Industry Secrets: Developers Reveal Their Favourite Games
We speak to the biggest names in gaming to find out which games inspired them and why.
Published on Mar 5, 2013
Everyone has a favourite game. That one title that fired the imagination and sparked a life-long love affair, but what about the people that make games? What are their favourites?
Well, gamesTM asked some of the games industry's biggest names to find out which games were their favourites and why...
Sid Meier, Firaxis Games
“I’m going to avoid my games. I’m going to say that probably Starcraft would be my favourite game. I think, on all levels, Starcraft is excellent. In terms of the way the visuals serve the game."
"The way the game plays, the interface is clearly made by gamers, and it was released when designers felt it was as good as it could be. There’s a bunch of great games out there that I’ve really enjoyed playing, but if I had to choose one, I would choose Starcraft.”
Peter Molyneux, 22 Cans
“The things I have played recently that I found really inspiring are things like Journey on PlayStation 3. I found that inspiring because it’s mystical and unique , [but] I think I’m just going to settle on ICO. It was unbelievably groundbreaking – way, way ahead of its time."
"In terms of the environment and feel, it still hasn’t been surpassed. It spoke to a type of game that we’re still ignoring, something with mechanics that feed so well into the story. ICO wasn’t particularly successful but it was immensely influential.”
David Brevik, Gazillion Entertainment
“The game I’ve played the most hours of is EverQuest. My wife claims that I’m a masochist or something. I don’t know what it was about it, but it was the experience of community and the social aspects of it that really drove me to want to play it."
"The classes were well designed and the world was very interesting – the graphics weren’t superb, but it always felt like a world and I really enjoyed that. It felt so open and like anything was possible."
"I love the exploration, I love discovering things, I love the danger and I hated the death penalty. I have more terrible and wonderful stories about EverQuest than any other game I’ve ever player; I’ve has my favourite gaming moments and my worst gaming moments ever in the same game. So maybe it’s a big love/hate relationship."
UFO: Enemy Unknown
Matt Tieger, High Moon Studios
“I’m just a super-fan of X-COM. It felt like I was playing a movie that I had created. It told such an in-depth story and I felt so connected to the characters. You know, it sounds kind of silly, but I named them and developed relationships with those characters in that game. These characters actually mattered to me."
"I took some of those things, spiritually at least, through to my games. [In Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron] they’re giant robots, but how do I get people to feel for them? If games are done well it starts to breakdown the rules about what you care about, and for me that comes from X-COM, where I genuinely cared about my guys.”
Rod Fergusson, Irrational Games
“For me, my favourite games are time-sensitive. I have a real problem going back to play an old game because production values and graphics really do have an impact on me, so when I try to go back I struggle with older games."
"An odd one for me was Lost Odyssey. I put over 75 hours into that game and I don’t play JRPGs that much, but in that one there was just something about the adultness… There’s a point in that game where you host your daughter’s funeral! Stuff like that was so non-traditional and in that moment in time it really struck me."
"I’d love to have a list of favourites like that, but as I mature, my tastes do too, so every year I have a new favourite.”
Jean-Maxime Moris, Dotnod Entertainment
“I’m a huge fan of Japanese cinema and Chinese cinema, and Shenmue was so clichéd, but at the same time so fantastic. All of the individual scenes, the training dojo, the catching of the leaves in Shenmue 2or discovering the Man Mo Templein Hong Kong I absolutely adored."
"It went so far that on my first trip to Hong Kong I actually did a Shenmue tour of the city, visiting locations from the game. But the series sense of freedom in the game was amazing, and it was done in a much more meaningful way than open-world games today, because it was just there to be there and not for you to carry packages from one end of the city to another."
"And they invented Quick Time Events and, I’m sorry, but as a developer I think they can be useful. I love every single bit of that game and I would sell my soul to direct Shenmue 3.”
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Murray Andrews, Climax Studios
“I was trying to think of some really obscure text-based adventure from the Eighties, or a low-fi indie game that only me and three other people have played in an effort to look cool and score extra geek points."
"Unfortunately, I’m not cool and I’ve probably got enough geek points to last a lifetime. Plus, I just keep coming back to one title: The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. If I really need to explain why Ocarina Of Time is my all-time favourite game then you’re obviously reading the wrong website and should maybe go in search of Gardners.com or some other equally enthralling site. I mean, it’s Ocarina Of Time.
"You know… Link… in 3D… riding a horse… across a massive open field in Hyrule, with the wind in his hair and the sweet sound of Koji Kondo’s music serenading him no his way. Pure joy! Oh, and it has a gold cartridge. Did you hear me? A gold cartridge! What’s not to like?"
Chris Neeley, Gearbox Software
“Doom 2 was the game that turned me on to games. I wasn’t fighting demons, pinkies and imps; I was fighting Sandy Peterson. I was battling those level designers. It was ballsy, frustrating level design that you just don’t see from today’s accessible games."
"The bad guys were almost secondary to trying to find out where the key was and all the level’s secrets. You absolutely hated it for the challenge, but you’d feel great afterwards. You just grow a big rubbery one when a game puts your trooper against the wall and run to the end of the level."
"I just love those games that go back to ballsyness; the type of experience that will fuck with you just a little bit.”
Brian Horton, Crystal Dynamics
“Half-Life 2 is my favourite game of all time and it probably will be for many, many years to come. The reason is the seamless vision. The gameplay and the world, the way it’s rendered, and the story that you go through is completely seamless. It’s by far, I think, one of the most important landmark videogames in our history."
Mass Effect 2
Paul Wedgewood, CEO Splash Damage
“I was completely blown away by the entire Mass Effect experience. It just gave me a sense of an incredible universe, a breathtaking RPG story, and really good shooter mechanics; it has everything."
"I’ve played all three and, while I struggled with Mass Effect because it had a horrible shooter mechanic, that was solved in Mass Effect 2. I think BioWare really nailed it with Mass Effect 2. I wouldn’t just say that Mass Effect 2 was a game of the year for me; it was the game of my life. Not that I didn’t love Mass Effect 3; if I’d played that directly after Mass Effect then it would be the game of my life!"
"It’s just a bit like watching Return Of The Jedi after having seen Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. It isn’t a reflection of quality; it’s just that some novelty has warn off. But Mass Effect 2 was just where BioWare took a big, big step up, comparatively speaking.”
Super Mario Bros.
Yosuke Hayashi, head of Team Ninja
“It’s difficult because games have evolved, the concept of having a favourite game of all time suggests that all advancement has stopped dead and that one thing is the best and nothing can top it. Games are meant to progress."
"There’s always meant to be something that is better than the things that came before it. If I were to give you a hint, it’d be that it involves a chubby guy with a moustache."
Super Mario Galaxy
Tore Blystad, IO Interactive
“I grew up on Commodore 64 and Amiga games and was only exposed to the world of Nintendo at the age of 18. I was a fan of games like Shadow Of The Beast and Barbarian so Super Mario World did seem a little childish, but after trying it I was immediately sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom by the tight gameplay and playful charm and I’ve been a big Nintendo fan ever since."
"My favourite game has to be Super Mario Galaxy – for me it is the most inspired Mario game in a decade. It has an amazing amount of content, it’s cute, funny and goofy, and it takes its gameplay very seriously."
"Few other studios in the world can deliver the kind of diversity and finesse to its mechanics and features, and the integration of software and hardware is second to none. To me, Super Mario Galaxy is pretty much a perfect game.”
Ted Price, president and CEO of Insomniac Games
"The game that inspired me the most was Super Metroid. That's because its use of weapons and gadgets was second to none ant the time. It was the perfect application of weapons balancing, challenge unlocking and it threw surprises at the player over and over again."
"It did the best job at the time of making players feel smart and that for me at the time felt gratifying. You can see its influence in a lot of [Insomiac] games, especially Ratchet & Clank."
Super Castlevania 4
David Cox, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow producer
“That’s easy. I love Super Castlevania IV because for me it’s Castlevania perfected. It’s the original concept perfected, and what I really love about it is the atmosphere, the music, and the gamplay all kinda come together and all the mistakes that happened with Castlevania were fixed to a certain extent."
"I suppose Castlevania IV came at a time in my life when I was really into games and I remember I got the game, I got the Japanese version actually cause I had the Super Famicom, I played it all night until sun-up and loved it."
"I just became obsessed with Castlevania. It’s what made me want to work in videogames, and it’s what made me want to work for Konami… It’s fate."
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Rasmus Højengaard, Crytek
"I’ve been playing games since I was six or seven years old and it’s all about pinpointing a particular game that did something for you. I loved playing Skyrim. Sure, there were a few things I didn’t like about it, but as a package it’s probably the game that isn’t online or an MMO that I’ve spent the most hours playing and replaying."
"The combination of being able to mod and customise user content, together with the game being a massive experience – I’m already planning on starting a new character for when I start playing Dragonborn – it has longevity on multiple levels! That’s not even from my professional game development point of view, but just how I found that world to be completely immersive."
Ghouls 'N' Ghosts
Greg Rizzer, Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel producer
"My favourite game of all time would probably be Capcom’s Ghouls and Ghosts. Mainly because it was a game that had the first successful home port on the Sega Genesis that was so much like the arcade version that I could go to the arcade and finish it on one quarter - which was an amazing feat on a game of that difficulty."
"So the reason why it’s my favourite game of all time is because it made me feel like a bit of a celebrity at the arcade. Back in my day, that was a big deal. If you were one of the people where there was ten guys standing around smoking cigarettes and watching you play, you had arrived at the arcade."
"To me it’s just a fantastic game, [but] it’s also one of my best memories of being a gamer and being around the industry when arcades were everything."