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March 12, 2005

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» Game developers' amazing rants on the state of the industry from Boing Boing
Alice continues to take fantastic, exhaustive notes at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco. She's just posted her notes from the closing panel in which eminent game developers were invited to rant about the state of the industry. What foll... [Read More]

» Live at the GDC by Alice from bennellibrothers.com
Alice at Wonderland has a great article discussing a panel at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. This particular piece disucsses game developers rants with the business. Its an incredible post and she really does a great job of... [Read More]

» Big Fish, Little Fish from Pixel Kill
Reading Alice's exhaustive GDC wrap report it seems pretty clear that a lot of developers are fairly pissed at the direction big publishers and hardware makers are taking the industry, the [Read More]

» Big Fish, Little Fish from Pixel Kill
Reading Alice's exhaustive GDC wrap report it seems pretty clear that a lot of developers are fairly pissed at the direction big publishers and hardware makers are taking the industry, the [Read More]

» Gaming rants from Orrill Reports: I'm sorry I'm showing such a complete lack of remorse
Some great rants about the state of the video gaming industry. Mostly deals with consoles, which are the worst of the bunch. At least on a PC there's the opportunity to distribute something as a shareware app, which opens things... [Read More]

» Burning Down the House at GDC from The Game Blog

Alice over at Wonderland has one of the last transcripts up from a panel of very feisty game designers, talking about what's wrong in the industry. Absolutely a m [Read More]

» Computer games are witholding our youth from an authentic rebel yell? from Philosophistry: it's Greek for "The Love of Rhetoric" (Philip Dhingra's blog)
at the game developers conference here in San Francisco they opened the floor for ranting by people in the gaming industry. it's a very good conversation, and I think a lot of people's creativity comes from complaint. interspersed in between was some p... [Read More]

» Viva La Revolution! from Grown Up Gamer
No, not the Nintendo Revolution. The independent gaming revolution! Alice continues her saintly efforts to bring us speeches from the GDC at her Wonderland blog. These rants should warm the heart of all who feel the gaming industry is going astray... [Read More]

» Great article on the state of the game industry. from
What ever happened to the art side of games instead of the business side? [Read More]

» Game Developers Rant Transcript from Random Thoughts
I just knew that someone would take some good notes from the session I mentioned yesterday: "Burning Down The House: Game Developers Rant". Go read it over on Wonderland. Warning, there's "language" here. The session wasn't tame...... [Read More]

» GDC recap from Psychochild's Blog
Another GDC has come and gone. So, after a bit of sleep I'm posting some thoughts. [Read More]

» Big Fish, Little Fish from Pixel Kill
Reading Alice's exhaustive GDC wrap report it seems pretty clear that a lot of developers are fairly pissed at the direction big publishers and hardware makers are taking the industry, the [Read More]

» Interesting note at the recent GDC from pliwoodmunkee.com - Down and out in Heverly Bills
Greg Costikyan: I don't know about you but I could have been a lawyer, or a carpenter. or a sous-chef. How many of you are here because you’re after a paycheck? [One bloke raises his hand, audience laughs and crows]. Ahuh. And how many of you are here [Read More]

» links for 2005-03-14 from Roland Tanglao's Weblog
Wonderland: Burn The House Down Hmmm this applies to more than just game software development! Follow your passion. - "You have choices too: work in a massive sweatshop publisher-run studio with thousands of others making the next racing game... [Read More]

» All developers need a process from daily delusions
Here a nice portion from a conference protocol of the GDC: Wonderland: Burn The House Down Xenophobia. We don'tcare about anything outside of the game industry. There is so much knowledge, research, business models, management practices out there. W... [Read More]

» Brother from Harold's Corner
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» Brother from Harold's Corner
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» GDC: Industry Rants (Burning Down the House) from Sebastien St-Laurent's (AKA Sebby) WebLog
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» Game Developers Marathon from Reality Panic
I think I need to train harder for GDC! I actually suffered my first conference injury, "hand shake pinky twist", from shaking too many hands! (Actually, I aggravated an old rugby injury (ie, broken hand), but still). Anyway, another grueling... [Read More]

» Game Developers Marathon from Reality Panic
I think I need to train harder for GDC! I actually suffered my first conference injury, "hand shake pinky twist", from shaking too many hands! (Actually, I aggravated an old rugby injury (ie, broken hand), but still). Anyway, another grueling... [Read More]

» Game Developers Marathon from Reality Panic
I think I need to train harder for GDC! I actually suffered my first conference injury, "hand shake pinky twist", from shaking too many hands! (Actually, I aggravated an old rugby injury (ie, broken hand), but still). Anyway, another grueling... [Read More]

» You're Out-of-Order! from The Hobbit Hole
I had read Chris Hecker's rant previously, but only now are the implications starting to sink in. 1/3 through 1/10 code speed for normal "messy" code that makes up the game code. That's on top of the problem that having multiple cores brings. (A... [Read More]

» Warren Spector's presentation at the from screaming penguin
Warren Spector's presentation at the Game Developers Conference this year, as transcribed by Alice... . . [Read More]

» GDC Q&A from
GDC Q&A [Read More]

» Brenda Laurel On Computer Games from Ted Leung on the air
[via Wonderland: Burn The House Down ]: Part of a Brenda Laurel rant at this year's IGDA There hasn’t been a game about geopolitics that was worth a shit since Hidden Agenda! We should be giving people rehearsals for citizenship and change. [Read More]

» Gaming rants from Orrill Reports: I'm sorry I'm showing such a complete lack of remorse
Some great rants about the state of the video gaming industry. Mostly deals with consoles, which are the worst of the bunch. At least on a PC there's the opportunity to distribute something as a shareware app, which opens things... [Read More]

» Wonderland: Burn The House Down from Dealio
Wonderland: Burn The House Down ... [Read More]

» Photo-realism: is it the only future? from Guardian Unlimited: Gamesblog
Photo-realism may not be the only path in the future of computer games. In fact, it might be their doom. [Read More]

» Ten "Most Interesting" people in games design - International perspective from Guardian Unlimited: Gamesblog
The internationally-slanted 10 most interesting people in games 2005. [Read More]

» Ten "Most Interesting" people in games design - International perspective from Guardian Unlimited: Gamesblog
The internationally-slanted 10 most interesting people in games 2005. [Read More]

Comments

Pete C

I really am going to have to make a GDC one year, I love just soaking up and thinking over the ideas and opinions of designers, even though I'm not one myself. Thanks for the frequent lengthy updates Alice, it's been great following the GDC from across the pond. Hope you can still hold a pint glass down the pub after all that typing! ;)

NelC

That last questioner was so lame. I wonder if he's ever been to a library?

Hey, that would mean that librarians are pirates! "Quiet, or you'll feel the point o' me cutlass, ye scurvy dog!"

Hmm, time for bed....

mpesce

That panel ROCKED! Wish I coulda been there, but being 9000 miles from San Francisco is a bit of a problem. So here it is: DIY, give it away, do it for art's sake, and fuck big media. Perfect, perfect, perfect. THANK YOU ALICE!

Alice

Hehe my pleasure, glad you got to get a bit of it :)

And as for that last bloke and his terrible question, he left the room with his tail between his legs...

x

Crosbie Fitch

Some links for hints of what new business models will look like for the games industry:

http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/jason-rohrer/freeDistribution.html
http://www.digitalartauction.com/history/bcbm.htm


JW

Interesting stuff.... I'm not a game designer, but the comments here give me hope that maybe I could do something interesting and make an impact.

BTW, just for future reference, a baller is someone who plays basketball, probably in the same way that a hacker is someone who uses a computer.

Joe

Great session. Thanks for transcribing it.

I think baller in this context is referring to a gang member.

http://www.gang-busters.com/terms/html/..%5Chtml%5Cletter_b.aspx

art after next

thank you very much for this coverage. elightening and educating for those of us too poor to attend. again, thank you.

zeke

Hi. Thanks for the article. But let me ask you something: ARE YOU BLIND? Your line spacing makes your articles almost impossible to read. I think you have interesting things to say, it's just too painful to read them.

anonymous

I can't wait for all these idoits to go their own way and bankrupt themselves. Then when development does get outsourced to the Guptas in India we might actually get some real innovation, rather than the fifth rehash of some urban myths.
Of all these whiners, only Brenda had anything remotely resembling a cogent thought, but her rant ends as foolishly as any of the others.
Sorry, guys, but Saddam is gone, and unless you can get Kim Il Jong to be your patron, you are out of luck.

galiel

For another model of how to make money making games without selling one's soul, check out our site

http://www.piecorp.org/

In addition to learing about our particular efforts, the MMOG called "Mars First!", you can read the (Creative Commons licensed) article "A Lever Long Enough: Value driven enterprise in the networked information economy", posted on our site at

http://piecorp.org/aleverlongenough.html

about the emergence of a new alternative to the traditional capitalist model of corporations and markets (which Yochai Benkler calls "commons-based peer-production", of which open source is but one example), and how to leverage that production model for socially-constructive ends.

We have developed a business plan (for massively multiplayer gaming development, distribution and support, in this case) that doesn't rely on proprietary tech, content or distribution.

Besides being self-supporting (after an initial development phase that would be funded by donations), the model actually generates significant net revenue that is then rolled over into the creation of other, similar, public interest projects in a "virtuous circle".

As an offshoot of the development process, open-source tools for design, development, support and content-creation are publicly released.

P.S.: PIECORP, Public Interest Entertainment Corporation, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, dedicated to using the technology of games to make a difference, and to developing open source/open development/open publishing/open distribution tools for others to do the same. Everything we create is available for the common good.

(Disclaimer: Brenda Laurel is on our board, but doesn't know I'm posting this and she did not speak on our behalf at the GDC, which I did not attend this year. Nothing I post here should be construed as representing her POV or opinion, nor anyone else's but my own as founder and executive director of the organization.)

Anyone interested in talking about this model or our project (or interested in funding some of it) is welcome to contact me through the website.

Ben

"Warren: I never minded piracy. Anyone who minds about piracy is full of shit. Anyone who pirates your game wasn’t going to buy it anyway!"

Heh.

SirBruce

>(Disclaimer: Brenda Laurel is on our board, but
>doesn't know I'm posting this and she did not speak on
>our behalf at the GDC, which I did not attend this
>year. Nothing I post here should be construed as
>representing her POV or opinion, nor anyone else's but
>my own as founder and executive director of the
>organization.)

Nevertheless, Brenda's comments turned my stomach. She not only bashed Bush, she called all public corporations inherently evil. She was so far left in her views that if she isn't at least a Green, she's a freakin' Communist. I won't be supporting your organization in any way, shape, or form so long as she is on your board.

Bruce

bobstevens

It's sad to see smart people say things like this. If they hate the non-indie game market so much, why don't they leave it? And in some cases, how can they hate the non-indie game market when they're not even a part of it?

If all you want is to innovate, and everything in your current job makes it hard for you to innovate, then why don't you move to the section of the game industry that doesn't have any of these problems? I'm not sure if it's a mental disconnect or if they're just being disingenuous. Either way I respect these people a little less.

If Warren Spector actually thinks that people who pirate your game weren't going to buy it anyway, then I *know* there's a mental disconnect in there somewhere.

Exitium

I'd like for you to explain how someone living in Russia who makes a few dollars a day is going to buy your game legally for what is the equivilent of 200 dollars in Russia when he can easily get the same game pirated for a few dollars.

The people who commit piracy the most are often those who can't afford to buy the legal copies anyhow. Piracy in America is rather pointless considering that you can get the games for the same cost as a pirated copy by borrowing it from Blockbuster anyhow.

galiel

Sir Bruce -

It is useful to know that you evaluate the merits of a thing based exclusively on the personal ideology of all associated with it. It is unfortunate that you rush to throw out all babies with every drop of bathwater.

At the very least, now we know not to take your mmog stats at face value, but to wonder instead how your ideology has led you to skew the results to favor those games whose creators and distributors meet your ideological litmus test. Silly me, I assumed you were a reputable source, and referred many to your stats.

Or do you feel it is unfair, and even silly for people to discount your stats based on your ideology?

Personally, I have found it useful to evaluate the merits of a thing based on its actual merits. To reject things a priori on the basis of your superficial perception of the ideology of all associated with a project, is an act of precisely the kind of dogmatic, unthinking ideology to which you seem to object.

Incidentally, it is rather ignorant to dismiss a person with a body of work and a record of contribution to the industry such as Brenda's, based on a hasty and superficial interpretation of a transcript of a single comment of hers at a rant session. Brenda is not only a game entrepreneur herself (founder and CEO of Purple Moon), but has and does consulting for many of the leading corporations in America.

If you intend to oppose all worthwhile activity, capitalist or philanthropic, that happens to have opponents to George W. Bush associated with it in any way, then you are clearly not a fan of American democracy nor of capitalism. More like one who yearns for the clarity and simplicity of the McCarthy era.

I assume you have an enemies list now. If Brenda ends up associated with an mmog that merits inclusion in your stats, will you exclude it based on your Unamerican Activities list? How do we know you haven't already skewed the results to fit your ideology? See how ridiculous this can get?

In which case, I am happy not to have your support - even for a 501(c)3 organization, which, by law, does not involve itself in political activity of any kind, and even though I have been an entrepreneur myself for twenty years. Apparently, my choice to make my creations freely available makes me a Communist, too - as Bill Gates called anyone associated with the open source movement. How amusing.

SirBruce

Post deleted for violations of Godwin's Law -- keep it civil or take it somewhere else! -- Alice

galiel

Back to the actual point of the post, someone has to get the ball rolling. Someone has to be the catalyst, and help evolve a self-sustaining alternative system for development and distribution and revenue-collection.

The system will not cure itself, nor will alternatives spontaneously appear. Mere faith in the magic of the "market" will not suffice, any more than the truly insightful rants referenced above will cure the ills.

What is needed is the willingness to devote resources, energy and time to step outside the system and build alternatives that are not only financial sustaining, but professionally and personally satisfying as well. It is not an overnight project, either; Rome was not built in a day (outside the gamer world, that is).

But, there are solutions. There are ideas and plans out there, have been for a long time, that require only the application of a critical mass of money, time, and energy, to make it happen, from funding new creations, to distributing them, to collecting revenue, and perpetuating the cycle entirely outside the current system.

And, the resources exist, too. The money is out there, the manpower is available, the desire is clearly abundant.

All that stands in the way is a set of fictions about the way things "must" be done, chief among them the idea that nothing worthwhile can be ventured unless it happens within the confines of our proprietary, antagonistic, hyper-corporate culture, where not only the product of our labors but even the product of our minds is converted to "intellectual property", something to be hoarded and secreted and rationed and owned by others, where "war" is waged to "beat" the competition, where workers are exploited, customers (barely) tolerated and only money talks. We have been hypnotized to believe that we are enemies of one another. It is a divide and conquer strategy that has deprived the world of much creativity and art and benefit, and, like all dogmas, it can and should be questioned, and alternatives sought. Commons-based peer production, aka open source/open development/open publishing, is one part of the answer.

There are, by the nature of our profession, a lot of big egos around, and a lot of self-interest behind many of the complaints. That won't be enough to make the difference. It takes generosity of spirit and a willingness to get down in the trenches rather than be up on the podium. I, for one, am delighted to hear folks finally speaking out. There can be no change until there is acknowledgement of the problem.

However, I have heard these grumbles for years, behind the scenes, and often the loudest grumblers, the most rabble-rousing ranters, end up being the ones who, at the end of the day, go back and make yet another empty special-effects spectacular for The Man.

Nothing will change until we change it.

Together.

SirBruce

Post re-made to avoid "Godwin's Law" -- don't allow others to attack me without allowing me to defend myself.

>It is useful to know that you evaluate the merits of a
>thing based exclusively on the personal ideology of
>all associated with it. It is unfortunate that you
>rush to throw out all babies with every drop of
>bathwater.

Wow, nice to see you're mastered hyperbole and demagoguery; now lets see if you can handle logic.

>At the very least, now we know not to take your mmog
>stats at face value, but to wonder instead how your
>ideology has led you to skew the results to favor
>those games whose creators and distributors meet your
>ideological litmus test. Silly me, I assumed you were
>a reputable source, and referred many to your stats.

I've always told people not to take my stats at face value. You're not going to wound me by accusing me of bias; I've heard that many times before.

>Or do you feel it is unfair, and even silly for people
>to discount your stats based on your ideology?

It's simply a matter of judgement, and you're also conflating factual reporting with organization. If Stalin was a reporter, I would not discount his articles simply because he was Stalin; I would evaluate them on their own, self-contained content and merit. I would keep in mind his potential for bias, of course.

Now instead, if Stalin was on the board of an organization, then I would certainly be inherently suspicious of the goals of that organization. Even if his influence from his position is limited, I worry about the judgement of the organization wanting to associate with such a person.

Now of course I'm not saying Brenda is Stalin. But Brenda strikes me as the person who is not simply expressing her opinions, but is advocating them, and would be an advocate of those political opinions even on the board of your organization. Now perhaps her voice doesn't hold much sway over the board, but I still have to question the judgement of the organization to have her on the board in the first place.

>Incidentally, it is rather ignorant to dismiss a
>person with a body of work and a record of
>contribution to the industry such as Brenda's, based
>on a hasty and superficial interpretation of a
>transcript of a single comment of hers at a rant
>session. Brenda is not only a game entrepreneur
>herself (founder and CEO of Purple Moon), but has and
>does consulting for many of the leading corporations
>in America.

Ummm, I was THERE, okay? I'm not interpreting the transcript. It goes way beyond the swipe at Bush. She accused the majority of corporate CEOs as being corrupt middle-aged men indulging in power-trip fantasies trying to turn little boys into either corporate cogs or trained killers -- you know, Republicans and the evil soldiers/police they use to oppress the hippies. She said all public corporations were evil.

I make no judgement about her past work, especially that which I don't know about. I'm sure some of it was good and some of it was bad. But your organization is supposed to promote not only a "civil society", but a set of values that go along with teaching people to get along in virtual worlds. If that philosophy has no room for Capitalism, I want no part of it.

>If you intend to oppose all worthwhile activity,
>capitalist or philanthropic, that happens to have
>opponents to George W. Bush associated with it in any
>way, then you are clearly not a fan of American
>democracy nor of capitalism. More like one who yearns
>for the clarity and simplicity of the McCarthy era.

This coming from someone who, if they think like Brenda, opposes all worthwhile activity, capitalist or philanthropic, because it happens to be associated with George W. Bush in any way. Oh, who am I kidding? If it's capitalist or associated with Bush, it can't be worthwhile, right?

Let's be clear -- the reactionary and polar nature of our dispute here originated with Brenda, not me. Clearly you think this is not proper and I agree, but if you want to move to a constructive dialog, you need to do something about her, not me.

>I assume you have an enemies list now. If Brenda ends
>up associated with an mmog that merits inclusion in
>your stats, will you exclude it based on your
>Unamerican Activities list? How do we know you haven't
>already skewed the results to fit your ideology? See
>how ridiculous this can get?

The key thing is I *know* I'm not going to do that, because I hold myself to a higher standard as a journalist. Naturally, I have to convince my readers that I'm not going to be biased, and that can only come by building up trust over time.

But I have no reason to believe Brenda isn't applying her bias inside your organization, nor do I have any reason to believe, despite your disclaimer, that you actually think differently, because frankly you haven't expressed your opinions beyond what you've posted above, which could very well include a lot of Devil's Advocacy. But if Brenda's opinions are so rabidly anti-capitalism, anti-Republican, anti-white male as they appear, then why should I believe that her games, which will focus on "the rules, regulations, laws, political and economic systems and social conventions and principles" will not reflect those biases? Why should I doubt her rules systems will reward behave that is closer to Karl Marx than Milton Friedman?

>In which case, I am happy not to have your support -
>even for a 501(c)3 organization, which, by law, does
>not involve itself in political activity of any kind,
>and even though I have been an entrepreneur myself for
>twenty years. Apparently, my choice to make my
>creations freely available makes me a Communist, too -
>as Bill Gates called anyone associated with the open
>source movement. How amusing.

I have nothing against open source or someone choosing to make open source software. I do have a problem with someone claiming anything made via the profit motive is inherently evil and exploitative.

Bruce

galiel

It is always distressing when people are irrationally determined to cause damage, because of some wild ideological hair up their ass, to people they don't even know, working on projects they haven't bothered to learn about, attempting to do worthwhile work in the world.

It is so easy to carelessly and thoughtlessly destroy the efforts of others, even their life's work, from the comfort of an armchair, and so difficult to actually do something constructive. Hate is a lazy emotion, and this medium is easy prey for the lazy.

I have plenty of life experience with people more committed to argumentation than action. I used to be like that myself. Then I grew up. Life is simply too short, and too precious, to bother with such self-indulgent nonsense when there is important work to be done.

So, I treat Sir Bruce as damage and route around him. Life, and work, will go on, with or without his sanction, approval or acclaim. Clearly, he has nothing constructive to offer in this discussion.

One final note, just to be clear and unapologetic: Brenda Laurel isn't just "on our board," she chairs it, at my invitation. She also happens to be a dear personal friend of mine, which is why I take great acception to Sir Bruce's ignorant, McCarthyesque smear of a wonderful, individual with a generous and genuine heart---who, incidentally, has contributed far more to this industry than he probably ever will. Among other things, she co-founded the GDC.

The demons you fight are clearly your own, Sir Bruce, and you are projecting bizarre caricatures on real people with real lives that bear no relationship to your simplistic black-or-white fantasy-world. You should think twice about the real consequences of your thoughtless words. It is far easier to tear down that to build, but just because it is easy, doesn't make it right. Life isn't a video game, and it's not all about beating the "enemy".

Ross Mansfield

"That panel ROCKED! Wish I coulda been there, but being 9000 miles from San Francisco is a bit of a problem. So here it is: DIY, give it away, do it for art's sake, and fuck big media. Perfect, perfect, perfect. THANK YOU ALICE!"

Quoted for emphasis.

bottleHeD

Maybe we should all get back into side-scrollers big time...

fluffy

If SirBruce's original post mentioned Nazis, then it was a proof of Godwin's Law, not a violation of it. (It's a law as in 'Natural Laws of Physics,' not as in 'speed limit.')

RayB

What are they ranting about really? The things they complain about have existed since the dawn of video gaming!

Pong appeared - Dozens of Pong clones followed suit
Space Invaders - Dozens of clones followed
PacMan - dozens of clones and maze games

>>Fast Forward to the days of Consoles... Same deal. Mario Bros 3 was a mega hit - EVERY company had to follow suit with a side-scroller.

It never ends folks. And it's not just in the video game industry. So stop complaining and just make fun games.

Merc

Just a note, I couldn't read your page without having Firefox change the page style to "no style". Otherwise it was rendered with each line overlapping the ones before it. Dunno if it's a firefox problem or a stylesheet issue. Anyhow, thought you should know.

praxis22

Well you learn something new every day. I'd never heard of Godwin's law 'till now. Wikipedia says that it's bad form to mention it explictly, probably like the rules of "Mornington Crescent" or something :) Nice work Alice, many thanks for your exertions on our behalf.

RayB

"Maybe we should all get back into side-scrollers big time..."

Yeah. Let's go back to one of the most tired and exhausted genres around. You DO know that by the mid-90's the industry at large was suffering due to the poor sales of games. The typical side-scroller sold 10,000 copies, if that.

notes

Notes? Seriously? Or an audio recording to portable HDD?

Alice

Naw. Fast typer. Like I said, it's not a transcript, just long notes...

Too much time on IRC, see.

Kathy

Same thing in Safari -- line spacing way too narrow. Otherwise, great stuff.

Rob

You'll have to forgive me if I don't quite understand why people are getting so excited about this. Did anyone pay attention to what these people are saying?

First they attack the business model, which is by no means perfect, but which got them all where they are today. Then they have the temerity to insist that games piracy is okay and should be accepted.

Of course it's okay for them. They're rich. They have no worries. If they want to spend a few years roughing out a concept and don't are whether it sells, they have that right. Most people don't. And it's pretty rude and presumptive of them to claim that if you're working on games and earning a living that you're helping to destroy the system which made them rich.

I also don't understand how these people are qualified to talk about innovation. Will Wright has made the same game for 20 years. Spore is just the same game all over again. Sure lots of people find his games fun - but lots of people found GTA fun, or Halo, or Half-Life. Warren Spector has pretty much just done Deus Ex. Cool game, but not exactly original (think Japanese RPG meets Western shooter, with lots of stuff 'borrowed' from Gibson).

Again, they've made some good games. But they hardly seem qualified to deliver some holier-than-thou rant about innovative gameplay. And any rich person telling the rest of us that how we earn a living is wrong just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

anonymous

> We have two models of alpha maleness: skaters and ballers [I have no idea what this is referring to - A]

I would assume that "skaters" means skateboarders/X games-type athletes.

"Ballers" means basketball players, such paragons of male-ness like Kobe, Steve Christie, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

george 'the animal' copperart

Yay for indie developers! Costikyan is a bit OTT when he carries on about HD though. PC developers have been working in HD resolutions for years now without exploding or otherwise coming to a tragic end. There are lots of successful indie game devs and pubs out there now, look at Live For Speed, Matrix Games to name a few... Just blow off the big biz and focus on what you want to do. All the bleating about M$ and Nintendong is pointless.

Adam

Blah blah more Microsoft and Sony are the devil bullshit.

Some of the folks think they are so creative and love to criticize the current releases, yet where is their stuff that's so much better?

Who cares how creative your ideas are when they never see the light of day? Enter Microsoft and Sony who are product release powerhouses. They get the job done. Expect that some creatively is going to be lost.

Besides, many ideas look so innovative, original, and great until you try to put that stuff down in specs and build demos and then you find out it sucks. Additionally, some ideas just don't translate into a workable release schedule. But no matter what, somewhere along the line you have to transition the great ideas out of your head and into the code in some sustainable way. In that case, you're dealing with the same problems that Microsoft and Sony solve all day long.

Damn, everybody's a fucking critic. Try to do better and then teach us all how we were all wrong. I'd love to see it happen.

Myria

What a load of pathetic drivel, I had no idea the game industry was full of such idiocy. It saddens me greatly to know that I've put money in some of these people's pockets by buying their products.

In all honesty, if these are the kinds of people the gaming industry considers leaders, it's seriously time I reconsider my hobbies. Very sad.

MumbleFuzz

<>

<>

<>

While it's true to say that these were not the most eloquent of speakers, it's unfair to dismiss their points outright. While the details are lacking, what they say is true; the cost of games, combined with the usual distribution model, can easily stifle innovation, a quality that is essential in any artform. You simply have to look at the games released today to notice how depressingly repetitive and uninspired the industry has become.

However, my main issue with the critical posts quoted above is that they miss the point of the talk entirely. The developers never claimed to be creating wonderfully innovative games, and never claimed that they were going to reinvent the industry overnight. Their point is that there are serious problems which should not be ignored. This is not hippocracy, it is common sense.

MumbleFuzz

Quotes above didn't come out. Here they are:

"Again, they've made some good games. But they hardly seem qualified to deliver some holier-than-thou rant about innovative gameplay."

"Damn, everybody's a fucking critic. Try to do better and then teach us all how we were all wrong. I'd love to see it happen."

"What a load of pathetic drivel, I had no idea the game industry was full of such idiocy."

Rob

That may be the case. But the problem is that this type of discussion never leads to any form of change. Actually doing something leads to change.

I liken this to a bunch of people meeting in a room, and somebody saying "2+2 is 4". Everybody nods in agreement because, damn it, 2+2 IS 4. And everyone feels good about themselves.

But what is the end result? Anyone can say that they wish things were different. That doesn't bring about any different approach, or even mean that a different approach is necessarily any better. The bottom line is that innovative games do get made in the current environment, and there isn't much reason to believe any other approach would offer more chance for innovation - particularly when one always has to consider how the people making the games are going to put food on the table.

Analogizing to the film industry: people complain about the emptiness of the studio model, but at the end of the day there just aren't a million innovative screenplays lying around waiting for someone to make them.

Anyone who is truly driven to get their idea out there will find a way to do so. Gettng a bunch of fanboys to give you a standing ovation because you say "I wish everyone was more creative" doesn't change anything. Praising rampant piracy because you don't need any more money doesn't change anything.

There are real issues to be addressed and this type of event doesn't even begin to address them. It's just good for emotional catharsis - for making the speakers feel important and the listeners feel privileged. It's a stroke session.

psysal

Thanks for transcribing this. I am kind of annoyed by the panelists comments on piracy. I'm a small developer and if I sell anywhere close to 10,000 copies of my game I will be laughing all the way to the bank. It's true that, well, if people are pirating your game then at least they are playing it but IMHO piracy has the potential to hurt the small guys way more than the big guys.

The last question wasn't a bad one either. Developers see, what, 0.00$ from game rentals right? And yet, reviewers are likely going to say about your game, "not worth a purchase but definitely a solid rental." How can that not annoy you?

It's interesting to see the hate for Nintendo. How does one reconcile saying, "we are screwed by glitz" with the recent statements from Nintendo that say they are trying not to do that with their next gen. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy it at least seems like Nintendo is doing some things right, according to the panelists.

I do find the whole XNA and HD stuff pretty horrifying but please recognize that MS is great at intimidating developers, ala: "sign on to our business model or you are going to be out of business in 5 years, because we define the future." This is what XNA is and it's mostly a lie.

What we developers might still be lacking is old fashioned business savvy and pragmatism. See your leverage and use it. Beethoven and Mozart wrote really popular music in their day and died with lots of money. All this self-glorifying nonsense about games being high art and blah blah blah is probably part of the problem.

Russ

You missed the one quote at the end in regard to the piracy comment. I can't remember who said it, but the statement was roughly in a mocking tone, "Yeah, I've written 3 novels in the past, and I hate it how people can just go to the library and read them whenever they want! I don't see a dime of that!"

All in all a great panel.

Aaron Pulkka

There were three sessions I had circled on my schedule that I wasn't able to make it to. The QoL Summit, Will Wright's talk, and this one. Thanks for the transcript, so that I could at least get a taste for it. But damn, I obviously had bad missed sessions luck :)

For the last few years I have been toiling with some of these issues and have yet to come up with a grand solution, except that I have -- in my spare time -- bought a Mac and started getting my hands directly back into development again (why a Mac? they have changed a lot since I last touched one and it allows a fresh perspective -- not to mention the XNA platform gives me the willies).

Whether or not I ever release anything I make on my own, or make a dime off of it even if I do, I at least feel like I am able to rekindle what got me excited about this industry in the first place. Making games can be fun, but I imagine I am not alone when I say it is more than fun for me, it is nearly as essential as breathing. The way the industry has been going, has made it hard to breathe.

Derick Eisenhardt

I am glad to see there are so many insightful developers still left in the industry. The game industry is about to repeat the early 80's and crash beyond belief with the current big blockbuster game only crap they've been shovelling down our throats lately. I do not understand those of you who are so quick to attack them, and so quick to defend the media giants. Are you really so blind that you can't see that they may be making a few quick bucks right now, but they are going to be committing suicide in the long term? And shame on Bruce for saying anyone against Giant Coporations and Mr. W are left-wing hippies and whatnot! Any moderate with half a brain will tell you the same...these guys are too big, and abusing their power. It's sad to see such a large portion of America just willing to believe what they are told. And with that, I'd just like to say that those who want to hold on to the current way the video game industry is going will be begging these people to give them jobs in about 10 years, so laugh it up, and enjoy your crappy all flash and no substance games while it lasts...

Derick Eisenhardt

Psysal,
I understand your concern about piracy as a small developer, but these guys know what they're talking about. I have known many people who pirate games, music, and whatnot over the years...and they almost always fall into one of two categories:

1. People who want to try it before they buy it.
2. People who never would have bought it in the first place.

I tend to fall into the first category when it comes to music, as the music industry has gone to complete crap along with radio, so the only way I can find out if I'm getting my money's worth is to download it first, and then buy it once I've listened to it a few times and decided I like it.

In the game industry we already have a business model for this, it's called Shareware. If you give people a decent chunk of your game, and they like it....they'll buy the whole game. ID software wouldn't have released one of the biggest name games this past year if it wasn't for this... Yet, it seems they didn't retain that knowlege as Doom3 was probably the most pirated games ever, just because of the simple fact that they did not release a demo prior to it's release. Most of those people just wanted to know if their system could handle it, and if it was any good.

As for the second group, these are the people who either can't afford your product, or were never interested enough to buy it in the first place...you can only hope that if they like your game enough, then they will buy it and want to support you in future products.

The only other factor when it comes to piracy is price. If people feel like you're ripping them off, they will rip you off instead. If games go up to $60 in the next generation, as many are predicting, you can expect piracy to probably double along with it. I would advice not to charge over $30 for a game, you'll sell a lot more copies and make more money in the end...

jerome_horwitz

Chris: I’m pro-piracy. I want people to play the games I make. I do it because it’s art. I think DRM is a total fucking stupid mess. If the game industry collapses and can be reborn, I’m all for it. Pirate on!

Greg: they’re not pirating the game! Someone bought a legal copy! The world is not designed in such a way that money inherently funnels its way into your wallet!?

Warren: I never minded piracy. Anyone who minds about piracy is full of shit. Anyone who pirates your game wasn’t going to buy it anyway!

[the session was brought to an end by the GDC organisers who were timekeeping, to huge booing and catcalling.]

So that's that. Fucking fantastic. Nothing could top that, so I'm off to the pub.

=========================================

All this talk of change, yet this ignorant attitude persist among developers. I say no pay, no play. Fuck em.

Tei

%%% OOOrder chips? %%%

Hello.

I own a copy of Solner. That looks like a good game, has the correct features. Its a freeform world where everything its destructible. Cool!.

But Its lotsa slow. Unplayable.

We have also Star Wars Battlefront. This game looks fantastic, but its a ripoff of BF1942. And the maps are tiny, and the interactivity its ZERO. Other than killing bots.

I have notice that that "cells" chips will make Soldners games slower and Battlefront games faster.

Conclusion:

/me cry

Tayssir John Gabbour

On Wal-Mart's attacks on other industries, PBS's expose video is online:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

Even musicians are dissenting with the music industry. Chuck D of Public Enemy debates Metallica's Lars Ulrich:
http://www.rapstation.com/promo/lars_vs_chuckd.html

In fact, Chuck D explained that "accountant and lawyer driven" corporate music leads to boring, destructive stereotypes, just as panelist Brenda Laurel explained:
http://www.uaf.edu/sunstar/archives/20050301/chuckd.htm

Anyone interested in these issues would probably enjoy this new movie:
http://www.thecorporation.com/

Tom sutton

Uhm this sites neat, but i buy games or rent them. And i have to say... ITS YOUR OWN FUCKING FAULT. Im tired of these shitty games simply because you guys wont stop bitching. Shut up, sit down and make a GOOD game and for god sakes stop the short form info speach. Ive never seen somthing so stupid. Do good, you sell, do shitty you fail. So stop fucking up!

Laudunum


To all the folks who seem pissed off, SirBruce et al. I have to say that I am a little disappointed that you seem so ready to dismiess people who were, first and foremost, RANTING, which is what the session was supposed to be. This, by definition, was not a forum designed to be about PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE or RETHINKING THE GAME INDUSTRY.

It was pure, old-fashioned, American RANTING. It's release from the pressures of everyday life in the company of sometimes like-minded peers. But it's precisely these kinds of sessions that can lead to new forms of either social action or new forms of game development or distribution, because people realize that others feel the same way and so maybe there's an audience there, or market for those like Sir Bruce who feel that capitalism, and its terminology, must trump all.

It's also the case that this kind of free-wheeling exchange in which people can be angry, and perhaps represent themselves in a lopsided fashion, as perhaps Brenda did, can lead to interesting new ideas.

Judging people, organizations, or an industry on the basis of a rant session just strikes me as silly, or someone looking to be pissed off -- rather like extremists on either side of what patheically small space we have left for public discourse and political dialogue -- which too often leads folks to say, "Oh, you believe X, then you must also believe in Y and Z and therefore are a (a) communist or (b) racist or (c) some other form of dismissive pejorative." Well, bullshit, life is a lot more complex than that, as are people.

I think it's perfectly reasonable for folks to have made decent, if not good, livings within an industry that is now dominated by far too few channels for distribution and to be brave enough to rant about it. What would you prefer? They could always stay silent and just keep raking it in and be happy that your options are few and that you have to buy their games. Instead, they are looking for ways for more people to get involved in the process, for more people to create.

I saw nothing in the transcript that said that all creative people must give it away and that no one should be interested in profit. What I saw was creative people pushing against the force that has come to dominate their lives and casting about for other models so as to WIDEN the realm of possibilities.

Jeremy Easoz

I was talking to someone in the industry about this transcript and he said something pretty funny.

If these people believe in what they say so much, why dont they put there life savings on it and try to make the changes themselves instead of leaning on big publishers and other peoples money.

And who cares about piracy? rofl thats the stupidest thing ive heard in years.

If anyone is full of shit, its these guys, they really should find a new industry to work in.

Dan

What? These people are the some of the biggest names in the games industry. If they ain't right, no one is.

I pirate songs, and on the same model that Warren said - almost every one the albums I've got, I wouldn't pay for even at half price. Same with games - I always buy them second hand, or get them for birthday or christmas.

They're something that unless I see the demo and really like it (which is hard to find in this day and age) I won't buy it. Pool paridise was a good game (got the demo), so I bought it. But Firestarter, Megarace 3, etc - these games were purchased for me as presents. Sure I'll play them if they're there, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy them (unless people are really raving, then I usually get the demo and prehaps buy the game). Admittantly, it's not good moral fibre. But I know plenty of people just like me who have the same attitudes towards things.

"Uhm this sites neat, but i buy games or rent them. And i have to say... ITS YOUR OWN FUCKING FAULT. Im tired of these shitty games simply because you guys wont stop bitching. Shut up, sit down and make a GOOD game and for god sakes stop the short form info speach. Ive never seen somthing so stupid. Do good, you sell, do shitty you fail. So stop fucking up!"


Clearly you didn't read all of the article. [b]PROGRAMMERS CANNOT FOCUS ON GAMEPLAY OR INNOVATION BECAUSE COMPANIES DO NOT LET THEM[/b], as stated here:

"Next generation games will cost 20m. Publishers are becoming increasingly risk averse. Today you cannot get an innovative title published unless your last name is Wright or Miyamoto. Who was at the Microsoft keynote? I don’t know about you but it made my flesh crawl. [laughter] The HD era? Bigger, louder? Big bucks to be made! Well not by you and me of course. Those budgets and teams ensure the death of innovation."

Companies who are simply in it for the money do not want to focus on innovation or gameplay when they can just buy gamers off with good graphics.

Dan

Sorry about the bbtags, thought they'd work here.

Of course the above is just my opinion, but I agreed with the experts and was ranting about some of the things Warren said well before I read this.

ddf

Psyal wrote:

"Beethoven and Mozart wrote really popular music in their day and died with lots of money. All this self-glorifying nonsense about games being high art and blah blah blah is probably part of the problem."

Uh, Mozart was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave because he had no money. Can't recall how well Beethoven was doing at the end of life, but I don't think he had "lots" of money. He was at least smart enough to convince people that they should pay him to write his music, which is one of the methods that Warren is suggesting. I think games *can* be entertainment and high art all at once in the same way that an interesting piece of "art" music or innovative film can be.

Al

Bill Harris tears this panel apart.

http://dubiousquality.blogspot.com/2005/03/house-cant-burn-down-when-all-you.html

Money quote:

"And here's a theme that's going to wind through this entire transcript: these people are going to whine about everything related to them, but is anyone going to mention that many of these people aren't actually FINISHING the games? Is anyone going to mention that developers are responsible for delivering finished products to consumers? Are any of them going to say that many of them are failing the consumer?

Don't hold your breath."

Dan

Innovation would be more common if graphics cards couldn't get as advanced as they are now. EA do not want to bother with thinking up innovative ideas when they've got good graphics, because they know it will look nice. There. Simple, and shallow as sellophane.

gimonaballandchain

Those who are moaning saying that none of the inovative games are any good. stop and think. These ideas, may or may not be popular on the release, but you can garentee a few years down the line they arive in big game company games miss applied, and several years after that they become standard.

It's stupidly inefficient and increadably frustrating for those who play games who would just like to buy the first game which was excelent, what then for developers?

As a gamer rather than waiting after the release of an underesourced game;
which is increadabley inovative;
thinking would it have been nice if they had just than 1 extra mamber of staff that would have allowed the game flurish into the master piece it nearly was;
tollerate a steam of medioca, mass produced games ripping off small parts of it without the vision of the original;
several years later for these things to become standard and lost any impact they might have had.

I would give up playing a 100 ok games for the chance to play one which is truely great.
At the moment the current industry structure is designed to make ok games, that's ok but nothing great was ever made that way. You are unlikely to make as much money from one great one as 100 ok ones.


Quote:
Do good, you sell, do shitty you fail. So stop fucking up!


Let's see... not really, just look at some of the best and popular films of recent times:
Fight club, box office sales were so bad bankrupsy was necessary for yet I have rarely met anyone who doesn't own it and never met anyone who dislikes it.
Shawshank Redemption: pitiful at the cinema; yet one of, maybe the biggest selling dvd ever.

Or music, while usher is no1 in singles charts, U2 is outselling them in the download chart.

Think of the differing standard of fps on the pc and there clear higher standard, eg HL2 yet they will never out sell a ps2 game or halo, simply because of the abundance of consoles and the ignorance of the general public about pc's.

Marketing distribution style and advertising effect sales in a very large way. A person may think they make informed decisions but people are swayed by advertising; brand acociation and fashion.

How many of the big comertial release are going to be remembered in 2 or 3 years? What was the last game which left you breathless with amazement?

snapDragon

You can always spot the academics a mile off. Brenda Laurel is so fucking pretentious.

"My thesis is that we are contributing to the damage that the spectacle does to human beings by suggesting the interactivity of a joystick is real agency."

Is she suggesting games are bad for you. Get off the fucking panel if you don't like games. Make a positive change if you don't like what you see instead of writing a wanky thesis. Oh wait, I forgot - those who can't, teach.

gimponaballandchain

Can I just point out that discussion is an essential part of making a positive change; it helps to order your thoughts how would other people who might have similar thoughts know who they could collaberate with otherwise?
Writing a thesis might help someone else to find a better approuch to somthing just as much as it would to do something practicle.

Alrik Fassbauer

Well, I'm following several discussions on Gamer's boards and they are basically the same : Even gamers begin to notice that publishers don't want innovation, they want money. Franchise, because it sells. An Action game can be made with much lesser effort than an non-action game (in this case : A non-action game needs to contain much more detailed work to "feed" the gamer, but an action game is nothing but - action. No matter how well-designed.)
To me, that's an overall theme in media : TV, music industry etc. : Things are evaluated by the economical income ("how much can we gain from that ?") instead of the real contents. No wonder that sophisticated TV programmes and games are dying out. It's the "economization of life". Which eventually results in terms like "human resources". Individuals seen as a mass of resources easy to fire & hire.
From my point of view, the WHOLE media industry - film, music, gaming - is controlled by accountants (see above) and lawyers. Accountants who want to bring more money into the company (I mean the publisher here) and lawysers to defend anything. Like EA's motto : "Challenge everything".
For whom is the publisher working ? For the money / shareholder or for the human person ?

By the way, I found Brenda Laurel's panel (as I read it here; wasn't there) highly interesting. This has to do about psychology. Sadly few of the developers and publishers ponder about psychology. For example I suspect the unconsciousness (part of our selves) not to be able to determine between shooting a person in an FPS game or in Reality ...

I can only stress what Brenda Laurel had said there.

Alrik.

Robert

You missed the one quote at the end in regard to the piracy comment. I can't remember who said it, but the statement was roughly in a mocking tone, "Yeah, I've written 3 novels in the past, and I hate it how people can just go to the library and read them whenever they want! I don't see a dime of that!"

All in all a great panel.

magicmaster2121

thease games are gonna bomb because of the ai thats freaking scary what if nintendo wins the prize dvd burning isnt fun dont worry about piracy jack be nimble jack be quick investigate nintendos counsole so you can jump over the candle stick

Most of the responses in this thread are idiotic at best, and deliberate trolling at worst.

I'm an interested observer of the games industry for the last 10+ years and a game design afficionado. I agree with everything the panelists were ranting about (which was after all the purpose of the session).

Bigger budgets and more control from the huge media corporations = less innovation, less risk-taking, more shiny sequels with gameplay that still sucks.

Current distribution channels are controlled completely by large retail interests (WalMart) and large, evil publishers (Microsoft/Sony/EA), who stifle innovation in favor of churning out sequel after sequel. Alternative channels are needed (WWW, Steam, whatever)

If we want to see real innovation we have to reverse the trend of blockbusterness, and get back to sub-million-dollar budgets, so that developers can take back artistic control and get back to pushing the frontiers, and can afford to take the risk (gasp!) of trying something actually new!

Funding and distribution really do need to get a divorce! Games publishers are assholes to developers for the same reason venture-capitalists are assholes to startup companies: every deal involves too much money.

The "professional" games industry is careening towards "HD-ism" and is headed for a fall. I don't believe it can save itself. Right now it looks like within 5 years, all the significant innovation will be coming from the indie games movement.

Remember what it was like 20 years ago? 3 people could make a decent game in two months in their garage. Classic games like "The Legend of Zelda" and "Metroid" and "Eye of the Beholder" were created, and whole genres were born. Nowadays it takes a 40-person team 2-3 years and $5m-$15m to make a game with shiny graphics and gameplay that is only incrementally different from Half Life 1 (or Quake or Starcraft or Diablo or whatever). The games industry is suffocating itself.

f u biaiach!

Sara

hi no comment

Jessica

Yea burn it!! burn it!! lol

Elf

Chris, if you are doing it because it's art what do you make money on? You should at leat eat smth.

Alistair

Brenda's comment was a bit obscure but the best of the lot IMO.

The Spectacle is a concept created by a bunch of (mainly) French Libertarian Marxists* called the Situationist International. ( http://www.nothingness.org/SI/ ).

I don't entirely agree with the broader theory around it, but the Spectacle is a useful concept describing how capitalism causes our everyday experiences and interactions to become more and more dependant on commodities, reducing us to spectators instead of participants. I've often wondered myself if games might be worsening the situation.

As a side note, I don't know Brenda, and have never read anything else by her, but calling her a communist in the pejorative is clearly out of line. No Stalinist or Maoist would be agreeing with the SI and talking about the spectacle- the SI described those regimes as "concentrated spectacles" and opposed them as much as they opposed the spectacle of capitalism and representative democracy.

Regardless, feel free to shout nonsense about the goddam commies without understanding any of the theory she's referencing. It's the net tradition and all that.

* A note for Americans reading this: prior to the existence of the ideology that you know as libertarianism, the term meant, broadly, socialists in favour of direct democracy, like anarchists or council communists.

walter

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LeOgAhEr

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keep up the good work!!

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Bush

Lucky to find you, keep on the good workk guys! Best of luck.s

danny@dog costumes

Consoles, PCs, Macs, Online Distribution, Phones, the list continues to grow. One of the Garage Games guys listed like 20 or something venues for people to publish games to. We aren't very restricted to retail these days.

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