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Nintendo Businesses Wii

Spore Dev Down On the Wii 315

An anonymous reader writes "As reported by IGN, Spore developer Chris Hecker made a very quotable statement at a traditionally contentious GDC panel. At the 'Game Publishers Rant' event Wednesday morning, Hecker stated that he thought the Wii is a piece of sh*t. He went on to refer to it as 'two GameCubes stuck together with duct tape.' He also took Nintendo to task for not taking games seriously enough. 'It's not clear to me that Nintendo gives a s*** about games as an art form.'"
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Spore Dev Down On the Wii

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  • sony? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:32AM (#18273306) Journal
    how much did sony have to pay him to say THAT?
    • Re:sony? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DDLKermit007 ( 911046 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:43AM (#18273668)
      Probably not very much. This guy is a loon. I've shipped more videogames than this joker (hes shipped ZERO) and I couldn't hope to be half as opinionated as this pompus prick. Doesn't seem he can commit to a project long enough to actually ship the game as it stands. Find it amusing how hes bitching about the Wii when he pisses & moans elsewhere that there is a lack of creativity in the industry, while wanting alternative markets and models for small-scale video game production. I could have sworn thats what the Wii has going for it most. Guess hes sold out too far to, "the man".

      Something I find odd is that a Wiki Admin deleted his bio barely an hour after this article went live.

      Wiki Deletion []

      Google Cache []
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by moonbender ( 547943 )
        FOr what it's worth, the deletion log message "CSD A7" refers to Criteria for Speedy Deletion: Unremarkable people, groups, companies and web content. Warrented in this case, in my opinion, but I think an AfD discussion would have been more sensible.
    • Art form? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alcmaeon ( 684971 )
      I haven't seen any games I would consider art, but I have seen a lot that would have been more useful stuck to a wall or sitting on my table as a coaster than in my CD ROM drive.
  • by robbywalker ( 968790 ) * on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:32AM (#18273312) Homepage
    It must have been hard to build an industry changing motion sensing controller with spare GameCube parts and duct tape. Nintendo must have hired MacGyver!
  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:37AM (#18273332)
    It sounds like some game developers take themselves way to seriously.
    • by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:54AM (#18273432)

      It sounds like some game developers take themselves way to seriously
      This is especially true considering that he hasn't actually ever released a game himself. I mean the man is working for Maxis, they released a really fun game (The Sims) and then 'true to their art' made the biggest selling game of all time by releasing endless ripoff expansion packs, they released The Sims on mobile phones for fecks sake, surely they had to compromise on power there didn't they.

      Perhaps this is an admission that Spore wont be any fun? But that will be OK because it's art and we will buy it for that.
      • I don't agree with his idiotic statements, but:

        1) He has apparently been involved [] with a number of successful games.
        2) Maxis did some great stuff, pre-Sims. Sim{City 2000,Ant,Farm,Earth,Tower} were all unique, enjoyable games.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Don_dumb ( 927108 )

          1) He has apparently been involved with a number of successful games.

          Good link, but a closer inspection of the titles Chris Hecker is on the credits for, shows that he is only ever listed as "Special Thanks" - meaning he had as much involvement as Dolby Labs Or IBM.

          2) Maxis did some great stuff, pre-Sims. Sim{City 2000,Ant,Farm,Earth,Tower} were all unique, enjoyable games.

          Agreed, they made fun games. They obviously want a change of direction (the Sims wasn't that successful) and have employed the Salvador

          • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#18275356)
            The other response said The Sims was the best selling PC game of all time, but didn't bother to cite it.

   computer_and_video_games []

            It is, but it doesn't come close to the best selling console games of all time, sadly. (16mil vs 30mil and 40mil)

            Having said that, The Sims -is- a great game, but aimed at a different audience than their old games. I'm amazed at how many expansions they've managed to sell. Seasons? Pets? WTF?

            Wright has said that all his Sim games are different, but in the same vein. The Sims was just a natural progression of it. Spore takes all this Sims games, plus some games like Civilization, and wraps them all into one. I find this amazingly hard to believe (even after seeing the videos) and I'm very much looking forward to finding out exactly how well it was all put together. If I tried it, I think it'd be amazingly disjointed and it would be like 8 seperate games, 1 after the other, instead of smoothly moving from stage to stage.

            We'll see how it comes out.

            As for the Wii... Wright has already said he plans to have it on ALL consoles, the PC, and even phones, I believe. There's not much change he'll ignore the Wii.
            • I have to point out that the only two games that are REALLY breakaway sellers
              ie. MUCH More than 16 million copies
              are Super Mario Brothers (NES) and Tetris (GB) both of which were pack ins with their respective systems and not ACTUALLY sold.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              Pets? WTF?
              I suspect that one's mostly for kids. My nine-year-old loves it.
      • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:41AM (#18275304) Homepage
        I think it's fairly ironic that the guy works for the company that makes The Sims, one of the ugliest, most technologically behind games I know of that just happens to be addictive and have a crazy following, yet he blasts Nintendo, company that makes the most technologically behind game systems that just happens to be addictive and have a crazy following.

        Foot, meet mouth.
    • by Mongoose ( 8480 )
      You don't take your job seriously? A lot of game developers are very passionate about theirs.
      • RTFC (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Don_dumb ( 927108 )

        You don't take your job seriously? A lot of game developers are very passionate about theirs.
        The parent said they take themselves too seriously. Not their jobs.
    • by rlp ( 11898 )
      > It sounds like some game developers take themselves way to seriously

      Clearly he doesn't view himself as a mere game developer, he's an artiste!
  • by Stickerboy ( 61554 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:42AM (#18273368) Homepage
    This pretty much says it all:

    "Hecker also took Nintendo to task for not taking games seriously enough. "It's not clear to me that Nintendo gives a s*** about games as an art form," he said. To illustrate his point, he searched for references to games as art on all three console manufacturers web sites. While he found numerous such references on both the official PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 sites, had none at all. He then shared quotes from executives at Sony and Microsoft talking about games as a serious artistic medium, and then a quote from a Nintendo executive saying the company only wanted to make "fun" games."
    God forbid Nintendo would want to make FUN games, instead of exclusively games that take 5 years of development, a hundred different visual artists, and [insert generic Save The World/Universe epic scope] breadth and gameplay.

    Chris Hecker & his coworkers look like he's putting out a great game, but he needs to take himself and what he does a little less seriously. As a games consumer I care less about what neato tricks a developer can contort the console CPU into doing and more about how much fun it is. Which is why I'm getting a Wii, as soon as, well, I can find one locally!
    • by Mongoose ( 8480 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:44AM (#18273680) Homepage
      Honestly, I don't think he cares what you think. This was directed at other developers -- and Nintendo itself. Remember the name is 'Game *Developer Conference'. He wants Nintendo to change before it's too late for them to get out of the trap of DS and GameCube rehashes. Do you seriously want to play the same games you played since the SNES over and over -- never getting something really different and new? That's what he's arguing with just a little bit of venom turned up to be sure it gets across.

      He's just putting his foot down now before all the Wii is first party games and movie licenses. Toss in a DS and PS2 port ever so often. I think he's already too late for that personally. All Wii users seem to want is more Wii sports and mini games, and he's actually standing up and saying that's not good enough for Spore.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NekoXP ( 67564 )
        > Do you seriously want to play the same games you played since the SNES over and over -- never getting
        > something really different and new?

        Yes. And so does everyone else. The sales of Mario rehashes, Virtual Console style stuff on Wii and XBox is through the roof - much higher than any expectation. Nintendo release old SNES and NES games for the DS. They released the old Mario games on a single cart for the SNES and even bundled the console with it (I miss Mario Allstars more than you can imagine)

        • by grumbel ( 592662 )
          ### Yes. And so does everyone else. The sales of Mario rehashes, Virtual Console style stuff on Wii and XBox is through the roof - much higher than any expectation.

          Do you have any numbers on this? Sure, the VC and XBoxLive do sell stuff, but I think a large part of that is because it is cheap, not because the games are old rehashes. A bit nostalgia is always a nice thing, but Zelda:TP already had for to much of it and felt like a rehash, not like a good game and my interest in rebuying all the old NES and S
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by nuzak ( 959558 )
            > GT is a simulation which tries to be realistic

            Which is why when you hit the wall at 180MPH, you bounce right off.
      • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:21AM (#18273850) Homepage

        Do you seriously want to play the same games you played since the SNES over and over

        As an owner of pretty much all of Nintendo's consoles, I'm not sure what the hell you're talking about. Are you telling me that Twilight Princess is the same game as A Link to the Past? Or that Super Mario Sunshine is the same game as Super Mario World?

        Or are you implying that there are no artistic, fresh games on the DS? Kind of... absurd. The Wii will go the path of the DS: Some movie licenses, sure, but also a ton of innovative games you simply can't get on any other console.

        Seriously, if anyone can be accused of constantly rehashing old ideas, it's certainly not Nintendo. Ever looked at the games available for Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2 or PS3? Frankly, I feel like I'm living in some kind of bizarro alternate universe.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
        Um rehashes? Like Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3? Like the 7 versions of Ghost Recon? What about GTA? ...

        Nintendo is hardly the only developer with rehashes.

        And besides, sales of the DS are um, a bit higher than that of the PSP.

        If Nintendo decided the DS2 [or whatever] would basically be the DS + faster cpu + more ram and say motion sensors :-), I think I'd go for it. "faster" doesn't mean 3GHz PPC, currently [iirc] it has a 66 and 33 MHz ARM processors. Bump those to 133 and 66, give it 16MB of ram instead of 4
        • by macshit ( 157376 )
          And keep in mind where this guy Heckler works -- Spore is being developed at EA, which is pretty much the ultimate master of uninspired rehashes and artless greed-centered game development these days. Whatever you think of the Wii, Nintendo pretty much wipes EA all over the floor when it comes to gaming as an "art form."
      • by seebs ( 15766 )
        You're right, I shouldn't just play the same damn games over and over. I should get a console that has Ridge Racer 7, Virtua Fighter 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo 5, and other TOTALLY NEW game experiences.

        I dunno, but I don't see any evidence at all that "the same games we played on the SNES" or even on the Gamecube are at all on the table.

        Nintendo has provided a controller that pretty much guarantees a rethink of the game. Sony has provided the same thing as last time, only faster.
      • Do you seriously want to play the same games you played since the SNES over and over -- never getting something really different and new?

        If the rehashes are fun, then sure. That's why I play games, after all.

        I don't play games to experience art. I go to the museum for that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fozzyuw ( 950608 )

        Do you seriously want to play the same games you played since the SNES over and over -- never getting something really different and new?

        With all due respect, I picked up a DS < 2 weeks ago and I'm currently addicted to Final Fantasy III. My fiancee and I have logged more hours on the Wii playing Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda, Columns, Donkey Kong Country, and Zelda:Links Awakening than we have playing Wii Sports, Zelda:Twilight Princess, Red Steel, Dragon Ball Z, Rayman, a

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:58AM (#18273724) Homepage
      The weird thing is;

      Microsoft and Sony talk about "games as art" on their websites.
      Nintendo doesn't, but makes the most "art" type games of the three.

      Apparently Hecker equates "art" to "high budget productions". Is a movie like "Pi" any less art then "American Pie" because it didn't have "next gen" recording equipment?

      Besides; ever since slamdance(?) pulled the Columbine game, it seems the public isn't ready to accept games as an artform yet.
      • I would actually disagree with you there. Nintendo makes some fun games to be sure, but I wouldn't call them art by any stretch. As much as I enjoy a round of Mario Party with my friends, or a few rounds of Smash Bros with my brother, or beating Twilight Princess a month or so ago (hint: quite a lot, for all of them), it doesn't make them "artistic."

        Like it or not, artistic and fun are too different (but not mutually exclusive) things. And they aren't, generally speaking, the things that Nintendo is t
        • by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:05AM (#18274626)
          I think you are using a very narrow definition of art ...

          You're saying that for an author to produce art it has to be a novel or epic-poem, for a painter to produce art it has to be a grand mural, or for a composer to produce art he has to produce an opera.

          A haiku can be art, graffiti can be art, and a pop-song can be art ...

          Sometimes the most important way to define art is that it changes the medium after it has been produced ... Games like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Mario Kart, Mario Party, Brain Training, Nintendogs, and Wario Ware have all changed how the industry sees games or how a genre is seen.

          Whether some people would like to admit it or not, Wii Sports could be seen as art because it was produced by the artists frustration with complicated control mechanics and massive budgets; and the industry will never be the same for having experienced it.
          • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:41AM (#18276676)
            I think you are using a very narrow definition of art ...

            I think that may be Christ Hecker's problem as well. I'm just gonna copy my comment from gamesarefun...

            How is it Nintendo's job as a console developer to push games as a "legitimate art form?" Or Sony's? Or Microsoft's? Criticizing the development side of their buisness for the type of games they produce would be valid, however the job of the console side of their business is to produce a machine that will sell well and will enable developers to easily produce games that will sell well.

            Microsoft and Sony produced consoles with lots of graphical power and a high price tag. Nintendo produced a console with a new method of control and a cheaper price tag. It is now the developers' jobs to produce whatever type of game they want, "artistic" or not, for whichever consoles they want.

            If Chris Hecker feels that the type of games he wants to develop require the horsepower of the PS3 or 360 that's fine. If however he feels that the higher level of graphics is a _requirement_ to produce "art," then he clearly doesn't have any notion of what art really is.

            (I would certainly have trouble defining what art really is myself, but i'm not so deranged as to try to claim that it requires a high definition display or any other specific kind of media to produce.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
          Music isn't art because of how the sleeve looks.
          Movies aren't art because of the type of special effects it has.
          Literature isn't art because of the font and page layout.
          So why should games' artistic value be judged by their visuals? If anything can make a game art, it's the gameplay.
      • by r3m0t ( 626466 )
        Here are some games which I would consider "art". I haven't played all of them.

        Rez (PS1/DC)
        Lumines (PSP/mobile phones etc)
        Every Extend (freeware PC version/commercial PSP version)
        Elebits (Wii)
        Katamari Damacy (sp?) (PS2)
        LOOM (DOS, Mac OS, Amiga, Atari ST, FM Towns, TG16)

        I don't see any Nintendo games. Nintendo games are "good clean fun" as another poster said, but they aren't art.
  • it all depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:43AM (#18273372) Homepage
    Hecker said the console isn't powerful enough to provide the next-gen experience he has been waiting for ... Although he stated the system is "severely underpowered," Hecker noted that he wasn't simply referring to the Wii's graphical capabilities. He wants to spend a console's CPU making games more intelligent, and he has found the Wii doesn't have the power to process things like complicated AI.

    I guess it depends what makes a good game. Tetris was great, and didn't require complicated AI.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Tetis was not great. Tetris was definitive. I don't even know of what. it just was. And anyone else notice any correlations between tetris performance, and academic performance on the same day?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )
      Hecker said the console isn't powerful enough to provide the next-gen experience he has been waiting for ... Although he stated the system is "severely underpowered," Hecker noted that he wasn't simply referring to the Wii's graphical capabilities. He wants to spend a console's CPU making games more intelligent, and he has found the Wii doesn't have the power to process things like complicated AI.

      I take it that no Xbox, PS2 or pre-2k PC game had complicated AI, then. Yes, you can run into CPU limits but I'm
      • Why do you think AI problems grow exponentially? There are many problems for which the best known complexity is much better than exponential. Even for NP-Hard problems, polynomial-runtime approximation algorithms are often good enough.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 )
      I'm sure you meant didn't require AI at all.

      This guy should pull his head out of his arse. Serious artistic medium is all fine and dandy, but people get games to have fun playing them, not to sit back and appreciate the aesthetics of the artform, or the complexity of the AI. That's what developers do, not players. Nintendo understands this difference, while MS and Sony take the highbrow road to their detriment. His game isn't headed for the Louvre, it's headed to someone who wants entertainment and enjoyme

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )
      ### I guess it depends what makes a good game. Tetris was great, and didn't require complicated AI.

      And Tetris provides the next-gen gaming experience he has been waiting for exactly how? Just because there are games that are fun without AI, doesn't mean that games with AI are any less fun, even for casual gamers, just look at The Sims.
  • Eek! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:47AM (#18273384)
    "It's not clear to me that Nintendo gives a s*** about games as an art form."

    Listen - I love insult comics. But look at you - stringing together accusations and a couple expletives and acting like you gave Nintendo a thrashing? Hmph - it's clear to me, you don't give a s*** about insulting as an art form.

    Go listen to some Lisa Lampanelli [], and THEN try it again, you miserable excuse for console troll.

    Ryan Fenton

    P.S. As you may have noticed, though I do like my insult comics, I personally suck quite badly at the game myself. You should see me in traffic - a dejected 'dude, you suck' is about at far as I can manage. Just saw the insult, and thought I'd give Lisa Lampanelli a plug.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @03:48AM (#18273390) Homepage Journal
    we're still waiting for Spore... of course, once you do ship, all is forgiven.. at least until I get bored with the game and wonder why there's no multiplayer (and don't give me that "asynchronous multiplayer" crap).
  • Obviously he's never seen the envelope art in Nintendo Power.
  • This is the same guy who blasted the PS3 and 360 for being graphical powerhouses.

    I've got one word for this guy: HYPOCRITE!
    • Not really, since it seems he was criticizing the CPU power more than the GPU power... But I'd have to look up his other statements.

      PS: What I've written above doesn't mean that I don't think the guy's probably an asshole.
  • Wikipedia? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ecuador ( 740021 )
    Strange, I read about this a few hours ago and checked this guy's wikipedia entry [], which for some reason got deleted a couple of hours ago.
    According to the deleted article Spore will be this guy's first game to be released. Apparently he is known in the dev circles, but he has never released any game he has worked on, and he is probably part of a large team developing Spore.
    And I would not be nitpicking here if his arguments made a lot of sense. No fanboy of any kind here, just someone who does not real
    • To clarify - the entry was deleted for falling into the category of "...unremarkable people, groups, companies and web content. An article about a real person, group of people, band, club, company, or web content that does not assert the importance or significance of its subject."

      You can read the old entry at Google's cache [] until googlebot realises it's not there any more. The article is kinda miserable, and you can see why it was deleted; he simply isn't notable. Too many others like hime.

      Personally, I l
  • Make a system that doesn't suck? This guy has got to be high or something. How could something so successful suck? Not to mention the fact that the moron has completely disregarded the DS for all it's artistic content (A little game about a little hotel comes to mind). Finally the system has been out for what, 5 months now? You want art? Art takes time, and for the record, dogs playing poker is not art, spore, although cool, not art, Killer 7.... a pain in the ass, but probably art. Send this arse back to h
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      According to him, the XBox 360 and Playstation 3 suck because they push graphics over gameplay and Nintendo sucks for pushing gameplay over "art".
    • How could something so successful suck?

      Two words for you: Britney Spears (Paris Hilton was an acceptable answer too :-P)
  • by buzzzz ( 767841 )
    I am amazed how good news for Sony is ridiculed in post after post and bad news for Nintendo is dismissed with complete one sidedness.
    While Sony Home may not be the greatest thing, it is definitely a big announcement and a good step forward. Similarly, the rant against Nintendo probably arises from a disgruntled company but it is something to think about.

    There is an utter lack of objectivity in gaming related discussions on Slashdot. With what I would expect the demographics here to be, it definitely surpri
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      If you're amazed then you're ignorant. Would you assume a liar's statement to you was true or false? Well Sony has a track record of nonsense, Nintendo doesn't - at the very least not within the last 5 years.
    • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:32AM (#18273888) Homepage

      There is an utter lack of objectivity in gaming related discussions on Slashdot.

      You get what you sow. Sony used to be great, but they have constantly fucked with their customers for a few years now. Nintendo used to censor their games and be generally jackasses, but in recent years, they've put out great, fresh hardware and fun, innovative software, and they've shown that they've changed for the better.

      People are annoyed at Sony, and they are happy with Nintendo.

      So we have a so-so new product announcement from Sony, basically copying Miis, Achievements, Second Life, and adding an unhealthy dose of Micropayments. Big suprise, people don't fall for it.

      Then, we have some developer basically explaining that the Wii is shit. Big surprise, people don't agree.

      Both companies get what they deserve right now. So, what's your point?

  • by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:01AM (#18273474)
    There is SOME truth. I own a Wii and hardware wise it isn't a graphical and processing monster. The core enjoyment comes from the controller. As a long time PC gamer (although I own all 3 last gen consoles) I have never felt comfortable with FPS controls on a gamepad. The Wii controller on the other hand is very intuitive for me to use.
    I've purchased 6 games for the Wii (not including Wii Sports) and all have offered something interesting but a couple have shown limitations in the hardware. I really enjoyed Elebits but the last levels have some severe frame rate issues when you start flinging around vehicles and buildings. I also enjoyed (after turning the sensitivity WAY down from default) Call of Duty 3 but the graphics were inferior to Call of Duty 2 when played on a PC. COD 3 perhaps suffers more because the game needs to look more realistic than Elebits. Despite the issues I still feel that the control scheme for FPS style games is better than a gamepad and will get better as developers get used to the Wii remote. Here's hoping the next Metroid shines.
    I am also disappointed that games like Rayman and Super Monkey Ball don't have well fleshed out multiplayer modes. The Wii really shines when you have a couple friends over and some sort of overall multiplayer mode structure around the mini-games would make this even more fun. I look forward to Mario Party but I would love to see something with a less inane board game component. Even something like the old Epyx Summer Games/Winter Games titles would be great.
    I don't honestly think the Wii competes directly with Xbox 360 or PS3. It isn't trying to beat those consoles in the areas they have carved out. Much like the DS versus the PSP I think we will start to exclusives on the Wii that just wouldn't be much fun on a system without a Wii style controller. We are already seeing updates of DS games like Trauma Center and Cooking Mama. We have heard vocal support from companies like EA and Activision for Wii games. If the Wii continues to sell well I think we will see a lot of games developed to cater to this different, more casual market.
    The Wii isn't the end all be all of game consoles, it's an interesting tangent that hopefully will continue to bring us new ways to play.
    I currently don't own a HDTV and I do most of my "hardcore" gaming on a PC. I have a couple kids and Nintendo family friendly games are a good thing. I certainly don't rule out purchasing a PS3 or Xbox 360 a couple years down the road but right now for how I game and how my family games there isn't a point. But that's just my situation - I know there are a bunch of players who want Resistance or Halo 3 and couldn't care less about Mario.
    • Can't say support from EA and Activision will mean much. Sports sequels and repatative comic licence games? I'd liek Square/enix, konami, capcom, namco, and bioware throw their hat in. I prefer if EA and Activision go bankrupt tommorow.
  • Art vs. Fun (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:02AM (#18273476) Homepage

    and then a quote from a Nintendo executive saying the company only wanted to make "fun" games.

    I know pro sports people do infact play what is essentially a game - but I thought that didn't apply to video games and that games were still supposed to be fun.

    So are game developers not even trying to make games fun these days then?

    • by bky1701 ( 979071 )
      The simple answer is... no. Competitive games are what companies make now, because they are one of those things that keeps paying and paying and paying with little input.

      WOW isn't popular because it's fun. It isn't. It's popular because people get sucked in and have to become "the best" even though that is physically impossible, and while you try to do that impossible, you pay your game tax monthly... most MMOs are like this, but it's not limited to them.

      Compare to a good RTS- it takes planning, good
  • by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:05AM (#18273488)

    He then shared quotes from executives at Sony and Microsoft talking about games as a serious artistic medium, and then a quote from a Nintendo executive saying the company only wanted to make "fun" games.
    "Rest assured," he went on to say, "we won't fall into the stupid design trap of making our game fun. We'll leave that for the amateurs at Nintendo."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:05AM (#18273496)
    "It pains me to say this but I recently just took a job at EA. However, I worked for Will on the game you just saw, so.. [laughter] I'm going to rant about How Sony And Microsoft Are About To Screw Your Game Design. Look, how are we going to get where gameplay, graphics and physics are all evenly well balanced? At the moment we're the 120lb weakling, except nowadays his right arm here, graphics, is enormous."

    --Chris Hecker, GDC, 2005

    To paraphrase his annual edgy developer commentary:

    "Game consoles aren't designed exclusively around my own personal favorite part of game design at this point in time."

    This is notable? This is news? 95% of game developers probably feel this way. User interface people adore the Wii for exactly the same reasons next-gen artists and AI/physics programmers are frustrated by it. Parents adore the Wii's price for the same reason that high-end next-gen developers abhor it (because big honkin processors, it turns out, are not particularly cheap).

    The real problem with his claim is the idea that serious and/or artistic games need massively powerful AI or physics routines in order to affect players. I do not agree that powerful technology is the only key to making an artistic game, or a game that has an emotionally powerful effect on people, or a fascinating narrative. Art direction and writing and getting rid of the publisher committee-approval ideology is a lot more important than neural networks. I am sure that there are certain types of artistic games that will become more prevalent as computing power increases, but to pigeonhole artistic games as games that have really good AI...isn't that just a little self-centered?
  • What is art? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rafajafar ( 217298 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:17AM (#18273552) Journal
    What was disturbing to me about his rant was not what he said, but how ill-defined his terms were. He professed that Nintendo does not take gaming seriously as an art form. What is this "art" he speaks of? As someone who studies philosophy, it's very important to me that such an objective argument as "Nintendo hurts art" is defined properly.

    When one speaks of art, they speak of aesthetics. What he argues is that function possesses the highest form of aesthetics. This is an extremely shaky ground for argument. One could easily weigh other factors of a game in with beauty... graphics, challenge, and enjoyment seem to be the pervasive accounts of beauty in gaming. Let's focus on these three and see if we can try to understand why Nintendo chose to focus on enjoyable rather than pretty and smarter games.

    Graphics: Since the PS1, graphics seems to be the focus of most games. Higher texture density, more polygons, faster processing. These were what made a game "good" for a very very very long time. And while game sales were still increasing, more and more gamers were complaining that games seemed too much like their predecesors. Racing games were prettier, but they were still racing games. Fighting games had more characters with greater detail, but they were still fighting games. Sandbox games like GTA were getting sharper graphics and interfaces, but they were still GTA. Gamers were catching on that the industry is merely eating glitter to make the same old crap sparkle more.

    Smarter: With the same old games comes the same old play. The only way to improve this is through design changes, which serves for temporary "newness" but quickly becomes associative in a near one-to-one nature from previous games in the genre. Final Fantasy games, for example, had a completely different play style from game to game, but functioned on the same basic prinicples as the last game (until 12). Fighting games may have different dynamics of button mashing and combo systems, but they were still button mashers. And racing games? Pfft. So in lieu of breaking the mold and trying to make games that challenge the mind in new ways, developers ... dare I say "in the box" developers... improve AI so that the same old game is harder to the same old player. While this may be nice when playing a genre game, I fail to see the argument that it has been applied artfully from system to system. Granted, it can be. It just has not thus far and I do not see a majority of developers as taking full advantage of it any time soon.

    Enjoyability: Remember the first time you played a side fighter? Remember the first time you played a virtual fighter? Remember the first time you played an RPG? Remember the first time you played GTA? Wow, wasn't that fun? And so much so, it's had many gamers chasing the carrot on the stick for the companies that put out those games ever since. Remember the first time you played a 3D game with an analog stick? Do you remember all the other games you played using the same analog stick? That was enjoyment you got out of EVERY SINGLE GAME from a simple interface change. Nintendo has been the pioneer in that market since the Super Nintendo (and arguably sooner). Sure, they made a lot of sacrifices to graphics and processing power. But let's face it, the Wii is enjoyable. They chose a different definition of "art". To Nintendo, making games a social experience, making them widely available, and making them "fun" was what "art" is. To Nintendo, their system is THE system to progress video games as an "art form".

    To say that Nintendo does not do for gaming as an art form as much as the other two major systems does is rather blind, I think. No other company has been as influential on the other two systems as Nintendo. Top buttons on the d-pad? Sony used it. Trigger buttons? XBox. Analog sticks? Sony and XBox. Force feedback through controller rumble? Sony took it again.. this time illegally. And now, full motion sensing capabilities... SONY TRIED TO COPY IT. So my question to this man would be,
    • I'm really too tired to reply as much as I'd like. I just wanted to echo your frustration at his vague definition of 'art.' I guess my problem is he didn't stress enough that the Wii didn't work for what he wanted to do, not what is possible to do. Like you said, just because you're not interested in using a medium which is limiting in one aspect doesn't mean others can't use it to great effect. To make an analogy (a shakey, tired analogy...) just because you're interested in clay because, dammit, you can w
    • Re:What is art? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:01AM (#18273742) Homepage Journal
      I've spent considerable time pondering the possible aesthetics of video games, and agree with you that any list of pure specs cannot lead to higher aesthetics. Tetris was simple in every possible criteria, but still could be seen as one of the more beautiful games ever, much like primitive cave paintings. Your last paragraph captures this perfectly.

      That said, though, no one really has analyzed the aesthetics of games, and many people say that they cannot be aesthetic since they are A) mass produced for market, and B) interactive. I disagree with both of these premises, btw.

      Its late, and I'm lazy, so I'll just link to articles I wrote about this topic: interactive-art-aesthetic.html [] -as-art-revisited.html []
      Yeah, self promotion AND laziness, I now embody the modern internet.

      Obviously his idea of art revolves around complexity, and not the limitations of the medium. If he was a poet he would be Kerouac with massive free-flowing strings of consciousness, and his haiku would be as broken and unstructured as Kerouac's too. This is a relatively routine distinction in art, some people think that the limitations of a medium or style increases its merit, while others are too lazy, limited, of whatnot, to see the point. This is becoming more and more common in digital media, we're spoiled by ever increasing power, and have a hard time respecting even out current low limitations. Imagine this guy developing on a 8-bit system, or worse a text adventure!

      I personally think that good are is a sort of metaphorical collaboration between the artist and the medium. /. has been inundated with philosophers lately! I'm very happy that the esoteric crowd is ranting too!

    • Really, read the subject.

      They are game console systems, to play games. Yeah! you play games to have FUN, you go to the museum to be entertained and to get insight. I love museums, all of the types. I love art (hint: when you go to UK the museums are almost always Free [as in beer... but no, no free beer]!) and I love also street art (Have any of you heard about Gaudí?). []

      But when I am at home and turn on my game console is because I want to have FUN, to have fun with my friends, to have fun with my famil
  • by DarkDust ( 239124 ) * <> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:33AM (#18273624) Homepage

    First off, I have to question Chris Heckers developer quality, since he's one of the I need more power because I can't get my stuff run fast enough people. Quite often the issue is that the resources at hand aren't used optimal, either because the tools at hand lack the quality or the developers lack the quality. For example, I'm really impressed with Final Fantasy XII: the developers managed to squeeze quite nice graphics out of the total of just 36MB RAM they have at hand, especially the level of detail implementation is really good. Overall, the PlayStation 2 is a very good example at how developers had to learn to use the resources they have available: the first generation PS2 titles looked awful compared to the games that hit the market in the last few months. And I also remember playing around with graphics programming on my 80386. I never managed to have it do smooth animations, let alone smooth scrolling. Yet others proved that the hardware was not the problem (e.g. Doom), so the problem wasn't that the machine wasn't fast enough, the problem was that I didn't understand to use the resources adequately.

    Also, the guy completely ignores Nintendo's situation: unlike MicroSoft and Sony, they don't have money to burn. They have to make a profit off their consoles from day one since that's all they do. They don't have other businesses with which they can make money (apart from licensing, of course). So they can't subsidize their consoles like MicroSoft and Sony do (they sell their consoles for less than their production costs).

    This and other issues led Nintendo to conclude that they can't compete with this generation of consoles from MicroSoft and Sony. So if you can't play in the same market as the other guys you have to find another market, and that's just what Nintendo did, and successfully so. They managed to attract people to the Wii who wouldn't play console games otherwise. I know two couples who never had a console but found the Wii to be fun and bought it. They are both in their mid-/end-twenties and only now entered console gaming through the Wii and simply don't care about the PS3 or XBox360 since they don't appeal to them. Chris Hecker simply doesn't recognize that Nintendo is targeting a completely different audience than both MicroSoft and Sony.

    • The thing is, more power makes a platform easier to program for. I personally haven't used the Wii devkits before, but from what I hear this guy's discription is pretty accurate "two GC's stuck together" indeed. And there's nothing wrong with that given their focus isn't graphics. The thing is, why is Nintendo automatically labeled "enabler of innovation"? If anything MS and Sony are at least trying to open up their platforms to non-industry developers (more so on MS's part with XNA). By making their p
  • Game Art? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zelos ( 1050172 )
    You have to define what a game being art means. Videogames are an art form of their own, you can't judge them by the same standards as films or music. Personally, I think there is art in, for example, Mario64's level design and its perfect blend of challenge, reward and novelty.
  • Fake controversy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:58AM (#18273726) Homepage Journal
    I doubt the guy even believed it himself. The conference needed a little controversy to spice things up, the online gaming rags promoted it to get more page hits, and now Slashdot does the same.
  • This guy needs to go out and get himself a new gold-plated mobile phone, $4500 laptop or something, and calm down a little.

    Gamers who want the MOST STUFF are really the worst kind. They'll play (and design!) any old shit as long as it gets a review score for prettiest, shiniest graphics or most surround-soundy audio. Gameplay? What's that anymore? We need a huge, epic storyline, that's what we need. Something that confuses the piss out of gamers and leaves them disappointed with a cliffhanger, when you spen
  • He also took Nintendo to task for not taking games seriously enough.

    F*ck you. Who is responsible for state of gaming PC market??? Serious games??? Give me a break, moron.

    Games must be ... games, not some twisted brain fuck []. And you can go to hell with all the elitist' "seriousness" crap for "hard core gamers" of yours.

    I want to have something just to forget about all the "dog food" I have to eat every day 8 to 5. No, I do not need your "serious" sh*t - I need games I can take half hour for a ride

    • P.S. And if game devel makes such comments, I can only judge that he is not up to challenge. People did near perfect (for the time) 3D graphics on 386SX@25MHz - and the games were cool & fun. Devels were not saying "486 is crap since it cannot push 1000000000 triangles we have thrown into our latest game" - they were trying to deliver best gaming experience with means available. Notice that "means available" go after "best gaming experience." Game devels need to suck less from big corporations (M$/Sony

      • Bingo. That's basically a symptom of a larger problem. When not resource constrained people don't know how to be conservative. Give them a 3GHz processor and they'll fill it with everything and anything. Who cares if 15% of the time is spent doing [say] virtual translations [C++ overrides] or whatever. It's a 3GHz processor!!!

        Look at some of the games for the N64, that was a platform. And in the end, after people spent a lot of time figuring it out, they were able to make the graphics and AI very adva
        • Amen.

          And that's a great idea that you presented about not giving new computer science students a modern machine to start programming with. It would have a good side benefit - they'd have to start programming with a lower-level language such as Assembly or C, which would make them learn how computer software (and to a lesser, but also important extent, hardware) really works.

          Some of my faculty colleagues didn't use any time thinking about what their high-level-language primitives were doing in the background
    • Agree. 100%.

      Unfortunately, there are far too many people out there with there heads stuck up their own asses needing to intellectualise everything to bring it up into their level of existence.

      These are the same people who like seeing pictures of naked women but are too scared to go look at them in case they get caught and are seen as seedy little people - instead, they get photos of women taken at weird angles through photo filters and call it "art" to justify it intellectually.

      Games are entertainment

    • by matt328 ( 916281 )
      Seriously. If this jackass had legs to stand on, I might take him seriously.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:41AM (#18274258) Journal

    You got some amazing posts today, including some kid who thinks The Sims was Maxis first big hit. HA!

    This guy is a pro and works for a company that has been making fun games when SERIOUS power was 8mhz.

    However since that day two things have happened. We have got more and mhz on our cpu's which at times seems to be only used to update the graphics. It is of no doubt that the Wii in this department cannot compete, pure polygon/texture/fps count it is going to loose to the 360/PS3 and ALL consoles will SUCK donkyballs increasingly so compared to the PC.

    BUT that is not what this guy is talking about. He is complaining about lack of power to power NOT the graphics but the game itself. The AI.

    AI is often ignored by gamers, we note it when it is bad but in most reviews a decent AI will take second place in importance to the graphics. I have no idea way I mean sure the human race has developed above such supervisial OOOH SHINY!

    Eh where was I?

    However in the background the AI code has been getting a share of the increased processing power and it shows. Today's AI in games is still nothing to worry any real human but if you ever make the mistake of playing a game from the dark ages you can see just how moronic the old ai's were that had to run on ancient hardware.

    This guys complaint is that the Wii with it's simpler hardware just doesn't deliver enough oomph to power the AI in games.

    First off, this guy works for Maxis, a game company that has NEVER produced a single OOOOH SHINY game. In fact all their games heavily depend on AI. This has been a problem for them before, their games never looked as spiffy as say your average FPS but offcourse the AI in them was still making your computer sweat. If you ever designed your own FPS level with AI monsters you know how fucking difficult it is to get them to walk straight down a corridor EVEN with massive pre-proccessing. In the sims you got easily a dozen AI all finding their way around a constanstly changing enviroment. While you maybe only seeing the effect of all your girls queing up for the same toilet and peeing themselves (Mmm, there might be a reality show in that) the fact that they even can do that requires a lot of code to be run.

    There is a reason the full sims never appeared on the consoles, they just can't do it. (Try them if you don't believe them, the console versions are extremely reduced in capability compard to the PC versions)

    Spore, if it delivers what it promises, is going to be much the same. For it to work there must be some serious number crunching going on in the background, yet ALL people see is the graphics.

    Maxis can't produce a game that don't look the part. The graphics must pass a certain level or people just won't buy it. I am sure there is a market for a game with amazing ai and 8bit graphics BUT sadly maxis is to much into making a profit to explore that segment. Shame on them.

    His claim is then that if a game is going to have passable graphics the Wii doesn't have enough horsepower left to power the AI. It is something PC owners have ALWAYS known. In some games you can alter your settings INCLUDING the ai difficulty level, lower it and performance improves. It is even simpler in the modding scene, lots of user made content mentions that you need a higher specced rig for their content then the original game simply because they upped the number of AI's in the game.

    An old example is transport tycoon. A train game from I think the 386 days. If in those days you had more then a 50 or so trains in the game it would start to grind to a halt as the CPU simply couldn't cope. Nowadays a hacked version of the game happily runs with hundreds of trains of any length using the increased horsepower NOT just for graphics (increased resolution) but to run the AI for all those extra objects.

    If you take the same game and try to port it fairly to all the gaming machines out there then the Wii is going to have to be the one with the smaller levels (less memory) fewe

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vokkyt ( 739289 )
      But there is a caveat that often happens with games that are CPU based at the core and fun based as a secondary feature. It's wonderful that developers are always trying to push the limits of games, but often times what happens is that a game falls into repetitiveness. A simple example is Oblivion; wonderful game, great while it lasted, but most people have moved beyond it. Is that what art is supposed to be? Momentarily glorified, but quickly overlooked?

      People love to rant on the Wii being underpowered
  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:04AM (#18274388) Homepage
    Seriously, I wonder whether people even bother to read things before leaping to the defence of their console of choice. "Oh no! He said bad things about Nintendo! Quick - to the ad hominem arguments and Chairman Miyamoto's Big Book of Wii Talking Points!"

    For those who take a slightly more settled approach to life, it's easy enough to look at the title of the session. It's the Game Publishers Rant. This isn't supposed to be about rational discussion - it's throwing out exaggerated bile-fuelled versions of reality for the sake of engendering discussion. Look at the previous rants from the Game Developers Rants sessions in the last couple of years. The games industry is dead. Too many people whine about games not being innovative enough. Sony and Microsoft are going to screw your game design. Gaming has degenerated into a procession of Hot Babes - Sexy babes! Lesbian babes! Killer babes!

    Do you think all of those things were intended as true statements? Of course not. Taking these rants as a genuine representation of the opinions of these developers/publishers is like assuming [url=]Maddox[/url] is an in-depth social commentator putting forward a model for how we can change life for the better. Take a chill pill, remove that radish from its current uncomfortable location, ignore the agenda-laden reporting from certain sites and enjoy the rant for what it is.
  • by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:46AM (#18274562)
    I believe there is some confusion over the term developer here. A lot of people use it to mean a company that creates games. In this context Hecker is working for the developer of Spore.

    I don't think Hecker is even a Jr. Developer or anything of the sort of the actual game though. He's just another indie hack who wants to think games are some art form (as if we need that particular elitist disease in video gaming).

    He's got a bit of a reputation as a ranter about this sort of thing. It's no surprise he'd take this sort of position because Nintendo's mantra of "just make it fun!" is pretty much directly opposed to the idea of games as an art. It's kind of amusing he works for Will Wright though considering Will is probably the most likely dev in the industry to throw art out the window and worry about fun factor first.
  • He's just mad because they're selling like hotcakes and he can't make a game work on it.
  • and he must adapt his code to this limitations, obviously with more horsepower many problems can be solved (an AI is very cpu consuming) but you gotta do what you can with the machine you're given, and you gotta make it fun. I've read recently a quote from Mizuguchi in the Art Futura of Barcelona last year, "If a game isn't fun, you've lost the path"
  • Perhaps... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @10:46AM (#18276032) Journal
    Perhaps it could be stated more simply: a console (no matter what console) isn't a personal computer. It just ISN'T. It's a video-optimized, hard-coded processor with extremely limited inputs which usually uses the extraordinarily-shitty "standard TV" as display.


    And yes, products can be developed that will run on both, but the compromises required to make it a 'console-able' game are immediately obvious on any PC - look at Oblivion. The most popular (and one of the quickest-released) mods take advantage of the better resolution of a monitor to immediately make the bag/inventory system 100% more useable, with more data displayed, clearer/smaller text, etc.

    So when he says "the WII is crap" what he's really saying is that "we're pissed that they optimized this for something other than controlling our game, because we're having to make ridiculous, possibly fatal compromises to try to sell into that market".

    Is this a shock to anyone who's played a RTS on a PC and then on a console? No mouse = serious suckage. Spore = RTS strategy = (WII+no mouse) = suckage.* Brilliant insight, dude.

    * yes, I know the WII has the point-click thing going, but watching people play at length, first their click targets are HUGE because it doesn't have nearly the precision of a mouse, the response-time of a mouse, nor (apparently) the sample rate of a mouse. WII controller is only a feeble mouse-emulation at best.
  • Misleading article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Funk_dat69 ( 215898 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:35AM (#18276606)
    This article mentions it, but it's easy to miss. Chris was talking in the annual "Developers Rant" forum, which is sort of an tongue-in-cheek, humor-laced exaggeration-fest. I'm sure he doesn't hate the Wii *that* much. His point was he wishes it was a faster, basically. You have to be able to see through the satire and wit, to understand what he's talking about.

    Of course I wasnt there though - it's possible he could have taken it too far, it's always hard to judge where that line is and this guy seems to enjoy pushing that line.
  • He's right.* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Purity Of Essence ( 1007601 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @12:03PM (#18276970)
    * Before you hit the flame button, lemme say I love the Wii, I think it's great. I don't think it's shit at all. In fact, the potential of all of the consoles impresses the hell out of me -- and for my money, the Wii takes the lead by a mile in that race.

    However, from the perspective of a developer who is doing cross-platform development for PC, Xbox360, PS3, and Wii ... well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice that one of these things is not like the other. This is why I've repeated said (and have been repeatedly "corrected") that Nintendo made a big mistake not making the Wii more powerful. Nintendo has totally dropped out of the Next Gen race and are off doing their own thing. I think it's great, but it isolates the Wii from mainstream console development. And that unfortunately means that the Wii isn't going to see many triple-A titles, titles whose budgets are usually only justifiable to publishers when they can count on them being cheaply ported to multiple platforms. Wii doesn't make it so easy to stuff a PC, Xbox360, or PS3 experience into it's cute little innards. Multi-platform development takes a lowest common denominator approach in order to get a consistent experience on all platforms. The Wii is so backwards in terms of CPU and GPU power that such an approach seriously hampers what's possible on all other platforms. At the end of the day, you want your product to look as good as possible and if that means cutting the Wii out of your plans, so be it, it will happen. Sure, if the Wii continues to sell, you can count on plenty of Wii-only titles, just like there are plenty of GameBoy-only titles. But what you won't get is all the PC/360/PS3 titles. In terms of installed units (PC+360+PS3) > Wii and publishers know that.

    That's why I think Nintendo made a mistake with the Wii, why I agree with Chris Hecker about the anemic Wii specs, and why I hope for a shorter-than-average life-cycle for the Wii with the imminent release of a Next Gen Wii that offers the best of BOTH worlds in terms of graphics zazz and gameplay spazz, hopefully sometime in the next three years.
  • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @12:49PM (#18277600)
    He wants to spend a console's CPU making games more intelligent, and he has found the Wii doesn't have the power to process things like complicated AI.

    With all due respect, this is bullshit. Don't blame the hardware if you aren't a good enough programmer to make it work. This is the problem with today's developers. They expect computers to get faster and faster and need more and more memory because they're too lazy or not resourceful or creative enough to write efficient code.

    One of the reasons why most games suck nowadays and are so boring is because of this very issue. Developers rely too much on hardware, faster graphics and better texture mapping in lieu of actual creative game design. Stop blaming the hardware because you have no creativity and can't program your way out of a paper bag!

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"