Today at DICE Summit 2019, former Uncharted writer and director Amy Hennig and Double Fine founder Tim Schafer hosted an on-stage conversation. Their talk bounced from joking about the cocaine-filled early 90s-era of EA ("I wasn't indulging in any of it," says Hennig) and Hennig even being rejected from LucasArts when Schafer was at the studio in 1989. The conversation took a turn when the topic twisted to Hennig's future, which has been a hot topic of discussion since the dissolution of Visceral Games and its Star Wars project she was creatively directing.
Hennig said her past year has consisted of a lot of meetings and contract gigs, "taking the temperature of the industry." Amidst it all, she's found herself gravitating towards finite experiences in games like Return of the Obra Dinn and Florence. "Everyone's experience with [Florence] is different because of the emotional tactile response," said Hennig. "I wish we were doing more of that in a mainstream space."
Staving off worries of herself "selling out," Hennig assured the audience that with whatever she tackles next, it will be in her "wheelhouse" of adventure and mystery stories. But she wants her next project to be accessible and welcome to new gamers too.
Part of her recent inspiration, Hennig says, comes from recent bouts of interactive media, including Netflix's Bandersnatch interactive movie—even if its approach is a bit wrong. "I'm not meaning this to knock Bandersnatch, but in my mind it feels backwards to me," said Hennig, noting that she "played" through the movie three times with different sets of people. "It takes the thing that we want to be doing, and makes it passive." But where Bandersnatch succeeded was in its discoverability: something that she thinks is sorely missing for a lot of story driven games like Florence.
"We need to get over our elitism over what constitutes a game," said Hennig. "There's so many people we could be reaching if we weren't so reductive of what [a game is]." She added that part of what's great about story-driven games—she's hesitant to use the word linear as it has a negative connotation—are that they're just as watchable as they are playable. Schafer agreed, talking about his experience with the horror game Until Dawn and how people watching could have just as much fun as playing.
As for what's next in her career, Hennig remained relatively mum. "So you played Florence and now you're going to make a Florence game," Schafer said to widespread laughter. "No," Hennig replied with a chuckle. So don't expect Florence 2 from games industry legend Amy Hennig, dear readers. At the moment, she's just feeling out her options at this crossroads of the industry, and it will be a minute until we see what path she takes next.