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Comment Re:give me inspiration over slick production (Score 2, Insightful) 137

I knew someone would mention music as a possible model. It does seem attractive at first glance.

However, while it is possible to create a piece of music using software worth $100 that is absolutely indistinguishable from something created using millions of dollars of studio time to 99% of people, the same is not true of game development. Indeed, a piece of music that sounds a 'bit rougher' or 'more live' may have an enhanced atmosphere, as it draws the audience closer to the shamanic act of performance. This isn't a factor when making games. Nobody wants it a 'bit buggy' or with 'slightly inconsistent textures'. And nobody wants to get closer to us. We smell due to not being allowed home for 3 weeks during crunch.

A four man team (one artist/animator, two coders and a level designer) can not create something indistinguishable from a $50m budget game. They might be able to do some tricks and adjust the visuals to work within their limitations, but they simply won't compete with Battlefield Bad Company, for example.

'Art' as a whole seems largely free of the budget/perceived quality link.
If we were talking about the automotive industry, for example, we'd never suggest that budget cuts were going to result in better cars.

Comment Fluttermind saved my sanity (Score 4, Insightful) 137

I started out in the industry at 15, back in '85. At that point, everything was indie. There were no big studios, and the few existing companies funded very little.

Moving on 20+ years (cough), I quit Microsoft Game Studios in 2009. At the point where I left, there were teams of 100+ people, no one individual had much impact on the game, communication issues both up and down and across the team due to size alone made everything exceedingly slow and frustrating.

I left.

I started a new company - Fluttermind Ltd. - which has been going a year and a half now. It's still fun, and the distance has given me an interesting perspective. This is what I see.

The mainstream indistry is filled with passionate, talented people. The average Joe thinks these games are worth $50+. From my long-time nerd perspective, that's amazing. I dreamed of this day as a kid and it's finally here.

Don't demonise 'big' game companies just because they're big. That's not punk-rock. That's not anti-establishment. That's knee-jerk foolishness. Big company games are often awesome. I can't wait for Team Ico's next release - 'big' company funded or no. I am utterly enjoying Battlefield Bad Company 2. Amazing multiplayer - some of the best experiences I've had as a gamer.

'Big' games demand a lot of assets, each of which is crafted by a professional - no 'get your mate to paint a splash screen because he's got an A-level in art' crap here. Professionals and their assets are expensive, so publishers don't like taking risks very often. But it does happen. Fable and Shadow of the Colossus are both very weird, off-beat games funded by massive conglomerates and both great games. There are not that many others, but it's the same for Hollywood. For those of you saying 'Yeah, big budget movies suck, too' - I ask you to imagine an 'indie' version of 'The Matrix'. Or 'Lord of the Rings'. They'd really suck.

Don't demonise marketing. I've never had a single marketing bod tell me what to put in a game. Ever. Full stop. Secondly, the one thing more likely to cause you a trip to the funny-farm after slogging your heart out for 2-4 years is for your marketing to suck, or - worse - to not be there at all. It will kill your game. It will kill your company. It will kill your job. The end. Saying 'good games will win through' is like saying 'positive thinking cures cancer': I'm sure there are anecdotal cases, but as people here are usually keen to point out, causation and correlation are quite different.

As for the complaint 'games include superfluous crap'. If you think EA wants to have a team keep running at a burn rate of half a million a month for an extra 3 months so some guy can make a hundred extra guns nobody cares about, you've clearly never spent a minute in a steering meeting.

While some indie games are wonderful (Dwarf Fortress and Wierd Worlds are amazing) a vast majority of them are worth 10 minutes and little more. Note I didn't say 'crap', I just said 'small'. Like a Daffy Duck cartoon. I wouldn't hold 'Duck Amuck' against 'Schindler's List' and compare the two. It is foolish.

I admire anyone's initiative and ability to craft a game themselves, on a tiny budget (yup, I'm doing precisely that), but to pretend that indie means 'better games', or 'better people' is both incorrect and insulting.


More Devs Going Indie, To Gamers' Benefit 137

Wired is running a feature about how a growing number of game developers are abandoning jobs at major publishers and studios and taking their experience to the indie scene instead. Quoting: "They’re veterans of the triple-A game biz with decades of experience behind them. They’ve worked for the biggest companies and had a hand in some of the industry’s biggest blockbusters. They could work on anything, but they’ve found creative fulfillment splitting off into a tiny crew and doing their own thing. They’re using everything they’ve learned working on big-budget epics and applying it to small, downloadable games. The good news for gamers is that, as the industry’s top talents depart the big studios and go into business for themselves, players are being treated to a new class of indie game. They’re smaller and carry cheaper price tags, but they’re produced by industry veterans instead of thrown together by B teams and interns. Most importantly, unlike big-budget games that need to appeal to the lowest common denominator to turn a profit, these indie gems reveal the undiluted creative vision of their makers."

Comment Simplistic at best (Score 2, Insightful) 458

Another blanket generalisation based on spurious research. After the age of about fifteen the world's a lot darker and less simplistic than when you're eight. The bullies I knew were psychopaths. One, at the end of his teen years, ended up beating up an 80-year-old, hospitalising him then robbing his flat after taking his key. Another one who made my life miserable locked a teacher out of his own class during a lesson and then taunted the guy through the glass of the window. If the adults in charge could not control them, then I'm not sure what a scrawny geek like myself was supposed to do, despite studying martial arts for three years. At no point did I fight back against these guys, despite being spat at, abused and punched for - quite literally - years. I don't believe it would have worked particularly well when the guys were certifiably crazy, dangerously violent and went on to enjoy prison sentences. I would probably have been hospitalised after the first attempt, and then a second time (with his gang helping) after the guy was expelled for GBH and blamed me for his 'misfortune'. Sociopaths aren't really all that clear on the whole cause-effect thing. There were plenty of other mean kids who seemed to make up a sizeable chunk of pubescent youth. These 'bullies' were never really a problem. Nor were any kids an issue at the ages when 'fighting back' actually has some effect. To say 'bullying is natural - watch puppies', or that 'being bullied is just part of growing up' is ridiculous. Not all kids are bullied: only those who stand out. To suggest that reacting violently to being bullied is a necessary part of the maturing process presumably means that all the beautiful kids who never suffered from bullying are somehow under-developed. Back to causality: I loathe conflict to this day, and have still have difficulty dealing with it. I don't think beating up a bully or two would have helped here, and most importantly - nor is violence in my nature. Despite not being violent myself - and suffering from mild Asperger's - I went on to run a successful company and managed to retire at 38 without ever having to beat someone up just because we have an atavistic fixation with physical force. Those who avoid physical confrontation are not 'weak', 'losers' or 'more likely to do well' - whatever that's supposed to mean. Let's try and let go of the neanderthal trappings and reinforce acting like a civilised, technologically advanced species rather than wishing we could all be Christian Slater in 'Heathers'.

Comment Re:Because I have no interest in owning iDevices (Score 2, Interesting) 94

Until Google does something wacky with Java allowing it to run at a reasonable clip (better support for float ops, better garbage collection), or makes using native code seamless (a long way from the horrific situation at the moment) developers like myself will be sticking to iDevices, if only to avoid pulling out our remaining hair.

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