One thing that _really_ disturbs me about the developer/publisher relationship, is that in a lot of cases, you see on the box...
Now, if the publisher paid the development studio just to create a game with the publishers ideas/IP then that seems logical, but in the new world of games it seems that in a lot of cases, Publisher and Developer are two different entities now, wherein back in the day (when games were good IMO) ususaly the company that developed a game, published that game.
Flashback to the early->mid 90's and for the adventure genre (the one I am most concerned with), you had:
Sierra - Kings Quest,Space Quest,Quest for Glory,Phantasmagoria,etc.
Lucas Arts - Monkey Island, Fate of Atlantis, The Dig,Full Throttle,etc.
Infocom(later activision) - Zork Serries
I may be leaving some major players out, but back then those were the big guys in game development, and I was perfectly happy with that, you didn't hear me saying (BOOO! to big game development) mainly because (to the best of my knowledge) It was _really_ about making good games back then; sure everyone needed to turn a profit, and unfortunetly some didn't. Like any business they needed to grow and produce more, more profits less overhead, and this led to the war on marketshare.
Each company wanted to reach as many players as possible, unfortunetly thier games wern't neccisarily liked by everyone, and so in the pursuit of profits we observed the transition to what I like to call "Fast Food Game Development". I use this term to describe games that are produced with the only or primary goal of just selling lots and lots of copies, not because they are original, but because marketing gimicks are used to cater to the audience, playing upon the marketing-zombified nation.
Sbout a decade later we now seem to be knee deep in this kind of game development. Every time a hit movie comes out, you can _bet_ that a game will already be in the works even before it hits the screen.
Now, I try not to be a mindless hater, so I have tried some of these games, most of which are of the 3rd person shooter'esc type, In particular I picked up "the fellowship of the ring" It was _the_ worst game I have ever played, it's game mechanics were horrible, but of course it had nice 3d graphics with effects, and thus that brings me to my next section.
I belive that we can boil down gamers (roughly) to two types:
Gamers who like action
Gamers who like story
There is of course some cross-over, but it comes down to, some people like fast paced gameplay, and others like to take thier time and think about things.
As the head of my development group, I have chosen that we currently keep our primary focus on story and thought/discovery driven gameplay. In Morning's Wrath, we have integrated lots of action as well, which helps to mix things up.
However, the market as a whole now seems to concetrait on the flashier side of things:
-Fast paced action!
-Eye Gouging resolution!
This of course isn't a rule, there are some good games out there, it is just not the norm.
Why we do want a publisher:
-A publisher can potentialy get our game out to more people than we can
-A publisher can 'eat' production costs and overhead
-A publisher could fund our next subsequent game
This seems all well and good, and if this was the end all of it, then we would go for it lickedy split.
Why we Dont want a publisher:
-A publisher has the right to sell your game in any manner possible(I can see MW now as part of 1000 games for windowsXP)
-A publisher does not care about your vision or ideals(they want money, and if that means pimping your game in a manner that you feel degrades it, so be it!)
Case in point:
When I was unemployed and working on MW, I spoke with a company that was 'interested' in publishing MW. During the meeting with them they said, and I quote.
"Yeah we could definetly do somthing with this, if you could lose all of the battle parts, and change the story line a bit. We would like to see somthing with more wizards, since wizards seem to be popular these days. Maybe if you made it more like Lord of the Rings."
I was appaled, and needless to say, I took myself and my demo disk from that place very quickly. I would take a 'lot' for me to comprimise our vision just for money, It would have to insure that by sacrificing one game we could continue to produce other games according to our vision.
Here is the basic rundown:
-We don't like the state of the game industry.
-We don't want anyone telling us what our game should be.
-We don't want our primary goal to be money,money,money.
-We want to sell our games, but not our souls.
-We need to make enough money to survive and continue
So chances are we wont be having a publisher; this is our game, we've spent years to make it, we are going to sell it and reap the benefit and we will decide what is best for it. If we fail in this attempt then at least we can hold our heads high and say we gave it our best shot and never comprimised our vision for profit.