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A Horrible Industry


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#21 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 18837

Posted 26 June 2012 - 01:16 PM

The OP wasn't talking about working conditions so much as creative freedom and the drive to produce shlock that consumers will buy en masse. Nobody really disputes that industry working conditions could use some help in a lot of studios, but then, there's also terrible places to work outside of games as well, so... meh.

My worst experiences have been outside of games.

Inside games I have had relatively good management, well-scoped projects, and managers who were understanding about QoL issues.

Outside games I have had bosses who didn't understand what a five-day work week was about, who felt that federal labor laws for overtime were overbearing.



I've learned what to look for when it comes to QoL. It applies both inside and outside the industry:

The biggest factors are average age of the workers and turnover rates. Low turnover and older workers means they treat people well. Most older people don't put up with that kind of crap for long. If the company manages to retain older and experienced workers then they are generally doing many things right.



Pulling back on topic, the creative juices for a multi-million dollar AAA project flow very differently than the creative juices from a 3-person team. The former has the original designers and producers craft their idea into a snowball, and eventually it turns into an avalanche where nobody has much input on its direction. It gets big, it gets awesome, it will impact millions, but somewhere along the line everyone's individual creativity gets subsumed. The latter is more like a block of marble and some chisels. They can take all the time they need to develop their art, and be the only ones interested in its success or failure. Hopefully they can craft a piece of art, but odds are it will die in obscurity.

The vast majority of games are tiny (often incomplete) art pieces that nobody has heard of, and nobody ever will.

The larger games that is known by many hundred million people have grown into money-needing creations like you describe. You may not like the way they grew, but big budgets (and therefore monetization) is the only reliable way they can reach the masses.

Edited by frob, 26 June 2012 - 01:18 PM.

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#22 slayemin   Members   -  Reputation: 2043

Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:38 PM

Money is votes, and games which get the most money get voted the highest. Game companies which see their games earning lots of money will naturally assume that there's interest in a sequel. It's a safer bet to invest your money into a sequel for a popular game which already has an established player base than to invent a brand new IP. That's why we see a lot of companies making lots of version of Call of Duty, The Sims, Diablo, Halo, Deus Ex, etc. There is quite a bit of new and fresh content within the sequels (there has to be, or the sequel to the sequel will fail).

If you really want to see lots of innovation in the industry, support the indie devs with your dollars :) Ten dollars may not be much for a few hours of entertainment, but it means life and relief for the indie devs. Their first project may not have been the best it could be due to limited resources (time, money, people). If they get funding, they can spend more time making fresh new games with more resources at their disposal, so everyone wins.

Eric Nevala

Currently a self-employed indie game dev


#23 ddn3   Members   -  Reputation: 1248

Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:46 PM

Horrible industry? Compared to what? Every industry has long hours, poor pay, etc.. On a whole the game industry is better than average, it's an entertainment industry which is open to independents and outsiders, so u get to meet all types of people. Indies can make it, large companies too and everyone in between. The entry barrier is low so it just takes some work and there are even trade schools now. Will you get that perfect job? We'll not right away but if your good u can make it into the top studios.

What this industry does offer is inter-disciplinary collaboration and networking. Some of the smartest people go through the games industry before migrating out. You'll also find some of the most talented artists, designers, software engineers, sound artists and musicians as well. You'll never meet or collaborate with such talent working in the banking industry programming backend servers, but you'll make alot more money. If money is all you want, there are much more lucrative software sectors. I don't know about other industries but people within games usually have a passion be it their craft or a dream which got them into the industry in the first place. You'll rarely see that in other fields. There is good, there is bad it's what you make of it.

-ddn

#24 Dmytry   Members   -  Reputation: 1147

Posted 01 July 2012 - 02:00 PM

I don't see myself working in any game studio. There is not much innovation going on, the pay is not very good, etc. Overall though, game industry is one of few places where an individual or small group of people can make complete product, sell it, and profit. Except very few have required skill and discipline. There's also some demand 'slots' for popular games that end up taken by simple stuff like bejewelled, but getting those is a lottery among the many with competent, working games, and I think most common mistake people make is trying to imitate something from this category (angry birds for example). There's only a place for very few mega-hits within any genre at any time, and you end up with a lot of games that are very good, and one of them ends up making hundred millions, and you think, that was the best game, but it was mostly random between many such 'best games'.
My game The Polynomial is now available on Steam. | The Polynomial homepage | Cloud and terrain rendering |Everything i said in that post is obviously ABSOLUTE TRUTH my unhumble opinion.

#25 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 925

Posted 01 July 2012 - 02:13 PM

Oh, god, don't tell people that success is random Dmy, it scares them and consequently makes them angry. I've seriously gotten death threats from pointing out that WoW became the most popular MMO because of a unique confluence of popular IP, minimal competition, and extensive advertising and awareness outside of the core gaming demographic.

#26 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14273

Posted 01 July 2012 - 02:15 PM

I don't see myself working in any game studio. There is not much innovation going on, the pay is not very good, etc.


That depends a hell of a lot on the studio.

There are good places to work, and they do plenty of innovative stuff, with competitive pay rates with non-gaming programming jobs. They're hard as hell to break into, sure, but they do exist.


It's the same in any industry or any career. If you want to work for the top 1% of companies, you better be a top 1% employee. Life in the first two standard deviations is not all roses and rainbows in any business. I've had my share of experiences like frob's in the non-games software world where the quality of life was utter rubbish - both as a contractor and as a full-time employee. Overall it comes down to how hard you're willing to work to get into a good position, and how qualified you are to stay on track in that position over time.

Compared to the horror stories I hear coming out of the supposedly "good" employers in the non-games software world, I'm pretty damn happy to be working for a studio.

#27 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1693

Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:28 PM

Oh, god, don't tell people that success is random Dmy, it scares them and consequently makes them angry. I've seriously gotten death threats from pointing out that WoW became the most popular MMO because of a unique confluence of popular IP, minimal competition, and extensive advertising and awareness outside of the core gaming demographic.


And like ten years of RTS games where a whole generation grew up with the lore and the world. WOW was not build in a few years. The build up of the WOW universe took many years and yaa no one could foreseen that it would be so popular Posted Image Also the smart advertising strategy by using cult like people(Chuck Noise, Ozzy Osborne, A team members(the TV series from the 80'ies etc)) has all turned out to be a success. If you got the money you can move the snowball which in the end will increase in size. Also the concept has gone more main stream in the game design so no one needs to read much and instead just point and click etc. etc. But of course that is all just random and not about a company doing its research well Posted Image

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

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#28 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:43 PM

Oh, god, don't tell people that success is random Dmy, it scares them and consequently makes them angry. I've seriously gotten death threats from pointing out that WoW became the most popular MMO because of a unique confluence of popular IP, minimal competition, and extensive advertising and awareness outside of the core gaming demographic.

Why do you think the latter part of your comment is random? WoW's success wasn't random at all. Maybe you mean pointing out that something doesn't become successful because it is the best product is what you mean?

#29 phantom   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6786

Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:40 PM


I don't see myself working in any game studio. There is not much innovation going on, the pay is not very good, etc.


That depends a hell of a lot on the studio.


It also depends on what you want to get out of working there.

I'm a 'nuts and bolts, tools and tech' kinda guy - I making good and cool solutions to problems to let game teams make games. They give me requirements, I make shizzle happen.

I couldn't give a damn about the games themselves, if the game play mechanics are good or whatever, I just get satisfaction out of doing my job well.

Fortunately I seem to have landed in the Rendering team of the Central Tech department of the company I work for so have a fair amount cool rendering stuffs I can work on :D

#30 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 925

Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:57 PM


Oh, god, don't tell people that success is random Dmy, it scares them and consequently makes them angry. I've seriously gotten death threats from pointing out that WoW became the most popular MMO because of a unique confluence of popular IP, minimal competition, and extensive advertising and awareness outside of the core gaming demographic.

Why do you think the latter part of your comment is random? WoW's success wasn't random at all. Maybe you mean pointing out that something doesn't become successful because it is the best product is what you mean?


Random probably wasn't the best word.

#31 cry tears   Members   -  Reputation: 107

Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:15 AM

I think money and the majority of gamers, is the important. but no matter what thing, with people as the key, the only people who are interested in, can design the do better and more attractive.
Render farm, rendering the happy life!

#32 Dmytry   Members   -  Reputation: 1147

Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:31 AM


I don't see myself working in any game studio. There is not much innovation going on, the pay is not very good, etc.


That depends a hell of a lot on the studio.

There are good places to work, and they do plenty of innovative stuff, with competitive pay rates with non-gaming programming jobs. They're hard as hell to break into, sure, but they do exist.


It's the same in any industry or any career. If you want to work for the top 1% of companies, you better be a top 1% employee. Life in the first two standard deviations is not all roses and rainbows in any business. I've had my share of experiences like frob's in the non-games software world where the quality of life was utter rubbish - both as a contractor and as a full-time employee. Overall it comes down to how hard you're willing to work to get into a good position, and how qualified you are to stay on track in that position over time.

Compared to the horror stories I hear coming out of the supposedly "good" employers in the non-games software world, I'm pretty damn happy to be working for a studio.


Well, I know Valve is pretty good, and they pick up projects like Portal... but overall I dunno, I just don't see any of big guys making something particularly new. Even something as old as generating unique faces is omg super innovative there. The other software industry is also not very good of course. It's all mostly redoing old shit over and over again everywhere with few exceptions (Google's self driving car for example of real exception).

I just don't see how a big name studio would end up paying me as much as I got on Polynomial. Someone might, now, after I've released a competent game, but now I can make a next game and avoid the mistakes I made, and that should pay off better. (Polynomial was my first game. There's one thing I am sure I did right - going very obsessive on polish - and it was correct to make very basic gameplay for the first game - but it'll be better to have more diverse gameplay in the second)

Regarding role of luck: it shouldn't be either overstated or understated... something like angry birds, well, there's a lot of such games, many of them good, just 1..2 uberpopularity slots, whichever takes them is up to luck because nobody's really doing some sort of careful comparing like in sports. On the other hand, mmorpgs, that's heavy monetary investments, someone puts in more money than anyone else (including into marketing), has actually a good game, and captures the niche, not a lot up to luck.

Edited by Dmytry, 02 July 2012 - 08:34 AM.

My game The Polynomial is now available on Steam. | The Polynomial homepage | Cloud and terrain rendering |Everything i said in that post is obviously ABSOLUTE TRUTH my unhumble opinion.

#33 Pleistorm   Members   -  Reputation: 148

Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:36 AM

I don't think that masses are dictating something. They believe what the media said and media says what was paid for. Most people believe in what they hear or read not too much on their experience. That is normal because today more people are playing games and the level is going down.
There are so many games which had excelentn first and second versions (or games) and then when companies grows they produced garbages. Look at Cossacks->American Conquest->Cossacks II; or Stronghold; or AOE 2 compared to AOE 3. Many good games were forgotten, no way to buy them, no mods, no new things, no working servers.
Companies are becoming larger and spent more money to do the same work with worse quality. Especially these tamagochies-free browser games called RTS...

#34 slayemin   Members   -  Reputation: 2043

Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:01 AM

I don't think that masses are dictating something. They believe what the media said and media says what was paid for. Most people believe in what they hear or read not too much on their experience. That is normal because today more people are playing games and the level is going down.
There are so many games which had excelentn first and second versions (or games) and then when companies grows they produced garbages. Look at Cossacks->American Conquest->Cossacks II; or Stronghold; or AOE 2 compared to AOE 3. Many good games were forgotten, no way to buy them, no mods, no new things, no working servers.
Companies are becoming larger and spent more money to do the same work with worse quality. Especially these tamagochies-free browser games called RTS...


Money is votes, and games which get the most money get voted the highest. Game companies which see their games earning lots of money will naturally assume that there's interest in a sequel. It's a safer bet to invest your money into a sequel for a popular game which already has an established player base than to invent a brand new IP. That's why we see a lot of companies making lots of version of Call of Duty, The Sims, Diablo, Halo, Deus Ex, etc. There is quite a bit of new and fresh content within the sequels (there has to be, or the sequel to the sequel will fail).


Note that if you're planning on releasing a new sequel or version every year or two, your next release is going to be competing with your current release. Every version of Microsoft Word is a very good word processor. Once you have a good word processor, why buy the next version? Keeping that in mind, would you intentionally leave out features from your current release so that you can include them in the next release? If yes, then your current release is slightly crappier. If you do it too much, you run the risk of gaining the reputation that your last release was crap. If you make the most perfect software you can possibly make, you can't release a subsequent version which improves on it, and thus are out of business. This might be a plausible explanation on why the quality goes down for franchises which have a monopoly on a segment of the market.

Edited by slayemin, 03 October 2012 - 10:07 AM.

Eric Nevala

Currently a self-employed indie game dev


#35 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

Posted 07 October 2012 - 02:06 AM

I am a musician. I joined this site hoping to start making music for video games.

You want to talk about bad industries, I can send you to quite a few musicians to talk to! haha




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