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Game Innovation by the Bedroom Coder 47

scriptedfun writes "The BBC reports on how bedroom coders might regain their place in the game development world by providing the industry 'an injection of imagination.' Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express (covered previously on Slashdot) is given a special mention, but the article points out that 'the concept behind XNA is nothing new,' citing Sony's Net Yaroze as another example. With user-generated content fueling innovation in many aspects of technology, current initiatives by the major players to provide easy access to game development tools may just redefine the face of next-gen gaming. Peter Molyneux, creator of Populous, says: 'It's 100% down to the passion that people have, and the ability to perhaps bring in other people, maybe from all around the world on the internet, and create something.'"
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Game Innovation by the Bedroom Coder

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  • The poster should RTFA.
    It shows that popular opinion is that the framework is too crippled to make anything useful and that most people buy games that are of the mainstream FPS, Sports Sim, Killing Hookers variety. Nothing to see here...
    • by krell ( 896769 )
      Certainly there is room for someone to corner the market with a FPS where you run around the football field throwing hookers at the players.
      • One of the projects at GRC4 [grc4.org] is to create a simple MMOFPS. Modifying the Quake engine to allow a map to force the client to connect to another server would be very, very simple.

        I'm going to do the dozen or so lines of code changes required, and a couple other members are going to do the level design.
    • Funny you should mention balls. I have a site that I've recently put up dedicated to sharing XNA projects, and one of my recent projects is actually called "Balls". You can find it here: http://www.threesixbox.com/project?id=2a9221cf3d [threesixbox.com]
  • Isn't the market saturated for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) pornware?
  • XNA is sitffling ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jfclavette ( 961511 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @03:40PM (#16457289)
    What the hell... Except the fact that it is limited to Managed code, there's nothing stiffling about XNA. The only thing it does is provide you with a Game class you derive from, and the Start()/Update()/Draw()/End() methods. The other components, including even the Graphics component, are entirely optional, and if you find them 'stiffling', just don't use them. The architecture for a 'we need to suit all kind of games' product is very good.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook ( 132727 )

      XNA would have been great years ago when I was always trying to make games. I've looked at it and other than the fact it's from MS it looks quite nice. In fact, my biggest complaint is that if you use it to develop for the 360, only other XNA users can play your games (so if you make a game for the 360 and you want your friend to be able to download it and try it, they have to have an XNA subscription too). That limitation seems VERY arbitrary to me. Otherwise it seems quite well done.

      But even if you don't

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Osty ( 16825 )

        In fact, my biggest complaint is that if you use it to develop for the 360, only other XNA users can play your games (so if you make a game for the 360 and you want your friend to be able to download it and try it, they have to have an XNA subscription too). That limitation seems VERY arbitrary to me. Otherwise it seems quite well done.

        Give it time. The current beta can't even target games for Xbox 360, so when V1 releases with 360 support (for subscribers) that'll be huge. And surely there are plans

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I do find it annoying that XNA only supports ONE type of game pad... the XBox 360 controller.

      There are workarounds, but the 360 controller is the only first class citizen... It looks like a nice controller, but come on! DirectInput is nice because of how easy it is to abstract the input devices. For XNA to be viable for PC games, it really has to support legacy hardware...

      I also haven't been impressed with graphics speed. I'm just getting started with XNA, so I'm really making the graphics statement bas

  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum.gmail@com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @03:49PM (#16457481) Homepage Journal
    .. because of the bedroom coders. Such a platform wouldn't have survived - and done as well as it has - without bedroom coders.

    The major platform/console mfr's need to recognize this. Hopefully we'll see them do so in the near future..
    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      The only thing is that, as you and I (A_SN) have discussed on #gp2xdev, there's hardly any good fully original game being made for the GP2X (yet), all we ever come up with is ports, clones and emulators, as the topic of this article is game innovation.

      Surely the GP2X is hot because of the community of developers around it, but surely not because of any game innovation.

    • Yes, all 400 of you have made the GP2X so hot.

      Okay, so in all seriousness the GP2X is a good looking system and I wish I had one, but the problem is that the normal handheld system buyer has never even heard of it, and on top of that there has been 1 game officially released for it, with one "on the way"? If the GP2X is to score any recognition at all it needs "real" games that the average kid in EB can pick up and look at the box art for, not more tux racer and frozen bubble ports. Christ, for that matter
      • by torpor ( 458 )
        For what other games console can you name 400 developers? (grin) You can go to gp32x.com right now and get yourself a list of thriving coders making daily releases.

        The GP2X has 2 released commercial games, not 'just 1'. And over 1,000 non-commercial releases. This is why its hot: its a wild frontier for people to get their game code on unhindered by competition and market posession by bigger fish.

        EB, and other retail outlets, are owned by commercial developers, and people with a vested interest in seein
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          oh sorry that second one must have come out in the last few months. You didn't have to get all high and mighty about it, All I was saying is that for it to be a competitive handheld system it has to sell far more than 40,000 units and it has to have software that is easy (read: you take it out of the package and put it in the system and it works) for people who aren't computer savvy. Do you believe that the Nintendo DS would be just as successful in selling over 22 million units if for all of the software,
          • by torpor ( 458 )
            oh sorry that second one must have come out in the last few months. You didn't have to get all high and mighty about it,

            If I came off that way, I apologize .. its just that, you see, I'm a very inspired GP2X developer driven to do innovative things with the GP2X handheld (such as port MidiShareGP2X, use the GP2X's as a host platform for music-composition apps, etc).

            I'll agree with you, for sure, that maintaining an SD-card is tricky for most people, but in fact this is not a requirement of the GP2X, for it
  • The GRAPHICS!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoktorSeven ( 628331 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @03:51PM (#16457503) Homepage Journal
    TFA:
    "Peter Molyneux from Lionhead Studios says: 'I was lucky. I could start with a friend and we just worked on this crazy idea called Populous and that's where we came from.

    'Those days, unfortunately, have gone.

    'What we created was amateurish to be honest with you, if you compare it to today. What we are dealing with today are not only fantastic game designs, but amazing quality visuals. '"

    "Amateurish"? Populous? I would much rather play Populous than Black & White or his other new "pretty graphics" game any day of the week. Populous may look simple, but there is a great game under there, and to me, that is NOT "amateurish." Just because a game doesn't have the latest 3d gee-whiz, two billion polygons, real-time lighting, and perfectly rendered pubic hair does not make it "amateurish."

    Game developers, as well as gamers, need to figure out that good games *can* look like they did in the old days, even today, and still be fun. I don't play a game for the pretty graphics, I play it for the gameplay.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cliffski ( 65094 )
      Bless you my son, we need more people like you.
      Im tired of graphics demos dressed up as games too. Im al;so tired of people who wont even review a game unless its '3D' or supports bump-mapping / HDR lighting / this months buzzfeature.
  • by kbonin ( 58917 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @04:00PM (#16457643) Homepage
    There's plenty of private groups doing neat things...

    <plug>

    I run a small group, some of us game industry veterans, creating a MMO system over p2p. Cross platform front end w/ CgFX shaders over OpenGL or DirectX (= portable to next gen consoles), back end is hybrid of p2p with very few database and certificate authorities, all secured by very strong crypto. User content, fully scriptable (Lua now, Java soon, C++ if core group signs it), art paths for Max and Milkshape. Network includes IM, social network, bt based content and file exchange, voice chat, and micropayments with gateways back into traditional credit card processors. Plan to release as free for non-commercial use, most source will be opened (later.) And all development funded by the developers, who are tired of knowing how to do something really cool, and watching it destroyed by our previous employers (Accolade, EA, OnLive, and others...) We're getting ready to go public with demo, could use a few more experienced game coders, really need artists, but figure demo will attract all we need. :) email kerry at vscape.com if interested...

    </plug>
    • by $1uck ( 710826 )
      That sounds extremely cool, do you have a website? I've often thought a mmo that worked around p2p and user generated content(scripting) would be nice. Although a hackers dream... though maybe if the game revolved around hacking... like some sort of cyberpunk mmo.
  • The failure of the Net Yaroze was that it was only provided to a Japanese audience; American developers like me could never get our grubby little hands on it. XNA is available to everyone. I think that's going to be far more successful than Sony's Nippon-centric garbage.

    Don't get me wrong; Sony has a perfect right to release products only in Japan. It's just a wee bit hypocritical when they claim their Japanese-only product is designed to foster and encourage community. If Microsoft did the same, it would b
  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @05:03PM (#16458777) Journal
    I don't think that innovation or creativity is gone from the game industry. It's probably at an all time high. It just appears to be lacking because their are lots of "me too" titles being put out as well, often with a lot of publicity and hype. There are plenty of companies that are perfectly happy to churn out franchises and incremental sequels, and there's nothing wrong with that. There's obviously a market for continously refined gameplay, or else companies would stop producing them. It just so happens that those sorts of games are quicker to make, so we hear about them more often, and they're generally produced by well funded companies that can advertise a lot, and so we see a lot of them.

    Add in the fact that a lot of the "easy" innovations, the real big shifts in game play, have already happened. There are a lot of different genres out there, almost any worthwhile idea that you have is going to be similar to something that already exists. Which isn't to say you're not innovating, just that it's not likely to be some sort of earth-shattering revolution. Something significantly different than we're used to, like non-tradition control schemes(Exhibit A: Nintendo), will allow even the more conservative developers to innovate in more blatantly obvious ways. These innovations will have a great "bang for your buck" ratio, because there's a lot of uncharted territory. A nice example being EA and their madden game on the Wii. Having you actually motion like you're throwing the ball to pass is an obvious direction to take the game in, yet it'll be a very new way of playing for gamers. Compare that to trying to write an innovatively intelligent AI for an FPS, which is likely to be much more difficult to pull off, and at the same time be something that you'd need a good amount of gaming experience and play time to really appreciate.

    Innovation is still very much alive and going strong, it's just harder to see amongst the crowd of more standard stuff being produced today, and the huge library of stuff produced in the past.
  • by brkello ( 642429 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @06:12PM (#16460001)
    I don't really know if anyone other than my girl friend would want to play the games I come up with in my bedroom. It is generally designed for 1-2 players (theoretically it could be more, but that might destroy multiplayer in general, making it single player for awhile). The best part is, everyone wins and you get some good exercise in as well.
  • Well.. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    After all, Coders need SOMETHING worthwhile to stake claim to in the bedroom.
  • I had a spark of an idea between Invasion: Battle of Survial; Tales of Legendia's story; and Zela 3's gameplay. Project Nightwork [kicks-ass.org] lays it out in a Zelda 3 example [kicks-ass.org].

    The basic idea? Massive tactics. I am tired of tactics with no story and "flood with warriors" gameplay. I'm tired of stories with lovely tactics and "go kill something" gameplay (Tales of Legendia). The visual influence in Zelda 3 did it for me, I just thought, "Hey you know what would make this game cool...."

    I'm not a game designe

  • The problem with game development is not really in the code, and it's not in the storyline, either. It's in the artwork. I guess that things like XNA will lead to a lot of sharing of artwork and a lot of artwork being available for games, and that can only be a Good Thing.
  • Clever (Score:2, Funny)

    by skrugen ( 229044 )
    From the XNA FAQ:

    Q: What does XNA stand for?
    A: XNA's Not Acronymed
  • No thanks. I've seen the massives make game content:

    28,954 simultaneous games of Big Game Hunters Mucho Money
  • Microsoft's tools are very good, DirectX has just about caught up to OpenGL and .NET is a pleasure to develop with. IMO they are really care about their DirectX and X-Box SDKs. So it's almost there, really. It's almost possible to develop a great game from your bedroom, but it's still a ton of work. And you can't code art.

    What usually kills most projects is the art. Interestingly there is this stigma that is attached to artists, you know, will work for free. They take quite a bit of offense to this, and

"The chain which can be yanked is not the eternal chain." -- G. Fitch

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