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Cheer Up! Video Games Are In Great Shape 57

simoniker writes "Tired of doom and gloom from pundits predicting the sky falling on the video game industry? Long-time Gamasutra design columnist Ernest Adams offers up a contrary view in his new column, commenting: 'The industry may be as conservative as Pat Buchanan, and it may be going through a rocky transition between consoles right now, but video games are doing very well, thank you very much.' He goes on to make points such as 'The mass market is here', 'Games are getting easier to make thanks to inexpensive tools', and 'Game development education has arrived'."
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Cheer Up! Video Games Are In Great Shape

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  • And yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stonecypher ( 118140 ) <stonecypher@gmail.QUOTEcom minus punct> on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:02PM (#15177084) Homepage Journal
    It's all well and good to say the industry is in great shape, tools are getting easier and so on. Funding, however, gets harder to find every day, and sequelitis is turning into a religion regarding how not to lose money in gaming.

    The status quo is becoming established, at best.
  • This Thematic sequence of classes appeared just this year:

    Interactive Media Studies-3 Animation and Game Design. Designed to develop a focused expertise in the theory, processes, and production skills involved in the development of 3D environments in a gaming context. Students will be able to understand the basic terminology and processes involved in 3D design, animation, and game design. Students will develop expertise in "state-of-the-art" 3D design and animation tools and be able to present and discus
    • No offence, but anyone smart enough to be a good programmer or artist shouldn't be taking a course so focused. You'll wall yourself into a career, a decision you might regret in 10 or so years. Whereas this is necessary for certain professions (research scientists, doctors, surgeons, and etc), it certainly isn't for a game programmer at the moment.

      Get a general degree in something like computer science, then you can specialise afterwards. I considered the same thing. I'm now taking a degree in physics, of a
    • If you want to program games, study computer science (since you'll learn everything you need to know about games in some form there), if you want to be an artist, study traditional art. If you can draw well you can usually apply the knowledge to 3d art and get good results easily. Application-specific knowledge is unimportant, especially for entry-level positions. If you can use one app you can use any app after some time to get used to the differences. A game degree is worthless and you will need to furthe
  • by Feminist-Mom ( 816033 ) <feminist.mom@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:06PM (#15177121)
    Original, fun games have nothing to do with technology. It just requires creative people to make them. Snood and Tetris are classic examples.
    • Hohoho! Snood and Dynomite are both knockoffs of Puzzle Bobble, known in the US (by non-japanese-game-fanboys) as "Bust-a-Move". You are hereby required to hand in your geek card, poser.
    • Well, sonny, back in my day, tetris stressed the hell outta those darned XT's.
      • The XT beats the hell out of a C64 and the C64 could play Tetris easily. Hell, you could implement Tetris in BASIC and the C64 would still handle it easily.
      • back in my day, tetris stressed the hell outta those darned XT's.

        What is more powerful: an IBM XT with a 4.77 MHz 8086 CPU in a 40x24 cell text mode or an NES with a 1.79 MHz 6502 CPU running in almost the same text mode? If a two-player Tetris clone [pineight.com] doesn't particularly stress the NES, then why would it stress an XT? Tetanus On Drugs [pineight.com], on the other hand...

    • Now imagine if those creative people had awesome ideas but were weak at programming. Tetris is much simpler then modern 3d engines but if they screwed up the technical work and it affected gameplay it wouldn't have been so fun now would it.

      The same is true of game engines, a really crappy one is really crappy.
      • Tetris is much simpler then modern 3d engines but if they screwed up the technical work and it affected gameplay it wouldn't have been so fun now would it.

        Did you say "Tetris Worlds" by THQ? It actually breaks Tetris [google.com]. Quite a few clones pay little attention to controls either.

    • Yes, ripping off Taito with ugly graphics took loads of creativity.
  • John McLaughlin: What's up with video games these days? Patty Patty Buke Buke.
    Pat Buchanan: I'm thinking nothing, really. Maybe a little..
    John McLaughlin: WRONG!

    (with apologies to SNL)
  • by Kent Simon ( 760127 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:14PM (#15177199) Homepage
    At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I think Nintendo could do a lot here to help the current situation. As the article says, the market is finally here, and its in some ways easier to develop.

    Nintendo is trying to force development costs down, while encouraging innovation, thats 2 things necessary to grow from this status-quo we are in right now.
  • "Tired of doom and gloom from pundits predicting the sky falling on the video game industry?"

    Not really. When all the producers are fighting over the same customers, we consumers enjoy better product and lower prices.

    • Where are these lower prices you speak of? Because they certainly aren't on the consoles themselves. At most, the Revolution might be low ($200~), but that's not confirmed. PS3 is being estimated at a price of $500. 360 clocks in at $300 for the bare minimum set, and really you will probably end up buying the other bits, so it's basically $400. And the 360's games sure aren't showing this either, with many of them going for $60, new. So as of right now the only one that seems like lower prices is the Revolu
    • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:03PM (#15177642) Journal
      Not really. When all the producers are fighting over the same customers, we consumers enjoy better product and lower prices.
      As evidenced by such dirt-cheap titles as Half-Life2, Quake#, and World of Warcraft for the PC ($50+$10/month), not to mention the abundance of $60 titles for $400 consoles.

      Or am I missing something?
      • "World of Warcraft for the PC ($50+$10/month)"

        Yeah, lemme help you out here. Let's say the average player does a year with WoW and plays (just?) 12 hours a week. That's 12x52=624 hours or entertainment for $50+12x$10=$170, or something like $.27/hour of entertainment.

        Contrast that with any 2-hour movie ($8/2hr) = $4/hr

        ...or, 3 hours a day (21 hours a week) of basic cable. ($50/3x30hr) = $.55/hr

        So...yeah. After you do the math, video games still look pretty cheap.

        • Yes except most of the hours in any MMORPG are spent grinding and the level of fun is generally rather low, even during the non-grind parts. The two hours in the cinema might cost more but they are definitely of higher quality than the average two hours spent in an MMORPG (assuming both a decent movie and MMORPG, obviously comparing an Uwe Boll flick here doesn't make sense). MMORPGs have as much content as every other game but they stretch it to months of playtime. Most singleplayer games don't stretch the
    • You missed a step in there between the producers and the gamers. The game publishers are the ones of course who are getting set for the good times after struggling with the harsh times. As more and more producers and gaming coders compete the publishers are the ones who will get the products at the cheapest possible price while passing them onto the consumers at the maximum price the market will bear.

      Computer games becoming mainstream is about virtually everyone to an extent participating in computer gami

  • by TheNoxx ( 412624 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:48PM (#15177496) Homepage Journal
    The video game industry hasn't been in trouble since the NES came out. There was that short lapse when people got tired of Pong, Atari, and Coleco-whatever, but past Nintendo... sorry. The chances of the video games industry going into a deep recession are absolutely zero. No, the millions of people playing MMORPG's, shockwave games, console games, and FPS games are not just going to up and vanish, nor will their numbers recede. Far from it; as great games with really good graphics become cheaper, and more available with more online content, we haven't even begun to see the limit of the industry. Not to mention the blinding speed at which gaming is growing in developing nations (remember all that Chinese legislation meant to keep people from playing long hours of online games, or the fanatacism of young koreans with MMORPGS and real time strategy?).

    The only people that are facing real trouble are game pundits themselves, as the gaming journalism business is more or less a big farce. Yes, some of them do a good job and take themselves seriously, but a large majority are more than willing to take a little kick-back to give a game a good rating and decieve their readers.
    • Couldn't agree more. If you want to argue that there isn't enough innovation in gaming, you might have a case. However, the people who complain about "sequelitis" are not representetive of the majority of gamers. Halo 2, Kingdom Hearts 2, the Final Fantasy's and Grand Theft Auto's and EA's sports franchises all sell huge numbers. The best games of last year in my opinion were Resident Evil 4 and Civ IV, both "franchise" games. It didn't make them any less fun. And the DS, Revolution and Guitar Hero al
    • Umm, you kind of infered that Korea was a developer country. South Korea is right up there with the rest of first world countries. North Korea, however, is pretty bad economically, but except for a few helps that's it's been getting from it's neighbors (China, South Korea) it's more like stagnation. The only thing that North Korea seems to be developing is nuclear arms.

      I heard the Sega Master system used to be big in Brazil and other latin american coutries well into the 1990's (maybe still) because it was
  • The big studios will continue to squeeze out Doom 16, Command&Conquer 23 and NHL 2020. With good tools and some brilliant idea, a hobbyist will create a good game, it will be a surprise success because the IDEA is great (the graphics might be mediocre at best, but who cares, the GAME is great because the IDEA is great).

    Then some studio picks it up, sends a team of graphics artists on it and we'll see the first of a line of new sequelitis games.

    Quite serious, if you want to have a great game with a new i
    • NHL 2020

      Dude, I would so totally play that. Just imagine, jet-powered hockey skates, on-ice obstacles, shifting play field, multi-layered rink...
    • A good idea alone doesn't make a good game. Far too many games started with a great idea but failed at the implementation. Severe imbalances, bad user interfaces, AI problems, bad or uninteresting level design, lack of variety (especially when your core idea is used only in limited ways), severe bugs, all of these can kill a great idea. Usually graphics are a rough indicator at how skilled a developer is in general, games with bad graphics* often suffer from other bad implementations as well.

      *= Bad as in "b
    • if you want to have a great game with a new idea, do it yourself.

      So once my team has a prototype working on the PC, how do we get it ported to and distributed on a handheld system?

      • Write it in J2ME and distribute it for cellphones.
        If you mean gaming consoles, who does NOT have them chipped yet?
        • Write it in J2ME and distribute it for cellphones.

          Unfortunately, too many phones in North America are locked to run only midlets that have been signed by the cellphone carrier. CDMA phones are even worse, generally using the BREW system that charges the developer every time he runs the linker. Even otherwise, how does a developer who happened to have been born in North America target people who don't want to pay $720 for a cellphone and its 24-month contract just to play a game?

          If you mean gaming con

          • Unfortunately, too many phones in North America are locked to run only midlets that have been signed by the cellphone carrier. CDMA phones are even worse, generally using the BREW system that charges the developer every time he runs the linker. Even otherwise, how does a developer who happened to have been born in North America target people who don't want to pay $720 for a cellphone and its 24-month contract just to play a game?

            More civilized areas use the GSM system. As the subscriber identity is locate

            • More civilized areas use the GSM system.

              "More civilized areas" (i.e. continental Europe, Japan, and Korea) tend not to speak a lot of English or use payment methods that interact well with developers based in the United States.

              • You have some GSM operators there as well, on 1900 MHz band. Eg, T-Mobile. At least in some large cities.

                The language problem is not as bad. You have the entire UK/Ireland area, which is only couple milliseconds roundtrip away from you. Also, many people speak English in other areas. You can also write the code in a way that makes it easy to translate to other languages.

                I am not familiar with the payment issues, but as downloads are commonly paid via the recipient's phone bill, you should be able to make

  • "Easier to make" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caffeination ( 947825 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:19PM (#15177749)
    Games are getting easier to make thanks to inexpensive tools

    This doens't take into account the ever-increasing cost of game production. How can it be getting both easier and more expensive to produce games?

    Surely if this were the case, we'd be seeing an exponential increase in quality? If we are, it's going right over my head (with a beautifully rendered motion blur, I might add).

    • This doens't take into account the ever-increasing cost of game production. How can it be getting both easier and more expensive to produce games?

      It gets easier and easier to use photoshop/3DSMaX after each iteration (ha, as if), but the current "demand" requires creating highly detailed artwork (which still takes a lot of time.)

      Surely if this were the case, we'd be seeing an exponential increase in quality? If we are, it's going right over my head (with a beautifully rendered motion blur, I might add).

    • by edremy ( 36408 )
      How can it be getting both easier and more expensive to produce games?

      You're missing the point. To make an AAA list super title is getting more expensive. Much more expensive- you need teams of 100 people for four years to write something like Oblivion.

      But not all games are AAA list super titles. You can make fun, enjoyable games much more easily than you used to. Flash gets crapped on all the time here, but it's a wonderful tool for writing games- it handles audio and video easily, can animate hund

      • Flash gets crapped on all the time here

        Largely because there's no Free, free, or even affordable equivalent of Flash available to the general public, is there?

        Games like Half-Life, NWN and Oblivion ship with serious content creation tools, so powerful that you can rewrite virtually the entire scenario.

        Are they powerful enough that I can put four players on a single machine, as seen in Bomberman or Smash Bros.? Or will single-head multiplayer gaming be forever the exclusive domain of lockout chip b

  • In John Cleese's How To Irritate People, the final sketch (one of pure brilliance) involves two bored airline pilots trying to entertain themselves. It begins with the co-pilot turning on the intercom and saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about."

    The joke is, of course, that the only time someone feels the need to say, "Don't worry; everything's okay!" is when there really is something to worry about. Or, when someone is trying to pull your leg.

    Shortly after Wal-Mart's RFID trials were aborted, scrapped, and otherwise sent to the wastebin, I began receiving RFID e-zine articles all with titles similar to this: "Problem? What problem! Why, RFID is as big as it ever was!" Sure enough, the big RFID revolution is dead before it even got started.

    The signs have been there for a while that history is repeating itself. The big studios of gaming are reliving what the big studios of cinema lived in the 1960s: "The people say that they want more from the moviegoing experience? Oh my, we need a bigger budget! Ten times the cast! Bigger sets! And a costume change for Liz Taylor in every scene!" Of course, the people didn't want more sets. They wanted more variety, more stories, new ways of telling stories -- not just the same thing with more baubles. Oh, you had some new ideas like Easy Rider which were nifty, until the studios churned out 10,000 Easy Rider knock-offs. It wasn't until the 1970s when upstarts Lucas, Spielberg, Coppolla and Scorsese came to town and the old guard died off that the studios' fortunes changed.

    What's gonna happen? Things are gonna get worse before they get better. Some of the old guard will get so decrepit that they'll have to take risks. And that's where we'll end up with the next Godfather, Jaws or Star Wars for video gaming.
    • I guess there's plenty of room for new talent. But we have many old players who have taken risks and are willing to take more. Hideo Kojima, Sid Meiers, Will Wright, and Shigeru Miyamoto come to mind.
      • The bad news is that Miyamoto, Wright and Meiers work in relatively small markets -- PC and Nintendo.

        Which leaves Kojima. But I'm not sure I want to buy another game that makes me watch a 2-minute cutscene for every 20 seconds of gameplay.
  • 'Game development education has arrived'

    I'm screwed.

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