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TravisL742

Xbox 360, Ps3, Nintendo Revolution Coding

111 posts in this topic

Quote:
Original post by DrEvil
That's fine to represent the high end developers, but for every one of those there are handfulls of smaller devs, so it isn't accurate in the context of this thread to say games 'start' at $10mill, and it takes man power in the 100s for a shelf worthy title.

Ignoring the impossibility of finding this kind of investor, For <$5mill, a team of 20 experienced programmers could license the Unreal engine for $350k and pay themselves high end salaries for 2 years to produce a title that would easily be shelf worthy. This is a pretty accurate time frame to get game titles out these days. The future is licensing technology. Most companies can't afford the time or investment in build their own technology.

Of course this doesn't help the original poster any, as it still takes a highly experienced team to pull it off, and an even bigger miracle to convince an investor unless your team has some pull.


wanna bet?
plenty of teams try this...most fail, few get the backing, as you point out its pretty well impossible to get the backing, so lets not ignore the impossibility, lets understand why its impossible...its becuase investors do the research and realise the real success comes from the $10M+ projects. The smaller less well funded teams, nearly always fail to deliver, or worse their games fail to break even..this is all a matter of record if you care to check it out.

you really think 4.5 millions goes that far with 20 people??? think again. running a studio costs more than just the salaries, and engines even good ones have many hidden costs. Development is a money pit, and the pit gets wider and deeper the more you get into i.


Digidude..I couldn't care less...its hard world...people need hard facts.
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I won't go into the details of which company I was working for, but I was working on AAA games in my last job, and the dev teams were made up of about 30 people, with maybe 2 or 3 in QA.

Obviously,the games didn't sell as well, as I imagine the games of other the anonymous posters did. I'm not talking about the big sellers like Halo2 here, but if I mentioned the games I worked on, you would most likely have heard of them. (Since I'm anonymous, I can also say that you probably thought they were shit for the most part as well, but hey, that's life :D)
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no I'm not going to say they were rubbish...but the fact is most low budget titles simply do not sell....its true! you can quote the odd exception to the rule but for the most part the figures show clearly money in = money out.

You have to spend a lot of dev money these days to get the game to the standard needed to get your publisher to justify the $40M+ advertising budgets EA and others put up to get the things to the top of the chars


AP, I have never ever heard of any studio using 2 or 3 QA on AAA titles...thats lunacy..the smallest QA depts I've worked in, had easily a dozen or more people...theres simply no way you can test a retail project with so few people
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Is it still a "rumor" that Nintendo Revolution will allow homebrew games to be made on it? Or has that been squashed?
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Alright,
I am not going to act like I know alot about the Game DEvelopment world as I don't as I am only 15 and I have only been studing C++ for a month and a half.



But,
My Step-Dad works in the Advertising Agency, so he has had some expierence with some some Big Name Publishers and even Developers. He has sat down and talked with alot of them and he has taken me with him one time as he made freinds with someone from THQ.(can't remember name. I think it was Dave Something, but anyways)he has talked to them about some of the stuff they do when he had some free time waiting to go to a press check he asked them do they get out and do they tell them who they are? He asked 3 people from different publisher companies and almost all said "Yes, we do. I love just interacting with the fans." Now, that does sound a little rubbish but I just don't understand why you just can't say what Companies you work for? I am only 15 so I may not understand it yet but to me it seems like, if you work for a company and they don't want you to say the comanies name or game's name then that is a little werid if I must say so my self. I mean come one, if you did then that company would get free advertising and the game may get a little more sold! So, that does sound a little weird.

But anyway, I am only 15 so I may not understand this yet, so you may just want to ignore me.


Chad
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yup you are very young and don't understand, but you will. Dev companies are very secrative about costs, and technology and how they do things.

Pretty much everything we do and know is governed by NDA's (non disclosure agreements) that come from the console makers, the publishers, the licensors, the developers themselves, and anyone else who wants to keep info secret.

Thats why its very hard to get any real info on hardware specs, and details of when a project comes out or whatever. Lots of people know this info, none of us can talk about it under pain of legal action and job loss.

A leak of any kind can cause uncertainty about the company, its ability to deliver, the quality and so on, which can hurt a share price, and somewhere along the line there is always a public company who's share price needs to be protected.

Advertising, even free advertising, is very very carefully controlled at all times to ensure only positive news gets out, bad news is never released unless its for legal reasons.

so you see, for me to let people know who I am, or where I work, means exposing my company's, status, size, type of work and so on, or having their name associated with my opinion, and thats simply not allowed, so I stay anonymous. Even to the point of not dicussing too mcuh detail that could result in someone I work with figuring out who I am.

and that ladies and germs is the last I shall post on this thread, bye :)
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The main reason companies don't like the people who are actually making the games to be blabbing about internal company politics or practices on a message board is we aren't really trained in what is and what isn't right to say (which makes it more interesting to people in the industry, certainly). That's why marketing and advertising people have their jobs - like your Dad - they make sure to only show the good side of a product or company. It's an important job but I think you'll find few if any people on this message board are working in such positions.
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[quote]Ignoring the impossibility of finding this kind of investor, For <
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Weird post bug, sorry

Quote:
Ignoring the impossibility of finding this kind of investor, For less than $5mill, a team of 20 experienced programmers could license the Unreal engine for $350k and pay themselves high end salaries for 2 years to produce a title that would easily be shelf worthy. This is a pretty accurate time frame to get game titles out these days. The future is licensing technology. Most companies can't afford the time or investment in build their own technology.


There are teams of 25 or less doing amazing things on much smaller budgets with 6-7 month turnarounds... including developing their own tech. I think you underestimate some of the talent sitting around in small studios churning out $20-$30 games.

(Granted, a lot of small studios license Renderware. It's certainly a popular option, but in my personal opinion it sucks too much to be the future.)
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ok, 1 last post.

Show me anything AAA in the current charts, written by a team of 25 or less under. You can't..can you, so please stop derailing the point, yes there's a budget market, and some of it is indeed very good, but and here's the point I was making, it is not AAA quality! It does not command $50-60 price points and no team that size ever will produce anything that does, therefore it does not get much advertising budget and yet it has to compete with those big products both for console maker approval and shelf space.

The budget market is very hand to mouth (I've also worked there), and very few budget games make profit but they do often keep small teams in work, using dev funds and no royalties to keep going...its not much of a way to make a living and the quality of the work reflects the low budget and rushed timescales invovled.


ok that really is the last post I'll make. bye
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[quote]Original post by Anonymous Poster
I work in a major studio in production producing top 5 titles...My figures are generalised, but for the work we do the teams are around 120-130 people, NOT counting marketing.[quote]I'd love to know what they all do. Our teams aren't even 10% of that size.

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Hopefully, you can get access to a dev kit without an AAA title under your belt... But there's no way you'll get one without a publisher or several shipped titles and an established team (wich is pretty much mandatory to get a publisher anyway). The AAA certainly helps getting the devkit before they are even released to other devs but even a crappy obscure game studio can get one from its publisher soon enough to ship a title by the console launch time.
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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
yup you are very young and don't understand, but you will. Dev companies are very secrative about costs, and technology and how they do things.

Pretty much everything we do and know is governed by NDA's (non disclosure agreements) that come from the console makers, the publishers, the licensors, the developers themselves, and anyone else who wants to keep info secret.

Thats why its very hard to get any real info on hardware specs, and details of when a project comes out or whatever. Lots of people know this info, none of us can talk about it under pain of legal action and job loss.

A leak of any kind can cause uncertainty about the company, its ability to deliver, the quality and so on, which can hurt a share price, and somewhere along the line there is always a public company who's share price needs to be protected.

Advertising, even free advertising, is very very carefully controlled at all times to ensure only positive news gets out, bad news is never released unless its for legal reasons.

so you see, for me to let people know who I am, or where I work, means exposing my company's, status, size, type of work and so on, or having their name associated with my opinion, and thats simply not allowed, so I stay anonymous. Even to the point of not dicussing too mcuh detail that could result in someone I work with figuring out who I am.

and that ladies and germs is the last I shall post on this thread, bye :)


Thanks for that [wink]. It's information like this that I wish was more abundant on GDNet: the kind of discussion that yields real insight into the actual world of game development.
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Of course, gd.NET staff could just look up your IP, and do some "digging" to find out who you are and who you work for. :D
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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
no I'm not going to say they were rubbish...but the fact is most low budget titles simply do not sell....its true! you can quote the odd exception to the rule but for the most part the figures show clearly money in = money out.


You should, they really were rubbish, and for the most part they really didn't sell either. :)
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Quote:
Of course, gd.NET staff could just look up your IP, and do some "digging" to find out who you are and who you work for. :D

That's true, though finding out identity from IP address is a rather chancy affair. But we don't do that. There are a lot of people here in that situation, actually... it's one of the main reasons the site still has anonymous posting.
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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
AP, I have never ever heard of any studio using 2 or 3 QA on AAA titles...thats lunacy..the smallest QA depts I've worked in, had easily a dozen or more people...theres simply no way you can test a retail project with so few people


It varied depending on what point in the project we were. But there were generally between 3 and 5 testers per project. On one project I worked on, there were no testers at all up to alpha, when we finished a milestone build, the dev team would have to stay late and test it.

Bear in mind though, that we did have the testers at the publisher to fall back on. They did the majority of the testing.

Bear in mind, I'm also not saying that this company was particularly successful. :)

Quote:

I just don't understand why you just can't say what Companies you work for? I am only 15 so I may not understand it yet but to me it seems like, if you work for a company and they don't want you to say the comanies name or game's name then that is a little werid if I must say so my self. I mean come one, if you did then that company would get free advertising and the game may get a little more sold! So, that does sound a little weird.


I personally will not say what company I worked for, or use my real user name because firstly I think it would be unprofessional to talk about the internals of a company I worked for on the internet. That said, unlike the other posters, I don't think going into team sizes is something that's particularly confidential.

I would never discuss in detail the technology used by the company I worked for, or go into small details about the inner workings of the company. But something like team size is something that anyone who looks at the credits of the game can see for themselves.

Secondly, I feel that if I revealed the company I worked for, I would have to have a professional attitude to every one of my posts, which would mean steering clear of any arguments, and not posting in the lounge.

That said, I have been tempted to start a new username, and do just that.

Quote:

Of course, gd.NET staff could just look up your IP, and do some "digging" to find out who you are and who you work for. :D


I'm sure they could, but unless I'm say something that would require someone to take legal action, they have very little reason to do so. I really doubt they have the time or the inclination to do that.
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Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Is it still a "rumor" that Nintendo Revolution will allow homebrew games to be made on it? Or has that been squashed?

So I guess no one knows?
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The existence of budget titles disproves the assertion that $10m budgets are needed to go next-gen. That's all I was saying. Value games are a valid though often overlooked portion of the industry. Whether they make as much money as AAA titles is really irrelevant, as the discussion is about what it takes to become a console developer. Of course all the assertions about a 14 year old being completely incapable of legally developing a console title are true... but it's not true to say that you need $10m to start. If that's not what the discussion was about, then I stand corrected in advance.
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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
The existence of budget titles disproves the assertion that $10m budgets are needed to go next-gen. That's all I was saying. Value games are a valid though often overlooked portion of the industry. Whether they make as much money as AAA titles is really irrelevant, as the discussion is about what it takes to become a console developer. Of course all the assertions about a 14 year old being completely incapable of legally developing a console title are true... but it's not true to say that you need $10m to start. If that's not what the discussion was about, then I stand corrected in advance.



The OP was asking about Xbox360 PS3 and Revolution...there is no budget market for that, and there won't be for some time. It'll take time for the smaller teams to be able to get hold of kits,dev status etc.

The fact that current gen budget teams can deliver with 20 or more people does not negate the argument that AAA current gen teams need 100 or more (the division of work is actually pretty easy to discover, take a look at the credit list of any AAA title, its vast).
Also these budget teams have built upon a couple of years worth of experience and handmedown code/middleware/tool sets...none of that exists for next gen and will need to be developed, at a cost and a measure of time.

All developers willing to comment are reporting far longer dev times and higher manpower needed to push the proposed limits of these new next gen machines, so $10M, 100ish people, and 2years or more for these machines is a perfectly accurate and probably conservative assesment of the needs of a major dev team to produce AAA work on next gen.

Factual experience tells me that many if not most BIG studios put this amount of effort and money into current gen, no point arguing about it, as I said check the credits.

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I'll wade in here because I want to add some additional credit to the anonymous poster. It's a ramble, but that's how my brain works.

I think his tone might be a bit off based, but I think that's a result of being as frustrated, as I have been, over all these posts asking how to get access to next generation development systems without any investigation.

I work at a console development house and I've been in the industry for 6 years now, having been a software engineer for 10 years.

The truth is that development kits are expensive, compilers and debuggers are expensive, 3D modelling tools are expensive, Photoshop is expensive, hiring staff is expensive, creating content is expensive, paying for the office is expensive and negotiating a contract with a publisher a long, frustrating and difficult process. It all adds up.

All that said and done, there are initiatives put forward by some of the hardware manufacturers to aid small groups in developing proof-of-concept technology to secure publishers. Microsoft had this with their incubation program for the original Xbox - and a hefty price tag was still attached.

I believe that for next generation consoles, these programs will not be available until the market has been saturated with quality titles that make each platform attractive to the end user. Until a platform is established, none of the manufacturers are going to risk any investment in small groups who want to develop for the consoles.

Team sizes to vary - I've worked in groups as small as 25 and as large as 70. At a previous company, one of the AAA titles I worked on was at the high 60s, but the other titles I worked on, while having critical and cult acclaim, never reached the sales figures of a AAA title. These sizes were 25 to 40 people.

These days the end user wants more and more content. This ends up being the bottleneck for most developers - the technology takes time to built, but once built can usually be leveraged to create sequels or entirely different games with a lower cost, but the art, sound and design assets always need to be created. Some companies solve this by outsourcing, some by hiring a lot of people internally.

I know from experience that 14 people can get together and create a great game that sells on the consoles. I also know that, without a publisher to back that team, none of the hardware manufacturers would listen. Once a publisher was secured, development started and by the end up our one year cycle we had 25 people on the team, barely enough to finish the title. Our product didn't sell very much but it was well received by reviewers.

Triple AAA titles come from marketing, a strong publisher, polish, depth of experience and apparent value to the end user. It's impossible to achieve this without large teams sizes. You need those programmers whose job is to make sure everything works 'just right', to add the polish to the camera system to make it work perfectly, and artist to work on the same asset for six months to make it the best it can be.

As other people have pointed out, people working as professional developers arn't allowed to discuss specifics of their job site. Non-disclosure agreements are the norm in this industry, and they are there to protect the company, and the employees. If my company got in trouble over something I said, I'd be out of a job, as would everyone else. NDAs provide a framework of understanding between everyone at a company that makes sure that, as far as disclosure is concerned, everyone is on the same page and that we can all count on each other. Some companies to go too far with their NDAs, but I think there is value in what they are intended to do.

If you want to make a console game, start with a plan. Build up a solid design, secure an investor or get a warchest of cash, and build your team. Create a playable demo on the PC, making sure to write your code base such that it doesn't matter what platform you are developing for. Take the demo on the road, or better yet, hire a contract agent - he already has the connections. Go to all the conferences, talk to the publishers whenever you have a chance, and get to know them. Make talks at GDC, write articles for Gamasutra. Hire someone to raise the public profile of your company so publishers hear about your from multiple sources. You could also try getting a job doing a sequel for an existing product - taking someone else's code base and adding to it may be seen as less of a risk to a publisher. Don't be suprised if a publisher doesn't want to make your game, but wants you to make their game. This is really the norm in the industry right now. Bide your time, build up your cash reserves, get credibility in the industry. Make sure you have people on staff that have shipped titles - if you can afford it, hire a rendering programmer who has shipped titles - this will reduce publisher anxiety the most and write documents outlining your technology.

As a side note, there is nothing that you can do on a console that you can't do on a modern day PC. If you are learning to write games, write them on the PC - at least everyone who wants to can download your game and play it. Try your hand at writing a game that runs on Apple computers and Intel processors and you'll learn that the guts of a game don't care about how many textures passes a platform has, or that it supports 4, 6 or 8 controllers. Animation is platform neutral. Resource management is platform neutral, as is AI, gameplay, cameras, high-level rendering, scene management, high-level sound logic, game taks management, high-level gamepad input, front end systems. Console development is ultimately about having a built in distribution channel and not having to chase technology for a five year stretch. It's not about any special technology that you can't get on the PC. Just because the PS3 has multiple cell processors doesn't make their physics any better, it just makes it run faster (and harder to code). High end PCs are just as fast as far as I can tell.

As a final point I also wanted to add that I recently had to write up the contract documents for working with the manufacturers and they ask questions about the history of your team as well as the company's financial plan. This is very important to them as they know there is a larger support burden on new developers then seasoned ones. I wouldn't be suprised if they have some 'quota' on the number of newbies versus seasoned ones that can have in the queue at any one time.

Well, I may have overstepped my NDA, but I wanted to share my experiences with you guys.

Best of luck with your plan. As I said, start small and work towards milestone goals. You might get into the tail end of the next generation of consoles, but as always, there's always another round of consoles in the pipe.

- S
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Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Quote:
Original post by Alpha_ProgDes
Is it still a "rumor" that Nintendo Revolution will allow homebrew games to be made on it? Or has that been squashed?

So I guess no one knows?


I certainly hope so, but I think the Nintendo dude was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Hype is free after all.
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Quote:
There is no budget market for that, and there won't be for some time. It'll take time for the smaller teams to be able to get hold of kits,dev status etc.


Let's just say I have very good reasons to strongly disagree with this statement.
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I'm going to focus on the PS3 for a second here.

I've heard from various news sites that some (all?) PS3 will be coming with linux pre-installed on its harddrive or you can buy a hard drive with linux pre-installed for the PS3. Not too clear on how that works...

I was also reading through some cell processor stuff(look specifically at part 3) which states that they have had Linux running on the Cell processor. Further more they are allready expanding GCC so that it incorperates compiling for the cell arch.

Therefore I ask whats to stop someone from simply createing a linux-based PS3 game? They have GCC and an OS to develop on. Perhaps, it won't be native like store bought games, but its definatly giant leap from a 10,000$ dev kit to a 300$ ps3...

Anyone else thought about this?
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