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March 24, 2006

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» Tell That to the Hall of Presidents from Edwin Gore's Dopey Homepage!
Great article over at Wonderland documenting some of the ranting portions of the GDC sessions. I think my favorite line is the one about statues not being beter because they move. If you have ever been to Disneyland, as alluded... [Read More]

» The GDC Innovation Rant, Part II from DancingRobots.com
Wonderland has a great write up of the rants and raves from the developers at GDC, well mostly rants, less rave. It is just about as interesting as last year, but not quite as shocking. Most end up ranting about how simulation games just arent... [Read More]

» GDC 2006 from Grand Text Auto
Articles covering the still-ongoing Game Developers Conference are flowing in: The Birth And Growth Of Independent Game Studios, Zimmerman on Self-Published Games, Whats Next? panel, reactions to Will Wrights astro-flying lecture (1 2), ... [Read More]

» The GDC in review from Psychochild's Blog
Another long week in another year. Hanging out with other developers, drinking perhaps a bit too much, and hoping that the things discussed actually lead to a business deal down the line. Ah, the GDC. I thought I'd put up some of my thoughts about ... [Read More]

» GDC 2006, Game Developers Rant from Obruo
New one is up for viewing.  This one doesnt feel as significant or as interesting as last years unfortunately although somehow I doubt many of the publishing companies appreciated last years heh GDC 2006, Developers Rant ... [Read More]

Comments

Cris Rose

Wow, what a good read, i wish i'd been there. There's so much good stuff being discussed, and they're right too. It reminded me of Just A Minute or Have I Got News For You lol.

I am a very creative person, and i love gaming. I grew up on Doom and Quake, but over the last few years i've felt a bit lost.

I only play games to really releave some pressure now, shoot some things, drive too fast. I get a sense of achievement, but i never feel challenged or puzzled or, well, satisfied.

I'm so keen to move onto the next thing, i loved Black and White, but it's not on the PS2, PSP or Xbox consoles that i have and PCs aren't in my life anymore for gaming. Too much hastle.

I want to get Me And My Katamari and Loco Roco for the PSP. They're happy, they're quirky, they giggle at you and make you feel like you're in a fantasy. Ultra-realism is cool, but real life is what i'm escaping from.

I want to be Entertained. I don't feel games today have the depth, and were it not for the PS3 coming in November (which i will buy) i think i would have gone off games all together within the next 18 months. Christ, i might even take up... reading?!?!

I hope this "wavelength" everyone was on in that room spreads and shows EA and SCEE that we want to engage our brains, not just our trigger fingers.

Kim

Cris: They are being shown. It's worth noting that two of the seven people (CHecker, RobinH) work for EA! Get inside the belly of the beast and affect change from within!

Will Maiden

Great read. I loved rant last year (courtesy of here) and this year didnt disappoint either. I hope stuff comes of this, the talk about all talk no trousers is very true, the world and his mother has been hating EA for years but no one's doing anything about any of this.

Thanks Alice :)

bob

"Q: someone said why can’t we just focus on fun. But isn’t there more than Just Fun?"
The most important question anyone could have asked. Amazing that it took this long for someone to actually ask it, especially since that seems to be the big idea that everyone was hinting at. I have hope for the industry.

Kim: Is that realistic? (I'm uncertain of this, myself.) After all, one doesn't join General Motors in the hopes of getting them to make bicycles (or electric cars, for that matter). I fear that too much is invested in the current product and way of doing things for a few (or even many) individuals to have any impact.

Glad to see the discussions and I'm grateful that they've been made accessible here.

michael

The problem is that videogames are looked at as still rather silly and stupid to some...not something that is a true media like movie and radio...because despite the very powerful hardware availible corporate executives still think shooting zombies and aliens in franchise after franchise is the way to go without little substance, that is why quake 4 and Halo 2 paly similar. Where are the plots in games, the creativeness, the humanity, the complexity that can go in!!! I play perfect dark zero and wow at the graphics and clarity but it just a FPS shooter that has no character development and little substance ...nothing as complex as a movie or a book. These people are businessman not gameplayers so what do they know. When Nintendo had the seal of quality there was high quality but now.... I don't know. No one is willing to up the ante in this industry to make it like hollywood or a classic book or painting. There is no artistry, no inspiration, no orginality, so uninspired shooting aliens and zombie near total mindlessness is what we get from companies like EA.

With painting you have picasso, in music you have mozart, in books you have H.G Wells and Tom Clancy, in theatre there was shakesphere, and in Movies you have charlie chaplan, ridley scoot and james cameroon. Even you have some great games like Castlevania SOTN and resident evil 4, because they are japanese and the Japanese put vastly more inspiration, care, time and focus in their games they lousy american game developers. what I am saying outside of some japanese people (like the guy who created mario) there is no mozart or picasso or great of the gaming world and with all this corporate rush to keep games the same always is killing the rise of any videogame developing genius.This industry is a fringe industry because there is no greatness in anybody to show off its potential...you are all a bunch of tie wearing boys who think you can make lexus payments by releasing better looking versions of the same uninspired, unorgininal crap over and over agian.

Robert 'Groby' Blum

To anonymous: Right, the gaming world doesn''t have a Mozart. It happens to have Miamoto-san, Will Wright, Sid Meier... Next strawman please? For your info - almost none of us are worried about Lexus payments. We work on games because we love games. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to make them better. What have you done to advance games?

In general: Yawn. Seamus is the only one who gets it. It's not that nobody wants to make better games. It's the fact that there is no business model to do it. I'm thinking Nintendo has an ace or two up their sleeves to change that - but we'll probably have to wait for E3 before we know more.

The comic book analogy really applies to videogames. I think Nintendo senses this and they are trying to expand the definition of 'videogame.'

Also I thought the Ultima IV example was very telling. There are so many other ways out there to play games and to interact with them, but it seems like things have gotten stale.

Stale to the point of games becoming a commodity which was also touched on.

Joe

I still think people just aren't getting it...

Games have qualities that make them games that are just not comparable to other industries, now from an economic and business standpoint growing the market seems to be the only concern but I think people aren't getting that: Gaming is just not "for everyone" experience, as much as people would like it to be. Many games require large investments of time, take Final fantasy X for instance... at least 30 hours "playing" through the game. Or what about Fire Emblem Path of radiance for the gamecube? For anyones first time through and watching all the cutscenes and story, at least 30 hours. Next, I do not believe there is anything wrong with designing games to be fun. This is what games originally had to aim for in the 8 and 16-bit era's, because they could not rely on graphics to sell their games.

The problem is the cost of games versus the size of the audience, versus what they can charge per copy of the game against how many they can potentially sell.

I think the real problem though is that games and gaming are inherently different beasts from other media, and because of the length and depth of modern hits you see people focusing on a few core games at the top of their respective genre's raking in all the money.

I think the simple problem is that there are lots of great and fun games to be made but the number of people in the audience for them makes it non-profitable or not very profitable simply because game costs have skyrocketed and the graphical expectations have gone up as well.

Metal gear series for the PS2 were great experiences but they are not exactly the kinds of games you can reply for fun.

Games like Mario and Mario kart became so popular for a reason, they were first and foremost fun above all else. I think people really forget how and why the game industry became as big as it did.

The real problem now is that as the hardware has advanced the costs to make a game and expectations have reached critical financial point that makes developing new properties and taking risks severely punishing economically so you have to have a lot of money or you are simply not in the game. Whereas earlier in game development history it took a lot less money to explore new ideas, concepts and idea's so the economic cost of some failure didn't make the game industry as risk averse.

Argent Stonecutter

"Statues wouldn’t be better if they could move. Model airplanes would not be better if they were the same size as airplanes!"

Model airplanes that are the same size as airplanes totally rock, and if I could rez up an airplane in First Life like I can in Second Life... let alone do all the other things you can do in there... I don't think I'd ever touch a computer game again.

Dan

I would have to say that the majority of the panel blab on and on without making any point of reaching a resolution. Jane seemed to be the only smart one there to bring up that something should be done about it rather than just talk about it.
I think that video games are going into the wrong direction. Putting in more "emotional content" will allow audiences to identify better, but that's just one end of the spectrum. Games first and foremost are supposed to be fun. That's why they're called games, for crying out loud!
Making games closer to reality doesn't add any fun to it. I might as well just do stuff in real life.
Saying that games are still silly looking to most people doesn't cut it. You can't please everyone. Those people simply don't get it. Making a game more real doesn't make it any less silly looking. What makes it serious is the content. Look at Shadow of the Colossus. Look at Ico. Both games succeed on more than just a technical level. It's emotional because it connects with the player, and they're fun games to play. All these factors are really important to make a successful game.

Frustrated Developer

Its an interesting read that game developers and stalwarts in the field take a chance to rant at the whole thing about how the industry is and what is wrong etc. I especially liked the comment about the lack of creativity, I dont come from America and I was talking to some american folks the other day and they asked me why do all games look and feel almost the same and why they only improve in graphics quality (barring some exceptions!) my answer surprisingly was the people who make the games and the people for whom the games are made have the same mental makeup, so they know what THAT audience wants and what SELLS in the market and they will give only that. I mean seriously how many developers/Publishers will fund a multi-million dollar where the main protagonist is a gay guy / lesbian women I doubt if any.

Why just stop there lets make a game about a black guy/girl but has absolutely no violence or rap music involved in the game. The process is like a digestive system if you eat shitty food (read junk, greasy cheesy stuff!) then your body is not gonna be in the prim and proper shape. So make sure the input is right to get the output correct, I was surprised that nobody mentioned the total lack of diversity in the game work force I am sure if minds come to the table from different walks, different cultures and different thought processes then the chances of creativity being added to the game are much higher but I doubt thats gonna happen...so its just shut up and bear it time. No body wants to do anything about it they just want to make good suggestions, publish white papers and carry out studies but nothing ever gets implemented. The industry might not be dead but the people inside are hell bent on making Chri' prediction come true and its sad :-(

Solid

Dan, a rant isn't about reaching conclusions or making a point. It's just saying what you think is wrong.

Jonathan Blow

I have posted the original text of my rant, along with the slides, here:

http://number-none.com/blow/slides/rant_2006.html

The text doesn't exactly match what I said live, but it is pretty close and contains some things missing in these notes.

Alice

Thanks Jonathan!

Updates are always good. I slam the notes up for two reasons - one, I can't multitask and write coherent notes while listening at the same time, and two, because heavy notes like this are fun to read for folks who can't make it to expensive shows.

In the spirit of t'internets, publish then filter. All updates very welcome.

x

Jonathan Blow

Oh, yeah... my message wasn't a criticism, just informational.

Michael Samyn

Dear Ms. Pinkard en the rest of the Cozy Club, this is to inform you that there are people doing exactly what everybody else is saying that somebody should be doing. But they don't get invited to conferences. That's one thing that Mr. Crawford got right: the future of interactive entertainment lies outside of the games industry.
New ideas, new audiences and alternative business models are being developed probably in many different places. But you don't mention them in your blogs or your magazines because they are not accompanied with the glitz and pseudo-glamour of the games industry. Or because they don't have a PR department...
If you want to find something new: step out of your cozy little club and go and look for it. Who knows, maybe you might even be able to lend a helping hand to "the revolution".

Take me next year Alice? I'll pack my geekiest tshirts? :D

cris Rose

oops forgot my details lol. Anonomous baaaad

madsax

I didn't attend the rant session but sure heard a lot about it at the show afterward. My beef with rant sessions has always been that they are more like a sports match than anything useful - the ranters are rewarded by the crowd for the speed and craftiness and ferociousness of their rants, not (in general) for making valid points.

There are a lot of problems in the game industry, and a lot of us know what they are. We like to get together and bitch about them over beers. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between the problems invented by people who are trained to ALWAYS find a problem (engineers), and a problem which is ACTUALLY a problem. But truth is we have enough problems to go around.

I would love to someday see a rant panel in which a rant turns into something that the audience can get enrolled into - a rant that is very powerful and then turns and opens a door, which the audience feels encouraged to step through. I haven't seen that rant yet. But reading Jane's comments, and Seamus's bit about jumping over to CAA, give me faith that we might see that soon. So many problems... let's work on some solutions together, not just bitch about them and have another beer!

Hm

Interesting how almost none of those people have ever shipped a real game. Like, what, two of them have? (Seamus and Frank?...Chris like 15 years ago, I guess?)

Chris Crawford

Chris has shipped 14 games.

Patrick

I'd like to point out that the transcript, while largely accurate, has some ommisions in it. Some are excusable to the effect that different people were talking different threads at the end, but I get the impression from Chris' dialogue with the "audience" that the transcripter filled in blanks to the effect of making Chris look bad. The "go into the mountains for 14 years" was a bit extreme, so assuming the audience responded with "wow" isn't too over the top.

However, when someone asked "What so embittered you?" they then followed up with a question about why the nature of Chris' work trying to do characters interactively, so that when Chris responded "When you can do people, do it, you can't" he was responding to a point about the technical problem, not his being embittered (he's a bit embittered, but not SO embittered). Putting in "Audience: Huh?" only serves to downplay the seriousness of the point and make Chris look bad, made possible by omitting the questioner's full inquiry.

Just wanted to point that out.

Game Producer

Ranting is okay, but these people should use soap and clean their mouths.

;)

Thanks for the rants.

geoff kirk

It doesn't matter that the games industry doesn't have a Sundance type festival for niche/"edgy"/small/alternative/indie type games since there's no place where you can go to buy such games. And by that I mean, a place where you can go and see a game that you hadn't heard of before and buy it...not finding the publisher of niche-type Brokeback game and then ordering the game on-line.

Unimpressed

If there's any group less capable of identifying or reasonably discussing issues in gaming, it is game devs. These 'rants' (more like temper tantrums) are pathetic. They are not and will never be the solution to anything, but they are a symptom of the real problems facing the video game industry -- namely, delusions of granduer and clinical levels of egocentrism among devs, and, most important, a stunning level of near industry-wide fundamental immaturity.

Get over yourselves and grow the hell up, or the boom and bust cycle will continue.

Joshoc

I don't know why it's so hard to come up with good games that sell well.

One example of a successful, creative game:

I think the best game I ever played was Baldur's Gate 2. Graphics were horrible, not 'immersive' but I was immersed and hooked. It had social interaction and get this it was all *imagined*. You played alone. However, you interacted with hundreds and it all affected the outcome. Icewind Dale reverted to Hack n Slash, and Neverwinter Nights got rid of the mixed party of scripted and self-created characters that made BG2 so much fun. I don't see why there wasn't a BG2 made in every genre imaginable... I'd have played them all.

BIG DOG

Wow, Unimpressed, through this whole discussion, I hadn't been thoroughly struck by anything anyone had said, till I read your post. We need to stop flaming the industry, and start fixing it! Start up a braintrust! Let's get ideas flowing! Nothing can be accomplished or acted upon unless we ACTUALLY start THINKING.

For instance, for all the hubub caused by Jonathan's comment about gameplay, No one actually bothered to *define* it. Gameplay is the one aspect of a game that is not so easily "boxable." Not like graphics and physics are, anyway. Gameplay could be defined as simply as the genre of game it is, or alternatively it could mean the blending of the amount of gameplay(which would then be defined as the period you spend actually playing the game) and cutscenes. I could continue, but I think I've made my point.

WHAT exactly needs to change??? And more specifically, what does it need to change TO???

I could make a game that plays differently than any other game, but more than likely it would bomb because it would be too unusual or the learning curve might be too steep. I know "WE" want more innovative and fresh games, but have you ever stopped to consider what the Customer wants?? Have you ever wondered why publishers crank out thousands of sequels, and only fund big-name producers?? Because they know it will make them MONEY!! The customer doesn't want 'Fresh and New', they want what their friend down the street has, but with a different name so he can feel 'special'! Customers will buy 1) what they see on TV, 2) what their teenage kid whines incessantly about, and 3) a sequel to something they've already played! The 20% of the market share that WE represent doesn't mean squat to publishers! So until we actually have a base of regulars that have been playing games for over 5 years that constitutes a majority demographic, publishers will continue to dole out voluminous quantities of pungent excrement! Until then, Steam is the answer(or a Steam-like service)! Of course, not in its current form. Steam must be GIVEN to people like me and, for the most part, all of you! Game developers with NO way of reaching a large audience, and with no fundage. But the important thing is, it must be given to us FREE. We must be given the power to post our games on Steam for all to see and download. We MUST create our own game proliferation community!! And I strongly believe freeware is the answer. We must seek out those individuals, as Mr. Samyn so eloquently pointed out, who are bold enough to do something about it! There are thousands of game developers out there who could single-handedly revolutionize the game industry, but for one reason or another, their opportunity is quashed like so many others', and their brilliant ideas never see the light of day.

So I call you out! Put up or shut up! Come up with a great idea, or invest the time in finding someone who will!

My idea?
KEEP THE PERSONAL COMPUTER ALIVE.
What do I mean by that? Simply this: The direction the game industry is currently headed is mobile. While I don't think that's a bad direction by any means, the PC has always been the lifeblood of this industry. When the PC gets phased out, so much will change in this industry, every single fear mentioned above will come to full and horiffic fruition. The games industry will be irreparably plunged back into the dark ages, until cell phones become as powerful as computers. And even then, it won't be the all-encompassing experience that it is now: 7.1 surround, 21in. monitor, quad-GPU video cards--the point about graphics overpowering this industry is a valid point. But, it's also the driving force behind technological advancements. Allow me to explain.

The Game is the ONLY piece of software that fully takes advantage of ALL available system resources that is available to the general public. Those who do not play games use their 3.4GHz AMD FX 2GB RAM w/7800 GTX video cards, for email. Games are the reason Moore's law continues to exist today. Sure, without games advancements would continue. But, we'd see new technology Twenty years after it had been developed, instead of just 10 years.

My point is, EVERYONE on this rant is right. But what are we going to DO about it???

Marc Cassidy

I want to become a games developer what do i need to do were do i need to go

Annerose

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

Luggage

Well, rants are like that. A bunch of talking, a bunch of ranting, but not much action to be honest.

Although, I did enjoy some of the statements made. Two of them, specifically, is I'd hate the computer gaming market to lose it's 'artistic' side and just sell sex and hawt chix like hollywood does. Of course it'll sell. It's just totally lame, that's all.

Secondly, the fact that some people are just trying to get 'more and more realistic' with their games takes away what makes a game a game – it's not like our world, not at all like our world, and that's what's cool about it. You can do things there that you can't do here, and you can do things here that there you can't do because there it makes no sense to be able to do them.

I really do miss the old 2d adventure game and am happy to see Himalaya studio's trying to bring it back. It takes the 'interactive storytelling' element in, and presents an unreal world that is nothing like ours. Myst is still one of the most best games out there... I know others would disagree. But I'd exchange action for atmosphere and imagination any day.

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A video game developer is a software developer (a business or an individual) that creates video games. A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Sony's PlayStation 3, PSP, Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii, Nintendo DS, or may develop for a variety of systems, including personal computers.

Some developers also specialize in certain types of games, such as computer role-playing games or first-person shooters. Some focus on porting games from one system to another. Some focus on translating games from one language to another. An unusual few do other kinds of software development work in addition to games.

Most video game publishers maintain development studios, such as Electronic Arts's EA Canada, Activision's Radical Entertainment, Nintendo EAD and Sony Polyphony Digital . However, as publishing is still their primary activity, they are generally described as "publishers" rather than "developers".

paper bag

Yes,I want to become a games developer what do i need to do were do i need to go.

game development

I remember the game dev conference of 2K6! What a year. I hope that 2K11 brings the same kind of excitement!

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