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In the New Age of Game Development, Gamers Have More Power Than Ever 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the become-the-squeakiest-wheel-for-only-$250 dept.
Velcroman1 writes: "In the olden times before high-speed Internet, the game you purchased on day one was what you were still playing months later. Now we live in an era of day-one patches, hotfixes, balance updates, and more. Diablo III, for example, is unrecognizable today compared to the state it was in when it launched back in 2012. Nowadays, savvy gamers go in expecting their experience to change over time — to improve over time. Today, 'Early Access' is both an acknowledgment of the dangers of early adoption (no one likes to be a guinea pig, after all) and an opportunity for enthusiastic consumers to have a say in how the product they've purchased will take shape. In this article, Adam Rosenberg talks with Michael McMain, CEO and founder of Xaviant, and creative director on the indie studio's first project — Lichdom: Battlemage, which embraces the concept like never before."
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In the New Age of Game Development, Gamers Have More Power Than Ever

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  • Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:15PM (#46995715)
    We lost the ability to mod a lot of games because of stupid DRM controls and lock-down.

    We had power when we could come up with something like Desert Combat mod, or there were tens of thousands of downloadable mods to turn the base game into really incredible things. There are some games like that still, like Minecraft, but for the most part, that is no longer true.
    • by maliqua (1316471)

      amen

      so much lost, so little value gained

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @10:01PM (#46995973) Homepage

      Well steam is DRM, but you can and are able to mod many of the games there without a problem. The problem though isn't so much the DRM in cases, it's the publishers/parent company throwing a hissy fit.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by artor3 (1344997)

        It's not really that, either. It's that modding modern games is simply more difficult, because the games are more complex. Sure, a company can spend the time and effort to produce good mod tools, but that's not necessarily a good business decision. It's a major selling point for certain franchises, but not every game is going to develop a big modding community. Would Company of Heroes 2 have sold better if it had better modding support? Or would that just have been wasted money by the developer?

        • by epyT-R (613989)

          The mod tools usually were whatever the developers used to make the assets released under a free to use license that prevented you from selling what you made with them. There's little 'development' involved other than zipping them up and putting them on an ftp. Same thing with mod sdks.

          • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

            by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:29AM (#46996571)

            If a tool is for internal use only, it can have a messy UI. It can involve half a dozen different programs that must be used in a particular order. It can have crap documentation, relying on the developers' tribal knowledge. If you were to just "zip them up and putting them on an ftp", your community would turn on you in a heartbeat, declare that you don't care about supporting your game, and that this justifies pirating it. They'll spam every review site they can find with the worst scores that the site will accept. They'll spam your message boards with abuse, and drive away other customers.

            I've seen gamer communities fly into a rage over much less. If you're going to publish mod tools, you need to actually do it right.

            • Between not having any tools and having sloppy tools, I'd much rather have the latter. In fact, I've scarcely seen official modding tools for games that weren't sloppy in a number of ways.

              What a dumb reason to not release tools.

          • by NotDrWho (3543773)

            If you spent $200 million to develop a game, would YOU want to release all your development tools to the public so that they could give away the kind of content that you wanted to sell as DLC for free?

            Increasing development costs, kids. It's what's really driving the industry today. Ever wonder why your favorite franchise decided to drop single-player for an MMO monthly-charge model? Development costs. Why are they nickel-and-diming us on everything from horse armour to day-one DLC? Development costs. Why a

        • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @11:00PM (#46996239) Homepage

          It's that modding modern games is simply more difficult, because the games are more complex. Sure, a company can spend the time and effort to produce good mod tools, but that's not necessarily a good business decision.

          Really? Odd that modding in skyrim isn't really all that more difficult, or even complex. Or Dragon Age: Origins, how about xcom? New Vegas/FO3? Dark Souls, or NWN/2? The witcher games? Come on, it's not a franchise selling issue it's a laziness issue. And would have CoH2 sold better if it had modding support? Well...yes. Generally games that have open support for modding, have a longer shelf-life, and make more money in the long run especially games that milk the DLC train. A more recent example would be Saints Row 3/4 right? There's no steam workshop support, but there are tools, mods and no shortage of goodies. With developers answering questions on items, much like with the REDkit, and back before Bioware was bought by EA, you could find the developers doing the same. Notice that one? No mod support for their games since EA came along...

          • by artor3 (1344997)

            Did you even bother to read what you quoted?

            Sure, a company can spend the time and effort to produce good mod tools, but that's not necessarily a good business decision.

            Read that a few more times, to be sure it sinks in.

            Skyrim? Good mod tools.
            DA:O? Good mod tools.
            XCom? Good mod tools.
            Fallout? Good mod tools.
            Dark Souls? You've gotta be fucking kidding me, there are no real mods for that game. Just a borderline essential fix to boost the resolution, and some texture replacements.

            Every good example you gave had mod tools released by the developers. Those aren't free to make, ya know. The time and money spent developing those

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              Oh look you're throwing a hissy fit. Well that's fine. Let's see, doing a quick search I can see 500+ mods for dark souls alone. And while that's not anything on say skyrim(50k+ mods), that's beside the point. As a useful tip: Those "mod tools" are the same "development tools" that were used to create the game. It's only in very rare cases such as ME/DA2/etc where people make their own tools. Or much like when I was younger and we had to make our own tools for 2da files.

              As for those tools being "free

            • Every good example you gave had mod tools released by the developers. Those aren't free to make, ya know.

              True, but not always relevant.

              You have to take into account that some of these tools, Skyrim's Creation Kit for example, are used in house by the developers to create the game in the first place. So while they do have a development cost, that cost is part of the cost of developing the game. By the time the tools are released to modders, they don't owe the developers a penny, nor is there any particul

          • I was just going to mention Skyrim; the modding community for that game is absolutely huge. Damn near everything for that game can be modified
          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            Many of these game franchises were moddable before "high speed internet" as well. Often they were moddable by accident, or as a last minute addition of an editor on the CD. Skyrim isn't new in this since the previous 3 elder scrolls games were moddable.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          It's not really that, either. It's that modding modern games is simply more difficult, because the games are more complex.

          Yes and no. Mostly no unless the developer was shit.

          I've been dabbling in modding since Half Life 1. In a lot of old games you used to have to look through hex trying to find the right code, this took a metric crapload of guesswork. A lot of modern games can simply write a lot of it in XML, eliminating the guesswork about how to change things.

          However the biggest problem for any modder is to find out the developer decided (or was told to) do things the quick and nasty way. This normally means hardcodin

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            By modding you are STEALING from them by offering DLC for Free and that is unamerican.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Well steam is DRM, but you can and are able to mod many of the games there without a problem. The problem though isn't so much the DRM in cases, it's the publishers/parent company throwing a hissy fit.

        Also, the tools to mod games are not readily available. Some publishers provide excellent mod tools (Civ V was a really crap game but Firaxis has been pretty good with mod support) but most dont because they simply cant care less after the game has been sold. Time to move onto Call of Halo 126 slated for release six months after number 125.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ah, yes. The old "Steam is DRM" crap again. There are different types of DRM. And, yes, Steam falls in with one of those types. But it's not the type that everyone hates.

        Type 1: DRM that requires you to identify yourself. This is done by an account login. The restrictions (the "R" in DRM) are tied to your account. Anyone that logs in with your account gets access to your stuff, wherever they may be. See also: every site that ever sold you anything that you can download. This kind of DRM is actually quite ha

    • LOLWUT? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      I've yet to see any DRM that prevents content mods. There are some games that aren't very moddable, their files are all binary and they don't release any tools and such, but I've yet to see one with DRM that stopped mods. The ones that are moddable, well they are more so than ever. Have a look at the Skyrim mods sometime. Even the ones that aren't moddable per se can usually be modded. The new Xcom is a good example. It has no mod tools, and wasn't designed with modding in mind, much like the original Xcom.

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        SimCity 2014. Early Modding and get banned. All possible due to Always Online DRM.
        • by drsquare (530038)

          Assuming you mean SimCity 2013, modding is banned there because it's a multi-player game. Try modding a multi-player game on Steam and see how quickly you get VAC-banned.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Blame the cheaters.

      It's one thing if a game is single player, mod and cheat at it all you want, the company already made it's money. But when DLC, and "Freemium" came to single player games, that had to be locked down. Because modding meant you could just give yourself all the freemium content.

      Multiplayer is another animal and should never have been "mod capable", damn near every MMORPG has some built-in macro'ing but most of the cheating kids modify the game engine or failing that, the game assets.

      But you

      • It's one thing if a game is single player, mod and cheat at it all you want [...] Multiplayer is another animal and should never have been "mod capable"

        I don't see what's wrong with modding a multiplayer game if all players are on the same box (USB gamepads+large monitor), or if all players in a LAN or online match agree to install the same mod. With respect to modding ethics, this sort of private multiplayer resembles single player far more than it does pickup multiplayer or MMO. Yet some pundits don't realize this and assume multiplayer must be public, and gamers end up losing modding support for private matches, or even the ability to make private match

        • by geirlk (171706)

          I've downloaded 33,6GB with extra campaigns and maps for Left 4 Dead 2. It has expanded the replayability of L4D2 tremendously. Fairly recently (considering the game is over 4 years old) it also got Steam workshop support now. So modded weapons, sounds, models, textures etc. is available quick and easy. Now I've reached some 240 hours in it, and still going strong.

          It support online play through official servers, best available unofficial, local server and LAN.

          Running your own server also means being able to

          • by tepples (727027)

            It has expanded the replayability of L4D2 tremendously.

            But did the publisher get remunerated for this replayability? A lot of publishers would rather have players spend money on paid DLC and new games from the same publisher.

            And should you experience it anyway, the voting system makes it easy to get rid of d-bags.

            How does voting off cheaters work in a one-on-one match? And how can you be sure that a legitimately skilled player won't get voted off?

            • by geirlk (171706)

              But did the publisher get remunerated for this replayability? A lot of publishers would rather have players spend money on paid DLC and new games from the same publisher.

              This Publisher (Valve) in particular are a bit special. They dropped several DLC's as updates to the game, and not charging for them. They've also made available mod tools and dedicated server binaries etc. How far this goes to remunerating them fully for development etc., you have to ask Gabe about I guess.

              Certainly a lot of publishers would rather have players spend a lot of money. That's not exactly a good thing though. Have a gander at eg. EA: BF4 standard costs 499NOK + 4 DLC's @ 129NOK a pop = 1015NOK

              • not earning money != losing money

                Not earning money is an opportunity cost [wikipedia.org]. When compared to other things that a company could be doing with its resources, not earning money is losing money.

                First off, I'm not saying voting would be ideal in all games.

                I understand. I'm just trying to find counterpoints to the talking points that console fanboys have used against the promotion of PC gaming [pineight.com]. They try to spin the lack of mods as an advantage.

                One-on-One and voting is a mute point as in that case you quit the match instead.

                I've played one-on-one games on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection against Tetris DS players who used Action Replay to, say, get all I pieces. If you disconnect in a one-on-

                • by geirlk (171706)

                  not earning money != losing money

                  Not earning money is an opportunity cost [wikipedia.org]. When compared to other things that a company could be doing with its resources, not earning money is losing money.

                  There has to be a balance between bankruptcy and greed. There should also always be a balance between production cost and price to consumers. And just because one has a monopoly on a service/product, doesn't mean one has to rob the consumer blind. So as long as they do earn money, and the product is priced fair, all is well.

                  First off, I'm not saying voting would be ideal in all games.

                  I understand. I'm just trying to find counterpoints to the talking points that console fanboys have used against the promotion of PC gaming [pineight.com]. They try to spin the lack of mods as an advantage.

                  Well, console peasants would do that =) I love how that article is strewn with liberal political quotes. The points made reminds me of GOP talking points; like why paying out your ass fo

    • As an Arma-fan , i am very happy this game is modifiable. Just look at the DayZ-mod or the Life -mod. (I prefer to play with Blastcore, JRSM soundmod and Shacktac HUD for example)

      There are still some A-list game developers like Bohemian Interactive that love their customers.

    • May I interest you in Shards Online: A Customizable Sandbox RPG? [kickstarter.com] :)

      We felt the same way, and as former UO devs we wanted to create a fully playable MMO with all its systems that can be modded by anyone at anytime.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My gamer peers and I never asked for:

    - dumbing down of game design elements (level design, gameplay, mechanics, dialog, storywriting, character development, etc etc etc etc)
    - massive increase in retail cost
    - changing business model such that we are renting the game rather than buying our own licenses to play the game
    - DLC
    - hamfisted execution of social justice ideals (how long before my game punishes me for selecting 'male' at chargen?)

    • Actually, they did... Maybe not you, but there are plenty of people who clamoured for "easier" titles, and simultaneously for replay-ability. Easier was accomplished through hand holding (ala "Press Y now or you will die", whoops, you died, let's rewind 15 seconds to the cutscene. And news was, the first of those games sold AMAZINGLY well. And when you are stuck with a fully scripted game, the only way to make replay ability without feeling stale is through adding content. And who wants to write that conten
      • by epyT-R (613989)

        1. Dumbing things down just breeds better idiots who will then require even more dumbing down. Offering challenge above and beyond the players current ability is what grants the opportunity for improvement. You don't learn how to play by sticking with "I'm too young to die" mode.
        2. we won't know who might want to as long as they refuse to release the tools required.

        Maybe gaming has become a victim of the race to the bottom. It's too bad, because I remember a vibrant modding community across many titles: m

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          1. Dumbing things down just breeds better idiots who will then require even more dumbing down. Offering challenge above and beyond the players current ability is what grants the opportunity for improvement. You don't learn how to play by sticking with "I'm too young to die" mode.

          How dare those people enjoy different things!?

          Did you ever think, maybe some people don't care about honing a useless skill, and are just looking for some light entertainment?

          It's not like hard games no longer exist. New ones are being made all the time. The casual market has been booming, so as a percentage, hardcore gaming is down, but why get upset over that?

          Hollywood pushes out mindless crap like the Avengers, but that doesn't mean quality films no longer exist. The TV is full of reality shit, but th

          • Stop dwelling on the fact that things you like aren't the most popular things.

            The complaint is that influential publishers want only "the most popular things". This means people get exposed to only "the most popular things", causing most people to become unaware that things other than "the most popular things" exist. That and the fact that school and office politics encourage people to become familiar with "the most popular things" in order to avoid becoming that guy [theonion.com].

            And these influential publishers end up influencing the policies of platform gatekeepers, which currently are Micro

          • by geirlk (171706)

            My issue is with the dumbing down of known and loved franchises.

            Take an example: Anything Tom Clancy.

            Rainbow 6? Died with Vegas and Vegas 2
            Ghost Recon? Died with Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Third person, are you kidding!?

            Those games are such radically different and dumbed down games that they bear little semblance to the original games but in name.

      • by felipou (2748041)
        That reminds me of this comic: http://sinfest.net/archive_pag... [sinfest.net]

        Lots of people don't want to play. They want to win.
      • Would you rather play Space Ace? I dare you.

  • Early Access is a scam, where they expect "the community" to do free testing for them.

    Early "access", "free" to play, micro transactions, always-online, Day-1 DLC...

    While I still enjoy gaming, they succeeding in making it less enjoyable.
    • Early Access is a scam, where they expect "the community" to do free testing for them.

      Well, I agree that Early Access is free testing, sometimes it's also "startup money". That's why I set the price very low initially, and grant a free copy and full DLC to those that do the testing work, raise the price and taper off benefits towards completion as it gets closer to being the full game and there's less testing work to be done overall. Some folk don't think it's worth it, other folks do. Some folks just want to see the game development as it progresses and enjoy being early adopters; They l

      • by Anonymous Coward

        From your comment, it's pretty clear you're a game dev with an Early Access game on Steam. While I think it's definitely a good idea for SOME independent devs to be able to put up games on Early Access, it's definitely a very bad idea as a whole. Giving early adopters the game at a discount plus DLC is fine, there's really nothing wrong with that. However, I've seen PLENTY of abuse (I have 800-something games on Steam right now) of Early Access and of Greenlight.

        Take, for instance, the game "Towns", which p

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:27PM (#46995783) Homepage

    Ya, and far more of those games that we never patched did not need patches because they got enough QA to produce a stable playable product before launch.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      -+5 funny. Would laugh again.

    • Nope. I buy games when the major glitches are fixed. Typically this is also when prices drop due to first adopters trading in, which also means secondhand market availability.

      I don't mind buying new, just buying buggy. Now its fixed, but only available used. Publisher loses my money.

      Works day 1? Don't believe it. Day 7? Maybe. But I don't buy until someone has a complete playthrough, and at least some ending variations are documented, meaning tested.

      Sorry, game industry, you screwed yourself into a corner h

      • by billy3 (1152353)
        I wouldn't be surprised if making games that require online patching is just a form of DRM.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Definitely games have been patchable since games first showed up on computers. The article writer seems clueless. The first games came with source code. Later when on floppy only a lot of people still figured out how to patch the games and distributed patches around the "net" (ie, arpanet, BBS, compuserve, computer club, etc). In the 90s it was almost considered a rule of thumb on PCs to never buy a game on the day of release and instead to wait a month for the first patches to come out. Modding of gam

  • I've been playing video/computer games for a ridiculously long time now. In the past if a game was released before it was thoroughly tested, it flopped. Even if it was patched later.

    Battlecruiser 3000AD being one example. The first studio that released it ran into financial trouble and rushed it out the door before it was ready. Patches were eventually released and development continues still, at least the last time I looked It's had a somewhat cult following, but never attained the status it probably co

    • by Zarhan (415465)

      Battlecruiser 3000AD being one example. The first studio that released it ran into financial trouble and rushed it out the door before it was ready. Patches were eventually released and development continues still, at least the last time I looked It's had a somewhat cult following, but never attained the status it probably could have.

      Are you kidding? Derek Smart's personal little ultimate vaporware project, where we couldn't see anything like that until Duke Nukem Forever? It was not "rushed", considering i

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:39PM (#46995847)

    In the "good" old days, there was mods, maps, map editors.

    Now a days good luck being able to do any of that. The big publishers only care about pushing out the "next big" title, year after year.

    There is a player created 16 player coop patch for Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2. Lots of fun.

    Ubisoft shits on its PC gamers -- who supported and _allowed_ the company_ to grow before Ubisoft sold out to console gamers because those "PC Gamers" are all "dirty pirates".

    How about respecting us gamer and giving us tools so you have free marketing like Valve does with Portal 2 Workshop !?!?

    • Standing Ovation.

      Modding creates the ability for every player to create the game the way they see fit. What I like may not be what you like, hey, is there a mod for that? NO? Then it had better be the most kick ass game ever written.

      In addition, Quit dumbing down the games! I don't care if some of your potential audience isn't smart enough to play. 13 year old foul mouthed griefers shouldn't be your target audience. I like games that require a bit of thinking on my part, not twitching.

      Oops, didn't mean to g
      • Agreed.

        CounterStrike started it's life as a Half-Life Mod that reached popularity and then it's developers were hired by Valve to make it an official title.
        Tools like Portal 2 Workshop has provided us with amazing mods like "Thinking With Time Machine".
        Red Orchestra was an Unreal Mod that finally reached enough popularity to become a stand-alone title.
        Battlefield 2 was made by the same people who made "Desert Combat", a Battlefield 1942 mod.

        Seems like the only companies that still embrace modding a
    • by Desler (1608317)

      The vast majority of games even from the 80s and 90s did not support modding.

    • by tlambert (566799)

      In the "good" old days, there was mods, maps, map editors.

      “You Have Died of Dysentery”

      Oh. You mean "the good old - but not quite *that* old - days"...

      • by narcc (412956)

        Creative Computing, Volume 4, Issue 3 [archive.org] (1978)

        It starts on page 132. Mod to your heart's content.

        • Nice find!

          Bunch of fun puzzles on Page 66. :-)

        • by qwak23 (1862090)

          Nice =)

          There is nothing better to give a 5 year old than a computer and a subscription to a magazine with code for games in it every month =)

          I was thinking of doing something similar for my niece, though I don't know if my sister would appreciate what learning how to type before you learn how to write does to your handwriting ability.

  • After I RTFA (I'm sorry!) I can find no links (even with google) to this amazing community they keep referring to. No forum on the homepage, just a steam link. I did find a Steam community forum....but, nothing like KSP, NCG, or a couple of other early access I'm involved with.

    And yeah, in a way it is a scam to get free testing of your Alpha state game. But we all do it willingly. And I hope (since none of the ones I'm involved with have technically 'released' yet) that the final products will be superior,
  • ... the reality is game developers have more power than ever because the internet allows them to tap the enormous stupidity of kids and mankind as a whole. You can now sell an unfinished game before you even finish it. You can now F2P classic games and charge for endless money for "fake unlocks" that you'd normally get with a full game. Like with league of legends, heroes and skins, and it's friggin ridiculous because most gamers are so god damn tech illiterate. Game devs/pubs have finally reached utopi

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      For example Battlefield 4 : so many bugs you cant finish the game, Multiplayer worthless due to random invisible walls.

      That game is a prime example of complete and utter crap churned out by a puppy mill.

    • News flash: game companies are businesses. Don't want to pay, go somewhere else. Easy as that.

  • How about Sony Online Entertainment management of Star Wars Galaxies?

    The game went from Real Time RPG to 3rd Person Shooter after release.

  • Then let's get some LAN play in Starcraft 2. It's annoying to be sitting next to someone and have massive lag.
  • Bash Sony and SOE all you like, but I've been enjoying the hell out of Alpha/Closed Beta testing Everquest Landmark. The most satisfying part is that the devs are really paying attention to feedback and making substantive changes as we go, not just bug fixes. I'm looking forward to working on EQ Next as well.

  • Wow, nice slashvertisement.

    So now we're celebrating releasing unfinished games that don't work as some sort of innovation? How often to you get a game like this that has promise of becoming something great, only to get involved as you watch the game go in the completely opposite direction promised? "I paid $50 for this game and now they're turning it into a fermium game and releasing it for free! Fantastic!"

  • Asheron's Call 2. Turbine let lone time AC players provide inout on the game systems. Turbine then thoroughly demonstrated that gamers have no damn clue what they actually want. Give gamers everything they want and you get a shit product.

  • This same article was written elsewhere which was much more direct in what was happening: we are all now beta testers.

    The adage that the company will roll out improvements is typical double-speak. They're not improvements, they're what should have been in the game when it was released (levels, abilities, etc) and the obvious bugs and faults that should not have been in the game when released.

    Game companies are doing exactly what I keep harping on: releasing bad software.

    We shouldn't have to put up with this

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