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Death to the Games Industry 615

Greg Costikyan has an article up on The Escapist railing against the current state of the industry. Bigger budgets, obese publishers, and creatively dead franchises that continue to see publishing are snuffing out the opportunity for innovation in an increasingly mainstream market. From the article: "For the sake of the industry, for the sake of gamers who want to experience something new and cool, for the sake of developers who want to do more than the same-old same-old, for the sake of our souls, we have to get out of this trap. If we don't, as developers, all we will be doing for the rest of eternity is making nicer road textures and better-lit car models for games with the same basic gameplay as Pole Position. Spector is right. We must blow up this business model, or we are all doomed. What do we want? What would be ideal? A market that serves creative vision instead of suppressing it. An audience that prizes gameplay over glitz. A business that allows niche product to be commercially successful - not necessarily or even ideally on the same scale as the conventional market, but on a much more modest one: profitability with sales of a few tens of thousands of units, not millions. And, of course - creator control of intellectual property, because creators deserve to own their own work."
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Death to the Games Industry

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  • by rAiNsT0rm ( 877553 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:35PM (#13455977) Homepage
    C'mon! Derivitive, cloned, and licensed crap doesn't equal great games?!? Get Out Of Town! From all the "unbiased" reviews all you need is either FPS, Stealth, Sex, Violence, or a rapper to be a hit.

    The game industry for some reason is set up to mimic Hollywood... and for even more puzzling reasons people think this is a good thing. Morons. The 360 and PS3 will do nothing but ensure that big dev studios keep cranking out the same FPS/Sports/Licensed garbage en masse as they are "safe" genre's and are fairly guaranteed returns when development costs are through the roof. I mean, who wants to take a risk on an "innovative" or "fresh" title when millions are on the line?

    God, I so hope Nintendo mops the floor with the 360 and PS3 so the industry can get back to some semblance of innovation and gameplay. When will morons get sick of their damn FPS clones and crave a real game... do people even remember what a totally new and innovative game is like anymore? Hint: GTA:[insert city name], Doom[insert roman numeral], Madden[insert next year], etc. are NOT innovative!
  • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:38PM (#13456024) Journal
    EA is responsible for breaking Ultima, including UO and Ultima 9. Ultima was probably the best computer RPG of all time before EA.

    EA also ended Wing Commander. Wing Commander II and III were amazingly great games. WC4 and the movie just ended it. Instead of going for quality, they went for quantity and fast-to-market. So they blew it - again.

    If RG hadn't sold out, and kept Origin as an independent company, all of this might be a lot different.
  • by Skye16 ( 685048 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:44PM (#13456080)
    Sorry, but no. You forget the power of marketing. We, as consumers, can be incredibly stupid at times. As much as I hate to say it, I have to be included in this. We're told this game is the greatest game ever. It's features are touted for months, or even years before its released. We read about it and desire it from the first trailer that gets released. And then, when it comes out, even when our friends complain it sucks, we buy it anyway, because we just can't seem to fathom how something that sounds and looked so good could turn out to be so horrible. We buy it. And then we try to like it. For hours, days, weeks, or months. We try, because we hope that, through mere willpower alone, we can make the game into something great.

    But that's not how the real world works. And eventually we uninstall the game and put it back in its case, shoving it on a shelf, never to be touched again. I have about 30 games like that right now. And, for as smart as I supposedly am, I continue to do it, proving, without a doubt, that I'm not smart. On the contrary, I'm fucking stupid. I'm a sheep and I consistently make poor decisions when it comes to games.

    Only, lately, it's been different. Instead of spending 50-100$ a month on new games, I just don't anymore. In fact, with the exception of Day of Defeat: Source, I don't think I'm going to buy any more games. It's just not worth it anymore. And I'm not talking money-wise, either. I'm talking about the emotional stress it puts me through. I am a gamer. I play games. Entirely too much, I agree, and the fact that it does put emotional stress on me illustrates that fact perfectly. But that doesn't make it less true. The bottom line is, I'm tired of getting let down. I've given everyone the benefit of the doubt - new development studios that I've had no experience with, old developers who have had great games in the past - and they're all letting me down. It's just not worth it. So I'll go back to Tribes 1. I'll play the occassional Tribes 2. And I'll play Tribes: Vengeance on occassion, just to remind myself how low a franchise can sink.

    And I've just realized I'm rambling, so I'll stop. My apologies.
  • Indie Games (Score:5, Informative)

    by wviperw ( 706068 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:49PM (#13456137) Homepage Journal

    "but in gaming, we have no indie aesthetic, no group of people (of any size at least) who prize independent vision and creativity over production values."

    Umm [], yeah [] we [] do [].

    I think there is a lot more than this author admits to. Why do you think there exists open source 3D engines like Ogre3D [] as well as a ton of websites devoted to game design techniques , etc? Yes, the indie scene could be bigger, but it is by no means non-existant.
  • Re:Marketing led (Score:4, Informative)

    by carndearg ( 696084 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:54PM (#13456203) Homepage Journal
    Fair enough. My comment was based on the experience of working for a marketing led game publisher in the UK for several years and watching them push woeful titles on unsuspecting punters by pumping them up through buying magazine reviews, in effect telling big lies about the products. Their testers were telling them the products were woeful but instead of getting some gameplay improvements in they just pushed more marketing at them.

    Eventually they had such a string of titles which bombed that when the finally got a good title(Virus 2000, David Braben's brilliant follow-up to the classic Virus) the damage was done and no amount of marketing could shake the shoddy image they'd aquired. Standard going titsup ensued, most of the workforce out of the door, remnants sold to a competitor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:54PM (#13456204)
    First of all the article is by Greg Costikyan, not Warren Spector. Second, Black and White was designed by Peter Molyneux.
  • Re:Uh, no (Score:4, Informative)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @01:57PM (#13456236) Homepage Journal
    Unless they negotiated a contract with you in advance, that's bullshit.

    Nope, that's the (US) law. Copyright law specifically gives the rights to the photographers, and you are forbidden from making copies without their permission. You have to negotiate these things in advance, and a lot of photographers flat-out refuse to give you any rights. You have to go to them for prints. This is why it's often hard to copy a photo at, say, Kinkos. They're under pressure from the Photographer unions and fear being sued for copyright infringement.

    It sucks, but there you go.

    I had a debate about this once from a professional photographer (a horse photographer, in fact), and she went on and on about how prints are the only way she makes any money, cameras are expensive, etc, etc. Boo freakin' hoo. The rights still shouldn't belong to her if it's MY money paying the tab.

  • Re:Marketing led (Score:4, Informative)

    by badasscat ( 563442 ) <> on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:15PM (#13456430)
    The most important people in a game publisher or development house are the games testers because their input is most relevant to shaping the product as it will apear to the users

    Huh? So the people that actually come up with the ideas, design the characters, the levels, the worlds, design the gameplay elements; then the people that program all that in, create the artwork, create the physical look and feel of the game, these people are less important than the testers? WTF? Without all those other people that handle the creative and production tasks before the testers, there would be no game!

    This is like saying the test audiences for a Hollywood film are the most important part of the filmmaking process. It makes no sense. They're more important than the writers, directors, cinematographers, editors, etc.? They most definitely are not!

    But this leads me to:

    And, of course - creator control of intellectual property, because creators deserve to own their own work.

    Who the hell is a "creator" of a game these days? Every game these days has many producers, directors, program managers, writers, coders, illustrators, 3D modelers, level designers, character designers, and other creative and management team members that all provide input in how the game will end up. These people work for both developers and publishers.

    Is this a bloated system? Sometimes. But there are a lot of people out there who like games like Final Fantasy and Grand Theft Auto and those games are not going to make themselves. A lot of people are involved. Take a look at the credits for even a simple game like Katamari Damacy sometime - it's huge.

    Creators do have control of their games, because these creators are collectively called "companies". All companies are are groups of like-minded people working on related projects (even if they're only related in that they're all for the same company). The company is the creator. Why should one person get to keep control of a game if he leaves the company, and nobody else who worked on it at that company gets jack? Is that somehow more fair than the system we have now?
  • by nakedsushi ( 901965 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:27PM (#13456589) Homepage
    There's already an MMO strategy RPG that just came out of open beta a few weeks ago, I believe.

    Dofus []

    I played some of it in open beta and it's a little like FF-tactics with a pretty bad French to English translation. However, it's still playable and I would have enjoyed it more if the battles weren't so slow due to players forgetting to "complete" their turns.
  • by phxbadash ( 883828 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @02:38PM (#13456729)

    This game is essentially run by the players, the devs just releaase new content periodically and the players have at it.
  • A better way would be for the little companies to bundle their games together into a single pack of maybe 10+ games.

    Some console makers routinely decline titles containing multiple games so as to avoid association with pirate multicarts []. Exception is when there's a story line tying the games together, such as the minigames of Mario Party or WarioWare, or in the case of a re-release compilation from a recognized industry name, such as Namco Museum or Midway Arcade Treasures or Sonic Mega Collection.

  • Re:Marketing led (Score:4, Informative)

    by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @04:53PM (#13458195) Journal
    Game testers are not, by far, anyway relevant to the shaping of the product EXCEPT for: All they do is say "yea here is the bug" or "yea this is cool" but by the time the game gets into playtesters hands the game is already made. Too late to change concept.

    Pre-development is the most important. I was hanging out in a comic book store as a kid and some marketers came in. We all got in a group and they showed us concept art, storylines, etc. They asked for our opinion on what we would like to see in the game. We told them. That is where the consumer is most important.

    Yes marketers are VERY important. Do not belittle them because you are fedup with spam. These guys are trained to find out what the majority of the public may not be what you want, but guess what they are not making their product for a minority....or do you play games like WoW, EQ, 1/2-Life, Doom3, etc? Then you fell for some marketers ploy.

  • Re:Uh, yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Thursday September 01, 2005 @11:45PM (#13461129)
    Maybe, maybe not. I'm not keen on releasing anything under the GPL unless I want to. That steers me away from Q3.

    GarageGames seem to have a community behind them right now, and have some good looking tools (like the shading packs and the RTS pack) today.

    Q3 will take a while to get to that stage, and besides which, I just can't stand the look and feel of id games. I've never liked one, try as I might.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"