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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Fortunately in VR, we have the benefit of very few buttons and way more kinesthetic actions, so players are more drawn to just gently caress with everything, particularly in smaller environments. Not that it makes tutorializing easy, but given that our studio doesn't use any artificial locomotion in our games, it's pretty easy for us to trap the player until we make sure they have the basics down.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


SupSuper posted:

I'm not sure what's the right term for this, but why does the games industry seem to be so... fanatic?

For example, I'm a software dev, I work on all kinds of products I wouldn't use myself, I don't have any investment in them. I'm invested in my job and that's what I like. I doubt all the consumers and reviewers of various products have any deep attachments to them as well.
But in games everyone seems to be required to "drink the koolaid". To work in games you have to love games, to write about games you have to breathe games. Everyone is a gamer, whether they're developer, press, or customer, and that seems to encourage all kinds of bias and inner circles and what not.

Is it all just an act for marketing, a natural result of working on creative media, or something else?

Some people say it's the creative/emotional aspect and they're definitely right. Most of us are just gamers turned developers, so we just love video games.

That said, most of us aren't running studios and I think the old guard is partially to blame for this. Back in the early days of games, there was no E3, and videogames tended to be shoved in a back corner at whatever consumer electronics show was going on at the time. Demands for more space and to be taken seriously where met with a resounding PFFFFT, so games spun off into their own showcase, and E3 was born.

Now I don't want to credit the ESA entirely for the crap parts of game culture, but I'll definitely credit the HELL YEAH VIDEO GAMES parts to it. The whole initial reason for E3 was kinda the same creative passion that drives most of us, mixed with a bit of a rebellious 'gently caress all y'all' and some showmanship. I think that's at least partially responsible for the kind of fanaticism you'll see from both players and devs.

Forer posted:

So, I'm interested in getting in the gamedev field but I'm absolutely scared that crunch will eat me alive and I desperately want to avoid it. I'm interested in just junior design stuff but I have a LITTLE programming background and whatnot, and I know to keep filling out my portfolio with projects but, that crunch man, it just is so intimidating that I stop before I start. Is there anything to say to console me or is it just "YUP stay out if you hate crunch"

I've worked a grand total of two years in the industry, and I'm 24. The worst crunch I've experienced was 60-hour work weeks doing publisher-side QA. That poo poo sucked. If you wind up in a role like that, particularly at one of the major publishers, it's not uncommon.

Studio-level QA was way better. I think I worked a grand total of 12 additional hours during a 4 month contract on a very big franchise.

My current job actually saw me do a 16-hour day, but we all came in at noon the next day with a collective "hey that sucked rear end how about we never do that again."

So overall, I don't have a ton of horror stories. There've definitely been some awful days, but if you can avoid working at one of the really big publishers you're well on your way to avoiding a lot of crunch.

Another trend I've noticed is a lot of senior devs in their 40s or so are now starting small-to-mid sized studios and learning from their previous studios' mistakes, including those of bad scheduling and crunch. The problem isn't solved, but it seems to be steadily improving.

Chunderstorm fucked around with this message at Sep 20, 2017 around 05:32

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Digirat posted:

How difficult do you find it to divorce frame rate from any aspect of game speed in the engine you use? I was pretty shocked when I made a game for a student project in unmodified unreal 4 and saw characters suddenly move twice as fast when the frame rate went down--it sounds like an extremely hard problem to solve at a low level, but also one so fundamental to many games that I sort of assumed any modern engine's default physics wouldn't be that dependent on frame rate anymore.

Pretty simple. Multiply whatever value by deltaTime and it becomes based off however much time has passed since the last frame tick. Most students don't consider framerate in their projects so they never think to ask how to fix it.

Also that probably doesn't have a lot to do with the physics engine itself. They might be applying a force over time, or moving the character X distance over time, so that when the framerate changes, so do the number of calls to whatever move function they've written.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Chev posted:

Actually, using a variable delta does cause inconsistent behavior with physics. Game simulations, including physics engines, belong to the family of explicit methods, and the results of those vary with the size of the delta. That is to say, running the same physics over two frames of 16ms or one frame of 32ms, even multiplying with the delta, will normally yield different results, purely due to numerical integration. On top of that, having a variable physics timestep will cause extra instabilities too (and not just in complex physics engines, an oldschool shmup or street fighter style game is also best served by a fixed timestep). In general using a fixed timestep will make everything more stable, predictable and reproductible, which also carries some implications for networking, debugging and replays. However, what happens if the frame rate itself is too slow or instable?

So, the most flexible option is to separate the update rate (at which the simulation is run) and the rendering rate (at which the frames are rendered, thus usually called frame rate). Although that can introduce some stuttering if done in the most straightforward way there are ways to smooth that.
Note that there may be extra issues when separating them these days, like using the GPU for gameplay tasks. For example the behavior of the water in From Dust was affected by the framerate unlocker mod because it was simulated on GPU as part of the render loop.

Due to its technical lineage, UE traditionally uses variable timestep, though I think there's an option for fixed timestep in UE4 (and osme companies like Arcsys certainly managed to use fixed update in UE3 already). Here's an article about all that: https://gafferongames.com/post/fix_your_timestep/

Huh, thanks for the info. TIL!

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


ninjewtsu posted:

I know that "game devs like different games than players" was touched on earlier, but are there any games that you guys find particularly exemplary for your field? Like, if you're an artist, and were teaching a class on game art or something, what games would you want to have studied? Or what games are really interesting/solid from a design perspective?

Spelunky. It's not an uncommon one either. It's generally regarded as a must-play among most of the other devs I talk to. Solid pacing, pretty good difficulty curve, fantastic use of procedural generation, great use of elements interacting with each other, etc. It probably has more in common with something like Dishonored or System Shock than most platformers. You could probably teach a class about how successful that game is at tutorializing its nuanced mechanics simply by trial-and-error, which builds very well into how the game is meant to be played.

Also, it's very pretty. I'm no artist but the overall direction is very cohesive and easy on the eyes.

e:
I'd also HIGHLY recommend Watch_Dogs as a masterclass in every bad idea happening all at once. It's the only game I've finished out of spite in order to fully understand every confused idea in it, and I lend my personal copy to co-workers when they ask why I'm so upset about it.

As a developer I like to think I'm above the 'gamer rage' and whatnot but that game does terrible things to my psyche. I stopped buying Ubi games for a couple years after it, and not just because of the hype problems.

e2: Apologies if any Ubi folks are in the thread and if you worked on it.

Chunderstorm fucked around with this message at Sep 28, 2017 around 18:29

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Discendo Vox posted:

As a completionist trying sadly to eke the last handful of percentage points of completion out of that horrible game, I'd love to hear more about your perspective on what went wrong there, in as much detail as possible. Ubisoft open world games are a sick fascination for me, both to complete and to ogle the mechanical results of such a massive development enterprise.

Sure! For anyone reading my perspective on this though, bear in mind that I do not, nor have I ever worked at any Ubisoft studio or on any Ubisoft project. My insight here comes from my time in the game industry, but I can only speculate based on what I know.

I think the issues with Watch_Dogs likely boiled down to the following:

1) It was a new IP. Most Ubi properties have a history; namely Assassin's Creed and Far Cry. Both were much smaller games in their initial incarnations, with a much clearer focus and idea due to the smaller team size. It gets exponentially harder to hold a clear vision has studio size and involvement ramps up. I think this is shown very clearly in Assassins' Creed Revelations and ACIII, where the idea of "just throw more stuff in" was in full effect, so that even when the stuff was out of place, it was still relatively grounded in being Assassin's Creed.

Watch_Dogs oscillates back and forth between being totally grounded in reality and being a sci-fi cyberpunk dream sequence, and hits just about everything in between. It feels like the driving creative vision was "something something police state and also computers maybe." I personally hate the aesthetic of Watch_Dogs 2, but you can tell it's a lesson they learned. It's a lot more unified, even if it's not particularly enjoyable.

2) It was a new genre for them. Even though it sort of fits the mold of the 'open world Ubisoft game,' there's a reason that there are only a couple franchises that do the open-world city thing and do it well. Everyone remembers GTA IV having atrocious driving, and I'd imagine that has to do with the changes to the physics engine for the new console generation (if we have some Rockstar folks in here, I'd love if you'd correct me on this). Driving in games is not an easy task. Saints Row 2 nailed it, GTAV nailed it, and in Watch_Dogs 2 it's certainly improved over the first game.

It also likely needed some engine changes in order to support cars, do all the hacking stuff, etc. Lots of technical debt in making your engine do new stuff.

3) It was a console generation launch title, but also launched on previous gen hardware. Even with ancillary studios driving the ports, PS4/XBO have pretty similar hardware and architecture. Porting these days is pretty easy. Porting between X360 and PS3 is a chore due to the vastly different architecture, and then there was a Wii U port as well. So you had technical considerations for past hardware, technical considerations for current hardware, a huge amount of E3 hype, and then... a 6-month delay.

It's pretty apparent the game had a troubled development (the 6-month delay is pretty tell-tale there), and releasing a game for a new console launch when the hardware itself might still be in a prototype phase is pretty gnarly.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


ninjewtsu posted:

Once you're working a position as a junior developer or low level art person or something, how easy is moving up in the ranks? If you have talent, does that generally get recognized and someone throws you a bone and puts you in a more important position later, or do you usually have to play office politics to get anywhere?

All depends on the studio! I started at entry level QA at Bethesda, and enough time in there plus some enthusiasm netted me a chance to work up in the studio on Fallout 4 doing crash debugger stuff with the devs. I don't work there anymore, but the guy who stuck around is now imbedded up there now.

At my current studio it's small enough that there isn't enough QA work all the time, so I get to do engineering and design stuff pretty often, and it's pretty likely that I'll stop the QA at some point.

Really just depends on where you are, who takes notice, and whether there's an opening needing to be filled.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Sefal posted:

I am not in Game Development. I'm in IT.
But something happened.
A player got banned from a game. Said player found out who banned him. And flew all the way to our office to talk with my colleague. We escorted that person out of the office. And made sure that our colleague was safe.

But I wanted to ask. Have you guys had any interaction with a player who was so upset that he physically entered the office?

This happened before I started here. but apparently. Another player who got banned. Came all the way to the office and handed our receptionist a stack of money and said "this is my account can you unban me?"

No, thank God. Our office is small enough that if someone got in everyone could see them from their desk. It'd be really awkward.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


AnElegantPeacock posted:

I've been a network guy for my entire professional career. I went network because I hate coding. I decided I would try and make a game in Unity during my days off instead of spending a small fortune at the bars every weekend. Turns out, I still hate coding. Making notes and designing the game in my notebook makes the hours fly by. Messing around in Blender is great. Making pixel art with this fancy digital tablet is endlessly entertaining. Unfortunately opening up visual studio makes me cringe. Any professional coders have any tips for making it over the hump between coding being a chore and coding being something natural? Is this something I'm just going to have to beat my head against until it clicks?

I basically did tutorials until it clicked. I followed this tutorial for C# and I'd still recommend it. The whole point of it is that it just gets you writing a bunch of decent code rather than trying to fully understand it. Some of it will make sense intuitively, some won't. You'll be left with a text adventure skeleton that you'll understand enough to plug in whatever text adventure you want to make. You might even be able to create another system to go in it, which is what I did.

Then just go find a Unity tutorial for a simple game that sounds mildly interesting and have some fun with it. A lot of the concepts will carry over. I still revisit that initial tutorial from time to time and I'm at the point where it all makes total sense and I can modify the final project on a whim if I want, which I've used as a nice way to track my own sense of progress as a programmer.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


ninjewtsu posted:

Do they get amusing production names before being officially named, or is it just whatever the producer thinks is fitting

Do games ever just not get named at all until announcement, and the devs just call it "the game we're working on"

Our studio has code names for our projects, which either are named after our pets or more recently, are just thematically appropriate. One person was sad there was no animal name this time around, so when she adopted a cat she named it after the project, so now order has been maintained.

Other companies I've worked at have done restaurant names, food names (CoD 4 Remaster was Bacon at the studio I worked at) or vaguely relevant-to-game titles, the latter being primarily true when working on sequels and such.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


shame on an IGA posted:

Do you believe there is a dividing line between genius and insanity and how many sides of it is Tarn Adams on?

Genius. He was part of a GDC talk on procedural generation in 2016 that was incredibly fascinating the whole way through.

Chunderstorm fucked around with this message at Oct 20, 2017 around 22:56

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Phobeste posted:

It was very weird to show up at the moma in New York and see dwarf fortress in an exhibit and be able to look at it and understand it.

How hard is vr development beyond normal 3d game dev? What are its particular challenges?

Performance, level design and interaction design are the big challenges. It's not much harder for any reason other than performance, but it's a bit tricky overall because as developers we're still figuring out a lot of what works and what doesn't. At Owlchemy we've figured out a fair amount, but even though we manage to ship 90FPS games that people enjoy, it takes a ton of work to get to that point.

All our low-level code has to be super performant to get it to run that smoothly. We've gotten pretty good at developing interactions, but that's because we spent a lot of time prototyping, playtesting, etc. We figured out pretty early on that artificial locomotion isn't something we want to work with, since making any of our players nauseous potentially ruins the experience for them, and in a medium as small as VR, isolating your playerbase at all is a bad idea.

That means that we're generally limited to a single playspace, or require some form of discrete teleporting like in Rick & Morty VR. Our CEO and CTO actually just did a great talk at VRDC about some of the dev problems we had to solve, and that doesn't even really get into the "oh god this area only hits 70 FPS" stuff we had to deal with.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


ninjewtsu posted:

how much do you devs play video games? does making video games consume all your free time? do you try to "check out the competition" or do you just play whatever is fun to you?

i recall a story about how, before making the xcom remake, the xcom team at firaxis were all required to play through the original game. how often does playing other games come up at work?

I play Dota 2 and Rocket League in my spare time, and usually some single-player thing. I basically don't touch VR outside of work unless something really cool has come out, but it's hardly a thing I dive into willingly.

I got into dev because games were my hobby and that basically hasn't changed, but I've picked up a couple more hobbies just to feel a bit more varied in life.

Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Terminally Bored posted:

I remember watching a stream where someone got a Japanese developer to play his game released back in the 90s iirc. He sat down, fired up the game, pressed a combination of buttons on the controller and there were some photos hidden in the game's menu or something. Is this a common thing for you guys? Is there stuff in your games only you know about or is it now filtered out before games go gold?

We have a few references to previous games, various memes and internet videos, inside jokes, etc. in our games. Smaller studios are more likely to get away with this sort of stuff, and in our case a lot of 'easter egg' stuff is what we do in our games in the first place, which is especially important in VR.

I think the hot coffee thing was definitely a turning point, but the industry is also just much older now. Donkey Kong 64's multiplayer was haphazardly added in a week of intense crunch -- with console certifications it's much harder to rush in additional content at the last minute since it all needs to be tested properly for compatibility, and the tests get more strict with each console generation as more use cases are found and need proper testing. Also, with attitudes towards crunch (thankfully) changing, there's less time to add stuff last-minute, especially since that time now tends to go more toward polishing existing features.

Also, most cheat codes that were just button presses on menus were meant for dev testing anyhow. These days our tools are much more sophisticated, and it's possible to do a lot more testing in-engine now that the hardware for creating games generally isn't specialized.

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Chunderstorm
May 9, 2010


legs crossed like a buddhist
smokin' buddha
angry tuna


Canine Blues Arooo posted:

lots of words about games

At the end of the day, they're still games that people play, with a set of design goals rooted in MTX.

Having spent more money on Rocket League and Dota 2 than on most games, I think it's unfair to say that 'integrity' is the thing that sets them apart. F2P games aren't made by a shady cabal of people snickering about the best way to steal your money - they're just developers working toward a goal so they get paid as well. I work with someone in the F2P space who describes it as awful and soul-sucking, and based on the needs of the projects, I absolutely believe that. Still, I think it's super lame to classify them as not-games. Comes off to me as gatekeeping in the same way that defining so-called "walking simulators" as not-games. I still consider things like Dear Esther to be games, though in that particular case it's one I just don't really like because I find it boring.

So yeah. F2P cash cow games are certainly games, just games with a vastly differing set of goals than, say, God of War. Just because something is still a game doesn't mean it's immune to criticism, of course, and your feelings that led you to that conclusion I feel are reasonably valid.

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