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[HP]

The cost of games

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Dumping this article in here, really good read on the economy/costs of games in 2017 vs previous years, and a prediction where this is all going.

https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/RaphKoster/20180117/313211/The_cost_of_games.php

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To the players out there: I know none of the above is stuff you necessarily want to hear. Trust me, a lot of it is not stuff developers want to hear either. If you want to preserve the games you love, you can help by not pirating, by supporting developers, by not tearing them down on social media and calling them inept greedy bastards, and most of all by just understanding the landscape.

And if you are a developer, the best advice I can give you is this… this world isn’t fully here now, but the trends are pretty dramatic in my opinion. So you should do some skill-building while you can.

  • Think of the whole industry as a mature market. We’re running out of platforms shifts that reset costs.
  • Get good at systemic design, design for retention, design for community. Basically, think like an MMO developer. Yeah, that means designing everything as games as a service.
  • Embrace procedurality.
  • But also embrace brand-building and marketing, because you ain’t gonna survive without it. This market is going keep getting more crowded.

And frankly, I think individual contributors need to start finding ways to get on-going revenue from older games. Because that world is also one where individual contributors become more and more interchangeable.

 

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Yeah, crunch sucks, and I'm done doing it. I embrace and welcome team wide focus on a certain milestone, some call it focused sprints where team morale is high and we all  don't mind putting another hour or two, but this crunch culture we see so much of needs to be talked about. What's even more ironic, at least for me, is that i actually do my best work and I'm mostly productive when i try to introduce some work/life balance.

Funny fact: There's certain kind of foods, specially certain smells that makes me sick and I almost gag when I smell them because it reminds me of "crunch" food. It's just funny that even our brains associate that with horrible experiences.

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1 hour ago, [HP] said:

Yeah, crunch sucks, and I'm done doing it. I embrace and welcome team wide focus on a certain milestone, some call it focused sprints where team morale is high and we all  don't mind putting another hour or two, but this crunch culture we see so much of needs to be talked about. What's even more ironic, at least for me, is that i actually do my best work and I'm mostly productive when i try to introduce some work/life balance.

Coming back from a day or two break with a strong cup of coffee is profound. Absolutely helps you see the big picture. 

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11 hours ago, Pampers said:

There will be much more of this. Already reaching the limit on how much it is possible to outsource. We will probably see some cool stuff from machine learning too

Disney is doing cool stuffs with that currently! They speeded up production from a facyor of 10 if i recall correctly with deep neural networks for denoising. Some people have worked on path guiding for path tracers. Seems like the groundwork for real time path tracers. Or did you meant machine learning for procedurally generating content?

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On 1/20/2018 at 12:57 AM, [HP] said:

Yeah, crunch sucks, and I'm done doing it. I embrace and welcome team wide focus on a certain milestone, some call it focused sprints where team morale is high and we all don't mind putting another hour or two, but this crunch culture we see so much of needs to be talked about.

What's a new guy to do? Aside from peer pressure, there's also the possibility of losing your position when the contract ends. I can understand staying over time during the final month or weeks before release, but the fact that there's no compensation for that (from what the article says)... you can only stretch "passion" so much. I guess it depends on the individual and how far up the pyramid you want to go. A lot of people, myself included, work on our portfolios out of passion for the medium, though I expect that once we get a foothold someplace we'll start treating it more professionally.

Going back to the points about developing certain skills, what would you recommend exactly for new level designers? I got the impression that we should focus more on multiplayer design and just squeeze as much as possible out of a map - ex: have it support multiple game modes. 

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I’ve been playing NieR: Automata lately and analyzing it every step of the way. To me it seems perfectly adapted to today’s market situation for singleplayer games. The visual fidelity is very low for a 2017 game, assets and materials are being rehashed to infinity (albeit fairly well hidden for the untrained eye), you’re basically fighting the same enemies over and over, and the main scenario is pretty short.

Yet despite this I’ve been very engaged, more so than I was in Zelda BotW to be honest, and I’m a long time fan of that franchise. The gameplay, soundtrack and story is so well executed, and without telling too much, they’ve been very clever with the replayability. The game is designed to offset the lack of visual fidelity and length in how everything plays out.

I can think of one recent game from the same publisher even, where the exact opposite is (subjectively) true. A game that took a decade to get out, with a huge intricately and beautifully designed world, terrible combat and dull story: FF15. Luckily for Square Enix, NieR and their F2P mobile games make up for that loss. Ironic.

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4 hours ago, grapen said:

I’ve been playing NieR: Automata lately and analyzing it every step of the way. To me it seems perfectly adapted to today’s market situation for singleplayer games. The visual fidelity is very low for a 2017 game, assets and materials are being rehashed to infinity (albeit fairly well hidden for the untrained eye), you’re basically fighting the same enemies over and over, and the main scenario is pretty short.

Yet despite this I’ve been very engaged, more so than I was in Zelda BotW to be honest, and I’m a long time fan of that franchise. The gameplay, soundtrack and story is so well executed, and without telling too much, they’ve been very clever with the replayability. The game is designed to offset the lack of visual fidelity and length in how everything plays out.

I can think of one recent game from the same publisher even, where the exact opposite is (subjectively) true. A game that took a decade to get out, with a huge intricately and beautifully designed world, terrible combat and dull story: FF15. Luckily for Square Enix, NieR and their F2P mobile games make up for that loss. Ironic.

Heard really good things about Nier. Not sure why people seem so into it, but maybe it's worth finding out after I get through my backlog.

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16 minutes ago, FMPONE said:

Heard really good things about Nier. Not sure why people seem so into it, but maybe it's worth finding out after I get through my backlog.

It is very much an oddball game, not what you expect from looking at screenshots. It explores existentialism and references many historic philosophers. Can’t tell you more, should be be experienced :)

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hehe, if we got paid what other people in the tech industry get on average, this chart would be off the scale. some wise words here for sure, doing things procedural no matter your area is certainly wise, if nothing else it's a blast to figure out, but everything has it's limits,  just need to figure out the pros and cons. Whats interesting recently, is the biggest games are pretty limited in scope, which is actually smart in it's own right, especially as costs keep going up. I guess, what blows my mind, is how much gamers expect, for say, $30, in a bar, that's a couple of beers and a pizza, maybe 2-3 hours of entertainment, yet games are somewhat expected to last forever, for such value? I'm certainly not advocating we make games $200, but it always fascinates me. Maybe the real issue here is eating/drinking out is too damn expensive! :P 

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13 hours ago, Radu said:

What's a new guy to do? Aside from peer pressure, there's also the possibility of losing your position when the contract ends. I can understand staying over time during the final month or weeks before release, but the fact that there's no compensation for that (from what the article says)... you can only stretch "passion" so much. I guess it depends on the individual and how far up the pyramid you want to go. A lot of people, myself included, work on our portfolios out of passion for the medium, though I expect that once we get a foothold someplace we'll start treating it more professionally.

Going back to the points about developing certain skills, what would you recommend exactly for new level designers? I got the impression that we should focus more on multiplayer design and just squeeze as much as possible out of a map - ex: have it support multiple game modes. 

When you're new, at anything, if you've got half a brain you'd want to focus on learning and nothing else, you'll look at mentor(s) for guidance and usually you copy those who came before you. You absorve their techniques, their social skills, their tricks and you try and learn all the tribal knowledge that's not documented anywhere, it only comes with experience from working next to people on the same field.
Consequently, if you join a industry where 12 hour days is somehow the norm, you already know what you're getting into so you'll adapt and try to abide by the "it is what it is", I'm sure we're all guilty of this in here, obviously this perpetuates the problem at hand and nothing will ever change.
If this industry wants to solve the problem of exaggerated crunch time, it's not the new guys responsibility to fix it, it's those who've been at it for so long that should speak up from a position of power and remark that this isn't sustainable in long term, by talking with their managers and producers that they need to be doing their job and actually manage and produce.

As for your second question, if you mean personal work, then I'd say design what you want to design. If your passion is into designing RPGs, but instead you focus on MP level design, you'll eventually land a job as MP level designer, so why not focus on designing RPG's instead then? I'm of the opinion that if you're REALLY good at something, there's always going to be an open position for you somewhere, as long as you're patient and flexible. MP games are all the rage these days, in 5 years ago it was mobile games, 5 years in the future who the fuck knows what it'll be.
This is of course, just my opinion. If you were to ask me, what's the fastest way to get into the industry, then even though I think it's the bad approach i'd probably say look into what game teams usually need the most (like VFX artist) and avoid saturated positions.

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19 hours ago, 2d-chris said:

hehe, if we got paid what other people in the tech industry get on average, this chart would be off the scale. some wise words here for sure, doing things procedural no matter your area is certainly wise, if nothing else it's a blast to figure out, but everything has it's limits,  just need to figure out the pros and cons. Whats interesting recently, is the biggest games are pretty limited in scope, which is actually smart in it's own right, especially as costs keep going up. I guess, what blows my mind, is how much gamers expect, for say, $30, in a bar, that's a couple of beers and a pizza, maybe 2-3 hours of entertainment, yet games are somewhat expected to last forever, for such value? I'm certainly not advocating we make games $200, but it always fascinates me. Maybe the real issue here is eating/drinking out is too damn expensive! :P 

“Worst game I’ve ever played! 0/10” (play time 200 hours)

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