Microsoft's Ken Lobb: Metroid Prime Wouldn't Have Been Made If Nintendo Had Listened To The Fans
Posted by Damien McFerran
"Every once in a while, you have to learn to not listen"
Ken Lobb is now employed as Creative Director of Microsoft Studios, but Nintendo fans will recall that he was a big part of the firm back in the days of SNES and N64 — heck, he even had the "Klobb" gun in Rare's GoldenEye 007 named after him.
Before he departed Nintendo in 2001, Lobb was involved in the production of Metroid Prime for the GameCube, and in a recent interview with EDGE magazine, he reveals the kind of resistance that was encountered from the fansa2 to the new direction the series was taking:
The fight, in the pre-internet world, was that we were getting a lot of pressure from fans. Nowadays, you'd be buried under Twitter, NeoGAF — both of which I love, by the way — but those voices are even louder today than they were back then. It comes back to a lesson I learned a long time ago: always listen to your customer, but also understand that if you do focus testing what you're going to hear is, "I want that thing you did last time, because that was awesome." Every once in a while, you have to learn to not listen to that and go, "Actually, Metroid in firstperson we think could make more sense." Great creatives are going to disrupt their earlier designs and make things that are new, or build completely new games or new genres.
Keeping with the Metroid theme, Lobb also reveals that one of the games he is most pleased about being involved with is Super Metroid, although he readily admits that his input was minimal at best:
Super Metroid is one of the games I'm most proud of, but I didn't have that much to do with it, other than playing it and making suggestions. And bingo: I ended up in the credits. That was super-awesome. I'm a huge Metroid fan.
More recently, Lobb has helped Double Helix reboot Killer Instinct for Xbox One, another famous game from his time at Nintendo. Some eyebrows were raised when it was confirmed that original developer Rare wasn't in charge, but Lobb explains that his own involvement ensured that at least some of the original DNA was included:
Double Helix gave us their best pitch for Killer Instinct and that was a prototype that was playable. I was deeply involved in Killer Instinct 1 and 2 working at Nintendo with Rare. I designed the combo system and work closely with them on basically every character on the game and all the animations. It's an IP that I love dearly, both from the memories of working with those guys and also because it's kind of fun to go to the arcade and win a lot. I was able to bring some of that back.
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