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Andy Phelps Proposes 'B-Sides' For Games 40

Posted by Zonk
from the has-to-be-better-than-big-rigs dept.
Andy Phelps has once again begun blogging. A recent post of his to the Corante Tech site suggests an intriguing idea: B-Sides to major commercial games. "I think there is an interesting opportunity here: stick some "B-Side" experimental games on the DVD with the big title. Little Flash games, or student games, or Internet games that haven't taken off yet. Don't advertise them on the box, sell the "big game" just like always." Thanks to Hylton Jolliffe for the submission.
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Andy Phelps Proposes 'B-Sides' For Games

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  • Not Interested... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alaren (682568) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:37PM (#10350513)

    Meh.

    I believe this is what we commonly refer to as a "solution in search of a problem."

    The old B-Sided records (I'm too young to remember, but my dad used to talk about them) were significant because the "B-Side" represented a unique channel of distribution. There weren't a lot of other ways for the "B-Side" content to get out. Maybe if you knew someone who worked at a radio station you could get some local distribution, but for the most part "B-Sides" presented people with something a little odd, a little interesting a little experimental, that they couldn't get elsewhere.

    The kind of content being proposed here is widely available online. Not only that, but go into any computer store and look for the $5 and $10 CDs full of Master's Thesis crapfest games.

    Yes, some of them are good. But most of them are junk and frankly adding them to a big retail game just gives the publishers an excuse to print "value-added!" on the box when in fact little or nothing of value has been added.

    Now, don't get me wrong. This B-Side renaissance stuff is not really a bad idea. It's even kind of interesting. But I don't see how it would do anything for resurrecting "innovation in gaming" any more than new channels of distribution (e.g. the Internet) are already doing.

  • by xneilj (15004) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:39PM (#10350532)
    Companies would start to fear seeing the words "The B-Side game is actually better" in the reviews for their next AAA title...
  • Unlikely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance AT level4 DOT org> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:41PM (#10350546) Journal
    There are tonnes and tonnes of really inovative and great free games out there.

    The chances of publishers letting you know that are tiny!.

    Mod makers do most of the work that goes into a complete game (except the engine which can be freely downloaded.

    If they had another medium for distributing their work they would be releasing the game for free and creating new engines and games, this would spell the end of big video game business in relatively short order as people get pissed about subscription services, ridiculously high prices, backwards distribution policies, unpleasent anti-piracy measures, adware, gamespy arcade... the list goes on.
  • by SansTinfoilHat (759207) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @04:42PM (#10350552)
    If the industry wanted this, they could easily do it out of the profit margins of the larger titles. Easily. So if the industry really believes itself about the lack of innovation that it touts at GDC every year, put your money where your mouth is, and offer some incentive for experimental throw-away games. The way you innovate is make 20 totally different different games and find the one (or parts of some) that works. No one in the art world has every really had a different model.

    But that's the thing - the industry doesn't want it. Only game designers and hardcore gamers really care about "innovation". As a game designer myself, I'd love this and heard this suggested in no less than four other places, but the truth is that it isn't really a profitable endeavor.

    Why spend X dollars on a B-side that isn't neccessarily related to the A-side game at all when you could spend those X dollars to make the A-side game better (or, in most case, bigger)?

    If you can figure out the answer to that which would convince an executive, I'd love to hear it so I can get to work on some B-side games.


    By the way, if you are looking for a fun and innovative game, go pick up Katamari Damacy for the PS2. I just picked it up this week and it is the freshest, most original fun I've had on a console in a while - and it is twenty bucks. It gives me hope for this concept in the form of EPs (shorter, cheaper standalone games) rather than B-sides.
  • by MiceHead (723398) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:04PM (#10351043) Homepage
    I love DVD commentaries that talk about how a movie was produced. I'd like to do something similar for our upcoming title [dejobaan.com], (which I'm supposed to be working on right now instead of posting to Slashdot). Since it's an independent production, we have a good amount of leeway in terms of what random gunk we can add in, though we end up starving if we put in the wrong stuff. My thoughts were to include the following:
    • The crude-but-playable prototype [dejobaan.com] from two years ago. There's a clear line of ancestry there, but it's always nice to see how things have evolved.
    • A bit on how the game's focus changed, and why we incorporated building elements into it.
    • A segment on the actual development process, from the initial concept to media development, coding, and refining.
    • Outtakes! Maybe you'll get a chuckle seeing the early AI as it forced the multi-segmented Parade Dragon to loop in and collide with itself.
    • How you can create artwork without a budget or artistic talent [synthscribe.com].
    • Why I think (hope?) indie studios can earn a living.
    So, the question that follows from Andy Phelps' article is: will added meta-content make an enjoyable game much better, or should developers spend their time on the game proper?
    ____________________________ ____________________________
    Inago Rage [dejobaan.com] - Bound between rooftoops and create your own 3D arenas.
    Give the Stress Test [dejobaan.net] a whirl, and let us know if you enjoy it.
  • Similar idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joeljkp (254783) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (rekrapkjleoj)> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @06:06PM (#10351053)
    I think it's a cool idea, but could go beyond experimental games. What about including old classics along with the newer games?

    I think it would be cool if id included the entire Commander Keen in the box with Doom 3 or something. It'd just be a little bonus to say "thanks for buying our game." Or if Epic put the original Unreal in with UT2k4.
  • The "B" side (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hai.uchida (814492) <hai.uchida@gmail.com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:03PM (#10351392)
    The LP as we know it wasn't a common thing in the 40's through early 60's. Artists would release music a '45 at a time (and if one of the first couple didn't take off, they never got to make more.) The "A" side was the commercial effort and the "B" side was a chance to take a chance and experiment a little, to cover another artist or whatever. The reason the "B" side songs were usually lesser efforts is that they weren't taken very seriously by DJ's or the public, and it was better to save their best work for the next single.

    When an LP was finally released, it was really a "greatest hits"-- a collection of popular singles (like, say, "Meet The Beatles".) Now, of course, you're expected to make a full album, whether you have the material or not-- which is why most pop CDs have one or two decent songs and a lot of filler. But the labels make more selling a CD than a single, so...

    Anyway... I can't see how there would be a correlation as far as games go. Games are such team efforts, requiring so much more investment in man-hours and money than recording a song, that it's just not feasible to make a "labor of love" (and who's labor of love would that be, anyway?)
  • Re:shmubject (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bob65 (590395) on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:03PM (#10351395)
    I think software companies should bundle REAL things in the box, like manuals, action figures, cloth maps, anything to reward people for purchasing the package. A bunch of tossware would be pointless.

    Unfortunately they stopped doing this a while ago for a good reason - paper, books, generally anything physical is expensive. Gone are the days when desktop publishing software would come with a 200 page manual describing the concepts of good publication design, when adventure game software would come with a 100 page color manual describing the history, culture, and civilation of the world created for the game, when operating system software would come with a dummie's guide to programming in BASIC, and teach basic programming constructs, when graphics manipulation software would come with an introduction describing how the human eye perceives color, textures, and shadows, and the history behind drawings and paintings in society.

  • Re:Loading... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@gmai l . com> on Saturday September 25, 2004 @07:40PM (#10351577)
    I tend to agree, but 30 seconds of leading time are fairly rare (as they should be!) and a mini-game isn't worth it for the 2 to 10 seconds more often seen. Scrolling text IS great though, it doesn't even have to add to the story for all I care. Many developers have notices that and added that and a lot of games now have text in the loading screen. My only gripe is that it usually doesn't take very long for you to have seen all the texts and you get repeats all the time. They should be easily extensible, heck add RSS support for what it's worth - user supported short strategies and hints! :)
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday September 26, 2004 @02:08AM (#10353403)
    WarioWare Inc. 2 to 10 seconds is plenty.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.

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