Clint Hocking has been cursed by a witch and is now doomed to travel the games industry, joining new developers and then leaving before releasing a single game. In the last five years, the Far Cry 2 designer has joined and left LucasArts, joined and left Valve, and as of yesterday, joined and left Amazon Games Studios.
Hocking joined Amazon in 2014, at roughly the same time the retail giant hired Portal deisgner Kim Swift. In June of 2015, the studio went into hiring overdrive, ramping up development of an "ambitious new PC game project." Hocking was previously at LucasArts from August 2010 and joined Valve in July 2012 before departing there in January of 2014.
People move around the games industry all the time and mostly it's not news or at least not interesting news. Hocking leaving Amazon is notable if only because it's disappointing. Far Cry 2 was great and an extremely interesting piece of game design, as was Hocking's previous game, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. I want to see him do something new.
The first sentence was a joke and Hocking has (probably) not been cursed by a witch, but perhaps the frequent departures speak to a broader issue with the games industry. Back in March, Hocking wrote about his experiences working on Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, including the long hours and stress and the consequences of that, which include memory loss:
"Dave had spent a week living in my house. I had curtailed my work week down from 70-80 hours to a normal 40 in order to spend time with him. We had eaten great meals, gone to great bars, seen movies, played games, and talked about our careers and the industry and our pasts and our futures, and all of it was simply fucking gone. I could not remember any of it.
"To be clear - I do not mean I didn't remember what we did or what we talked about. I mean that I literally had no memory of the events. To me it was like it never happened. It was like he never visited. There was just an empty space in my brain that had been overwritten by the stress and anxiety of Splinter Cell. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory gave me brain damage.
"Writing it all down, now, I have to confess I have mixed feelings about it. I am really, truly proud of what we accomplished with Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It stands the test of time as one of the best games ever made. At the same time, the personal cost for making it was real and serious. It's not about forgotten beers in some bar on St Laurent. It's about brain damage and the loss of life. To this day, I am still not sure what the right equation is there. I'm still not sure if it was worth it. I'm still not sure if I would do it again if I had the chance."
Maybe Hocking found his answer and the answer is "fuck no". Or maybe he's joining EA now, I don't know. I've emailed to ask.
If you'd like to learn more about Clint Hocking's design ethos, he wrote us this essay about the immersive sim back in 2010.