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Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the stay-away-from-snacks dept.

PC Games (Games) 65

Thanks to Globe News for their interview discussing game design pitfalls with Ernest Adams, columnist at industry site Gamasutra, in relation to a recent Toronto game design lecture. Adams' talk, called 'Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie', has the premise that "whenever game designers add an annoying, sloppy, illogical or cliché game design element, they are denied the junkfood they love so much", and in the interview, Adams also laments the inherent difficulties in making games: "If you imagine what it would be like if you had to invent a new projector for every movie, that's what it is for game development", as well as gaming award shows, which he says "...tend to confuse the difference between technological achievement and aesthetic achievement."

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thats dumb (1)

OwlofCreamCheese (645015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343426)

this seems dumb.... it seems kinda just stupid "OMg!!!!!1 programmers are teh fat!!! they eat junk fod! LOLOLOLOLO!"

Re:thats dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7343669)

iam not a game designer. I am teh FAT>>>>> waaahhhh... girls dont' like me...

Re:thats dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7346265)

oh noes FYAD is leaking again ! lololololol !!1!

Theres one good side to sloppy competition (0)

UltimaL337Star (641853) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343471)

Well, atleast they makes the good games look better.

no bad games were successful? (4, Insightful)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343480)

There are lots of good games that were not terribly commercially successful. However, there are no bad games that are commercially successful.

What the hell? Is this guy actually claiming that Enter the Matrix (which was very successful commercially) was not a bad game? What about Black and White?

There has been a long, long list of games that were steaming turds and yet sold very well at retail.

Re:no bad games were successful? (2, Interesting)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343704)

It seems to me it's all about deciding what makes a game good. I belive that trying to do something that was never done before(deer hunter, B&W), having impressive graphics (Myst, FFVII) or even just using a franchise succesfully (Enter the Matrix) makes a game better. A game doesn't have to do everything right to become a hit. Plenty of times it's enough to do one thing really, really well.

A "well educated" gamer has played more than enough good games that he can become way less forgiving with a game's flaws. Repetitive gameplay, clipping problems, or just not being an innovative game become major flaws. Does FFVII seem that impressive after playing Chrono Trigger? What about the repetitive sections of Halo? To many people, flawed games seem great, just because they've never seen what a quality, highly polished game is all about. As long as the game does one thing really well, the casual gamer will buy the game, and recommend it to all of his friends, and that's what makes a game a hit.

So yes, I belive that Enter the Matrix had some really interesting ingredients that separated it from the crowd. So did Black and White, Halo, Tomb Raider and many others. Don't ask me to play though any of them again though: I'd rather play Metroid.

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343848)

Is this guy actually claiming that Enter the Matrix (which was very successful commercially) was not a bad game? What about Black and White?While having significant sales numbers, I thought that when all the numbers were run through the calculator that these games were in fact Water World-esq commerical failures.

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344288)

What the hell? Is this guy actually claiming that Enter the Matrix (which was very successful commercially) was not a bad game? What about Black and White?

Enter the Matrix, like every movie-franchise video game adaptation, sucked.

Black and White was a very good game that was realesased unfinished. Blame the marketing drones.

Re:no bad games were successful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7346369)

Black and White was a very good game that was realesased unfinished.

Yeah, they'd written the engine, but no plot.

Re:no bad games were successful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347506)

If you want plot, rent a movie.
I play games for what they offer by way of INTERACTION.

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

Soul Brother #1 (15266) | more than 10 years ago | (#7348767)

Enter the Matrix, like every movie-franchise video game adaptation, sucked.

"Every" movie game adaptation? "Spider-Man: The Movie" did pretty well, and is, IMO, a really fun game. Never before or since have I really had the feeling in such a game that I was controlling a true super-hero.

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 10 years ago | (#7353949)


Enter the Matrix, like every movie-franchise video game adaptation, sucked.


"Every" movie game adaptation? "Spider-Man: The Movie" did pretty well, and is, IMO, a really fun game. Never before or since have I really had the feeling in such a game that I was controlling a true super-hero.



Yes, every movie-to-videogame transalation sucked.

Spider Man: The movie included.

Now, Spider Man on PSX (the first good ol' playstation) was a great game, and never before or since have I really had the feeling that I was truelly controlling a super hero in a videogame. But its pale imitation, the movie-franchise one, was a piece of crap. It actually made me sick to my stomach to play that game (me and my friend who liked t watch me play). I had to stop after little over an hour because I had a headache and was about to throw up. I found numerous awfull bugs in that hour, and the gameplay was lame, with boring and non-sensical level design and situations.

The first game really gave the feeling that I could do whatever a spider can. I would jump around and swing about and go from ceiling to floor to wall at will and in an incredibly fun and controlled manner. In the sequel,m I had the hardest time making spidey go where the hell I damn well wanted him to go.
In the first game there was a deadly fog in the streets preventing you from going down: If you went in the fog, you died. In the sequel there is an invisible divider between where you can safely crawl on the buildings and where you mysteriously die if you go lower.

It desperatly tried to follow the movie's storyline, but made changes to accomodate a rehashed gameplay experience of "go around beating clone-like thugs until you reach the inexplicaby strong boss". I hated it.

You should really pick up the original, the textures are of lesser quality, but everything that counts if far above the sequel's.

P.S. You mentioned that the game "did pretty well". A movie-franchise videogame's commercial sucess is determined by the sucess of the movie it is named after, not by its intrinsic quality. It sells well based on hype.

Re:no bad games were successful? (2, Insightful)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344448)

What the hell? Is this guy actually claiming that Enter the Matrix (which was very successful commercially) was not a bad game? What about Black and White?

There has been a long, long list of games that were steaming turds and yet sold very well at retail.


I think that he was definitely wrong, but it's important to point out that he wasn't TOO wrong. While there are definitely a few examples of bad games selling well, for the most part they aren't "commercially successful". Black and White was probably a success, but games such as Enter the Matrix and Tomb Raider weren't because bad games such as those tend to create a money pit during production. When you see a bad game that sells well, it's usually the result of many, many millions of dollars of production, marketing, delays, special features, and numerous failed "rough drafts" of the game. They're usually released for no other reason than for its developer to cut their losses and try to make back some of the huge amount of money they spent.

None of the math I've ever seen regarding Enter the Matrix has proven it to be a commercially successful game. Its developers were very upfront about how much it cost to make because they thought it would make the game seem like a really big deal. Their revenue, last I checked, has not matched that number. The entire thing was a case study in excessive, wasteful game design, and it couldn't possibly make a substantial amount of money. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was the same way. After that many delays, many of which I believe came with a ton of print ads advertising the game's new release date, it couldn't have been very profitable. It was one of Eidos's flagship titles for the year and it probably cost as much as two or three flagship titles. And despite its early sales, the game was only at the top of the retail and rental charts for about a month.

So yeah, he's definitely wrong because there are exceptions to the rule, but he wasn't too far off the mark.

Re: no bad games were successful? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345272)


> There has been a long, long list of games that were steaming turds and yet sold very well at retail.

s/games/retail products/

Sturgeon's Law doesn't say that 90% of everything doesn't get sold...

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

antin (185674) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347689)

Black & White was a great game, it just didn't live up to the hype.

Matrix sucked though.

Re:no bad games were successful? (1)

MadocGwyn (620886) | more than 10 years ago | (#7367561)

Other then the driving parts I loved Enter the Matrix, it was like max payne with the kung fu mod and better bullet time, the driving parts were HORRENDOUS.

Black and white I loved too, highly innovative, more of a proof of concept then a game however, I never played it for more then maby 10hrs total.

Bad Game features (2, Interesting)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343532)

In the .hack games the book that gives info on monsters is inaccessable when you get to said monsters. You have to exit the game environment to access the virtual e-mail, which isn't necessary in the show, you can't access your party's inventory or ask them what their stocks are, so you can restock them, and they often have equipment for sale that is better than the equipment they have on. Not to mention, the towns in the game are a faint shadow of the ones in the show.

Re:Bad Game features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7343717)

That's because the games are *bad*.

Re:Bad Game features (1)

Masami Eiri (617825) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343935)

Remember, the games came first.

Uh.. as far as the mail goes... the show took so liberties, but the characters in the show were using flashmail, which is what you use to arrange parties. For the most part, it never went beyond that.

Inventory.. yeah, I agree that's a bit bad.

Equipment... maybe your members are broke?

And as for the towns, do you need all that room? They're too big as it is half the time. But we can explain this by saying the version the anime characters used took too many resources on the servers as the players increased, so they scaled down towns. Remember, its a 3 or 5 year (something like that) difference in time from show to game.

Re:Bad Game features (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 10 years ago | (#7349933)

The show .Hack//Sign came first, both in terms of production and in terms of the series history. Then came the video games and .Hack//Liminality. The video games also have reenactments of scenes in .Hack//Sign. After the video games comes .Hack//Dusk. As for the equipment, who sells their best armor when they're broke? The towns just need to be a little bit bigger to include the areas of towns shown in the show.

standardize! (3, Interesting)

m0rphin3 (461197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343542)

Part of the problem is standardization.
Hollywood makes movies on film. The same technology, the same cameras, the same editing equipment (and probably the same actors) are going to be used on every production. So it's basically easy and (relatively) cheap to make a movie, unless you need tons of extras or some new tech.

I think gaming should go in the same direction,
and we're starting to see it happen. Many games use the same engine (Lithtech, ut2003,etc.) and that's going to lower the bar for making a game.

When you don't need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to make a game, but instead can focus on the story, the backdrop and the characters, I think gaming will be ubiquitous. Sure, you'll always have the large corporate politically-correct games, but when it becomes easier for 'indie' designers to make large-scale games, we'll see the dawning of a new era.

Re:standardize! (2, Interesting)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343745)

Then again, games are fundamentally different in nature from movies, aren't they? All movies provide the same sort of experience--you watch them and they're about real people, usually, in real situations--but the reason people play games (in general) is that they're different from one another--there are a lot of different genres of games, and even games in the same genre have completely different styles. If games standardize to using, say, one engine, then we'll end up with a lot of games that are extremely similar to one another and we'll sacrifice that variety.

Re:standardize! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7343926)

Not to sound troll, but obviously you have never heard of Avant-Garde film making. Movies don't have to be able real people in real situations.

Re:standardize! (1)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344015)

But avant-garde films aren't the kind of film that is made using the same template, as it were, as another film, i.e. they aren't mainstream. I don't deny that those films exist, but they aren't the majority--heck, that's why they're called avant-garde. But, the point is, the majority of films aren't. Avant-garde, I mean. And I don't deny that if games standardize there will be what you might call "avant-garde games" but they still won't constitute the majority; "Games" in general, like movies, will end up stagnating.

Re:standardize! (2, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343883)

You've described exactly the opposite approach to how I enjoy games. I enjoy the basic concept of the games, not the eye-candy. If you push out cookie-cutter games all based around the same engine, as far as I'm concered you're releasing the same game over and over. I believe as much time should be spent developing new technology for games as is currently spent on eye-candy and marketing.

Perhaps if I enjoyed more than Doom in the FPS genre or any RTS game I might be into the n-th generation FPS engine or not mind that RTS game X is "just like" RTS games A-W. But I didn't so I'm not.

Re:standardize! (1)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344510)

You've described exactly the opposite approach to how I enjoy games. I enjoy the basic concept of the games, not the eye-candy. If you push out cookie-cutter games all based around the same engine, as far as I'm concered you're releasing the same game over and over. I believe as much time should be spent developing new technology for games as is currently spent on eye-candy and marketing.

Perhaps if I enjoyed more than Doom in the FPS genre or any RTS game I might be into the n-th generation FPS engine or not mind that RTS game X is "just like" RTS games A-W. But I didn't so I'm not.


I think you're missing the point. With engines like the Unreal engine, you can make FPSes, RPGs, third-person action games, or just about any other type of 3D game. If you're in favor of the basic concept of games instead of the eye candy, then you're one of the ones that should be in favor of reusing engines. The only real drawback to using the same engine as everyone else is that everything starts to look vaguely similar. Textures have the same level of definition, objects have a similar number of polygons and the same level of bump mapping, etc. When you reuse an engine, you have more time to focus on the actual design and execution of the game, but the drawback is that you're not going to create the next Final Fantasy X with it. You have to really pour a lot more money into a game if you want to excel in both game design AND graphics, which includes making your own engine.

And really, even if you could only make one type of game with every engine, would that matter? Shinobi was a very different game from Devil May Cry and Kingdom Hearts was very different from both of them, but the very core of them, the engine, was just a 3D character running around in an open space killing other 3D characters. They didn't all need a different engine, even though they were very different from one another.

Re:standardize! (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345356)

I don't think you realise just how alike I believe all the games are that you're listing. Different is Rampage compared to Chu-Chu Rocket, Bomberman compared to Wip3out. Different is not a third-person platform shooter compared to a third-person platform slasher.

Re:standardize! (1)

m0rphin3 (461197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346247)

IIRC, someone made a chess game using the Quake engine, as well as a car racer. If the people behind it had to make their own 'chess engine' with probably far inferior graphics technology, it might never have been made.

Re:standardize! (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346465)

I think his point is that Bomberman, Wip3out, Rampage, and possibly even Chu-Chu Rocket could've all been made on the Unreal engine, with only slight modifications to the engine.

Rune (3rd person melee platformer), Deus Ex (3rd person RPG/shooter), and UT were all made on the Unreal engine. Someone added Tetris to Counterstrike (which is a Half-Life mod, which was made starting with the Quake engine). Dark Reign 2 (RTS) uses technology that many of us first heard about as being licensed for Team Fortress 2 (team-/class-based FPS). The Havok engine (physics engine used in HL2) is being licensed for many games, not all of which are FPS.

I think, overall, we'll see certain engines really dominate certain types of games, though, and that people will make things that really extend their genres using engines someone else primarily developed. The Baldur's Gate engine is being heavily used for most of the best PC RPGs and one of the best console RPGs of the last few years (PlaneScape: Torment, Icewind Dale I + II, Baldur's Gate 1 + 2, NeverWinter Nights, Star Wars: KOTOR), with each franchise having at least a somewhat different feel and in some cases an extremely different feel to the gameplay (KOTOR and Planescape). FPS games tend to use id-, Epic-, and Monolith-developed engines, with a few platformers and other genres mixed in also using them.

The absolute leaders in developing technology will continue developing engines, but a lot of the games that really push gameplay further and develop new ideas will probably more and more often license engines. Look at what Valve did, they hired some of the best mod developers and developers from other companies that had made names for themselves with certain additions to id's engines, or developing tools for id's engines, and brought them together to extend and rewrite portions of the Quake engine to a point that it was nearly unrecognizable, and now they're developing their own engine and extending the Havok physics engine for their next iteration. Rather than just taking what they've bought and using it as-is, they learn from it and develop it further.

So, not only will people license engines for similar titles, but they'll also push those engines into new realms, and adapt those engines for other genres. At the core, though, an FPS engine has optimizations that tend to make it ideal to FPS play, and an RPG engine is the same way for RPGs. Much of the core technology for the two game types has nothing in common, and the renderer may not represent the majority of the work (or the renderer may not handle some things, like inventories and conversation trees (or transparent HUDs and aim), as well as it needs to.

Standardizing the engines used in a particular genre isn't going to make the entire realm of gaming stale, it will simply make developers try harder to do things that make their games different. There will always be cookie-cutter games, regardless of the engines used, but those will not stand out in the crowd, and will be known (if they are known at all) for their cookie-cutter status.

Re:standardize! (0)

beyonddeath (592751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344943)

that would cause a big company, like the mpaa or riaa (i shall run i have broken their dmca...) to be formed, but would be called somthing like the computer entertainment association of america or the ceaa. they would try to stop pirating, self distructing the industry and single handedly cause all future games to be shit quality. would we really want that?

Game: Featureing a new wheel! (2, Interesting)

AnamanFan (314677) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343601)

As a student working on a graphic adventure game, I agree completely with the statement on lack of standards.

Right now I am faced with the issue of game engines. Since I'm doing the 'slideshow of images and video' approach, the only commercial tool out there is Director [Flash doesn't handle long videos]. The school has Director, but only educational versions which are branded as educational and legally not allowed to be seen outside of the classroom. I have been trying to find an engine that will allow me to create a game [technologically] like Riven [cyan.com] , that's portable to MAC and PC. It's either that or make a brand new engine, which I don't have time to do with-in the scope of the project.

So far there are not any OSS/Low cost solutions that I have found. Any pointers are appreciated and welcomed!

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (1)

Tisephone (709174) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343644)

Hrm. I was going to suggest SuperCard, but apparently it's not for Windows anymore...

You can dig up the older, cross-platform version (3.frog-knows) if you're not concerned about OS X compatibility. It'll be quite cheap, too.

Sadly, there's no OSS presentation software of this caliber.

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7343730)

Are you planning on going retail with your title? The only limitation I know of to Educational licenses is that you cannot use your created works for profit.

"...cannot be seen outside the classroom..."

Then how the hell are you supposed to create your demo reel to show others?
If that's the case and Director's licensing agreements are so horrible, maybe they should rethink them.

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (1)

ArmyOfFun (652320) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344958)

THIS [sourceforge.net] looks exactly what you're looking for. Hope it helps.

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (1)

AnamanFan (314677) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346853)

Thank you!!!! Thank you !!!!

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (1)

illumen (718958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344993)

Check ouy pygame.org and pyzzle. You can play video, sounds, etc on PC, Mac, linux, freebsd, and solaris. I think someone even got it running on a zaurus.

pyzzle is a game engine made with pygame for myst style games.

Have fun!
http://www.holepit.com

Re:Game: Featureing a new wheel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7352901)

Ask the guy that made Yexi [google.com] about games made in Director. He might have some tips for you.

One nickname I know he uses on various services is '*Tiger*'. Sometimes 'Yexi|*Tiger*'.

I think his employer supplies him with a copy of Director for his day job (in graphic design) though.

one-liner (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7343608)

CowboyNeal must be a great game-developer.

BOP!!!!

No Way! (3, Funny)

Asprin (545477) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343678)


You can have my crates [oldmanmurray.com] when you pry them from my cold dead hands.





(Miss you, OMM!)

There should be Designer Canons (3, Interesting)

quantax (12175) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343736)

I posted this earlier this week during the Gaming Canon's discussion, but it is more relevant here; basically there should be a game designers canon more so than a gamers canon. If game developers do not see good gameplay for themselves, by what reference are they supposed to create it. Like painting, sculpture, one looks to the masters for inspiration. Through understanding these works, one can better understand their own work and thus be a better creator.

Such an example I would make is Morrowind; now regardless of whether or not you like Morrowind, no one can deny that it is epic in scope and succeeds in doing what RPGs have failed to do in general: a true non-linear questing system, as well as open-ended magic and open-ended character development, where the character develops naturally based on what you do, and the skills you use. Those above mentioned attributes make the gameplay in Morrowind something that should be both examined and re-implimented else where. In this example, I chose morrowind to prove my point, but you can apply this to many genre-breaking/creating games. There SHOULD be a list of games that every developer should play so that they can not only know what the 'masters' have done, but so they can improve upon it as well.

Re:There should be Designer Canons (1)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343850)

Morrowind is, however, relatively buggy. That, actually, is a huge game-design issue: it seems developers are releasing a lot of games that, while good, contain serious bugs. Anyone remember the slowdown in Planescape Torment? Heck, even console games nowadays are buggy!

Re:There should be Designer Canons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7344230)

Look. I hate Morrowind with a passion for many reasons, but the poster before you had a point. While it had its shortcomings, it was an amazing game in terms of you could do pretty much anything you wanted and the game would adjust to accomodate that. So you want to steal things? Steal ahead, you'll get better at it to the point that you can steal some seriously good items, at which point it won't matter as much that you're weaker in the fighting area.

However, even if there was a "Developer Canon", it would be just as important to have bad games as it would be to have good ones. It certainly helps to learn from others mistakes about what NOT to do in a game. For example, by submitting a budding adventure developer to the horrors of a low-budget pixel-search point-and-click adventure they would try harder to evoid using such cheap puzzles in their games.

Re:There should be Designer Canons (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346533)

Morrowind is, however, relatively buggy. That, actually, is a huge game-design issue: it seems developers are releasing a lot of games that, while good, contain serious bugs.

I think all developers should be forced to play seriously buggy games as close to completion as the bugs permit (not saying until they encounter a bug, but rather until they complete the game or come to a point where the game has actually prevented them from completing it several times).

Then the publishers should be forced to do the same.

and no, I don't remember slowdowns in Planescape Torment, but maybe that's because I didn't get it until a couple patches came out, and I added the No-CD crack to get rid of most of the loading times and all of the disc swapping (look, if you're too cheap to give me jewel cases, don't make me keep your CDs in better condition than they were in when I bought them; which reminds me, they should be forced to play games on CD-ROM drives that don't work well with various copy protection schemes and store the CDs in paper and cardboard sleeves, or in a loose stack on the desk in front of them).

Re:There should be Designer Canons (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344373)

I agree wholeheartedly. Morrowind's problems are FAR overshadowed by its amazing scope and depth of replayability (ive played through the main quest 3 times, and still not completed every quest in the original game, let alone the expansions or the thousands of third party mods).

PS: If youve never tried the expansions, do. They add a lot of stuff, and remove some problems, not the least of which are the *MAJOR* usability improvements to the quest journal.

Re:There should be Designer Canons (1)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344560)

I posted this earlier this week during the Gaming Canon's discussion, but it is more relevant here; basically there should be a game designers canon more so than a gamers canon. If game developers do not see good gameplay for themselves, by what reference are they supposed to create it. Like painting, sculpture, one looks to the masters for inspiration. Through understanding these works, one can better understand their own work and thus be a better creator. ...

There SHOULD be a list of games that every developer should play so that they can not only know what the 'masters' have done, but so they can improve upon it as well.


Do you really think that the developers of Shinobi had never played Devil May Cry? Or that the developers of Tenchu or Splinter Cell had never heard of Metal Gear Solid? Or that the creators of every RPG on the planet were like, "Final what now? What's that?" Of course not. Game developers are gamers. If they make a game in a certain genre, you can be pretty sure that they've played the best games in that genre and that they know what the better games out there for every platform are. Somehow, they still manage to fuck it up. Sort of like all of those writers that have spent countless hours pouring over the "literary canon" and maybe even have a degree/doctorate in English or writing, but still produce insipid crap.

The problem is not that RPG developers have never played a Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Suikoden game, nor that platformer developers have never heard of Mario. The problem is that they don't learn a damn thing from any of those games. They just ignore its lessons or copy the whole thing verbatim, creating utter crap in both cases, and it's not something that any list of games can cure. It's just the nature of creative work. 90% of it is crap, 100% of that crap's developers are morons, and most of them will still get funding for their next game.

He's been giving versions of this talk for years.. (1)

key45 (706152) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343782)

His collected wisdom... [gamasutra.com]

Console ports need representation too. (1)

thirty2bit (685528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7343990)

"whenever game designers add an annoying, sloppy, illogical or cliche game design element, they are denied the junkfood they love so much"

Does that hold true for console port-ers as well? If so, there would be a lot of starving programmers due to the "save points", "save gems" (or just no in-level saves in general). I still don't understand why the console attributes are shoehorned in to a PC port, tainting what could be an otherwise good game. (Oh wait. I forgot about "Marketing" and "movie release dates")

Of course I'm cynical. I bought the new Tomb Raider.

Re:Console ports need representation too. (1)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344336)

Probably because if they let you, for example, save anywhere, then that would probably unbalance the game. They'd have to tweak a lot of things, and the game would perhaps end up being substantially different. It's not as though they shouldn't do that--they're probably just too lazy; they'd make the same amount of money even if they didn't improve the game for the PC.

A bridge too far? (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344178)

'We need genuine game criticism, and not merely game reviews. There's a difference between criticism and reviews. A movie review tells you "Is this a fun movie? Do I want to go to this movie?" Movie criticism is a deeper analysis. It's a discussion of the relationship of the movie to other movies like it. Of the relationship of the movie to the wider aesthetic and cultural context in which it was made.' - Ernest Adams, quoted from the article

I agree with Adams that there should be a level of criticism when it comes to reporting video games, but I think having a 'deeper analysis' of video games would cause far too many problems.

First, games are ment to be fun. The moment you start questioning the symbolism of Mario magically absorbing a red mushroom into his body to grow bigger is the moment you've spent too much time watching rather than playing.
Secondly, I think would lead to political correctness seeping into games. Personally, I don't like the thought of having my games delayed because some organization/religion/race/nation/culture did not like the way they were depicted in the game.
Thirdly, games are all about gameplay simply put.

Re:A bridge too far? (1)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344305)

You should read this, assuming you haven't already. Pretty interesting stuff: http://www.insertcredit.com/features/journalism/in dex1.html

Re:A bridge too far? (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346646)

Secondly, I think would lead to political correctness seeping into games. Personally, I don't like the thought of having my games delayed because some organization/religion/race/nation/culture did not like the way they were depicted in the game.

You mean like one of the C&C games having it's cover art changed or MS Flight Simulator having a patch after 9/11, in both cases removing the World Trade Center (in the first from the cover, in the second from the game)? Or like the recent story here about a portion of a game being changed because people in Canada were offended about the depiction of a Quebec terrorist group attacking their subways?

Political Correct-ness isn't a result of real criticism, it's a result of people being afraid that someone will be offended by what they produce. People are too afraid to say what's on their mind and instead will say what they think people want to hear. This extends into all aspects of life, including our entertainment, regardless of whether we allow criticism rather than just simple reviewing (and considering the state of game reviews today, we could use a revamping of the entire system in the first place).

Re:A bridge too far? (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 10 years ago | (#7354358)

That was C&C:Generals, and they had to change the cover art because the whole storyline (and thus the game) revolved around terrorists. As for MS Flight Simulator having to put out a patch, wasn't that for the 2000 edition or something? Thats not saying much since SimCity 2000 has been letting me play with airplane crashes as a disaster for years now. As for the recent Canadian outrage, the fact that the developers were specific about the terrorist organization and the location isn't saying much. Unless you can show me another game which PURPOSELY took a sensitive topic and published the game knowing the risks, I'm just going to classify the Syphon Filter Online incident as 'from the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot department.'

And political correctness is a result of real criticism. When a politician get criticized for making a sexist remark, doesn't he get corrected to fit the 'politically correct' views of the public? As far my reading of video game message boards go, the fact that people complain (bitch) and moan (whine) about certain reviews not praising (worshipping) their favorite game(s).

Re:A bridge too far? (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7356754)

That was C&C:Generals, and they had to change the cover art because the whole storyline (and thus the game) revolved around terrorists.

It was Red Alert 2, which revolved around the standard Red Alert storyline of an alternate universe where time had been altered during WW2. The game allows you to destroy (or defend) many well-known locations in the US as the Russians invade the country, and the cover art depicted the towers burning. My copy of RA2 has that cover art because it shipped some time before 9/11. C&C:Generals, on the other hand, shipped early this year and features the terrorist-heavy plotline, despite 9/11 and everything that's happened since then.

As for the recent Canadian outrage, the fact that the developers were specific about the terrorist organization and the location isn't saying much. Unless you can show me another game which PURPOSELY took a sensitive topic and published the game knowing the risks, I'm just going to classify the Syphon Filter Online incident as 'from the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot department.'

You named C&C Generals yourself, and then any number of terrorist/counterterrorist games that have come out in the last few years, from Rainbow 6 on down the list. SoF, which had other problems in Canada, and the original Syphon Filter. There were even people complaining about the fact that all of the terrorists in some of these games tend to be Arabic, yet when you put Canadian terrorists in a game you get public outcry and it gets removed.

And political correctness is a result of real criticism.

So why is it that real game criticism doesn't exist, yet political correctness does? I'm certainly not saying that it is a dominant force in games, but it is a growing force.

When a politician get criticized for making a sexist remark, doesn't he get corrected to fit the 'politically correct' views of the public?

Politicians are just that, politicians, public servants. They're expected to uphold a particular image for their constituents. That's exactly where the idea of political correctness comes from, but goes even deeper, to the fact that politicians today are afraid to go against polls, to take extreme stances, to be a Democrat or Republican rather than just sitting in the middle.

Re:A bridge too far? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7347582)

"First, games are ment to be fun. The moment you start questioning the symbolism of Mario magically absorbing a red mushroom into his body to grow bigger is the moment you've spent too much time watching rather than playing." HERE HERE! Well said

SCUMM engine rocks! (2, Interesting)

protogoogoo69 (579336) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344666)

I think most of the original games were made in the 1990-1996 era when there were more restrictions on graphics. I think this forced some developers to deal with the content of the game instead of spending all the time in making it look good. To see my point, pit yourself on the tv show trading spaces. Ignoring the "reality" aspect, there is a lot of pressure to be creative when there is a budget ($1000). But if you set that budget higher ($100,000), you relieve a lot of the pressure of having to think or be "creative", or "innovative".

My favorite game of all time was "The secret of Monkey Island." It was made with the SCUMM [wikipedia.org] engine. Sure, the graphics weren't "Enter the Matrix"- or DeusEx-style, but the humor was awesome. The puzzles weren't totally convoluted and not too easy either, while Elaine Marley [scummbar.com] was pretty hot in 16-color! ;) Now if only we can pump out some more games like that. I mean, I haven't laughed that hard since MST3K went off the air years ago (ignoring reruns). How many games can do that? If you played these games, just consider how long it took to create all that humor, the storyline, the scenes, etc.

Your average game developer these days can probably code up a storm, but can he write a good story? I think thats whats missing in many games: a good story. Sure, anyone can create short term objective (ie. pong!), but what about all the other elements that people like? Do people really want to play a repititive task over and over again? I don't think so, not unless its some cheapo game meant to kill some time while waiting for a kernel to compile. Granted, some people do not want to get stuck into a long game, either, which is why many have started to include a save-game option. Furthermore, a good game should not lose its appeal after it has been conquered/beaten. Sort of like reading your favorite book or watching your favorite movie a second time and finding more details you hadn't noticed before, the game should allow the gamer to "explore" other parts of the game they hadn't noticed before. For example, most side-scrolling games get boring after you beat it. Contra was popular because you could play god-mode (u-u-d-d-b-a-b-a-start), but this wasn't in the design, it was a cheat. How many people actually played this game without using the cheat after beating it? Now look at how many more DOOM worlds were created after the majority of gamers beat DOOM. In this case, both games had a crappy storyline, but it was the game engine that helped retain DOOM gamers. By allowing more freedoms to the gamer, the game would not become dull after beating it. However, a game company does not care about game retention, just about consumer retention. So they do not assume the popularity of a game, but rather try to shorten deadlines in order to release as many games before christmas as possible. There is a tradeoff between developers producing excellent quality games and the company producing an excellent quantity of games. The decisions made by upper management on how to handle this tradeoff will effect the developers ability to focus on a good story, good long-term objective game, a good game engine, and good graphics.

I think that anyone can be creative if they put their mind to it, but they need time. Which leads me to believe that the root of all these bad game design problems are a side effect of the phb's rush to produce more quantity. And this isn't limited to game software, just look at the problems from Win95 which came close to NOT making the 1995 deadline. Oh yeah, and then there's my favorite quote from Bill: "If you can't make it good, at least make it look good." Hmm...

There are other factors too, probably related to the limited gaming experiences of the developers and the availability of game engines. If we trained game developers by having them play every game over the past two decades and forced them to put 80% of their work into the content of the game, and the remaing 20% into the graphics, I think we'd see a lot better games. Unfortunately, this isnt practical. How many days did it take you to beat Legend of Zelda WITHOUT the help manual? You could probably become a certified carpenter, plumber, and electrician before you've played every game ever released.

Re:SCUMM engine rocks! (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346883)

I think most of the original games were made in the 1990-1996 era when there were more restrictions on graphics.

This isn't quite true. Sure, graphics cards weren't pushing the boundaries quite as often and developers were a little slow to push the existing boundaries themselves, but they were still pushing the graphics forward. Consoles went from 8 to 16 to 32 bit graphics, pushing the graphics forward with each iteration, and PC game developers were trying to push the graphics forward in their own fields, realizing that most PC graphics cards were already capable of much better graphics than what were being pushed on the consoles. The biggest limitation was what you could do with your CPU cycles to make the game push the graphics out without hurting the gameplay.

I think this forced some developers to deal with the content of the game instead of spending all the time in making it look good. To see my point, pit yourself on the tv show trading spaces. Ignoring the "reality" aspect, there is a lot of pressure to be creative when there is a budget ($1000). But if you set that budget higher ($100,000), you relieve a lot of the pressure of having to think or be "creative", or "innovative".

Yes, there's a lot more waste once the budget gets pushed out, but the level of creativity and innovation is no lower just because the bloat and waste has increased. In fact, as the budget gets higher, so do the barriers to entry, so fewer titles are knocked out quickly to take advantage of some fad or to exploit a franchise for marketing. Even Enter the Matrix took a lot of time and money to develop, or the latest Tomb Raider.

My favorite game of all time was "The secret of Monkey Island." It was made with the SCUMM [wikipedia.org] engine. Sure, the graphics weren't "Enter the Matrix"- or DeusEx-style, but the humor was awesome. The puzzles weren't totally convoluted and not too easy either, while Elaine Marley [scummbar.com] was pretty hot in 16-color! ;)

Now, instead of comparing it to Enter the Matrix and Deus Ex in terms of graphics, compare it to what was available at the time. I think you'll find that while Lucas Arts may not have been pushing it a great deal with the SCUMM engine, they were keeping up. The Monkey Island series certainly never had Ultima I graphics.

Now if only we can pump out some more games like that. I mean, I haven't laughed that hard since MST3K went off the air years ago (ignoring reruns). How many games can do that? If you played these games, just consider how long it took to create all that humor, the storyline, the scenes, etc.

Your complaints are more valid if directed towards the near-death state of the genre, rather than the technological side of things. In fact, it was one of the first genres (other than FPS) that tried to embrace the 3D side of things, and I personally blame that, more than anything else, for it's demise. If they had kept producing solid 2D games the way RTS developers did while waiting for 3D technology to mature, they may have survived the transition better. Instead, they started dumping money into sub-par 3D games and the publishers lost interest in funding games that made no money. Only a handful of graphical adventure games were made in the late 90's, and the ones that remained in 2D gained a lot of praise, but sales didn't compare to the big money-makers like FPS games. They made the wrong decisions and basically killed off a genre, so you'll see it mostly relegated to independents until it gains some sort of revival in the future.

Your average game developer these days can probably code up a storm, but can he write a good story? I think thats whats missing in many games: a good story.

Which is probably why games with a good story tend to be doing fairly well these days. Of course, occasionally the stories become derivative or predictable, but the same is true in all media. Some of us avoid the predictable stuff, others don't notice the predictability because they're enjoying some other aspect of the game.

Sure, anyone can create short term objective (ie. pong!), but what about all the other elements that people like? Do people really want to play a repititive task over and over again?

Some people do, and play Tetris. Others don't, and avoid repetetive gameplay. The biggest goal for a designer is often to make repetetive elements feel new despite being repetetive, or to give players diversions that break up the repetition. Otherwise, they might as well scrap the game and work towards a different design.

I don't think so, not unless its some cheapo game meant to kill some time while waiting for a kernel to compile. Granted, some people do not want to get stuck into a long game, either, which is why many have started to include a save-game option.

You'd have to go pretty far back in most genres to find a game without a save-game option. It doesn't really matter whether it's long or not, because at the very least people want to save things like high scores or their best times. People only notice these things more because optical media means the requirement for external saves, in the form of memory cards, whereas the cartridges required passwords or on-cartridge memory, the latter of which increased the cost of the games.

Furthermore, a good game should not lose its appeal after it has been conquered/beaten. Sort of like reading your favorite book or watching your favorite movie a second time and finding more details you hadn't noticed before, the game should allow the gamer to "explore" other parts of the game they hadn't noticed before.

Replayability is a very big challenge for game designers, especially if the core game is fairly short. This is a really big issue to me, as I can play a game for a period of months and even years if it has strong replayability, but even the best books I won't re-read without a few years between readings.

For example, most side-scrolling games get boring after you beat it.

I played the original Mario and Castlevania games a great deal, despite the fact that I could beat SMB1 in well under an hour at one point. The game, however, changed once you beat it, and you could go on indefinitely. The first Castlevania was simply more challenging, and the later Castlevanias added more exploration elements (and RPG elements).

Contra was popular because you could play god-mode (u-u-d-d-b-a-b-a-start), but this wasn't in the design, it was a cheat. How many people actually played this game without using the cheat after beating it?

I actually played it quite a bit, though usually with friends. The PS2 game, on the other hand, I've only played a handful of times.

Now look at how many more DOOM worlds were created after the majority of gamers beat DOOM. In this case, both games had a crappy storyline, but it was the game engine that helped retain DOOM gamers. By allowing more freedoms to the gamer, the game would not become dull after beating it.

The game had several difficulty levels and was among the first of it's kind. This puts it in a very different realm from it's successors. Even Doom 2 was not nearly as fun to replay as Doom, even if you didn't use the cheat codes (to me most of the games lost their appeal if I cheated).

However, a game company does not care about game retention, just about consumer retention. So they do not assume the popularity of a game, but rather try to shorten deadlines in order to release as many games before christmas as possible. There is a tradeoff between developers producing excellent quality games and the company producing an excellent quantity of games. The decisions made by upper management on how to handle this tradeoff will effect the developers ability to focus on a good story, good long-term objective game, a good game engine, and good graphics.

Remember, though that developers with a solid following have a history of fairly solid releases, and no pressure from their publishers because of it. At the same time, these very same people do tend to push the graphics for their genre, with id pushing the graphics for the entire PC game industry. Publishers need to learn some lessons from these developers, but at the same time these developers made their name under timeline pressures, so it's a bit of a chicken & egg problem. Blizzard started off in the console world and id started off in the shareware world, neither world is forgiving of buggy releases.

There are other factors too, probably related to the limited gaming experiences of the developers and the availability of game engines. If we trained game developers by having them play every game over the past two decades and forced them to put 80% of their work into the content of the game, and the remaing 20% into the graphics, I think we'd see a lot better games. Unfortunately, this isnt practical.

The game engines themselves have to be developed somewhere, and 20% doesn't cut it unless you invest in a large team for content and can bring in individuals like John Carmack that can produce code fairly quickly. Half-Life is praised for it's story, and that story is the work of only one author. However, it was Valve's team that put in the technology that made it possible to tell the story in a way that was new and got people interested. Doom told it's story in text on the screen, HL told it's story by making the player live it. The difference is in technology, not in the quality of the story.

How many days did it take you to beat Legend of Zelda WITHOUT the help manual?

What help manual? Guess that would've made things easier.

You could probably become a certified carpenter, plumber, and electrician before you've played every game ever released.

Which is why there should be a canon, to let developers know which games are considered the best in their particular genre, and other genres they may wish to borrow from. No one needs to play every FPS game that came out in the mid-90s to know what a good FPS game is, nor do they need to play all of the Final Fantasy games to know what a good FPS game is. If they think they can design an FPS without playing Doom, Half-Life, Quake 3, and Unreal, then perhaps they should be assigned to the Windows Longhorn project.

Re:SCUMM engine rocks! (2, Interesting)

protogoogoo69 (579336) | more than 10 years ago | (#7349961)

Well, obviously IANAGD (I Am Not A Game Developer) and suffering a little from FAS (false authority syndrome). ;) I study math mostly. This whole situation reminds me of the problem with trying to quantify worker "productivity". You can do it with machines because their associated variables are typically bounded. But, humans are completely different. Many execs do not understand this, so they propose these naive measurement schemes like [lines of code / hour] for programmers or [number of patients served / day ] for respiratory or physical therapists. Clearly, there are problems with the models based on these metrics.

Now, trying to measure game design is a similar problem. If there were a way to quantify game quality, a way to quantify game graphics quality, and a way to measure or estimate the amount of time required to produce a "good" game, then I think we would have enough to make a good model. Unfortunately, we have variables like game genre, machine architecture, controller ergonomics and button assignments, single- and group-playability, graphics, story and originality, length of objective, and re-playability. Then we have tradeoffs like if you were to base new games on popular old games, would this draw away from originality? Now, back to using junkfood as positive reinforcement for game development, this would depend on whether we can actually measure progress. But what if one programmer contributes a block of code that helps to prevent cheating, while another programmer sees it as impractical because of the obscurity of the vulnerability? Relative measurements, indeed. It seems like the best measurement (the only measurement?) we can use is popularity.

Anyway, this issue is far more complex than I had originally thought. Thanks for not totally flaming me. :)

Re:SCUMM engine rocks! (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#7350509)

Well, obviously IANAGD (I Am Not A Game Developer) and suffering a little from FAS (false authority syndrome). ;) I study math mostly. This whole situation reminds me of the problem with trying to quantify worker "productivity". You can do it with machines because their associated variables are typically bounded. But, humans are completely different. Many execs do not understand this, so they propose these naive measurement schemes like [lines of code / hour] for programmers or [number of patients served / day ] for respiratory or physical therapists. Clearly, there are problems with the models based on these metrics.

IANAGD, either, but I am a software developer, and in my particular field I sometimes deal with a lot of old code. I can tell you one thing quite easily, the 'lines of code / hour' measurement is not only naive, but wasteful. You have no idea how much code there is out there because of this that is simply copy/pasted into place and does absolutely nothing, or that was commented out on the last few days of the project so that it would work (developers on 'lines per hour' requirements would add code that prevented things from working and few people could decipher after they were finished with the project, and continue to do so until the time/money alloted to the project neared it's end). I thank those people fairly regularly for my job, since their companies lost their contracts for good reason.

Now, trying to measure game design is a similar problem. If there were a way to quantify game quality, a way to quantify game graphics quality, and a way to measure or estimate the amount of time required to produce a "good" game, then I think we would have enough to make a good model.

Exactly, it's very hard to quantify unless you have a basis from which to judge it, as well as a wide field in which to test it. A game could even do everything right according to what was done in the past and still not appeal to gamers simply because it 'feels' wrong or the story doesn't appeal to someone. Most people don't read literary canon for good reason: a lot of the books aren't entertaining, they're just examples of specific qualities of literature. That, and they often just don't appeal to people today, even if they were wildly popular in their own time. Imagine sitting down to play Pong today from a standpoint of trying to gain entertainment value. At the very least, developers should be able to approach other people's games from an analytical standpoint, but still remember that when they're finished with their own game, it will have to be fun.

Unfortunately, we have variables like game genre, machine architecture, controller ergonomics and button assignments, single- and group-playability, graphics, story and originality, length of objective, and re-playability. Then we have tradeoffs like if you were to base new games on popular old games, would this draw away from originality?

And then when all is said and done, after every variable's been tweaked, some ass is going to complain that it's not very fun, or even interesting. I watched something on TechTV looking the development of a handful of XBox games at Microsoft and they practically sacked the development team on Crimson Skies because even though all of the pieces were there, no one could really sit down with the game and have a good time with it. From what I've heard of the game so far, they may have succeeded after a year's delay because someone in the company actually had the power to do that, knowing that the point had been raised earlier in development and the current team wasn't getting it quite right. It wasn't any real fault of the team, they just couldn't get the vision quite right, and most of those people still have jobs there, they just needed different people to come to the game with a different outlook to bring the vision together and make the game fun.

Now, back to using junkfood as positive reinforcement for game development, this would depend on whether we can actually measure progress.

And whether or not your developers look at junkfood as positive or negative reinforcement ;)

But what if one programmer contributes a block of code that helps to prevent cheating, while another programmer sees it as impractical because of the obscurity of the vulnerability? Relative measurements, indeed. It seems like the best measurement (the only measurement?) we can use is popularity.

In a case like that, though, if I were in a position to do so, I'd take the security over the obscurity. Sure, I might not want said programmer spending all of his time trying to find and fix vulnerabilities, but if he found one while he was contributing something else, and submitted the fix either as the larger body of work or as a small piece of his over all work (ie he submitted it as a day's (or a few hours') work rather than as all he did that week). On one hand you have bug fixing, which should be done as the bugs are found, but on the other hand you have continued progression of the game towards completion. If a bug fix looks like it may take significant time away from the progression forward, the bug should be noted with whatever intial thoughts the programmer had and then fixed at a later point in the cycle, so long as the game (or other software) still compiles and functions properly with the bug in place. Ideally all of these things get fixed before shipping, but you have to keep things moving to prevent people from setting into a cycle of fixes that may not contribute to the end product (for example, what if the bug's in the networking code and multiplayer gets scrapped 2 months down the line?).

Anyway, this issue is far more complex than I had originally thought. Thanks for not totally flaming me. :)

I try not to flame anyone, unless they're huffing gasoline ;) Software in general is a complex issue, and even long-time developers can't understand every issue that could ever come up relating to it. However, occasionally people from outside the industry come up with interesting solutions to complex problems simply because they're not trapped in a certain way of thinking about the problem.

Re:SCUMM engine rocks! (1)

gauauu (649169) | more than 10 years ago | (#7347069)

Contra was popular because you could play god-mode (u-u-d-d-b-a-b-a-start), but this wasn't in the design, it was a cheat. How many people actually played this game without using the cheat after beating it?

I did. Many times. I think contra had wonderful replay value, and I've spent more hours playign it then lots of the story-driven schlock that comes out today.

The fact is, people have different tastes. Some people want a long, in depth game with a huge story. Others, like myself, want to turn on a game, twitch and mash buttons, and turn it off in 20 minutes, perfectly satisfied. Is one less of a game than the other? No, we just have different tastes. So to say the problem is "story" is oversimplifying things.

So is the answer to be innovative? No, not necessarily. Black and White was innovative. UT2K3 wasn't all that innovative. One of those I spend hours playing. The other is complete crap. Your beloved Monkey Island wasn't innovative. It was the same style game as all the other SCUMM games. It's just that they did a good job with that one....

So if it's not a story or genre that makes a game good, and it's not innovation, what is it?. Quality, plain and simple. Take what they are trying to do with the game. Did they do it well? Then it's probably a good, fun game. (you might not like it, but you might not be the intended audience).

So quit trying to narrow it down to specific genres or content or innovation or what. I don't care about all that. I want them to make games that are Quality. Make them any genre, innovate or not, I don't care. Whatever type of game you do, do it well, that's all I want.

Excuse me Mr. (1)

illumen (718958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7344752)

Does Mr Adams want all the technology people to be given twinkies and be locked in a cave?

Using technology, be it a pencil, a brush, a new algorithm to make beutiful art work is well established. For example when the printing press came around, many more people were able to write things others could read. Resulting in many good books. Without computers masses of art work would not exist. The list is massive.

I think instead of seperating the 'art' people from the 'music' people and the 'game designers' from the 'programmers' games houses should be integrating them. Come together!

Allowing people to work on multiple aspects of the game gives them a much better overall view of the game.

Technology can and often does drive game play. Sometimes for the better. Mr Adams says in free reg required [gamasutra.com] """It represents exactly the sort of thinking that the our medium needs more of, thinking that begins "What if..." rather than "How much money..." """.

Btw, check out the competitions on ludumdare [ludumdare.com] . The general idea in the past is you make a game mostly from scratch, doing everything yourself. You have 48 hours, and as the competition goes on you compare ideas with about one hundred other game makers. Then you submit your game, and all the game makers vote and comment on each others games. Some very experiment, fun, different games result from it. Some people concentrate on technology, others game play, some music, sound. Some people manage to do well in all areas(bastards!). The idea is to get something finished in the short time period. You submit your executable(for as many platforms as you like) and your source code. Source code is there so other people can learn "how did he do that!", and so people can tell if they used some existing code. It is amazing how many games get made in so short a time. If your game sucks, you have only wasted a weekend(and a monday morning ;) If it is good some people enhance and polish the game further. If you are into making games, or want to learn I highly recommend entering. You'll learn more about actually making a game quickly than spending years coding your great big idea. Mr. Adams, if you are reading this, it would be awesome if you entered this comp! A chance to play with some game design ideas :)



I think a major problem with games these days is that games are too big, not polished enough, and are made by a mass of people. Ie they have no soul. Flashy graphics sell, so that is what is concertrated on. Also a lot of people getting into games think their first games need to be as good as some of the big titles. However even John Carmac wrote 2d platform games. People need to learn with small games first. Get all the new people making games and some which have been trying for years making some small games. They'll get an idea about different parts of game design, and what people find fun in games. Without spending two years working on one game which never really gets finished, and which doesn't turn out very good in the end anyway.

Small groups, less than ten people, still make some of the better games around. How many games from 'the industry' can claim to run on more than 50% of computers out there? There are people which strive to fill this niche. Using older technology, sometimes pusing it very far, to make thier games. Some of these games made by one or two people have sold hundreds of thousands, or millions of copies. Others have had their demos played by similar amounts.

Success means different things to different people. Some people are happy to have finished a game by themselves, as an expression of themselves. Even if lots of people do not like the game. For others success is about money. For others it is about making a game some people will enjoy. Or maybe it is seeking geeky fame. Then there are lots of other reasons of course.

From a game players point of view I would like to play games made by people seeking success in expressing themselves, and/or seeking to make a game that other people will enjoy. As Mr. Adams says (in a kind of sales pitch for his magical money grabbing out of pockets game design skill of doom) games should be made for different people. There are lots of people who do not enjoy games for one reason or another. He is correct in saying that making games for these other people will return more money. For people seeking success in making games people enjoy(does your grandmother enjoy your games?) this is also a nice goal. Also for people seeking fame it is also good(Are you big in Japan?). I know of a few people who made their games in certain ways so that their daughter, mother, brother, partner, etc found the game enjoyable.

For critisisms of games you should look at some of the developer forums. The ones at dexterity.com/forums [dexterity.com] have sections set aside for gathering feedback. These often give a deeper look at various aspects of games. Crits on various aspects of game design; art work, music, sound effects, marketing etc.



Damn. Sorry for the random rant. Spent so long writing this my chi got cold!

Have fun!
holepit.com [holepit.com]

Re: Excuse me Mr. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345215)


> Does Mr Adams want all the technology people to be given twinkies and be locked in a cave?

Isn't that the programmer's life already?

Sure, maybe we eat Snickers rather than Twinkies, and get locked in cubicles rather than caves, but that's just a different skin on the same engine.

Who is he trying to kid ? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 10 years ago | (#7345353)

For one thing--and this is a vital point that I make again and again--the biggest difference between Hollywood and the game industry is that game development requires engineering. Engineering is problem-solving, it's doing something completely new. Hollywood does not often do something completely new. Your basic romantic comedy does not require anything new. Every game is a unique mechanical device. A unique piece of software.

What a complete and utter load of bollocks. There's about as much creativity in the game industry as there is in the movie industry. This year's first person Doom-esque game is much like last years, as is this year's RPG and RTS games.

Re:Who is he trying to kid ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7345730)

But this year's doom can't use last year's doom engine. Way to miss the point, numbnuts.

With non-cgi movies, all you need is a new (or rehashed) idea and run it through the same movie making pipeline or assembly line that's been used for years.

With games, you need a new (or rehashed) idea and then have to recreate the game-making pipeline every year to keep up with graphics/sound/etc advances.

Gaming Industry vs Hollywood (1)

Pooquey (549981) | more than 10 years ago | (#7346621)

I think his analagy, though flawed, is fairly accurate. I find that most of the time industry people talk about gaming is tends to be skewed toward the technical aspect of it rather than the general end user experience.
Another way to word his analogy that may make it clearer is that in movie production you basically have a story to tell, and a process of coming up with an recording the visualizations to tell it. Every time a studio makes a movie, they certainly don't recreate the camera they use to film it. Contraspectively, every time a game is developed, the engine (a la doom, ut, etc) is either tweaked, redesigned, or scrapped entirely in favor of the new. On rare occaissions, the movie industry has come up with Matrix-esque innovation ( a la the bullet scenes NOT the fight choreography) that can be viewed upon as fresh. The main point is, that is something the end user can be physically shown, as in this is how we were able to show you Neo dodging bullets. The very nature of gaming, which is to say, programming and computer engineering, does not lend itself to explaining to the user that we feel excited about this new gaming product because we coded it in such a new and fascinating way as to take advantage of the equipment it runs on thereby saving us tons of money and giving you a better gaming experience. You can't SHOW anybody that, so everyone complains about all games being the same thing over and over again. If we look at it honestly, there has been quite a bit of innovation going on in gaming that we can't even (as end users) really appreciate.

Adams is dumb and I can prove it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7346932)

Have you ever heard of his "10 rules for games" dogma shit?
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010129/ adams_0 1.htm
and
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/2001 0129/adams_0 2.htm

It is clear that he really tries hard to get up to ten rules. What is especially dumb is his rule number 3:
3. Only the following input devices are allowed: on a console machine, the controller which normally ships with it.

He thinks that a special controller is something like a joke, something on the surface on the game, like spectacular graphics, to catch customers.

I don't think playing a lightgunshooter or a Bemani Game with a standart gamepad is much fun.

Do you think this controller
http://www.game-revolution.com/preview s/screens/xb ox/steel_battalion/steel_battalion8b.jpg
is just a nifty joke for a game that would be as enjoyable with the standart gamepad?

Ernest Adams, you suck so much it hurts even someone who isn't able to make urls click-able.

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