Several of the key development leads on SimCity have left Maxis to set up a new independent studio.
Creative director Ocean Quigley, lead architect Andrew Willmott, and lead gameplay engineer Dan Moskowitz have departed Electronic Arts’ studio to set up a new shop called Jellygrade.
Quigley said that while SimCity's launch troubles accelerated his decision to depart, they weren't the key factor. Speaking with Ploygon, Quigley said he was “dismayed at the blundered launch of something that I had poured so much love and attention into, which made the leaving easier but it would have probably happened anyway.”
Quigley added that he believes the game he wishes to build would be unlikely to be green-lit by EA. The developer says that publisher excels at “executing things with hundreds of people, to well-understood patterns,” but, “If you have something new and untried, and something that's uniquely yours that you want to do, it's really not the environment to do it.”
“The stuff that I want to do now is to explore some new simulation themes and some new mechanics and do some stuff that EA is not well set up to do,” continued Quigley. “So, not knocking EA, they do what they do, but it was time for me and the other developers Andrew Willmott and Dan Moskowitz to go off and try some new stuff.”
Quigley’s game would be heavily influenced by Spore, he said.
“A lot of the ideas that we have about the early emergence of live on Earth were in the early development of Spore but were lost as it became a much more cute game and less a game about physical processes.”
“Those are things that I have been wanting to get back to, to deal with that subject matter, the dawn of life, the formation of the earth, where the oceans come from, all the real processes. In the context of a game I want to do justice to that.”