Archive for June, 2008
Most people believe that interactivity is what separates games from other kinds of media, so how can you make games better by taking away that advantage?
Back when we were creating the interface on BioShock, Ken was the one who always pushed for a simpler interface. The main method we used was to remove options from the main in-game menu and placing them into the UI of machines you interacted with instead.
Today, I finally announced a project I’ve been working on. It is a service called “AlwaysOn SaveGames” that provide remote storage of save data similar to Valve’s SteamCloud but open to Flash developers. You can read the announcement for more details, or the about page for an overview of what I am trying to provide.
This post is about why I created the service.
The cost of developing a game has increased exponentially over the past few years. The first game I worked, ‘The Punisher,’ had a development budget of six million dollars. I would say that’s in the middle range of development cost during that time.
Nowadays, just marketing a high profile game will cost that much, with twenty million dollars being a reasonable estimate for the development cost of a competitive console title.
If you want to work in the games industry, know that it is filled with geeky guys. Be prepared to put up with a certain amount of ‘eccentricities.’ In this series, I offer up a sampling of the types of people you might meet in your journey.
The first personality I’d like to talk about is the “Burnout”, which technically you won’t meet in the games industry since he has already left it. A Burnout is someone who has worked as a developer for many years and then leaves the industry entirely.
Working in as a game developer can be an unforgiving and thankless job, so some turn over is to be expected, but one group in particular seems to be susceptible to becoming a Burnout, the programmers.
I’ve fallen into that train of thought myself a couple of years ago during the period known as ‘The Time of Brown Military Shooters.’
Gradually, I came to another realization, what I really want to see is more good games, that the game is ‘innovative’ is secondary to the fact that the game must be good.
I recently downloaded a bunch of demos from the Playstation Store to check out some of the games I’ve missed. After playing through a bunch of them, I noticed that all of them included a loading screen that tells you what each of the buttons do, the “Button Layout” screen.
Here is an example of a button layout screen:
Actually, I lied in the title, everything you hear from video game marketing and press releases are 100% the literal truth, as everyone knows. However, they are crafted to tell the truth but make people see more in the statement than there actually is. They do this through lies of omission or lies by implication.
With the many controversies over video game reviewing practices recently, I won’t be surprised to see video game ads taking a page from Hollywood’s playbook, and start highlighting quotes from ‘Quote Whores,’ a classic example of lying by omission.
- Alexis de Tocqueville