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Doom and gloom in the next generation
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 5:37 am    Post subject: Doom and gloom in the next generation Reply with quote

I was reading an article on BBC News from earlier this year, and it had this quote from "Fred Hasson, head of Tiga, which represents independent developers":
BBC News wrote:
Mr Hasson said games developers were beginning to realise that they had to be more "business-like".

"There are still some developers who were involved in games from the bedroom coding days.

"Some of them are still making games for peer group approval - that has to stop."

Surely that's what artists have done in all media for centuries - no - millenia. If you're not in the creative business for the respect of your peers, I can only imagine you're in it for the money, which doesn't exactly bode well. What is he trying to say? How closely should I be listening to him?
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK



PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most artists, programmers and designers are interested in making games because they grew up playing games. They are crazy "geeks" who live in darkened bedrooms in the middle of summer when they should be outside. They spend their time surfing the net and basking in the adulation of other geeks when they create something unique, clever, fun, strange, etc. They bury their heads in books, watch strange Japanese films nobody else is interested in and generally form an odd minority. A few years ago the people buying the games were also in that minority, but not anymore, not when games like GTA sell 6million copies.

So the problem is, these odd people shouldn't really be allowed to just make any old game they want. It is unlikely that something they find interesting will also appeal to this new mass market (although not impossible). Back in the day a game could be made for $100,000 so if most failed then that wasn't too bad. Today however, if you want to sell 6million copies of something then you better be prepared to sink at least $20million into its development and marketing. The only people with that kind of money are men in suits and big corporations. I doubt the board of directors would be impressed if a load of geeky weirdos appears before them and said "well, we should make this, because we think its going to be awesome!".

Wink

Thank goodness for the Internet and direct sales, we can make games we like and that the minority of people sat on this forum want. Sure it wont sell many copies, but as there are no middle men in the way or shareholders to pay we can still get by. We also stand just as much chance as anyone else of making that off the wall sleeper hit that makes millions (that would be cool Twisted Evil ).

So starve for your art if you can or join the gravy train of mainstream development and put a down payment on your new house and car.
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi


Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland



PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... I'm tempted to rant about people who buy "art" from Ikea, but I'll just get depressed.

I guess the main issue I had with this was that I define my peer group slightly differently, so I perhaps misinterpreted what he meant. I understand the term rather broadly, including my friends and associates, many of whom aren't big gaming freaks. (Although some undoubtedly are.)

I still don't know if I'm cut out for this industry. I think I'm losing the faith.
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Darth Dallas



Joined: 18 Oct 2003
Posts: 411



PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There might be something to be said for working for a mainstream outfit for awhile, saving those nickels, then branching out on your own. I tried to apply this to my art struggles, but it becomes hard if you don't have or know someone with a head for business to make it work.

I hope one day to give it another shot though. If I go with direct sales with my own site, I have to figure out what payment systems to use. After that, its just a matter of getting back into the groove of churning out some work. Materials costs are my main hurtle though, so if I can avoid agents and advertising outfits, all the better if I can generate some word of mouth once I can get going. Oddly enough, I'd probably need them if I wanted any serious "gallery time" somewhere down the line.

I'll worry about that then.
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James



Joined: 28 Nov 2002
Posts: 153
Location: Sheffield



PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, where most companies go wrong is in trying to appeal to the mainstream audience. Rage did it, for example, and it backfired horribly. They moved over to making games that they thought mainstream audiences would go for, spent loads of money on licenses and marketting, and nobody bought them. Because Rage wasn't EA.

The problem with the mass market is that they don't actually buy games. Sure, they'll buy millions of copies of FIFA, GTA, The Sims and whatnot, but that's all they'll buy. Unless you're EA, it seems to me that you're much better off trying to find a smaller niche market and actually making a genuinely good game. Make games for people who are actually likely to buy them rather than trying to sell to a larger audience that probably won't.
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James



Joined: 28 Nov 2002
Posts: 153
Location: Sheffield



PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incidentally, there were some quality rants at GDC that touched on this topic. Nice quote from Warren Spector:

"4 out of 5 games lose money, according to one pundit who may be lying, admittedly. Can we do any worse if we just trusted the creative folks entirely instead of the publishers?"

The whole lot is here.
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a few indie developers found their rant a bit upsetting, they deride their own industry and claim there is currently no other distribution channel. Yet there are a lot of indies out there making a living on the net. Many professional developers overlook it or discard it as soon as a publisher comes sniffing, but if more quality titles were released on the net and were not available in the shops then our visibility would grow. With greater visibility comes greater sales potential and with that comes the possibility of employing larger teams on larger products.

If that ever actually happened I think you would soon find retailers changing their tune, nobody will ignore something with real financial potential for long. Currently the middlemen want to take 90% of the income and they can and they do, if a few people had some truely desireable content direct download only then how long would it be before retailers/distributors came knocking? Imagine if Id had enough of publishers and released the next Quake as direct download only, surely every retailer under the sun would swarm over them to get their hands on it. What if Id said "go back to your retailers and tell them they can have it but only if we get 60% of list price"? That would be interesting. Most would laugh at them, but as demand grew sooner or later one would crack and then they all would crack.


This guy has a lot to say about it, he makes a seemingly lowly solitaire game yet claims to make an excellent living from it.
http://www.asharewarelife.com/
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Rup



Joined: 19 May 2003
Posts: 363
Location: London, UK



PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That did happen to some extent with Half Life 2 - Vivendi, IIRC, weren't at all happy with Valve selling it online cutting them out. That said I still got charged UK VAT on my dollars internet purchase (!) so might have been cheaper for me to go to the shops. But that wasn't really the point.

You're shop-published in Russia, I think? Do you get many internet sales from Russia?

And Rage did make some great games too, but I guess they didn't sell well :-/
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Fost
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Pod Team


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rup wrote:
You're shop-published in Russia, I think? Do you get many internet sales from Russia?

Just a handful - of course the version we sell is English only. Since Russia is the piracy capital of the world (well, maybe second to China) that's not too surprising though.
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Toren Kanesun



Joined: 06 Mar 2004
Posts: 52



PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I doubt the board of directors would be impressed if a load of geeky weirdos appears before them and said "well, we should make this, because we think its going to be awesome!".


To be fair, PB, Valve is a bunch of geeky guys and they pretty much told Sierra/Vivendi "this game is gonna be AWESOME!" and it was- very much so! The Half Life series won more awards than most developers did in decades. Perhaps an anomaly in an otherwise formulaic world as you would say.

Someday, when I win the lottery or whatnot, I'll probably start an indie-specific publishing house that just sells games like yours and markets them to the mainstream. Take that, business suits!
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jollyreaper



Joined: 20 Jun 2003
Posts: 181



PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that dedicated gamers will get bored with the flashy ****. Sure, EA makes a pretty game but they usually have all the substance of whipped cream.

With low overhead companies like Moonpod, game sales can be low but still profitable. I think that the profitable scenario is hitting upon an idea that is a great success, then building repeat business by constantly improving and expanding said game. I'm still a bit sad that Starscape 2 is so far off in the future, i.e. probably never. I understand the company's reasoning on this one but I don't really agree with it. It also saddens me that Ambrosia isn't working on another sequel to the Escape Velocity series. Now there was a hell of a promising engine! The plot elements were a bit weak but you could see how the sequel could have polished all that stuff up. But nope, they're not doing anything else with it. Sad.
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Fost
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Pod Team


Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jollyreaper wrote:
I'm still a bit sad that Starscape 2 is so far off in the future

True - and I'm sad about that too. Sad
jollyreaper wrote:
i.e. probably never.

Not true - we have big plans for the Starscape Universe - design docs for Starscape alone currently fill 9 box files Smile

The big problem of course is time - we can't throw people at it like EA might (but then at least you can get the demo without being a paid subscriber to gamespot - hoho!), but maybe in the future we'll have a chance to get some extra staff - you never know...
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BlackLiger



Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 11



PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2005 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm. Remind me to consider joining you guys (Trainee psychologist, bedroom nerd, musician and part time programmer Razz)
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