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Deus Ex Creator On How a Video-Game Academy Could Fix the Industry

timothy posted 1 year,14 days | from the horns-trying-to-hook-'em dept.

Education 132

Nerval's Lobster writes "In the fall of 2014, 20 promising video game developers will begin a yearlong (and free) program at the University of Texas at Austin, where they will study under some of the gaming industry's most successful executives. 'The idea is to get the best of the best of the best, run them through a Navy Seals boot camp of sorts and not force them to worry about "how do I pay the rent and buy groceries,"' said program leader Warren Spector, who is responsible for creating well-known games such as Deus Ex. 'Fingers crossed, when we start delivering graduates who can contribute in major ways to the development of future games, that philanthropy will continue.' In a wide-ranging interview, Spector also talked about how his future students will be graduating into an industry in which 'every business model is broken, which is either terrifying or an opportunity depending on how you look at it.' Focus groups, analysis of historical trends, and aggregated game review scores may be comforting to number crunchers, but the majority of game projects still end up as commercial failures. Spector ultimately believes the people who actually make the games are going to make better decisions than the number crunchers. 'We've got to be looking forward and any time you start bringing data into it, you're not," Spector said. "I pitched a Lego construction game in 1989, and guess what: Minecraft is basically a Lego construction game. But at the time I was told "no, that won't work." I pitched a western game and the response was "westerns don't sell." And then Red Dead Redemption came out. Stuff doesn't sell until someone makes one that sells, and no amount of data can reveal what new thing is going to sell. The metrics and data guys, and the publishing guys will never come up with the next big thing.'""

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132 comments

New Grads (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226025)

Great, so they can be scooped up by EA and churn out shit like Madden 2013: You Bought it Again.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:New Grads (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226451)

Great, so they can be scooped up by EA and churn out shit like Madden 2013: You Bought it Again.

-- Ethanol-fueled

That's only half the problem.

The problem of game designers learning from current executives is the other half. Honestly, if game companies are only churning out rehash after rehash and unwilling to take risks on new ideas (sounds a lot like Hollywood, doesn't it?) what could you learn, other than what creates failure?

I spent the weekend analyzing Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, what made these films fresh and funny where so many with so much to offer (great art, great 3D, etc.) flop like the Lone Ranger - easy, look where Pierre Coffin was schooled - GOBELINS, l'école de l'image, spend some time looking through the galleries at student projects, there's a lot of fresh creativity on display there.

What made a standard (from the 1980s) game format like Angry Birds succeed was in taking a risk, simple graphics and fun game play - a formula which works time and again, but it succeeded wildly where other game developers are focusing on cramming too much of everything into a game and leaving the fun to suffer.

An academy with past designers, who were very successful in their day, before they burned out or were put on a treadmill at EA , would work well.

Re:New Grads (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226661)

With budgets growing out of control so quickly, what the hell do you expect them to do? Taking a real risk on some indie personal project is one thing. Taking a real risk with a $200 million project that will completely bankrupt your company and throw hundreds of people out of work if it doesn't succeed is quite another

Budgets out of control? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226937)

With budgets growing out of control so quickly, what the hell do you expect them to do?

Learn to budget? Seriously, you don't just "lose" $200M by accident.

Live within their means? They could try not spending absurd amounts for the rights to have some big name involved, for example. Good games will create their own brands, as we've seen time and again.

Try alternative business models instead of making often futile and always customer-hostile efforts to fight piracy within the current model? Try radically different pricing models. Learn from both the successes and the failures of subscription models and in-game purchases and DLC and building extensible games with modding communities around them and all the rest.

Tell the console makers to take a hike? Without games, consoles are nothing, but no individual console represents more than a modest fraction of the market. Why should any studio make a AAA game title and then agree to make it an exclusive on a certain console, unless the maker of that console is basically offering to treble their revenues?

Try bringing PC gaming back? There's a lot of emphasis on consoles, mobile gaming and social gaming today, but PCs have more flexibility than all of the rest put together, and even if the new generation of consoles is competitive in raw power at launch it won't be for long. And yet many modern high-profile PC titles are nasty console knock-offs that justifiably get criticised for weak gameplay mechanics and poor controls/user interfaces.

Seriously, there are about a million things that a lot of game studios are doing wrong. Anyone with moderate objectivity and some basic knowledge of the industry and general economics can step back and see them. But the big studios often seem to be run by people who don't want to step back and challenge their views, and until that changes, the rest is academic.

For now, please enjoy EA Super World Championship Series Sports Game 2016, exclusively on your locked-down XBox 3D Kinect Sports Edition, sponsored by Coca Cola and brought to you in generously compensated partnership with the Super World Championship Series League. Unless the DRM servers are down, that is.

Playing together on a sofa (2)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227397)

Tell the console makers to take a hike [...] Try bringing PC gaming back

Some people like to play together on a sofa instead of in the basement over the Internet, and I've been reassured by several other Slashdot users that the number of living room gaming PCs is negligible.

Why should any studio make a AAA game title and then agree to make it an exclusive on a certain console, unless the maker of that console is basically offering to treble their revenues?

Fighting games, for example, tend to be either exclusive to one console or ported to multiple consoles (and not PC) because it does treble the revenues over making the game PC-exclusive. Not a lot of PC gamers are willing to move the PC back and forth between the computer desk and the living room to play a game that requires a screen big enough for two to four players to fit around. And finally, some big-name games are published by companies that manufacture game consoles.

many modern high-profile PC titles are nasty console knock-offs that justifiably get criticised for [...] poor controls/user interfaces

If console-style controls and user interfaces are inherently poor, then how would anyone make good controls or user interfaces for a local multiplayer game? Giving each player a mouse and keyboard won't work if the operating system won't let a game distinguish "mouse 1 was moved to the left by half an inch" from "mouse 2 was moved to the left by half an inch".

Re:Playing together on a sofa (1)

yahwotqa (817672) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227443)

Even first Settlers game, back in 1993 allowed you to plug in second mouse and play in separate windows on one screen.

Re:Playing together on a sofa (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227529)

Some people like to play together on a sofa instead of in the basement over the Internet

Sure. I'm not arguing for PC gaming at the expense of other platforms, I'm just arguing that treating a substantial part of the "serious" gaming market as a second-rate platform that you might support as an after-thought is not smart for business. It's a huge industry, and there's plenty of room for both on-the-sofa-together games and over-the-Internet games, and for single-player games for that matter.

I've been reassured by several other Slashdot users that the number of living room gaming PCs is negligible.

Whereas I know plenty of people who have a computer in their living room, and probably not as many who have consoles. Who's to say which is really more representative? Does it even matter? It's clear from the sales figures that both are huge groups as a whole.

If console-style controls and user interfaces are inherently poor, then how would anyone make good controls or user interfaces for a local multiplayer game?

With respect, I think you're falling into exactly the same trap as the industry execs. You seem to have a view of gaming as something you do with multiple players on one large screen. And if you enjoy fighting games or racing games or other console-friendly genres, that's fine. But when was the last time anyone made an RTS or RPG for a console that didn't have a dumbed-down control system? Some of the most interesting user interfaces in console gaming in recent years seem to be the ones that don't use the standard controllers at all.

Re:Playing together on a sofa (1)

ooshna (1654125) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227687)

Whereas I know plenty of people who have a computer in their living room, and probably not as many who have consoles. Who's to say which is really more representative? Does it even matter? It's clear from the sales figures that both are huge groups as a whole.

How many of those living room computers can handle playing modern games with decent settings and getting a decent frame rate?

Re:Playing together on a sofa (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227807)

Pretty much all of them, I expect. I'd say most people I know who use this kind of technology at all probably have laptops for lightweight stuff and/or serious desktops for work/gaming/whatever. I don't know many people who still buy low-end desktops.

Re:Playing together on a sofa (1)

atriusofbricia (686672) | 1 year,14 days | (#44230423)

And if you enjoy fighting games or racing games or other console-friendly genres, that's fine. But when was the last time anyone made an RTS or RPG for a console that didn't have a dumbed-down control system? Some of the most interesting user interfaces in console gaming in recent years seem to be the ones that don't use the standard controllers at all.

To me this is the worst result of consoles being the primary development target. Dumbed down games. Overly simple console compatible control interfaces, overly simple game play, being shackled to what the current generation console is capable of while PCs race ahead in power.

Result: Piles of same old same old games with occasional kinda sorta bursts of something that resembles innovation. Mostly railshooters and sports games out the ass with occasional exceptions. Hell, what's the greatest thing about the new Call of Duty game? The dog and it is very pretty. Otherwise, it will likely be waist high walls as far as the eye can see between cut scenes. Because console.

Re:Budgets out of control? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229413)

Learn to budget? Seriously, you don't just "lose" $200M by accident.
Lavish parties, trade show booths, silly office perks like video game machines, over specked custom gaming PC's for workstations and other high tech toys to "foster creativity". Lets not forget bonuses for the boss and other higher ups. Basically pure waste.

Try bringing PC gaming back? There's a lot of emphasis on consoles, mobile gaming and social gaming today, but PCs have more flexibility than all of the rest put together, and even if the new generation of consoles is competitive in raw power at launch it won't be for long. And yet many modern high-profile PC titles are nasty console knock-offs that justifiably get criticised for weak gameplay mechanics and poor controls/user interfaces.
With PC's supposedly reaching saturation and as powerful as ever, it would make sense that PC games could reach a wider audience and thus negate the need for consoles. But the reality is that PC's for most people are too difficult to maintain. I have seen tons of people, young and old, who only know how to turn a PC on, get to the internet and email who have malware infected machines. Usually because they wanted to see naked pictures of Rihanna, get the weather or play a crappy game. The console developers know this and the general masses are happy with crap overpriced console hardware that simply work. Press power, put the disc in and start playing in a few seconds. Same with tablets, much simpler to operate. So now we are stuck with a market who panders to the console players because they don't know any better and don't care for better. So PC users get stuck with shitty console ports. Anyone play borderlands on the PC? Where the developer was so fucking lazy they didn't even include mouse support in their menus, you have to use the keyboard. Fucking pathetic.

I somehow feel we are headed for another video game crash. Basically the same shit will be regurgitated so many times that people will lose interest, sales will drop and companies will fold. but that is a good thing because that opens doors for more Markus "Notch" Persson types to come in and make truly innovative and fun as shit games to play.

Re:New Grads (1)

griffinme (930053) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228427)

If you want to see some creators that are going different places check out places like Armor Games.They are usually small flash games that you play for an hour and forget but there are some gems as well. Boxhead wars is great as are the bubble series. There might be 20 crap games but there is usually 20 cool games and 60 games that are just repeats of current themes.

Re:New Grads (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229845)

If you want to see some creators that are going different places check out places like Armor Games.They are usually small flash games that you play for an hour and forget but there are some gems as well. Boxhead wars is great as are the bubble series. There might be 20 crap games but there is usually 20 cool games and 60 games that are just repeats of current themes.

Too cool.

This is the way the video game industry started to enter the home, small teams, simple concepts, achievable in a small time span and on a french fry budget. If one becomes a massive hit, well done to the developer.

Re:New Grads (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,14 days | (#44230015)

Hironobu Sakaguchi is laughing his ass off.

An academy wont help. (0)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226031)

it will make your metrics problem just grow even more.

deus ex is nice, but if you had an idea about how to do a block building game in 1989 why didn't you make it? we dreamt of a game like that as kids, in 1989 - of course w had no idea how it could have been done well on 8mhz 640kb ega crapper. a lego destruction derby game would have been awesome.

Re:An academy wont help. (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226383)

of course w had no idea how it could have been done well on 8mhz 640kb ega crapper.

And even for those who did have an idea on how it was made... you needed commercially sold compilers that weren't available to the average user, and also needed to know how to use them.

That problem is solved, but replaced by a new one - you still need to have commercially sold 3D Modelling applications (freeware is available, but I still find it hard to use), have to have a 3D rendering engine that works with your modelling app (or have advanced math to construct one), and have other people to help you.

Re:An academy wont help. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226479)

it will make your metrics problem just grow even more.

deus ex is nice, but if you had an idea about how to do a block building game in 1989 why didn't you make it? we dreamt of a game like that as kids, in 1989 - of course w had no idea how it could have been done well on 8mhz 640kb ega crapper. a lego destruction derby game would have been awesome.

Some of the most enjoyable games I've ever played were on 8 or 16 bit systems. CPU, memory and clockspeed are poor yardsticks for game quality of play.

It doesn't matter what the idea is (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226113)

So long as it's fun to play.

Re:It doesn't matter what the idea is (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226517)

So long as it's fun to play.

This is the bottom line.

Let students unleash their own creativity, without trying to mimic the failures of the past and present under some kind of pressure to deliver.

My nephew is in a game design program and I can't stress enough how important it is to him to not get hung up on art or sound, but focus on fun game play (besides, doing that laborious art and sound is for minions.)

Minecraft (1, Offtopic)

mmcxii (1707574) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226161)

Minecraft is a bit more of a Lego construction game. I don't know how he pitched his idea but if someone came to me and told me they had a Lego game and presented Minecraft to me I'd have told them their description is a bit lacking.

And the other side of this is that Notch didn't wait for someone to give him the greenlight. Granted the culture and technology is much different but waiting for the approval of others is probably holding many back from bringing a software product to market for lack of skills or lack of resources. Sometimes you need to just throw yourself out there and hope that you can work it out to become successful.

Re:Minecraft (4, Insightful)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226221)

Ideas are easy. Everyone has a great idea for a video game. Developing that idea into a functional product is nothing like simply imagining the final product and maybe bits of gameplay and then starting to program it. And he was likely the one being turned down, not his ideas, although it might have seemed that way.

Re:Minecraft (1)

chilvence (1210312) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226361)

He said it with the qualifier 'basically', so it 's fine :)

Besides, someone built a scale model starship enterprise with it. Who wouldn't do that if they had infinite lego?

Re:Minecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226971)

But that is wrong. Notch bounced off of people sucking his e-peen. Not even being insulting, he needed it a lot. This is actual history.
He is one of those types that won't do anything unless he is told "good job dude, you are doing great work, keep going, soon we will have a fantastic game!".
Notch had nothing to lose in developing this. It was a fun game that he worked with in a smallish community that exploded far beyond what he could have expected. And he was not even remotely ready for the backlash and hate he would get for the game too.

I know, I remember all that on 4chan /v/ for years until Notch just gave up caring and then when he "jumped ship" to Reddit after all the ideas we gave up and helped him, /v/ turned nasty against him, absolutely malicious. (I never because I'm not 10)
Even I was behind him for that time too, but then he got just straight up lazy not long after the Paypal account locked incident. Slowly but surely he got lazier with each update. I lost faith in the game ever being completed to any reasonable extent.

That and the Yogscast mess at Minecon basically destroyed Notch. Mojang is going well, but Notch may as well be gone since several major communities despise him now. Still made a bucketload of money that could fund silly and possible failures of games for years and set them for life. (maybe)
Now he has put his own new game in devhell, 0x10c, because he got bored of it.
Whether it will ever see the light of day is another question. (unless he already got back in to it, but I saw another possible game idea that I never bothered to check if there is anything more detailed about it)

It was going to be our cool fun block game that became some gay circle instead. (image with some swearing) [minus.com]

The problem with the industry is not programmers (4, Insightful)

TrentC (11023) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226167)

Spector ultimately believes the people who actually make the games are going to make better decisions than the number crunchers.

The people with the money call the shots. How will a year-long boot camp for programmers make managers and number crunchers listen to programmers when they don't now?

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226387)

Sadly this is far to true. I've seen one VERY hyped and innovative game not make it out of the door because the metrics from focus groups suggested that it just wouldnt sell *despite* the development team caring passionately for it. Just too big a risk.

I've also see other BIG titles (from headliner developers) changed beyond belief due to the influence of metrics that the number crunchers had gathered. GREAT games whos core ideas were mangled to appeal to a broader demographic producing games that no-one wanted and the developers never wanted to make.

My point here is that if even the big name veterans are having to bend to the whims of the publishers, how can people starting off in the industry have any hope of being allowed to make the choices that they believe will make "a successful game"? Changing the industry needs to happen top down, not bottom up.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226515)

What about when big name veterans dont have to bend to the whims of publishers. Its not all fine and dandy. Look at the shit double fine is in right now. Raised 3+ million dollars when they only needed 700k, and still managed to not complete their game, but are now way behind. When you dont have a publisher breathing down your neck to get the product out and to worry about profits you end up with shit like this and duke nukem forever.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (4, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226725)

Established "vets" like the ones mentioned in the article are a real problem. Most only have one real success under their belt, with a whole string of mediocre or outright crappy games to follow. The idea that they are somehow the lone voice of quality in the industry is just crap. The fact is, these entrenched vets with name recognition are the ones sucking up funding so they can spend 2 or 3 years developing their current pet project that has no more or less chance of success than anyone else's. Setting up a school specifically to breed more of these kinds of people will only result in more "rockstar developers" who are convinced that they are the best qualified for create a new game, and publishers will probably throw money at them as a result.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227207)

Established "vets" like the ones mentioned in the article are a real problem. Most only have one real success under their belt, with a whole string of mediocre or outright crappy games to follow. The idea that they are somehow the lone voice of quality in the industry is just crap.

Case in point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Romero [wikipedia.org]

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44230111)

Bingo. When I read "program leader Warren Spector, who is responsible for creating well-known games such as Deus Ex"

I thought, anything else he created.... really. I haven't even played Deus Ex.

Don't blame the playa' : developers, execs, money men.... it IS the game industry that's the problem. It wants to become a movie-like industry (which typically has out of control budgets).

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226891)

Or Wasteland 2, FTL, Dwarf Fortress, Hotline Miami, etc. It's almost like Double Fine is behind because they're bad at management (much as I love them), not solely because they decided to go without a publisher. (Side note: look at what happened to Brutal Legend. Thanks to publishers, most of the game's time and budget was spent on legal battles with Activision. What a big help that was!)
This is like invalidating all self-startups because of my late, crappy attempts at coding.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229565)

DNF was management incompetence. How many times did they change engines? Three or four? modified Quake -> Unreal -> inhouse ->? Then lets not forget the numerous videos they released at all of the E3's which made it look like they had a working game. But truth be told they were stuck in development hell which was caused by a lot of feature creep. They kept looking at other games and saying "oh shit that looks awesome! lets put that in our game." Then add to that they kept trying to add in all sorts of interactions and vehicles which stalled their story and gameplay for the sake of glitz and glitter.

Oddly enough after 3d realms folded, Apogee was brought back from the ashes to do a remake of Rise of the Triad. I actually played that game and it wasn't as good as Doom but the gameplay was fast paced and the sound effects were loud and made you feel like you were in a war zone.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229875)

Which is the same thing Double Fine is doing. They saw they had alot more money than they had asked for, so decided to tack on more shit. Tim Schafer said that since he didnt want to make a game smaller than Grim Fandango, and he now had the money to do so, then he might as well do it, and it would not be ready for like 2 more years. RotT was fun. I hope new one is as good as the old one.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (1)

AdamStarks (2634757) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226489)

Where does his say this is for programmers? I mean, the game industry doesn't have a lot of rigidly formal terms, but "Developer" is about as general a term as you can get in this context, applicable to Designers, Artists, Programmers, Audio Guys, or anyone else who can be said to directly contribute to the substance of a game, aka anyone who helps "develop" it.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226535)

It won't. That's just heart-and-mind winning horseshit.

They simply want there to be more programmers. Higher supply means dev costs are kept at a minimum, and they have an easier time overworking the developers and replacing them once they burn out.

That is all there is to this. Free education for software developers was an eventuality given the current state of high demand and low supply. It won't work very well though, since the root cause for the current state is not being addressed: earning a living as a software developer sucks the monkey's ass.

Re:The problem with the industry is not programmer (1)

k31 (98145) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226647)

I pitched [...]. But [..] I was told "no, that won't work."

So, after failing to get his pitches into reality, he plans to open an "Academy" and teach other people how to fail, just like him?

I really don't see how he is solving any problems in the commercial world. This seems more like "those who can't, teach".

Of course, since he can't actually get people to finance his games, teaching will likely give him something else to do with his time, at a personal profit, I suppose. Good for him but, again, what does it do for everyone else?

"Navy Seals boot camp of sorts" (2)

korbulon (2792438) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226199)

Where they don't have The Bell. They have Taco Bell.

"You think this some kind of fucking game, private?!"

"Yes, yes I do."

More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like schooling (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226233)

More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like schooling.

Where you study under some successful people in the field and not college professors who have been in academia for years and don't know much about real work.

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226417)

More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like schooling.

Where you study under some successful people in the field and not college professors who have been in academia for years and don't know much about real work.

Developers should follow a Jedi like approach. You have a master or multiple masters and then one day you will have your own apprentices. Programming is an art, it's just not being a code monkey, everyone has their own spin to make the way they write code unique.

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226481)

Developers should follow a Jedi like approach. You have a master or multiple masters and then one day you will have your own apprentices. Programming is an art, it's just not being a code monkey, everyone has their own spin to make the way they write code unique.

Also, at any one time, there can only be two evil game developers allowed.

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226703)

But is EA the Master, or the Apprentice? :)

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228655)

Also, at any one time, there can only be two evil game developers allowed.

I think EA generally needs more developers than that...

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (2)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226663)

Our Economy on the whole needs more Apprenticeship like schooling.

Colleges (I think partially due to the GI Bill, for WWII and Vietnam War, combined with trying to dodge the draft) have seem to have taken the near monopoly on Higher Learning after High School. It isn't that College and University education is bad, but it isn't for everyone leaving a gap in labor. As well lowering the value of a College education.

Apprenticeships, vocational training, and other alternate forms of education should be a larger part of our modern economy. A lot of people go into Computer Science, or Computer Engineering degrees to be Programmers and System Admins. Those don't need Degrees they can be learned via an Apprenticeship program. Also not IT jobs but other white collar jobs, like Accounting, Marketing, Sales, Advertising, Management... Doesn't need College degrees but experience and learning from skilled workers.

However the problem was the Baby Boomer created a culture of Cut Throat type of thinking, where if the Apprentice passes the master it is seen as a threat on his job, and the idea of working you way up in an organization is no longer the case, we need to jump from job to job in order to advance in life.

Re:More IT / tech needs apprenticeship like school (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226923)

Universities have apprenticeship-like schooling too; it's called graduate school. But the end goal is different than in industry.

and maybe graduate school should be at AA for (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227047)

some Fields that don't need the full load of University as it's not for but it isn't for everyone.

And the in some Fields College and University turns out people with skill gaps and saying 1-2 more years is a poor way to fix that.

Adventure Construction Set = Early Minecraft (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226257)

>> I pitched a Lego construction game in 1989, and guess what: Minecraft is basically a Lego construction game.

Sounds like the "Adventure Construction Set" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventure_Construction_Set) - that's was the Minecraft of the 2D world back in the 1980s.

Re:Adventure Construction Set = Early Minecraft (1)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226827)

Well sometimes good idea are just at the wrong time.

Mindcraft was able to use the 3d+Networking aspect to modern games to make it far more popular than it would be at 2d and single player.
Kids like to build blocks, but once they are done the like to show it to other people.

Back in the 1980's and 1990's networked multi-player games were hard to come by. As telephone service was rather expensive (Pay $0.10 per call for a local call, long distance charges), and data was slow, then the main game hub system needed some rather expensive equipment to gather and split the data meaning you need to pay a rather hefty for the time fee to play the games. (Think the old Sierra Network).

A while back I came up with an idea Kinda like YouTube/iTunes however at the time most people were limited to a 14.4k modem and downloading and Playing an MP3 would require the PC's full power to decode and play at real time. Good idea, but the technology wasn't there yet.

mid 90's have UMK3 wavenet way befor it's time (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227463)

it used T1 lines and it did not make it past the test citys.

three guys in a garage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226273)

Give me three hungry guys in a garage instead of a university classrooom full of smartphone-checking, linkedin-updating, internship-arranging "best and brightest" who are really just good (or become good) at following someone else's rules to the 'T'.

But the rules change constantly, often at the instigation of the guys in the garage.

Seems like the wrong end of the problem... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226281)

Obviously, it is fairly likely that academy participants will be improved as game developers to some degree; but it seems like that doesn't really address the problem as described in the interview, which is people with good ideas getting shot down by bean-counters who want predictable sequels.

One would think that, rather than polishing developers, the logical line of attack would either be tinkering with funding models or reducing the cost of game development, which are the only two possibilities for either cutting the risk-averse out entirely, or causing them to adopt a 'games are cheap, so the ROI on experimentation is better than the ROI on derivative sequel schlock' philosophy.

Re:Seems like the wrong end of the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226641)

I agree.
When I read about analysts who can only talk about gaming as a market, abstracting it for the financial leaders of nowadays gaming companies, and yelling that "consoles are the gaming market", and "tablets are the future !" PC is dead etc. Well...
While it might very well be anecdotal, I find Star Citizen kind of a new hope for games, especially on the PC side.
This game is free of any noise induced by useless intermediaries, and is tailored for its audience.
Crowdfunding might not be the definitive answer, but its a door to a possibility of gaming delivery (ok we'll see at the end, but it seems solid) offering games that are wanted and funded and (hopefully) enjoyed.

Obviously Star Citizen is not the only crowdfunded game, but it's the only one that managed to get more than 14M (from which and 2M in the last 6 days) and is likely to reach a full standalone AAA of 21M before its planned cycle end, that is 21M used for productive things, no waste in retailer, commercial, managerial, usual gaming company overhead.
I find there is some kind of purity in this.

mlw.

why post bachelor and not something that can be at (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226285)

why post bachelor and not something that can be at maybe the 2-4 year level or maybe just on it's own??

that 10K does not cover your student loans. And 2-4 years of CS with lots of skill gaps can be better filled with some like this as part of the 2-4 years.

Re:why post bachelor and not something that can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226525)

Although feedback from infants is no doubt interesting, I can't help thinking that 2-4 year-olds are a little too young to benefit. Although if playing with Lego is basically the same as writing Minecraft ...

Re:why post bachelor and not something that can be (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226989)

2-4 year college level

Re:why post bachelor and not something that can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44228031)

WOOSH

"come up with the next big thing" (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226289)

I pitched a western game and the response was "westerns don't sell." And then Red Dead Redemption came out. Stuff doesn't sell until someone makes one that sells, and no amount of data can reveal what new thing is going to sell. The metrics and data guys, and the publishing guys will never come up with the next big thing.

And, statistically speaking, neither will game developers. For every big hit of a game there's dozens more that perform okay enough to recoup costs but any follow-up titles are completely up in the air, and hundreds more that go nowhere.

Just because in one instance a publisher said 'western games don't sell' and was then proven wrong, doesn't mean that everybody thinking they can disprove a publisher when they say their Game X is going to be the next Red Dead Redemption is going to be right.
We can pretty much know this for a fact by looking at all the 'indie' games on mobile platforms and being launched through KickStarter (not counting the ones who are just using it as marketing hoping to attract the actual big money..from publishers). Although at least the latter can give an indication as to what people may be craving, it doesn't mean the end-result is going to deliver.

Re:"come up with the next big thing" (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226443)

Is this his explanation for why Epic Mickey sucked? He was beholden to the "metrics guys" at Disney? I've loved everything Spector has done, but Epic Mickey is just the blandest platform gameplay with high production value Disney art.

Seinfeld Is Unfunny (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227503)

Epic Mickey is just the blandest platform gameplay with high production value Disney art.

It's been that way since sometime in the 16-bit era. DuckTales on the NES was fun, but Pinocchio on the Super NES and Sega Genesis was short and bland. Might it be a case of Seinfeld is no longer funny [tvtropes.org] because platforming itself had become old hat?

Re:Seinfeld Is Unfunny (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228077)

DuckTales on the NES was fun

Duck Tales on the NES was fun because it was made by Capcom, when they were making Mega Man, Bionic Commando, and tons of other great games. Warren Spector, having a similar history of awesomeness should have been able to produce something awesome with Epic Mickey. He's smart enough to see when something is trite, and he's a master at mixing genres. He should have been able to do something to make it better.

Might it be a case of Seinfeld is no longer funny because platforming itself had become old hat?

If that were the case, it wouldn't be fun to go back and play Duck Tales.

Re:Seinfeld Is Unfunny (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228987)

There's a remastered version of the Ducktales game coming out. No, really. They even got Alan Young to do the voice of Scrooge McDuck again...the man is 93 years old! And yes, June Foray voices Magica De Spell...she's 95!

Re:Seinfeld Is Unfunny (1)

neminem (561346) | 1 year,14 days | (#44230471)

Aladdin and Lion King were both pretty respectable games (both for SNES). Granted, they weren't DuckTales, but they were still pretty decent.

Re:"come up with the next big thing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226477)

Games make plenty of money. Not everything can be Halo or CoD. Even "poor" sales games rake in a decent amount of money that covers development and publishing. Occasionally the bean counters screw up and project take longer, which eats into profits, other times they start over with a new toolset and waste months of work, which again, eats up money.

The games industry is like the movie and movie industries, the publishers get control of the product and distribution and use creative accounting to make money not come out the other end. Companies that are limited to development get paid millions, and then there are bonuses for sales points and meta-scores. This is the money devs are complaining they're not getting. Well, tough shit, they missed their targets. The solution is trivial, if you have a commercial product, don't use publishers and moan you're not getting as much money. Their problem is they want publishers to fund them up front while they work on something. The company owners should be the ones raising money, not relying on distribution monopolies.

If they really want to rake in money, stop spunking $50-100 million on advertising!

Bootstrapping a startup (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227599)

The solution is trivial, if you have a commercial product, don't use publishers

How is that supposed to work? Every download game on Xbox Live Arcade must be sponsored by a disc game publisher [slashdot.org] .

Their problem is they want publishers to fund them up front while they work on something.

A developer could rely on a bootstrapping strategy [wikipedia.org] to make up for the lack of publisher advances. Such a company would start with a tiny project and use the revenue to grow with each successive project. But console makers have historically required self-publishing developers to be "at least this tall", as theme park ride descriptions put it, to even get started developing for a platform.

Games and movies (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226291)

The problem with trying to figure out how to design and create a popular game is that, as with movies, there's no magic formula for what makes a popular game/movie. In fact, about the only guarantee is that following a formula, any formula, drastically reduces your chances for creating something popular. It's very hard to package up and teach creativity and originality.

Re:Games and movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226483)

In fact, about the only guarantee is that following a formula, any formula, drastically reduces your chances for creating something popular.

Which is why we have a dozen games or so in the Call of Duty franchise alone?

Re:Games and movies (1)

SteffenM (166724) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228559)

Which is why we have a dozen games or so in the Call of Duty franchise alone?

That's because they are maintaining the franchise. Just like the always-derided Madden series, they've long been established as popular and will continue to churn out the same things as long as people will keep buying them.

Re:Games and movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226613)

I guess that explains the dearth of vaguely military FPS games and animated Disney films where a Princess overcomes something.

I think the fatal flaw is investing SO MUCH into ONE THING that nothing about it can fail, so in the end mediocrity rules popularity.

Oddly enough I think that's why some gamers are looking past pricey AAA titles and delving deeper into indie games... kind of like the indie film scene before it was co-opted by industry and became a genre

Bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226319)

The last thing the games industry needs is more cookie cutter production line academy thinking.

That's how we got this current crop of fucking garbage.

The random gems we do get... They were inspired by creativity, and a drive for quality.

Not just money. Which is the only thing an academy has ever produced. Money hungry willing to do anything for a buck sellouts.

SERFS !! MEET LORD !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226359)

You are unto thy Lord and Keeper, the GAME EXECUTVE !! Please him for he hath you created !!

HOOK em HORNS !!

LONG live DIO !!

SATAN is YOUR LORD and MASTER !!

BIKINI beach BABES !!

HERE IS EHERE EVIL DWELLS !!

Ahh *Sigh of relief (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226379)

When you live in a world where metrics rule and people rule out ideologies because: "it's been done", "why not do this instead".. you see that people are looking too dimly on the end result. It's always about the end result and how you get there is just.. simply a way of getting there.
Schooling isn't everything, human curiosity is a gift that is often repeatedly beaten until the point that we are mere products of our environment and you place your beliefs in a set of predefined rules from that environment. Expand your mind children. Dream the impossible and work hard to make it happen.

Re:Ahh *Sigh of relief (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44227849)

...and then release your dream, to find that no body wants it.

Metrics are a way of making sure dreamers dont waste their time.

Does it need fixing? (3, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226395)

People say the game industry needs fixing, but there's tons of great games coming out from both the big boys and the indie scene. Sure, you can complain about Madden 20xx and "Gears of Halo Battlefield Combat" remakes, but then there are other choices you can make. You just need to realize that you're not the person those churned sequels are being made for.

It seems to me that Spector could have fronted the money himself if he thought the ideas were so good. They probably would have been if he was working on them, DX was one of the all-time greats. Unless he had some sort of no-compete contract, he should have gone indie.

Re:Does it need fixing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44227719)

Care to list these "tons of great games"? because I'm seeing nothing that excites me at all.

Re:Does it need fixing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44227817)

Deus Ex could have been better.

But then, we also have crap like Bulletstorm or Vanquish. Games that look and sound good, but have zero substance. Then we also have games like Mass Effect 3, they have potential, and because you played 1 and 2, you can see it and feel it, but after you finish it, you realize you're still waiting for that potential to be used. (I liked the ending, and I think anyone that actually reads sci-fi books will also).

An "Academy", is just another stupid idea to throw out there. A lot of games are unique and diverse and successful because they don't fit a mold, an "academy" would be that mold, and our grand-children will live to play Madden 2063, and curse us for it.

Oh, and X-Com ... don't even get me started... if there's anyone I've ever wished harm, is those guys I wish ED's until their lineages are extinct.

Academy Awards? (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226441)

The first thought I had was what categories would be eligible for winning a Freeman.

no offense but those piddling details... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226469)

how hard is it to buy groceries? or pay rent?

passionate people find a way. this coddling is just going to result in assholes who overestimate their abilities and are out of touch with actual gamers.

the best game designers are humanists in touch with other people and their concerns.

Just imagine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226513)

if all university programs were run that way. The economy would be so productive it would be to the
moon by now. No. Wait. Isn't that the way China runs its universities ? Oh Damn !

You lose me... (1)

lance_of_the_apes (2300548) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226629)

The moment you use the phrase "best of the best of the best." Especially when referring to artists.

To really introduce them in to the gaming industry (3, Insightful)

Dishwasha (125561) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226737)

Make sure that they understand that they are going to have to already prove themselves as being able to design and code a completely working and feature complete game from engine to art before they can be accepted in to the program, attend class and study under supervision for at least 80 hours per week, live strictly off of one item from the dollar menu per meal, give them a proper browbeating every once in a while, constantly remind them they are easily replaceable with other students just itching to get in to the program, and then never let them complete a project by tossing them on to other loser projects. But it's all okay because the student breakroom looks like a teenage gamer's wet dream.

Fix the industry? (4, Insightful)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | 1 year,14 days | (#44226863)

Nobody is going to fix the industry. The industry functions quite well just the way it is, grossing more than Hollywood for years now. If we're talking about the precious industry, that financial success is the only thing that matters.

Now if we're talking about ART... That's a whole different problem. Art is anathema to the industry. But this is also true of Hollywood, so we can assume the same sort of results fairly reasonably. Art will still happen, in spite of the industry, not because of it. It will be accidental. It will be serendipitous. It will be the result of one madman with a vision. It will NOT happen because of some hothouse training program.

Those of us who have been in the industry think of something else entirely when talking about fixing the industry. The radical instability of development houses is what needs fixing. Nowhere else in the world is there so little code reuse, and so little retention of talent. Maybe the customers could get some of the things they want, like more reliable ship dates, and better code quality if that were fixed. That's a whole different problem from endless sequels and poor design though.

Why listen to Spector when he created shit games (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44226915)

... like Deus Ex 2. He also poorly managed Thief 3 and resulted in a less-than stellar return of Garrett.

Re:Why listen to Spector when he created shit game (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44227115)

The dumbing down of DX2 was necessary for consoles, but I do agree that it was much worse than the original. Still, it wasn't a bad game by any stretch and I enjoyed the story.

As for Thief: Deadly Shadows, I have just one question. Are you crazy? That was the best game in the series.

Are consoles necessary (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227749)

The dumbing down of DX2 was necessary for consoles

For a single-player game, the question is whether consoles are necessary in the first place.

Re:Are consoles necessary (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229011)

For a single-player game, the question is whether consoles are necessary in the first place.

Why would you say that?

Re:Why listen to Spector when he created shit game (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228679)

The dumbing down of DX2 was necessary for consoles

Console, singular. DX2 was Xbox only.

But it wasn't necessary to dumb it down at all, and I take umbrage at that statement since:

but I do agree that it was much worse than the original

The original game, was also released in enhanced form on the PS2...mouse and keyboard support included. There were some minor changes in UI and levels were split in pieces since Eidos didn't seem know the trick of level streaming. (which is how you get big levels on the PS2...you stream them on the fly) But basically it's the same game.

Re:Why listen to Spector when he created shit game (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229155)

the maps had to be cut down to fit in the xbox 1 limited ram pool

Re:Why listen to Spector when he created shit game (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | 1 year,14 days | (#44230275)

The dumbing down of DX2 was necessary for consoles...

Admittedly I never played Invisible War, but Human Revolution shows that you don't need to dumb it down for consoles. I played DX:HR on Xbox, and I thought it was a fantastic game. It fell a little short of the original Deus Ex, which I had played on a Mac, but that has nothing to do with console vs computer.

Universal Ammunition sucked in deus Ex 2 (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229291)

most extreme example ever implemented. Every single weapon that uses ammo draws from the exact same ammo pool: the same kind of ammo for pistols, shotguns, RPG's, flamethrowers ... This is very problematic because when you run out of bullets for one gun, you run out of bullets for every single one of your guns.

They have it exactly backwards (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44227609)

> 'The idea is to get the best of the best of the best, run them through a Navy Seals boot camp

Ugh, this is totally wrong. The games industry continues to perpetuate the SuperCoder Myth.

There is this notion in the games community that you need a few crack rockstars to make a game. As it turns out, these people don't really exist. What you find is a few people willing to work 24 hours a day on the problem instead of 12. This perpetuates coders who program all night, all the time and leads to death marches. Again, the idea that one coder will write most of the code and the rest will support him is just misguided MBA jockeying. What you need is a solid team of methodical programmers who are all reasonably good and working a reasonable schedule.

Thus, "Let's get the best of the best! and make them Navy Seals!" is built on top of this exact myth. The idea that you can just get one good programmer and take on the world. Such BS.

Re:They have it exactly backwards (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,14 days | (#44227881)

There is this notion in the games community that you need a few crack rocks

Because that's what some producers in big video game companies have to be smoking. Now I get it.

Death by analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44228141)

What we need is a super-academy for electricians, so that we can find electricians to work on our biggest, most complex buildings. We will find the best of the best navy-seals of our electricians. Rockstar electricians, so to speak, who can wire an entire building on their own. And these electricians will want to work on the biggest buildings because they will get perks like an 18 hour work day and a break room filled with electrical switches and Crestron panels.

No need for an academy (2)

Hentes (2461350) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228617)

The indie scene is already fixing the industry. The big guys can adapt or die.

Better stories? More content? (2)

WillAdams (45638) | 1 year,14 days | (#44228643)

The games which I've enjoyed the most recently have been:

  - Legend of Zelda Skwyard Sword
  - Red Steel 2
  - Xenoblade Chronicles
  - The Last Story
  - Pandora's Tower (finally found a work-around which seems to be consistent for me for the glitch)

In particular:

  - motion controls and the interface of Skyward Sword and Red Steel 2
  - exploration and vast expanses and lengthy gameplay of Xenoblade
  - online campaign and RPG-style grinding of The Last Story
  - fascinating story of Pandora's Tower

I'd give a lot for a motion-controlled RPG w/ downloadable content, grinding and on-line play which had a good story which was suited to the on-line environment.

One of the best potential backgrounds for such a thing would be C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine stories (travel is by a series of gates to different worlds) --- I really wish someone would license it.

Solo Effort (2)

DrGamez (1134281) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229151)

I'm kind of tired of seeing all the credit for huge productions like video games go to a single person.

troolkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44229177)

another 7roubled in posting a GNAA GNAA and supp0rt Similarly grisly

Warren should have stuck to pencil and paper (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229203)

Some people don't remember but Warren Spector got his start in tabletop gaming having worked for Steve Jackson Games and TSR. Then seeing that tabletop would always remain a niche, like some other tabletop designers (like Sandy Petersen), he jumped ship to where the big money was....electronic gaming.

He should have stayed on the tabletop....just because you're pretty good at tabletop design doesn't make you a good computer/console game designer.

The problem with number crunching history (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44229437)

The problem with number crunching history is the same problem trying to get accurate forecasts during times of changing weather patterns from the farmers almanac. They have absolutely truthful historical information, but their changes in trends tend to be flat lines based on averages of years past. Can they tell why the US South is so dry and Western Canada is so wet? No. You have to look at the previously east-to-west straight jetstream, which is now much more sinusoidal, and see that areas north that used to be somewhat dry with a bit of moisture (dryland farming) are now dealing with copious amounts of rain (inches per week instead of inches per month), and other areas are looking at heat, drought and fire. When you make one that breaks the rule, then they make new rules. Before you break them, they follow the old rules.

If you want to fix an industry (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | 1 year,14 days | (#44229725)

fix its management practices.

The best games are made by those (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,14 days | (#44229759)

who have a passion for making the games, and they make a game that they themselves want to play, not the game that some D-bag CEO thinks will sell.

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