Most gamers first got to know Seth Killian as Mr. Evo, after he helped start the internationally renown fighting games tournament that re-energized the community of fans dedicated to that genre. Then, when he started consulting with Capcom, Killian became Mr. Street Fighter IV, part of a team that resurrected the publisher’s legendary series. But Killian left Capcom recently, leaving many to wonder where he’d wind up.
Turns out that Killian wasn’t going that far from the fighting game genre. He’s taken up the position of Lead Designer, External Development at Sony Santa Monica Studio. I asked Killian a few questions via e-mail last week and his answers explain why he came to Sony and what exactly he’ll be working on.
Kotaku: You’ve gone from expert player to community builder to consultant to lead designer. I don’t think most people would think of you as a designer. What are you bringing to the table in terms of theory and practice?
A lot of the people that know me outside of my community work side know my design side, from people internally at Capcom, to longtime friends in the industry, to people in the fighting game world, and of course the people at Sony that hired me. Theoretically, I’m very interested in assmyetric competitive design and game balance in particular, but on the practical side my number one interest has always been mechanics, like a beautiful jump mechanic, or a really crisp attack with great collision. Story, graphics, etc. are all fine, but to me so much comes down to really nailing to mechanics that feel fantastic. It’s our primary experience of everything else happening on the screen, and it’s hard to love games that don’t feel good to play, first and foremost.
Kotaku: Describe what your new role at Sony Santa Monica will be.
I’m the lead game designer for Sony Santa Monica’s external division. That’s the group that’s works with Sony’s outside studios, which includes groups like Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan), SuperBot (PlayStation All-Stars), ThatGameCompany (Journey), Queasy (Sound Shapes) and lots more. I expect the role will vary from project to project depending on the teams’ strengths, but overall I’ll be working with the teams on all design and creative aspects of the games in the collaboration.
Kotaku: Does the fact that you’re going to be on External Development mean that you won’t be giving the All-Stars team the benefit of your fighting game wisdom?
Happy to say it’s just the opposite. SuperBot is an external studio working exclusively with Sony, so they’re exactly the kind of team I will be working with, and PlayStation All-Stars is one of my first few projects (and All-Stars will be the first to release). The SuperBot team was created from the ground up to make this game, and they’re thick with fighting game experts, including many friends I’ve known (or even played against competitively) for years. The overall level of combat knowledge around Santa Monica Studios was a huge draw for me — between teams like SuperBot, the God of War guys, and more, the level of fighting expertise is just insanely high, so I feel right at home.