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awesomedata

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  1. Not true at all -- and I've already said as much above (and below). "Context counts" -- and this is waaay out of context of what I've explicitly said here about "longterm success": Again, in the context of an "evergreen company" (which I explicitly specify above), the idea of 'success' is not based on any end-result of "being successful" (because it is not possible) -- Therefore, the idea of overall "success" (in that context) must be based on the idea of having sustainable "success-es" -- as I have already explained -- and therefore, because indie devs are not a huge multinational corporate entity like Nintendo, their context (of being an "evergreen company") does not apply to indies, and therefore indies cannot be evaluated as such. To be clear -- In my definition of "success", any indie dev accomplishing what he originally set out to do should be considered successful. Yet, although an indie's goal might be money too, the bar for reaching that goal is getting astronomically-high due to market saturation. I can easily understand if you feel you need validation for what is considered a "successful" indie when "success" is defined only in terms of money or units sold. However, people make games for all sorts of reasons -- And in the end, if money is the only reason you make games, then you have probably lost some of your soul along the way. And until you get your soul back, money is going to become even more elusive for you over time. Nintendo, too, is trying to reclaim its soul. Its old games were (and still are) "successful", but it still doesn't quite remember or fully understand why. If you want money, you will have to make a game that hits hard. Games that hit hard are the games that people talk about. And people don't talk about Match 3 clones without A LOT of advertising dollars behind them first. People talk about games that have impact. And in order for a game to "have impact", it generally must have some kind of a soul. Sure, but you're not taking into account your own bias, which affects your (mis-)understanding of the title of this article. And for your personal bias, I am not responsible. "Nintendo's path to failure" -- is quite clearly put. What I meant to say is there. The only thing that's NOT there is what you (or anyone else) decides to put into it with your own personal interpretations or biases of what I mean (before you read my post). How am I supposed to forsee that? -- Read the posts and then you can decide what I mean. Or don't click on "click bait" looking posts? -- I didn't drag you into this topic. You came of your own accord to defend Nintendo inside of what you call a "click bait" title that (you felt) assumes Nintendo is currently on a path to failure. Now you continue to defend them, thus the repetitiveness. Try again. The sad thing is, had you read the topic without your own personal bias (that you fail to see or acknowledge), you would know that there are multiple places where I've said (over and over and over again) that I'm not beating up Nintendo. And just because I say "Nintendo made mistakes" or "Nintendo failed here", how does that mean I'm beating them up? -- Especially when I've explained why I'm saying that? That is perfectly fine -- and I have addressed them too. IF there is something I haven't addressed up to this point, feel free to point it out. If I haven't addressed it, then let me know so the original discussion can move forward. I'm bored with all the trolling "arguments" whose only purpose is to drown out my own arguments with something that sounds "smarter". People can be smart in different ways -- and there are plenty of ways to be dumb too. Trolling, imo, is one of those ways. At the moment, all I keep getting from @DavinCreed is that I'm beating up Nintendo and that my advice isn't useful. This is fine too. But I disagree. If he had read my previous post rather than hitting "reply" immediately, he (and you) would have seen that I have shared LOTS of valuable forward-thinking ideas in my last two posts that have nothing at all to do with the "Nintendo doesn't know their audience" portion of this topic. My goal was to share something useful -- Despite the task of explicitly identifying your audience seeming impossible -- it IS possible. Was it practical or even feasible to go to the moon? No. But when we all decided it was useful -- we wanted to do it -- and people got their heads together and made it happen. That's kind of my point here -- it IS possible -- but nobody wants to discuss HOW to do it. I keep getting stuff like: This was addressed in my post discussing atmosphere (which you probably missed because of the retort written very shortly afterward by @DavinCreed which completely ignores everything said about it besides the "Anti-Nintendo" stuff that he wants to discuss.) For example, despite not coming to an easy conclusion, ALL of this addressed your concerns with the feasibility of "knowing your audience" so explicitly: See the quote immediately above this one. I've addressed all of these "issues" already -- and with ideas and advice that is forward-thinking and forward-looking. We've discussed "success" already (see above if you haven't read it -- search "evergreen" if you're just skimming.) Nobody (except you) has ever implied that (even with my advice) there would be NO RISK in launching a game -- only that this risk could be greatly minimized by identifying your market (with better terminology and identifying atmosphere -- again, see my previous two posts). There is no silver-bullet for developing a badass game, but making sure said badass game is marketed and delivered to the people who want said game to be badass -- that's where the biggest "risk" in launching a game is. Knowing how to identify those people who specifically want your brand of badass is difficult, bit it's not nearly as "impossible" as you make it out to be. @frob -- Thanks for your insights. I can see where you're coming from on this, and I'll try to keep this in mind in my future posts. Honestly, modern-day Nintendo was a bit of a stretch to talk about to indies, but the ideas I've shared so far were valuable, and really, Nintendo was a "modern-day indie" -- all the way back in the 80's and early 90's. They took a LOT of risks that we take for granted now way back before they even knew they had a market. We at least know what markets we have to work with, and what it takes to be successful financially. They had nothing at all but a hunch and the smarts to back it up with a good marketing message. Most indies, like you said, only have one of these qualities. Out of all the big companies, I'm "picking on" Nintendo because Nintendo was as close to any indie as any of those super-successful multinational corporations could ever be -- and they are great to learn from (for general "success") because of that. Microsoft and Sony already had loads of cash before they expanded their empires into games and built their Death Stars. But Nintendo was the Jedi that lived in the desert as a poor water farmer who didn't yet know he was a Jedi until he became one. And yes, when measuring "success" on a bread-and-butter level, modern-day Nintendo is vastly different from an indie, but that's not the discussion I wanted to create here. My aim was to discuss how and why even a highly innovative rags-to-riches indie company, who eventually earned tons of money, marketing research, and resources, could actually "flop" a big-name game with a big-name IP, when it was the very company who helped gamers and modern-day indies alike define what a "game" actually is? This definition is worth looking into too. There is a LOT to be learned from Nintendo -- despite Nintendo's past as an indie who became a multinational corporation, Nintendo's path to failure, in contrast to its resounding successes (from that indie background), can teach us a LOT about marketing, audiences, and what to do before (and what NOT to do after) we finally are financially "successful" with our games. But we have to understand what exactly brings us there first -- and this is where I feel this argument about "what's feasible" is missing the point of the whole topic. The "easy answer" is "money" -- but the "hard answer" is there's something deeper than that people glom onto when indies do finally have breakout hits like Undertale that seem to come out of nowhere. These successes are not random. -- It is no coincidence that Undertale was inspired by a Nintendo game, nor that the entire Metroidvania genre came out of combining TWO Nintendo games. Surely penny-pinching "indies" have had something in common with Nintendo at some point in its long history? Maybe Nintendo's penchant for innovation always been the thread that binds us. After all, like Nintendo, its modern-day identity as "innovative and novel" is what keeps its audience coming back for more. Indies are saddled with the same expectation -- -- Get stale; die fast. Except for us -- it is not a matter of years. It is a matter of months or weeks. Want some useful advice? -- Put your soul into your games. Learn whatever you can from wherever the hell you can. Don't dismiss anything too quickly. And bite down hard. -- Don't let people tell you what you can't do. If it's "impossible" or "impractical", it's only because someone hasn't done it yet. So -- be the first.
  2. This seems to be the crux of your problem -- you want me to objectively prove that Nintendo is "bad" and I'm not going down that path because The title of this topic is "Nintendo's path to failure" -- not "Nintendo is currently on a path to failure". Sure, its an easy misunderstanding, but Nintendo is a great teacher in our industry, and learning from their failures (and successes) is a great place to start breaking into the industry. Like you, I'm a Nintendo fanboy through and through. But they damn well can make mistakes. Just like Sony and Microsoft can. And I'm not minimizing any of their faults either. They've failed just as many times as Nintendo. In some ways, they've failed even more spectacularly. However, because Nintendo is still the "golden boy" of the industry (i.e. that guy from Ubisoft cried tears of happiness because he got to use Mario in a game), Nintendo is also a great opportunity to see where, when, and why novel ideas (i.e. some types of games) fail or succeed at different points in time. Wind Waker was a great example of this happening for the same game -- but in reverse of what usually happens with a "failed" game. It pointed out some of Nintendo's (and many of our own) faults with assuming we understand our audience. ------------------------ This post was not meant to beat-up on Nintendo -- it was to celebrate what a great company it was (and continues to be) while also using its mistakes as an example to learn from. Approaching failures from someone you admire with a critical / devil's-advocate mindset is a great way to learn in a deeper way than just regurgitating and pouring over simple metrics will ever allow. This kind of thinking does not diminish your respect and appreciation for those you admire, but it also helps you to see why they probably made their mistakes so you don't have to make them yourself. ------------------------ I will explain this only because others might want to know since you brought it up, but I'm going to skip some of these rhetorical statements if you're not trying to discuss anything with me. As it stands, it appears that you're simply trying to shoot me down rather than contribute to the progression of the discussion. -- If you don't understand my reasoning, why not simply ask some questions? For example -- what do you assume my "standards" are? Back to your statements though -- my usage of "longterm" is based on the idea of an "evergreen" company -- i.e. a company that aims to be around longer than five or six years beyond the life of a single product. An evergreen company can't rely on only one product to be "successful". The NES (itself) was successful because it saved the industry. The Wii (itself) was successful because it catered to the novelty of VR and the intuitiveness of motion-control first. The Wii U (itself) was not that successful due to poor naming and cultural differences in marketing that name. The Switch has had great success so far due to Nintendo getting back to being the "cool" console to have again (plus there's Zelda and Mario), but we'll see how it does since it's still early days. Nintendo, however, is not yet (by definition of an evergreen company) "successful" despite its overwhelming successes. For example, I would put money on the idea that Nintendo's "Switch" isn't simply in name only -- I'd bet that name not-so-subtly hints at their overall strategy too. But only time will tell for sure. The Switch isn't by any means Nintendo's last console though. Nintendo's "success" hasn't yet been determined, though it has definitely been "success-ful" overall. The same goes with Sony and Microsoft. The book of history has not yet been written. Ultimately, I've just always found it fun to watch how things played out in the early days (ever since Nintendo vs Sega, then Nintendo vs Sony), but I've always enjoyed learning from Nintendo's occasional failures the most. After all, they have that one guy who saved the entire industry on their payroll. They have the kind of insights the rest of us only dream of at their disposal. Why not learn from it on the rare occasions they goof up?
  3. This is a great point. -- There's this great mini-series called "The Code" that talks about mathematics in nature, and one part is about how google can predict various epidemics down to almost the _exact_ number of people affected by the flu by just tallying people's searches on particular subjects. That's easily explainable if you're a skeptic (like me) because google is notorious for data tracking and could easily be doing something in the study they didn't disclose. They're not inherently scientists after all. Instead, a more interesting experiment (in that same movie) is the bit about the Jelly beans. When 400 people were asked about the number of jelly beans in a clear jar, the guesses were wildly off. Nobody was even close. However, when all the (seemingly-random) numbers were added up and then averaged out, the average number of jelly beans people guessed were off by almost exactly 3 jelly beans. Yes, 3. Ultimately, this proves people's issues and mindsets are vastly different, and while their crazy reasons for why they guessed what they guessed was all over the place, in the end, it all averages out. There indeed _is_ an average "atmosphere" that is possible to know and prove objectively -- and with Novelty as the basis, it makes it even easier to hone-in on which areas that people find important in games. And while this seems like magic (after all, we're each just one person), this is actually very much science. This discussion about novelty leads me to my earlier comments about determining the "atmosphere" around games (and their players) objectively. In our case, it is actually _because_ our industry is so novelty-driven that we have a decent advantage over other industries. We can easily identify the "average" customer specs for any game because customers and feedback on those games are plentiful, and what's different between games isn't (usually) _that_ different that we can't identify an audience's tastes from that data. The important part is that we know whether it's OUR audience we're identifying tastes for -- or not. For example, Call of Duty has "RPG" elements in it, but it is definitely not an RPG game just because it has a leveling system. And an "RPG" is definitely not an "FPS" just because you're playing from an FPS perspective and shooting guns (i.e. Fallout 3). There are certain expectations that must be met with each of these monikers, and _those_ expectations change with their audience (and from audience to audience) over time. As a kid, Fallout would never be considered an RPG (in the time of Doom, Quake, etc.) because an "RPG" was actually what we now call a "JRPG" today. The important part is that we struggle with identifying our audience because our nomenclature and terminology matches our audience's nomenclature and terminology -- which clearly changes over time. It is hard to hit a target that is always moving -- especially when one lacks the proper terminology to define it. This isn't an easy task. In general, style can be used to define games of a certain type -- i.e. one style could consist of cute art and hard-as-nails (but-fair) gameplay, meaning you've got "Megaman 2" or "Ducktales" now. Get rid of that "(but-fair)" part, and you have "Super Meatboy" or even troll games like "I wanna be the guy", where the challenges are heavily weighted against the player and rote memory and fast reflexes are what it takes to survive. Sure, these are all cutesy 2d platformers, but these subtle-but-VERY-different, mindsets attract VERY different audiences. So how do you strike a balance? The right nomenclature to identify the game style we're looking to make is important in defining atmosphere objectively (but identifying the specific style of a game is what's _actually_ "hard" about determining our audience -- there are so many "styles" of games, yet there are so few labels, and the labels barely stick as time passes.) For example, is "The Witcher" an RPG, an Action or Adventure game, a Puzzle game, a Stealth game? -- All of the above is the easy answer -- but, really, it is none of the above. We just have easy (extremely subjective) labels to slap on and forget. The real answer is a LOT harder to define with our industry's current terminology. The label(s) we pick tends to depend on which label we identify with the most or decide will drive us a bigger audience. There is a downside to talking in game "styles" though. Talking in "styles" is less precise than talking in "mechanics", but talking in mechanics is tedious and not great for understanding ideas. The variety is overwhelming to us mere humans. For example -- How do we recognize each other? Starting out, we're groups of atoms defined by quantum rules. But we aren't _just_ atoms -- we're chemicals (certain atoms arranged in certain ways). But we're not quite chemicals either -- we're specific DNA sequences. Yet we're not just DNA sequences either -- we still consist of some floating atoms and some floating chemicals, both unrelated to our specific sequences of DNA. So we call ourselves "human beings" to fill in this gap. But there are just too many human beings. We're Mark or Earl or Jen or Jessica. But there are still too many of those too -- We might call two friends MarkA or MarkB in our minds, but in reality, we know them by their face and personality more than their name. Each Mark we know has a different "style" or "personality" alongside his face in his mind, and it is his personal style which sticks out so prominently to us. This overall unique personal style naturally makes them memorable to us in a sea of atoms in our universe. It's no wonder Wind Waker bombed a bit, yet is now so unquestionably-memorable. -- It had such a distinct personality, but we didn't get to know it at the time because we just didn't like its face. After Smash Bros arguably made Toon-Link a celebrity, we're now like "hey, I knew that guy! -- after you get over his cartoonish looks, he's actually really cool!!" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Games ultimately need better terminology to help them visualize their personal style and scope to their audience -- and verbalize that same unique style and scope so that the atmosphere around their particular games (and players) can be analyzed objectively. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Adding to the above, customers see companies like EA or Ubisoft way differently than two to five-man team indie developers. Players will accept failures in some places but not others, but depending on who you are, this might be forgiven easily, begrudgingly, completely, temporarily, or not at all. The only way to know this is knowing what customers you're targeting -- and why they're targeting you. If you want to make a stylized game like WindWaker (because your artists are excellent at that kind of art, or you found a charming style you want to emulate), then look at the atmosphere surrounding stylized games at that point in time. It generally helps to see who the customers are for those types of games (i.e. children, or are adults playing them too?), then check to see how well your particular game adapts to that trend (i.e. WindWaker was kind of a "teen" game, but only young children in the US were playing cartoony games at that point in time). Conker's bad fur day was an exception to this -- and it was great -- but it was sold at the end of the N64's life, so it didn't do great -- the older audience it targeted had pretty much moved on to other consoles by that time. So that's a point too -- it isn't _just_ the audience you should consider, but what _environment_ does that audience exist in should be considered as well. All in all -- who's "right" depends on a number of factors, including your own capabilities, the general state/mood of the player-base, and the environment in which that player-base exists (any significant change in that environment could greatly alter their perceptions of your product -- you should usually have a "Plan B" in case a change like that happens during development). Conker's bad fur day comes to mind here. The atmosphere was changing around their product -- so they changed their product to suit it. Whether or not it was a good idea to fully change the direction of the game to fit the atmosphere of the industry as a whole (rather than changing their product to better-fit their particular market) is actually a great subject for analysis, but is beyond the scope of what I'm discussing atm. Indeed, "casual" is not an inherently bad audience for serious devs -- it just gets beaten-up on for being misunderstood as an audience who is happy playing "Match-3 clones" or "Solitaire" on their smoke break everyday. This stereotype isn't all there is, and I would argue that "casual" is actually an under-served audience -- i.e. I used to play games "hardcore", but I don't have time to do that anymore. I can't see paying $60 for a huge epic experience I won't have time to sit down to. I will buy one or two awesome / epic / huge titles a year sometimes, but it could take me another year or two to get through them. Regarding Nintendo's "casual" affair: I was only referring to the problem of using Sony's strategy to target the specific audiences it tried to target (longterm) without the wisdom of the nuances of how to execute Sony's strategy well -- especially over the longterm. A copy of a great thing is still a copy -- even great copies can miss the smaller/finer details and nuances of the source. Eventually, copying "a good strategy" can become a lot like playing telephone. Nintendo had only a barebones idea of what they were doing -- they saw Playstation's success, but they missed a lot of the subtle reasons _why_ Playstation was so successful. Unlike the novelty-seeking audience Nintendo targeted, Nintendo's original audience had grown up. They were very different people. Nintendo didn't want to (or maybe didn't know how to?) change with their audience. And, like anything novel -- eventually that novelty wears off. After that, only the high-quality classics (and the originals) will remain. To target both crowds, Sony's offer of freedom to third-party developers was likely its "secret sauce" -- Nintendo wasn't terrible for not seeing it sooner, because, after all, this very same "freedom" damned the Atari systems and almost our entire industry. Nintendo saved it almost single-handedly by way of its legendary penchant for very high-quality games like Super Mario Bros. However, Nintendo went to the extreme with this, becoming a sort of dictator. Sony, however, suddenly provided Nintendo's aging audience (thanks to many high-quality third-party developers) with mature-themed games again on the Playstation with games like Resident Evil, FFVII, Xenogears, Twisted Metal, and leigions of others. Even during the final days of the Wii/U, Nintendo, only just on the verge of catching on, saw that their "audience" did not just include gamers -- it also included developers. This is something we, as a community of developers, should take to heart more. -- We (developers) still provide our industry value. because it is we who provide the audiences for our industry exactly what they want. It is our JOB to learn how to do this better. I think a discussion on the terminology we use to visualize our games (both to ourselves and to our audience) is sorely needed. Without this, discussing the atmosphere objectively is very difficult without everyone being on the same page already. This is why I believe smaller teams (with members who are really close friends) actually produce better games. Anyone remember World of Goo? -- That's a pretty good example of a small team who did great work (for the correct audience) because they were already on the same page. -- In cases like that, the game just kind of "puts itself together" (in a manner of speaking), doesn't it?
  4. You know -- I can agree with that. Sorry if I came across this way. Perhaps I went a bit overboard by suggesting that others dig into their audience's values as deeply as possible, but in my experience, getting a sense for that "atmosphere" thing I mentioned has worked wonders for me and others I've seen who manage to accomplish this. I'm not here to be a know-it-all -- I only shared my thoughts on this subject because I've seen that failing happens a LOT because people get so conceited that they don't listen to (or even fully identify) their audience. And all that failure discourages people with great ideas to not even bother making games. And that sucks for everyone. Wow -- I was waaay off the mark then! In fact, I genuinely loved both systems. I bought a Wii as soon as it was available (~3 years later of course!) The concept was great and I really hoped it would last long enough for VR to get a foothold. I also am one of the few who bought a Wii U as well. It had some great games on it and it broke my heart to see it fail. It was unfair to call the Wii a "flash in the pan" -- It was the "casual audience" it garnered I was actually talking about. Not the Wii itself. My criticisms were meant to offer a positive light to indies learning how our beloved Nintendo made mistakes too -- Many of these are only my opinion, as you have pointed out, so I'm quite aware they're not the opinions of most. I wanted to share the points I thought were valid though, and see what points I might have missed the mark on. And you all helped me with that, so I am grateful to you. Sorry for the confusion -- To be clear, _my_ standards for "failure" (i.e. the Wii's catering to a temporary audience for the temporary sales perks despite the cries of its core audience turning to Sony and MS for solace) and the standards that most people consider and attribute to the Wii U as a "failure" (i.e. poor sales) are very different. Sales are usually cited for the Wii U's failure, but as I stated before, I thought the Wii U was a great system -- that failed because of an unfortunate name (thanks to cultural differences). Nintendo was really trying to get its audience back and that effort I wanted very much to be successful. When I said "it failed due to sales", I did not mean I personally believed that's why it failed -- only that it was considered a failure _in general_ due to lack of sales. To be fair, this was my intention from the outset. Perhaps my reasoning lacks concreteness, and perhaps my perception is not reality, but the knowledge I've acquired is valuable to me, so I thought I would share it anyway as best as I could. And just because I'm terrible at presenting it in a way that makes sense to you, it does not mean my reasoning or perception is ultimately not worth delving into for anyone genuinely wondering _why_ I believe these things so strongly. Maybe someone out there does wonder this? This is the core of your problems with my presentation -- and honestly, I'm glad you were kind enough to point it out. I can't help others without my "help" actually being "helpful" -- can I? I want to fix this. For now, I will point toward pondering what I mean by the audience's "atmosphere" -- at least until I get back to you. In general, thinking in "all-at-once" abstractions is what I do. I can consider many many more possibilities at once than I can otherwise when I'm thinking step-by-step. This sometimes results in a few unrelated possibilities not filtered out by my critical mind. This part drives people nuts. So I'm really sorry about that. Please bear with me -- Give me some time and I'll give you something concrete you can apply. In the meantime, feel free to ask questions about anything you don't understand about the "atmosphere" thing -- or tell me what YOU think I mean. That could help me narrow my thoughts in on something a little more tailored and specifically useful to you (and others). And for anyone else here -- I apologize if I've wasted your time.
  5. Lol, that's probably a fair point. What I intended to imply was that there is lots of "hand-waving" in marketing for indies. The huge rate of failures doesn't come from the huge amount of competition. It comes from failing to first define, and then understand, your audience. There are easier (less-creepy) ways to confirm, objectively, that you're on the right track with your audience. For example, because past trends don't always accurately represent current desires of your audience, looking instead at atmosphere (in tone/themes/mechanics/graphics) surrounding the kind of game(s) you're wanting to make should actually outweigh (or at least heavily-influence) the looks/mechanics/story/characters you choose to include in the base idea/prototype. Atmosphere is a sort of ambient "gut feeling" tool, but the objective facts are what generate that atmosphere, so it's not voodoo and rainbow magic at work. Fundamentally, "atmosphere" can be defined objectively -- just not easily -- without basing it on facts. You kinda have to be "in the know" -- which is what I've been saying about understanding your audience better by knowing them in a more nuanced way. To do that, you kind of have to BE your own audience. Or at least have someone who knows it REALLY well. A john/jane doe of that audience that you really trust to be clear with you and provide you honest and fair feedback. In that way, it could be considered intimate, but it's really not creepy at all. It's all about actually understanding what it is you're after as a designer, and simply not being flighty about it. The Wii wasn't a one-night stand -- just a fun girlfriend that didn't want commitment. Regarding its "success" -- Sure, the numbers don't lie. It made lots of money. But it was the first chance anyone got at something "VR" and it sold like mad. Additionally, lots of grandmas loved the casual and friendly vibe from it. Nintendo had lots of fun, but the problem was, they wanted it to last forever. "Success", to me, is something that is evergreen. Something that doesn't abandon you when the money does. The Wii's "success" wasn't "success" to me. It was an illusion. It alienated Nintendo's fanbase. It caused the failure of the Wii U indirectly. But hey, it made lots of money. And not everyone's definition of "success" is the same... I don't think "innovation" involves creating a new "innovative" controller twice (or three times, if you count the N64) in a row. But I see your point. Nintendo is known as the innovator. Almost nobody else tries. All companies want you to stay with them forever. The Wii U was Nintendo's proposal for commitment to the Wii fanbase. But it was clearly rejected with the Wii U's sales (or bad name -- whichever you prefer). Even during the time of the Wii U, Nintendo was trying to get back its core audience with great games like Super Mario Maker. I think that's why people warmed up to the Switch so easily. Despite it having barely 3 hours of battery life compared to something like the Vita, they really just wanted the old Nintendo back. And Nintendo wanted them too. The Wii wasn't a bad idea -- it was just a flash in the pan. The future was more important to Nintendo than it realized in the days of the Wii.
  6. Lol, nobody said Nintendo's going to die. "Failure" should never be equated to "death" -- In fact, failure is the only part of life that can genuinely teach us how to grow. Nintendo has been on a path to failure for a long time, but it has generally seen its failures as opportunities for growth. Some of these opportunities have been misguided, but overall, their desire to see these have made them into a better company.
  7. Yes, I would agree here. Nintendo really did lose their core audience with that choice. I lived through that time myself. Before that, many people trusted Nintendo and wouldn't switch to a new system simply out of respect. Final Fantasy VII was really a system-seller back then though, and Nintendo had no idea just how big of a fish they lost thanks to their arrogance. This is great advice. Heck, making an FPS (while everybody loves the genre) is still a huge risk due to competition and the rising potential for staleness as others enter the market and age your product. The reason Zelda didn't age as quickly is because nobody else was making Zelda gameplay except for Nintendo. FPS games are a different story. One of the main characters could look particularly wonky or boring or just outright unappealing, and your game is sunk. It doesn't matter that you're not looking at his face the entire time (it is an FPS after all) -- the very thought of an unappealing avatar alone is enough to sink your game. But if you know your audience, and your main character looks downright goofy -- why not play to its strengths and goofy looks by adding some self-depricating humor into your game? Make it relatable. The staleness it risks suddenly becomes less noticeable. It's like cheese toast from slightly stale bread. It still tastes great. My only difference of opinion is that taking risks isn't what makes you fail -- it's still not knowing your audience well enough to know what the real risk is. If you know your audience in as nuanced a way as you probably think you do, then it should be no problem finding and using objective facts to support your assumptions that your game will work because audience is on the same page as you in terms of the values they carry. This is very personal, but it is also very universal, and vital to expressing the bond you share with your audience. If you and your audience resonate through this bond, you got no worries. -- Nintendo broke that bond with its audience by trying to exploit them and imposing on them things they just didn't want, and they paid dearly for it every time. As for the Wii? -- It was a "success" of a sort, but that audience was just a quick fling. Great while it lasts, but it doesn't last long. It has long-since disappeared for Nintendo. Like a quick thrill, she (Wii audience) liked the novelty of Nintendo, but just didn't understand it deep down. The Wii U (wedding proposal) proved she really wasn't in it for the long-haul. Nintendo tried to change for her, but she made the truth clear -- Nintendo wasn't enough for her. It was the novelty she wanted. So Nintendo made the Switch. It started going its own way again. Back to its roots. And it's now getting its audience back, a little at a time. Maybe not all of it. Sometimes a pain like that never heals. But it's something.
  8. You've made some fair points. Again, the problem wasn't ever with Wind Waker itself -- or even its audience at the time -- but instead, it was with the fact that Nintendo simply did not consider (because they clearly did not understand) who they were actually talking to. In their mind, they were talking to other Japanese. They didn't yet understand their overseas audience, even though they wanted to believe they thought they both saw "Zelda" the same way. Japanese culture and American/European culture are very different. Overly-cute stuff might work in Asian countries, but it's hit-or-miss for primarily european countries like the US. This is because males in the US tend to have a complex with "cute" things. If it's not badass, it's not "cool". Fortunately, a sword to the head of Ganon (in human form) kinda made Toon Link "badass" too. But first, Nintendo made a rookie mistake: They assumed they knew their audience so well that they could provide 'value' to other (additional) audiences by simply changing the aesthetics. They thought they could keep their current demographic even with the change. The new coat of paint probably would work in most asian countries. They probably thought "Well, it says "Zelda" on the box, and it feels like a Zelda game, so now that it looks unique (and cute), Zelda should stand out to even MORE people! Now it appeals to everyone~!!!" A marketing person/team's famous last words. Most marketing experts will tell you -- appealing to everyone is a terrible idea. The common wisdom is that you pick your audience out of a small group of people whose problems and complexities you understand very well. This allows you the important insight of knowing how to carefully (and methodically) solve them. The problem with Zelda's broader audience is that it strays as much from the experiences of Japanese boys and men as the gameplay does from most other games. Nintendo was in a difficult enough position with that fact alone. Assuming they understood (all) its audience well enough to play the field was a bad move in general. Simply knowing a part of your audience "well enough" isn't enough -- you've got to have facts that can (objectively) show you've hit your chosen audience's complexes and pain-points thoroughly. And you've got to confirm those are still your audience's pains and complexities (objectively) too. Wind Waker was just a convenient example of the arrogance of the old Nintendo trying to play the field. After the success of the Wii, they, again, thought they could just put a "2" on the box and sell that without establishing an audience. "We already have an audience" they probably said. Wind Waker was the Wii 2 -- in game form. -- It just didn't flop quite as spectacularly. Maybe it's because it didn't use a "U" instead of a "2"? -- Americans don't like puns as much as Japan either... In my opinion, the Wii U was a great system... But like Wind Waker -- it just didn't yet have exactly the same audience Nintendo thought it did... The Wii U didn't give itself an opportunity to have ANY audience but Japan. Nintendo sold the "2" on the box (which was actually a "U" lol), assuming people would buy it because "Wii" was there too. And they probably would have. If there was also a "2". But most people already had a Wii. "What the heck is a "U" for the Wii?" they probably asked themselves as they passed the box on the shelves. In Japan, adding a letter behind the name of something indicates it's "cool" or an "upgrade" -- but in the US... it just means you've gotta be EXTRA clear just what it is you're talking about... This is an important question. Like I said in my original post -- We are all the better for it that Wind Waker exists (Nintendo included). Gamers learned not to put so fine a point on graphics because a solid game could still exist underneath. The indie scene now thrives on this fact. Lots of games nowadays, even wildly popular ones (like Minecraft and Undertale) still err on the side of stylish 'crap' graphics on occasion. Yet we still embrace these games. There was a time we wouldn't. That audience has changed -- and it keeps changing -- and it's up to designers to keep our ears (and minds) open to the audiences that are available to us already. There's nothing wrong with creating a new audience, but the huge risk comes from how huge are your resources for building that audience if your marketing fails. Nintendo made Smash Bros to follow Wind Waker, and Toon Link was in it. People in the US audience accepted Toon Link probably because they knew he wasn't going away. Nintendo devoted some very hefty resources in building a european audience for him (i.e. Making Smash Bros.) that an indie team wouldn't have had. People's tastes can change -- but they rarely change quickly. When you offer them something different, most will politely decline your offer and continue indulging in whatever's familiar. The bright side is -- people only hate change -- until something gets stale. Until that happens, indies have little option but to offer something at least a little familiar, appealing to audience's current tastes, even if the appeal happens to be drastically different fundamentally (i.e. an "FPS" like Gone Home). People love narrative-driven games these days. And narrative-driven FPS games. There was an audience for Gone Home before it even released. Before Wind Waker arrived, Zelda was still quite fresh. People didn't want something else so "new" so very soon. Every game style has a shelf-life. As the audience grows weary of that style, that style of game begins to age, and eventually, as with anything that gets old, it will expire.
  9. Hopefully this was worth the wait!! -- (I originally posted in response to the below question -- I've struggled with this too, so I thought some fleshed-out insight could be useful to someone here.) Nintendo has had some spectacular successes with prototypes. And some spectacular failures too. "The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker" (for the GameCube) almost crushed the Zelda fanbase thanks to its overly-cute graphical style. Up to that point, die-hard Zelda fans still expected "tough-as-nails" coming from Zelda -- not "Disney" lookalikes. Fortunately for Nintendo, that final "sword-to-the-head" scene in WindWaker showed that even a "cutesy" Zelda still had some vicious teeth. So hardcore fans weren't entirely left out in the cold. It took quite a bit of time, but as HD WindWaker's sales have proven -- most could agree -- despite the distinct change in art style, it was still a pretty good game. But it just as easily could have been a total failure. Nintendo, even with all of its clout and all of its goodwill it has generated over the years, could have lost Zelda right there. The reason was clear -- Zelda's aesthetics didn't match Zelda's audience. In the prototype stage, Zelda probably looked (and felt) like a Zelda game. If you removed the visuals from the Wind Waker (and replaced them with OoT 3d models), you could probably feel the "Zelda" in the controls. However, this wasn't enough for people back then. This did not LOOK like Zelda. So it couldn't FEEL like Zelda either... But the problem wasn't the prototype. It wasn't the controls. And against popular belief, it wasn't even the GRAPHICS that were the mistake. As WindWaker HD proves, people finally accepted those as part of the Zelda universe (graphics and all). It wasn't easy though. It was a very slow (and arduous) burn, and a lot of time passed (and a lot of flaming happened) before WindWaker finally became synonymous with the "Zelda" universe to its core audience. And we are all the better for it. But that was never Nintendo's problem. Nintendo's problem was that it either did not know (or did not accept) its audience. Remember, this was before the days of the Wii, and Nintendo hadn't learned its lesson about handing its kingdom over to the likes of Sony or Microsoft by giving them their core audience all so Nintendo can go chasing after a "better" one. But by chasing after that fickle bride-to-be, Nintendo lost sight of the importance of the audience they already had (and knew how to cater to.) Targeting the _correct_ audience is too important to hand-wave, or ignore -- and Nintendo missed the mark on this one. "People were just expecting something else" was the easy answer with Wind Waker's original release. However, the problem wasn't with Wind Waker at all -- It was a great prototype and a great game. No, the problem was with Nintendo's choice of audience for Wind Waker. Nintendo has always had a disgusting habit of sidelining its audience in an attempt to target a broader demographic. The "Wii" is my case-in-point on this one. Wind Waker was the original Wii for Nintendo. However, by sidelining your main audience for a vastly different one (and by appearing to ignore the "old" one), we risk alienating the audience we rely on the most. It's like "cheating" on your girlfriend. What?? You didn't think she'd be mad you took time out of your day for the girl from the store in the hot-pink shirt with the big boobs??? You say you were just helping with her studies??? Did you really think your girlfriend would buy that?? Nintendo did just that with Zelda WW. In the end, for Nintendo, the girl in the hot-pink shirt turned out to be a pretty cool chick despite her appearance and even became friends with the current girlfriend too. For Nintendo, this was no harm, no foul (as HD WindWaker proved). But if _your_ girlfriend (i.e. your intended audience) isn't quite as understanding, and _your_ version of the "hot chick" turns out to be a steaming turd-pile on your current girlfriend's doorstep (i.e. a bad game that your intended audience could never find the heart to advocate), expect to be left out in the cold. Even if the girl in the pink shirt is ultimately a cool chick that doesn't threaten your current girlfriend in any way (i.e. like WindWaker), your (intended) audience must (already) feel this too, otherwise, if you pursue her (that _other_ audience), you're in for some long, cold, lonely nights by yourself. The facts don't lie -- Know your audience. Guide your audience. If it don't work for your audience in some way already though, it won't work for you. If you aren't fully-satisfied with your girlfriend (intended-audience) though, it's best to just break it off. Intent doesn't matter. In the end, you have got to find something that fits _you_ as well as _you_ fit it. Knowing your audience means knowing your own motivations behind selecting them. Avoid dodging/ignoring simple facts about your game, and whether your intentions fit (or ignore) your audience's expectations of you. The prototype is never 100% representative of your game, but if that prototype does not lead to a plan that represents your truest intentions to your intended audience in its barest state, the prototype is incomplete, and there is no way a fully-fleshed out game will do any better at explaining your true intentions to your audience. Being fully 100% truthful to yourself (and your audience) about your game (and your intentions) is always the best approach to finding the (target) audience you should _actually_ target.
  10. Check back soon -- needed a bit of TLC thanks to the fancy WYSYWYG editor...
  11. awesomedata

    how get over this feeling?

    I do the exact same thing -- studying various aspects of game development and design as many hours a day as I am able everyday is my life more than I care to admit lol. Sadly, that's a very popular misconception. I am a 2D-pixel-artist/animator-turned-3D-modeler, and I just wanted to mention that there is just as much work on a quality 2D title as there is on a 3D one (most of the time, as there are obviously really CRAP 2D games out there lol) because all the same game-design, pacing, animation-design, rules, character-designs, etc. etc. still apply -- In fact, in 2D games, you have the additional burden (as a sole developer) to find creative ways of avoiding the issue of things being too repetitive, whereas with 3D, it's easy to do this by employing differences in color, differences in scale or differences in kind (such as differences in physical shape using blendshapes) to keep up the variety and pacing, whereas with 2D, differences in color are pretty much all you've got (without a lot of extra work) and so it's hard to vary the visual pacing without (sometimes very extensive) manual labor in the design and animation department to avoid that repetitive nature that 2D tends to present so readily if you're not careful. This is indeed true -- I myself have spent a pretty penny on this "hobby" but it is something I truly believe will pay off (even if it's not in a financial way) at some point in the future. -- I feel like, at the very least, I am furthering myself as an artist above all -- and that, in itself, is worth the huge investment to me. Again -- sadly, the misconception here is that 2D is only about as successful as the demand for your product is. If you put little effort into it, demand too will inevitably be very small (and even smaller if there's nothing super-unique or genuinely addictive about the game.) The alternative (and opposite approach) to money is making games that have been made a hundred-thousand-times-over or other cheap 2D knockoffs of better games. Depending on how tasty this idea of making money on advertising dollars sounds to you, making money might be a viable option on mobile. Desktop games, on the other hand, as mentioned already, require something truly unique -- plus you're going to be competing against other really cool and really unique games that compete to take your users' time over your game. You truly have to make your game worth your players' time -- and not just in YOUR opinion of "worth" -- it has to be quite apparent to anyone (even those who might be *against* your game idea entirely) of the game's value -- and being objective and open enough to accept that sort of criticism is part of the job too. As mentioned before -- ALL aspects of making a game good enough to truly sell requires a LOT more effort than one is likely to want to put in solely in their free time and while not getting paid for it either. -- If money is a major motivation, it should be a very *distant* prospect, at the very least. We all might as well be at the gambling table if we're trying to make money -- you have to *have* money to make money -- so if you're not willing to invest in your skillset heavily enough to be considered crazy, you probably have enough money to pay someone else to make your game for you. If that's not the case -- you better find a way to invest a lot more time then. It will require a LOT of it to reach where you want to be without a full-on advertising campaign on your side -- and even then, you might still not break even from your investment. Just keep this in mind -- you'd better know for sure you are completely unwavering in your ambitions when you suddenly find yourself dreading the idea of doing all the unforseen work you suddenly find before you at the worst moments. Making a game is never easy -- 2D or 3D -- and I speak from experience with both -- it's just 'hard' in different ways. There are shortcuts in one you don't have in the other -- but that goes both ways. I actually got into 3D because I preferred those shortcuts to the 2D ones in regards to making games. There's more I'd like to speak to in this post but I'll save it for later -- this is all I've got time for at the moment. -- I hope it's enlightening to someone at least.
  12. awesomedata

    how get over this feeling?

    I totally second this man. This advice is golden, and I had to learn it the hard way. Indeed, I once fell into this trap of comparing myself to others -- and occasionally I still do -- but it's always important to remind myself that there's no (productive) reason to shoot myself in the foot. By telling yourself "I'm not as good as all these other people." all you are REALLY doing is telling yourself you're not good enough to accomplish your own dreams. Then who is responsible if you fail? -- You are. I don't want to be a downer like some other posters trying to give you the "real talk" -- but I have been following the state of the industry since well before the late 90's, and despite huge indie-hits like minecraft making it look easy, if you're making games in order to both make money AND follow your passion, then, in a lot of (very real) ways -- you're running a fool's errand. When developing a game all alone -- especially a larger project -- it's easy to become inundated by it! It's natural to want to make a thing "worthy" enough to put out there, and for that, you probably tell yourself "I don't want to make an arcade shooter -- I want to make that huge FPS / MMORPG / etc. / etc. I've always dreamed of! I can code and draw and whatever! I just need some help to make this happen!" However, although some people can accomplish a project with that kind of scope -- most people can't -- and even if they /can/ do it, I still wouldn't recommend it without seasoning your skills in all other required aspects of game development first. Why? Imagine you somehow pushed through to make that awesome-looking perfect MMORPG -- all by your lonesome! -- and then when it comes time to publish it, you realize you didn't know a thing about server maintenance or have a plan about how to patch the game or some flaw in your marketing technique bombs the number of users who sign up to play your game -- which means your game fails due only to your failure to foresee these tiny-but-critical areas that you might have seen had you analyzed user behavior in a much smaller title with online capabilities. Years and years of your life down the toilet all because of a fatal design flaw or lack of a necessary skill-set a simple game artist or programmer didn't realize he needed before he needed it -- which is a LOT more common than you might imagine. The absolute worst thing you can do as a budding game designer/developer is fail to respect the level of discipline and years of skill-development that goes into even the most 'simple' of projects. Even ol' Notch had developed a few smaller games before Minecraft (which itself was sparked from another slightly smaller game idea that wasn't even his -- Infiniminer) -- and Shiggy-Miya-MARIO-san (Miyamoto for short) still develops tons of tiny little "arcade-style" prototypes that find their way into his larger and more epic games (Zelda, Mario, etc.) As such, none of that effort developing an easier or smaller prototype game HAS to be trashed or meaningless -- after all, you learn something from it, and that's worth it alone -- but, when you try to market it (something you consider a lesser product) too -- you learn a bit about sales and distribution in the process, plus you learn about customer behavior and expectations along the way! All stuff that WILL be valuable to you if you plan to ever do it for the money. After all, did you know Shigeru Miyamoto-san actually believed Super Mario 64 had FAILED when he compared it to Tamagotchii? -- Yeah, me neither -- but check out the last few minutes of his GDC talk if you don't believe me -- It is truly eye-opening. So if the undisputed master of game design himself can learn a thing or two (despite his skill level) from a game that is considered to be one of his greatest masterpieces, I believe we owe it to ourselves to study the discipline (and customer behavior if you're making games for money) first, before just "diving-in" to make games just because we have the tools on our computer to do it. After all, without a LOT of study and networking, you will never have ALL the tools you need to compete in the market. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it really is naive to think you're going to make a mega-hit without studying game design and customer behavior across the years to various game designs. No matter the quality level of your game, it can always fail -- even for the tiniest reasons -- and if you indeed think you have a mega-hit on your hands with your game idea, then it's highly-likely that you will have no problem finding help making your game a reality. But if all you're looking for is a sustainable living in the games industry -- skills are the most important asset anyhow -- and you generally learn those types of valuable skillsets by working on a game that is NOT your own. As you're probably seeing now, "passion" does tend to run out sometimes -- and unless you thoroughly enjoy the creation process and do game development because you just find it genuinely entertaining, you'll find that a smaller game can get you farther with passion alone. A smaller game, too, has the added ability to showcase (and help you learn) some skills you'll need for a larger project someday. The important thing is to COMPLETE something -- no matter how crappy you feel it is. I worked on my "dream" game years ago (a small smash-bros-style platforming fighter), and although I was following my own advice on size/scope and thought I had everything figured out, it still turned out to be the game's DESIGN that kept kicking my tail (the ONE thing I thought I had nailed!) No matter how much I thought it was nailed before I announced it and started working on it, I could never find a way to balance the gameplay design without compromising the core objectives I had for the game (and therefore what I thought was fun about it) because I had later decided that, since I was already making the game, I could implement a good way of making money from it too, and thus became a core objective. However, in the end, it was the very idea of trying to make the design fit my ambitions of making it make money that caused me to back-burner the project indefinitely due to my passion for the project burning out. Once that goes, it is very hard -- and probably, really, impossible -- to ever truly and properly rekindle it. I think the major problem you're having above all with your "feeling" is that you're creating a "product" and not that one thing you feel the world really needs to have above all else in a game -- that one thing you yourself really want -- but, as hinted at before, you might want to step back while the "passion" still exists. Hone your skills. Get to be a badass at two or three important things in game development. Yes, this is possible simply with exposure and a LOT of homework and research. After all, everyone started somewhere. If you're still alive and kicking in a few years in this industry and have done the requisite amount of work, you'll have something to show for it. THEN put together a prototype and a team and start the project a LOT smaller than you'd be comfortable with now that you have a team. Not only will you likely have accomplished your goal, it will be more satisfying that your goal was accomplished than it would be to simply have accomplished the goal exactly the way you had dreamed it. Now not only will your dreams will be bigger -- but your courage and motivation will have grown exponentially as well. This is because your ambitions will have been made concrete. You will now know exactly what you are (and are not) capable of. -- You will never have to question your abilities or your project's worth ever again. You will be able to do stuff you never dreamed was possible only a few years before. Trust me if you will -- it's totally worth it.
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