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mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.



This is the Ask a Game Dev thread! The goal of this thread is to peel away the misery mystery of video game development and maybe, just maybe bridge the gap between dev and player a little bit.


We've all been on Neogaf and Games and Twitter and your spoiled cousin's house whose parents buy him all the consoles and observed or taken part in a bit of dev-bashing and brain-wondering about why a dev made a certain decision. On the other hand, I've spent a lot of time with other devs online and irl in real life and they tend do a lot of Dorito-jowl waving about how gamers just don't understand game dev. "Look at this fool who believes multiplayer can be included by touching a burned cd rom of game code to an ancient Egyptian 56k modem!" my developer friends say. Their bitter laughter is used to harden their cynicism exoskeleton carapace which protects their snowflake creative insides. There's a lot of finger waving from the public that devs are lazy and there's a lot of lolling from game devs that players are out of touch.


A lot of older media industries talk often about how their artforms are made and managed: We get behind the scenes explanations of films and trade rags do deep dive post mortems of shows and films. Games, however, have the all-knowing, all-seeing piercing gaze of the Non Disclosure Agreement that prevents the lay-dev from talking about their experiences so we operate under this weird cloud where everyone repeates platitudes about dev since they're afraid of "misrepresenting their employer". This is unfortunate.

Fortunately, I'm currently taking a sabatical to revamp and retool my portfolio, which means I'm currently under no NDAs at all, and all of my previous employers have shut down or otherwise gone out of business, so I'm in a nice position to speak freely and answer your game dev questions directly! I have worked for a tiny indie game startup, a million-dollar AR/VR silicon valley startup, and a AAA studio owned by the largest media conglomerate in the world (complete with rodent mascot), so I've been around a couple blocks during my 6+ years in the industry. I'm primarily an artist but I have also made varying contributions to design, business, and direction.

Also, I'm not alone! A handful of lurking SA game dev goons have agreed to also participate in the thread. Some of them may respond directly if they are comfortable with that, but some may reply anonymously by messaging me privately and I will post the answer in blank quote tags. Many of these people are designers, but there are also producers, artists, programmers, and management represented. Everyone's experiences are slightly different as well, so hopefully there will be multiple answers for a single question where necessary.


If you are a game dev of some description and would like to participate in the A portion of this Q&A, message me or email me or whatever me so I can verify that you are not a sinister game dev-hating robot. I don't care if you're indie or career, or whatever, just so long as you have some legitimate experience behind your answers. I also expect all Answerers to only answer questions for which they have some knowledge. Other game devs will pipe up if an answer seems off. I will keep a list of vetted Answerers here in the OP so you can check and see if the person replying to you is yanking your chain or not. All in all, this thread will only be interesting if everyone posts in good faith, and the mods have agreed to help keep things tidy in here.


Wait shut up. By way of disclaimer, in this thread we'll be discussing an industry of businesses, all of which are out to make money, but many of which also want to make good games. This thread is not intended to advertise or shill for game companies nor am I here to evangelize about the industry and convince anyone that it sucks or it doesn't suck or whatever. The games industry is made up of thousands of separate companies with different goals, methods, and intentions. Some are scum. Some are sincere. All of them are staffed by human beings. This thread is an attempt to shine light and show that the industry is a beautiful pallete of shades of grey and much more complex than the average angry forum thread paints it. Ok, cool.


lol just kidding.

Here's some openers:

http://www.lizengland.com/blog/2014...e-door-problem/

Liz England posted:

“THE DOOR PROBLEM”

“So what does a game designer do? Are you an artist? Do you design characters and write the story? Or no, wait, you’re a programmer?”

Game design is one of those nebulous terms to people outside the game industry that’s about as clear as the “astrophysicist” job title is to me. It’s also my job, so I find myself explaining what game design means to a lot of people from different backgrounds, some of whom don’t know anything about games.

The Door Problem

I like to describe my job in terms of “The Door Problem”.

Premise: You are making a game.

Are there doors in your game?
Can the player open them?
Can the player open every door in the game?
Or are some doors for decoration?
How does the player know the difference?
Are doors you can open green and ones you can’t red? Is there trash piled up in front of doors you can’t use? Did you just remove the doorknobs and call it a day?
Can doors be locked and unlocked?
What tells a player a door is locked and will open, as opposed to a door that they will never open?
Does a player know how to unlock a door? Do they need a key? To hack a console? To solve a puzzle? To wait until a story moment passes?
Are there doors that can open but the player can never enter them?
Where do enemies come from? Do they run in from doors? Do those doors lock afterwards?
How does the player open a door? Do they just walk up to it and it slides open? Does it swing open? Does the player have to press a button to open it?
Do doors lock behind the player?
What happens if there are two players? Does it only lock after both players pass through the door?
What if the level is REALLY BIG and can’t all exist at the same time? If one player stays behind, the floor might disappear from under them. What do you do?
Do you stop one player from progressing any further until both are together in the same room?
Do you teleport the player that stayed behind?
What size is a door?
Does it have to be big enough for a player to get through?
What about co-op players? What if player 1 is standing in the doorway – does that block player 2?
What about allies following you? How many of them need to get through the door without getting stuck?
What about enemies? Do mini-bosses that are larger than a person also need to fit through the door?
It’s a pretty classic design problem. SOMEONE has to solve The Door Problem, and that someone is a designer.

The Other Door Problems

To help people understand the role breakdowns at a big company, I sometimes go into how other people deal with doors.

Creative Director: “Yes, we definitely need doors in this game.”
Project Manager: “I’ll put time on the schedule for people to make doors.”
Designer: “I wrote a doc explaining what we need doors to do.”
Concept Artist: “I made some gorgeous paintings of doors.”
Art Director: “This third painting is exactly the style of doors we need.”
Environment Artist: “I took this painting of a door and made it into an object in the game.”
Animator: “I made the door open and close.”
Sound Designer: “I made the sounds the door creates when it opens and closes.”
Audio Engineer: “The sound of the door opening and closing will change based on where the player is and what direction they are facing.”
Composer: “I created a theme song for the door.”
FX Artist: “I added some cool sparks to the door when it opens.”
Writer: “When the door opens, the player will say, ‘Hey look! The door opened!’ “
Lighter: “There is a bright red light over the door when it’s locked, and a green one when it’s opened.”
Legal: “The environment artist put a Starbucks logo on the door. You need to remove that if you don’t want to be sued.”
Character Artist: “I don’t really care about this door until it can start wearing hats.”
Gameplay Programmer: “This door asset now opens and closes based on proximity to the player. It can also be locked and unlocked through script.”
AI Programmer: “Enemies and allies now know if a door is there and whether they can go through it.”
Network Programmer: “Do all the players need to see the door open at the same time?”
Release Engineer: “You need to get your doors in by 3pm if you want them on the disk.”
Core Engine Programmer: “I have optimized the code to allow up to 1024 doors in the game.”
Tools Programmer: “I made it even easier for you to place doors.”
Level Designer: “I put the door in my level and locked it. After an event, I unlocked it.”
UI Designer: “There’s now an objective marker on the door, and it has its own icon on the map.”
Combat Designer: “Enemies will spawn behind doors, and lay cover fire as their allies enter the room. Unless the player is looking inside the door in which case they will spawn behind a different door.”
Systems Designer: “A level 4 player earns 148xp for opening this door at the cost of 3 gold.”
Monetization Designer: “We could charge the player $.99 to open the door now, or wait 24 hours for it to open automatically.”
QA Tester: “I walked to the door. I ran to the door. I jumped at the door. I stood in the doorway until it closed. I saved and reloaded and walked to the door. I died and reloaded then walked to the door. I threw grenades at the door.”
UX / Usability Researcher: “I found some people on Craigslist to go through the door so we could see what problems crop up.”
Localization: “Door. Puerta. Porta. Porte. Tür. Dør. Deur. Drzwi. Drws. 문”
Producer: “Do we need to give everyone those doors or can we save them for a pre-order bonus?”
Publisher: “Those doors are really going to help this game stand out during the fall line-up.”
CEO: “I want you all to know how much I appreciate the time and effort put into making those doors.”
PR: “To all our fans, you’re going to go crazy over our next reveal #gamedev #doors #nextgen #retweet”
Community Manager: “I let the fans know that their concerns about doors will be addressed in the upcoming patch.”
Customer Support: “A player contacted us, confused about doors. I gave them detailed instructions on how to use them.”
Player: “I totally didn’t even notice a door there.”
One of the reasons I like this example is because it’s so mundane. There’s an impression that game design is flashy and cool and about crazy ideas and fun all the time. But when I start off with, “Let me tell you about doors…” it cuts straight to the everyday practical considerations.

An infographic of an average game dev cycle what I made:

Direct link to large: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3yffnntiu...sep17.png?raw=1

https://instagram.com/mutatedjellyfish/
https://www.artstation.com/artist/mutatedjellyfish

mutata fucked around with this message at Sep 14, 2017 around 16:37

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mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.



mutata - art/design - AAA console, indie, AR/VR
chunderstorm - design/code/qa - AAA, VR
mastermind2004 - gameplay programming - AAA, large indie
TheFlyingOrc - gameplay programming - MMO
ShinAli - generalist/systems programming - AAA, contractor
Gearman - technical art/environment art - AAA, retail
Mother - design/management - AAA, indie
GC_ChrisReeves - art - AAA, console
floofyscorp - art - indie, MMO
eshock - ai programming - AAA open world
rope kid - direction/design/writing - AAA, PC
Namen - ai programming - AAA
Studio - production/project management - mobile
HolaMundo - programming - mobile
Gerblyn - programming/design - indie
Hughlander - programming/management - AAA, mobile, console, MMO

mutata fucked around with this message at Apr 27, 2018 around 01:15

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


I am also here to answer questions. I do development and QA for VR, and have worked in AAA as a contractor in the past. Hello thread.

VideoGames
Aug 18, 2003


Kirby Teaches Typing


I'm going to be monitoring the thread closely and meter out harsh punishments for people white noise messing around.
I think this thread could be truly awesome and I am glad it exists.

mastermind2004
Sep 14, 2007



I'm one of the people who will also be answering, I've been a gameplay programmer for almost 10 years now, a couple years at EA, and have been at Robot Entertainment since.

an actual dog
Nov 18, 2014

Dog, dog! Er, I mean, bark, bark!


That infographic rules, especially the terrifying red marks where contracts end and people get fired.

MMF Freeway
Sep 15, 2010

Later!


Hi. Sometimes I wonder about how, like most collaborative art forms, people feel the need to assign the majority of credit for the creation of a game to a single person. Maybe it comes over from how people understand film, but there the auteur is almost always the director. In games it seems like that role is more nebulous, sometimes being a programmer or artist or designer, producer etc. Have you guys ever worked with someone who has seen themselves as the game's "author"? What was their job on the team? How was that working dynamic? Maybe you've been that person, if so how much did you feel like you should steer the ship versus the other team members?

lalaland
Nov 8, 2012


thats the best door post ive ever read

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


MMF Freeway posted:

Hi. Sometimes I wonder about how, like most collaborative art forms, people feel the need to assign the majority of credit for the creation of a game to a single person. Maybe it comes over from how people understand film, but there the auteur is almost always the director. In games it seems like that role is more nebulous, sometimes being a programmer or artist or designer, producer etc. Have you guys ever worked with someone who has seen themselves as the game's "author"? What was their job on the team? How was that working dynamic? Maybe you've been that person, if so how much did you feel like you should steer the ship versus the other team members?

My experience with this one is a bit unique. I was at Warren Spector's grad program, the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy, for the 2015-2016 year.

He was the director of the program, but also ended up giving us the lore and foundation for the game we were going to pitch and build, which itself was based off Shroud of the Avatar, Richard Garriott's current game.

The dynamic was pretty good overall, and since it was a learning experience, he let us get a lot more hands on with it than I imagine he normally would have. Since it was part classroom, he also gave us a few lectures on what it was like heading Deus Ex, Epic Mickey, and the subsequent auteurs he's sort of fostered (Harvey Smith of Arkane, for example), and what it was like working with them before they were as well-known as they were.

For our first three weeks, we actually did a project that he led, which was sort of a testing ground to find the students to lead for the first session (we had a three-week rotating leadership cycle - new director and producer each time). We ended up building a game for iPad; sort of a 1v1 hex territory control game.

He's trained as a producer, so he has a pretty great capacity for scheduling and whatnot, but most of us were a bit at odds with his style. He calls his style 'design by cuisnart,' so he throws in as much as possible and cuts what he has to. We took a more conservative approach, and built a smaller feature set that we were sure we could flesh out in the short timespan we had.

Ultimately we moved on and that project never saw the light of day, and we ended up building a 2-player asymmetrical platformer. That one was a bit trickier, as the rotating leadership kicked in and Warren and the other faculty took a much more advisory role, mentoring the weekly leads and doing 1-on-1's with us to ensure we were on the right track as the program continued. They would play the game in playtests every few weeks, checking on our progress and providing feedback. Since their presence in the 'studio' as it were was less present there, conflicts in terms of our vision vs. theirs would get a bit more heated, as the context of these decisions was usually lost on the faculty.

He appreciated when we disagreed with him and had good reason to do so, and never shut us down for doing it. The other faculty were similarly minded, but were not well-known industry figures in the same capacity, so I won't get into their roles much. We ended up wresting a lot of creative control from Warren, even about what platform it was ultimately going to be on. I doubt he'd have been as loose with that at a real studio, though. I guess he didn't so much see himself as the game's author, but definitely started out in that role until we wore him down.

Hopefully someone with a more AAA experience can weigh in, but I'm unsure as to how many people will answer that question without doing so totally anonymously.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

MMF Freeway posted:

Hi. Sometimes I wonder about how, like most collaborative art forms, people feel the need to assign the majority of credit for the creation of a game to a single person. Maybe it comes over from how people understand film, but there the auteur is almost always the director. In games it seems like that role is more nebulous, sometimes being a programmer or artist or designer, producer etc. Have you guys ever worked with someone who has seen themselves as the game's "author"? What was their job on the team? How was that working dynamic? Maybe you've been that person, if so how much did you feel like you should steer the ship versus the other team members?

I haven't personally worked with a well-known gaming auteur/celebrity dev. It is certainly a phenomenon that gets a side-eye from a lot of rank and file devs, but it's not really that unusual and it's probably inevitable. In my opinion, I think in western culture we love celebrity and we love to rally collectively around a single point (see Bobak Ferdowski from the Mars Curiosity landing or that blue shed during that hurricane Harvey livestream).

What happens in my observations is that on most projects there emerges a "vision holder" which is a person or a few people who really can see the finished project (or a large aspect of the project like gameplay or art style) in their mind CLEARLY very early on and then that vision holder has to communicate that picture that only they can see to the rest of the team and help them see it. Sometimes it's this person's actual job to be a vision holder (director, creative director, art director, etc) but sometimes a rank and file dev can catch a vision and rally people too. (I've also worked with directors who have little to no vision of the project but that's a different discussion.) In other words, many times it's actually true that the auteur that you're seeing in the E3 videos has legitimately contributed in a huge, huge way to the project's creation and some of the attention is deserved. Where it gets ridiculous is when the marketing arm goes looking for a story to tell and they latch on to this effect and they blow it out of proportion, and it turns into a monster. What's worse is when the auteur then buys into it and then it can turn toxic.

The opposite also happens, by the way. I've worked with a few people who were solid vision holders and huge reasons why a successful product was successful and they never make noise or try to capitalize on it. Disney Infinity has a Toybox mode where players can create their own worlds and games with setpieces and toys. In the early stages all this was was a waiting room to dork around in before joining a multiplayer game and it was a total afterthought until Chad Liddell (among a few others, but especially him) really fought for it to be something bigger. It became the most played section of the game and the tentpole feature of a billion-dollar franchise and no one's heard of him, heh.

In my career I've been lucky to work with people who understand that games are gigantic efforts from thousands of people. I've tried to embrace this fact by listing all the names on the art team on my demo reels and such. In any given screenshot you're looking at the work of dozens of people all combined.

More often than not, though, game dev celebs are mini-monsters created by the marketing department because groups of humans like to focus on a single thing. Some of them resent this. Most of them do contribute in large ways to the success of a project.

mutata fucked around with this message at Sep 14, 2017 around 17:16

GC_ChrisReeves
Dec 16, 2004



"You're going to be...amazing."

Popping in to say I'll be hanging around to check for responses as well, I'm a 2D Artist at 4J Studios on Minecraft Console Edition in sunny Scotland and I've previously done some time as a mobile game artist.

Domus
May 7, 2007
Getting nerdier day by day

Are there any games that come to mind that only industry people can appreciate? Like "Well the controls were clunky, the AI was stupid, the level design was terrible...but whoever did those doors knocked that poo poo out of the park!"

FireWhizzle
Apr 2, 2009

a neckbeard elemental

Grimey Drawer

Q: Have you noticed a trend from 2014 or so onward where UI's are leaning more on HTML/CSS/JS, or are studios still more prone to using homemade solutions. If homemade - can you give any insight into the thinking?

Songbearer
Jul 12, 2007


Fuck you say?


What's the general vibe regarding VR in development circles currently? Is there interest or is it largely considered too niche to bother with?

During development, how often do you run into bugs or glitches that are so drat funny you're almost tempted to keep them in?

Super cool of you to do this thread, really slick OP.

theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008



Songbearer posted:

During development, how often do you run into bugs or glitches that are so drat funny you're almost tempted to keep them in?
Absolutely all the time. I know that personally it's weird to see "FUNNIEST GAME GLITCHES" videos because during development, we see "Oh no everyone has no face" and stuff like that absolutely all the time and the idea of writing 4 paragraphs about it is odd.

But yeah, almost everybody sees weird conditions that make the character never stop dancing as they move or something.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

Glitches are the best. Additionally, just placeholder stuff can be hilarious and awesome too. In Disney Infinity all gun-style weapons are neon colored and have orange tips on them like actual toy guns, but that decision didn't happen until they made real-looking guns first and saw how messed up (read: awesome) it looked for Mickey to blow someone away with a realistic-rear end old west sawed off. Somewhere I have a screenshot of Vanellope von Schweetz with a shotgun.

Also, to that end, sometimes glitches are so horrifying they actually get moved up in priority because they gross everyone out, like if jumping causes a characters limbs to retract into their torsos and the like.

Edit: I'll address the VR one and the UI one when I'm not phone posting.

MissMarple
Aug 26, 2008



Songbearer posted:

During development, how often do you run into bugs or glitches that are so drat funny you're almost tempted to keep them in?
Glitches make for great videos at 4pm on a Friday.
I've seen green monstrosities with one set of legs but 24 torsos.
Characters with creepy inside out eyes.
NPCs get kicked in the crotch so hard they launch into the air.
But alas most of them are "bugs" that can't survive to launch.

But I have turned bugs into features before.
When trying to free a character from being stuck on the ground, I was adding enough rotation that it essentially became a ragdoll gyroscope.
It could balance on it's feet simply by being a meat tornado.
We kept the code and values to make this happen, and turned it into a comedy consumable instead.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Songbearer posted:

What's the general vibe regarding VR in development circles currently? Is there interest or is it largely considered too niche to bother with?

During development, how often do you run into bugs or glitches that are so drat funny you're almost tempted to keep them in?

Super cool of you to do this thread, really slick OP.

All depends on who you are, really. You see it a lot in smaller studios, and there's a lot less AAA development power behind it, and even fewer companies that do it exclusively. I see VR in a spot as hardly a safe bet, but viable. As the tech improves the space will get bigger and more competitive, but it's not really 'there' yet.

As for bugs - all the time. Even if they're something innocuous. On Modern Warfare: Remastered, I found an easy way to stand on an enemy and shoot him in the head, which inexplicably moved you smoothly out of bounds. It was a skylight in a ceiling you were intended to fall through, and eventually the hole just got patched with wood planks so players couldn't go through it.

Oh, and in Dishonored, there was a time where possession wouldn't break scripted animations, so if you possessed a prostitute in the brothel, you'd be making out in first person. When Dishonored NPC's are possessed they have a chance to vomit, so you'd see a prostitute barf through the other one's head when you backed out.

Unfortunately, bugs are bugs, and even when they're funny it's QA's job to report them.

GC_ChrisReeves
Dec 16, 2004



"You're going to be...amazing."

Domus posted:

Are there any games that come to mind that only industry people can appreciate? Like "Well the controls were clunky, the AI was stupid, the level design was terrible...but whoever did those doors knocked that poo poo out of the park!"

I don't know if there are any games that only people in dev could appreciate, it's as you describe, we're often gamers much like yourself only we occasionally look at aspects of a game and go MOTHERFUCKER how did they do that!?? Before I worked in games I'd have had no way to know how the hell anyone did the art in Bastion but now I can see behind the curtain a bit, where assets are reused, where they start/end and how their editor must work for placing these assets on a grid. https://i.imgur.com/ojN1k4r.jpg

Another one is looking at an Overwatch level and starting to notice where textures are tiled, how 3d meshes are broken down into modular sets that just let level artists place what they like, even looking at the OVerwatch characters and seeing the PBR shading at work on the materials and the intense application of raw animation fundamentals right from the classical school of 2d animation

It also definitely gives you a lot of empathy for people in other dev situations, knowing that at XYZ studio besieged by angry redditors or are under pressure to deliver a GoTY, there are people doing their best and games aren't just crapped out of a corporate entity's rear end.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

Domus posted:

Are there any games that come to mind that only industry people can appreciate? Like "Well the controls were clunky, the AI was stupid, the level design was terrible...but whoever did those doors knocked that poo poo out of the park!"

I also don't think there are many games that only game devs can appreciate, but game devs (of various specialties) definitely appreciate games in a different way than regular players. We tend to be much more impressed with insanely good executions of our craft than regular customers. I think you could fill an entire college semester class with the environment art philosophies and techniques of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Uncharted 4, for example. Game devs tend to declare different games masterpieces than regular players. Not all the time, but a lot of the time.


FireWhizzle posted:

Q: Have you noticed a trend from 2014 or so onward where UI's are leaning more on HTML/CSS/JS, or are studios still more prone to using homemade solutions. If homemade - can you give any insight into the thinking?

So I am not a UI artist, so someone can correct me, but there's been a big shift in how user interfaces are implemented recently. Scaleform used to be the go-to UI system and it was Flash-based and pretty heavy handed from what I understand. With Flash finally getting murdered off, though, everything is a bit up in the air. Some are clinging to Scaleform, but most of the big AAA houses have resources enough to roll their own system. On the mid-tier and indie side, Unity and Unreal Engine 4 both now have their own integrated systems for UI. I think the current general desire across the UI/UX side of the industry is to someday have HTML5 be the go-to solution, but don't quote me on that.

But yeah, you're not wrong that there's been a change up in the past several years and we're kind of in a transition area still.


Songbearer posted:

What's the general vibe regarding VR in development circles currently? Is there interest or is it largely considered too niche to bother with?

During development, how often do you run into bugs or glitches that are so drat funny you're almost tempted to keep them in?

Super cool of you to do this thread, really slick OP.

We have a few people who currently work in VR on the forums so hopefully they can weigh in. I worked for CastAR which was an AR startup, and the bullish talk in those circles is "AR is gonna totally eat VR's LUNCH LOL" which, like, ok maybe? There's overlap there but they're different. In any case, when VR first started picking up steam, I'd say there was a definite "Oh snap, really?" reaction among the AAA industry. Many in AAA were around LAST time VR was a thing. I know at Disney, they spun up a small VR team and they produced a few neat prototypes like Tron tank games and the like, and they were looking to maybe expand those, but there was no real drive to pump tons of cash into it and I think that's kind of where things are right now. The early talk about VR was that it was going to "change the world" but that's every day Silicon Valley hot air.

I think a lot of developers are waiting to see what 2nd gen VR is like and particularly what it costs. In the meantime, I look at what Bethesda is doing as very wise: taking AAA properties and crowbarring them into VR. As a VR owner, it's not the ideal strategy that I really want (ie fully-fleshed out experiences made just for VR) but it's the only real viable strategy other than small teams making small-scale experiments. I don't think the install base just isn't big enough to support a dev studio solely on VR game sales.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.



GC_ChrisReeves posted:

...like, even looking at the Overwatch characters and seeing the PBR shading at work on the materials...

PBR is a graphics rendering philosophy and technology that has been widely adopted in games and film in the past 4 years. All 3D rendering is in some form or another, an illusion made of shortcuts and all 3D rendering has to varying degrees of complexity sought to replicate how light behaves in the real world. PBR stands for "Physically Based Rendering" and it strives to more accurately adhere to the law of conservation of energy which dictates how light is reflected off of all surfaces. For example, on rubber, most light is absorbed but some is still reflected back to our eyes so rubbers appear dark and matte and slightly shiny. A metal teapot, though, reflects the majority of light back but still absorbs a small amount so it appears shiny. The light that bounces off of the teapot and onto a nearby wall is dimmer than the initial light shining on the teapot since some energy is absorbed by the teapot or lost to scattering. etc. Whereas old shading models in games merely dictated a surface as "shiny" or "not shiny" or "a little shiny", PBR follows the real world fact that all objects are varying degrees of shiny and so you get more accurate lighting, surface definitions, and especially more accurate bounce (indirect) lighting.

crusty
Apr 16, 2015

Crustacean


Why have all games since half life 2 been garbage?

(Semi-serious question)

Psychedelicatessen
Feb 17, 2012


Have any you ever worked on a bad game, a real stinker? And was it immediately obvious, or was it a slow decline?

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


mutata posted:

I don't think the install base just isn't big enough to support a dev studio solely on VR game sales.

That's not entirely true, but definitely it's not enough to support a AAA studio. Due to the size of the install base there are really only so many sales you can feasibly get. It seems like a lot of the studios doing VR for AAA stuff are the same kinds of studios that do porting work. Mid-size studios that partly rely on those contracts to stay afloat between their own projects. That and indies who tend to be able to support themselves off VR sales thanks to much smaller team sizes. That, and doing something novel in VR lands a bit better than doing something equally novel in some other indie game.

crusty posted:

Why have all games since half life 2 been garbage?

(Semi-serious question)

I'd love to answer this, but I'm going to need you to explain your definition of 'garbage.' I hold the opinion that Half-Life 2 was revolutionary at the time, but isn't anything special today. Granted, this draws ire from other devs, so maybe I'm just a lunatic.

buglord
Jul 31, 2010

Actually it's ephebophila





Buglord

The question I'm gonna ask is probably why VideoGames jumped in here so quickly.
-----

What are your guys' experience with diversity in the workplace? Games may purposely (or unknowingly) strike a nerve in the community by misrepresenting groups of people, or sending a message that creates a social issue. Situations I'm thinking of are with the transgender NPC in Mass Effect Andromeda (where they would reveal their "deadname" to you seconds after meeting you) or the Soccer Spirits mobile game which turns your darker skinned characters into blue eyed white folks when you level them up. I feel both these examples may stem from lack of diversity in game studios, which is likely caused by societal norms in any given country. With these situations in mind:

1) Was there a time one of the above events happened and your studio felt the need to address it? "Hey, X studio is receiving a lot of flak for this, lets be sure our game sidesteps this issue"

2) Has your former/current studio made efforts to diversity the workplace recently and in the past? Was it met with internal backlash or HR issues?

3)If you're a minority, or had a close coworker who was a minority, did you/they feel a bit disconnected from their peers while working?

4)anything else?

GC_ChrisReeves
Dec 16, 2004



"You're going to be...amazing."


I woulda got away with it too had it not been for you blasted meddling kiiiiiiids

buglord posted:

What are your guys' experience with diversity in the workplace?
I'm afraid due to confidentiality I can't answer your more direct questions but personally, as a Bisexual Cisgender white-rear end man (who felt comfortable enough to come out as Bi during my time here), I loving love diversity in videogames and I have actively seek out ways to both better represent racial and gender minorities, Sexuality is a tricky topic for an artist as no one really looks gay/bi/pan, they look like anyone and gender roles/stereotypes/signifiers in designs need a real looking at. I am lucky enough to be part of a company sympathetic to that. I respect diversity-encouraging hiring practices as people of varying backgrounds, perspectives and life situations can bring way more to the table than a lot of people realise over and above raw technical skill.

But my experience is limited and I cannot speak for management-level people and how they might handle this. I have such a respect for those who go out of their way on this though.

crusty posted:

Why have all games since half life 2 been garbage?
I really love HL2 as a masterclass in level/experience design and I suspect a lot of the lessons of pacing and loving with player expectations has been somewhat lost in the trend towards more large scale, open games and linear experiences have sort of fallen by the wayside unless they're hugely cinematic or CoD.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


Q: This is a bit of a open-ended question, but it's been on my mind recently. How do game devs view and/or handle accessibility, particularly in the context of things like difficulty options and tutorials?

In the former case, I've always been frustrated with difficulty options that amount to a quick and dirty behind the scenes adjustment in math, so for instance enemies just have double health on Hard. By comparison, you have the occasional example that goes above and beyond, such as the Devil May Cry games changing up entire encounters and enemy behaviors between difficulties. Nowadays it seems like most games are somewhere in the middle between those two. Ultimately I've always suspected that in most cases there's just not enough time/money to invest into polishing alternate difficulty modes, and probably additional pressure to ensure the experience the grand majority of players are going to experience is good versus spending effort on making sure Hard isn't too much of a kick in the dick. How true is that?

As for tutorials, there's a vocal contingent out there that seethes at "condescending" tutorials giving "obvious" information like using the left stick to move. Meanwhile, I'm often at the opposite end of the spectrum, getting annoyed by tutorials that only cover the very basics. For example, Civilization's tutorial might explain what all the buttons on the UI do, but I'd argue it doesn't actually teach the player how to play Civ very well. I guess, broadly speaking, how do you approach tutorial design? Do tutorials suffer moreso from budget constraints than other parts of the game? Do the Big Three, or other controlling forces have guidelines or outright mandates governing how much information you're ideally supposed to give to the player? Playtesting obviously exists for a reason, but do you have any notable stories about blind spots caused by proximity to a game and its guts?

And finally, the thorniest part of this, what might be called the Problem: There are obviously economic reasons for big budget games to maintain a certain level of accessibility, since trying to hook Literally Everyone onto your game is going to pay off better than designing for a purely niche market. But in creative terms, where do you personally draw the line when it comes to accessibility versus artistic intent? Would you rather everyone get to experience your game exactly how they want, or design for a specific experience that will find whatever audience it finds? Have there been times you've stuck to your guns on a particular design decision w/r/t something like a difficult boss encounter?

John Murdoch fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2017 around 02:25

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


buglord posted:

Was there a time one of the above events happened and your studio felt the need to address it? "Hey, X studio is receiving a lot of flak for this, lets be sure our game sidesteps this issue"

One of the studios I've worked at has most definitely cut a reference or two to something in-game in response to an issue, but it wasn't really that another studio did X, so much as a public figure in gaming did an uh-oh, so we removed a reference to that figure. It wasn't the kind of thing we wanted to associate with at all, even as fans of said figure's work initially. It kinda soured having the whole joke in there for us, and despite having mixed feelings about it, we know we did the right thing. I'd answer more about HR but honestly as a cishet white dude I'm gonna be pretty dry on concrete examples of workplace sexism/racism/etc. At the grad program I attended we got a lot of people from different countries attending, including a guy whose English was pretty spotty when he first arrived. They were all phenomenal, reasonable people to work with and had a lot of stuff to bring to the table, and I'd personally love to see more diversity in game development as a whole. But I'm not the guy that makes those calls.


John Murdoch posted:

As for tutorials, there's a vocal contingent out there that seethes at "condescending" tutorials giving "obvious" information like using the left stick to move. Meanwhile, I'm often at the opposite end of the spectrum, getting annoyed by tutorials that only cover the very basics. For example, Civilization's tutorial might explain what all the buttons on the UI do, but I'd argue it doesn't actually teach the player how to play Civ very well. I guess, broadly speaking, how do you approach tutorial design? Do tutorials suffer moreso from budget constraints than other parts of the game? Do the Big Three, or other controlling forces have guidelines or outright mandates governing how much information you're ideally supposed to give to the player? Playtesting obviously exists for a reason, but do you have any notable stories about blind spots caused by proximity to a game and its guts?

I haven't worked on enough 'hard' games to cover the other stuff, but if there's one thing I know about tutorials, it's that they're usually done last. Not everything is finished right away, and it's much easier to design the 'middle' level first as sort of a "the player has everything, so let them use it all a bit" sort of deal. Those also tend to be the kinds of levels that introduce a unique mechanic. Dishonored and Dishonored 2's best levels are arguably the party and the level with the mirror, respectively, and they both fall at about the mid-point of the game. I'd imagine they were done pretty early in development and thus got a lot of polish time (I have no hard evidence for this, just a hunch based on what I know about development).

That sort of thing also makes it a pain and a half to make tutorials, because the designer already knows everything. Striking the balance between too little and too much in the tutorial, especially when you want to appeal to all of your playerbase, is really freakin' hard. Especially in the case of something as insanely complex as Civilization. And sense they tend to get done so late, you may just not end up with enough playtest time to iterate on your tutorial enough, and given that some level of crunch is basically expected at most studios, it's likely that in those cases the tutorial just falls by the wayside more than it should.

Hopefully that covers at least a bit; I'll wait for someone to weigh in with a more concrete example if they've got one.

e:

John Murdoch posted:

And finally, the thorniest part of this, what might be called the Problem: There are obviously economic reasons for big budget games to maintain a certain level of accessibility, since trying to hook Literally Everyone onto your game is going to pay off better than designing for a purely niche market. But in creative terms, where do you personally draw the line when it comes to accessibility versus artistic intent? Would you rather everyone get to experience your game exactly how they want, or design for a specific experience that will find whatever audience it finds? Have there been times you've stuck to your guns on a particular design decision w/r/t something like a difficult boss encounter?

Ultimately when you draw the line for accessibility, it's all stuff you have to design as well. And it's not just for 'difficulty,' even. In VR, a major consideration is sitting versus standing, or whether the player has to use both hands for any tasks. Not to mention motion sickness. In a lot of ways, accessibility falls under artistic intent, as I can totally intend for all players to have an easy time of my game.

In the case of Dark Souls, they made a hard game and designed it specifically to be kind of a guttural, crushing experience and they did a drat fine job of that for the most part. I definitely weigh in on the side of harder difficulty when I do balance, but that's because my QA background has me used to doing the same impossible things hundreds of times over, doing speedruns of whatever I work on, etc. So while I do tend to stick to my guns, I'll also pull back if all my coworkers are finding my stuff impassable.

In my own time I'm working on a game that's sort of that "low skill floor, high skill ceiling" deal. It's a conscious choice because while the company I work for has pretty high visibility, I personally don't. I've got about 500 Twitter followers, haven't done GDC talks, etc. I'm just some dude. If people can pick it up and play easily while still having a reason to stick around and improve that doesn't feel like grinding, then I feel it's a solid strategy. If I were a bit more seasoned, I might try making something harder just because I could get away with it.

So unfortunately the unsatisfying answer is: it depends. Not just on the game you're making, but the time you're making it, the size of your studio, etc.

Really I just think it's nice that we have an industry capable of creating both really accessible, fun, dumb stuff and insanely hard, brutal experiences and there's enough room for them both to exist.

Chunderstorm fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2017 around 05:44

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

crusty posted:

Why have all games since half life 2 been garbage?

(Semi-serious question)

You're gonna have to be a bit more specific, but I will share a few general opinions on this: Games have gotten drastically more expensive since the turn of the century and therefore shareholders, CEOs and studioheads have gotten much more reluctant to take risks. This is one of the unfortunate side effects of games becoming a majority culturally-embraced hobby and entertainment source. I can't really comment directly on your criteria since I don't know it, but games is a multi-billion dollar incestuous industry now. If someone takes a leap and cracks some kind of profit-making code then others are going to follow suit. Likewise, with dev timelines and budgets being what they are, there's often a philosophy of "let's not reinvent the wheel" inside of devs which means "Hey, instead of trying to find new/better/innovative solutions to this design problem, let's just do what this other game did that everyone already knows and likes". (to this end, get ready for more open world games to take pages from Breath of the Wild's book) What this means, I think, is that games have seemed to get more homogeneous since the turn of the century and more and more games are adhering to strict genre rules with minor twists on existing formulas. If you are someone who doesn't like the formula, then all the games coming out are going to fall short for you until someone can refresh the formula or drop a sea change title that washes through the industry.

Psychedelicatessen posted:

Have any you ever worked on a bad game, a real stinker? And was it immediately obvious, or was it a slow decline?

Most games, I think, start out cool in theory. LOTS of stuff sounds awesome when it's in the ideas stage. Then again, games go bad for all kinds of reasons. Most often, though, I find that the majority of developers working on a title know their project's weak points very very clearly so I'd say that yeah, if someone's working on a bad game then they'll know it before it ships. There are always cheerleaders or vision holders on the team that really drink the cool aid and are blind to things, but for the most part games get bad over time and the rank and file just get to watch in horror like a slow motion train crash.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

buglord posted:

The question I'm gonna ask is probably why VideoGames jumped in here so quickly.
-----

What are your guys' experience with diversity in the workplace? Games may purposely (or unknowingly) strike a nerve in the community by misrepresenting groups of people, or sending a message that creates a social issue. Situations I'm thinking of are with the transgender NPC in Mass Effect Andromeda (where they would reveal their "deadname" to you seconds after meeting you) or the Soccer Spirits mobile game which turns your darker skinned characters into blue eyed white folks when you level them up. I feel both these examples may stem from lack of diversity in game studios, which is likely caused by societal norms in any given country. With these situations in mind:

1) Was there a time one of the above events happened and your studio felt the need to address it? "Hey, X studio is receiving a lot of flak for this, lets be sure our game sidesteps this issue"

2) Has your former/current studio made efforts to diversity the workplace recently and in the past? Was it met with internal backlash or HR issues?

3)If you're a minority, or had a close coworker who was a minority, did you/they feel a bit disconnected from their peers while working?

4)anything else?

I think others have done well responding to this, so I'll just say that lack of diversity is absolutely a big problem in the games industry (and entertainment in general). I also think it is slowly getting better, but not as quickly as I'd like to see. At Avalanche (Dis Interactive) there was enough of a pocket of outspoken women that they started spinning up some blatant "Yo, listen to us, dammit" activities, and it was largely well received because men at the company knew that a big chunk of our target demographic was going to be little girls. To Ava's credit, in the 4 years before their closure and subsequent rebirth, they had upped the percentage of women at the company pretty drastically. It was still heavily skewed, but there were definitely teams (other than HR) that had good representation and while the headlining IPs on the boxes were Marvel and Star Wars (which women also like), the later Infinity releases included much more varied gameplay other than combat like farming, pets, base-building, sidekick recruiting, and whole non-combat campaigns with IPs such as Inside Out and Finding Dory. It was good to see that as the percentage (percentage is the important thing, I think, not just number) of employees that were women went up, so did the variation on gameplay styles.

theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008



John Murdoch posted:

As for tutorials, there's a vocal contingent out there that seethes at "condescending" tutorials giving "obvious" information like using the left stick to move.
These people are wrong.

Obviously, there are exceptions - you can make games for only people who are super into them, as everyone always brings up Dark Souls. But most people have completely forgotten how intimidating and terrifying it is to hold a controller for the first time, and your game should, in most cases, be accessible to that person. You actually want 8 year olds to be able to play your game - and you want his parents who have never played a video game before, too.

"Condescension" is insanely stupid to care about - it costs you right next to nothing as the player and it's a lifeline for people who are new/bad.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


It's both fascinating and worrying to see the level of ire that basic tutorials engender in some people. Especially since it's always couched in this bizarre, generally imaginary antagonism between the developer and the player. These people feel genuinely insulted by the developer when they have to take two seconds to prove they know how to jump and crouch. Meanwhile the dev just wants to make sure little Timmy who just got the game for Christmas knows what the buttons do.

There's definitely a real conversation to be had about tutorial design, but usually the complaints are pure pass/fail. If a tutorial has to actually pop up a box that says "press A to jump" then the game is 100% garbage. Why can't every game be like Megaman X???? (Manual? What manual?)

I feel like I should also point out the reason why the subject has been on my mind is that I've dipped my toe into some off-site arguments about it recently, and there's been some real whoppers coming out of those discussions. I figured it would be fun to ask actual gamesfolk for their take on some of the especially wacky stuff on top of my own thoughts.

John Murdoch fucked around with this message at Sep 17, 2017 around 23:39

theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008



John Murdoch posted:

There's definitely a real conversation to be had about tutorial design, but usually the complaints are pure pass/fail. If a tutorial has to actually pop up a box that says "press A to jump" then the game is 100% garbage. Why can't every game be like Megaman X???? (Manual? What manual?)
Yeah, these kind of examples drive me crazy - Megaman X works because it's a 2D plain and you inherently do what the game wants because all the necessary information is on your screen at the same time. But it's actually possible to do things like "look straight up and miss something important" or "not understand how to use 2 control sticks together" really easily.

I love Dark Souls, but it's existence has made arguing about game design REALLY stupid, as well.

MMF Freeway
Sep 15, 2010

Later!


Extra funny because even dark souls has a "press r1 to attack" style tutorial.

GC_ChrisReeves
Dec 16, 2004



"You're going to be...amazing."

theflyingorc posted:

You actually want 8 year olds to be able to play your game - and you want his parents who have never played a video game before, too.

This is a reason why we added a tutorial world and tutorials to Minecraft Console, a game which in earlier stages has needed players to use wikis to learn the game - and not everyone will do so before giving up. The more vocal gamers against tutorials are a minority, you tend not to hear from those who benefit from good tutorials.

I'm a big believer in giving the player the information they need to get started and then build difficulty on top of that. There is no challenge in Dark Souls simply not explaining to you what stats or certain mechanics mean, that's just obfuscation and some players will check wikis and others won't.

GC_ChrisReeves fucked around with this message at Sep 18, 2017 around 00:45

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

I generally agree with all of the above re tutorials, but I also agree that many in-game tutorials are last minute additions, but more than that, they are designed by people who do not understand teaching and learning. The opening moments of a game are extremely important (as dropout data has shown) and they have to accomplish a lot of things. I suspect that the most grievous on-boarding sequences (like possibly the Cuphead tutorial that's been in the news lately? I dunno, I haven't played it, but it looks intensely boring) fall in the category of "We're out of time, just make it real quick." These are fine because it's better to have SOMETHING there than nothing (unless you're Minecraft).

Generally speaking, though, game designers are not often good teachers and they certainly aren't professional curriculum architects which is what we're asking them to do when designing tutorials. At the risk of oversimplifying, humans prefer to learn in different ways, but 2 of the most common are either DIRECT INSTRUCTION or KINESTHETIC DISCOVERY. People who prefer direct instruction are those who carefully read the side of the arcade cabinet before even considering to put their quarter in. Those who prefer kinesthetic learning put their quarter in right away and just go. For direct learners, information is king ("Just tell me what you want me to do!") and for kinesthetic learners context and story are king ("This button pop up poo poo is ruining MY IMMERSION!") I suspect that part of the disdain for 'lazy' tutorials are that people are being forced into a sequence that pets them against the fur and forces them to learn in the wrong way.

I agree that integrated tutorials in games like Mario or Megaman X are WAAAAAYYY easier than crafting a learning ramp up for modern AAA games (no brainer) but I still see people bounce off of those opening sequences today because there isn't proper instruction integrated with the learning activity. Rose tinted glasses and all that.

I actually think Valve's singleplayer games (RIP) are some of the finest examples of integrating the 2 learning styles to make a memorable and highly effective teaching experience. I often city Half-Life 2's "Pick up that can" sequence as a near perfect example. The player is presented with an entertaining and engaging interaction with an NPC, it very effectively acts as a story and world-building moment, it's completely within the context of the game and the story, the player begins a gameplay arc that is further built on when you get the gravity gun and then climaxes when the gravity gun goes supernova at the end, and it has a direct button prompt BUT that button prompt isn't a pop up box that pauses gameplay and says

"In the world of Half-Life 2 there are many PHYSICS OBJECTS! Press 'E' to interact with PHYSICS OBJECTS! Sometimes, PHYSICS OBJECTS will get in your way..." etc.

All it says is "Press E to pick up can". You do so and then YOU discover that in HL2 you get to interact with physics objects 'all on your own'.

Another similar example: The part in Portal 2 where Wheatley tells you that you might have brain damage and to "Just say yes" if you understand. A button prompt appears: "Press SPACE to talk" and you jump. Then Wheatley makes a joke. This is a fantastic, kinesthetic way to discover a game mechanic while still being directly taught how to do it.

Also, Portal 1 has an amazingly good on boarding process for how complicated the gameplay needs to get later.

mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

On Disney Infinity, we had to design tutorials for a 5-year-old player who could not yet read. We had to teach this hypothetical player how to platform, shoot guns, drive cars, fly Iron Man, fly helicopters, fly airplanes, build worlds with menus and UI and later how to swim with fish.

We... did the best we could.

John Murdoch
May 19, 2009

I have special eyes.

Just think of all the cool stuff I can see.


theflyingorc posted:

Yeah, these kind of examples drive me crazy - Megaman X works because it's a 2D plain and you inherently do what the game wants because all the necessary information is on your screen at the same time. But it's actually possible to do things like "look straight up and miss something important" or "not understand how to use 2 control sticks together" really easily.

I love Dark Souls, but it's existence has made arguing about game design REALLY stupid, as well.
Not to mention how the complexity of the actual controllers has only gone up. Something simple like an Atari joystick or an NES pad (or hell a Pong knob) is a far, far cry from the button-packed monsters we have today. And even with all those buttons, games often still need to carefully cram in as much functionality as possible using button combos or contextual commands, none of which are necessarily going to be intuitive enough for even experienced games to magically know.

And there's even a pretty clear progression in how much of the control space was intended to be used frequently. You had early NES games where Start and Select only existed to interact with the menu at the beginning of the game, and maybe later pause the game if you were lucky. You also had the three spokes of the N64 controller which clearly assumed that you'd only ever want or need to use two spokes at a time. Nowadays a whole lot of games absolutely expect you to be using both sticks, possibly both stick buttons (which I suspect a lot of people don't even know are a thing), the d-pad, and start and select/back/whatever frequently on top of the 8~ other buttons.

MMF Freeway posted:

Extra funny because even dark souls has a "press r1 to attack" style tutorial.
On the plus side, reading the tutorial messages isn't mandatory. That said, there's also something to be said for Mean Ole Dark Souls That Doesn't Hold Your Hand Like A Baby putting a non-hostile NPC three steps outside of the tutorial that explicitly gives you a goal and a direction. After which everyone promptly turns right and dies to immortal skeletons.

I wonder what the overlap is on people who bitch about waypoints and compass arrows and tutorial pop-ups and whatever else, but also never check the options menu to see if they can turn all of that stuff off.

mutata posted:

I generally agree with all of the above re tutorials, but I also agree that many in-game tutorials are last minute additions, but more than that, they are designed by people who do not understand teaching and learning. The opening moments of a game are extremely important (as dropout data has shown) and they have to accomplish a lot of things. I suspect that the most grievous on-boarding sequences (like possibly the Cuphead tutorial that's been in the news lately? I dunno, I haven't played it, but it looks intensely boring) fall in the category of "We're out of time, just make it real quick." These are fine because it's better to have SOMETHING there than nothing (unless you're Minecraft).

Generally speaking, though, game designers are not often good teachers and they certainly aren't professional curriculum architects which is what we're asking them to do when designing tutorials. At the risk of oversimplifying, humans prefer to learn in different ways, but 2 of the most common are either DIRECT INSTRUCTION or KINESTHETIC DISCOVERY. People who prefer direct instruction are those who carefully read the side of the arcade cabinet before even considering to put their quarter in. Those who prefer kinesthetic learning put their quarter in right away and just go. For direct learners, information is king ("Just tell me what you want me to do!") and for kinesthetic learners context and story are king ("This button pop up poo poo is ruining MY IMMERSION!") I suspect that part of the disdain for 'lazy' tutorials are that people are being forced into a sequence that pets them against the fur and forces them to learn in the wrong way.
Good poo poo. I've always wondered how much the industry would benefit from hiring on learning specialists in some capacity. I can't imagine it's literally never happened once, but it sure doesn't seem to be the norm as far as I can tell.

On a big team, who all actually ends up working on the tutorials (ie, who do I blame? )? Is it basically just a small group of programmers, artists, and/or designers putting their heads together and winging it?

theflyingorc
Jun 28, 2008



GC_ChrisReeves posted:

I'm a big believer in giving the player the information they need to get started and then build difficulty on top of that. There is no challenge in Dark Souls simply not explaining to you what stats or certain mechanics mean, that's just obfuscation and some players will check wikis and others won't.
I get so irritated by the amount of stuff in the Souls games where you can make permanent bad decisions, and you'd really need to go to the Wiki to make sure you don't. I shouldn't be able to fail because I didn't check the internet. In general the games are fantastic and I love them and the vast majority of their design decisions are real good

mutata posted:

I generally agree with all of the above re tutorials, but I also agree that many in-game tutorials are last minute additions, but more than that, they are designed by people who do not understand teaching and learning. The opening moments of a game are extremely important (as dropout data has shown) and they have to accomplish a lot of things. I suspect that the most grievous on-boarding sequences (like possibly the Cuphead tutorial that's been in the news lately? I dunno, I haven't played it, but it looks intensely boring) fall in the category of "We're out of time, just make it real quick." These are fine because it's better to have SOMETHING there than nothing (unless you're Minecraft).
The big companies honestly don't put enough thought into tutorials most of the time, and it's real dumb how tacked on they are sometimes. The medium-and-down companies are somewhat excused because they made a mad dash to even get the game functional.

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mutata
Mar 1, 2003

Make way for the Urinal Parade.

We were getting better at Avalanche. Each Infinity had a big high-budget "Disney Magic" opening intro sequence that was built by a small team over the course of the entire dev cycle (2 or so years for Infinity 1 and 1 year for Infinitys 2 and 3). They mainly focused on the spectacle but they were prodded into some limited tutorial making too. Moving forward they were going to be even more integrated with the entire on boarding process but then we got canceled.

Speaking of diversity, I absolutely think more guidance, training, consulting or hiring of people with outside professions like teaching or psychology would mostly be a great thing. The only reason I have so much to say about tutorials is because I was asked to help a friend with Infinity 1's on boarding and my wife is a school teacher trained in developing new curriculum so I had a lot of late night conversations with her about it.

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