Chris Hecker Goes Indie

By: Derek Yu

On: September 8th, 2009

Chris Hecker

Chris Hecker has announced that he’s been laid off from Maxis, where he was a major contributor to Spore. In the announcement Chris reveals that he’ll be working on Spy Party, a game which he demoed at this year’s Experimental Gameplay Workshop. In the game you play a sniper watching a cocktail party from another building, trying to figure out which of the partygoers is the spy by looking for various tells. I saw it at EGW and it’s a cool take on the spy genre.

Chris isn’t new to indie games by any means, having helped organize the Indie Game Jam and The Experimental Gameplay Workshop for several years. He also infamously ranted about the Nintendo Wii at GDC 2007, which – even though he was speaking for himself – ended up becoming the rather lurid headline “Spore Developer Calls Wii a Piece of Shit.” Good times!

It’ll be exciting to see what Chris comes up with now that he’s gone ronin! Good luck, man!

  • Hypersapien

    He was not merely a ‘major contributor’ to Spore, he’s one of the people who ruined it! Chris Hecker is the douchebag that made Spore all cutesy against Will Wright’s wishes.

    http://forum.spore.com/jforum/posts/list/8555.page

    Screw him!

  • raigan

    OMG, this news is like, soooo last week ;p

  • Mooseral

    Spore was… not so great, in my opinion. It seemed like it had gone through a meat grinder too many times, and had wound up overly bland, with not nearly enough depth in several of the game modes. Or the depth was there, but there were arbitrary limitations that broke it.

    Some character was still definitely there, but it didn’t save the base game play IMO. The mathematical achievements were awesome though. Perhaps we might see some awesome math-y games with a bit more personal, indie spirit now? That can never be a bad thing.

  • http://www.g4g.it Firesword
  • BANDWAGON WOOOO

    CHOO CHOOOO

  • Patrick

    Brian Mitsoda, lead dev on Vampire:Bloodlines, has also ‘gone indie’ after leaving Obsidian last year. He’s current working on a zombie rpg with one other developer that he took with him, Jerry Maguire style. No screens or videos yet, but RPS did a decent interview with him on the project.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/08/07/obsidian-veterans-to-make-zombie-rpg-zrpg/

  • O

    I’d have laid off *everyone* who worked on Spore.

  • Yougiedeggs

    Good for him. He practiced his freedom of speech, got laid off for it, and so has gone full indie. I wish him the best of luck, and will be watching his projects with interest. (They are sure to turn out better than the piece of $#!^ Spore Wii title!)

  • Cliftor

    He wasn’t fired for “practicing his freedom of speech.”

    For example, even if it WAS his comment that got him fired, his “rights” aren’t being trampled on. If I go up to my fiances mother and tell her she’s a piece of ****, then I shouldn’t be surprised if I get dumped.

    Yeah, it’s my “freedom” and “right” to say whatever I want, but the truth is if I’m working for some company, making public statements to the effect that certain potential business partners are “stupid”, then I’m an idiot and deserve to be fired. *I* would certainly fire me.

    All that is moot, though, as there’s kinda a recession going on, and Spore sucked. I’m not surprised people from Maxis are getting fired, even without this guys loose tongue.

    I wish him the best as an indie dev, though. Luckily, now he can do and say whatever he likes and it will only affect him. If your words affect not just yourself but people who are responsible for you, then they have every right to tell you to shut up. But now he’s free.

  • Ezuku

    Chris Hecker made a negative contributor to the quality of Spore. He’s the one who thought it best to change it to an overly cutsy game where everything focused on stats (because gamers may get angry if a creature with 1 leg only, which is on top of its head, cannot run as well as something with 4 in a normal position).

  • Hypersapien

    @Ezuku

    Acutally, Hecker’s “contribution” only affected the look and feel of the game. Read the link that I posted in the first comment. All the gameplay decisions were made by Will Wright.

  • http://chrishecker.com Chris Hecker

    Hi. My favorite thing about the internet is how the completely and blatantly wrong information travels far and wide and is repeated cluelessly forever, but when people like Will and the EP of the project correct it, that basically goes unnoticed! Yay internet, keep on keeping on!

  • http://www.sophiehoulden.com/ Sophie Houlden

    this news is meh to me, however;

    the term ‘ronin’ could be an awesome way to seperate the one-person indie from the larger developers that are also technically indie.

    I totally want to adopt the term, just curious if you read it somewhere first or if you coined the term in this setting Derek :)

  • fucrate

    Yay Chris! Go indie! I liked Spore until the space part strangely enough!

    That is all.

  • http://www.farbs.org Farbs

    Chris, is it true that you’re taller than David Perry?

    EDIT:
    I guess so.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2084833056/

  • http://0xdeadc0de.org Eclipse

    stop throwing shit at Chris Hecker you fucking brats unable to code anything that’s not a pong in game maker.
    Thanks ;)

    He did a great job on Spore, and he is a CODER not a game designer, he coded the awesome semi-procedural animation system.

    Also cute graphics or not, Spore sucks because the horrid gameplay sewered in parts not because it’s not realistic or something.

  • alastair

    yeah lets rant about spore on the front page! ;_;

  • O

    Hey at least it’s not another fucking Dwarf Fortress comment thread.

  • J

    Hypersapien, did you read your own link? Wright had _good_ things to say about Hecker, with no indication of anything being “against Will Wright’s wishes”.

  • raigan

    this thread is full of Chris hecklers ;p

  • Weez

    Did someone say Dwarf Fortress? That game is awesome

  • TeamQuiggan

    Chris Hecker is a cool dude, I met him briefly in Montreal. His writing about Collisions helped me a pile for my 3d pinball game.

  • Xander

    I can’t say I know the man, and for about 3 minutes I had him confused with Ben Heck, but regardless I wish him the best of luck.

  • rz.

    guy seems like a pompous douche actually.

    in his “Wii is a piece of shit” rant, he faults Nintendo for wanting to make games that are fun…

    serious artform? yeah.
    what games on 360 and PS3 are “serious art”?

    rather than rehashed concepts released with a new number year after year.

  • whaaa

    Let the guy rant, at least he had the balls to do it without any proxy

  • Paul Eres

    a lot of people saw the early demo video of spore several years before it was released, and from that they imagined that it’d be the best game ever. when it wasn’t, they imagined that *someone* had to be responsible for ruining it. so perhaps he was their scapegoat, when the truth was just that they let hype cloud their expectancies of what the game would be like, and when the truth is it’s hard to have a 100% masterpiece success ratio, even for someone like will wright.

  • O

    Not making a masterpiece is completely forgivable.

    Showing us ice cream, demonstrating and promising a bunch of revolutionary crap, and then delivering a dog turd that has clearly been deliberately dumbed down is something they should’ve expected would leave people justifiably disappointed.

  • raigan

    Um.. did everyone miss how the animation in that game is procedural? That’s pretty revolutionary.

  • O

    Yeah, the stars and the walking were fucking neat but those things exist in a different domain of ‘revolutionary’ from the one where people feel okay after forking out for a retail game.

  • Paul Eres

    it still sold very well and a lot of people liked it — so from the business standpoint their decisions to “dumb it down” worked. if you want games that care about niche markets, that’s what indie games are for. you can’t really expect mainstream games to appeal to hardcore niches anymore.

  • Zaphos

    O … Hecker worked on the ‘fucking neat’ stuff in spore, that was his main contribution. The ‘dumbed down’ gameplay was not his decision. Nor, afaik, was the PR messaging. So while it’s perfectly understandable to be disappointed in Spore, but it’s not understandable to use that as a reason to heckle Chris Hecker.

    Anyway, the idea for Spy Party sounds a bit like a digital version of mafia or ‘the werewolf game’, especially if you take the concept beyond two players. I’m excited to see where he goes with it.

  • O

    Eres: everyone knows they fucked it up for marketing reasons. That’s not particularly relevant to how they feel about it getting fucked up.

    Zaphos: Yeah I’m not talking about Hecker anymore. …Yeah, I don’t think I was ever talking about Hecker.

  • vidoe game critic

    SPORE Isn’t as good as others say it is. It has FLAWS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwc9FWvG2BA