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The Circle of Life

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It's an interesting idea when one thinks about shifts in paradigm. In the words of Darth Vader to Obi Wan, right before he made a force-cicle out of him, "The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master."

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I've recently been re-reading Hackers: Heros of the Computer Revolution , which if you haven't read and you're a computer enthusiast or game lover, then I would suggest reading it. It's a great history of computing in general.

I've been working on Barricade again for a solid month now and have been making excellent progress on the game. I would post some updated screen shots, but we are waiting until we get a little more polish to start posting any videos or screens. As I've been making progress on the game and re-reading this book, I've been beginning to think a lot about how things have progressed from the 1970s to where we are now, and how the market and business of game development and computing continues to evolve.

Apple computers was the beginning of the personal computer revolution. Some may say it was the Altair, or maybe a few of the other hobby kits that were available back then, but the apple was the first thing that resembled what we still use to this day. This is common knowledge. What may not be common knowledge however is the ideals that sprang forth the birth of that computer outta Woz's head like a titan giving birth to a god. It wasn't initially inspired by business, but more of a love of computing in general, a love of exploration and creativity. A concept that many apple users carried with them for a long time, this helped to inspire the creation of many other businesses, clubs, ect..

One such business that was inspired by the apple computer was Electronic Arts. I for one, before reading the book the first time many years ago, had no idea that EA was founded as a safe haven for programmers and to help those coders in the early 80?s who were starting to get less royalties from publishers such as Sierra Online and other companies that had made their fortunes in the early eighties.

Here is one of my points, the paradigm shifts. Today , at least as far as I know as an observer, companies like EA are no longer promoting the creativity, innovation, and ideals that they were founded upon. The ideals of giving people creative freedom and helping the individuals who were driving the business back then has taken a back seat to pumping out products in a line of IPs that just don't die. I don't know personally, but have read that creative freedom is extremely lacking and these companies that thrived on letting people have expression and ownership in the games they were developing have now become no more then software machines churning out cookie cutter games with little to no passion. There are exceptions here as there are some good quality games coming out of places like EA, Dead Space being one for example, but this seems to be the exception, not the rule.

The same can be said for Apple. The company founded on a machine that was designed for ease of access and sharing and creativity has become another bureaucracy. Previously filing lawsuits over people wanting to modify their Iphones and completely trying to circumvent people doing so. Also, limiting the transfer of files to and from devices through a proprietary p.o.s. program that is a pain to use is a complete 180 of what Apple once was. It's a sad state of affairs to see all these companies turn to the dark side when they had such grand promise and ideals in their founding.

We are currently in the midst of another era that is quite similar to the early 80s where many indie developers are going to be making bank, enough to startup their own companies and such. I am writing this in the hopes to be a beacon, a reminder that for those that do see success, try to think ahead enough to protect what it is that you are doing, in the future. Business is business, but even if a company is started, does well, and then is turned over to suits in the end, there are still safe guards that can be put into place to make sure a companies visionary roots are not tainted.

Ultimately, I know things can grow so big that the vision can get trampled, but if that is the case, maybe the answer is to simply keep things small and focus on making games that you are passionate about? It will be interesting to see how things continue to change and develop, who knows, maybe the big boys will get back to their roots someday?



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