AuthorTopic: Goblins Of The Game Industry  (Read 78825 times)

Offline baccaman21

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #30 on: December 09, 2006, 04:53:39 pm
Juniper speaks the truth. :) And it's a damned shame. A console tie-in may get anywhere up to 3 or 4 years of being worked on, but the handheld versions rarely start production more than about 6 months before they're due. There's no real reason for it, other than an industry-wide shrug to handheld gaming, which is a shame since last time I checked, DS and GBA were dominating consoles in system sales and increasing user base.

My advice is whenever possible, go small and fight for that decision. On X-Men GBA we worked far larger than what our time allowed comfortably, and scrambled to put together something that was ultimately sub-par. With Justice League GBA, we cut the levels and bosses in half and came out with a much more polished title. Time is the worst enemy to handheld developers (much more often than budget), but size if often the best weapon to fight back with.

Testify! I designed X-Men myself, and we held to my design for better or worse. With Justice League, the first thing I did was design the game by comittee with my two lead programmers over the first 2 weeks of production. We were able to better exploit the strengths of the system and of the programmers, and they felt more investment in the project which drove them to make an even better product.

- Adam

hey another Justice leaguer - we should set up a club Adam...  Which version did you do? I was responsible for the horror that was JL Chronicles... for midway :S - the shame... but in my defence I did tell them - the publisher and WB and DC - that if they wanted to go down the path they forced us down then it'd be a bad move... but... as ever the publisher knows best - they were dissappointed with the side on view and wanted to move as far away as possible from it so they told us do it like Gauntlet, top down... I was like - "hang on there guys (to the publisher), we got a license here that's got 7 major comic heroes in it, each of which requires dedication and time spent to animate in facing one direction and now you want an 8 way scroller with 7 heros in it... rendered in 8 directions (5 if you take the x-flips out) that can punch, kick, fly, walk, run, die etc... hmmm... ok... how bigs the cart? ah 4 megs... nice.... are you sure you don't want a die scrolling beat-em-up?.... no.... sure... ?" - so we were stuck with creating what we made... gauntlet/chaos engine view... wasted so much time creating umpteen million animations for those characters... hardly any enemies...  jeez what a knightmare... so much so that the GAME suffered... got to meet Jim Lee though... and went to a few DC parties in LA which was kinda cool.
Buy the book - The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams

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Offline tandemar

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #31 on: January 03, 2007, 10:12:00 pm
I'm baffled.

The industry is finished for start-up teams now. It's a fact.

I've been doing this for 23 years and I've seen the once great UK games scene turn into a ghost town. Pixels aren't going to go away, but making a really good living out of them is proving to be increasingly difficult.

I've freelanced for most of my professional career and the handheld development scene in the UK and Europe is pretty much a thing of the past. I had some great years with GBC and GBA and can actually remember it going POP!
The year is a bit vague now but I'll never forget it was a September and all my clients just disappeared.
The industry drew it's horns in and decided to try something else.

Too many people jumped on the handheld bandwagon thinking that it was fast and easy money. None of that "let's take 3 years to develop a ps2 title that might not even sell if it's finished" bollocks. No, these guys saw development times drop from years to months and imagined the revenue they could generate by turning out 3 titles a year instead of one every 3 years.
Acres of crap was produced, I worked on some of it; I'm not ashamed, when someone offers you money you don't say "no thanks. I don't want to pay my mortgage this month. I would rather keep my integrity intact."
It would be nice to be able to do that, but this is reality and anyone who actually DOES that is either rich already or clinically insane.

Working on titles you like, or titles that you are proud of is a rarity, for the above reasons. Freelancers and in-house artists have little or no input in what titles they work on or indeed the design of the title itself. Unless you are working for a small company and you are part of the start-up team that is.
But most people want to work for established companies, with years of experience and shed-loads of cash behind them.
These companies are machines. They seldom care about the true quality of their titles. If they did they wouldn't fill them with hours of pointless FMV and waste countless hundreds of thousands of pounds / dollars on said FMV. They would spend it on the best designers, the best artists and take the japanese on at their own game and make quality titles.
But let's be honest (cynical, yes, but honest as well.)

Most games today are a clone of some earlier and more successful title.
Bully/Dog eat Dog call it what you will is GTA with kids. It's the Sims with violence. Who in their right mind would want to sit building Sims year after year?
Wooo...they have different hairstyles in this version!!!
Hoo-bloody-ray!

If you come into the games industry you must realise that what was once fun becomes the way to pay the bills, pure and simple. And if Microprose offer you a quarter of a million to develop Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies. You snatch it out of their hand so fast their heads spin. And hopefully you can try to do the best Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies title ever.

But that's debatable, because EA and THQ and Microsoft and all the other behemoths now have the industry in a stranglehold.
Having a demo for one of the consoles is very unlikely, Dev Kits cost a small fortune.

Even the mobile scene, while still paying my bills in a semi-erratic manner is lost and confused. It tries to take on the consoles and shouldn't.

It's a new beast and should act like one, but it too has it's own inherent problems. Try designing a game for a mobile sometime. It's a nightmare. The control system is a pig.

Mobile companies open and close at an alarming rate, but not for much longer.Again the behemoths are coming along and buying up the teams who have been around for a few years and have one or two titles under their belt.

Starting afresh these days is, while not impossible, at least terrifyingly difficult and I wouldn't encourage anyone.

The handhelds are on something of a hiatus. Most titles are developed in the States, not many of them let's be honest. And the Stateside dev scene is almost sewn up by the likes of Vicarious Visions etc.

We'd all love to work on a clone of our favourite game, but as I mentioned in a ost that got people really annoyed with me many years ago on the old Pixelation site, "Why develop a Castlevania clone when people can buy Castlevania?"

Licenses sell.

Painful but true. Your small team of empassioned mates may have created this entire fantasy world and drawn some beautiful sprites and backgrounds. Your coder might have written some of the best code ever. But if it's not a movie or tv license, it's almost guaranteed that no-one will touch it with a bargepole. Or if they DO actually buy it then it will sit on the bottom shelf while the kids run out and buy the latest Naruto title or Harvest Moon 7.

All of the points the guys mentioned above about following the rules are all very well and good. But the bottom line is this.
Do you enjoy what you do?
Do you want to get paid for it?
Are you prepared to relocate? (the chances of finding a local company are astronomical)

If all of the above apply then you are going to be working for an established company. Most BIG companies have designers seperate from artists, so they won't want to hear your ideas. they pay a designer for that.
And if you DO get a job with a BIG established comany, you will have NO say in what type of games you develop graphics for. The Suits at the very top decide that and they won't even know you exist. They seldom if ever come down from their ivory towers to meet the workers, and even if they do they have more pressing things to fill their time with than remembering the name of someone they most likely will only ever see from a distance at the company Christmas party.

You must learn to balance what you do with WHY you do it.

You got into pixels because you love it. The job you do from 9 to 5 will pay for your house, your bills and your family. (I know that mst of you are probably too young to even have left home yet, but go with me on this.)

The Job you do from 9 to 5 will be filled with a lot of crap you don't want to do. But do the best possible. Bite the bullet. If you kick up a stink and complain, there's loads more kids out ther who will jump at the chance to sit at your desk.

If you want to do games for fun, do them at night. Freelance every now and then. Small jobs.
Draw your brains out. Draw amazing things.
These will NEVER make you rich anywhere except inside.

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #32 on: February 17, 2007, 07:47:54 am
I think that's maybe a little bit pessemistic. I make a pretty good living in pixels, and I don't have to work on projects I hate to do it. But a lot of your advice is well-said.

"Bully/Dog eat Dog call it what you will is GTA with kids. It's the Sims with violence. Who in their right mind would want to sit building Sims year after year?"

I'm guessing you haven't actually played the game? Bully has some of the most refined, intelligent game design in years and the story and characters are just fantastic.

"If you come into the games industry you must realise that what was once fun becomes the way to pay the bills, pure and simple. And if Microprose offer you a quarter of a million to develop Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies. You snatch it out of their hand so fast their heads spin. And hopefully you can try to do the best Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies title ever."

But those licenses aren't necessarily a bad thing either. It just depends on where your interests lie. I've found that it's often easier to create new gameplay and convince a publisher to go with stranger gameplay ideas on a less-prominent license, not to mention your gameplay is less built-in. By this I mean if you work on a Naruto game, the gameplay, animation style, etc. is pretty much decided on and expected before anyone starts on the game. With a Strawberry Shortcake game, there might be a lot more room for experimentation and artistic ownership.

- Adam
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 07:57:00 am by AdamTierney »

Offline Doppleganger

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #33 on: March 10, 2007, 09:32:39 pm
Quote
Working on titles you like, or titles that you are proud of is a rarity, for the above reasons. Freelancers and in-house artists have little or no input in what titles they work on or indeed the design of the title itself. Unless you are working for a small company and you are part of the start-up team that is.

I agree with that whole-heartedly. I've freelanced for about 2 years now and your input varies entirely on who it is you're working for. While I've had the fortune of working for smaller development groups and company's starting up for the most part, there are also the gigs that place as you a small aspect of a larger scheme. Here, you rarely have a say and have to match several artists work. You probably will get placed in an area where you have the most experience but don't necessarily like to do what it is you're good at. Making tiles, usually, in my case. Making quality pieces that tile is a rather difficult ordeal and since I've spent so much time in the past on them, it's my specialty in situations where there are several places I could be used. I don't particularly like making loads of tiles though. The point here is, the more ornate a project the less chance there is that you'll have a say in it or be happy doing it. And with ornate projects comes higher pay, so you are basically sacrificing freedom in exchange for money. That's a drab way to look at it, but it's kind of the way it goes.

If you're lucky enough to strike a good deal with a company that's just starting up, you'll certainly have a lot more say and room for advancement. The pay might not be as great as it could be with a bigger company but, if you're lucky you can find something that can pay you close to what you could be making. Companies like these are not without their problems either though. The afore mentioned obviously, and then there are a few other things. The main thing I've noticed amongst small companies or indy developers is that usually it's just one person doing all of the artwork. And if you're working for them it's probably you. Haha, of course! With that being said, you may find your self with an exorbitant amount of work. There may be deadlines imposed, and there may be new projects starting in between other projects deadlines. In other guides/topics talking about making it in the freelancing business, they talk of taking on as many jobs as possible in order to survive during an off period. The same applies to dev companies. In the beginning they're trying to make enough money to stay afloat and keep their help happy and so they take on as much as they can chew. So, you might end up doing things you don't want for job security reasons. XD The other thing worth mentioning is game quality; since smaller developers don't have as many resources, you can't expect the quality of the game to be that of fully staffed companies. While it's possible, that a determined group of indy developers might produce something of utmost quality, the norm will usually be games that never see the light of day, or games built around current funds and resources.

Basically, I just addressed the two main routes that I've come across in my days as a freelancer. One could use this as a loose guideline of what they could probably expect when they're past the stage of taking up as many jobs as possible in order to survive and at the stage where they need to make up a decision of how to progress their career, if they want this as a career.

A larger company generally offers higher pay and security, whereas a smaller company offers less pay, less security, but more freedom. And by security I mean the lastability of the company.

Offline Fry

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #34 on: April 16, 2007, 05:06:42 am
I'm really glad I read this, I was just hired at a gaming studio and there are a lot of things which I hadn't considered.

-Fry

Offline Eponasoft

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #35 on: September 29, 2007, 02:36:17 am
This was a very good read. We are just starting up ourselves, and the game industry has changed a lot since I was last in it professionally (which was during the height of the C64). Great food for thought that I will certainly take into consideration as we put together our strategy.

Offline Rargh!

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #36 on: October 18, 2007, 06:55:15 am
A fascinating read.

I come from the other side of the fence. I work for one of the bigger videogame publishers, in marketing. I see a lot of development, and am even lucky enough to spend time in one of the development studios we own. The guys who work there are now friends of mine and I have a huge admiration for what they do. There's a lot of very wise advise in this thread. If you're looking at working in the games industry heed it. Even Tandemar's thread--(I hope you don't mind me saying so...) though jaded--has lots of truth in it. And that is there will be many occasions that development teams are called on to grind on titles that are often uninspiring or license-driven (can be both a good and a bad thing). The key--as in any job--is to simply do your best. The threads on this site prove that even with a license or a year-on title, you can still produce brilliant work. The trick is realising that you may be working on the same thing for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, even longer. And if it's a bad movie or TV show, that gets panned by critics, then there's a good chance that your great work will tank too, both commercially and by the critics. On the flipside are those rare gems. Hopefully, if you can prove that you can do a great job on the ordinary, then you'll earn a shot at an original IP or idea. I've seen it happen. Recently. And I've also seen a small "indie" developer team up with a publisher such as ourselves and suddenly have a world wide hit on their hands. Anybody here heard of the DS game Drawn to Life? Or the developers, 5th Cell? On the Australian charts the game just went number three on the "All consoles" chart, almost beating Phantom Hourglass for the number 2 spot (and number 1 spot on the DS charts) in Zelda's launch week. It currently sits... 1: Halo 3, 2: Zelda Phantom Hourglass, 3: Drawn to Life. Awesome company to be in for a game that has a completely original concept, isn't produced by a first party, has no licensed franchise and isn't a sequel.

The games industry is as tough and as wonderful as any other entertainment industry. Be realistic in your expectations. Love what you do. Live a balanced life (seriously!). And know that, rarely, anything goes completely to plan in PD! It's all about flexibility and a commitment to doing your best and attempting to create a great end product. And that's the same for all of us, no matter what our role is or which part of the cycle we're in.

Cheers,

Offline Lazycow

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #37 on: January 31, 2008, 07:26:16 pm
Well, I know which industry I will stay away from professionally now. It looks to me like too much BS, not enough benefits. I'd rather develop a game in my free time and find a way to make some money off of it.
One hint from someone who made the same decision: Try to team with 1-2 peeps, otherwise your job and all this "real life" stuff ;) will definitely hold you back from creating marvelous games...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2008, 09:22:51 pm by Lazycow »
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. Yes we can!

Offline Sevensheaven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #38 on: May 10, 2008, 11:48:18 am
Hi,

Maybe you'll find this an interesting story regarding this subject matter. It happened many years ago, but I guess a lot of it is still happening these days.

Offline Sevensheaven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry

Reply #39 on: May 15, 2008, 02:08:11 pm
Thank you very much Xelados, much appreciated. And I totally understand your mixed feelings.