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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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