Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

PotatoManJack posted:

I'm an ideas man....


I'm not trying to be insulting with this but, just so you know, it is not uncommon that "ideas man" is used to mean "doesn't like to do any actual work" in the games business.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

inre patch balance vs. priority...

I know it sometimes feels like dev time is zero sum but it isn’t. If you have a bug in your network code, you’re probably not going to put the art team on a fix for it. Those people can be working on other things, so unrelated content or fixes could pop ahead of a bugfix for something that’s comparably more important.

There are often dependencies too – the network team can be pulled off of what they are doing to fix the issue you’re talking about … which will delay the work they were doing … which means the people who are building content for what they are doing might be sitting there waiting … which means a feature is delayed and a dozen people are waiting for tasks. Maybe that bug can wait?

Patches have a bunch of other hassle too, potentially, depending on your engine and pipeline / process. Like, some engines enjoy touching a lot of files on almost any change, which means that just popping a balance number fix or a new 5MB gun mesh (or whatever) in can produce a 17GB download for players (and everyone really, really, really likes a day with multiple 17GB patches).

Most devs are also not going to slam together a patch and hope for the best. This is how you get calls at 3 in the morning that begin with "people on the forums are saying that launching the game erases their harddrive.” So you’re going to go into lockdown and send patch off for testing. That takes time and disrupts other development.

There are a lot of gotchas with what to patch / when (also with everything).

This is not to say that evey patch delay is warranted. I don't know who you're talking about but it's possible that they don't consider the thing you think critical to be critical or they're just not working on the right things or they've decided its fun to be evil or whatever.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

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?

On one level, gaming isn’t really more fanatic than other jobs, just the content of the fanaticism is visible to people who aren’t in the middle of it. I know people who code mortgage software. They’re as fanatic about mortgage processing and how their stuff integrates with existing client systems as I am about games.

In anything you want to do well at, you want people who have a relevant frame of reference and expertise. If we need to get a crosshair in a game, right now my “design document” can be a two minute conversation. The programmer who would do it is literally playing PUBG right now, he knows what a crosshair is and what questions might need to be answered before he can start making one and what makes one feel good or bad to a player.

If I were doing this with a non-gamer, it introduces a lot more friction. A lot like the door example, imagine all of the details you’d need to specify if you were doing this with someone who had never used a crosshair in a game and had no concept of what made it good or bad. What shape should it be? How large? Where should it be located? What happens when you iron sight? What color is it? Is it the same for every weapon? How do we get new ones in the game? How do we associate them with specific weapons? Does the color change if the crosshair might be lost against the background? Is the crosshair “true” at all ranges? Where are the projectiles actually spawning when you take a shot? Do animations change this? Does the ring represent where bullets might fall? Does the size of the ring change based on the distance to what you’re pointing at? How quickly does that ring grow when you fire? Shrink? Is that linear? Is it the same for all weapons? How do we set that? Does anything happen on the crosshair when you hit?

On another level, gaming is more fanatic. Before someone paid me to make games, I worked on games. In study hall, during class, on break at non-gaming jobs, on weekends, whenever. My mom has “designs” I sent to “Mr. Atari” when I was five. I do the same kind of stuff today. When I’m done working on a game here, I go home and work on one of my side projects or play a game. I have had many jobs where this wasn’t the case – I didn’t go home from work and deliver pizzas or ring up purchases a lot when I was in highschool. A lot of game jobs are fanatic because a lot of people attracted to making games are fanatic about it.

That’s not uncommon in a lot of fields, I don’t think? If you ask a vinter about wine, they typically don’t say, “Oh, I don’t like to drink wine.” If you ask a movie director about her job, she probably will not reply with, “Pppft. Movies? Who watches those?”

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

eshock posted:

Pretty much nobody crunches anymore (in AAA) besides Naughty Dog and Rockstar.

I guess it depends on your definition of "AAA" but plenty of well known shops aside from these two have crunch.

That said, I agree that a lot of experiences from the old days have been carried by people who are now in leadership positions and this has improved crunch in general across the industry.

If you're worried about crunch, pay attention during the office tour of your interview. Mostly twenty-somethings playing whatever game is popular in the middle of the workday? That crew is going to be crunching. A lot of pictures of families on the desks and everyone is head-down when you stroll through? Probably not going to see near as much crunch.


Keep in mind that anti-crunch can be bad too. I've been at shops in Europe where security guards walk through the office at quitting time and force everyone to leave. Middle of figuring out a difficult problem? Sorry, out.

I know a shop where the boss has made a lot of public statements about not having any crunch. It's one of the selling points when people interview there. He patrols the office himself at quitting time to express disappoinment if you're still at your desk. Noble perhaps, but he does this without modifying assignments to suit. So now not only has someone given you 60 hours of work to do in a week, but they're also going to be upset if they see you using more than 40 hours to do it. Good times.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Gearman posted:

I have to disagree with this point. Whether you're 23 and single or 43 with three kids, crunch should always bother you. Your time is no less valuable just because you're young and have fewer responsibilities. You can always make more money, you can't ever get more time. The time to be concerned and pushing back on crunch is when you're young and single and just getting in the game.

Everyone has a right to make a decision about what their time is worth and different people have different capabilities to deal with stress and a lack of downtime. My personal evaluation rests on the question of being taken advantage of. That is, am I being asked to work crunch because things have developed in a way that getting something done faster is an advantage or necessity? Or, am I being asked to work crunch because someone wants to pay me for 40 hours or work but get 80?

I am not a pro-crunch person (I was in my 20s), and I don't intend this as an argument in favor of crunch, just as something to consider -- I do not know a single person in any field who is what most people consider successful who got there working 40 hour weeks. (I do know some very disciplined writers and some people who have become sought-after consultants who, today, work <20 hour weeks, but even they have deathmarch stories about how they got there.)

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

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?


Looking at build of game today, there's a bug where spawn points in a space are screwed up so all characters meant to spawn in the location are doing so at the same spot. If your dice roll correctly, you get one character with the "carrying something" pose and another with the "sitting in chair pose", which combine to produce a NSFW scene.

My all time favorite is the first time we did a game with ingame cinematics. Nobody coded anything to disable what was happening in the game proper when we transitioned to the IGC, so you'd hit the trigger, camera to a the lead character, they'd start giving a deep, heartfelt speech intended for the cinematic, and BAM! a spell cast just before the transition would land and dude would get blasted out of the scene by the physics impulse. The audio position was on the character, so as you were watching this guy fly over the horizon, you'd hear his calm, somber speech trailing off.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

PotatoManJack posted:

That was the intention of using "Ideas Man" as I have seen countless posts that are basically along the lines of "I have an idea! It's amazing! Who wants to go off and make it for me?"

My question was more about what the potential and costs are involved in taking a concept from idea to reality.

Sorry -- hard to gauge the level of understanding.

"Ideas guy" is also enshrined at our shop so it made me laugh. We had a young QA new hire (now a producer at well known shop) who begged for a chance to be on the design team and we allowed him to try out.

Ok, here's the editor, make some levels.

Days pass...

How's the level coming?

Oh, I didn't make one. I don't think I want to be that kind of designer.

Ok, here's the database and the combat doc, go look at some scripting and balance work, head down to playtest. ...days... I don't think I want to be that kind of designer.

Ok, here's the story doc, go look at the character pages and VO, talk to the writer, take a hack at some lines. ...days... I don't think I want to be that kind of designer.

Ok, well, we're kind of out of "kinds of designer." What kind of designer do you want to be?

You know, I want to be the ideas guy.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

TheFace posted:

Maybe I'm weird, and I definitely don't know the actual work involved, but all three of the opportunities he got to try sound fun! I now want to punch this kid.

That's what WE said!

Everyone else on the team had the "and this is the mountian I had to climb for the same opportunity" background.

This is something to think about if you're trying to get in the business. Stories about giving people opportunities and seeing them squandered like this are common dev-to-dev chat fodder.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

hey girl you up posted:

I have no desire to do it, I'm just curious: what does the writing process look like at a AAA shop? How does it compare to movies/tv?

Writing varies a lot from place to place. Larger or more narrative-focused shops tend to have writing teams and use more process. Smaller shops have a writer or, worst-case but not uncommon, someone who knows more about punctuation than other people on the team.

Writers I know who started in television or movies are generally frustrated by games because, in most devs, things are the opposite of what they are used to. I’m not just talking about the writer who has no idea how games are made and scripts something impossible or silly (that’s common too), but more the pecking order of things. In television or movies, the script is what you’re doing. Things are changed even during shooting but the script is still the map. With game dev, in a lot of places, this is not the case – giant chunks of the writer counted on will be cut or changed as the reality of the development schedule settles in and the writer will be expected to “revise” lines and story to make sense of what they are given.

For extra fun, there’s often a silly lead time between when writers need to have their things in and when things actually get locked because of localization, so you need to pray that things don’t change after you send off final drafts.

(P.S., They do and then the writer is frantically trying to get someone a dozen time zones away to email changes in other languages so she can do by-hand replacements for all of the various languages, using strings nobody in the office can translate.)

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

cubicle gangster posted:

at the end of the day there's nothing you can do for someone who's been raised badly and spends 14 hours a day sat in front of a computer, growing bitter & spreading hatred.

It's a really complex problem overall and good community / community management is golden. As a designer, you tend to be somewhat ok with angry feedback -- if it's good feed, you'll take it however you can get it. Same time, I know I do what I can to limit / watch how my designers are treated in the forums and such. I'm careful about making "take personal abuse" part of someone's job description.

Many devs have by-invitation groups that they use for deep feed gathering / early looks. Done correctly, these are not fan clubs. They're actually some of the harshest critics, their stuff just doesn't include a bunch of personal attacks and other nonsense.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Applesnots posted:

How do devs feel about the upswing of micro transactions in full priced AAA titles?

MTX in a full-price game can mean a lot of different things.

I broadly lean toward “extension of experience” feeling good and “right.” I don’t regret the money I spent multi-boxing UO, EQ, or Eve. I don’t regret the cash I’ve given Warframe. I don’t regret the cash I spent on heroes or boosts for League. If the Dwarf Fortress guys broke their stuff up and sold new biomes, I’d buy every one. I don’t regret buying modules or miniatures for D&D. I enjoy those games and what I spend on them lets me enjoy them more.

When a game experience is more engineered to drive purchase through mechanics (and this is a little “I know it when I see it” since everything can be seen as, on some level, being exactly this), I lose interest.

Overall, there isn’t a lot of open discussion about the financial reality of this stuff because, from a profit and loss standpoint, players don’t care. They don’t grade on a curve. But, since people here are interested in the nuts and bolt of it, you guys understand that, over the history of this, the cost of making a game has gone to the moon while the price players pay for a game has taken a complete nosedive, right? We are seeing (and will see more) stuff like MTX in full price games not because everyone is greedy but because it’s increasingly not viable to not have something along those lines if you want to continue making games.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Emerson Cod posted:

How specialized do developers tend to be? I've seen games where the full credit list is just a few names to games where they rival a big studio film. Do you prefer working in big teams where you are doing a small part or do you prefer small teams where most people wear multiple hats?

I've been involved in a big mod project for the past few years and started to seriously look at applying to industry jobs a few months ago. Other than a few level design jobs, most of the listings I've seen have been for programmers and ui. Do other types of design jobs tend to be more scarce or are the more technical positions in particularly high demand?

Specialist vs. generalist is a culture thing at a lot of places. The larger the dev, the more people tend to be specialists.

I have worked both. They are very different beasts. Small teams tend to be close and fast and agile. Larger teams can get absurd amounts of work done in an absolute sense and it’s fun to see that stuff happening. Same time, large teams get bogged down easily, direction setting is a challenge, and you end up in a lot of meetings.

When asked about getting started in the business, I always steer people toward small teams. A new person at a small team, no matter how junior, is going to do some of everything because everyone on a small team has to do some of everything. A new junior person on a large team is likely to get a very small, very defined box to live in.

The larger team option still often wins out because people perceive spots on larger teams to have more stability – don’t be fooled.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Chunderstorm posted:

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.


Portal is very good for showing this technique too.


Of late, the game my crowd discusses as a game only game designers / devs love is Dream Quest.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

SupSuper posted:

How do game devs feel about modding? It's always felt like this huge grey area that the game industry promotes with one hand and slaps with the other.

Really? Why? I don't think I know a dev in the business who doesn't love modding.

Aside from it just being awesome that anyone loves what you worked on enough to put time into building something for it, modding has, no question, been resposible for the success / legs of a number of big games.

What do you see as the "slap"?

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

I didn't know anything about the C&D on GTA tools, but a few minutes with Google makes that at least look like potential issues with online?

Those are the types of situations I'm aware of getting C&Ds. If the mod is a bot that levels characters in a MMO, it might not enjoy "mod" status for long. Or, someone mods something using other IP that causes heat for the devs and then they need to cover themselves legally.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Sefal posted:


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 has happened several times during my career.

My favorite is the guy who drove half-way across the United States to get to our office because of a ban and started the conversation with "I'm not crazy...".

I spent a few days with the Sigil guys (now many of the same people are at Daybreak I believe?) when I was working on a MMO -- the stories about surprise visits from EverQuest fans are waaaaaay better.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

quote:

How many professional game designers come from a specific design course or program in college, vs how many just got a compsci degree or something and ended up being better at designing than building?

At my old shop, no two people at the same educational background. We had a marine biology doctorate, an entomologist, an architect, a professional musician, a film school grad, a molecular biologist / geneticist, and a PS / English degree.

I see more game program grads today but designers tend to be diverse.

quote:

What's the path to being a designer look like?

If you have zero experience and want to get into design, your best bet is probably to shoot for a QA spot or an entry-level design spot (which is sometimes / often level design or scripting work). Really, all you want to do is get in the door and be part of the team – if you have design aspirations, you will be able to worm your way into an opportunity to do some design work or work with people doing design. Design is pretty central at most devs, so you generally want it bubble up from within.

Keep in mind that there are shops that go out of their way to segregate disciplines and, if you’re at one of these, migrating from something else into design will be difficult / impossible. At some places, even talking to someone not in your department is difficult.

Programs are not an end-all. They certainly are not a negative, but they aren’t a guarantee either. Most of the people I know just want to see that you’ve done something. You don’t need a formal program to do that. We live in the days of free engines, free compilers, free modeling tools, easily available online tutorials, and so forth – if you want to be in games, there’s no great excuse to have not built stuff on your own nowadays.

(That will probably change as the industry continues to mature? Many people think degrees will become the norm. Maybe not – we’ve been writing books for a long time and a lot of people do it without a BA in writing.)

quote:

The secret sauce to game design is that there is no secret sauce! Anyone with an idea and opposable thumbs can become a game designer.

This is a lot like saying “anyone with opposable thumbs can become a neurosurgeon.”

If you mean “anyone can sit down and design a game” like “anyone can write a story” or “anyone can cook a meal”, yeah it is 100% true. If you mean “anyone can become a professional game designer”, you're concealing a lot of the difficult work required to get there.

The idea that anyone can do it is at the root of a lot of wasted time and money in this business.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

quote:

why do they do this?

I'd say they feel it helps to keep things focused and productive.

Above 70 people or so, loose /collaborative approaches suffer if they aren't very well managed or if you don't have a high degree of trust / shared brain.

If you're on a team with hundreds of devs working on the same game, they are going to have some defined rules in place about comms. There are places that are draconian about this and there are places with a more gentle approach, but at that scale there's generally a lot more structure.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Not going to wade into discussion of loot boxes, loot box morality and the like, but from a straight-up analysis standpoint:

In 1986, I bought one of my all-time favorite games, Starflight. It was made by a team of five. They worked for three years, which was unheard of at the time and caused the game to be perpetually on the verge of being cancelled. The price on the box was $54.99.

In 2017, I bought Destiny 2. It was made by Bungie, who is about 800 people. Also contracted for the game were: High Moon Studios, Vicarious Visions, FXVille, Blindlight, Axis Animation, Blur, and Digic Pictures. That game also took about three years to make. The price on the eBox was $60.

Assuming fuel for my time machine is free, Starflight would cost me $125 today and Destiny 2 would have set me back $27 (only six mows of the neighbor’s yard) in ‘86.

See where this is going? Starflight was almost certainly less than a million to make (adjusted). Take a wild stab at what Destiny 2 cost. Yet, the sticker price….

If you’re not a fan of loot boxes and F2P and so forth, but are a fan of AAA games, I think you’re going to be sad in the future. The only way this hobby of ours continues, at the AAA level, is if the price of making a game drops by an order of magnitude (which is why so many people are working on PUBGs and Rocket Leagues) or AAA can reliably get more than $60 from a player.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

TheFace posted:

You're not factoring in the customer base being much larger now than in 86. Video games were a fringe thing, especially at home back then. Sure they were starting to pick up traction with things like the NES, SEGA master system, however Starflight sold 100,000 copies in it's first year (according to Wikipedia), eventually (over likely years) it sold over a million. Destiny 2 sold 50k in the first week...

No, I am taking that into account -- that growth is what got us here. When gaming grew large enough to matter to the big players, they started to compete, and that's what has driven the arms race.

Scale helps to offset increasing dev cost, for sure. But the rate of increase in development cost has vastly outpaced the growth of the audience. Vastly.

That alone is enough to cause a problem, but we're additionally in a period of very high fragmentation and competition which makes *effective* audience a lot less. If you were a gamer in '86 and a good-ish game came out, you bought it (well, you at least got it somehow). There just weren't many games.

Today, there's a larger audience but there are more games trying to get players and there are more players who are primarily dedicated to a game or a very small set of games for a long period of time.


Having 100x (just to illustrate) as many possible players is great, but that doesn't make things any more tenable if you're looking at 500x the dev cost and a 50% decline in the market price for your game.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

mutata posted:

Ehhh, publishers are also posting record profits year after year. If anything "falls short" it's that they fall a couple percentage points below projections which are just made up numbers. Disney Infinity was canceled during an earnings call where they reported record earnings that also fell 2 or 3 percent lower than projections.

There are legit mid- and small-sized devs that struggle to make payroll, but the idea that rising dev costs are hurting huge publishers is in my opinion disingenuous.

Right.... But ... they're making those record profits because they've been doing the loot box / F2P stuff. If they stop doing that, they won't be posting record profits....


Look, if you're sitting in a room at EA and your boss asks "hey, our FIFA ultimate team thing is on track to making a billion dollars of revenue a year - do you think we should do more of that", the CYOA is pretty much:

A) Say "yes."
B) Throw self out window.


Despite backlash, I'd bet on the high-cost AAA side moving more and more down this path.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

It isn’t really about graphics hitting a peak. It’s about the 80/20. We are well into the era where achieving noticeable visual improvements is a giant, huge, vast, big, scary investment. You can show an average person clips or screens from games that are five years+ apart now and they cannot tell the difference or tell you which is from the more “modern” game.

You know what we haven’t really touched much of yet? Emergence / AI. There’s a lot of 80 left to discover and build there. Any of you starting out, that’s where I’d be spending my time if I were in your shoes.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

On the loot box / gambling / etc. topic from earlier (sorry I was off the grid for holiday) –

Just to be clear, I’m not trying to defend or attack a company or F2P or loot boxes or anything. Again, I try to be dispassionate and look at this stuff as an analyst. I’m trying to read the tea leaves and figure out where things are going to be N years from now. From my perspective, this is the path AAA is on:

For AAA, the cost of making a game is increasing faster than the return from traditional retail.

Digital, which is hitting or close to hitting the tipping point has delayed some of the problem by providing better returns for AAA.

That’s only a delay. The cost to make a AAA game will continue to rise, so AAA will have to find a way to keep the wheels on.

That cannot be “make different games.” There’s a reason indies and smaller devs can make a living in this business. As anyone who has worked for a big publisher will tell you, there’s no way a Minecraft (or even a PUBG before PUBG) is going to get made by one of the mega-publishers. They understand what they understand and anything that doesn’t fit the mold is doomed. The histories of these companies are littered with attempts to work around this institutional problem – it has not gone well. (Even larger, exceptionally talented developers have problems doing anything other than things very close to what they have already been successful with.)

You cannot say “just make cheaper games so you don’t have to do other stuff.” You have a 2000 person team working on your next mega shooter. Across the street, your competitors have a 2000 person team working on their next mega shooter. You’re going to shrink down to a “tiny” 200 person team? Your competition will keep their 2000 person team and crush you, both in quality / magnitude of their releases and in mindshare since they’ll drop content and sequels constantly and you’ll be trying to hit big two-three year pops. Also, if you even suggest this, your major stockholders will set you on fire.

F2P / lootbox / etc. sure as hell looks like a great way to make a profit commensurate with the cost to make the game from their perspective. It seems to be working amazingly well overall, recent controversy aside. I would expect to see it flourish further across AAA space.

I would not expect this to be constrained and for some AAA games to not have it. Once it works somewhere in their lineup, the pressure will be on to do it in any game coming out of that publisher.

I would not expect government regulation to do anything. If anything happens, it’ll be as effective as COPPA, which no kid under 14 can figure out a way around. There are places that have regulations already. These places still have the same business models, slightly tweaked. Hey, we do not sell loot boxes anymore – but we do sell vanity bits that come with free, random items.

The only way it is modified is if players shift their spending to games with a different business model.

So, IMO, whatever plans you are making, if they involve AAA games, I’d expect them to also involve these business models until there’s some change in the fundamental landscape.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Discendo Vox posted:

Mother, how do you feel about the Games as Service/seasons model, as a business practice? What are the pros/cons compared with the lootbox approach?

I’m personally a little love / hate with it, both as a dev and a player.

As a dev, it allows you a lot of room to maneuver. You have something rolling and proven. You can count on players being there and being able to stay in business. So, you can take some chances or work on big things that you might not be able to tackle when working on a game with more of a “point release” model.

(Obviously, publishers love the idea of live games for stable revenue, especially if they are public companies.)

It’s also a nice (or can be a nice) relationship. You grow a pool of players who love your game. They stick around. They’re playing every day. You’re talking with them. It’s fun.

Same time, be ready to be your “living” game. It will absorb a lot of time and people. You’ll have to deal with burnout. It’ll be harder to make other games, both from schedule and mindshare standpoints, which will worsen as love for the game becomes part of your hiring process (which it invariably will). If you want to work on a few different game or a diversity of ideas, a successful live game can be a burden.


There will be more of this in the future -- like F2P / lootboxes / etc., it's another way to address higher dev costs. It will evolve too. There are a lot of franchises / release structures that are effectively live games without actually being "live" -- these tend to be the ones I prefer. With the current state of things, the Number One issue any game faces is visibility and a live game (or effectively live game) is a good way to build a community.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Harrow posted:

Do you think it's inevitable that every AAA game is going to have RNG monetization mechanics within a few years, single-player and multiplayer alike?

Anyone here who has been in a conference room at a AAA pub's office will tell you that whoever they were sitting across from said, at some point, "what about current hot thing, what are you doing for that?" It doesn't matter what game you are making or if it fits or not. 3D, multiplayer, persistent characters, online, physics, mobile, "three screen", leaderboards, tournaments, microtrans, VR, HD, 60Hz, 4k, F2P, mod-support, Twitch, etc.

You're making a pixel art deep story RPG? Cool, cool. Hey, man, 4k is hot. And have you played this PUBG thing? Competitive online is hot. You guys go get support for 4k and competitive online in your game.

I 100% expect that every game winding through the process at a big pub has the topic surfaced during review meetings. That doesn't mean it will be in every single game made in the future, but as long as it is making money, they're going to ask every game about it.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

IronSaber posted:

The way it sounds is that the whole games industry is set to just completely and utterly collapse under its own weight of cost and development.

The games business "collapses" a lot. It's just not 1983 anymore, so "collapse" doesn't have the same magnitude. Segments collapse. You're in the middle of several ongoing collapses right now.

If AAA goes pear-shaped, it'll have impact but a lot of devs and players will just drive on.

There's too much cash and potential here now for all of the big players to truly collapse. Collapse as in "go extinct", anyway. Things can get crappier for them, but that'll just alter behavior. They'll find a way. (A lot of people talk about this stuff and think only about the primarily North American names. There are plenty of others. Tencent is going to drink a lot of milkshake in the coming years.)


The truly big shifts in the business on the short to more distant horizon will probably be around things like net neutrality getting jacked, increased capability of AI in gameplay, AI-backed development (which could reverse the cost trend), the zillion solutions / improvements various people are working on for the visibility problem (possibly also AI-related), AR, solid anti-cheat, eventual platform standardization or dumb terminal streaming-style setups -- that kind of stuff.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

djkillingspree posted:

I don't think it's necessary to assume that the direction that publishers have been moving in is inherently correct or data-driven, even though they are all doing it. You may remember when the entire industry lost a shitload of money deciding it was time to make MMOs when WoW made bank, or time to make MOBAs when LoL made bank. One problem with pointing to research is that the counterfactuals don't exist - because most companies tend to work off of the same playbook, it's hard to point to the publisher that isn't following it and how successful they were or weren't.

You're missing what the actual publisher play was.

When the big companies all decided to make MMOs, the executives didn't get in their boardrooms and say "Guys! MMOs are THE thing! They are sure to work! There is NO WAY we can lose!"

They said "Our competitors have a MMO. It is doing very well. We have a silly pile of money sitting in the bank. For a relatively minor amount, we can spin up a MMO team and try to get in on the trend too. Best case, we make a LOT of money. Worst case, it fails -- the stock price dips a point (unless one of our other games has a good year and covers the loss), we F2P the thing to recoup some of the dev cost, and we blame the dev so none of us get fired."

(Then they cackled while rubbing their hands together and ate some babies or something.)

No game is certain. These companies make calculated bets. Every one of the many publishers scrambling for a PUBG entrant right now knows that 90% of these are going to fail. But to be part of the 10% that doesn't fail, you have to take a shot. So, they take shots.

Every major publisher had failed MMOs (including Blizzard if you count canceled projects) -- which one was killed by the failure?

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

djkillingspree posted:

If you think a small amount of money was lost on those MMOs or that small teams were involved in the big publisher MMOs, I don't buy that. And while EA didn't go out of business, their stock did go down by *over 33%* in the year after SWTOR launched, and ultimately one of the main reasons John Riccitello was ousted was the poor financial performance of EA over his tenure, much of which was defined by the insanely expensive development of SWTOR and its ultimate failure to succeed financially as a subscription MMO.

I would point to the shuttering/sale of SOE, 38 Studios, etc. as examples of why these were, in fact, bad bets.

The fact that some of those MMOs have been able to be put on life support through F2P doesn't imply that the companies that developed them weren't heavily injured by their failure, or that they were smart gambles.

The extent to which a major publicly owned company needs to fail to actually stop existing is pretty spectacular. A large, publicly held company can undergo financial disaster and still survive.

I will say that MOBAs involve a massively lower amount of risk than MMOs, so to that extent, I think they are less of a reckless investment on the part of publishers. Though I still think publishers chasing them in a massive way are missing out on the reality of what people want in that segment, personally.

I thought the argument here was “they aren’t correct / data-driven, they’re all just copying one another and chasing MMOs (etc.)”? That assertion is not supported by “here is an expensive game that failed.”

I never said a small amount of money was lost. I said the amount of money lost is expected. They want to bet on what they identify as good risks. A good risk is still a risk. A good risk can still fail. When it does, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a risk worth taking or that the people who decided to take it just threw darts or said “I hear WoW is making money, let’s copy that.”

They expect some of their bets to fail. Riccitiello didn’t get ejected because he said “everyone is chasing WOW, let’s (seven years after WoW came out?) get on that bandwagon with SWOTR” -- but then that game failed.

He got the axe because of the end product of his overall strategy, a direction that had not performed for five straight years. Rapid and aggressive expansion was expensive, BioWare / Pandemic, Playfish were not cheap and didn’t ROI, the SimCity fiasco, Mass Effect 3, SWOTR, the press from being the worst company ever, constant layoffs, very public high-level departures, a 70% drop in stock price while he was in charge, the silliness of an MMO group scattered between Austin and Edmonton and Quebec and Virginia, etc. He didn’t go because the one SWOTR bet failed, he went because the board thought *none* of the bets he was making had paid off and he wasn't doing a good job of making EA "work." They were done waiting.

My overall point is simply that these guys are very data-driven and calculating (far too much so, IMO). They are not a bumbling group of goofs cluelessly chasing whatever they see everyone else doing. It often makes financial sense for them to attempt to get in on a trend, even when the chances that it will fail are high. (Which, in the case of SWOTR, hasn’t been the case longer-term, given that the thing makes money for them today.)

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Market research isn’t what many people think it is. I know that when I came into the business, I definitely believed someone did a bunch of math, cooked up a report, and told you “this will sell 10 million copies” – and they ended up being right. That doesn’t exist. Market research is just data. Some good, some bad, some hilarious. It can be very useful, but you still have to read it and make decisions.

A lot of places (not just games) are silly with data. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how many people in high-level positions don’t ask questions about numbers they are handed if the presentation looks pro.

I had a day-long argument with a PM who angrily insisted my questions about his data were me trying to deflect the problems shown by the numbers. His data showed that the “average time to complete the first tutorial” on a game we were working on was something like 90 hours. Almost anyone who has ever done any work on a game (or played a game or paid attention to time or been awake) is going to see something like “90 hours to complete the first tutorial” and think “that cannot be right.” But, there we were….

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

leper khan posted:

If they’re into programming, the unity course from Ben tristem on Coursera is pretty good and routinely excessively cheap. It’s project based. Did I mention you can probably pick it up for

No idea on the art side..?

Second this. I did his Unity course on Udemy. I have had good luck with Udemy tutorials in general and (if you poke around) you can gift tutorials to people from the site -- I just did a few for Christmas.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Canine Blues Arooo posted:

Finally, attacking the software at a 'high level' will probably always be some variation of possible, but usually unreliable for a hacker. Instead of attacking data or the memory, imagine instead that you just capture the data on the frame buffer and then write an algorithm to explain to a computer what a 'head' is in a game, and how to move the mouse there and click. Since you aren't dealing with absolute states, an attack like this won't be consistent, but it's also very difficult to prevent.

There's already cheating tech that works based only on what is rendered to screen. There was actually stuff that did this way back in the Quake days -- IIRC, this required that you delete / replace textures on the client so opponents would be rendered in certain colors and then the system just looked for pixels with a certain RGB range.

This kind of thing means that even the "Holy Grail" of anti-cheat -- all of the game running on a secure server somewhere and every player just a dumb terminal sending up commands and streaming down frames -- has vulnerabilities even if you can solve the (non-trivial) cost, bandwidth, and latency issues required to make that work.

Heuristics can certainly be improved but when these first started to appear, the cheat providers just added knobs to their tools so that they could be tuned -- don't always insta-headshot, instead only shoot if enemy is within a certain proximity and then add a random amount of delay for reaction time and then add some inaccuracy to the shot, etc. And, no matter how good system like this get, they generally create a lot of customer support calls arguing their validity.

...which is the problem with the community rating approach (at least one maintained by the dev) -- that's a massive customer support and community team burden. Nobody who is banned, even people recorded on stream using hacks, ever says “yeah, you got me, I was cheating.” They send emails and call and show up at your office. Like an episode of Cops where they’ve pulled over a driver caked in cocaine, the cheater will just repeat over and over that they didn’t do anything or that someone else was playing their account (the Cops-episode equivalent of the “these aren’t my pants” when something is found in a pocket during a frisk). If you maintain the ban, they then thumbs-down you on Steam and visit every place on the internet to post how awful your game is.

It sucks. The arms race of trying to keep this even slightly under control is very costly and time consuming.

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

Wallet posted:

This is still very much a thing—not just messing with enemy textures to make them easily detectable by something like AutoHotkey, but also making it possible to see through level geometry and poo poo like that. There are a number of approaches to detect that kind of thing, though.

When I saw this setup, anti-cheat had already moved into the realm of interrogating the OS to see if you had anything suspect running. The enterprising cheaters started using two boxes, one that was just running the game and would report back "clean", and a second that was networked and (essentially) just looking at the screen and managing the actual cheating. This was early 2000s and already at that level of effort / sophistication. No matter what you do to prevent it, someone is going to find a way around it.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mother
Sep 30, 2004

You are help Orz with *parties*.

The more you can put it in player hands, the better you are, IMO. The best FPS multiplayer experiences I've had, and pretty much the only ones I want to play, are community-run affairs. A publisher might have to be reasonable and careful and fair with how they treat their players but a community doesn't - if an admin on a private server wants to ban you for whatever, it's not a problem. Of course, from the publisher perspective, this isn't the best since it isn't mass-market friendly and since putting things in player hands has all kinds of implications for F2P or loot crate-type models.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply