Archive for May, 2008
Since the blog is called “Inside the Game Developer Studio,” I should talk a little bit about what a game studio is.
A game studio is where the eternal dance between the money, the monkey, and marketroids takes place (that would be publisher, developer and marketing in layman’s terms). Given those things and add an extra ingredient of Chemical X to the concoction and you will have a hit game on your hands.
New York Times recently ran a story about how the voice actor for the protagonist in Grand Theft Auto IV only earned $100k for his work while the game has already grossed over $600 million.
So how does the games industry reward the people who made the games? The short answer is not well. Compensation really depends on the company you work for, as there is no industry wide standard. For the three games I’ve worked on, I’ve receive around $50k in total bonuses , while the games have sold over 5 million copies total, or a gross of around $300 million.
There was been lots of discussion about the MVC pattern in the programming blogs recently. A lot of it has to do with the rise of Rails to bring MVC in the forefront of web development.
What is interesting to me is that while design patterns in general have been looked down upon, somehow MVC is being held up as the “right and only” way of doing UI. There was even a pissing contest of which web framework is the most MVC compliant.
Ah, E3. (the show formerly known a Electronic Entertainment Expo) Gamers know it as the avalanche of new game announcements and an orgy of screen shots and breathless coverage by the geek world at large.
Here is an insightful documentary on what it was like to be at E3, which you should checkout before reading on.
Miyamoto, Inafune, Ian, me. That is the three degrees of separation between Miyamoto and me.
There is a well known theory that everyone is connected to everyone else in the world in just six steps. There is also a trivia game that connects actors to Kevin Bacon through working together on the same movie, where the number of steps is called a “Bacon Number”.
If we apply the same idea to get a “Miyamoto Number,” where you connect people by the games they worked on, then my number is probably 2. I worked with Kelly on BioShock, and Kelly worked for Nintendo for 12 years, so she must have worked on a game that Miyamoto made.
So what does this have to do with understanding the games industry?
This blog is my attempt to open the door and shed light on the game making process, from the point of the view of a game developer.
Blogs about games tend to fall into two categories, “Enthusiast” and “Insider.” Enthusiast blogs are all about the games, what’s the latest and newest, and written for gamers looking for their fix of information. The insider blogs are written by people making games and contain interesting details for those working in the same field, but too arcane for other readers.
The idea for this blog was inspired by JC Barnett’s “Japanmanship” blog, which is a great introduction to working in the games industry in Japan. As I was reading that blog, I wondered if is there a blog about what’s it like to work in the games industry in the US? Well, this blog is my stab at it. Unfortunately, I am not an artist nor possessing the dry British wit of JC Barnett, but hopefully you’ll enjoy my blog anyway.
I am not an artist, but I was a programmer in the games industry for the last five years. I was in two great studios, Volition and Irrational, and worked on three titles I am proud of: The Punisher, Saint’s Row and BioShock. I am currently taking some time off to work on my own thing, and finally have time to write this blog.