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Why Do Games and Game Studios Fail?

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the when-franchises-attack dept.

Games 389

LukeG writes "This new article discusses the reason behind games and their developers failing, noting the distance of those selling the games, from those that buy them as one possible cause. Doomed games such as Bablylon 5 come under the spotlight, while the ubiquitous Duke Nukem Forever is also touched upon." For me, this article brought to mind the twin disasters of Fallout Tactics and the Farscape based game.

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389 comments

Games fail. (5, Interesting)

packeteer (566398) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586052)

When the programmers dont care. Too often people learn to program when what they really want to do is produce. Im not sure about commerical games but i know many times smaller games are messed up when everyone has i different idea or plan.

THE MARKET IS OVERSATURATED. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586099)

Too much product, not enough buyers. In addition, there's not enough playing time to play every freaking game available. It's as simple as that.

Moderators: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586126)

Please give this +5 insightful, and we can all move along to the next article.

Games take too long. (5, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586158)

That is also very astute. When one console game takes up to 80 hours to finish, just how many are most people going to play in a year?

Re:Games fail. (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586124)

Because the programmers, designers, and producers tend not to give a damn about treating game production as an art, and see it solely as a business.

They're a bunch of lemmings who parrot each others work ad nauseam; all they seem to have produced over the past few years are RTSes and FPSes, with a smattering of other genres. One game becomes succesful, the rest of them start making exactly the same kind of game. Look how many WW2 FPSes have come out recently.

This is a very complicated issue: (5, Funny)

thisisatest (120597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586053)

But I think it can best be summed up with the following words:

Because the games suck.

Re:This is a very complicated issue: (5, Insightful)

D4Vr4nt (615027) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586086)

Oh yes.. New games do suck.

Mainly because innovation has warming the bench, and the team is out there playing the same endless game. Bust some caps, click click death, whatever.

The money is in the innovation . Make something totally new, and chances are it will be successful.

I'm personally tired to death in blowing stuff up in the first person, I'd rather play solitaire.

Tony Hawk Pro "Pogo Stick" :P

innovation isn't everything. (5, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586116)

In fact, there are many innovative games that aren't good, and some excellent games that aren't innovative.

Some of the best films are great because of strong plots, excellent storytelling, and good cinematography, without breaking any new ground. Is there anything really innovative about Ang Lee? Steven Soderbergh? Not really, but they utilize existing techniques well, and know their craft.

Same with games. It doesn't look like Doom III is going to break any new ground - just do a lot of things that were done before, better. But they are the *right* things - suspense, atmosphere, art.

Technology before Content (5, Insightful)

Bonker (243350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586056)

Look at the technology and effort that went into Daikatana.... without anybody ever playing the game to see if it was fun.

technology? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586138)

Daikatana used the Quake 1 engine, and came out long after Q2 (and 3?)

That was a case of a development company trying to behave like rockstars while they're supposed to be engineering software.

Re:technology? (5, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586155)

Very few of the criticisms of the game I've heard had anything to do with the game engine, as I recall. The criticisms I heard (just like I didn't need to see Water World, I felt I was ready to learn from other people's pain and never played it) were that the gameplay was tedious and uninspiring, the plot meandering and silly, and the game itself buggy.

After all, what are two of the most popular and critically acclaimed games of the past 2 years? The Sims and GTA, neither of which could be said to be bleeding edge in terms of grapbics technology.

Re:technology? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586168)

Daikatana used the Quake 1 engine, and came out long after Q2 (and 3?)

As with other oft-delayed games that were released around the same time period as Daikatana (Anachronox, for example), Daikatana used the Quake 2 engine. However, like Duke Nukem Forever, Daikatana was in development for a long time, and I'm pretty sure it changed engines at least once.

Re:technology? (2, Informative)

i0chondriac (310892) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586169)

That is not correct, daikatana used the quake 2 engine. But it did get pushed back until the quake 2 engine was obsolete.

Re:Technology before Content (2)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586181)

Look at the technology and effort that went into Daikatana.... without anybody ever playing the game to see if it was fun.

Ah, but that implies that there was actually *effort* put into it. Far more effort was made marketing the game than making the game...Suffice it to say that anyone who shelled out $50 on launch day for that game was certainly made John Romero's bitch.

You are entitled to your opinion... (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586063)

...But I thought Fallout Tactics was a great game. It wasn't exactly the same as FO1 & 2, but was a great game in its own right.

I agree with you about Farscape though, but I realize that other people may have liked it.

graspee

Re:You are entitled to your opinion... (0)

anonymous cowarad (582519) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586140)

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Score: 8/10

Ahh... the Fallout series, surely a haven for those who dream of a better, post-apocalyptic world. And this time around as commandant within the ranks of the Schwarzkopf-esque Brotherhood of Steel, tactical warfare is the soup of the day.

Fallout Tactics takes a strategic perspective on the world laid out in the previous fallout chapters which opted for the RPG format. Because of this we are given not an all to original environment in which to do battle, though it is instantly fresh with the high-res and all. A feeling instantly generated when first seeing the graphic design is how all together thorough it is. It seems to contain all the elements of a fallout world (unfortunately I couldn't verify this, my contact in Chernobyl has contracted some horrid cough), from the burnt-out everything to the measly civilians making up the lower end of Darwin's theory. Levels are varied from urban to wilderness settings, but with the similar lighting throughout and the unchanging camera it gets rather stale along the way. This however is easily forgotten due to the surplus of variety in all other areas.

There are a plethora of both foes and weapons for you to encounter providing a nice bit of option when deciding how to go about taking life (my favorite is assaulting an unwary Beastlord with the brass knuckles). Weapons range from Uzi's to rail guns and though they provide a rush when obtained their effectiveness tend to not equal their potential. For instance a shotgun may miss point blank, and a bazooka tends to send its projectiles at a slingshot pace.

In combat you are given the option to duke in out in a turn-based system or a continuous one. A true gem is that you can alternate between the two throughout the missions that can make some battles feasibly winnable as opposed to utterly hopeless. The missions are insanely long but provide many different tasks, which make them more than tolerable. Controlling your characters is less personal more AI, thankfully the AI is often more capable than one would suppose, a nice touch. Depending on the player this lack of control could be an issue. One inane shortcoming FT suffers from however is the mission layout. At points you are given an objective. As you go about achieving this objective civilian lives are unavoidably lost. When you return for your next briefing you realize that that once insignificant and now dead NPC is now the key to progression. Infuriating! Also, your actions are permanent, golf clap for realism, low blow for impatient compulsive gamer. Thus, save often.

The story department is nicely filled and more than adequate for a strategy title.

You take on the role of a merc, recruited by the sovereign Brotherhood of Steel, who's mission is to restore the earth to its former glory and harmony by irradiating all who oppose, and by re-harnessing long dormant technologies. Technologies, blah, mega-murderous weapons more like it. Nevertheless, characters contain many side stories that are revealed in increments and develop a nice feel to the whole process. The gradual growth of your characters in skill and ability also adds to the overall appeal of completion, which takes a long, long time. Much of this time will be spent moving around your campsite hiring team members acquiring useful info for missions and buying weapons. This is a nicely involved aspect of the game that utilizes the brilliant interface, at once understandable and useful.

Outside of the one player epic, FT boasts a nice online multiplayer hackfest, which allows you to play as the baddies you encounter along the way in one player mode. Also featured is a capture the flag mode. Its fun, but no diversion from the meat of the matter.

The sound and voice acting of Fallout Tactics are in the upper echelon of strategy games and as always produce a much more real environment in which to fight, kill and conquer (all for the Brotherhood of course).

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel contains all the elements of a classic but foolishly falls short in vital areas. The overall quality does remain however and can keep a gamer involved for weeks, though not without side effects. Expect an overly militant spirit to manifest itself in your daily life, just try not to yell out "All hail the Brotherhood", in your poli-sci class or while on an airplane.

Reviewed by Tolkiemingway

(link [armchairempire.com] )

Re:You are entitled to your opinion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586200)

Try Wasteland, the unofficial prequel to FO. You'll probably find it on an abandonware site. (Yes, it's that old.)

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586071)

Why Do Web Pages and Web Servers Fail?

That's one thing we don't need an article for...:-P

Gameplay (2, Interesting)

arcadum (528303) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586072)

After all the eye candy losses its novelty gamers quickly realize that the game plays counterintuitivly, and or the story is vapid, and lacking any depth.

Page 1 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586073)

Why do games and their developers fail?

All Images

It is a cold hard fact that the games business is just that, a business. When push comes to shove if you aren't making money then the game is over. There are times, however, when I begin to wonder if the people with the money actually know what's going on. I remember buying a DVD when the technology was just breaking in the UK and finding one of those stupid marketing research pamphlets on the inside. Glancing over the questions one has always stuck in my mind. The question was to tick what was the primary reason for buying a particular film over another and among the list was 'the studio'. I couldn't, and still can't, understand how someone would think "Oh, that film was made by Warner Bros, it must be good, I'll get it." What made it memorable was that some marketing monkey boy must have believed that to be case. To me it showed a complete lack of understanding between the people releasing the DVD's and the people buying them. It has taken years of marketing research by the studios to realise that the kinds of people who like to buy DVD's want extra features about the making of the films and interviews with cast and crew. If they had just asked me at the start, or any other film fan, I could have saved them time and a whole lot of money. I guess I've only myself to blame as I never did send back the pamphlet. In the same regard I often wonder about the people in charge of which games get made, and which do not.

Now, a lot of games companies don't succeed due to a number of reasons, but most fail because their games aren't particularly good. Corporate natural selection, as it were. There are two other types though, that make no sense to me. One kind that make or are potentially making great games, but still fade away. Then there is my favourite enigma, the kind of company that seem to be making a game that almost the entire gaming audience can see failing right out of the gate.

Let me talk about the first kind as a sort of epitaph to the death of a good friend. The most recent example of this was the tragic demise of Appeal, the Belgian developer that had made Outcast. Outcast was a tremendous game in so many ways. Graphically it was unique thanks to the voxel technology they used so well. It had extremely sophisticated effects for the time, including software bump mapping, depth of field blurring and even some screen anti-aliasing. It's soundtrack was an auditory masterpiece thanks to the Moscow Symphonic Orchestra. The gameplay a brilliant mix of adventure and action. Yet despite critical praise, and reasonably good commercial success, somebody somewhere decided that the sequel would not be.

In Appeal's case, one of the problems was the initial choice of using voxel technology. Whilst it gave the game a very organic landscape, the engine took a long time to develop. For the sequel they wanted to move to polygons and so it was a case of back to square one as they worked on a new engine. But from the screenshots that are still available on the website that sits like an eerie ghost town, it looked very advanced. By aiming for the Playstation 2 platform as well as PC it would have given them a more stable platform as well as a huge market. After all, more and more games are becoming more open and free form for the player. But what may have been a huge hit was cancelled so Cutter Slade, the saviour of Adelpha, is no more.

Another company that went under despite critical praise was Looking Glass studios who developed System Shock 2, and the Thief series of games. In their case Eidos Interactive's decision was very strange as many of the employees were rehired by Ion Storm to work on, Thief 3. So evidently someone inside Eidos believes in the title.

Re:Page 2 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586085)

Why do games and their developers fail?

All Images

The Wing Commander games were going from strength to strength, a home-grown property within the industry so no restrictive licensing was applicable. Each title met with critical and commercial success. Then Origin just stopped making them and the final serving of that brilliant universe was the spin-off movie that left a bitter taste. One can at least appreciate that the game series went out on a positive note.

A game license that broke my heart when it was cancelled was the planned Babylon 5 game. It was in production during the height of the show's popularity. It was to be a space shooter with the unique ship handling that characterised the Star Fury's of the show. When the Star Wars games had been so successful why cancel this promising project? It's interesting to note that the great TV series suffered similar problems from the mysterious people in charge. J Michael Stratsynski was messed around as to whether the fifth series would be green lit. Thus the fourth series had the narrative crammed into it leaving the fifth with little to do, only truly reaching its high in the final episode "Sleeping in Light". Why was this series messed around with? Well, the powers that be wanted a spin-off series, too blind to see they were destroying the very thing they wanted to prolong. The spin off was an abysmal failure.

There will of course be information that we are not privy to in each of these cases. Perhaps the games were vastly over-budget. The games cancelled mid-development may have been further from completion than I believed or were over ambitious in their scope and rather than scale back, cancelling was preferable. Or maybe it was simply personal or creative differences. For whatever reason I certainly would have loved to see the games come to fruition and I wonder what inner politics during development led to their downfall.

Now we come to the second type of company and no matter how strange the first are, the second are even more curious. Their are a few examples that spring to mind in this category, from Eidos' impossible release schedule that destroyed the Tomb Raider series by not giving sufficient time for innovation, to the merciless march of the Army Men. Two prime examples stand out above all others, a lovely pair of double D's, Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever.

I want to make it clear that I am not out to vilify the companies or individuals responsible, far from it. I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who has the energy, enthusiasm and courage to go out and create a game and release it to the unforgiving public. For those of you not familiar with the story of Daikatana it was the brainchild of an id Software employee called John Romero. He left id to form Ion Storm alongside Tom Hall with grandiose ideas about big epic games, large teams, fantastic designs, plush offices and all the cokes you can drink. Back in the optimistic technology boom he got it.

The game was being developed for the Quake engine, then when Quake 2 was released they decided to switch engines to keep Daikatana looking competitive. This was not an easy move. The team suffered personal and technical difficulties and was burning money rapidly. The game suffered lengthy delays and when released was a critical and commercial failure. Now Daikatana had some commendable design elements that just didn't quite work together.

Re:Page 2 (5, Interesting)

Trusty Penfold (615679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586094)

Why do games and their developers fail?

All Images

How did this game ever reach the shelves though? In November 1998 the game was a year behind schedule and eight key team members, dubbed the "Ion Eight", walked out on the company. Surely that should have sent alarm bells ringing at Eidos that all was not well in the glass tower. I wouldn't advocate firing the personnel, instead why not take the talent and put them to work on other projects. After all, Ion Storm was also working on (in separate offices) Deus Ex and Anachronox. The fact that Daikatana was finished despite all the problems is a credit to John Romero's passion and drive for the project and I personally would like to see him return as a lead designer for PC games.

Finally though let us talk a bit about one of the most long awaited games ever, Duke Nukem Forever. As the saying goes, he who does not understand history is doomed to repeat it. And Duke Nukem looks a lot like Daikatana from where I sit. It has suffered huge delays. It has an ambitious design, probably unrealisable. It has a following whose hopes are so high that it could not possibly meet the expectation. Evidence of this point can be seen looking over the forums at 3D Realms website where one blind worshipper believed that once released Duke Nukem might destroy the games industry by raising the standard beyond everyone else. Has this fool been living in a dream world, has he not played some of the amazing games that have come out in the five years that Duke has been in development? Ironically 3D Realms made the decision way back in 1998 to switch to the Unreal engine to save time! How many other Unreal-powered games have been released since then?

I'm going to go further than 3D Realms are prepared to, and make an educated guess that it will be out by the end of the second quarter of 2003 or it will never see the light of day at all. How have I reached this conclusion? Well, given that the 3D Realms website contains no new information for that past two years about the game (and the movie/screenshots no longer cut the mustard) I base it on two premises. One, if it was going to be released for this Christmas we would have heard something, anything, about it by now. Two, if it is not out by the end of the second quarter 2003 then Doom 3 will be all too nigh on the horizon. And if the brief history of computer games has told us one thing it's that nobody can beat John Carmack on his own turf.

I would like to believe that Duke Nukem Forever, or the next Tomb Raider, will be great. That they'll make me eat my words. But when these games come out, all I'll be able to think about is how great Outcast 2 or Babylon 5 might have been. I suppose I have the better of the two worlds in this instance. In mine I can pretend that Outcast 2 was a monumental epic game that rivalled all before it. In Duke's, the game as always, will have the final say and all the hype and expectation will only add salt to the wound.

Now I've had my say, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What do you think of those pulling the strings in the games industry, are they making the right choices and the right games? What about Duke Nukem Forever, a destined failure, or potential ground-breaker 3D Realms suggest. Use the comments form below to vocalise and discuss.

Page 2 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586107)

The Wing Commander games were going from strength to strength, a home-grown property within the industry so no restrictive licensing was applicable. Each title met with critical and commercial success. Then Origin just stopped making them and the final serving of that brilliant universe was the spin-off movie that left a bitter taste. One can at least appreciate that the game series went out on a positive note.

A game license that broke my heart when it was cancelled was the planned Babylon 5 game. It was in production during the height of the show's popularity. It was to be a space shooter with the unique ship handling that characterised the Star Fury's of the show. When the Star Wars games had been so successful why cancel this promising project? It's interesting to note that the great TV series suffered similar problems from the mysterious people in charge. J Michael Stratsynski was messed around as to whether the fifth series would be green lit. Thus the fourth series had the narrative crammed into it leaving the fifth with little to do, only truly reaching its high in the final episode "Sleeping in Light". Why was this series messed around with? Well, the powers that be wanted a spin-off series, too blind to see they were destroying the very thing they wanted to prolong. The spin off was an abysmal failure.

There will of course be information that we are not privy to in each of these cases. Perhaps the games were vastly over-budget. The games cancelled mid-development may have been further from completion than I believed or were over ambitious in their scope and rather than scale back, cancelling was preferable. Or maybe it was simply personal or creative differences. For whatever reason I certainly would have loved to see the games come to fruition and I wonder what inner politics during development led to their downfall.

Now we come to the second type of company and no matter how strange the first are, the second are even more curious. Their are a few examples that spring to mind in this category, from Eidos' impossible release schedule that destroyed the Tomb Raider series by not giving sufficient time for innovation, to the merciless march of the Army Men. Two prime examples stand out above all others, a lovely pair of double D's, Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever.

I want to make it clear that I am not out to vilify the companies or individuals responsible, far from it. I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who has the energy, enthusiasm and courage to go out and create a game and release it to the unforgiving public. For those of you not familiar with the story of Daikatana it was the brainchild of an id Software employee called John Romero. He left id to form Ion Storm alongside Tom Hall with grandiose ideas about big epic games, large teams, fantastic designs, plush offices and all the cokes you can drink. Back in the optimistic technology boom he got it.

The game was being developed for the Quake engine, then when Quake 2 was released they decided to switch engines to keep Daikatana looking competitive. This was not an easy move. The team suffered personal and technical difficulties and was burning money rapidly. The game suffered lengthy delays and when released was a critical and commercial failure. Now Daikatana had some commendable design elements that just didn't quite work together.

Page 3 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586113)

How did this game ever reach the shelves though? In November 1998 the game was a year behind schedule and eight key team members, dubbed the "Ion Eight", walked out on the company. Surely that should have sent alarm bells ringing at Eidos that all was not well in the glass tower. I wouldn't advocate firing the personnel, instead why not take the talent and put them to work on other projects. After all, Ion Storm was also working on (in separate offices) Deus Ex and Anachronox. The fact that Daikatana was finished despite all the problems is a credit to John Romero's passion and drive for the project and I personally would like to see him return as a lead designer for PC games.

Finally though let us talk a bit about one of the most long awaited games ever, Duke Nukem Forever. As the saying goes, he who does not understand history is doomed to repeat it. And Duke Nukem looks a lot like Daikatana from where I sit. It has suffered huge delays. It has an ambitious design, probably unrealisable. It has a following whose hopes are so high that it could not possibly meet the expectation. Evidence of this point can be seen looking over the forums at 3D Realms website where one blind worshipper believed that once released Duke Nukem might destroy the games industry by raising the standard beyond everyone else. Has this fool been living in a dream world, has he not played some of the amazing games that have come out in the five years that Duke has been in development? Ironically 3D Realms made the decision way back in 1998 to switch to the Unreal engine to save time! How many other Unreal-powered games have been released since then?

I'm going to go further than 3D Realms are prepared to, and make an educated guess that it will be out by the end of the second quarter of 2003 or it will never see the light of day at all. How have I reached this conclusion? Well, given that the 3D Realms website contains no new information for that past two years about the game (and the movie/screenshots no longer cut the mustard) I base it on two premises. One, if it was going to be released for this Christmas we would have heard something, anything, about it by now. Two, if it is not out by the end of the second quarter 2003 then Doom 3 will be all too nigh on the horizon. And if the brief history of computer games has told us one thing it's that nobody can beat John Carmack on his own turf.

I would like to believe that Duke Nukem Forever, or the next Tomb Raider, will be great. That they'll make me eat my words. But when these games come out, all I'll be able to think about is how great Outcast 2 or Babylon 5 might have been. I suppose I have the better of the two worlds in this instance. In mine I can pretend that Outcast 2 was a monumental epic game that rivalled all before it. In Duke's, the game as always, will have the final say and all the hype and expectation will only add salt to the wound.

Now I've had my say, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What do you think of those pulling the strings in the games industry, are they making the right choices and the right games? What about Duke Nukem Forever, a destined failure, or potential ground-breaker 3D Realms suggest. Use the comments form below to vocalise and discuss.

By Richard Clifford

Re:Page 1 (5, Informative)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586179)

Having programmed professionally on the PlayStation2's hardware, I can tell you one thing right now. Attempting to make a Voxel Engine run well on a Playstation2 is like using a hammer to drive a screw.

The Playstation2 hardware is designed much differently then a PC game is. It has an ungodly amount of memory bandwidth, and very little VRAM. It cannot store much in the way of textures, or models. What it can do is draw huge amounts of polygons quickly. Its rendering hardware uses a Depth Buffer, and it can take huge amounts polygons and render them correclty to that depth buffer very quickly.

Voxels are essentially 3d pixels. While the PS2 can be made to render objects using that technique, it cannot take advantage of its specialized hardware when doing so. PC's tend to be more flexible, but since GeForce type cards are becomming the standard, if your using OpenGL or DirectX to do your rendering, then you cannot take advantage of your video card to draw yoru polygons.

END COMMUNICATION

Instant slashdotting (0, Offtopic)

Mahrin Skel (543633) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586074)

Did anyone grab a copy of the article in the 30 seconds it took their server to cry uncle?

--Dave

Re:Instant slashdotting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586147)

Read at -1. Spoilsport moderators are moderating the copies of the article to -1 redundant.

SHIT! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586078)

5 mothereffing posts and it's /.'d

dammit. I liked DNF, too... I wanted to read what it said about ol' Duke.

Here, by the way, is a mirror of the content: (5, Funny)

thisisatest (120597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586079)

This is about a minute and a half after the story was posted, mind you.

The page cannot be displayed
There are too many people accessing the Web site at this time.

Please try the following:

  • Click the Refresh button, or try again later.
  • Open the www.ferrago.co.uk [ferrago.co.uk] home page, and then look for links to the information you want.

HTTP 403.9 - Access Forbidden: Too many users are connected
Internet Information Services

Technical Information (for support personnel)

  • Background:
    This error can occur if the Web server is busy and cannot process your request due to heavy traffic.
  • More information:
    Microsoft Support [microsoft.com]

Re:Here, by the way, is a mirror of the content: (1)

gornar (572285) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586215)

It just has too many people accessing it. Keep refreshing, I got in.

/.ed (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586081)

The site is /.ed, but I noticed that you get a friendly message from IIS which tells you that too many people are connected- but have you seen the unnecessary bulk of the HTML source ? It would be funny if you had a really plain web site and "turning people away" like this actually used more bandwidth...

graspee

Why do game companies fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586082)

Not enough T & A in their games.

Duh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586084)

Too many games.

I can suggest one reason why games fail... (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586089)

Gaming leaves so little time to browse Slashdot.org that I haven't touched Unreal Tourny in weeks.

slashdotting (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586090)

Why do games and their developers fail?

It is a cold hard fact that the games business is just that, a business. When push comes to shove if you aren't making money then the game is over. There are times, however, when I begin to wonder if the people with the money actually know what's going on. I remember buying a DVD when the technology was just breaking in the UK and finding one of those stupid marketing research pamphlets on the inside. Glancing over the questions one has always stuck in my mind. The question was to tick what was the primary reason for buying a particular film over another and among the list was 'the studio'. I couldn't, and still can't, understand how someone would think "Oh, that film was made by Warner Bros, it must be good, I'll get it." What made it memorable was that some marketing monkey boy must have believed that to be case. To me it showed a complete lack of understanding between the people releasing the DVD's and the people buying them. It has taken years of marketing research by the studios to realise that the kinds of people who like to buy DVD's want extra features about the making of the films and interviews with cast and crew. If they had just asked me at the start, or any other film fan, I could have saved them time and a whole lot of money. I guess I've only myself to blame as I never did send back the pamphlet. In the same regard I often wonder about the people in charge of which games get made, and which do not.

Now, a lot of games companies don't succeed due to a number of reasons, but most fail because their games aren't particularly good. Corporate natural selection, as it were. There are two other types though, that make no sense to me. One kind that make or are potentially making great games, but still fade away. Then there is my favourite enigma, the kind of company that seem to be making a game that almost the entire gaming audience can see failing right out of the gate.

Let me talk about the first kind as a sort of epitaph to the death of a good friend. The most recent example of this was the tragic demise of Appeal, the Belgian developer that had made Outcast. Outcast was a tremendous game in so many ways. Graphically it was unique thanks to the voxel technology they used so well. It had extremely sophisticated effects for the time, including software bump mapping, depth of field blurring and even some screen anti-aliasing. It's soundtrack was an auditory masterpiece thanks to the Moscow Symphonic Orchestra. The gameplay a brilliant mix of adventure and action. Yet despite critical praise, and reasonably good commercial success, somebody somewhere decided that the sequel would not be.

In Appeal's case, one of the problems was the initial choice of using voxel technology. Whilst it gave the game a very organic landscape, the engine took a long time to develop. For the sequel they wanted to move to polygons and so it was a case of back to square one as they worked on a new engine. But from the screenshots that are still available on the website that sits like an eerie ghost town, it looked very advanced. By aiming for the Playstation 2 platform as well as PC it would have given them a more stable platform as well as a huge market. After all, more and more games are becoming more open and free form for the player. But what may have been a huge hit was cancelled so Cutter Slade, the saviour of Adelpha, is no more.

Another company that went under despite critical praise was Looking Glass studios who developed System Shock 2, and the Thief series of games. In their case Eidos Interactive's decision was very strange as many of the employees were rehired by Ion Storm to work on, Thief 3. So evidently someone inside Eidos believes in the title.

The Wing Commander games were going from strength to strength, a home-grown property within the industry so no restrictive licensing was applicable. Each title met with critical and commercial success. Then Origin just stopped making them and the final serving of that brilliant universe was the spin-off movie that left a bitter taste. One can at least appreciate that the game series went out on a positive note.

A game license that broke my heart when it was cancelled was the planned Babylon 5 game. It was in production during the height of the show's popularity. It was to be a space shooter with the unique ship handling that characterised the Star Fury's of the show. When the Star Wars games had been so successful why cancel this promising project? It's interesting to note that the great TV series suffered similar problems from the mysterious people in charge. J Michael Stratsynski was messed around as to whether the fifth series would be green lit. Thus the fourth series had the narrative crammed into it leaving the fifth with little to do, only truly reaching its high in the final episode "Sleeping in Light". Why was this series messed around with? Well, the powers that be wanted a spin-off series, too blind to see they were destroying the very thing they wanted to prolong. The spin off was an abysmal failure.

There will of course be information that we are not privy to in each of these cases. Perhaps the games were vastly over-budget. The games cancelled mid-development may have been further from completion than I believed or were over ambitious in their scope and rather than scale back, cancelling was preferable. Or maybe it was simply personal or creative differences. For whatever reason I certainly would have loved to see the games come to fruition and I wonder what inner politics during development led to their downfall.

Now we come to the second type of company and no matter how strange the first are, the second are even more curious. Their are a few examples that spring to mind in this category, from Eidos' impossible release schedule that destroyed the Tomb Raider series by not giving sufficient time for innovation, to the merciless march of the Army Men. Two prime examples stand out above all others, a lovely pair of double D's, Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever.

I want to make it clear that I am not out to vilify the companies or individuals responsible, far from it. I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who has the energy, enthusiasm and courage to go out and create a game and release it to the unforgiving public. For those of you not familiar with the story of Daikatana it was the brainchild of an id Software employee called John Romero. He left id to form Ion Storm alongside Tom Hall with grandiose ideas about big epic games, large teams, fantastic designs, plush offices and all the cokes you can drink. Back in the optimistic technology boom he got it.

The game was being developed for the Quake engine, then when Quake 2 was released they decided to switch engines to keep Daikatana looking competitive. This was not an easy move. The team suffered personal and technical difficulties and was burning money rapidly. The game suffered lengthy delays and when released was a critical and commercial failure. Now Daikatana had some commendable design elements that just didn't quite work together.

How did this game ever reach the shelves though? In November 1998 the game was a year behind schedule and eight key team members, dubbed the "Ion Eight", walked out on the company. Surely that should have sent alarm bells ringing at Eidos that all was not well in the glass tower. I wouldn't advocate firing the personnel, instead why not take the talent and put them to work on other projects. After all, Ion Storm was also working on (in separate offices) Deus Ex and Anachronox. The fact that Daikatana was finished despite all the problems is a credit to John Romero's passion and drive for the project and I personally would like to see him return as a lead designer for PC games.

Finally though let us talk a bit about one of the most long awaited games ever, Duke Nukem Forever. As the saying goes, he who does not understand history is doomed to repeat it. And Duke Nukem looks a lot like Daikatana from where I sit. It has suffered huge delays. It has an ambitious design, probably unrealisable. It has a following whose hopes are so high that it could not possibly meet the expectation. Evidence of this point can be seen looking over the forums at 3D Realms website where one blind worshipper believed that once released Duke Nukem might destroy the games industry by raising the standard beyond everyone else. Has this fool been living in a dream world, has he not played some of the amazing games that have come out in the five years that Duke has been in development? Ironically 3D Realms made the decision way back in 1998 to switch to the Unreal engine to save time! How many other Unreal-powered games have been released since then?

I'm going to go further than 3D Realms are prepared to, and make an educated guess that it will be out by the end of the second quarter of 2003 or it will never see the light of day at all. How have I reached this conclusion? Well, given that the 3D Realms website contains no new information for that past two years about the game (and the movie/screenshots no longer cut the mustard) I base it on two premises. One, if it was going to be released for this Christmas we would have heard something, anything, about it by now. Two, if it is not out by the end of the second quarter 2003 then Doom 3 will be all too nigh on the horizon. And if the brief history of computer games has told us one thing it's that nobody can beat John Carmack on his own turf.

I would like to believe that Duke Nukem Forever, or the next Tomb Raider, will be great. That they'll make me eat my words. But when these games come out, all I'll be able to think about is how great Outcast 2 or Babylon 5 might have been. I suppose I have the better of the two worlds in this instance. In mine I can pretend that Outcast 2 was a monumental epic game that rivalled all before it. In Duke's, the game as always, will have the final say and all the hype and expectation will only add salt to the wound.

Now I've had my say, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What do you think of those pulling the strings in the games industry, are they making the right choices and the right games? What about Duke Nukem Forever, a destined failure, or potential ground-breaker 3D Realms suggest. Use the comments form below to vocalise and discuss.

By Richard Clifford

bar(5) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586092)

Well, it's gone already. So perhaps someone could tell me what those () numbers after Unix programs mean? Like foo(8) or whatever. Feel free to post anonymously so you don't lose karma on my account.

Re:bar(5) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586217)

man pages are divided into "sections":

1) commands (crontab, open)
2) syscalls (open, select)
3) C library stuff (printf, sqrt)
5) file formats (crontab, fstab)
8) more commands (swapon, mount)

I have no idea if 4,6, or 7 are ever used. I'm really not clear on the difference between 1 and 8. Maybe I should "man man" sometime.

If you want to read about the crontab command, do "man 1 crontab". If you want to read about the crontab file format, do "man 5 crontab".

-Paul Komarek (posting anonymously ;-)

Re:bar(5) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586234)

Thanks, I am much obliged! That explains it :-)

Post Removed? (1)

fatius (245729) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586096)

Did anyone else notice this posted earlier today for about 2 minutes? It even had a typo in the headline.

(there was no "D" in "Do")

Its becuae (-1, Flamebait)

anonymous coword (615639) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586097)

faggots like to play shit like this [sf.net] and pirate all their games! Blame the linux zealotz, introduce Padalium and let their open shit die!

(This post is score 5, informative, anything else and the modertor is ON CRACK!)

Repetition (2, Insightful)

Felonius Thunk (168604) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586101)

Can't read the article since it appears to be already slashdotted, but...

Most games that manage to finally get published are rehashes of already popular games, and often just a quick game version of something already popular in another medium already (tv, movies, books, etc.). For one of those to succeed, it has to *really* be well put together, with great art and marketing (like, say, Spiderman). It's surprising when a game like that doesn't fail. Hopefully the article spends more time discussing the whys and wherefores of games that aren't going to have an obviously high chance of failing (Black and White, say).

Why do game websites fail? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586102)

Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.

Either I'm caught in a time warp... (2)

puppetman (131489) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586104)

or this was posted earlier today, pulled and reposted.

If you remember this too, let me know. I wouldn't want to be the only one caught in a paradox of time and space.

Re:Either I'm caught in a time warp... (2)

Bake (2609) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586235)

Nope, you're not the only one.

Of course the _both_ of us could be cought in the same time/space paradox. :-)

If you end up banging Stevie Case... (3, Funny)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586108)

then I wouldn't call that a failure.

Re:If you end up banging Stevie Case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586206)

Would it be as impressive if you banged her when she was a teener in Olathe, Kansas? I'm curious as to exactly how much bragging rights I have.

Ubiquitous? (5, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586125)

the ubiquitous Duke Nukem Forever is also touched upon... This is the first time I've heard of something that doesn't exist yet, and that probably never will, being ubiquitous.

Re:Ubiquitous? (1)

grimsweep (578372) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586172)

http://www.3drealms.com/fanstuff/dnfstory/index.ht ml

This is a good place to start. It *could* be ubiquotous, if this site were true, in the 'Big Brother' sense.

The best way to save a game... (3, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586128)

is to add more frogs.

Re:The best way to save a game... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586225)

is to show more of the farscape "females" ie, Chiana, Jool

It's pretty simple really.... (5, Insightful)

nsafreak (523874) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586132)

It's because of the upper management that keeps trying to get a product out the door as soon as possible. Doesn't matter if the game is bug ridden, plenty examples of this, or has other issues that need to be fixed first. The folks at the top and the investors want to get their money as soon as possible. Problem is that it's pretty tough to produce a decent game (believe it or not) within one year most of the time. An example of a gaming company doing the right thing is Blizzard Entertainment. The folks that own them right now (Havas Interactive I believe) understand that Blizzard knows what it's doing. So when Blizzard says the game is not ready to ship yet they adjust their schedule accordingly. Blizzard will not ship a game until it is done, even if they could make more money by releasing it earlier. Sure their games have a few minor bugs, but I can't remember any major ones in them. And can you name one title that was a flop for them? Because I sure as heck can not. More game publishers should follow Blizzard's example. To quote an article from PC Gamer on Blizzard's 10th anniversary Blizzard's strategy is this, "The game comes first". Why more game publishers have not adopted this approach after the large amount of success that Blizzard has seen may never be known.

Re:It's pretty simple really.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586164)

current owners of blizzard is eventually Vivendi universal. so blizzard like everything else is possibly up for sale.

gotta love megacorp redivision tactics. shit half the divisions under vivindi dont even know if their be sold or not(including the part i work for)

Re:It's pretty simple really.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586246)

An example of a gaming company doing the right thing is Blizzard Entertainment. The folks that own them right now (Havas Interactive I believe) understand that Blizzard knows what it's doing.

LOL, is this a troll, or are you hopelessly uninformed? Ever since Vivendi Universal bought Cendant, Blizzard, and Sierra, products have gone to shit among the usual frictions of a media conglomerate borging little companies. To make matters worse, VU and all its minion companies are on the open source shit list for suing the bnetd project.

My guess is... (5, Funny)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586134)

My guess is games and game studios fail because of something us in the industry call 'sucking'. This is a very hard to describe phenomenon, and can be caused by a number of factors. One common factor is the 'movie tie-in' in which a game is based on a (usually crappy) movie and thrown together in about 6 months. Examples of games which exhibit 'sucking' include:
"Daikatana"
"Blood 2"
"Disney's Lilo And Stitch Interactive Pop-Up Book" (or whatever the heck they call the tie-in for that movie)
"CowboyNeal, Space Crusader"

We here at the Fullashita University Interactive Media Department have devoted years of time and careful study to this phenomenon. We are currently in the process of developing 'anti-sucking' technology, based on a scientific phenomenon we call 'Gameplay'. This 'Gameplay' has proved to be extremely useful in protecting against 'sucking' in most of our tests.

- Kevin Gadd, Head Researcher, Fullashita University Interactive Media Department

Trusty /. folk (0, Offtopic)

Sacarino (619753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586135)

Always on the lookout for the dreaded /. effect, now we have 5 copies posted on the board.

An interesting question (5, Insightful)

hype7 (239530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586136)

The thing is, there are some absolutely brilliant games out there, that nobody ever hears about.

I remember the Journeyman Project II - I got number II as a birthday present - and I swear, it was the best game I ever played (along with Marathon... but that's another story :). There was plot, humour, intelligence, and it took you back in time to interesting places. It was hard to finish. And you couldn't just look up on the net for cheats.

I was filled with the most enormous sense of satisfaction when I completed that game.

Then, I hear the news about a month ago that Presto Studios, the makers of the game, have just shut down. A real shame. I for one will remember and appreciate their work, if only on that game.

-- james

Re:An interesting question (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586151)

One of the funnies games I ever layed was called "Eric the Unready". I laughed my ass of while trying to solve some pretty hard puzzels. Yet I can not find anybody else that has played it....

Re:An interesting question (1)

Trusty Penfold (615679) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586190)

You can get it here [the-underdogs.org] . I shall try it now and then you'll have found 1 other person that has played it.

Re:An interesting question (2)

hype7 (239530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586226)

One of the funnies games I ever layed was called "Eric the Unready". I laughed my ass of while trying to solve some pretty hard puzzels. Yet I can not find anybody else that has played it....


Well, I definitely enjoyed the JP II, but I wouldn've gone so far as to sleep with it... :P

Seriously, I know what you mean. There are these brilliant games out there, and I guess other than pot luck or lots of good reviews, it relies purely on marketing muscle or a good reputation.

It's a shame, because we all miss out as a result.

-- james

port to FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586141)

I think the competition is less there, so game makers should port to FreeBSD.

There are three reasons... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586142)

1)Money

2)Money

3)Money

Re:There are three reasons... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586231)

1) Profit!

2) Profit!

3) Profit!

Its called a free market (3, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586148)

As in build a better mouse trap.

The release now patch later philosophy obviously doesn't work. Couple that with the extreme arrogance of some of the prima donna game makers and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Marketing pushes these games so hard, nothing could live up to the hype. Why announce a game 4 years before release? Why announce it 6 months before release?

I'm not the biggest fan of Blizzard but at least they have cool beta programs and test their products. I can't count how many games I've bought over the years and had to toss in the trash because they were so bad (SIN comes to mind).

In the end it's developers such as Epic, Id and Blizzard who survive because they actually care about what they are releasing.

It's gotten to the point where I don't buy games until six months or so after the release when the first 3-4 patches have come out and I can read the reviews to see how bad it sucks.

Pac-Man anybody? (2, Insightful)

CatWrangler (622292) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586149)

How many days of play did most of us get out of that game. Well, those of us that are old enough anyways.

I have bought $50 games on 6 CD's that have bored me to tears after a few hours. I often find myself playing real.com games like diamond mine and alchemy as opposed to the latest greatest bloatware on the shelves.

Perhaps if a company would attempt to actually make the game enjoyable as opposed to just pretty, the industry would be doing better.

Games and their Dying exposed (5, Interesting)

MantiX (64230) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586150)

Games are just another market like many others, be it retail, anything. In order to sell, you have to have a couple of key components:

1. What it is your selling must be quality. If its a software game, people must believe that besides the graphic illustrious factor, the game is quality to play. Take the recent release of Battle Field 1942. Theres a game I have seen crash more people's pc's than most.

2. Attention to Multiplay. Developers out there are, and I can't quite understand this because its so BLOODY OBVIOUS, are continuing to develop games in single player, when it can be easily seen there should be a multi player aspect. Need for Speed hot Pursuit 2 on the Playstation 2 recently released, won't support online play, but the PC version does. If you want a game to succeed, MAKE IT MULTIPLAYER, at least then you can play humans.

2a. Now on the server side, one can learn a great deal from id here. Make it so the server binary is freely available, and can run easily on windows and unix platforms. The fact that quake3 and its off shoots are STILL going from (how long ago was it released?!?) demonstrates that this can definately be a factor.

3. Pride. Gamedevelopers: Stop projecting your point of view as if you thought it was the entire communities. It seems to be, that you are developing without listening to the community. There are certainly some development houses that are releasing beta previews etc...and this is a great idea, however make feedback interactive, get people INVOLVED in this, not just, send email here, we MIGHT look through it. Set up websites, with multiple answer radio buttons, so users who aren't terribly fantastic at communicating these things, can simply fill it out. You will retain a lot of players this way.

4. PRICE. Here in Australia, we pay up to $100 AU for a game. Work from the point of view that our average salaries might be the same in terms of figures to those in the US, now work with the fact you get 2 of our dollars to your 1. This is DEFINATELY a factor in Australia, I am not so sure about the US.

5. Poor programming. Some games I see developed, look visually stunning, but the attention has clearly been focused on 3dsmax side of things, rather than the actual coding. The responsiveness of an action game can sometimes be classed as worse than a dogs breakfast. Developers, CONSULT PEOPLE, I wonder how many games get released because the boss pushed the developers to get it out, and no one asked public gaming people to have a look at it. Now it fails, developers get fired...etc...

What do YOU think?

Re:Games and their Dying exposed (1)

handsomepete (561396) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586232)

"2. Attention to Multiplay. Developers out there are, and I can't quite understand this because its so BLOODY OBVIOUS, are continuing to develop games in single player, when it can be easily seen there should be a multi player aspect. Need for Speed hot Pursuit 2 on the Playstation 2 recently released, won't support online play, but the PC version does. If you want a game to succeed, MAKE IT MULTIPLAYER, at least then you can play humans."

This is the only one I disagree with. Games that have *really* stood the test of time (i.e. Pac Man, Galaga, etc.) focused on the single player competing only against scores. They were addictive and fun. Same with pinball, and that's been around and popular for ages. Other than that, I agree. Especially about the prices. Yikes.

Re:Games and their Dying exposed (4, Interesting)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586237)

The sheer size of some modern games is part of the problem; I've been playing Morrowind [morrowind.com] since it was released and its an amazing game, but its _huge_, and I can't imagine that they managed to play-test the entire game (given that its an open-ended, self-directed game). As a result there are a few plot bugs or glitches here and there (most of which are either fixed now in patches or are patched by community add-ons) and it seems that the area you start the game in is much more well refined than those you meet later on (since you're already hooked by then).

However, its major redeeming features include _having a story_, _being self-directed_ (the player can do whatever the player likes, even if its detrimental to the game / plot, althoug the game notifies you of this) and comes with the tools used to create the game in terms of placing objects and scripting the NPCs so the user can easily tweak / change / edit / make new features for the game.

Re:Games and their Dying exposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586239)

Did anyone play System Shock 2 multiplayer?

HTTP 403.9: IIS can't handle the load (3, Funny)

Tester (591) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586153)

Since its an IIS server and it clearly can't handle Slashdot, could someone post the content here?

Re:HTTP 403.9: IIS can't handle the load (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586166)

How did this game ever reach the shelves though? In November 1998 the game was a year behind schedule and eight key team members, dubbed the "Ion Eight", walked out on the company. Surely that should have sent alarm bells ringing at Eidos that all was not well in the glass tower. I wouldn't advocate firing the personnel, instead why not take the talent and put them to work on other projects. After all, Ion Storm was also working on (in separate offices) Deus Ex and Anachronox. The fact that Daikatana was finished despite all the problems is a credit to John Romero's passion and drive for the project and I personally would like to see him return as a lead designer for PC games.

Finally though let us talk a bit about one of the most long awaited games ever, Duke Nukem Forever. As the saying goes, he who does not understand history is doomed to repeat it. And Duke Nukem looks a lot like Daikatana from where I sit. It has suffered huge delays. It has an ambitious design, probably unrealisable. It has a following whose hopes are so high that it could not possibly meet the expectation. Evidence of this point can be seen looking over the forums at 3D Realms website where one blind worshipper believed that once released Duke Nukem might destroy the games industry by raising the standard beyond everyone else. Has this fool been living in a dream world, has he not played some of the amazing games that have come out in the five years that Duke has been in development? Ironically 3D Realms made the decision way back in 1998 to switch to the Unreal engine to save time! How many other Unreal-powered games have been released since then?

I'm going to go further than 3D Realms are prepared to, and make an educated guess that it will be out by the end of the second quarter of 2003 or it will never see the light of day at all. How have I reached this conclusion? Well, given that the 3D Realms website contains no new information for that past two years about the game (and the movie/screenshots no longer cut the mustard) I base it on two premises. One, if it was going to be released for this Christmas we would have heard something, anything, about it by now. Two, if it is not out by the end of the second quarter 2003 then Doom 3 will be all too nigh on the horizon. And if the brief history of computer games has told us one thing it's that nobody can beat John Carmack on his own turf.

I would like to believe that Duke Nukem Forever, or the next Tomb Raider, will be great. That they'll make me eat my words. But when these games come out, all I'll be able to think about is how great Outcast 2 or Babylon 5 might have been. I suppose I have the better of the two worlds in this instance. In mine I can pretend that Outcast 2 was a monumental epic game that rivalled all before it. In Duke's, the game as always, will have the final say and all the hype and expectation will only add salt to the wound.

Now I've had my say, I'd like to hear your thoughts. What do you think of those pulling the strings in the games industry, are they making the right choices and the right games? What about Duke Nukem Forever, a destined failure, or potential ground-breaker 3D Realms suggest. Use the comments form below to vocalise and discuss.

By Richard Clifford

valid survey question (2, Insightful)

updog (608318) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586159)

Glancing over the questions one has always stuck in my mind. The question was to tick what was the primary reason for buying a particular film over another and among the list was 'the studio'. I couldn't, and still can't, understand how someone would think "Oh, that film was made by Warner Bros, it must be good, I'll get it." What made it memorable was that some marketing monkey boy must have believed that to be case.

While I thought that this article was fairly nteresting, this conclusion bothers me. Did the author ever think about the possibility that the question was put on the survey with the intention of validating the accuracy of the survey? You need to put some bullshit questions on a survey to test if people are blindly checking off boxes, or are really answering truthfully and thoughtfully...

Business decisions (4, Informative)

Paul Komarek (794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586167)

Every comment I've read yet examines the game design and execution to determine why games fail. I expect that this is only 50% of the story. I believe the other half comes from the publication structure in the game industry.

I am told it is hugely impractical for a (regular?) game compnay to finance its own games. This is partly because of the crazy amounts of Hollywood-style glitz and polishing that the market pays for these days. The result is that game companies get "loans" from game publishers like Activision or Electronic Arts to complete the games.

At this point, the publisher is more-or-less in control. The publisher can cancel the game or change its budget. If the game is released, the game company has to pay back the publisher. Part of the deal assigns some portion of the game copmany's royalties to publisher. In the end, the game company can have a very successful product but barely break even (remind anyone of recorded music publication, or book publication?).

And that previous paragraph described a "good" situation. Imagine that the game company has crappy management and doesn't handle the narrow margins well; that the publisher decides to cancel the project; that the publisher goes bankrupt; that the publisher doesn't effectively market the game. I'm sure there are many more bad scenarios than good.

-Paul Komarek

Link broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586173)

None of these links work when you first post them.
Please try to get it right! I hit this one and it says "The page cannot be displayed".

This happens A LOT on this site!

Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586174)

1. Deadlines.
2. Emphasis on graphics vs. storyline.
3. On pc games are underpowered.
4. On consoles games are overpowered.
5. Repackage an older game with crap.
6. Games that are trying too hard to be
interactive and movie like.
7. Next version of game is announced at release
of current game.
8. Bugs/Glitches/Low Performance.
9. Not enough marketing.
10. Not targeting the correct age groups.

/.'ing reported by a /.'ed site (2, Funny)

lycono (173768) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586182)

Well, somebody got through. The sixth reply to the article over on their site is this:
Slashdot (02/11/2002 18:57:41) Reply, Report
Your website, needs more bandwidth. it can't handle traffic from slashdot

How kind of someone to take the time to tell them that...

Post mortem ('cuse the pun ;) (1)

Ciel (622360) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586184)

The site is slashdotted, but risking redundancy...

It seems to me that the death of many a game (and many a young game company) has come about through the mistaken assumption on the part of its developers that the number of features in, and overall flash of, a title are primary to its success. This misconception frequently leads to overly ambitious, unpolished games, when it leads to a marketable title at all (e.g. Summoner). The sad part is that this usually comes about through the best of intentions. A new gaming company wants to make a big splash with its first title, etc. so, it takes on a project that ultimately proves too demanding, forcing the developers to either abandon the project, release a bloated title with a shallow implementation, or cut out features mid-development, leading to a disjointed end product. Ultimately, it's really the polish that makes a game great, and sacrificing implementation for features is almost always a mistake. I have NES games that would hold my interest for a hundred times longer than much of what's coming out for the newer systems, and it certainly isn't because of the breathtaking graphics. Better to follow the old developers admonition of cutting your drawing board feature-set in half, and concentrating on a top notch execution with what remains. At the very least, you'll end up with a "good" game if your development house has real talent. And that's far more insurance than the alternative strategy offers...

Fallout Tactics? (1)

GriffX (130554) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586186)

Why does the poster give Fallout Tactics as an example of a failure? I think that's one of the better turn-based action games I've ever played! If the game didn't do well when it first came out, that doesn't mean it was bad - if we're comparing the games biz to the movie biz, there are plenty of titles that bombed on release and found an audience later; Fight Club anyone? eXistenz? Repo Man?

huh? (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586213)

Fight Club broke records on release if I remember correctly. eXistenz sucked, i don't care how long after release you watch it. That was the worst sci-fi crap ever. I never even heard of Repo Man so I wont comment there.

The fact that games don't do well on release is a mystery. Games are announced years before release, where as movies only a few months unless you read all the rumor sites. If a game that's announced 4 years ahead of time can't succeed with it's built up hype machine then that burden falls squarely on the developers.

Are there sleeper titles? Sometimes but it's incredibly rare.

Corporate involvement (2)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586189)

Unfortunately, the very issue (corporate involvement) that seems to allow games to either become more complex or develop a better story/technology often end up screwing the whole system up. One only has to look at the history of Bungie. The had some great technology, fantastic story lines and overall killer applications. They had two programs in the works, Oni and Halo when Microsoft came calling. Once Microsoft bought them out and assimilated Bungie, Oni became a shadow of what it once was to focus all efforts on getting Halo out of the box. Halo also became more diluted in concept to fit in with the console paradigm Microsoft purchased them for (The X-Box). Additionally, Microsoft cancelled all development for the Macintosh and Linux at the time and only recently has Westlake Interactive Westlake Interactive [westlakeinteractive.com] started porting Halo, originally intended for the Macintosh to the Mac platform. Westlake by the way is an impressive little operation that has been bringing the best games to the Macintosh market for years now.

I personally prefer to find the smaller game development guys who write quality stuff and provide them with my $$'s. Guys like Jesse Spears who is providing the world of naval simulation with Harpoon Harpoon3 [harpoon3.com] Westlake also deserves many kudos for their dedication and quality of work.

I think (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586199)

I wiil go watch my disney dvds and play with my
legos.

Less force, more mind (4, Interesting)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586202)

I think one problem with current games is that their story lines are just lame. For some reason in my experience making a game for the computer is much different than a console. For a console having a simple side scroller where you just have to make it past the baddies and to the end is okay, but on a computer it is not.

One reason is probably that a key board interface is much worse than a game pad and proportionatly very few computer game players own game pads. So on a computer game you have to have some type of good/unique interface, but that alone is not enough, you have to have an actually genuine story line. I would even go as far as to say that for most games you could put more necessity into the story than the graphics. It's the whole book vs. movie idea. The mind can make much more vivid images than a screen if given a good story. This is one reason that I think the Myst line made out so well. The interface was Ok at best compared to a lot of other games, but the visuals and the story really did suck you in. It really did become your world as the game tag line went.

I'm not saying that this goes for all games but it _definetly helps_. For instance First person shooters don't really require a plot, ie. Doom, or even much of an intracate one, i.e. Half Life. But a really nice one that has everything the other games has will do better. Marathon was this. It was an amazing game and I think one of the few reasions it didn't catch on quite as well as say doom is that it started out on the Mac.

It's like a really good movie. It isn't all flashy and smooth graphics, it's the good story along with all that.

Just my thoughts. :)

For the same reason so many bad movies get made... (2)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586207)

And I mean REALLY bad movies. Movies so bad, they never made it to the theatre, despite their multi-million dollar price tag. Movies that went straight to video instead...

I guess it boils down to concept/script, and execution/production. If the concept sucks, it doesn't matter how nice looking it is, and if the execution falls through, it isn't worth even trying.

Lesson: producers are eternal optimists (and damn bandits to boot.) Before the hyped-up, money laden days of the dot comers, movie producers (and game producers by extension) had the shady accounting, super hype, sell the idea (instead of the product), raise and spend some else's money thing down pat. That they rise and fall on almost a daily basis shouldn't surprise anyone.

Blame the people (5, Insightful)

Nobley (598336) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586212)

Games fail because the game buying public have failed,.. What people have supported with their $$$ over the years has led the game designers to have to put their investment into the flashy graphics using the latest 3D cards and such before gameplay and origionality,.. Before the age when 3D cards were the mainstay we get things like Star Control 2, Quest for Glory, Civilization and the likes,.. New and origional concepts were coming out all the time, granted you can do only so much new stuff it does not seem so much the trend these days,.. as for 3D over gameplay, look at what happened to Star Control 3, it was an absolubte joke, #2 is still playable now, #3 wasnt even fun when it first game out.

Typical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586220)

I bet this will make all the gaming weenies cum their pants.

What a useless fucking article (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586223)

So, did the author write this thing to tell us the answer or because he hopes some reader will write in and tell him the answer?

20 word summary (1)

20wordsummary (622389) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586236)

Of my vaporware-destined hopefuls, some crushed under internal pressure, and I wish I knew the details of the others'.

All this Article does is pose the question... (5, Insightful)

The Optimizer (14168) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586238)

All the /.'ed article does is ask the question "Why do game studios fail?" and muse about possible reasons for a few specific games. The author's musings are those of an outsider and don't really provide any insight.

I make this assessment as an Industry Insider and someone who helped build a very successful Game Studio from almost nothing, and has insider information on some the companies and games he muses about. /plug For those wanting references, just check my link, or know that I programmed significant portions of all of the Age of Empires games, and my latest game, Age of Mythology, just hit stores this weekend. I've also spoken many times at industry conferences, written numerous articles, and had my writings on multiplayer cheating subject me to the slashdot effect on multiple occasions. Along the way, I've gotten to know many, many people in this business and see how a lot of different companies operate. /end plug

What that said to establish my knowledge, know that I would love to write my own version of the question with a detailed look at what I consider to be the real answers. However, that would take weeks and result in about a 20,000 word novella.

That said, there are a few big themes that loom over the industry that I can summarize. (This is not a complete list)

1) Production Values and feature demands for an "AAA" title in 2002. In a word: HUGE Moore's Law applies here too.
2) The large number of titles (PC and consoles) released that compete for the player's dollars and attention.
3) The cost of development. Because of #1 and #2, you get pressure to out-do your competition. This leads to #4
4) A "Tiering effect" of PC games (and console games). You have the "best" titles taking home the lion's share of the money, shelf space, review space, and mindshare. The majority of titles can't make money at the top level of production values leading to #5
5) A substantial (majority?) of game projects don't make back the money used in production. This means you either a) eventually close shop or b) have a system where successful titles subsidize the unsuccessful ones.
6) The side effect of 1 through 5, that causes publishers to be conservative in an effort to stay profitable. That leads to increased emphasis on franchises and less support for innovative and risky titles.
7) How talent is defined and treated. Many, many companies are created by their owners as vehicles to make wealth for themselves by most efficiently exploiting their workers. Game developers and programmers especially consider themselves to be more than mere assembly line workers. This is why you get a lot of churn of staff and people that consider themselves exploited. This is partially the fault of the employees because...
8) A lot of people get into the Game industry because they love games, and approach it as a passion, not a business. Reality (life, family, needs, mortgages, etc) intrudes with personal maturity. If the initial setup was exploitive, you see a lot of burnt-out, disillusioned people leave the industry.
9) The production demands of an extreme niche of the software industry on people. That is 90 hour work weeks as normal only to have something shipped despite your protests because to make a release date.
10) Equitable distribution of credit, recognition and compensation. John Carmack's Ferraris may have inspired thousands of dreams, but the state of the business has left a trail of broken promises of royalties, credit, recognition, or even a sane working environment.
11) Companies that believe that the games are produced by the top people; the C?O's, the management and marketing people, not the artists, designers, sound engineers and programmers. (*cough*) Believe that "Those people" are just there to mechanically realize the vision of the "creative" people, and they get what they deserve.
12) I'm getting tired of typing... :)

!!! Nothing in the above list is an absolute that can be applied to every single company in the industry. They just are general issues that push my hot buttons.

* The opinions expressed here are those of the Author and do not reflect or represent his employer in any way.

copyright is the problem. qjkx (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586243)

Ban copyrights and all will be well. Eventually we won't even have money. It will happen. I am right. You are wrong.

Hint, hint... (2, Insightful)

mcse_knowthyenemy (524324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586247)

An observation from a casual gamer:

The sequence seems to be: (1) publish a game, (2) publish a "cheats" book, (3) watch the game's staying power approach zero.

My only serious computer games were Zork (I,II,III) and most other Infocom text adventures, Lemmings (I,II,III, Tribes), Doom, and Quake (with mission packs 1 & 2, I think). For one Infocom game (Starcross) I used a hint book... it was a total letdown. Why pay good money for a game then cop out by using cheats?

One cannot blame the publishers but their prefered sequence might be: sell a game, sell a cheatbook for that game, sell another game, sell a cheatbook for that game, and so forth to infinity.

Apparently, at some point the money stops flowing.

Fallout Tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4586255)

Look, the case of Fallout Tactics is a no-brainer:

1) It was a team-based strategy game. Turn-based, sure but still...the market is FILLED with RTS and turn-based strategy (TBS) games. GLUTTED in fact.

2) IT WASN'T FALLOUT 3. Seriously, this seems like a silly thing, but it is quite true...Fallout fans were NOT happy to be given a team-strategy game--they want Fallout 3, something Interplay has been extremely coy about. And if the FANS of Fallout didn't want Tactics--actually, there was a lot of HATRED towards Tactics, just because it wasn't Fallout 3--what was there to differentiate it from Warcraft, Starcraft and the like?

please explain (1)

detran (576416) | more than 11 years ago | (#4586256)

What does he mean by this: "For me, this article brought to mind the twin disasters of Fallout Tactics and the Farscape based game. " ?
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