The welcome news was the rekindling of the GDC Assist program, wherein applicants can submit for the chance to get all access passes through the GDAA.
The announcement preceeded the reveal that PAX Australia would continue for another five years, and would stay in its home in Melbourne.
Siobhan Reddy’s talk, in keeping with the theme of ‘Shakespeare Wrote Hits’, discussed the awkward intersection of creative and commercial pursuits.
She spoke at length about her time at Criterion and the passion which fuelled (no pun intended) Burnout 3 and the subsequent morale crash which made development on Burnout: Revenge somewhat toxic by comparison.
The creative drive to make the Burnout series, in Reddy’s experience, was part of a racing game ‘arms race’ to the top, and was fuelled by comparison to other games and a desire to pull out in front (okay, maybe I do intend some of these puns) rather than to create something new and interesting.
Contrasting this with her time at the highly creative Media Molecule, Reddy outlined the process behind making something very original and very new, and how that created a unity within the team. Perhaps the moment of greatest relief for Reddy throughout the development process came when she was tasked with finding an elevator pitch for LittleBigPlanet at GDC and was struggling.
She was told to simply state, rather than to continue with attempting to summarise such a broad idea, that: "It’s an experiment, and we’re not sure what it’ll be yet", and much to her surprise she found it to be a very well received notion. It embodied humility, creativity and experimentation, and went over just as well with fellow developers as it did with fans.
Giving attendees a history lesson of sorts, Reddy also emphasises that the Sistine Chapel, while painted by Michaelangelo, was a contract job by the Pope at the time. That A Midsomer Night’s Dream was commissioned for a wedding, and that the link between works of staggering creative genius and commercial realities has a long and co-dependent history, but one which needn’t mean that a work is inherently corrupted or contrived by virtue of adhering to the realities of existing in order to create.
Indeed, Media Molecule itself is owned by Sony, and at no point has Reddy ever felt creatively constrained as a result of that. Some games might be painfully commercially-oriented, and others might be a boon of creative freedom, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and contract-based works can still be masterpieces in their time.