"We have a few goals," Grabias tells Joystiq. "We want to provide a documentary-based venue for critical discussion about the art of making video games. We hope to provide developers with a place where they can come for nuggets of inspiration. We also want to provide players with insight into their game experience, and hopefully make them aware of the great minds behind the great games. Finally, we feel we are in a fascinating era in game development. We want to document it for future generations."
Critical Path currently offers 121 video clips, 30-120 seconds each, distilled from more than 30 hours of interviews with developers such as Cliff Bleszinski, Sid Meier, Ken Levine, Jordan Mechner, Chris Hecker, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright and Hideo Kojima. There are "a ton more videos in the pipeline," Grabias says, but Artifact is waiting to see how people handle the current offering and will take feedback about other subjects and developers fans are interested in.
Critical Path has a few more "transmedia" stages under development, including a feature-length television documentary about the art and anatomy of games, and a mobile app that will go live "hopefully sooner rather than later," Grabias says.
Critical Path has been in production officially for two years, but Grabias says he began collecting interviews and filming in 2009. The name of the project stems from a phrase developers would use in describing their creative experiences:
"'Critical path' is a term we've heard developers use when talking about planning the monumental and complex task of making a game. With our desire to provide a forum for analytical, 'critical' discussion, it seems like a nice play on words."
"We hope to provide developers with a place where they can come for nuggets of inspiration. We also want to provide players with insight into their game experience, and hopefully make them aware of the great minds behind the great games."
- David Grabias
Chris Hecker, one of the developers in the Critical Path archives, was wary of the project at first because "TV tends to be stupid." After speaking with Grabias, however, Hecker sees Critical Path is headed in the right direction.
"Games are weird, we're super huge and make tons of money, but yet we're also (in my utterly humble opinion) still completely clueless about how interactivity actually works, and the general public is even more clueless about the potential of games as an art and entertainment form," Hecker tells us.
"I think this kind of introspective project is useful, both for the industry to get a sample of how a lot of different developers think, and if it gets turned into something understandable by normal humans, it might show we have more going on than just orc and space marines. The more people talking seriously about games as an art form, the better."