I'm not too sure about it. But it seems like there is a lot of very similar looking work out there, in games ( models, game play, level design ) The unique stuff seems to be the old stuff ( Duke Nukem, Doom, Quake ) and even these have got an edge of similarity. Is there anybody out there trying to be original or is it just my take on it all.
Can we move forward instead of looking at profit margins and what was the last best seller?. Look at the guys who pioneered all this. They were original way back when. Now what we all seem to want to do is copy what has made a buck without thinking of new things. Nothing Ive seen Microforte show me for instance, knocks my socks off. Bigworld isn't all that incredible its just a technological step to the front. So were all going to get to play together, lots of US. But whats new? Hows this going to be any different a game than any other network Game. Black and White might have been the exception for me, it showed promise of a new way of developing. But when I look at the "state of the games nation" I can only sight one or two slightly unique developers. Its either Cars, Guns, Tanks, War or some medieval Wack that is selling in the market and these are usualy catering to an already hooked and highly critical geek demographic. So what about that huge Majority out there that don't super cool there chip for better performance? Surely these guys are the better market, the ones who deserve our attention. Playstation had the right Idea with "Eye Toy" Augmented reality may very well bring the games world back to offering REAL entertainment to the Non Technoheaded Public. Sure we have our kids games Bandicoot and our mobile phone snake thingamies. But how long will Games developing follow medium rather than lead it.
I look around at what people are looking for in thier programmers and artists and see the same thing " must be a real gamer ". What does that mean? I assume it means must be hard edged and geekily into games, all the current stuff off course!. What sort of a game do you suppose you'll get from this kind of guy, especialy if he's the guy who is designing game play? Well the answer is simple, a copy of his favourite game!. May be the games world could do with a new vision. One run by a marketing department looking at the MAJORITY rather than the GEEKY FEW. Its a matter of convincing the world of, those who want to be entertained, rather than the guys who have cracked the GOD mode.
Bye for now
So if we all agree that the market is stale, what should we do about it :P
To me (as a Uni student and not some industry big-wig) it seems completely out of my control at this stage in time.
However, what I would like to see is a fairer relationship between game developers and game publishers. The only time when there is a reasonable understanding between the two, is when the game developer is making a game that conforms to the marketing department of the publisher, and the developer is a complete push-over when it comes to standing up for what they believe the product should be (if it clashes at any stage with the publishers' desires).
It seems (from my armchair) that in alot of circumstances, publishers have too much control over the final product (creative direction, and final content), and the developer has almost no right to actually finish the product (it could easily get cancelled, or funding can get cut). It seems the publishers are holding all the cards in the deck right now, and the developer is left with the joker.
There's this idea in the games industry that the publisher has no obligation towards the developer, however the developer has a bazillion criteria and obligations to fulfil for the publisher. It's hardly recognised, come contract time, that it's actually a symbiote relationship and I think there needs to be more recognition of that.
At least, that's what I think from over here in my armchair. :)
You've hit on a good point Maitrek. I think the developer (Slave) Publisher (Master) process sucks bigtime. I reckon the way around it is for the two to combine. Product and sales intergrated as one business. We develop we sell. Its just a shame SDK licencing for Playstation and the like costs an arm and a leg. Developing for PC or Mobile technologies seems OK but it would be good if someone bought out a consol game that was free to develop for and popular. But that's probably not a good idea 'cause it would get swamped with sh!t games and people would give up buying them in search of quality.
Anyone got any comments on this one?
Another thing I'd like to see is developers taking more interest in the testing process of games. Alot of the time the alpha testing is reasonable, but more often than not it's still going until the last minute, or after it's shipped. Finding bugs early on is generally a better business/programming model than finding bugs afterwards.
Beta testing is woeful as well in alot of cases. Developers don't have to hand out final game content, they could just create a different scenario to test out the games various aspects and get a large group of the public to test. But more often than not, this is considered too expensive or inconvenient (and it is expensive and inconvenient), though you could easily argue that quality is more important in the industry at the moment.
If more testing was done, and more research (incl marketing research) done during the process of making the game then I'm sure products would
a) Be more expensive to develop
b) Take longer to develop
c) Have a higher level of quality
d) Have a tighter focus (not a jack of all trades 18-30 y.o. male demographic product)
The problem with alot of games is that it's hard to test out whether or not they are 'fun' before they are shipped, and that's possibly the reason publishers push for very 'similar' themed games - because we haven't developed better methods for testing products out on markets.
IMO testing (beta/gameplay) is something publishers should organise and fund, since it is part of their end of the bargain to ship a quality product.
If all publishers followed microsofts lead, i think the quality of games would be much higher!
Microsoft has a variety of QA teams that they "lend" to developers of either microsoft published games, and also developers of xbox games (although the latter case may be rarer.) These teams include expert teams in the fields of a particular game genre, ie. they have RTS QA teams, FPS QA teams etc. who can pick apart games in that particular genre for gameplay flaws extremely fast. They also have some sort of novice teams as well that are used to help test the learning curve of a game.
quote: "if I'm loosing you here, just look up hyperthetical in a dictionary "
[pedant mode on] If you looked up hyperthetical (sic) in a dictionary, you'd probably wouldn't find it. But if you looked up hypothermia, you'd be sweet as. [/pedant mode off].
Haha - just playing with ya. As you can see, I don't really have much to add.
However, the idea of getting rid of license fees (or whatever) to produce games is something that the Fairplay campaign talked about a while back. Perhaps if the license fee was adjusted depending on units sold (ie - more units, reduction in fee) then you might stop seeing companies rush products out the door.
Also, on a side note - lets say the rights (not cost) to make games for a platform was free and lots of shit showed up, I still think that your usual internet sites and magazines would pop up and people would refer to those with their 'top 10 titles or most downloaded' which can sometimes be an indication of quality.
In a world where games are cheaper to make (and thus, cheaper to buy) word of mouth will help a lot. People will have more money to spend on games and will be more prepared to take a chance on a title.
If HCGG style games where given a hyperthetical identity. Lets say we put them in a theme of anologue games and said they were a type of ball ( a football ) "if I'm loosing you here, just look up hyperthetical in a dictionary ".
Anyway, HCGG games are footballs. Footballs are popular and will remain popular for years and years and years. We can also have designers improving on the football design and still have a long way to go before the design options are exhausted. But football is not the only type of ballgame and its certainly not the only type of game. Regardless of Market logic saying " Footballs sell better than any other ball or game " there are still other markets that can keep companies in the Toys industry making big dollars. Its like the philosophy of Exponential Ignorance. The more you know the more you know you don't know and the more you don't know you don't know. If we keep focusing our industry on the thing we know how to do in the market we know how to please then we won't really grow and someone else will take away the industry oportunities that exist already. Or should I say those oportunities will never get a look in because of the blinkered mindedness of an industry that Maitrek pointed out is totaly ignorant of what it is that makes its footballs so popular.