×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Game Industry Opinion Continues to Burn

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the throw-down-the-gauntlet dept.

Games 270

The Game Developer's Rant session held at the GDC continues to reverberate through the industry. GameDev.net and Greg Costikyan's site have more details on the session itself, while Terra Nova's original thread on the subject has been followed up by an open letter to the participants from Matt Mihaly of Iron Realms Entertainment. From Matt's letter: "Anyway, please, just stop the whining. Stop telling people about how horrible the games industry is. Stop telling them that they can't succeed without radical industry changes. It's bunk and you should know better. Are you intentionally trying to discourage people from getting into the industry?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

270 comments

Before replying... (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980258)

Before anyone runs off half-cocked, this article is NOT about the poor employee treatment at development houses such as EA. This article is about one man (Can make a difference? Whoops, wrong show.) stating that Indie developers can carve a market, and that we don't really need the big boys to make good games. He agrees to the fact that most "Hollywood" style games do need big development houses, but he also points out that the Indie can create games with far more depth and interesting gameplay.

His end point is that we should be creating games for the love of creating games. And while he doesn't say it in so many words, that's what gave us such classics as Commander Keen, Duke Nukem', Wing Commander, Ultima, Wolf3D, and Doom. That vision has been lost, and now game creating is all about making money. Why create games when the same money could be better spent on creating a blockbuster movie or a market investment? i.e. Games != money. Have to agree with him there.

Re:Before replying... (4, Insightful)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980375)

I agree with you, but the trouble is that customers only have a finite amount of money. So, if you have limited resources, and you have to choose between Half-Life 2 or Doom 3, and something independent, you're more likely to go with the known property, even if it isn't as creative (or even as good).

Gone are the days when smaller companies - those that create the games for the love of creating games - could compete with funded games from major studios on the same level.

Re:Before replying... (4, Insightful)

Rolan (20257) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980405)

So, if you have limited resources, and you have to choose between Half-Life 2 or Doom 3, and something independent, you're more likely to go with the known property, even if it isn't as creative (or even as good).

That's when the smart consumer reads the reviews from the people who do have the money to buy and play every game out there.

Re:Before replying... (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980803)

That's also why the smart independent developer makes a demo version available for download with only certain levels available. Then again, so do the smart major publishers....

Re:Before replying... (5, Interesting)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 9 years ago | (#11981018)

In my opinion, it's hard to distinguish a honest review from a bought review though : Defenitely if they are about blockbuster-games.

Re:Before replying... (5, Interesting)

unixbob (523657) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980507)

Last year I bought Doom 3 and was totally dissapointed with it. What was initially a great horror game became a repetitve formulaic (?) shooter. After that I still haven't got round to buying half life 2, halo 2, or even World of Warcraft (although I'm getting nagged by friends to get online with Warcraft)

The only games I've spent money on in the last 12 months have been indie games. Why? Because I got bored with sequels and pretty gaming engines. Games are meant to be fun and IMHO they are becoming products to be churned out. With the indie stuff I tend to find that more thought has gone into the level design and tuning the gameplay. Thay are never going to be the prettiest titles around, but I never feel cheated or dissapointed after a purchase. Pretty graphics only go so far . . .

Re:Before replying... (4, Interesting)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980687)

The only games I've spent money on in the last 12 months have been indie games. Why? Because I got bored with sequels and pretty gaming engines. Games are meant to be fun and IMHO they are becoming products to be churned out. With the indie stuff I tend to find that more thought has gone into the level design and tuning the gameplay

I could not agree more. I really miss the old games (SNES-era) where companies didn't put the majority of their focus on games looking jaw-droppingly realistic, but rather they put their effort into making the game fun. It seems that this old-spirit has been pretty much extinguished in large dev houses and replaced with the mantra "Make games faster! Make more money!". Which is one reason why I decided to take things into my own hands and start developing a RPG game with the old-spirit.

Re:Before replying... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980521)

The smart customer goes for Half-Life 2, then looks for independant mods to get different gameplay. Somewhere like http://www.moddb.com/ [moddb.com] (sorry for the shameless plug) will find a vast swathe of changes to popular games.

Half-Life isn't the most modded game for no reason.

Re:Before replying... (2, Insightful)

aliens (90441) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980526)

I don't think that's true. I think your level of expectation of profit is skewed. Now a game like HL2 and Halo sells millions and millions of units brining in Millions and millions of $$$. Commander Keen and Wolfenstein did not do that.

I think that indie game devels have a chance to make money just fine. I don't mind dropping $20-30 on an Uplink or something similar. And those houses are still around. You just don't hear their tales as often. Yes lots of them fail, but lots of businesses fail too. Just because you love making games doesn't mean you will succeed. For every Commander Keen there were probably dozens of fine shareware games that never got broad notice. I'd say with the internet there's a better chance small games will make a decent profit by word of mouth.

Re:Before replying... (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980544)

So, if you have limited resources, and you have to choose between Half-Life 2 or Doom 3, and something independent,

Why does the independent game have to cost as much as Doom 3 or Half-Life 2? Answer: It doesn't. Most Indie games are delivered via the Internet which cuts out the packaging, shelving, distribution, and paper marketing costs associated with the big names. This allows some good games to be available for $10-$30, quite a bit less than shrink-wrapped games.

Re:Before replying... (5, Interesting)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980381)

You don't need bigboys to make big game titles. Right, it's not about software development. However, in the unfortunate video game industry, bigboys can afford big lawyers. Which equals to buying big licenses and claiming ownership to intangible things.

Player associations, porshe and ferrari licenses are just for starters in 2004/5. I guarantee you 10 years from now, someone company would have draw out a contract for guns. Thompson, Springfield, M16, colt handguns... these will only appear in exclusive war games. Afterwards maybe the government will impose a tax on using U.S military vechicles in games.

Re:Before replying... (3, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980625)

But I think he's missed the point of the "whiners". The point is if you work in a giant corporate game factory, you're going to get treated like dirt.

If I were a cashier at Target, I'd expect that kind of treatment. If you go into a job with no real training needed, just the ability to breathe and put barcodes in front of a checkout scanner, you probably aren't expecting a career path that goes far.

But these are professional developers, men and women who have college degrees in Computer Science. They DO HAVE expectations of decent rewards, but they're being treated even worse than the cashiers, in terms of uncompensated mandatory overtime. A cashier in these big companies isn't allowed to work overtime, or work through their breaks. Their managers know that if the employees complain about overwork there's going to be hell to pay, because of the violations of labor laws involved.

Sure, there are independent shops, just like there are Mom'n'Pop grocery stores. But remember, Mom'n'Pop's employees almost never get rich. Sally may have worked the register for 20 years, she might be loved like family, she probably gets invited over for dinner, but she's never going to be driving a Ferrari as a result.

Well hey... (1)

jrushton (806560) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980695)

Well hey, money isnt everything. Id quite like a job I enjoy with not much stress and enough money to tide me by - so I can spend my spare time doing something I want, not slaving to some corporation for my entire life like most of the other blind sods out there.

Re:Well hey... (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11981012)

Oh, I agree absolutely. But what I'm trying to point out is that the corporate game developers have a legitimate gripe -- they go into a job with decent qualifications, and expect to be treated like professionals. Instead, they're treated like cattle. Yes, they can leave (and most do) but that's not the point. Their point is these places should not be allowed to treat the employees poorly in the first place.

I imagine the developers are going to form a collective bargaining agreement here, and pretty quick. This is exactly the sort of worker unrest that led to the rise of labor unions in the early part of the 20th century. It's almost scary the parallels you can draw between the game developers and the meat packers (read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair again, if you haven't recently.) Rough working conditions, aggrieved employees stirring up dissent; next thing you know they're going to be taking torches and pitchforks into the EA executive suite.

Consoles (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980856)

This article is about one man (Can make a difference? Whoops, wrong show.) stating that Indie developers can carve a market, and that we don't really need the big boys to make good games.

The console makers control access to the console bootloader. Therefore, independent game development firms still need the incumbent publishers if only to talk to the console makers.

Re:Before replying... read this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980862)

It's amusing to see game developers in the same position we musicians have been in for years.
"Oh all I want to do is express myself, I don't care about the money and the fame, the inspiration and my love of my art is enough.."
Suckers.

That's how it starts, but you have to be realistic.
If you want to make a living you have to play the game (snigger) and work. Then, once you have learnt the craft and got some cash, you can make time to produce the art that is burning within you to get out.
It's how it goes, and it's funny to see people going through this process again, as if it never happened before.
You game developers are artists now. Deal with it.

Strangely enough, like us musicians you will find your best work was often done under bad circumstances, with despotic producers with unreasonable demands, and you will spend your hard earned freedom once you have made a few bucks trying to get back to the same excitement and pressure you got for free while scraping a living.

Have fun.

hm... (1)

Worminater (600129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980266)

Its actually kind of annoying IMO...

I mean; come on; the industry has needed radical changes for how long? Like that in just about every industry though...

Re:hm... (2, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980402)

I mean; come on; the industry has needed radical changes for how long?

Typical slashdotter :) The industry is making more money than ever, therefore, it does NOT need change.

If you want innovative games instead of cookie cutter crap start BUYING innovative games and refuse to hand over your money for anything less. I own a GC, ps2, and two xboxes and between them all under 10 games. I've bought 1 pc game in the last 3 years.

People are perfectly willing to plunk down 50$ for a crappy game, so why should they change?

hm...Game Piracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980782)

You forgot to add, all the game piracy that drives the small guys out of business, thereby lowering the overall pool of innovators.

It's a different game, really (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980270)

From Matt's letter: "Anyway, please, just stop the whining. Stop telling people about how horrible the games industry is. Stop telling them that they can't succeed without radical industry changes. It's bunk and you should know better. Are you intentionally trying to discourage people from getting into the industry?"

Funny how it was, back in the begining that games were developed at home, by individuals, who put in whatever hours it took to get the thing done, usually settled for a set price and/or small additional royalty for their work. If they were working a career job, it wouldn't have justified the hours, but a sudden flood of $30,000 can make people think they've struck gold. Dollar votes separated the winners from the losers. It was a lot like the early rock and roll music scene.

Now, it is a career profession, so like any other line of work you do what you have to, respond to purchaser demand, follow "me-too" the market leaders and give up on actually writing something which would be fun to play. Kinda like the manufactured pop music of today.

I stopped by EA at SDWest and asked them when they'd be re-introducing M.U.L.E. or Mail Order Monsters, while some golf and football games were sitting there. The guy didn't even know what I was talking about. That's part of what's wrong, the industry has driven a wooden stake through the heart of it's heritage and buried it.

"Think we can work John Madden into a new version of Ultima?"
"You see, the troll here has lots of hit points, but the elf is much faster, so he'll probably try and end-around and ...

Re:It's a different game, really (1)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980385)

That's part of what's wrong, the industry has driven a wooden stake through the heart of it's heritage and buried it.

umm.. are you drawing a comparison between the gaming industries past and vampires.. or were you just that addicted to castlevania? hehe

Re:It's a different game, really (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980444)

or were you just that addicted to castlevania? hehe

Castles of Dr. Creep - Seriously addictive fun for masochists of all ages.

Hmmm (1)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980448)

I stopped by EA at SDWest and asked them when they'd be re-introducing M.U.L.E. or Mail Order Monsters, while some golf and football games were sitting there. The guy didn't even know what I was talking about. That's part of what's wrong,

Why would they reintroduce M.U.L.E? I have a working copy sitting on my desk as I type this. What would updating it bring? Mostly more complaints I imagine. I think nothing is wrong with the industry. Times change but sometimes people don't. Maybe its that the industry is still doing fine, and folks like you are the ones not changing with the times.

Reference your quote about "pop music of today". Its not yesterday anymore and in my humble opinion its good that we aren't going back.

I'll do you one better though. At E3 I'll grab some random EA employee at their booth and ask them if they would kindly start making decisions that will cost them money, cause their employees to lose their jobs and their stock holders to lose money. I suspect I'll get a reaction along similar lines.

"its good that we aren't going back" (1)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980495)

Reference your quote about "pop music of today". Its not yesterday anymore and in my humble opinion its good that we aren't going back

Yeah, because britney spears and ashlee simpson is just SO much better.

fuck this worship of mediocrity.

Re:"its good that we aren't going back" (1)

2short (466733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980811)

"Yeah, because britney spears and ashlee simpson is just SO much better."

Better than what? The best music of your teenage years and/or the best music of several past decades? No they're not better than that. But I expect in ten years or so there will be some pop music remembered from today that will be just as good as that from the good old days. I don't know what it will be, though I hope it won't be Britney.

But, really, think about it: I know you'd quickly go crazy if locked in a room forced to listen to endless Britney Spears. But would it really take much longer if it were the BeeGees or Cindy Lauper? I'm guessing not for at least one of those. Every era has it's cr*p, and typically, that's what 14 year olds love.

Sorry to cut you off at the knees, but... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980504)

Why would they reintroduce M.U.L.E? I have a working copy sitting on my desk as I type this. What would updating it bring?

Rather than respond to your whole Instant-Response-Just-Remove-Thinking-Broadly, how about a new M.U.L.E., which could be played over a network, wifi, phones, whatever? EA has latched onto these consoles, which are finally networkable, why not revive some of these old concepts and take advantage of it? Heck, as long as they don't go overboard with eye candy and music, these could have a decent ROI. The people who originally coded these games did it painstakingly in assembler, don't even get me started on what they had to do for graphics and sound (i did sound for one C64 game, it was a pain fiddling with those registers to get an auto sound right!)

Probably is more appropriate that indies go about it, but you can't quite make money on a multiplayer M.U.L.E. without attracting the attorneys of a company which has no plans to do anything with it anyway.

"need more vespene gas" (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980671)

Isn't Warcraft (et al) just M.U.L.E. on steroids?

Re:"need more vespene gas" (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980774)

Isn't Warcraft (et al) just M.U.L.E. on steroids?

Except Dan/Dani didn't want to introduce elements of war to M.U.L.E. which then head of EA wanted. Rather than take the money and corrupt a much beloved work, it was dropped.

Re:It's a different game, really (1)

Alkaiser (114022) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980634)

Oh man...Mail Order Monsters. There's a game that needs a remake. That game taught me the word "epoch".

Discouraging the people in it for the money... (1)

spicytuna (868920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980274)

is a good thing. That only leaves room for the people passionate about the industry.

Re:Discouraging the people in it for the money... (4, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980372)

although that also populates the industry purely with kids with stars in their eyes who are prepared to work for long hours for sod all. Thats the kind of workforce EA LOVES.
Here in the UK another developer just went bust the day they release their game. Great news for whoever makes money from that games sales (publishers, maybe some of the companies original shareholders?) but the poor sods who worked a year of crunch time on it are out of work with sod all bonus and sod all reward for their efforts.
this sucks.
People who make games SHOULD make lots of money. If you are an ace C++ games coder you DESERVE that ferrari and that big fuckoff bonus. You certainly deserve it as much as the pompous git in marketing who earns triple your salary.
Im not saying you should do it JUST for the money, but good games developers shouldn't be afraid to demand a bloody good wage for their (often very good) skills.

UK Game industry 'needs support' (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980632)

There's an article [bbc.co.uk] in the BBC's technology section relating to the progress of the UK games industry.

The sad truth is that the actual number of developers in the UK declined by 6% last year. Every time a company goes bust, the animators/programmers are forced to relocate. And given the difference in the cost of living across the UK and the world, it's preferable to move abroad.

Game development is glamorous, marketing isn't (2, Insightful)

GunFodder (208805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980886)

Developing games is much more glamorous than online shopping carts or B2B data transfers. I'm sure millions of corporate developers would jump into game development if they could. The supply of game developers is too large for the demand for video games. Development studios don't have to pay top dollar to attract workers. And they can't afford to anyway. Most games probably never recoup their development expenses.

Consistently good game developers do make lots of money, as they should. Aspiring game developers work for the love of the art, not the cash. Folks on the business side (marketing, accounting, legal, etc) never love their work. They get paid extra because their jobs suck and they wouldn't do it otherwise.

Why is "passion" for the industry necessary? (5, Insightful)

ulatekh (775985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980970)

That only leaves room for the people passionate about the industry.


And why is that necessarily a good thing? Does someone have to be an absolutely committed gamer to work in the video game industry? Wouldn't a more well-rounded team, with other skills and interests, lead to better results?

I've been programming for over 20 years, and have been in the software industry for around 12 years. I've worked for a word-processing company, a tax-software company, an ISP, a defense firm doing electronic-warfare simulation, a defense firm doing 3-D battlefield visualization, and two video-game companies. It never once occurred to me that I should look to specialize my software in one particular field; the true strength of a programmer is to be able to pick up any field and program it. But your attitude is consistent with the sort of people that I've met in the gaming industry -- they genuinely don't seem to understand that. I remember when we lost our audio programmer, and the higher-ups were panicked about hiring a new one. I told them I had done plenty of audio programming, and they told me no, they needed a specialist. I gave them a little history of the sort of audio programming I had done on my own, and left them speechless. They simply weren't willing to believe it. When I was being interviewed for my second video-game job, the president of the company told me that what he liked about my resume was my console experience; what he didn't like was that I didn't have enough console experience. Talk about tunnel vision.

I was hired to my first video-game job as a sort of "opportunity" programmer; they knew I was good, though I only had informal video-game experience, like the Quake II mod Weapons Of Destruction [planetquake.com]. I've been doing assembly-language programming and other low-level hardware tweaking since I was 12, so they gave me the (HUGE!) PlayStation 2 Hardware Reference manuals, and told me to get on with it. Within 3 months, I knew the machine well and was rewriting large sections of our code to either use the vector unit or to squeeze better into the FUBAR memory model. I was finding stuff that seemed really basic to me, but all the best "game programmer" minds that had worked at that company for 10+ years somehow couldn't find them. I even achieved an order-of-magnitude increase in performance for our physics engine. Oh, I picked up physics simulation while I was there too. (I remember being told by my boss that I was now considered the PS2 and physics-performance expert in the company. The same boss that was speechless about my audio experience. LOL!) It's not "passion about the video-game industry" that drove me to these accomplishments. I just normally act this way at work. (I act this way at [sourceforge.net] play [sourceforge.net], also.)

Besides, what sort of grown adults could be so passionate about video games? The same sort that suffer from arrested development, that's who. The social atmosphere at both video-game companies where I worked was positively middle-school. I remember being told, hush-hush, that so-and-so "just doesn't like you", as if that was supposed to be some life-altering event. It was, too: I got fired from both jobs for reasons that didn't rise very far above that. A rejection letter [slashdot.org] I received recently from a video-game company actually went so far as to admit that.

If the video-game industry wants to improve itself, then the people involved first have to grow the hell up. The rest of what you need to do will become more obvious once you do that.

Bunk? (-1, Offtopic)

CypherXero (798440) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980280)

Jerry: I thought the whole dream of dating a doctor was debunked.
Elaine: No, it's not debunked, it's totally bunk.
Jerry: Isn't bunk bad? Like, that's a lot of bunk.
George: No something is bunk and then you debunk it.
Jerry: What?
Elaine: Huh?
George: I think. (Pause as they all look down)
Elaine: Look it, I'm dating a doctor and I like it. Let's just move on.

No value (5, Insightful)

turtled (845180) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980287)

There is no real value in most gaming nowadays. Super Mario Brother 35, or Sonic the hedghog 19, NBA basketball 2020. All of it is the same and has been played before. Sure, there are pretty graphics, but, what about game content and gameplay? I miss those years, I do. I like replay value, too. Everything now is, wow, that's cool... next.

Also, I don't like cross-platform games... Super special secret level on the PSXboxCube version.

Re:No value (4, Informative)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980342)

The problem with citing Mario, is that mario's actually matured over the years in terms of gameplay. So has Sonic. Sonic 1 is not nearly the same game as Sonic Adventure or even Sonic Heroes.

Re:No value (1)

JaxGator75 (650577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980409)

What does this factual statement have to do with the Parent's beleaguring of an old and tired cliche?

/and what's the deal with {fairly obvious observation}

Re:No value (1)

JaxGator75 (650577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980445)

*ahem*

I believe it's pronounced "beleaguering", loser. . .

Re:No value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980823)

Don't you mean spelled? How do you know he mispronounced it?

Re:No value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980843)

Oh, I guess I'm the loser for not noticing the poster replyed to himself.

Re:No value (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980395)

There is no real value in most gaming nowadays.

Yeah, that must be why I play games all day long. Did you try Sid Meier's newest version of Pirates?

I _loved_ the original, like a religion, it was just so masterful...but the new one is ever better. How? They took the original, and enhanced it with better graphics and music...but they wisely left the gameplay alone. The result was one of the best games I've played in years.

There's nothing wrong with improving on old formulas by respecting them.

Re:No value (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980428)

I don't agree with you on the lack of gameplay value. Unless you're playing one of the gameboy remakes, I have yet to see one mario game that doesn't bring a new core-mechanic to the series with every iteration. Many games have been well done entries to a particular franchise that succeed in entertainment as well as introducing a new aspect that wasn't there before. I have the same feelings as you when thinking about any of the more movie-esque licensed titles. Maybe you're just tired of games in general?
I can agree with you on the cross-platform games individual differences though. A cross platform game is essentially a good thing, since it doesn't limit someone to one particular console. But when they throw in a specific change to give one version a lead over another it's beyond irritating and usually results in me not purchasing any. That's just me though.

Games are great, just look elsewhere for your entertainment for a while and avoid the "blockbuster" orgy-fests from bigger publishers. Those will almost always lead to disappointment.

Re:No value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980514)

Say hello to Spore! That is, unless EA prevents content from being included so that they can produce the reams of expansion packs that they so love. Other games coming out this year like Black & White 2 and The Movies sound interesting in a pretty unique way (though Peter Molyneux tends to make everything sound interesting).

There are some nice indie games too. One I've been looking forward to is Starsiege 2845 [starsiege2845.com], which will likely be released for free, though that depends on Vivendi (whose intellectual property they are using with full permission).

All I want to say is... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980297)

Waaaaaaaaaaaa

A thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980306)

This Matt fellow who is quoted would seem to be taking a covert stab at Nintendo, as they are they ones most pushing inovation as their marketing plan.

That's crap (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980315)

The game industry IS headed into a negative direction for developers and creative people. We're effectively pigeonholing anyone who wants to continue expereimentation with interactivity into a smaller, "indie" category, while letting the larger corporations continue to rampantly milk the larger audience with repetitious products and higher budgets. The only exception to this I can think of is Will Wright being backed by EA, and if it weren't for that I'd lost hope almost completely.

People bitch because they see movies today, and then see the game industry embracing the mainstream-movie-esque visibility and profit of the same scene. These same people love games and the possiblities within the medium, and do not want to see the industry turn into a generic-blockbuster-factory-for-profict-only show.

Re:That's crap (5, Insightful)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980418)

People need to stop bitching and stop buying while they're at it. Mediocrity thrives because the public will buy whatever's waved under their nose.

Demand better games. Buy independent and wait for the $60 mainstream pap to hit the bargain bin before picking it up.

Independent console games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980901)

Buy independent

Where can I buy a new $150 box that connects to my TV and plays independent?

That's crap-Bargin bin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980973)

"Demand better games. Buy independent and wait for the $60 mainstream pap to hit the bargain bin before picking it up."

You should spread this message to all the illegal P2Pers out there.

Re:That's crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11981004)

You're so right. I bought that mainstream crap game called Gran Turismo 4. It's so crappy that I just keep playing it because I'm a tool like that. Us morons always play the crappiest games the most. I really wish I had bought that 15-dollar-shareware-tux-racer-based-mario-cart-rip off instead and supported some true talent.

Re:That's crap (1)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980460)

We're effectively pigeonholing anyone who wants to continue expereimentation with interactivity into a smaller, "indie" category, while letting the larger corporations continue to rampantly milk the larger audience with repetitious products and higher budgets.

Are you talking about games, or movies?

Yes, I know the answer... my point is that gaming is becoming a mature industry like movies, and is following the same pattern. That's because, whether the elitist in you likes it, this pattern works.

Re:That's crap (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980874)

One thing I've heard from someone in the gaming industry is that about 90% of the games made lose money, and the profitable 10% pay the shortfalls of the other 90%. That doesn't sound like a good picture for those wanting to enter the field. I wouldn't want to work or invest in that industry.

Re:That's crap (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 9 years ago | (#11981021)

The only exception to this I can think of is Will Wright being backed by EA, and if it weren't for that I'd lost hope almost completely.

Which is a small hope, because they're doing it for the same make-money-screw-all-else mentality. Will Wright just happens to be that kind of genius that can make "experimental, different" and "shed-loads of loot" cross paths. On the other hand, it shows market demand for cool, unique stuff (but we already knew that; the problem is few big publishers are daring enough to risk going after it).

I am a game developer (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980323)

I am part of a small studio who makes first party games for the playstation2. I don't work 80 hours a week. During crunch time I might get up to 60 hours, but that's rare.

I don't understand why EA works their employees to death.

Re:I am a game developer (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980391)

> I don't understand why EA works their employees to death.

It's called "false economy". EA believes that they'll get more work out of employees for less money by making them put in a rediculous number of hours. The problem is that EA fails to take note of how that impacts inidividual performance, team relationships, and overall morale. Not to mention the amount of experience they lose everytime they pitch out a burned-out programmer.

Unfortunately, false economy is a fairly common issue in businesses these days. Too many managers think in a linear fashion (more of this == $$$), and fail to take the hidden costs into account. That's why we have hundreds of junior programmers employed in places where there should only be a handful of midlevel to senior developers, windows machines in high reliability situations, and gamer programers working rediculous hours.

Re:75% fresh meat? (4, Insightful)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980531)

It's called "false economy". EA believes that they'll get more work out of employees for less money by making them put in a rediculous number of hours. The problem is that EA fails to take note of how that impacts inidividual performance, team relationships, and overall morale. Not to mention the amount of experience they lose everytime they pitch out a burned-out programmer.

Management in such organisations are quite aware of what they are doing. What you say is very true in general. Unfortunately, in the games industry you have people lining up at the door looking for a way in. They can work their existing employees to death and if anyone has a problem with it, there are ten more people fighting to take their place. Hell, they could have daily whippings and there'd be someone who'd see it as a fringe benefit. Experience? They don't care. You need a couple of good developers at the top (and sometimes not even that!) and an endless rotating roster of 100 hours/week wage slaves working the oars.

Not saying it's right, just saying how things are. I'm trying my way at indie development myself because I hate this state of affairs and deep down, I completely agree with you.

Re:75% fresh meat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980813)

Heh, think you hit the nail on the head there. Out of the CS class I graduated with in college I'd say 50% would be willing to fight tooth and nail to get a job with a game company. It will probably always be this way as long as games get people into computers - and they probably always will.

Re:75% fresh meat? (1)

vsprintf (579676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980888)

Management in such organisations are quite aware of what they are doing.

So EA deliberately killed the MOH franchise by switching developers in midstream and leaving MOH Rising Sun to a bunch of n00bs? At first glance, that seems absurd, but having observed how managers think, you could be right. The managers got paid (and bonuses too no doubt).

Re:75% fresh meat? (1)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 9 years ago | (#11981049)

So EA deliberately killed the MOH franchise by switching developers in midstream and leaving MOH Rising Sun to a bunch of n00bs?

I'm not too familiar with the franchise, so my comment will not be terribly informed. Hence forgive my use of generalities. Having said that, when things get taken too far and too many people leave at once, the strategy backfires. As well it should.

Of course a complete switchout of developers is going to come at a cost, and someone somewhere will have weighed up that the benefits of such a switch outweigh the costs. Or they took a bribe or got some personal benefit. ;)

Also bear in mind that the success of a game in the eyes of their upper management is going to be measured in dollar terms, and the number of developers crying themselves to sleep at night and swearing to get out of the industry isn't going to be an issue to them. Nor the tormented cries of half the development team as they are axed on project completion. Royalties you say? Hope you got that in writing. Again, not saying it's right, just saying what the case is.

At first glance, that seems absurd, but having observed how managers think, you could be right. The managers got paid (and bonuses too no doubt).

Ah, upper management. The one profession where you can list spectacular failures on your resume and loot the company coffers and have them considered as positive points indicating that you are a bold risk taker. ;) I see we have the same "respect" for such people. ;)

Re:75% fresh meat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11981031)

Management in such organisations are quite aware of what they are doing.

I don't think they are, no. There's a reason the standard work week steadily moved toward 40-hour over the past two hundred years. It's the sweet spot between maximum output and reliability.

Crunch time increases output, but only in the very short term. After one or two weeks of this, the increased error rate caused by fatigue and low morale eat up the productivity gains, with progressively worse returns.

But don't take what I say as is -- look into the matter yourself, starting with Henry Ford and other turn-of-the-century industrialists.

Re:I am a game developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980394)

Must be nice to not have to think about the Xmas deadline.

Where have I heard that before? (5, Interesting)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980331)

"Anyway, please, just stop the whining. Stop telling people about how horrible the games industry is. Stop telling them that they can't succeed without radical industry changes. It's bunk and you should know better. Are you intentionally trying to discourage people from getting into the industry?"

Seems that remark resembles comments [detnews.com] made by Henry Ford and GM's Alfred P. Sloan...

Re:Where have I heard that before? (1)

Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980924)

Could someone do the parents comparison with more words?

Maybe I am just dense and the similarities are striking... but as I see it, Ford was against worker unions and Mihaly is an indie games developer who argues that other (non-indie) developers are unrealistic whiners. Huh?

I'm not so certain about this (3, Interesting)

Urger (817972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980340)

While it is true that an indy developer can (and do) create great games, with excellent play and graphics and the whole whatnot, it is also true that you need big developers to bankroll games. I doubt that ,say, GTA:San Andreas, could have been created without the huge investment that was made in it.

Re:I'm not so certain about this (1)

kill -9 $$ (131324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980804)

Yeah, but look where GTA started out. It was an above view, mediocre graphics, simple controls type game that tapped into something great... People's desire to do stuff they'd never even really thought about. That and the ability to interact with almost anything in their environment (something that made Syndicate great as well, I fired that up *again* the other day... BTW)

I could have probably coded the original GTA in about 2 months. But it was that idea that made it sell big, not spectactular graphics, massive 3d worlds, etc. This consequently allowed them to make some money and put out GTA 2 (not much different from the original) and I think another version before going all out with GTA3. Remember they didn't start with San Andreas.

I still think that good concepts/ideas can stand in the face of high end 3d, professionally rendered worlds, and all star soundtracks. But getting that killer idea is tough.

Common complaints (2, Insightful)

Nexboy (868907) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980363)

The most common complaint I hear from programmers that used to be in the game biz is that the hours are long and only the bosses made a decent living. My response is that you really shouldn't go into fields like writing, singing, or game dev unless you have a burning passion to express your creativity. If you're mostly worried about your IRA, learn how to write device drivers or accounting software. Not that this is great nowadays, but it's better.

Re:Common complaints (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980450)

So what you should do is do what you like, and not care if you have no retirement to speak of in the end?

That's stupid.

That's why we have crappy teachers, for instance.

Re:Common complaints (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980810)

So what you should do is do what you like, and not care if you have no retirement to speak of in the end?

No, identify the top two things you like to do. Do the second one for a living, the first for love.

Re:Common complaints (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980587)

One of the problems, sir, is that currently a lot of game designers can't do EITHER. They get paid very mediocre wages for extremely long hours and no respect, and then get told to make Hot Game Clone #23,599 - and they're STILL better off moneywise than most indie developers, who often literally can't make a living.

There's a big difference between wanting a third Ferrari and wanting to make ends meet doing what you love to do.

Re:Common complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980785)

Show me the way. I am a game programmer and all of the companies I have looked at outside the industry think I play games all day. I have not even had one interview. Not that I have applied to tons of places, but quite a few.

Common [answers] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980851)

"My response is that you really shouldn't go into fields like writing, singing, or game dev unless you have a burning passion to express your creativity."

Translation: "It's OK to be used by others, as long you love doing what you're doing".

"If you're mostly worried about your IRA, learn how to write device drivers or accounting software. Not that this is great nowadays, but it's better."

Translation: "It's OK to be poor. You'll just be a poor guy, with a smile on their face".

The point is that if you don't like it.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980369)

Do it differently yourself. Quit whining about what everbody else is doing, do it different yourself. Yes it will be hard work, but it can be done.

This is true of other industries. It may be very hard, but it can be done.

History if full of folks who tried, failed, and tried again to do it differently. The whinners are never remembered.

The problem is... (5, Insightful)

ShamusYoung (528944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980371)

As time goes, the games industry is probably destined to look more and more like Hollywood. On one side, you have "fun" work (acting, making games) that lots of people want to do. There are more people who WANT to do it than are NEEDED to do it. So their pay (unless you are a superstar) is going to be low.

On the other side is a market controlled by distributors. A great game can still do poorly if it doesn't make it onto the shelves at Wal-Mart, and lots of awesome movies get overlooked because they don't make it to the Cineplex.

This gives the movie studios and the game publishers the power over BOTH sides of the equation. The result is a string of predictable, safe, and highly derivitive products. The industry isn't "broken". You can't fix it. The market just works that way.

The good news is, it's still easier to make an indie game than an indie movie.

For one who used to be interested (2, Interesting)

TLLOTS (827806) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980384)

These comments don't give me any desire to try and get into the industry. Admittedly I did use to want to develop games etc. previously (since about the age of twelve was when I decided it), but with the state of the industry I really don't see much reason to put myself through it all. Of course I still intend to make games, just small ones with my fiance, rather than big games in a large office where I may not even get an adequate say in how many hours I get to toil away each day.

Well.... (0)

10101001011 (744876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980386)

Are you intentionally trying to discourage people from getting into the industry?

Now that you mention it, yes, yes I am. The new projection D&D board industry is just soooo much more potent at the moment...

Here are the key paragraphs (5, Informative)

Obiwan Kenobi (32807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980387)

Here are the key paragraph's from Greg's rant. Absolutely classic stuff!

-Start-

As recently as 1992: games cost 200K. Next generation games will cost 20m. Publishers are becoming increasingly risk averse. Today you cannot get an innovative title published unless your last name is Wright or Miyamoto. Who was at the Microsoft keynote? I don't know about you but it made my flesh crawl. [laughter] The HD era? Bigger, louder? Big bucks to be made! Well not by you and me of course. Those budgets and teams ensure the death of innovation. Was your allegiance bought at the price of a television? Then there was the Nintendo keynote. This was the company who established the business model that has crucified the industry today.. Iwata-san has the heart of a gamer, and my question is what poor bastard's chest did he carve it from? [audience falls about]

How often DO they perform human sacrifices at Nintendo?? My friends, we are FUCKED [laughter]. We are well and truly fucked. The bar in terms of graphics and glitz has been raised and raised until we can't afford to do anything at all. 80 hour weeks until our jobs are all outsourced to Asia. but it's ok because the HD era is here right? I say, enough. The time has come for revolution! It may seem to you that what I describe is inevitable forces of history, but no, we have free will! EA could have chosen to focus on innovation, but they did not. Nintendo could make development kits cheaply available to small firms, but they prefer to rely on the creativity on one aging designer. You have choices too: work in a massive sweatshop publisher-run studio with thousands of others making the next racing game with the same gameplay as Pole Position. Or you can riot in the streets of Redwood City! Choose another business model, development path, and you can choose to remember why you love games and make sure in a generation's time there are still games to love. You can start today.

-End-

Hahahaha, who's heart did he pull out? Just brilliant!

Re:Here are the key paragraphs (2, Informative)

shadowmatter (734276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980547)

The full rant can be found at his web page here [costik.com]. Scroll down to his post "But It's Over Now" in big blue letters, it's just beneath.

Good stuff.

- shadowmatter

Spector's comments about distribution (4, Insightful)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980411)

We need alternative forms of distribution too. I'm not saying publishers suck, although I do believe that in many cases. [laughter] If the plane went down who would care about the marketing guys? We need another way of getting games out there and in players' hands. If any of you bought Half Life 2 at Wal-Mart, please just leave the room.
This is one of the major gripes that people have about games. Acquiring a publisher just adds another person in the contract which brings about more legal hassle (remember Valve delaying HL2's Steam release to match the hardcopy release?) and more overhead. Given the nature of software, physical copies are completely overrated unless they have interesting bonus material. It would be much nicer if companies who make games that are primarily online (Q3, CS, all MMORPGS) just dropped the whole physical aspect. They could just tack on a BitTorrent client to a lightweight download/install program and just send it out to everyone. Then encourage people to make copies of the data files and distribute it to friends (since this is impossible to stop) and just sell the CD keys online. This would be just as effective for games that already require an Internet connection. They could also just give out the installer on DVD for free in stores and sell the CD key online or sell physical cards in stores that contain a CD key.

One of these days, the companies will catch up with the state of technology.

--
Want a free iPod? [freeipods.com]
Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Re:Spector's comments about distribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980686)

Acquiring a publisher just adds another person in the contract which brings about more legal hassle and more overhead.

Oh, and the publisher also pays for the game's development and marketing.

The Internet will cure the blind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980932)

Is there some reason everyone on this forum sees "online" as a panacea for all the worlds ills?

Maybe people don't have, or want broadband (or the internet for that matter)?

Maybe people don't want to tie up their connection (BT or not)?

Maybe people actually want physical media (the whole shebang, not just the disk).

And last "try before buy" is easier to pull off by going to a BlockBuster, or local game store. Than it is "Quick! To the internet".

Console me (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980950)

OK, without a major publisher, how is a small development house supposed to talk to the makers of the major game consoles? Or how is a small development house supposed to develop and sell its own console?

Vague (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11980412)

What is this? Could the articles of late be a little more fucking vague? They never have any information for anyone except the peopel who follow this stuff for 18 hours a day. It's not like the charge per extra word for a writeup is too drastic. Editors quit posting incompete crap. Submitters: quit being so lazy.

It's the retards... (0, Troll)

WizardRahl (840191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980473)

It's the retards in college taking arts, smoking weed every night they aren't piss drunk kind of people that buy games. they will buy the most shiney endorsed package they can find even if the game sucks; they want to know they're playing something cool, not something that has really well thought out gameplay. Besides you aren't giving the big companies enough credit, indie games don't have a chance in matching either quality or pretty much any other aspect. It's like saying people should use gimp instead of photoshop because it's open source... another brainless argument.

Lets not forget the source. (4, Insightful)

Effugas (2378) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980522)

Iron realms makes text adventures.

Such games have not been published retail in approximately twenty years.

Players of such games are wildly at the fringes, and would probably happily admit it.

It would seem unwise to use Iron Realms' games, gamers, publication model, or general experiences as something that's generalizable in 2005.

Not that I disagree with all of his sentiments, of course.

This quote from GameDev.net (3, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980689)

One of the questions about whether students could still make it in such an industry starting off on their own sparked a response from Jason, saying that first of all students need to stop cloning games for their school projects. He hates seeing how almost every student, when given an asignment to create a game, makes some damn Brickout or PacMan clone. Sure, they can't do anything hugely new, but this is really their chance to innovate and try something that's not the status quo.

I think the reason why students intimate past games for their projects is they really don't have time to do something new and it's easier to code off of a working example. Creating something from stratch can be a hugh undertaking sometimes. Most students are concern with getting the project done to get the grade.

Everyone knows publishers are scum... (3, Interesting)

aztektum (170569) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980776)

Why don't developers make their games and sell directly online? What the hell is the point of being in an industry driven by the "latest and greatest in technology" when your distribution model is based upon last millennium foundations.

Unless you're OWNED by Vivendi/EA/Activision (or under some long term agreement), there's no reason why you should feel you HAVE to play ball with them. If your game is good enough people will pay to download it. If it sucks, sorry Charlie, that's natural selection for you.

Which console is that? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980971)

If your game is good enough people will pay to download it.

Not one of the three major consoles currently has a pay-per-download scheme, and whether the next consoles will have such a scheme is still in question at least until the next E3 expo.

rant transcript (4, Informative)

gbdmoxy (868986) | more than 9 years ago | (#11980996)

Hey all -

Sorry to interject - just in case it adds to the discussion I recorded and covered the rant session for Gamespot. The Wonderland transcript is great, just incomplete. If you want to see the whole thing, you can find the full transcript here [gamespot.com].

Galen

Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11981015)

Old guy shaking fist "These kids today!"

Don't be that guy. Promise yourself.

The scary part (1)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11981035)

...when I read this stuff is how much of the computer hardware industry is dependent on these guys. Seriously, these guys are supposed to be the reason why I should fork out AGAIN for 90% of my components to participate in their next risk-averse eye-candy gameplay-numbered-in-hours DRM crap. How much of the PC industry would just go away without it? I hope all goes the way of the console world and the rest of us with other uses for our PCs can be left to it.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...