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Phil Harrison is right about prototyping, says Betteridge

Rare boss agrees with "experiment earlier, fail more often, and fail more cheaply" mantra

Rare studio manager Mark Betteridge has told GamesIndustry.biz that he is in full agreement with Atari president Phil Harrison that the games industry needs to change its view on product development, particularly in terms of prototyping products at a much earlier stage.

"I read the story with Phil Harrison on GamesIndustry.biz a few weeks ago, where he was talking about prototypes, and publishers taking risks, and I absolutely agree with him," said Betteridge. "He was saying that the industry needs to get into a mechanism where you can prototype something very easily and quickly with a small group of people, and find out if it's good.

"Because I don't care what you write on a piece of paper - it's all down to implementation. You can't tell about something based on a flash presentation, the proof's in the pudding - show me the controls, what does it do?

"To get to that point, where you can rapid-prototype a number of ideas... because you don't really know which games will have the best stickiness, which will be the best fun to play, and to be in the position where you can prototype five or six different things at that level and take the best ones to take onto core production - that's the model the industry needs."

He went on to outline the way that the current prevalent system in which publishers tend to bank on relatively safe franchise strategies prevents teams from innovating fully.

"At the moment we've got these hugely bloated teams spending millions of dollars, and as soon as they've finished the last game, if it's successful the safest thing to do is start on a new one, and look at ways to make it better," he explained. "It kind of stifles innovation - the publishers are reluctant to sign a cheque for seven figures to get a product that they might not even want to go forward with.

"So we've been very active in look at how we can break that situation of being able to prototype a large number of ideas - we want 100 ideas, prototype the best dozen of them, and produce the best three or four. That's the way it should be.

"We've put a lot of work into that in terms process, and avatars will give us some aspects of it - but it's all about the tools, and not rewriting renderers and so on."

The full interview with Mark Betteridge, in which he also outlines his hopes for the latest Banjo title and reveals the extent of Rare's role in the new Xbox Live avatars, is available now.

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