Aspiring indie game dev... Profile TBD

RSS State of the Industry address:

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Video gaming is a global pastime that had it's humble beginnings in the early to mid 1900s... It has thus transformed electronic entertainment from obscurity, to a billion dollar, world wide, critical successful medium. It hasn't been all "sweets and giggles" though, as for every success story there's about a hundred failures, who may never develop another title, ever again. While this may suit (or not sit well with) some gaming fans, let me explain why this is "good for business" on a whole.

I'd like to start with the fabled "crash of the video game industry" circa 1980's, for proper content into what's going on in the industry currently. An influx of shareware titles flooded the market back then, and, ironically, it's happening again. The fact that we have an abundance of "minimum coding experience" editors out there, it seems that everyone is trying their hand at indie game development. I didn't think this was a bad idea at the time, but seeing these under developed titles on gaming services (like Steam) leads me to believe that "not everyone should be a dev..." With tons of subpar games on xbox live, PSN and Steam, it's harder to find those "diamond in the rough" sifting through all the games littering the front page.... And, honestly, who has time to do all that??? It's not like in the past, when 40 titles were considered to be a lot of games for a catalog. In this day and age, 40 titles is just about two months of releases. One would think that with all the releases coming at us monthly, that regulations would be put on publishing a game. But since gaming is a billion (that's right, billion with a "B") dollar business, no holds are barred. Varying off the path for a bit... The Nintendo Wii specifically catered to children and seniors, with the system's control scheme... Motion sensors on the remote made playing games a "physical chore" at the end of the day, which helped both children and elder adults stay active. I work in a hospital, and the Wii is a popular item with the clients. The benefits are immeasurable. Ok, I got off track... Explaining the Wii's benefits took a bit.

So good for business you say??? Yes, it is... The reason being that "bad games can't survive in the industry like they did once upon a time"... I read that online.... and I have to concur. Although I will defend the work ethics of classic game developing by stating: "though games weren't as complex as they are now, the devs of old had days and weeks to deliver a product, compared to now where a game releasing can take anywhere from several months to several years (ie The Last Guardian) of development before it's ready to ship. A lot of people credit the game E.T. with single-handedly causing the video game crash of the 80's, and I'm here to say that's not a fair assessment of the game. Since the developer didn't have enough time to code instructions into the game, many players were clueless as to what they actually needed to do in order to advance in the game. This was the case for most games produced back then. So in hindsight, E.T. is actually a solid game once everything is explained to the player. You can still beg to differ, but that's my honest opinion. As far as modern game development goes, I think publishers are getting extremely greedy... more so than ever. Betas are the new "in" thing for the AAA market, with seemingly ever publisher touting some sort of pre-order bonus content for their upcoming release. It's mind numbing trying to keep up with all the different bonuses each vendor is carrying during launch. One might need a guide... seriously. Soul Caliber 3 had bonus content across the three, rivaling console platforms at the time: the PS2, XBOX and GameCube... Each were different playable characters not available on the counter-part systems... So if you were a Link fan, and had an XBOX, you had the option of purchasing a GameCube to play with Zelda's leading man... This must have rubbed fans the wrong way because years later Namco tried the same deal with SC 4, only this time the content was a "timed exclusive only" deal... So you can have one character now, and then wait a few months to receive the other one (at a price)... While I'm not a fan of either practice, I'd prefer the latter because you're getting "cross platform" content... which is a lot better than exclusive content, even though it's timed. You will have an opportunity to download Yoda/Vader, unlike Link, Heihachi and Spawn from the previous installment. And that's just one example out of hundreds. Destiny's year one exclusive, the Hawkmoon, is another well known example... But if you've been following my posted comments on Game Informer, you already know how I feel about Destiny, so I'll just leave it at that. To reiterate my point of bad games in the industry; it's easier to develop games now, but the abundance of titles makes it harder to achieve success in the industry. You truly have to be passionate about your game, and the title needs to reflect that.

I want to talk about the Mighty Number 9 kickstarter project for a bit... The main creator of the Mega Man franchise, Keiji Inafune, started a crowd funder for a successor to the blue bomber's games. He was able to raise over two million dollars for the project in just under a week, and proceeded to smash stretch goals in the final days of the campaign. One would imagine that the success of the kickstarter would be enough to get the game off the ground... well....... Not exactly. Extra funding was needed (I'm still baffled by that one) and the development suffered countless delays and set backs in the months leading up to launch. As of this posting, the game has yet to be released on any of the consoles mentioned in the stretch goals... Unacceptable in my opinion. This is a grand example of "star power" being used in the wrong way. The kickstarter pretty much fed the "hype train" and the devs underwhelmed fans with a lackluster development performance. To sum it all up: developers relying on name recognition to promote sales is a bad idea. I see the same ordeal occurring with the "soon to be infamous" Shemmue III crowd funder. Message to all developers: at least have a playable demo in place before you start asking fans to open up the piggy bank and support the dream... it just might help instead of hindering progress.

In closing, I'd like to say that the state of the gaming industry is in flux... it's been that way since it's inception. Nobody (including myself) thought this medium would last as long as it has. I truly thought it was a fad that would lose steam after a decade or so... But half a century later, we have museums including retro classic arcade machines as an exhibit for public display... A testament to the resilience of the medium. The industry has come a long way... I hope it continues to grow and evolve, so that younger generations can enjoy these timeless classics, and gain an understanding of how these works of art got to this point.

This is purely an opinion piece, but feel free to engage in a debate if you feel I've misinterpreted any concepts or information in this blog... Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day/evening/night...

gameartdevguy aka Jay

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