Process is one thing, but raw talent and ability doesn’t grow on trees. Oasys understands this and has forged a link with Atlanta game developers Blue Heat. Formed in 2001, Blue Heat boasts an impressive client list that includes Sega and THQ and million-sellers such as NFL 2K and Mail Tycoon. Raymer describes them as “Very, very passionate about games. They have a vision that I think matches our vision,” and Oasys works both with Blue Heat and their own development teams to create content now. Oasys isn’t limited only to Blue Heat at this point, though; “We’ve been talking to other developers here who share this vision with us and are looking to form some of the partnerships,” Raymer asserted, but it’s clear that Blue Heat is going to be part of the Oasys landscape for a while as a compliment to their own internal development team.
While on the subject of the internal talent pool, Oasys has a clear vision of what they want for their own people and, above all else, look down the road at where their talent is headed and not just where they are. Senour tells an interesting story about his first day at Oasys: “I wrote an email to the QA manager and asked ‘How many testers to you have?’ and he wrote back and said ‘twelve’. I said ‘Ok. Those twelve people: What do they want to be?’ And I got back a list: John wants to be this, Harriet wants to be this, Joe wants to be this. None of them said QA tester.” Knowing that every QA tester has the aspirations (and the ability) to become more allows management at Oasys to position them with opportunities to grow. “We found that internally, our best developers, our best porters start off as testers. They have college degrees and they have some experience, but “classroom experience”. They don’t know anything about phones. We make them testers, we take the best of those and we make them porters, and we take the best of those and make them developers. That’s a great model for us…”
In the end, the litmus test of process and philosophy will always be the quality of the game. Senour and Raymer are not forgetful of this, and have asserted that Oasys knows that a successful project bears good fruit. “I think one of the things that Trip Hawkins talked about is that we have to get away from this whole ‘movie’ idea,” Senour explained, referencing the keynote address by Digital Chocolate and GDC Mobile Keynote Speaker Trip Hawkins’ address in which he discussed the relationship of gaming and movies, and addressed some of the negative points thereof. “What you can do on a movie screen and what you can do on a mobile phone are so different from each other,” he continued, emphasizing how Oasys has to eschew dependency on visuals alone due to the limited graphics of the average mobile phon. “At this point, consoles and PCs are fighting for how close they can get to the movie experience, where games on the mobile phone are not. It’s like back in those Commodore 64 days where we can’t get anywhere close to that, so we have to really focus in on our gameplay and make a game that’s for mobile.”