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Game Devs Burn Another House Down 47

Posted by Zonk
from the ranting-again dept.
Another year, and another session of the 'Game Developer's Rant'. Last year saw Warren Spector making some comments that were heavily talked about for months after the GDC had ended. This year, some more talented people got together to talk smack about the industry they work in. (Cussin' and afightin' behind the link, be warned.) From Alice's transcript: "The name of this conference is 'what's next'. This year they're gonna tell me, I'm going back to my desk, I'm going to know what to do, and it's going to be easy! Right? Iwata-san. Totally inspiring. Can't wait to see the Revolution happen. Went to see Will Wright. Love him! Love his process! So intimidated. But his stuff was so hard to think about. I lost some brain cells thinking about it, so I want to say thank you to ATI and the art institute for showing me what's next in games: hawt chix! ?"
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Game Devs Burn Another House Down

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:35PM (#14989073) Homepage Journal
    Compelling experiences are carved out, made of gaps. We have bathrooms in our environments because it's more realistic. One day someone will think eating and shitting should go into a game because there's a bathroom to use. This is not a good idea.

    I agree. The game experience for me is about two things: suspending disbelief and living a fantasy experience. Games that try to mimic life, to me, create complete disbelief. I tried the Sims and all that, but I'm thankful that Civ4 doesn't have toilets. My favorite games still go back to text mode, though, because I prefer my imagination over the "one-size-fits-all" imagination of 3D designers. I'm amazed at the visual quality levels of games today, but they don't suspend disbelief just because they look real.

    We don't have an Oscars. We don't have an academy.

    Be thankful. The Oscars are a self-serving joke for a cartel-driven industry. The gaming industry does have their own oscars: it is called game sales, game profits, and happy consumers.

    You guys are the future, and it's a beautiful future if you open your mind and actually think about business a bit more.

    See my previous point. The idea of thinking about business more is of massive importance. Profit for a product you make means you have happy customers who want your product. They're exchanging their store-of-time ("money") for your time, and if they're happy, they'll happily pay. En masse.

    We need to make games that people care about so much that people can't not play them.

    Yes! We gamers want not just to play a game, we want to be able to have a desire to play it. Most games today look cool, sound cool and have all the jazz but I want to not play them because they don't offer me the experience I desire. Have you seen the drive to return to table-top D&D gaming? That is an RPG. A keyboard and a mouse are not RPG-efficient in my mind, because my mind is not part of the interface.

    Maybe we need to become fossil fuel for the next generation to come along and show us how it's done.

    They will, but I think it will be taking a step backwards. The more hardware that is needed to play a "coolness-factor" game, the more bugs I find, the more difficult it is to play and the more it works to create disbelief and take me out of the picture.

    I have to tell ya, there's nothing better that can be done because the games industry is d.e.a.d.

    GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    We put food in, shit comes out.

    See previous 2 points.

    The second I'll just mention that I'm going down the corridor to the maternity room where there's an infant that has a better future than the games business and it's called interactive storytelling.

    For me a big part of interactivity is letting my brain create the image I believe I will soon see. That is part of fear, part of desire. If I am fed everything, I won't be hungry for what is ahead. Games have to create a hunger and a thirst every step of the way.

    Your number one beef with the industry or your job. And tomorrow.. no,, Saturday.. hahah.. do something about it!

    Actually, the market will cause you to do something about it. Your paycheck might be great, so that means there are customers. But the big part of a job is also being satisfied in your work, and that might mean taking a paycut in order to find new markets.

    but I realise that the people in the audience are actually very intelligent here and only stupid people think that patents is a good idea, so that'd be a waste of time.

    Whoa, did your friendly neighborhood anarcho-capitalist [unanimocracy.com] just say that? I don't think I did!

    I didn't wanna rant, I wanted to rave. Games are really totally amazing.

    Yet when I complete a game, I am only happy when I realize that my mind is truly am
    • Be thankful. The Oscars are a self-serving joke for a cartel-driven industry.

      It may sound politically incorrect and a bit off topic but the Oscars aren't really a joke but rather the movie industries attempt to look open minded and accepting, for the most part. They'll take films with unpopular concepts and give them awards to prove to themselves that they're above the Joe Sixpack mentality. The terrible truth tho, is that the industry desires little more than sales.

      In this way the can appear socially co
      • The terrible truth tho, is that the industry desires little more than sales.

        The wonderful truth is that the movie industry desires little more than sales! I can't imagine anything worse than if Hollywood was a some god-aweful government subsidized closed world of "serious artists". There is a reason why people watch Hollywood movies, or Bollywood movies, or Hong Kong action flicks, or cheap Italian western or horror movies, and they don't watch say French art films.

        In this way the can appear socially consci
        • Well, they are certainly upwardly mobile, because they are all millionares and are making even more millions, but it is interesting that you used a term that describes money and finance to describe art.

          Maybe it's a mincing of words but "upwardly mobile" means many things to me. Sure, it can mean cashflow but there are other forms of social mobility.

          That seems to really be the reason why people think that Hollywood movies are "crap" (or fast food, or whatever). Most Hollywood movies are for the masses...
          • If Hollywood is failing (they are making huge profits, just not as huge as they want to make), I think it is probably because they have lost touch with the common man... Like you said, the working class today isn't the working class of 20+ years ago.

            But I don't think Hollywood is failing because they choose to entertain the masses instead of making "artistic" and "important" films.
        • People think Hollywood movies are crap because they aren't "as good as they used to be". Part of this mentality is that when you think back 20 years, you remember the good movies, and not the bad ones.

          Also, i really don't think people "pretend" to enjoy an "unbearable" film to seem to be superior... Perhaps they just don't share the same taste as you?

          • Also, i really don't think people "pretend" to enjoy an "unbearable" film to seem to be superior... Perhaps they just don't share the same taste as you?

            I am exasurating a bit, for effect. There are lots of art movies that I really enjoy and I am sure others enjoy too. But that being said, just go to a showing at your local "art cinema", and talk to some of the people there, and they will tell you that a film is "difficult" (i.e., not very enjoyable to watch), but it is an "important work" (i.e. they want to
            • Well it's true that there are lots of posers around, and they'll say silly things to impress chicks or whatever.

              But I don't think those phrases you mocked are quite as obviously stupid as you imply. There are lots of things that are difficult, and not satisfying in straight-forward ways, but which are nonetheless rewarding.

              I've done quite a bit of hiking/hillwalking. It's never easy to drag myself out of bed very early, and such activities involve not just a lot of exertion, but often a fair amount of pla
              • Exactly, you hit the nail right on the head.

                I think the amount of enjoyment one can get from a certain medium is directly proportional to the amount of "work" it takes to come to terms with it. For example, I love long, complex, epic things: movies, music, video games, etc., because it will take a long time for me to unravel and digest what I've seen/heard. This way, it takes litterally days, and multipul viewings/listenings before I can see the work as a whole. In this way, it's not 4 minutes (for a song

      • by bigman2003 (671309) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:44PM (#14990137) Homepage
        Can anyone name a private industry that is NOT driven by the desire for sales?

        Religion? Nope...all about the sales.
        Entertainment? Sex? Automobiles? Healthcare?

        Nope...they all want sales too. In fact, as far as I can tell, that is pretty much the definition of 'an industry' a group of organizations that all sell similar stuff.

        Of course Hollywood, and Bollywood, and Silicon Valley and every other place wants to sell crap. That is why they are in business.
    • by Pxtl (151020) on Friday March 24, 2006 @12:54PM (#14989248) Homepage
      What you missed is _why_ he said it was important to have an oscars - to encourage games that break new ground, that aren't just "the last best thing redone". The fact is that the Oscars serve the movie industry in an important way - they generate buzz for movies that people may not have been interested in, because they don't have wow-bang promos and stuff.

      That's the point. If you want games that take the industry in new directions, rather than playing it safe, you need a forum that will generate public interest in those games. He's not saying he wants an Oscars for the sake of fellating the artists, he wants one so that new, challenging game concepts can get the same buzz that new, challenging movies get. So that it's profitable to make the game.

      Before you say "but profit is all-important" consider the long view - in the long run, opening new horizons is important to profit - it opens up new markets. The first explorations into the new horizons may not get the attention they deserve without somebody to draw it.
    • Re:blah blah blah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2006 @01:08PM (#14989350)
      All of this is dumb.

      Good games only need one thing. Just one thing. They need to be fun.

      If its fun, everything else will follow.

      Im getting tired of these overcomplex rants about videogames, when at the core they are simply fun toys to pass time. Developers, authors, the entire industry really only need to focus on games staying fun. If people say "hey, this is fun!" everything else should follow.
      • I can see why you would post that as an AC. Did you ever stop and think that maybe there is a reason they are fun? Well, this is what that's about. How the hell are they supposed to focus on keeping games fun if they don't discuss what makes games fun in the first place?

        Silly AC trolls.
    • You know, your apparently eternal faith in "the market" to steer game development is all well and good, but what if your tastes lie somewhere on the fringes of said market? What if most people are content to play games based on the normal, everyday pop culture they're familiar with, but you originally turned to games specifically to avoid that?
      • You know, your apparently eternal faith in "the market" to steer game development is all well and good, but what if your tastes lie somewhere on the fringes of said market? What if most people are content to play games based on the normal, everyday pop culture they're familiar with, but you originally turned to games specifically to avoid that?

        Then you're pretty well boned. That's why it's the "fringe."

        As far as dealing with it, sometimes we get lucky, and something comes out on our fringe that is enjoyable
    • but I'm thankful that Civ4 doesn't have toilets.

      Me too. I was a little deterred by GTA:SA's concept of including food. By all accounts it's still a good game, but it seemed like they were struggling for new ideas. What would have been better would be better people interaction, different personalities to choose from at the start of the game (RPG style - pick the attributes you want). But these are hard. They make it a lot harder to balance the game. Gimmicks are easy.

      The gaming industry does hav
    • One day someone will think eating and shitting should go into a game because there's a bathroom to use. This is not a good idea.

      Like in that multi-million dollar blockbuster, The Sims?
  • The problem with interactive story telling is that to be broad, you need either a lot of well-thought voice recordings and renderings for each variation of the scene, or just strip the audio and keep text dialogs.

    As I said before in another story, we need the technology to provide good voice synthesis, as to provide us with "virtual improvising actors" that will act differently depending on the circumstances.

    An example I like to talk about is FF-X (not X-2, it sucked), a game I liked a lot. I loved the story, and the greatest motivation i had for going on with the game was wondering what happened next.

    But in the end, it was just pre-recorded clips - inside a linear game. But what if we could have a non-linear game, with many different endings and different events happening? This would add a lot of replay value. I would like for example, to make the game change such that Tidus would fall in love with Rikku instead of Yuna, and Yuna would come to become a secondary character. What if Yuna and Rikku could chat about Tidus and what they think about him, or what about some emotional screw up that would split the party and open different possibilities in the game? (Like your quest is to travel thru the mountains so you could simply apologize to your loved one and go on with the quest - yeah, I know, it's crazy, but at least it'd be interesting to watch). Kinda like Silent Hill games where you can unlock different endings, but I want the character interactions and not mere key objects to do the unlocking.

    I'm talking about AI. Not basic AI like intelligent enemies, but an "emotion" engine where characters could change their mood and give you different answers, or do different things.
    The problem is that with voice actors and pre-recorded audio) this would be either impossible or beyond budget/time. We've reached the point where innovation is IMPOSSIBLE with the current technology.

    Game programmers need to stop relying on old formulas and start developing more tools for better games:

    * a good emotion engine for character AI
    * efficient speech synthesis so that characters can express ideas and emotions without needing a voice actor to have every possibility recorded
    * perhaps a better script (as in camera, action) engine for cutscenes

    This would work at least with RPG's.
    • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Friday March 24, 2006 @02:08PM (#14989831) Homepage
      The linearity of the Final Fantasy series is what caused me to lose interest in it, aside from my dislike of the gameplay. I felt like I was watching an interactive movie rather than playing a game.

      Personally, I hope once the technology that you've mentioned is conceived and matures that cutscenes won't be necessary at any point in a game. This is happening already--Half-Life 2 takes place entirely in first person, and it has some of the best storytelling I've ever seen in a video game, and it's a shooter. You really feel like you're a part of what's going on rather than watching the events go on from the omnipotent perspective commonly found in books and movies. I hope the entirely in-game method of storytelling is one that will spread throughout all story-based games--it's something that's unique to the medium, and should be embraced.

      You should check out the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Elder Scrolls series if you're interested in emotion and open-endedness in your story-based RPGs.

    • I'm talking about AI. Not basic AI like intelligent enemies, but an "emotion" engine where characters could change their mood and give you different answers, or do different things.

      I would suggest human storytellers. The problem with this is scale--how to have so many DMs accessible to the currently logged in online players, but that could be mitigated by "out of the face" intereactions, like going to the vendor, healing downtime, etc. But what would happen if Blizz were to substitute live quest givers

    • This is a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario... what's the biggest complaint about games with multiple endings? People feel cheated if they don't have the time to invest in seeing every ending or complain that a choice they made in hour 1 affects the outcome in hour 20. If you make it linear, you make THOSE people happy, but you also make the camp your sitting in unhappy because it's so linear. Who's right? Both are. The answer? There is none. There will always be games with multiple endi
    • What you're describing is essentially Morrowind. It uses text, but I didn't mind because the result was that sort of open-ended game world.

      I think it will be a considerable amount of time before a speech synthesizer can convincingly stand in for a real voice actor. Even now in the 21st century, the best we have are the phoneme-clip based systems that still sound like robots. There isn't even a voice synthesizer equivalent of William Shatner, let alone Ian McKellan.
      • What you're describing is essentially Morrowind. It uses text, but I didn't mind because the result was that sort of open-ended game world.

        Exactly. This is something I've noticed in modern games. Before, all you required was a good imagination and programming knowledge. After all, we know how to draw a sad anime face, right? But now we need actors, a dedicated 3D team, and games are turned more into movies than games. There's little room left for the imagination. So, if we want to be able to do what we did
    • by Lehk228 (705449) on Friday March 24, 2006 @05:53PM (#14991465) Journal
      if i can get Yuna to fall in love with Rikku i will buy it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        if i can get Yuna to fall in love with Rikku i will buy it.

        Seriously, in NWN I'm playing a female character and none of the female hookers in the brothels will give me the time of day. No, there's one guy hooker that they try to pawn me off on. Look, I'm a bad ass halfling rogue with an attitude. I don't want some used up tired out old mangina.

        Besides, what percentage of female characters are really female.

    • FF-X???? So in your opinion, quality stories:

      - Spend countless hours "building tension" to a plot twist that was obvious in the first fifteen minutes.

      - Only bother to give any sort of depth or development to the main character and his girl, and then, not too much, buddy. Don't want to make them sympathetic.

      - Involve characters moving from point A to point B with no unexpected twists or setbacks.

      - Incorporate pointless, repetitive collection tasks with no motivation behind them.

      - Leave gaping plot holes.

      -
  • Am I the only one who read the submission, RTFA, and read the submission again and said "huh"?
  • Robin: YAAAAAaaaawwwwnnn!!! Games have sexy women in them, sex sells, its disgraceful, yadda yadda yadda.

    Frank: I get the idea that people shouldnt be concentrating on realism over the gaming experience but he seems to be against getting to the point where we can simulate reality. In my opinion that will be a grand day indeed. I mean where do you go after that? You cant have better graphics, you cant supe up a computer to get more detail out or rely on some new fangel graphics engine. Its when weve perfecte
  • "Compelling experiences are carved out, made of gaps. We have bathrooms in our environments because it's more realistic. One day someone will think eating and shitting should go into a game because there's a bathroom to use. This is not a good idea."

    Guess they never saw Duke Nukem before. That idea's sooo 1995.
  • Oh please. So you change the name, and all of a sudden everything's different. What's wrong with "video games"?

    We saw this kind of thinking before, in the early 90's. "New Media". "Interactive" (not interactive-something, just the one word. People would go around saying "I work in interactive.")

    All changing the name does is attract a bunch of wannabe-"visionaries" who can talk a lot about how they're gonna innovate, break the mold, etc, but when the pedal hits the metal, all they end up doing is schlocky lo

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