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GDC 2011



IGDA Business and Legal SIG official

Posted by monalaw, in Sessions, Summits, Education, Business/Management 03 March 2011 - - - - - - · 787 views
IGDA, Business, Legal, Education
A group of IGDA industry professionals and attorneys gathered yesterday at GDC to formalize the new Business and Legal SIG. The meeting was moderated by Dan Rosenthal; approximately 20-30 IGDA members and industry professionals were in attendance. Topics included goals for the new SIG, events and organizational structure. In addition to informational white papers related to business and legal issues in the games industry, the members proposed increased political involvement in addition to a greater focus on globalization/international issues for the SIG.

Members were particularly interested in seeing specific case studies for "freemium", free-to-play, and pay-to-play business models. Additional proposals included a one day business start-up summit and an entrepreneur track for future IGDA events to address the business and legal issues developers face when starting new projects and new studios. The Business and Legal SIG hopes to provide a wide variety of resources for industry professionals, including member-managed information compilation for regional and country tax credit incentives for studios and publishers.

Specifically, the new SIG discussed the possibility of creating a Business and Legal Wiki or other resource management tool that will tie into IGDA's Educational SIG. SIG members also proposed educational outreach in addition to resource compilation. Many members expressed the concern that valuable information doesn't reach academic programs related to game development.

Approximately six IGDA members volunteered to head the SIG's steering committee. If you would like to learn more about the new SIG, visit http://www.igda.org and sign up to join the mailing list.


Keep it Together: Encouraging Cooperative Behavior During Co-Op Play

Posted by mittens, in Sessions, Design 03 March 2011 - * * * * - · 951 views

Patrick Redding, of Ubisoft Montreal, has formerly worked on Far Cry 2 (ie, best first-person game), previously directed the co-op component of Splinter Cell: Conviction. He is now the game director at the new Ubisoft Toronto studio. He started by making a distinction between player cooperation as opposed to systemic cooperation. He referenced a blog post entitled Tahrir: The Game, posing the hypothetical scenario about making a game dealing with non-violent revolutions. "There's a misunderstanding that [...] through the fabric of the twitterverse" that revolutions are somehow giving rise to these revolutions, but that's a fallacious thought. Revolutions start from within a country with people dealing in high-stakes, dangerous situations banding together and forming strong social bonds with one another.

"Players become invested in the success of a collaborative partners" because of that ongoing process of negotiation with other players. It converts selfish motives into those associated with the collective goal of the group.

Redding went on to talk about Minecraft and a server he played on with a bunch of friends -- but, on this server, he actually rarely sees any of his friends on this server. It's largely a server with people building things of their own will. A few weeks ago, he took a break from the game and "it wasn't really a hard break to take." He then signed on a few weeks later, though, and he opened the server and was greeted by these giant land masses and statues and in his absence his friends have created some amazing Inception-like cityscape. "Players respond very, very positively to this collective agency."

"Why do players cooperate?," Redding asked. "How do we achieve the conditions in which shared intentionality" arises in large, big-budget AAA games. Redding went on to discuss the lessons he learned in the co-op component of Splinter Cell: Conviction.

The first big lesson is that "players will work together to optimize system input." In the detection model for Splinter Cell: Conviction, "2x the players [does not equal] 2x the detections" since the players end up working together for their common cause, despite that this is theoretically very possible. The next lesson Redding and his team learned is that "Shared intentionality promotes individual self-expression." At the high-level, players developer strategies. At the mid-level, they create individual, lower scope plans. At the low-level, players make riskier choices in co-op than they do in single-player. And, in mastery, players in co-op are more willing to explore optional paths because they "know that they have a more reasonable chance of regrouping with their team and trying another approach if it doesn't work out."

"Players derive satisfaction from meaningful cooperation" and this meaningful cooperation results in players enjoying the game more. So much so, that players are much more willing to forgive flaws of the game than they are in single-player.

Redding then goes into formal design tools and starts looking for genre-agnostic design tools and tools that are systemic. He starts this discussion with "cooperative dynamics," using the same notion of dynamics as Clint Hocking talking about on Wednesday. "Dynamics are what deliver the final game experience." Redding lists some of the dynamics that they used in Splinter Cell: Conviction, such as "gating/tethering" (a very prescriptive dynamic), "'exotic challenges" ("altered camera/controls for some players"), "punitive systems" and "buffing systems," "assymetric abilities," "survival/attrition," and "combined actions." In explicating the "combined action" dynamic, Redding elaborated with a definition I really liked: "Any game challenge attacks a discrete set of player skills: precision, timing, measurement, management, tactical choice, strategy, puzzle-solving." Beyond this, the solution to the challenge is largely left to player choice.

Redding closed with some of the lessons that he and his team learned from their experience on Splinter Cell: Conviction.


The Failure Workshop

Posted by mittens, in Sessions, Design 02 March 2011 - - - - - - · 1,341 views

Kyle Gabler opens the failure workshop with the story about a game entitled "Robot and the Cities That Built Him" which was to be a project based off of a seven day experimental gameplay project. "Because we're game developers, we started by making a bunch of different units," he said. "This is an indie game! The robots are not destructive, they're a metaphor."

"But that wasn't big enough," he said. Then the game became "Robot and the cities... the musical!" And it started with bunnies jumping through the forest singing "it's a fuzzy wuzzy day." And this is the best thing ever, I think. "Their fuzzy wuzzy skins peels off revealing cold metal beneath."

"...but it's still not fun," he said "and so we did what we should have done six months earlier" and they made a quick prototype with as little production effort as possible. And then they realized the game wasn't fun "or deep or interesting in any way." "The second reason this is horrible is that we had lasers [...] and it just wasn't us. I don't know, I'll never make a game with a sword in it." 2D Boy extrapolated two things from their experience: "No amount of theming will save a bad idea" and the second thing was that "Trying to live up to a previous game is paralyzing."

Then George Fan (of Plants vs. Zombies and Popcap fame) took the stage. He opened his bit with a slide entitled "My Failure Story." He continued with a little background on his history as a child doodling and sketching out game ideas in rough drawings on papers. And he ended this with "Cat-Mouse-Foosball," the first game he made; "hey, [the design] worked for Bomberman, why couldn't it work for Cat-Mouse-Foosball." "I prototyped one level of the game and realized how poorly it played and never bothered with the rest," citing all of the other peripheral design work he did at the start of the project as being a waste of time. Fan then showed a demo that he made in the present of Cat-Mouse-Foosball and considered it an accurate representation, albeit ten years later, of how bad the game was.

"In 2001, I almost quit making games forever..." Fan says in another slide. "The first thing I had to do was recognize the distinction between a thing I was familiar with [illustration] and something I was not [game design]." "Games are more like this complicated machine" rather than a quick sketch someone can envision in their head or jot down on a piece of paper. "[Games just] aren't something you can keep in your head once." This led Fan to his first conclusion: "Start prototyping the game as soon as you can [...] you're not going to know if the game is fun or not until you're actually sitting there playing the game." He ended his presentation by saying "Don't give up! If you love what you do, you will persevere."

Next up in the failure workshop was Matthew Wegner, who founded Flashbang Studios (which started as a casual game development company with only three people). "After we had some money in the bank" a few years later, Flashbang then went on to make a variety of games that were done in, roughly, eight weeks a piece and uploaded to Blurst.com. And this whole process didn't lead Flashbang to any money. Wegner simplified this to saying eight weeks is too little time to make a game like World of Goo but too much time for a game like Canabalt. Flashbang's first game, Offroad Velociraptor Safari, was their first release and accounted for almost a third of all of their traffic. "We set Blurst up in such a way as if it failed [...] we still had a really great time."

Wegner then moved on to Off-Road Velociraptor Safari HD which would take their most popular game and make an HD version of it for consoles. They spent three months on the HD version building off of the web version and preparing it for publisher work. Wegner then showed off the result of this time with the trailer for Offroad Velociraptor Safari HD. "We were definitely pushing in this HD direction [...] and it turned out to be a pretty big mistake. We were currently three people and by calling the game HD" Flashbang was setting unrealistic expectations to everyone who would play the game. "And it turned out that we actually hated working on this" and the act of simply polishing an old game with better graphics and sanded edges. Wegner summarized this with a quote from Dean Karnazes: "Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness."

Summarizing the issues with the HD approach, Wegner related a unicycle example to lead to his eventual point "we weren't willing to fall backwards" and get weird and clever with the game they were working on. The team then redirected a little and attempted to become a bit more non-photorealistic with a cartography look and explore, in similar senses, with the gameplay mechanics. One of the design mistakes Flashbang drew from this redirection is that they failed "design[ing] for players."

Chris Hecker ended the Failure Workshop with his "Rock Climbing Failure." "We're going to concentrate on the failures between 2001 and 2003," Hecker said, joking about ignoring the other independent failures. Hecker talked about everything he was involved with during this period of time that wasn't "ship[ing] the game." He then demoed the game.

"So what went wrong?" he asked. He then listed out: "Technology rat-holing. Non-game distractions. And lack of ass-in-chair." Hecker then demonstrated a ridiculous level of math in Mathematica. It was pretty great. Hecker said all of these failures all boil down to one single problem: "I was scared of game design," continuing, "Design is hard, unpredictable, mysterious, unstable." He concluded by pointing to Spy Party and saying that while all of the aforementioned problems still arise, he is solving the fundamental problem by making sure that everything he does is playable.


GDC 2011 Keynote: Video Games Turn 25

Posted by mittens, in Sessions, Business/Management 02 March 2011 - - - - - - · 1,092 views

Satoru Iwata started his keynote by highlighting the worries of developers in the development community concerned with job security.

"You are the center of the video game universe," he said to the attendees of the GDC 25 keynote, attempting to ease those concerns.

Iwata then moved on to teaching himself programming on his own time, joking that "I concluded that I pretty much had video games figured out." Iwata then talked about meeting and working with Shiguro Miyamoto, saying "I was convinced [my work] was technically superior." Miyamoto's games then outsold Iwata's by a ridiculous margin; Miyamoto 'taught' him: "Content is really king." Iwata confessed that this is when he learned that technology and engineering weren't everything.

In talking about the early days of Nintendo, Iwata said, compared to games today, they were "video game cave men." He talked about wearing different hats, making enough money to pay the rent, and other problems typical of any start-up that we generally don't think about in regards to a company like Nintendo anymore.

Iwata started talking about a large-scale survey they run twice a year that they started in Japan in 2005 and have since expanded that practice to other regions. Iwata then showed a graph showing the "Composition of the U.S. Gaming Population" and how the prominent gender of gamers between ages 4 and 75 switches from being predominately male to being predominately female. Iwata then moved on to show the active gaming population in the United States and Europe, both of which exceed 100M users (with the US exceeding 160M) as of October 2010.

The next topic Iwata tackled was that of "social networks" and "social games." He wanted to clarify the use of the "social" in either of these terms and the widely-believed implication of the term of "social game." He aims to redefine "social" as simply being a large group of people and the activities they choose to engage amongst one another with. Iwata then took the opportunity to promote the role that various Nintendo products have had on smaller-scale social groups (families and the like). "In those early days, being social only meant 'competing.'" Iwata says as he cited that people would connect two Game Boys together with a link cable in order to duel in Tetris.

"I don't want it to seem that Nintendo is taking too much credit for its role in creating the social game," Iwata says. He then cites Call of Duty's role in multiplayer and Microsoft's "considerable investment" in Xbox Live.

The term "must-have" describes something that Iwata feels is so important that every gamer "must have it." "These tend to come from one of three sources," Iwata says, starting by citing hardware itself as a source (using the first Game Boy as an example and the role in incubating portable gaming it played). "Second, there were times when a game itself is must-have [...] names as diverse as Sonic the Hedghog, Just Dance, Grand Theft Auto, Guitar Hero, Angry Birds, The Legend of Zelda, and Tetris." "But, there is a third source of must-have that extends from neither hardware or software [...] it comes from the player itself. It's that social appeal of gaming." Iwata cites how Pokemon mechanically encouraged people to trade their Pokemon with their friends as a reason for why the franchise has been so hugely popular over the year. Iwata also cites "universal appeal" as a reason why so many of Nintendo's games have been so popular over the year.

The keynote then turned into a Nintendo press conference as Iwata took all these principles to talk about Kirby (which was a great story) and the Nintendo 3DS (which was a press conference spiel). Reggie Fils-Aimes also appeared to talk further about the Nintendo 3DS. "It's a system to play games," Fils-Aimes said on numerous occasions as he talked about Netflix and movie trailers.


iPad Games: Touching the World on the Other Side of the Glass (Graeme Devine)

Posted by SHilbert, in Sessions, Smartphone 01 March 2011 - - - - - - · 478 views

This afternoon, accomplished game designer Graeme Devine gave a talk on designing games for the iPad, and why the iPad is a different gaming device than any other platform on the market today -- including the iPhone and iPod Touch. Graeme stated that he believes the iPad is the "best gaming machine on the planet today" (a statement which seems even more bold when considered alongside the fact that he no longer works for Apple.)

First, Graeme described what is different about the iPad. For all iOS devices, the joystick and physical buttons of classic game consoles are gone. An iPad-specific difference, however, is that the positions of the player's hands are quite different on the iPad versus the iPhone or iPod Touch. For example, when holding an iPhone, players generally cradle the phone in both hands, thumbs or fingers from both hands to interact with the device. With the iPad, generally one hand is supports the device from behind, while the other plays the game. He exhorted developers to consider all the ways users will want to hold the device while playing their game, and to factor that into their design choices. He also cautioned developers to play the game in the "wild," not just leaving their iPad flat on the desk, plugged into their Mac while developing, in order to experience these different hand configurations themselves.

Graeme considered the challenges of porting from PC to iPad, saying that there are no easy answers, and frequently many bad choices are made by games during this process. He gives the example of the iWork apps on iPad -- these are completely different than the equivalent apps on a Mac, suggesting that simply replacing the mouse cursor with the user's finger is not adequate. On a PC, you move your mouse, then select an item onscreen, said Graeme; with an iPad, the finger only touches the glass when a selection action is occurring. This is the most "key" difference between a desktop and an iPad, according to Graeme. He used an example of porting a puzzle from his game Clandestiny to iPad, contrasting a "simple" implementation with a carefully designed, iPad-conscious implementation in terms of usability.

Graeme thinks of touching the iPad's glass screen as if he is touching the world directly on the other side of the screen -- in other words, the player's fingers are interacting directly with the world. He cautioned developers not to put up artificial barriers between the user and the game world, such as virtual onscreen D-pads, which he unequivocally dislikes.

Some other aspects of designing for iPad that Graeme mentioned were making good use of the accelerometer to provide subtle 3D effects when the device tilts, and the importance of a high framerate. Although it may not seem important that an app such as Words with Friends runs at 60 Hz, he said, it becomes quite important when the user actually picks up a tile to move it around the screen. You can always throttle down the framerate when the player isn't touching the screen in order to save battery, he said.

After this, Graeme enumerated his list of best practices for iOS development, and development in general. These were as follows, paraphrased roughly:

  • Do play tests with other people every day, and make sure to hold your tongue while watching others play your game. "You do not come with the game," he said, so the only way your game will improve is if you do not help the play test subject while he or she tries your game.
  • Make your app playable on Day 2. With the short schedules common on iOS projects, the luxury of spending months on an engine before getting to gameplay is not available. As much play testing time as possible is necessary.
  • The user should never have to manually save a game. The game should save automatically when they press the home button.
  • App startup time is important. According to Graeme, over 3 seconds is too much. 10+ seconds risks people never playing your game again.
  • Don't release as soon as your game can possibly be released -- spend at least 2 weeks polishing before you submit to iTunes Connect.
  • "When in doubt, refer to the Zombieland rule set." Graeme suggests that the series of "rules" enumerated in the 2009 movie Zombieland come in handy in all situations.
  • "What you are saying when you put a virtual D-pad is... my game is better with a joystick." The best games on the app store do not have virtual D-pads.
  • Make sure your app gracefully supports being interrupted by notifications, home button presses, etc.
  • If you are going to implement gestures in the game, be sure to give the player some sort of feedback as to what gesture the game "thinks" the player is doing well before they complete it. The player should get feedback as soon as their gesture starts, not have to wait until it completes and wonder why it wasn't recognized.
  • "A quick rant about reality": In short, Graeme feels realism is overrated for games. He believes time is much better spent focusing on gameplay. You cannot "go wrong" with gameplay the way you can while attempting to achieve visual realism. He gave the example of Hollywood sets, which look real on film but have completely unnatural lighting environments.
  • Lastly: "It's a game!" Graeme tells developers to "delight" their players, and create games that give them narratives to tell others the next day at the water cooler. He says that games that provide a narrative that can be easily described in words are the best.
He finished the talk with an exhortation to "make something fantastic," saying "the games industry is the best industry in the world."


A Debate: Are Social Games Legitimate?

Posted by mittens, in Sessions, Summits, Social & Online Games 01 March 2011 - - - - - - · 1,130 views

The "A Debate: Are Social Games Legitimate?" panel opened with moderator Margaret Robertson (Moderator), and then went on to allow each panelist a small amount of time to make an opening statement on their pre-existing opinions on the matter of social games. This started with Ian Bogost, then Daniel James, Nabeel Hyatt, and finished with Curt Bererton. The order of these panelists seemed, intentionally or unintentionally, to take the order of "most negative" to "most positive" feelings towards social games.

Ian "Cow Clicker" Bogost is, in fact, in the house.

Moderator Margaret Robertson opened with a discussion of the panel's title and mused about the use of the word 'legitimate' in the title by saying "[i]nstead of 'legitimate," are these things... "evil?" She then polled the audience on a variety of social game-related questions. All told, the audience of the panel largely consists of people who make social games. When asked who in the audience plays socialgames, a majority raised their hands; when further asked who played these games for fun, a majority of those hands dropped.

Ian Bogost starts talking by illustrating the amount of high fructose corn syrup in a variety of food products (and points out its presence in unexpected foodstuffs like bread). Bogost wonders if Facebook is doing to friendship if what the leading maker of high fructose corn syrup is doing to food: homogenizing them. Bogost then tosses Zynga into the mix, insisting "you can toss any company into this mix but, you know, the colors matched." Bogost asks the point "is this the way we want to bring this infrastructure" to dealing with friends.

Daniel James started his bit by pointing out that this panel is partially for entertainment so the things said should not be thought to completely elucidate the panelists' opinions. He says "it's interesting that games like Farmville can be considered 'virtual world' games." "It's up to all of us to make ethical decisions about how we spend our time" and considering how the output of a creative work will be used by the end-user. James went on to to discuss the validity of making gambling games (slot machines used as reference) and that doing so would evoke a large amount of personal distress if his games relied too heavily on gambling tricks.

"First things, these games are very fun to play... but they're also a lot of fun to make," says Nabeel Hyatt to open up his opening dialogue on the panel. He relays an anecdote about a woman playing Cafe World and getting together with her like-aged and -gendered friends who all get together with their laptops and play Cafe World together while talking. Hyatt then goes on to talk about Brian Reynolds (who is, largely, responsible for FrontierVille at Zynga) who said that social games were the only area that Reynolds could go where he could "be a game designer." He concluded by saying a lot of people are not in social games "for the money, they just want to hone their craft."

The final opening statement came from Curt Bererton who started by calling him and his coworekrs "the indie evil" (for becoming a small company that makes social games). "You could say we're using metrics to make high-fructose slot machines," but what you end up with is "actual social value and an excuse to talk to [your family] more often." He also adds that since they started playing social games, "I actually talk to my family more." Bererton ends with an anecdote that he could send his mom a "birthday cupcake" in a social game and that's "pretty special."

The panelists then start open discussion with ways to get people talking to their friends and working with other people they know in these social games. Hyatt insists that while games that have strong social ties are effective in getting people to play and talk to one another, that they are actually "more insidious" (he goes on to cite a World of Warcraft raid group getting people into the game for a raid).

On the topic of user metrics, Hyatt says that "some companies use metrics and [it's essentially] pumping out sugar" but that only works for so long. He continues by saying "as evil as you can be with metrics, [...] they can also be used for good things too. [Metrics] also allow you to make better games." Bogost retorts "it doesn't matter how fun these kinds of games are to play, but is it the kind of fun we want" to have. Bererton responds to Bogost by saying that "in the broader strokes of things, these are all a waste of time," and in the broader scheme of things, he'd rather feel like it's a waste of time made better with friends. Bogost says the social game platform "is built on a foundation that I think is troublesome."

"Metrics are a measurement of people's behavior," Hyatt says and continues that metrics get "the game designer out of the ivory tower." Metrics on social games allow a direct feedback loop rather than a designer working on something for three-four years and espousing their opinions before they get any direct feedback from the audience.

Bogost says that the existing social game infrastructure "feels bad." Bererton responds to him that there is a lot of real social value on Facebook now. "I don't have a problem with making money [...] I just think the question is how we do so," Bogost says.

Margaret Robertson asks: "Should social games have ethics policies." "I think a lot of people do have unwritten ethics policies," Bererton responds, "and sometime they look at a feature and say 'I don't think we should be putting this out here.'" Hyatt brings out Jesper Juul's quote "social games are the video games of video games" (in the sense they are the games fighting for legitimacy in an industry fighting for legitimacy). Bogost says "we need not love every form of games, we need to be allowed to ask questions about the kind of games people want to make."

Bererton thinks the "hardcore industry" looks at social games as "not games." He goes on to say "You can't just say all modern art sucks just because you like impressionism." The discussion then goes to the point that if you can't ask questions and argue the validity of a certain type of game, then "what's the point?"

Hyatt is quick to defend the platform by saying that "there are reams of anecdotal evidence that social games are adding real value to people's lives."

"So... So long as social games are doing more good than evil, it's okay that they're doing evil?" Robertson quips in response before ending the discussion and opening the panel to questions.


The Journey to Creating Shank

Posted by mittens, in Sessions, Summits, Indie Games 01 March 2011 - - - - - - · 1,233 views

Jamie Cheng, one of the founders of Klei Entertainment, started his presentation on the team's development on Shank by showing a graph of Klei's games getting "[m]ore and more violent over time" starting with Eets, then Sugar Rush, and culminating in their most recent game, Shank. Klei experimented with the game early on by creating a quick demo of Shank in Flash and was done over a weekend; a lot of the moves were in and the demo, on the whole, gave them the confidence to move forward. The actual Shank character design came a few weeks later. Within two months, Klei had a very capable demo of Shank with a representative character design, a good sample of moves and abilities and combat flow.

With so much of the game representative in the early prototype, Cheng joked "What did we do for the next year?" Over the next year, Klei worked on the engine, polish, and the necessary work for releasing the game for multiple platforms. Publishers were telling Klei not to show the game, because that would "hinder [their] ability to promote the game." And Klei chose to, largely, ignore that and show the game (because it's "[theirs] to show") at PAX 2009 using a box gotten from Home Depot that was decorated pretty impressively to demo the game to PAX 2009 attendees.

Cheng moved on to discuss the "[t]echnically hard things" for Klei. The first mentioned were that the Playstation 3 port wasn't anywhere near ready for release with Klei only having about four months to their release date. Another issue was the 2GB download of Shank, of which 1.4GB were all in the game's cinematics. The last of the listed big, technical issues during development were the fragmentation issues on the Xbox 360 that were leading to great disparity in loading times and other issues during testing.

Klei worked on thirteen levels in three months after only having two playable, polished levels to show off to people. At one point on Shank's development, their development office also flooded due to a neighbor's dishwasher that flooded their office with water. Despite the flooding, though, their computers (which had their power supplies at the bottom of the case), survived three-four inches of flooding. Somehow.

Some of the post-release statistics on Shank: Average session duration for Shankplayers was 56 minutes. It had a 26% conversion rate on Xbox Live Arcade. And 30% of people who played the game (on normal mode) finished the game. An interesting thing that Klei learned after launch was the difference between "Aggressive vs. Defensive players." The team learned that aggressive players learned and loved the control scheme a lot due to the smooth combat transition, but that defensive players who wanted to run away from fights ran into issues with the control scheme since it wasn't really intended for that play style and it just felt "sticky."

The publisher relations with EA were a mix of "Less Good" and "Good." In the "Less Good" column was "arbitrary deadline," "'olde style' PR" ("press releases are horrible!"), "consumer expectations," and "possibly reduced upside" (versus self-funding). In the "Good" column, however, was the "creative freedom," "'true' support," "multiplatform," "marketing," "marketing," "reduced risk," and "less platform requirements." Cheng, overall, feels that the choice of EA as a publisher was largely a positive thing for the game as, otherwise, the game likely may not have shipped.

"Well, how'd we do?" Shank "sold more in the first 24 hours than Eets: Showdown did [in its] lifetime." XBLA reported 41,000 units in the first week but "multiplatform release was key for profitability." The game has had a particularly "long tail" on Steam, however, and Cheng waxed positively about Steam's role.

Overall, Shank had three months of prototyping, nine months of tools, and six months of miscellaneous other work. The crunch for Shank was largely on the designers and artists as the game was very content-heavy in a short timespan, but the engineers only had to work a couple weekends over the course of the game's entire development. It was a pretty tough time for the team (at times), Cheng said, but overall it ended up working out.

Cheng ended the session with his "thoughts on the future..." He cited the potential of the downloadable space but that, right now, the ceiling is relatively low. "The best breakout hits in the console downloadable space are making < $10M in profit, and there are comparably low number of games." He added that "the platforms really need to push the numbers upward and keep adding great features if they want this space supported and working in the long run." Cheng cited the role of Microsoft's XBLA "Summer of Arcade" which makes kings out of certain games, but other games get left in the periods before and after and get lost (comparatively).





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