - WE ARE LOOKING FOR VERY TALENTED MODELERS!

On Topic...

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