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Interview With Bing Gordon (EA)

Hemos posted about 8 years ago | from the talking-with-the-man dept.

87

djedery writes "I interviewed Bing Gordon (Chief Creative Officer of EA) via email. We discussed game design in academia, outsourcing, game scheduling / budgeting, games for India / China, getting along with marketing, and risks." Decent interview; could be longer but the line about reverse engineering the Genesis is an interesting one, especially considering that some of the current legislative attempts would make that illegal.

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87 comments

Games have become horrible (3, Insightful)

dushkin (965522) | about 8 years ago | (#15605224)

Games, as they are now, are generally horrible. It's a lot like Hollywood nowadays, not just because of movie frenchise games, but also because it costs millions of dollars to just make a game, and then nobody wants to take their chances on a game that is less likely to sell (i.e. isn't really mainstream) so they release pretty much ONLY first person shooters.

yawn@games & lol@interweb

Re:Games have become horrible (2, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15605280)

I think that is where quick thinking smaller developers come in. Sometimes they might generate enough interest that the bigger developers will follow. Other times you still have playable games from obscure companies.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#15605317)

> I think that is where quick thinking smaller developers come in.

Yeah, they can write really terrible games that you'd need a bloody film tie in to sell - hence the number of small companies bought up by large companies...

Re:Games have become horrible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605301)

I would personally argue that games have been getting better and better in quality but their originality has been greatly hurt by the cost of development; on top of that the focus on a handful of genres has taken several genres (FPS) about as far as we can with current technological constraints, and it will take dramatically more power (100-1,000 times as much processing power) to really take a great leap forward.

Consider Free-Radical's Second Sight (a paranormal 3rd person action adventure); if the game was released in 2001 before Splinter Cell or MGS2 it would have been considered one of the best games of this generation. With when the game was released it was simply average.

Re:Games have become horrible (2, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | about 8 years ago | (#15606758)

It's the same trap that Hollywood movies have fallen into. The production values are very high now. Lots of eye candy and polished artwork. However the huge budgets mean that studios have to play it safe. That means lots of sequels and licensed franchises. No originality.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 8 years ago | (#15609151)

Well he states right in the interview what's wrong with EA games (in addition to the genre safety play you mentioned): "The trick to finishing any creative project on schedule is to ship whatever is done by a given date. This is what advertising agencies usually do with the commercials they create. Of course, no one remembers that it was on time after it fails miserably." He'd have a point if commercials crashed or exhibited other show-stopping bugs and continued to be pushed out on deadline whether they were complete or not.

Re:Games have become horrible (4, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 8 years ago | (#15605354)

Have you played Geometry Wars on the 360 ?

Your opinion is just so generally wrong =)

Perhaps there are only FPS games WHERE YOU LOOK.

This lot are even free :

http://www.megagames.com/news/html/freegames/freeg ames.shtml [megagames.com]

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 years ago | (#15608195)

Have you played Geometry Wars on the 360 ?

It simply cannot compare to... Hexen...HD. Seriously, that game rocked.

My bet is that an old school 2D game will arise out of the ashes of the industry and bring the genre back where it so richly deserves to be.....on a TV screen. RPG's too. There's good eaten in an RPG. Just look at Oblivion, and that's an american RPG!

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 8 years ago | (#15611109)

> Just look at Oblivion, and that's an american RPG!

I have played Oblivion, but I'm not sure if you are lauding it or lampooning it. I wasn't impressed with it tbh.

Re:Games have become horrible (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605400)

The real problem is the gamers today. Games have become main stream, and most people are idiots. Most people buy only what they're familiar with, so game companies manufactor the same crap over and over and over again because people will just keep buying it.

One of the most original console games recently was Katamari Damancy, and it still didn't sell as well as Final Fantasy 12, "It Plays the Game For You". That's just sad - more people are willing to buy Version 12 of the same game, but not something truely new and unique.

So we're left with an industry that produces nothing but sequels, because that's what people buy. What're the most anticipated games for the PS3? Metal Gear Solid 4, which is actually the 8th game in the series when you count the original series and the PSP series, and Final Fantasy 13.

Companies are starting to learn, however. Ask your average gamer, and they won't call it "Metal Gear Solid 4" they'll call it "Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots". By dropping numbers and giving games "subtitles" the gaming industry will hope people won't realize that all they're buying are the same game, repackaged with a new title. And it's working...

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | about 8 years ago | (#15605458)

Way worse than the examples you pointed out are sports games, and we can blame EA for that one. Thanks Trip!

Year after year of the same game, with minor upgrades, either graphics wise or playability wise. Oh look! They fixed the passing game... but now it's little too easy to score that way, they'll probably fix it next year. *rolls eyes* All they need is a stat upgrade, but I guess downloading a player list over the internet doesn't bring home the bacon.

I saw a review in EGM for Pokemon Burning Leaf Gold, or one of its many incarnations, and it recived a mediocre score, as it was a "minor upgrade, will no signifigant changes, yet still fun to play", and Madden was the game of the month, though one reviewer was concered that it was a "minor upgrade, will no signifigant changes, yet still fun to play".

Oh, and stop with the Tony Hawk games already.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

matt328 (916281) | about 8 years ago | (#15605653)

I mostly agree, there are a few diamonds in the rough though. Back in 98 there was Ocarina of Time for the N64. That was in my opinion THE game, the game all other games would be compared to, what other games strived to equal but failed. Until 2006 when Oblivion came out, now its THE game, the new Zelda.

My point is not that Zelda/Oblivion are awesome and everything else sucks, hear me out. My point is there are 8 years between these two filled with nothing but mediocre, play through once and pawn them games. These two games for me were games you just couldn't put down, you live, breathe, and eat them, and there have been only 2 of them in 8 years.

Store shelves these days are filled with nothing but garbage, games like Madden and NCAA where they've been using the same codebase since 98, just adding new players and tweaking the engine to push a few more triangles. I suppose what gamers are looking for is first and foremost quality, followed by a healthy dose of originality.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

ShibaInu (694434) | about 8 years ago | (#15606457)

The thing about gaming is that it isn't just for geeks anymore. Madden and NCAA games come out because they sell very well. Folks that are into football, basketball or other major sports like to play with better rosters, more control, etc. The guys who play Madden might be wondering what the big deal is about Oblivion - after all it is the fourth TES game.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | about 8 years ago | (#15611154)

Oh yes, but have you played the previous TES games? The lore is pretty much the only thing that stays the same, considering that they are written from scratch in each iteration...

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 8 years ago | (#15605689)

and then nobody wants to take their chances on a game that is less likely to sell (i.e. isn't really mainstream) so they release pretty much ONLY first person shooters.

I agree. Also Please invest in my startup: EggsByMail.com

Oh wait, it is not 1998 anymore. From where I am sitting games nowadays are sports games, MMOs (or other similar, open-ended games like GTA, Tony Hawk), and 1st person shooters is probably last on the lather rinse repeat cycle nowadays (but not absent from the list).

I agree that there is a lot of monotany, but you haven't looked at games lately if you think everybody is releasing 1st person shooters.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

John_Booty (149925) | about 8 years ago | (#15605811)

Try looking at the NintendoDS. Lots of innovative games there, especially ones that use the stylus/touch screen.

It's a fairly low-cost platform to develop for; much lower than one of the SUPER 3D OMG consoles. As result you do see more wacky games and risks taken, especially if you don't mind importing some of the wackier DS games from Japan.

(DS carts aren't region-locked; you can pop any DS game into any DS regardless of country of origin...)

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

dushkin (965522) | about 8 years ago | (#15606657)

I pretty much agree. The DS is a pretty good platform, but then again it's Nintendo, and Nintendo tends to focus on gameplay (perhaps the only company that really does), and much less on bling-bling effects.

Moon-buggy is an awesome game by the way.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15605877)

"Games, as they are now, are generally horrible. It's a lot like Hollywood nowadays, not just because of movie frenchise games, but also because it costs millions of dollars to just make a game, and then nobody wants to take their chances on a game that is less likely to sell (i.e. isn't really mainstream) so they release pretty much ONLY first person shooters."

I sometimes wish I had a time machine. I'd love to pop back about 15 years and take a look at both Hollywood and the video game market and see if the idea that both industries have gotten worse is really true. I was a teenager back in the 16-bit days so I know my percpetions are different. (Just to illustrate: I saw Volcano when I was... oh.. 17 or so. I loved it. I watched it again on TV recently and ARGH that movie was terrible!)

What really inspired me to respond to your post was the comment about only FPS shooters being made. Back in the 16-bit days, it was fighters. Lots and lots and lots and lots of TERRIBLE Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat wannabes. My favorite example of just how bad it got was Rise of the Robots. Not only did this game try to capitalize on the fighting fad, but it also tried to jump on the CGI bandwagon. They didn't get either right.

Anyway, the point isn't to say that Hollywood and VGs aren't worse today. Rather, I'm just curious if they really are or not. I've read a number of Calvin and Hobbes' cartoons taking pokes at Hollywood sequels. Seems like the same old gripe, just a different decade. Just look at Police Academy. Argh.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15607595)

Oh, you don't need a time machine for that. I can't speak for Hollywood but with games you can take any of the old ones, even the classics, compare them to modern games and in most cases you'll notice just how far we've come. Not just in terms of graphics and such but gameplay ideas have matured, new ones were invented, games these days just play a whole lot better than they did back then.

Would Adventure of Link have been remembered as the worst non-CDi Zelda if it had implemented a better save and restart system (i.e. you don't start over in the same place all the time) and less repetitive level design?

People say Halo uses excessive copy&paste for its levels, have they ever played the original Metroid? A shaft with six pathes branching out from it, all being the same layout with the difference between them being that half of them end in a wall?

Levels with deadly traps you can only find through trial and error because the original game was in the arcade and they wanted you to waste as many quarters as possible? Mazes without maps or clues? Hidden puzzles without clues?

And let's not forget the horrible camera that has plagued most N64 games. I don't know how people manage to play Zelda OOT, I always go insane from that camera. OOT just feels like a piece of crap if you've played Wind Waker first.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

jedrek (79264) | about 8 years ago | (#15607661)

As someone who grew up in the 80s, all I can pretty much say is this: the best thing that ever happened was that they ended. Born in Poland, growing up in America, I went through martial law, reganomics, the horrible music/fashion/movies of that time. Even cartoons were crap - the 80s WB and HB cartoons were awful, just look at Tom and Jerry... appaling.

As far as movies go, we can use IMDB to look back. At the 1982 Oscars (celebrating the movies of 1981) we see: best movie - Chariots of Fire [imdb.com] . When's the last time you watched that classic? A year later, Ghandi beat out ET... Yeah, anyway, it was pretty crap. And let's not kid ourselves, my friend's 10 year old daughter is going to be bitching about games in 2016 sucking, not like the Harry Potter third-person adventure game she used to play.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

hawfizzle (968007) | about 8 years ago | (#15606580)

Play some multiplayer games. Then you're playing against/with people, not against the work of coding teams. The dynamics of teamwork and communication are much more fun than save/attempt puzzle/reload/attempt puzzle/etc. Start a guild, start some beef, take over some digital territory, blow up someone's ship in EVE, i find all these things infinitely more fun than playing single-client games.

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

dushkin (965522) | about 8 years ago | (#15606683)

A lot more fun when some 14 year old kicks your ass after playing for 72 hours straight.

MUD forevaaahhh

Re:Games have become horrible (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 8 years ago | (#15607221)

### Games, as they are now, are generally horrible.

Well, no. There are games that are horrible, but there is a easy solution: Don't play or buy the horrible ones. Psychonauts, Fahrenheit, Dreamfall, Advent Rising, Geometry Wars, Katamari Damacy, Shadow of the Collosus, NewSuperMarioBros, etc., there are plenty of very good or even great games around that aren't yet another first person shooter or FIFA, there is even a new Sensibble Soccer around if you want a different kind of soccer. The core problem is more with the gamers who often don't buy those games, then with the publishers who don't make them all that often. If the innovative and creative games don't get good sales its no wonder when publishers move to stuff that actually sells well.

in related news (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 8 years ago | (#15605230)

submitter links to his own interview...
buy an ad !
no digg.

Whoa, famous guy. (0, Offtopic)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15605242)

He invented the machine that goes "BING!", right?

Re:Whoa, famous guy. (0, Offtopic)

dushkin (965522) | about 8 years ago | (#15605265)

No. That's Chuck Norris.

/. effect = fame (5, Funny)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15605246)

"The best grads will have 'published' at least one project to public acclaim, such as 10,000+ downloads..."


10,000? So one link on /. can make a person one of the "best grads."


Overall a great interview. I like where it talks about the need for business acumen in software development. It seems that there are certainly developers who are missing this.

Re:/. effect = fame (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 8 years ago | (#15605266)

Sounds like fun...

"If you do something creative enough that 10,000 people download it, and you want to be worked to DEATH, have we got a job for you!"

Notice that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15607468)

Notice how the interviewer name dropped stanford, but Bing didn't take the bait.

Instead, Bing dissed stanford's undergraduate programs by name dropping Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Southern California as the must-have courses. Bing wasn't exactly a cheerleader for the stanford MBA curriculum either.

Guess what was said here is true http://www.epinions.com/content_73675148932 [epinions.com] .

Bing Rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605256)

I remember talking with other EA people at the Redwood Shores building and laughing at just how hardcore EA execs when it came to putting console makers in their place.

EA letting Sega know their console was a rotting corpse with the Dreamcast.

EA making Microsoft beg like a pathetic little bitch for online support for the Xbox.

EA and the 360 is the best one yet, just wait and see...

Re:Bing Rocks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605555)

I remember talking with other EA people at the Redwood Shores building and laughing at just how hardcore EA execs when it came to putting console makers in their place.

That comment was built with English words, but I'll be damned if I can parse it into an English sentence that makes any kind of sense.

Re:Bing Rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15607154)

Maybe it's actually Perl!

Re:Bing Rocks (2, Funny)

mad.frog (525085) | about 8 years ago | (#15606805)

If by "rocks" you mean "is a fucking tool", then yes, Bing rocks and rocks hard.

But then I'm guessing you haven't experienced his management style directly.

Re:Bing Rocks (1)

MORB (793798) | about 8 years ago | (#15608027)

Perhaps you just need to be more cross-functional.

I used to work with Bing Gordon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605269)

He is a truly nice guy and really intelligent. But he had a really nasty habit of picking his nose and eating the booger at meetings. Things really got out of hand when he started eating his feces at meetings. This really sickened some people. Still an amazingly talented guy to work with!

Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (3, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | about 8 years ago | (#15605286)

If the DMCA had been arround in the early 1980's...would IBM still hold a monopoly on the PC BIOS? Think of all we would have missed out on. Apple probably would have folded up for lack of users if the Mac clones industry didn't happen...although they'd like you to forget that

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (1)

nutsy (33125) | about 8 years ago | (#15605432)

My gut reaction was, since EA had one of the first copy-protection schemes to require specialised software to break it -- remember "Art's Backup" in Di-Sector, fellow Commies? -- and since such software had to be coded by reverse-engineering the protection, they pretty well have to be aware of reverse engineering nowadays!

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (1)

chepner (146799) | about 8 years ago | (#15605464)

If the DMCA had been arround in the early 1980's...would IBM still hold a monopoly on the PC BIOS? Think of all we would have missed out on. Apple probably would have folded up for lack of users if the Mac clones industry didn't happen...although they'd like you to forget that

People bought clones instead of Apple hardware, not in addition to it. Clones didn't help Apple.

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605549)

what good is a computer without software? the clones increased the user base, allowing for more companies to enter into the software market for apple. Remember apple being the king of "desktop publishing"? Did it get there by hardware alone?

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (1)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | about 8 years ago | (#15605797)

I'm sorry, but you're misremembering the whole clone brouhaha. It was intended for the clone manufacturers to expand the base of Mac system owners, but in reality their sales came solely from existing Mac OS owners. Since Apple made almost all of its revenue through hardware sales, it was disastrous financially for Apple. Umax and Power Computing were selling to mid-level clients for a marginally better price than the equivalent Power Mac 8600. If you bought a clone, you were already in the market for a Mac OS machine. I know, as one of my former employers bought all clones as part of his upgrade cycle during that period.

The clone episode was a short phase that started long after Apple was establshed in every print shop and graphics studio. It was too short, ill-conceived and didn't expand the installed base at all.

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15606223)

Apple is a hardware company. Licensing the hardware out and making less per sale just didn't make sense. I have often wondered WTF they were thinking. Apple could probably sell ATX motherboards and make a mint, but the clones were just wrong thinking.

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (2, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 8 years ago | (#15605692)

Not to mention that the clones were licensees of the MacOS and Apple hardware. Even had the DMCA existed, there wouldn't have been any violations to speak of.

Re:Interesting comment about reverse engineering. (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#15605648)

I'm not sure. which part of the DMCA would clean room reverse engineering the PC BIOS violate? It's not part of a copy protection system after all.

my question (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 8 years ago | (#15605311)

Chief Creative Officer, huh? I guess my question is exactly how much "creativity" is involved with incrementing a number with each new game release?

Re:my question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605356)

Tons. I, for example, work for a major game company that I can't mention, in the position of CCO.

Do you know how hard I worked to come up with the idea of switching from Arabic to Roman numerals for the continuation of our flagship franchise?

Hrmph, I thought not.

Re:my question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605573)

And that doesn't even take into account the font. Times New Roman or Arial? 48 pt or 72?

And don't even get me started on kerning.

You're looking in the wrong place (2, Funny)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | about 8 years ago | (#15605718)

The creativity stems from figuring out which game developer they feel like purchasing, bleeding dry then discarding next like the financial vampires they are.

Re:my question (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | about 8 years ago | (#15605721)

Whoever modded this troll has no idea who EA is, or how they got big.

Re:my question (1)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | about 8 years ago | (#15606541)

Well his parents must've been pretty creative to name him after a Batman sound-effect.

I wonder if his older brother is called "Flash"...

Warhammer Online (1)

antifood (898331) | about 8 years ago | (#15605338)

What are your thoughts on the MMOG market? Do you agree with Brian Farrell's recent assertion that there's only room for one big MMOG at any given time? (I.e. World of Warcraft as of now.) **Note to reader: interview took place prior to the announcement of the Mythic acquisition. Nope. I think that "virtual worlding" will soon be a rite of passage for all teenagers with access to the internet. Does this mean that Warhammer Online will not be canceled?

Where the #!*&%! can they fit everybody?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605339)

The guy sez:

"At EA, an MBA is very useful for people working in finance and business development. We must have 2-3 entry-level job openings per year for MBA-type skills in these areas. But there are many more openings per year for MBA's who also can lead product development teams through sound business judgment, organizational development and leadership skills, and game-making creativity. We have 200-400 entry-level job openings per year for people like this. In other words, MBA's who want to be in the game business should try to be Producers, not business specialists."

I can see 2-3 entry-level MBA's a year, but 200-400 for those looking to lead project teams? Is there some kind of horrible disease in EA's HQ that kills yet isn't known publicly? I can't imaging that many positions for all skill sets, let alone MBA + ??...

Funny guy (3, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 8 years ago | (#15605350)

The trick to finishing any creative project on schedule is to ship whatever is done by a given date. This is what advertising agencies usually do with the commercials they create. Of course, no one remembers that it was on time after it fails miserably.
And ofcourse all your customers are happy with half completed games.

We reverse-engineered the electronics in a "clean room" environment, because Sega wouldn't give us licensee terms that we could live with.
And yet they set up terms others can't live with. Haven't they learned anything?!.

I think our industry's greatest challenge is to transition from technology-based to creativity-based experiences. In other words, we should all become like Miyamoto! Easier said than done.
Uhm.. EA doesn't really have a track record for both technology-based or creativity-based experiences. I think they'll have a long road ahead of them.
Oh and ofcourse publishers should grant the creators of creativity-based experiences some slack, otherwise it won't work ofcourse. how does this go along with "it compiles, ship it" mentality from the first citation?

Re:Funny guy (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 8 years ago | (#15605365)

Grrr... no <q> tag

Re:Funny guy (1)

jizziknight (976750) | about 8 years ago | (#15605404)

You know, there is a Preview button. Perhaps you should get in the habit of clicking it before you click the Submit button. Then you would know there is no <q> tag (also, since when has there ever been a <q> tag in html?) and would realize that you should use the <i>, <em>, or <blockquote> tag, or even a combination of them. How novel.

Re:Funny guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605446)

Or the poster could have read the Allowed HTML thingy below even the preview button. That constitutes as RTFM and as everyone knows, no one actually does that.

So, that being said, give the poster a break.

Re:Funny guy (1)

chepner (146799) | about 8 years ago | (#15605511)

also, since when has there ever been a tag in html?

At least since 1998, when HTML 4.0 was released? It's still in XHTML 1.0.

Re:Funny guy (1)

jizziknight (976750) | about 8 years ago | (#15605671)

I stand corrected. However, the <q> tag simply renders quotation marks before and after the enclosed text (http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/text.html# h-9.2.2 [w3.org] ), and is therefore more or less useless, unless you're using it for proper quotation of another language (still not sure if it's really even useful then, as some browsers probably won't handle that properly). If someone else can point out its usefulness, by all means, do so. I'd like to know.

Re:Funny guy (1)

chepner (146799) | about 8 years ago | (#15609857)

However, the <q> tag simply renders quotation marks before and after the enclosed text (http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/struct/text.html# h-9.2.2), and is therefore more or less useless, unless you're using it for proper quotation of another language (still not sure if it's really even useful then, as some browsers probably won't handle that properly). If someone else can point out its usefulness, by all means, do so. I'd like to know.

Not useless if you intend to include the quotation inside an element that cannot contain block-level elements like <blockquote>. That's why there is the inline element <q>. The default rendering isn't important; you could swap the appearance of the two elements if you really wanted to. But you need to use <q> to include a quotation inside, say, a <span> element.

Re:Funny guy (1)

weissblau (803333) | about 8 years ago | (#15605474)

>>Oh and ofcourse publishers should grant the creators of creativity-based experiences some slack, otherwise it won't work ofcourse. how does this go along with "it compiles, ship it" mentality from the first citation? I believe his point was that shipping on time is trivial - you just shove it out the door on the due date - but does not result in good games. In essence he didn't answer the question. His response is acknowledging that it's hard to ship good games on time, but he doesn't say whether the thinks that is inevitable and he doesn't say what can be done about it.

Describes the entire Battlefield series... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15608269)

"The trick to finishing any creative project on schedule is to ship whatever is done by a given date."

Anyone remember falling from 3 feet and dying in 1942? Unclimbable "slippery" hills? Horrible stuttering?

How about the M60 kit in BF Vietnam? Talk about completely unbalanced? Do they have QA at EA?

What about crashing after every round in BF2? Servers crashing whenever someone fired a missile from a HUMV?

Not even 1/10th the problems... and just generally, patches that break more things than they fix?

I think the article should be more about why the "Chief Creative Officer" should keep his job... I won't spend another dime on EA products.

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605358)

Dishonest dichotomies (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 8 years ago | (#15605379)

The more rabid supporters of the DMCA are the primary reason why the more moderate supporters of "liberal, but strong" IP laws (more law enforcement, less preemptive legislation) get drowned out. When they get called out on issues like the BIOS, they almost never respond. "La dee fucking da" and all that jazz. IP law sometimes doesn't work. Sometimes the market is actually expanded by the rabid competition that weak IP law can create. Necessity is the mother of all invention and there is actually a point where letting people live off their research and development becomes parasitic.

It's not a divide between socialism on the one side and hyper-protective policies on the other. There is plenty of room for common law to work its magic to create a nuanced and flexible system.

Genesis (2, Informative)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#15605422)

---
EA's biggest risk was preparing to launch a lineup of games for the Sega Genesis without a license. We reverse-engineered the electronics in a "clean room" environment, because Sega wouldn't give us licensee terms that we could live with. If this had not worked, and the games hadn't sold, (Sega agreed to license terms the evening before our public introduction of games), EA would probably have gone the way of early computer game leaders like Broderbund and Sierra. It was truly a "bet the company" decision.
---

Codemasters (UK based company) did that too. Sega/Nintendo settled out of court, and the "secret" deal was to pretend they'd paid or something, otherwise the people who actually did pay would get pissed.

Re:Genesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605542)

>Codemasters (UK based company) did that too. Sega/Nintendo settled out of court, and the "secret" deal was to pretend they'd paid or something, otherwise the people who actually did pay would get pissed.

Wasn't Codemasters based in Ontario, Canada in the GameGenie era? Or am I just think about the fact that they won against the lawsuit in Canada?

Re:Genesis (2, Informative)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | about 8 years ago | (#15605655)

No, Codemasters has always been a British company, and I think you're thinking of them (or at least their North American distributer) winning a lawsuit in Canada before they won the US one over the NES Game Genie. I seem to remember that Codemasters stuff was distributed in America by the makers of Micro Machines, and therefore Codemasters got the licence to make the Micro Machines games, which was also their first Mega Drive game, which led to the suit described by the grandparent.

Re:Genesis (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 8 years ago | (#15605972)

Wait, does this explain why both those companies used those funny-shaped cartridges?

Re:Genesis (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | about 8 years ago | (#15615759)

EA would probably have gone the way of early computer game leaders like Broderbund and Sierra

The funny thing is, EA ate and shat out one of those two companies and they now own a stake in the other one (Broderbund was bought by Ubisoft, which EA now owns 19.99% a stake in). EA going the way of sierra is like saying "EA died and bought themselves out".

This is barely an improvement (5, Funny)

saboola (655522) | about 8 years ago | (#15605501)

I read Interview with Bing! 2006 and Interview with Bing! 2007 seems to be just a rehashing of the same ideas as the prior just with updated information. Ever since EA has gotten exclusivity to the Interview with Bing! license the whole series has gone down hill.

What a challenge! (3, Insightful)

Miguelzinho (840643) | about 8 years ago | (#15605590)

Our industry's biggest business challenge is to figure out how to convince consumers to pay "fair value" for the increased quality we are delivering. We need to monetize our "excess hours" of satisfied play. Our best games are unbelievably cheap on a per hour basis, compared to, say $1.00 per hour for paperback books, and $5-10 an hour for movies and DVD's.

Translating: Our industry's biggest business challenge is to figure out how to rise our prices, so getting exclusive use of trademarks like NBA, FIFA, NFL, NHL makes us the only one, and we can put the price we want. We will buy more and more small and good game studios to! Well, if you want a game, you will need to buy from us, this is our industry's biggest business challenge.

How can we rape customers... more? (3, Insightful)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | about 8 years ago | (#15605691)

Our industry's biggest business challenge is to figure out how to convince consumers to pay "fair value" for the increased quality we are delivering. We need to monetize our "excess hours" of satisfied play. Our best games are unbelievably cheap on a per hour basis, compared to, say $1.00 per hour for paperback books, and $5-10 an hour for movies and DVD's.

Die in a fire you ass! Fine, as soon as gaming PCs/consoles are as cheap as the equipment needed to read a book you use that as a valid comparison. And as far as "excess hours", cut-n-paste level grinding and mindless drudgery does NOT count per-hour the same as watching a movie. Fucktard. I think we found one of the reasons EA sucks so hard.

Re:How can we rape customers... more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15605995)

I think a distinction between "increased length" and "increased quality" would help some here...and on top of that, do they really think customers want a games industry that provides financial incentives to developers and publishers to add more cutscenes, make longer hallways, generally just make the game last longer without any increased quality whatsoever? And not only would customers have to want that, they'd have to PAY for every minute of it?

Now, I am actually 100% behind an egalitarian pricing scheme; a game like Smash Bros SHOULD cost more than "off-road 4 wheelers action plus". But the trick is to SPEND LESS MONEY MAKING CRAPPY GAMES. Not to charge more just because your giant failure takes longer to complete. Not all of us like MMOs, after all ;)

Re:How can we rape customers... more? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15606278)

Our best games are unbelievably cheap on a per hour basis, compared to, say $1.00 per hour for paperback books, and $5-10 an hour for movies and DVD's.

Your average game seems to take about 15-30 hours to complete. Let's call it 30, to be charitable. They cost about fifty bucks MSRP. That's $1.60 an hour.

I can read your average novel in about six hours - and I mean read it, not skim, and a book I've never read before, to boot. A paperback is eight bucks today. That's $1.33 an hour. I admit though, I'm a freak. It will take most people twice that, at least. (They trained me with a speed reading machine in grammar school.) So maybe $0.60 to $0.70 an hour. That's much better than twice the value of the video game.

I'll watch a movie about three times before it is likely to never be watched again. Sometimes I watch them more, but that's usually a practical limit. Call it six hours for $15. $2.50/hr, so that holds up.

Of course, most games are completed in less time. (I don't care much about sports games, except for driving games, which can last much longer - but I played need for speed underground for a few months top, I've been playing gran turismo games for years.) If it's 15 hours of gameplay, then even a slow reader can get as much seat time value from a paperback book. And if you buy them used, you can get twice as much value :)

Re:How can we rape customers... more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15609242)

Your book analogy is flawed. You are comparing a paperback to a premium game. Doesn't the average new Harry Potter book cost something like $18? Compare a paperback to a $20 "platinum seller" or compare a premium game to a new release hardcover. Oops. I take it back. The hard cover for the new Harry Potter book was $30 retail when it first went on sale according to Amazon.

Re:How can we rape customers... more? (1)

bVork (772426) | about 8 years ago | (#15611564)

You missed the point that the parent made - you can't just buy a videogame and play it. For a computer game, you need an appropriate computer, monitor, keyboard, speakers/headphones, and so on. For a console game, you need the console, controller, memory card, and monitor/television.

For a novel, you just need the book itself. And a light - I hear the sun works nicely.

Re:How can we rape customers... more? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15612878)

You missed the point that the parent made - you can't just buy a videogame and play it. For a computer game, you need an appropriate computer, monitor, keyboard, speakers/headphones, and so on. For a console game, you need the console, controller, memory card, and monitor/television.

This is a salient point when it comes to console games, since [today] game consoles [out of the box] only play games. Well, a couple of them are DVD players, too. Whoop de doo. Oh, and I guess Xbox360 has MCE now? Which only plays microsoft formats? Yeah, pass. Thanks.

But the computer is a general purpose computing device. That's why we call it a computer. It's not just good for games. Now, if someone buys the computer just for the games, then you have a point, but almost no one does that.

I could never take seriously a man named Bing.. (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | about 8 years ago | (#15605785)

...its not a name its a sound effect!

Re:I could never take seriously a man named Bing.. (2, Funny)

CDLewis (775622) | about 8 years ago | (#15605956)

This coming from SkunkPussy ...

Re:I could never take seriously a man named Bing.. (1)

bVork (772426) | about 8 years ago | (#15611570)

Heh. I used to play baseball with brothers named, no joke, Bing and Buzz.

Bling Gordon (1)

Alterion (925335) | about 8 years ago | (#15606057)

was it just me that read that as bling gordon? like flash gordon only with 50% more whores

Bingo! (1)

game (62990) | about 8 years ago | (#15606073)

Another proof that a single well picked buzzword like "cross-functional" can win you the game any time. I must have lost contact with mainstream or this one just is picking up steam, though.

Bada Bing (1)

Mister Mudge (472276) | about 8 years ago | (#15607020)

There is something deeply suspect about a company that has movers and shakers named "Bing" and "Trip."

Obvious (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | about 8 years ago | (#15607279)

The trick to finishing any creative project on schedule is to ship whatever is done by a given date.

Thus providing a boatload of overpriced, hype marketed, half-done crap to your consumers, forcing large patch downloads, huge amounts of frustration and company image degradation. This really lets customers know how much you value them.

It is because of numbskull thinking such as this that I admire Blizzard above all other game developers. Their philosophy: "We'll ship it when it's done."

Damn straight.

This guy is just another reason to hate EA.

Re:Obvious (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | about 8 years ago | (#15608652)

Careful there... I can think of at least one other company that has that philosophy. It's taken a decade, and Duke Nukem Forever still isn't "done." ;)

Not a fan of him (1)

trosenbl (191401) | about 8 years ago | (#15607407)

I heard this guy speak at a conference. I was amazingly underwhelmed. He visibly seemed to have no interest in being there, and did not prepare. It was like having a discussion with a troubled teenager about the importance of compound interest and dividends for their 401k.

I felt he was a total jackass, and I know several people who work (worked) for EA (go EA Tiburon) and there's a lot of bad things to say about EA. This guy's demeanor and appearance backed it up. He somewhat reminded me of the stereotype of fraternity members (one former programmer compared EA to a giant frat house, so this resemblance may be more than just passing). During the presentation, he constantly would state what sounded like a fact, and then immediately mumbled "or whatever". I know a thing or two about public speaking, and I'm certian his actions weren't the result of being nervous.

He may be a good business person, but in my opinion, you'd have to be supremely intelligent (which he did not demonstrate during his talk) to outshine his jackass attitude.

EA Sweatshop! (1)

goof21 (872039) | about 8 years ago | (#15611378)

The trick to finishing any creative project on schedule is to ship whatever is done by a given date.

Funny how he forgot to mention exploitation of labor as one of their "tricks." Not too terribly long ago, you could almost compare them to any sweatshop in China and find parallels. How'd that class-action a couple years back work out for ya, EA?

I admit, I don't know if the situation's improved for EA programmers since the lawsuit was settled. This is pure speculation on my part, but given their corporate culture, I don't doubt they're still working under "constant crunch" conditions. Any manager worth a damn can see this is counter-productive in terms of quality and turnover rates, but hey, make 'em code until they collapse anyway!

Re:EA Sweatshop! (1)

gryphoness (841454) | about 8 years ago | (#15639998)

(This is ea_spouse.) The situation has improved, but not because of Bing. It can be attributed to a few things -- a lot of people, even at EALA, are praising Neil Young for it and he certainly has had his part -- but through a series of, cough, recent events, I have been hearing that things are much, much better at the Los Angeles studio at least. Tremors of Bad Things still persistently emanate from EA Tiberon. Not to so overtly plug, but there are some stories over at Gamewatch.org even pretty recently.

My husband's one encounter with Bing was poignant: his shoes were falling apart and he had used duct tape to hold them together. Granted this was pretty hokey, but they were already deep in crunch and everyone was exhausted. The shoe broke and he kicked it across the floor. Bing was in a cubicle doing some of his "creative direction"; Lan didn't realize it was Bing until much later. Bing looked at his shoe and said "You work here? Can't you afford new shoes?", very derisive. Lan said, "I've got the money, I haven't got the TIME."

And the rest is history...

low ratio?! (1)

gimione (913552) | about 8 years ago | (#15612906)

Our best games are unbelievably cheap on a per hour basis, compared to, say $1.00 per hour for paperback books, and $5-10 an hour for movies and DVD's. ...Because they pad their games with mind numbing chores. Half life episode 1 has a $5.00/1hour ratio. That's on par with a Movie. I would much rather play less of a better game than visa versa; it's a waste of time otherwise.
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