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The ideal game industry

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I realize that a lot of people see the games the mainstream game industry releases as uninteresting and not innovative. While I see this come up a lot of places, the Yann L leaving thread (in the graphics forums) made me decide to post this. One of his major reasons for leaving the game industry is because he feels this way. I personally believe that while there are a ton of bad games and clones out there, there are enough interesting and innovative games out there to keep me interested, but then again I generally buy and play 1-5 games a year unlike a lot of hardcore gamers that buy that many games a month. I think that most of the best selling titles are in some way innovative or at least very high quality (the rest tend to be popular liscenses, but that''s a different topic.) I also don''t think things have suddenly changed. There have always been a ton of bad games and clones and there have been, IMHO, points in time where cloning and lack of innovation has been a lot worse than it is now (when everyone was making crappy Doom clones, or when everyone was making bad Warcraft clones for example.) My question is, what would people consider an ideal game industry? What kind of products would they create? What do you consider innovative and is innovation really what the industry needs. Should there be less of a focus on technology, more of a focus on technology? It would be best to consider financial issues. For example, I would like an industry that produced a lot fewer games but spent more time on them so they would have very high production values, but this is a big risk, because even if you could guarentee that all of your products are excellent it doesn''t mean that enough people will buy them. Also try not to come up with dream technology or extremely lofty games that can''t be implemented.

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Its all about making games that move money. Tech is not important unless it moves money.

If tech make a game stand out AND if the content is there to back it up (which is becoming more and more expensive every year, as the content requires more and more work to create), then a focus on it is important.

Who are you asking this question? Gamers, developers in a fantasy world, developers in the real world, or publishers?

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It''s very very simple. Independent publishing would solve all (well.. most) the problems of the industry and make everything great.

[to clarify; with independent publishing i mean developers releasing their games on the internet instead of going via publishers and out to shops]

Let''s all hope that steam works well. If it does then independent publishing might actually start working (it would come slowly of course).

With independent publishing the prices on the games would go down alot (maybe by as much as 50%) and the developers would still get TONS more money than they do today. Only problem would be advertising but you could hopefully hire another company to do that.

Of course you would still be able to buy games in the stores in boxes. It will always be profitable since many people would not want/be able to/know about the whole online thing. Plus people like to get something physical when they make a buy. But with 50% lower prices i think many would still start buying games online and that would make it possible for independent publishing to even exist. And from there goes the road to a much brighter future in the games industry

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quote:
Original post by BrianL
Who are you asking this question? Gamers, developers in a fantasy world, developers in the real world, or publishers?

Well, most of the people here are developers in a fantasy world (amateurs) or gamers (or some combination), so I guess that''s the perspective I want. I don''t want a total diregard for money if it can be avoided, but if your ideal industry isn''t financially viable at all, go ahead and post that.

I started this thread because a lot of people complain about the game industry. I want to know what would make them say "The game industry is great, I wouldn''t change a thing about it."

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quote:
Original post by Origin2052
It''s very very simple. Independent publishing would solve all (well.. most) the problems of the industry and make everything great.


Yeah this sounds like a good idea. This is big among independent game developers, but they generally don''t make titles that appeal to hardcore gamers. I bought GalCiv online not too long ago, but I also ordered a physical copy, just because I like to have a disc incase something happens (and I had to reinstall from the disc once, so it was important.)

I also hope that Steam goes well for Valve. If you think about it, a developer like Valve can make a lot more money selling a game online for a cheaper price than they would in retail. And with a high profile game like HL2, they can probably sell at least 100,000 online copies of HL2 to hardcore gamers (especially if the game is available online before it''s available in retail.) If Valve ends up making 3-4 times what they would in retail because they can directly pocket the money instead of having to go through publishers, distributors, retail channels, etc. they''re in a very good position.

I could see this being pretty big in the next generation of consoles also (supposedly the Phantom console works this way...) I would see the bigger titles all being retail, simply because they get more exposure, but it would be nice if Microsoft or Sony released cheaper independent devkits and allowed smaller developers to make downloadable games, like the way cellphone game development works now.

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quote:

I could see this being pretty big in the next generation of consoles also (supposedly the Phantom console works this way...) I would see the bigger titles all being retail, simply because they get more exposure, but it would be nice if Microsoft or Sony released cheaper independent devkits and allowed smaller developers to make downloadable games, like the way cellphone game development works now.




The last thing the major console players are going to want is a bunch of potentially inferiour games that make their console look unattracive. This is what happened to the Atari 2600 - so many games were crap that the console lost momentum due to loose licensing rules and hacked manufacturing.

I'm not convinced that an independant game industry would make a lot of money. If you look at the independant film industry, people work long hours, have friends who volunteer their time, apply for grants from government agencies or independant corporate sponsors, and lose tonnes of money. Once an independant film maker becomes successful he is no longer an independant film maker - he is making films within the film industry. This seems to be the way I can see independant game development working.

Forgive me if my facts are wrong, but isn't this exactly what id. software did? They had shareware and freeware games (commander keen, castle wolfenstied 3D) and eventually made good enough cames that they began working in the standard games industry develope, market, publish, distribute, get rich kind of way.

Not to say that independant game development isn't worthwhile, or valid, but the costs of making a game heavy in content is simply too expensive for smaller teams. Independant games may be novel, well designed, fun, stylized in ways the mainstream can't afford to risk, but they will always be different. Not worse, not better, but different.

I propose that the independant games industry be not about making more money, but about taking more risks, the same as the film industry. Some of the best films realeased independantly challenge the status quo of film making. They take on hard topics to discuss, or use film in a different way than hollywood.

If you have an invotative game concept, run with it - make it the best damn game you can, but don't expect to get rich - expect it to be the way you move into the games industry as a company on your own terms.

Just my 2 cents.


[edited by - Sphet on November 15, 2003 2:47:54 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Sphet
The last thing the major console players are going to want is a bunch of potentially inferiour games that make their console look unattracive. This is what happened to the Atari 2600 - so many games were crap that the console lost momentum due to loose licensing rules and hacked manufacturing.


Yeah that could happen. I should have been more clear with my idea though. There would still be quality control and stuff, I''m not saying the console should be flooded with crappy games. I see it more as a way for smaller casual games to get on console as cheap ($5-$10) downloads rather than a way for amateurs to flood consoles with crappy unfinished games. This way you can have fun puzzle games, 2D platformer, schmups, etc. as well as maybe some quikier niche games, available for download on consoles where they can make some (if not much) money as opposed to being in retail where the overhead of manufacturing and self space would make them not worth it.

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Unfortunately the big industry is trapped not only by the suits who think being able to spell "million" makes them any better at taking decisions than developers but also by the huge hype machine that drives the industry but also forces a very limiting mindset on it: games must have top notch technology, games must have 40+ hours of gameplay, games must use the latest features of 3D video cards, RTS games must have 50+ unit types, games must have great pre-rendered intros etc. etc. The retail madness makes it even worse: artificial deadlines, short product life span and so on.

I choose making shareware games: it may be hard to get on this scene and make real profits, but at least its a sane world to be in: no crunch time or deadlines, my beloved game I worked so much on won''t dissappear two months after release (in fact I get to work on it and improve it to perfections for years), I get to make _all_ the choices and all the coding (no nonsense technology to drag me down), I get fewer customers but each of them is much more important to me (the royalties I get are huge compared to the retail industry - and they have bought my game because they liked it a lot - not because of hype).

As for the money side, it''s true income is often non-existant (Pax Solaris is getting around 1 sale a day - pretty good actually), but then profits are bound to increase as the game gets better - and shareware games sell for many years.

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I miss the days when "Slash your way through hoards of drooling, evil monsters!" meant use your imagination to make ''@'' hack down hundreds of ''D''s - Not "LOOK AT OUR HIGH POLY MODELS AND REALISTIC LIQUID PHYSICS FOR MONSTER SLOBBER!"

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Hehe now that''s just nostalgy. I have nothing against today''s graphics, but I don''t have anything against ascii games. I played ADOM for a long while but after dieing I really don''t fell like going back.

There''s gotta be something that independant developers can give that big companies can''t, maybe it''s the of all those limitations that are imposed to the game, or a lower cost.

There''s gotta be a room for both worlds in this reality Hey think about this, if 3D games has been made first (like there wasn''t hardware limitations at the beginning) ascii would probably be despised by everyone!! O_o And even independant developers would aim at that as the lowest posible graphics...

But I don''t know, I haven''t sold any game so I can''t really say my opinion counts.

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I think things are shapeing up nicely for the inde developer scene...One thing that helps is that the PC tech is much more stable now then it was under DOS (meaning all the extra overhead for supporting different hardware configs and such)...

The biggest plus for Inde PC developers is that a lot more people are buying into computers...meaning there are a host of more traditional console gamers (and some who have never played video games) who are now takeing their first steps in PC land...so a console type Inde game on the PC could find a audiance...erm...I mean something like a platformer...Mario64...Zelda type pick up and play games which the mainstream PC publishers seem to completely ignore...Hmm...could even see about getting a pack in deal with one of the PC gamepad manufactures

But really...the thing that holds the industry back isn''t exactly the publishers, or the marketing people...but the gamers themselves...for every cool little innovative title sold, gamers buy dozens of copies of the lastest flavor in FPS, RTS, RPGs...then seem shocked that there seems to be nothing new anymore...

As far as money...make games to earn a liveing, make games because to love doing it...you are in the wrong buisness if your big goal is to make money...for every "overnight success" like id software and Rockstar games...I can show you hundreds of realistate agents who have made just as much money in LESS time and with LESS effort.

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I''d love to make games the way garage bands make music. They get gigs and sell t-shirts and cd''s at the gigs as well as online, and in local shops.

The way I see it is a garage game developer would make probably small, probably 2d games that were high on fun and multiplayer to. Then they could go to gigs (lan party''s) and sell there highly addictive, fun, playable game for like a fiver and maybe sell some t-shirts. As well as sell there game online and in some local or not so local shops.

I think this could work and I''ll probably try it in a year or two.

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Well I think it would solve alot if the industry would grow up a bit,95% of the industry still lacks any skill when it comes to selling their product. Just look at the tons of bad homepages.....crappy relations with other sites....really crap video spots on tv and so we can go on.

I agrue that this should be solved by getting more countries to train more student in all facets of making games. So the supply side becomes Bigger has more diversity and is certainly more competitive. It is only in their interest cause games is probably one of the biggest grow market for commercial use in the world.

All the people who complain that there is already too much competition are only fixed on details like certain type of games or certain regions.

Get more diversifaction in the market and more customers are drawn to the market..and again only if you properly market the game.



Economics is a subject that does not greatly respect one''s wishes.
-Nikita S. Khrushchev

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More target markets need to be hit. Video Games aren''t played just by acne covered teenagers anymore. Almost everyone has a ps2, xbox, cube or a PC. Cellfones even have games now. Yet still there is a giant flood of fps''s, redundant rpg''s, mmorpgs (even more redundant), and racing games. Simulations have blown up to since the craze of The Sims has hit.
Look back on the industry at some very unexpected hits. Parappa the rappa appealed to all those hiphopper kids and no one expected such a dumb simple game to sell so much. Deer Hunter appealed to fathers of children who owned consoles.. Who woulda ever thought it would spawn a million clones in 5 years? The Sims! Oh man.. how did that one get popular? Must be all those crazy women that love those reality shows.

What about games for markets like.. expectant mothers? University students? people that love country music? musicians? Games that are like sappy dramas or romantic comedys? Games that are more like the movie TheGame where you don''t exactly know whats going on. WhoDunnit games. Games that appeal to the more esotheric people.
We also need more redneck games. Redneck rampage isn''t considered one. its a horrible fps clone. What about a firecracker simulator where all you did was blow things up? a REAL 4x4 game, not 4x4 evolution. Target practice games, like duckhunt, that require a gun of sorts.

there''s plenty of more markets that still have doors unopened. The platforms are out there to reach them, but the markets aren''t coming because there is nothing there for them.


The only way I see indy publishing happening is if it is pushed through shareware facets on the internet. The reason i don''t think this works to well at the moment cause commerce over the internet isn''t quite at its most streamlined yet. Shareware isn''t pushed hard enough either, and most people don''t understand the concept of shareware anymore.
Indy developing is getting ready to explode. Communities are growing, sites are building. There is going to be a new revolution in game creating soon enough. Whether the independant movement will be sheep or herders though is unknown. Hopefully we as developers do have creativity and we haven''t just been blaming all this cloning of software on the suits when its really just us. And Hopefully the suits won''t stamp out this independent wildfire in fear of losing profits.

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Hmmmm... this thread has become interesting. It seems like most people think the ideal situation would be indie games the way they are now but with a lot more visibility.

quote:

Look back on the industry at some very unexpected hits. Parappa the rappa appealed to all those hiphopper kids and no one expected such a dumb simple game to sell so much. Deer Hunter appealed to fathers of children who owned consoles.. Who woulda ever thought it would spawn a million clones in 5 years? The Sims! Oh man.. how did that one get popular? Must be all those crazy women that love those reality shows.


Heh, both Parappa and Sims are good innovative games (I love Parappa) that get good reviews and press and are generally respected within the game industry. The people that don''t respect these games (especially the Sims) are the hardcore "I only play the most popular online FPS, RTS and MMORPGs and everything else sucks" gamers.

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i don''t play any new fps, mmorpgs or strategy games. I''m still living in the age of starcraft an earlier. I dislike the sims for the reason that it is the stupidest video game around. Its a simpleton game.

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I could complain about the games that are out there right now, I could complain about the publishers who request and will only fund crap clones, I could complain about the masses who want and buy only crap clones, I could even complain about the whiny developers who want everything, but no matter what I complain about, it would be inadequate.

I notice that there is a wide range of game dev style out there and once you become professional you, to some extent, are part of the problem. I have been involved with a lot of people who go and find programmers that want to work on their project and think that maybe this person is great at doing what I have so much trouble doing: recruiting. Then I hear the rest of the details.... things like "When you get funding" and "I normally get paid x amount, so when you can afford that". These game designers who apparently have great recruiting skills really don''t. There is a huge difference between a dev that will work on your project for the pure love of it and someone who is only willing to work on your project when you can pay them AT LEAST as much as they''re currently getting paid. The first is a dev that loves the work, the second is a career opportunist.

I can sympathize though. I have a wife and 2 young kids, I need to pay my bills and make ends meet day to day also. However, when you are ready to quit an industry that you started out loving, perhaps you are simply doing things the wrong way. Maybe you need to find another company to work for, or at least find a company that will allow you to work on personal projects so long as they don''t conflict with your work for them. If you love games and can''t find a game company that will allow you to do work that is intriguing, then maybe you need to find a company that you can program stuff just for pay and then work on personal projects in the gaming industry that will feed your love for the work.

Being fair though, I''m not so sure that it''s a game design issue. I think it''s a game industry culture issue. Game publishers want to minimize risk and maximize return. How do you do the first? Don''t take big chances on untried paths. We know the big problem with this though: No new genres, no intriguing technology development, no work where the developers feel that they''re doing anything interesting.

So we come to an impasse. Game developers want to do interesting and groundbreaking work, the publishers want them to do as little actual groundbreaking (read: research level) development as possible unless the company has a history of groundbreaking development. What is the end result? Developers who feel like they''re doing what they got into this industry to avoid: work. Boring, "time to make the doughnuts", live in a cubicle, 9-5, send you to an early grave work.

What are the solutions? Change your workplace, leave the company and let them know EXACTLY why you are leaving, in almost excruciating detail. Sure, you might be taking a pay cut to go elsewhere. You might not even be doing game development, but if you''re not, then there is little reason for you to not do game development in your spare time, such as evenings and weekends. ID software didn''t start with game industry insiders, it was a few guys who just wanted to make games that they liked and be on the cutting edge of game development, or at least the technology. If you want to do that, you need to find like minded people. Sure, you might have just cut your pay by 25%, but you''re doing what you want in a way that will keep you happy. The other solutions involve getting into management, but nobody likes that dirty word

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quote:
Original post by iNfuSeD
i don''t play any new fps, mmorpgs or strategy games. I''m still living in the age of starcraft an earlier. I dislike the sims for the reason that it is the stupidest video game around. Its a simpleton game.

See... this, imo, is one of the big reasons the game industry is lacking innovation. Novel ideas that don''t involve traditional game related activities and themes (running, jumping, fighting, shooting, driving) are often dismissed by hardcore gamers and developers because they see them as stupid or simple, even though they are no more stupid or simple than the latest FPS or your favorite oldschool console RPG, or whatever you happen to be into.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"Mainstream" games suck. And they cost too much. They''re too expensive, have teams 10 times larger than they need to be and take 10 times longer to make than they should. They''re also never any fun to play.

The ideal game industry would see the immediate destruction and banishment of EA, Take Two, Valve, Black Isle, Hasbro, LionHead... all of those so-called "visionaries" churning out these retarded titles.

The ideal game industry would put out fun games that are affordable. It would also be fun to work in.

Oh wait, my company already does that!

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Oh wait, my company already does that!

Do you have a link to "Anonymous Poster Inc." website so I can see some of your great games that beat everything the best in the mainstream have to offer?

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
"Mainstream" games suck. And they cost too much. They''re too expensive, have teams 10 times larger than they need to be and take 10 times longer to make than they should. They''re also never any fun to play.

The ideal game industry would see the immediate destruction and banishment of EA, Take Two, Valve, Black Isle, Hasbro, LionHead... all of those so-called "visionaries" churning out these retarded titles.

The ideal game industry would put out fun games that are affordable. It would also be fun to work in.

Oh wait, my company already does that!


EA needs a Microsoft-type solution, where it gets broken up into different companies. Take Two and Black Isle I have no grievances with, mainly because I don''t know what they''ve done. Valve... I have no idea how that even got on your list. And Hasbro... needs a one way trip to hell. And also needs to give back every software title back to Atari (IP, rights, and all). But with the stipulation that Atari won''t pull the same nonsense that Hasbro did.

Ideal game industry... that people can develop for old console systems (for profits) and use that as a stepping stone into getting the industry. Also that people make console with the adequate amount of hardware. More later

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quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Take Two and Black Isle I have no grievances with, mainly because I don''t know what they''ve done.

Take Two owns Rockstar... So what they''ve published (in recent times) is GTA III, GTA: VC, Max Payne 2, Midnight Club 2, etc. I''d say they''re pretty important in mainstream gaming .

Black Isle on the other hand was responsible for Fallout and Fallout 2 and Planescape Torment. They also worked with Bioware on Baldur''s Gate, but as far as I know Black Isle isn''t really around anymore. He probably meant Bioware, the premiere American (non-MMO)RPG developer.

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