Unraveling the Mystery of
38 Studios

An Interview with Four
Leaders of the MMOG Development Team

By Cody
“Micajah” Bye

For gamers, one of the greatest mysteries that you can ever
come across is the professional gaming development studio and the
creative process that occurs inside its walls. Unless you have some
sort of inside connection into the studio or follow the video game
industry like a hawk, you’ll never see the inside of a
developer’s business office. You can, however, learn about
the creative process of a business if you have the right opportunities
and talk to people who know how the business runs and operates.

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Brett Close (left), Mary Kirchoff (middle), and Scott
Cuthbertson (right) react to one of my questions.

Luckily, I had that sort of opportunity at the San Diego
International Comic-Con when I went out into a hallway to interview
four key players of 38 Studios, a relatively new gaming company devoted
to “World Domination Through Gaming.” Although much
has already been divulged about 38 Studios and their superstar staff,
little is known about their actual creative processes or what
they’ve been up to inside their Maynard, Mass.-based offices.
To learn more about this area of their company, I nabbed 38
Studios’ chief marketing officer, Mary Kirchoff; vice
president of product development, Scott Cuthbertson; art director, Chaz
Sutherland; and CEO and president, Brett Close. We found a quiet corner
of the convention center (which is much harder than it sounds), and I
proceeded to ask them questions regarding the fundamental operations of
38 Studios.

Regarding the way their offices function, 38 Studios is in a
very interesting situation. With three “executive”
level managers operating their own businesses on the side –
R.A. Salvatore and his books, Curt Schilling and his athletics, Todd
McFarlane with his toys and comics – 38 Studios certainly is
in a different sort of position than many of its competitors. However,
it seems that 38 Studios is pulling all of its creative minds together
in a very solid fashion. “Curt is in the office as much as he
can,” Close said. “And Bob [R.A.] is only thirty
minutes drive from the studios, so he’s in all the time.
Since Todd is in Arizona we do everything via teleconferencing, and
we’ve even got an operation set up where we can share the
images on the alternate computer screens – that way we can
see what he’s seeing and vice versa.”

Although McFarlane may not be in the offices every week, he
certainly has a presence at the studios’ art department. Not
unlike Ten Ton Hammer, McFarlane works virtually from his studios in
Arizona and constantly checks over work that’s being done in
Massachusetts. “We’ll go over art work once a
week,” Sutherland stated. “It takes a couple days
to look over it and take notes on it, but then we’ll go into
our computers and literally send ideas back and forth on our opinions
of the art.”

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Scott and Chaz consider the question while staring at
the crowds moving behind us.

“The creative process is definitely an ebb and
flow,” Kirchoff added. “People go into their
offices, pump out some content, then get back together and talk about
it. It’s not just Bob, Todd, and Curt that are gone; the
office is constantly on the move going to conventions or taking a few
days off. It’s the time that we’re there and
focusing our efforts is when we get major projects

While art is one factor of the game design equation, it
certainly isn’t the whole of it and Close readily added
details about the general growth of the game’s creative
expansion. “We’re in concept development right
now,” he said. “The process that we’re in
is very iterative. We’re throwing a lot at the wall to see
what sticks.”

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016