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Games Entertainment

Game Industry Opinion Continues to Burn 270

Posted by Zonk
from the throw-down-the-gauntlet dept.
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?"
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Game Industry Opinion Continues to Burn

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  • Before replying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:18PM (#11980258) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:19PM (#11980270) Homepage Journal
    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 ...

  • No value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turtled (845180) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:20PM (#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.
  • That's crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:23PM (#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.
  • Common complaints (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nexboy (868907) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:28PM (#11980363) Homepage
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:30PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShamusYoung (528944) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:30PM (#11980371) Homepage
    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.

  • by cliffski (65094) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:30PM (#11980372) Homepage
    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.
  • by aftk2 (556992) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:30PM (#11980375) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:33PM (#11980391) Homepage Journal
    > 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:hm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot&monkelectric,com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:33PM (#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?

  • by Rolan (20257) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:34PM (#11980405) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by PxM (855264) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:34PM (#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:That's crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock (152993) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:34PM (#11980418) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • Re:No value (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:35PM (#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.
  • by Effugas (2378) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:48PM (#11980522) Homepage
    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.
  • by aliens (90441) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:48PM (#11980526) Homepage Journal
    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:75% fresh meat? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:49PM (#11980531) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @06:56PM (#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.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:31PM (#11980803) Journal
    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....

  • by GunFodder (208805) on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:41PM (#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.
  • Console me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepplesNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:49PM (#11980950) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • by ulatekh (775985) on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:51PM (#11980970) Homepage Journal

    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.

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

    by plover (150551) * on Friday March 18, 2005 @07:56PM (#11981012) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @08:08PM (#11981097)
    Why is it so bad for a student to clone a game? Learn how the classics work by re-coding them yourself. Before you can break new ground, you need to understand and appreciate what has been done in the past.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Friday March 18, 2005 @08:32PM (#11981226)
    I doubt that, say, GTA:San Andreas, could have been created without the huge investment that was made in it.

    GTA 1 was the kind of game you could knock out in a couple of months. It also captured the moment and was hugely successful at the time.

    GTA 2 came along, brought even more money in.

    GTA 3: Liberty City moved to 3D and all the rest of it, but probably could have been developed off the profits of the first two.

    GTA 3: Vice City could well have been developed off the profits of Liberty City.

    GTA 3: San Andreas, true enough, couldn't be developed without a large bankroll - but by that point, they frankly had one. Then again, without the experience of the earlier titles, it would probably not have merited that money either.

    To paraphrase the movie industry quote about scripts: Game ideas are like asses - Everyone has one.

    Sure, GTA3:VC was an incredible game. The thing is, most indie developers probably shouldn't try to make it - they'd screw it up.

    Making a successful game isn't about a good idea. It's about having good managers who know how to keep their programmers on track, developing good code without cutting corners. It's about actually, you know, planning milestones and such in advance so you don't have your coders crunching 20 hour days and coding while hallucinating. It's about knowing that good post-launch CS is the key to convincing players to go with your next title. It's about putting in the features that are fun, rather than the ones an obsessive developer has tunnel vision for.

    Those are all skills which take time to gain. An indie developer probably shouldn't be developing a triple-A title. They should be developing the next Counter Strike or the next Turn Based Strategy title, getting the experience while they build their bankroll. Once they have a few hundred thousand in the bank then, sure, they should move on to the next really imaginative idea - like Will Wright's Spore concept and get to the point where they have milions to their name and experience with that scale of title.

    There really isn't any reason why that should be impossible. So why don't we see it happening?

    Because taking risks sucks. Few people mind betting everything when it's just your evenings and weekends outside a real job. The problem is, once you get successful, most developers don't want to feel the risk anymore (and that's excluding those who don't even wait to be successful and simply take a job at EA or wherever in the first place). A big publisher comes along, offers them a big sack of money and they never have to risk their nice big house again. Most of them take it.

    Will Wright started with SimCity, Maxis evolved, got reasonably successful - then sold out to EA.

    Peter Molyneau created Bullfrog, released Populous, Syndicate, etc. - then sold out.

    The Roberts brothers created Origin, built up the Ultima Series, Wing Commander, Wing Commander 2 - then sold out.

    RockStar started small with GTA1 and the like, grew, and ultimately sold out.

    Westwood started small. Built some 2D RTS games, got hugely popular, sold out to EA.

    About the only big names that haven't done so are Id, Valve and 3DRealms. Id has continued, sticking to its core beliefs, much to its credit. Valve had success with Halflife which its publisher (Sierra, now a part of Vivendi) barely advertised initially, built off a bought-in game engine (Quake 1) then went pretty much silent for years. 3DRealms is a good example of a smaller firm that got too successful too fast and now has enough money it can survive having a bunch of people who really don't know how to execute ideas as big as it seems to have for Duke - hence the constant restarting of the project.

    The point is - a developer can start small and work their way big - but most decide they don't want to take the risk and sell out. The big publishers don't want to take the risks either - which is why their games are kind of boring. Still, just because m
  • A mix. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @08:33PM (#11981234) Homepage Journal
    The guy makes some good points (you can do a great deal on very little, if you put the effort in), some mediocre points (niche markets exist - so?), some bad points (he seems to claim indie films don't exist) and some truly horrible points (he implies that there's a fundamental difference between "commercial" ventures and "home enterprises").

    Let's start with the good point I saw. Yes, you can produce some excellent games with virtually nothing. Elite is an absolute classic, and is most definitely not a text adventure. Sierra Online started with very little money and highly risque advertising. I'm not sure if US Gold ever had any in-house developers, they seemed to work entirely through contracts with home-based coders.

    Now onto niche markets. There's a niche for text adventures, MUDs, etc. I'd say 99% of that niche is adequately maintained by the free (as in beer) free (as in free speech) software that is already out there. The standard engines meet most of the requirements a person might have for a text-based system.

    Engines that I know of fall into three rough groupings - LP-based MUDs which use a C-like interpreter and "Tiny"-based MUDs which use a simple scripting language combined with triggers. There are also engines which don't fall into any category. A brief list of common engines is as follows:

    • LP-based engines
      • LPMud
      • MudOS
      • LDMud
      • Shattered Worlds
      • DGD
    • Tiny-based engines
      • Tinymud
      • PernMUSH
      • TinyMUSH
      • TinyMUCK
      • TinyMUSE
      • PennMUSH
      • UberMUD
      • UnterMUD (distributed environment)
    • MOO-based engines
    • Others
      • DIKUMud (pre-coded gaming environment)
      • AberMUD (first Open Source MUD, also first graphical MUD)
      • LambdaMOO (produced by Xerox' Parc House research facility)

    Who, sanely and rationally, is going to try and compete in an already crowded market, where the competition is freely available and freely modifiable? There are places you can make money in the gaming market, but you need to carve your own niche, not hang onto the coat-tails of products you can't realisically compete with. If the niche you carve is any good, people will buy your products. Companies like Psygnosis started in this kind of way. They didn't start off as corporate giants.

    Bad Point! Independent products are hard to market. His example was getting them sold in Blockbusters. Well, yeah, and I wouldn't expect to do well trying to get car mechanics to sell cheese, either.

    If you want to sell indie movies, you go to indie movie theatres. That's why they are there. You sell to an audience most likely to be interested. If they're interested enough, maybe invite some movie critics along for the ride. Perhaps look at events like the Edinborough Fringe Festival and Edinborough Film Festival to circulate what you're doing. Meet the markets half-way, and you've a better chance of convincing them to do the other half. Do nothing at all, and neither will they.

    Lastly, the difference between markets. There is no difference. The nike shoes produced by a 10 year old kid in a sweat-shop could just as easily be made by a 10 year old at their home. All they need is a design, materials and energy.

    People make way too much of labels. Labels mean nothing. They used to indicate craftsmen and reliability, but companies have wormed their way out of anything approaching Quality Control and consumer protection. Especially in software, where you can buy a product and have no rights to complain if the product doesn't (and never will) exist.

    the EULAs people happily accept amount to one thing. If you now have an unusable, empty disk - or even an empty box - you have voluntarily waived any and all rights to object or demand compensation.

    They sell you a license, not a product. So long as the license is present and functionin

  • by andr0meda (167375) on Friday March 18, 2005 @08:36PM (#11981253) Homepage Journal

    I work at an Indy game dev studio and in 2003-2005 I have been in crunch phase for over a year. hours ranged from 55 to 70.. effectively the studio wants crunch phase *all the time*, on every project. Or on any project that rolls, anyway. Other colleages are mostly waiting for cash to drop in and stuff.. Big studios have much shorter crunch periods AND longer content development cycles. The turnover at our company of new people is HIGH, and some people even leave the game because they are fed up with how work is managed, but certainly NOT by the nature of their work.

  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Friday March 18, 2005 @08:43PM (#11981291)
    The bottom line is that whoever controlls the money that funds the development ends up with control of all the things that matter.

    - Lions share of the Profit
    - Creative Control
    - Ownership of the IP for the Game

    Game developers want to create kick ass games that are original (as a general rule). Publishers want to create games that will generate alot of money. As long as the balance of power favours the publishers, guess what kind of games will be made?

    We would all like to see more games as original as Katamari Damacy that sell competitivly with GTA3. But under the current system, that happens extraordinarily rarely.

    END COMMUNICATION
  • Re:hm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot&monkelectric,com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:17PM (#11981487)
    Ok, so you say it isn't the game industry, it is capitalism that screwed all this up?

    IMHO capitalism is pretty much a race to the bottom. Its just the best system there is so far. The only way to beat the bottom is to be informed and vote with your money.

    Since people have demonstrated that they will buy *ANTHING* a corporation puts in front of them -- corporations do just that. If people en masse demanded something -- corps would respond. But as long as we allow *THEM* to tell us what we want, we're stuck with our race to the bottom.

  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:19PM (#11981495)

    A couple of points:

    First, I agree that some of the people in the games industry need some growing up to do. I don't agree that someone who is passionate about video games is inherently suffering from arrested development, in much the same way that I don't think someone who is passionate about, say, making films or writing children's books is suffering from a similar problem.

    The thing that most struck a chord with me though is the problems you had trying to convince people that you can do a particular job, even though you might not have 3+ years experience in it. I see this often, too. I believe that a good programmer, once s/he's been working for as long as you (or for that matter, I) have, can turn his/her hand to most things.

    The things that make me laugh is like your example of audio programming - as if it's an unbelievably arcane and complex subject. It's really not. But as you say, a (bad) manager will think they absolutely must have an 'audio expert', as opposed to someone who has a good background in engineering/computer science, and has programmed in various environments, platforms and languages.

    As I go through my career, I'm becoming less and less impressed by specific experience, and more impressed by a candidate's range of skills, approach and personality. They tell me much more than "4 years DirectX experience" does.

    Speaking of which - your journal entry about the rejection letter: I have no magical answer, but it did remind me of the section in Peopleware [amazon.co.uk] about hiring people (the bit where they say something like "But do you think he'd find chickens with lips funny?"). Sometimes it's just about a fit of the team, and how it gels, and if someone doesn't fit, then that's the way it goes. It doesn't necessarily reflect badly on the team or the person they decided to pass on hiring. So I guess what I'm saying there is, don't worry about it so much. It feels like you're looking for someone to blame for that (and maybe you'd prefer it if you could believe that the team are a bunch of immature jerks and that's why they didn't want you), but just let it go :)

    But yes, essentially, boy am I sick of "But you've never done X before, how can you do that?"

    I always think, "Here's an idea, maybe I could use my innate human abilities of learning, memory and problem solving to apply my experience and education to the work? Imagine that!"

  • Re:Well hey... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nataku564 (668188) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:34PM (#11981561)
    Bit of an exaggeration ... these people are by no means starving, and they make a decent living - which is pretty darn good for someone fresh out of college. You get treated like a guy at Target because, in a way, you are. Sure, you got a shiny college degree, but that means jack in my world. The class teaches you the technical side of programming, the job teaches you the practicality of it. Im sure most of these "EA Cattle" have little idea how to go about actually making a complete game. EA shows them - and that is something I consider to be a part of their salary. Knowledge, not just money, is gained by working - and the former can be far more valuable than the latter.
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @01:13AM (#11982622) Homepage
    I do not know anything personal and direct about the games industry. I am not in it. But I do know three things.
    1. The people who were complaining and worried about the state of video games at GDC were people I respect. People who have made worthwhile and interesting games, people whose work I admire. This "Iron Realms" guy getting pissy at them? Uh, I've never heard of him or his company. It looks like they make MUD engines? Gee.
    2. The people who were complaining and worried about the state of video games at GDC are not merely passively whining. They are actively trying to buck trends and find other ways of doing things.
    3. I just, like an hour or so ago, got home from a long and unpleasant plane trip. I spent the better part of this time getting myself acquainted with a Nintendo DS game that came out this week called "Yoshi Touch and Go". This game is about as far from both the EA-style philosophies the GDC participants railed against and the "mainstream" as you can get, and it looks like the mainstream is going to shrivel up its nose confused at this game and ignore it completely. It ignores the conventional logic of the contemporary games industry at nearly every level.

      And it is the most wonderful game I have played in years.

      Now, I don't know if the games industry is going to take some path WIl Wright and Warren Spectre drag it down kicking and screaming, or if the EA megacorporate megabudget idiom will take over the industry completely; and either way, I don't know if "innovation", whatever the fuck that is, will result, or if it's a good thing. But looking at my Yoshi Touch and Go cartridge, I think that if what the game industry wants to go with the EA path rather than the Yoshi T&G sort of path, then it can fuck off and do it without me as a customer.

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