“How do you win a creative debate?” I got asked this once during an interview and my brain just froze. I didn’t know how to answer. I finally said, “By asking questions.”
My proudest moments in development are when we make something that’s better than any of our individual visions. On Faeria, I pitched an idea for our first expansion; a bright ‘tropical ocean’ pirate theme inspired by Monkey Island. It would emphasize chasing the horizon and a sense of fantastic adventure.
Everyone liked it except the lead artist. She was very, very opposed. She said she wanted to do something fresh, not just redo Pirates of the Caribbean with a new skin. I asked her a lot of questions, then went off to think about if we could capture the bright sense of open-ocean adventure that the rest of the team liked, but in a fresh way.
A few days later I ran to her office and said, “A coral reef in the SKY!”
She loved it. We made a world of raccoon-folk living on floating islands in sea of clouds; sky-fish, sky-whales, and sky-squid flying all around them. When our players saw the first images they went absolutely wild.
That’s how we all win a creative debate. We listen to each other, we ask questions, and we look for ways to blend our inspiration into something uniquely wonderful.