Newsweek's latest exchange with designer David Jaffe dredges up memory of Heartland, one of the industry's recent missed opportunities. In October 2005, when Heartland was known as 'Project HL', Jaffe went public with his goal to make gamers cry, describing his PSP epic as an examination of "what's happening with America and the military". A year later, Heartland was shelved and forgotten, until Jaffe squeaked out a few details in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last month. "Hearing myself talk about it now makes me a bit sad," lamented Jaffe, who was re-realizing that the would-be allegory that depicted a fictional Chinese invasion of the US would have been an important effort for the games industry -- and perhaps Western culture at-large.
Our perception of what Heartland could have been has been damaged by Jaffe's often-manic outbursts. The designer essentially snuffed out all curiosity in the title when he spastically proclaimed last September that the future of the industry was in (in all caps) "SHORTER, LESS EXPENSIVE" games, beginning with his PSN launch pad Calling All Cars. Though the Calling All Cars delays will apparently cease by mid-May, the untimely delivery has led many of us to tune out Jaffe's banter. So, just as we've yet to join Jaffe's "pop songs" crusade (a belief that small-time games will pwn the market), we have little faith in the notion of his PSP tearjerker. Shame on us then for feeling a pang of sorrow -- that sudden urge to pour one out -- over Heartland, as Jaffe confesses to Newsweek's N'Gai Croal his reasons for abandoning the project: