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Op Ed

IGN - Why PC?
It's often perceived as a necessity on the console side to make a particular game as appealing as possible to every person who owns a console. The problem is that game publishers have let that thinking creep over into the PC market so now the development and marketing is driven by a need to make a single game that suits everyone. We see it all the time in the dreaded promise of all press releases that a game "will appeal to casual and hardcore players alike." (And if it's a licensed game, this is usually followed by the equally obnoxious claim that it will please both "fans and newcomers.") It's time to stop making such ridiculous claims, and more than that, to stop letting them be the sole consideration that determines how games are made and which ones get published, particularly on the PC.

The Escapist - Experienced Points: Now That You're Done Firing Everyone... Thanks Joker961.
So I thought I'd offer the games industry a little friendly advice as we head into the new year. Here are my suggestions for how to save money and make more money without needing to shed any more blood. A lot of this might seem to be aimed at EA, but really this advice applies equally well to all of the big players.

Videosgames - Games Journalism: What Not to Say. Thanks Morris.
I don’t care if it’s hard to explain why a mechanic works or doesn’t work, or if it’s taxing to think about why a game brings out a particular emotion. Saying “It’s hard to explain” is an admission of defeat. Jesus, as a games journalist you should feel a burning need to understand why a gun in a game feels good to shoot, or why a level’s atmosphere makes you feel lonely. You should be capable of disassembling design and figuring out how it works.

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20. Re: Op Ed Jan 11, 2010, 10:26 Verno
 
Payroll is always the largest expense of companies in the gaming industry and it's very easy to cut there first to see dramatic results in your operating expenses.  
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19. Re: Op Ed Jan 10, 2010, 15:25 Flatline
 

So your suggestion is to cut payroll first? If you're spending 10 million to develop a graphics engine, that's -all- in payroll. I fail to see how laying people off earlier helps anything.

1. You aren't laying *anybody* off if you don't hire them to begin with.

2. That 10 million you save, that equates to what, 200,000 copies that you don't have to sell to just break even. When a game completely tanks, the studio is in danger of shutting down, wherein you lay EVERYONE off.

So which is preferable? 50-100 more secure, long term jobs or 200 jobs that all go away after the game fails to make a profit?
 
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18. Re: Op Ed Jan 10, 2010, 13:02 Fion
 
Prez wrote on Jan 9, 2010, 12:32:
Great article on the escapist. To it I would add stop spending so much money on celebrities for your voice acting when there are hundreds of extremely talented voice actors and actresses out there who could be had at a fraction of the price. Would "Portal" have been any better if they hired Paris Hilton to voice GLADoS?

I couldn't agree more. It's clear that when Oblivion was being made, a 6th of the budget was spent just getting Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean to voice act what ended up being less than 1% of the entire voice work, and it became abundantly obvious that the VO budget was spent almost entirely on them because the other 6 voice actors they hired (for the thousands of NPCs) all sucked.

And then despite the criticism from all over the gaming world, they went and did the exact same thing over again with Fallout 3 with Liam Neeson and Malcolm McDowell!

This comment was edited on Jan 10, 2010, 13:04.
 
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17. Re: Op Ed Jan 10, 2010, 11:52 Sepharo
 
I recently finished building my new computer and out of the 7 or so builds I've done this most recent one has been the easiest yet.

The hardware booted up on the first try with no issues.
Installing Windows 7 was the fastest Windows installation I've done to date (though this could be because of my hardware maybe).
I installed the majority of my drivers off the disc that came with the mobo with one click.
Once I had internet, Windows 7 instantly grabbed everything else I could need.
 
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16. Re: IGN - Why PC? Jan 10, 2010, 05:29  cliffski 
 
I agree, I have very few issues too. PC gaming for em is pretty much as trouble free as console gaming, plus I don't need to hog the TV in the living room to do it. Plus I get mods  
http://www.positech.co.uk
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15. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 21:38 Jerykk
 
Yup, which is another reason why consoles are so attractive. UE3 may no longer be cutting edge on PCs (but I'd say it's still very competitive, just look at Batman. It's just not cutting edge DX11 insane), but it's still leading consoles.

You realize that PC developers can also license UE3 and create games with higher res textures, higher resolutions, higher AF and higher AA?
 
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14. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 21:33 Prez
 
You're not laying people off if they aren't hired in the first place. If your game's graphics budget is reasonable (like Torchlight), you don't need 50 artists spending at least two years on creating content. More artists + longer development time = higher budget. Higher budget means more risk. If the game sells below expectations, the whole studio is at risk. Lower budget = lower risk and much easier to meet expectations.

Exactly.

So your suggestion is to cut payroll first? If you're spending 10 million to develop a graphics engine, that's -all- in payroll. I fail to see how laying people off earlier helps anything.

WTF? How in the name of Superman did you get the idea that I am suggesting that people should be laid off? That isn't my suggestion - it's simply the way things are.

That's because you're assuming that all people are interchangeable...but you're wrong. The skills, talents, and experience in one group of people (the folks being laid off) generally are either going to be quite different than those of the new company you're acquiring, or if they're the same, then the management has some reason to think the new group is -better- than the ones they laid off.

I am scratching my head at your logic here. How, I wonder, does the purchasing company have any idea of the skills, talents, and experience of the employees they are obtaining indirectly through their purchase of the other company? Are you seriously suggesting that laying off a hundred people about whose talents and skills you have intricate knowledge in favor of more employees about which you know nothing somehow makes sense? You mean to imply that out of the multiple employees you have fired, not a single one has one single solitary transferable or equatable skill to that of the unknowns you are acquiring? That is patently ridiculous.

This comment was edited on Jan 9, 2010, 21:40.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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13. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 21:30 Beamer
 
Completely disagree. If you have to spend 10 million dollars to develop a proprietary graphics engine rather than spend, say, 1 million on licensing the Unreal 3 engine, that means your game has to sell that many more units to break even, and is that much more of a financial failure when it doesn't.

Yup, which is another reason why consoles are so attractive. UE3 may no longer be cutting edge on PCs (but I'd say it's still very competitive, just look at Batman. It's just not cutting edge DX11 insane), but it's still leading consoles. For the licensing fee you get the very best console engine. It's just cheaper to make a great looking game, as "great" is so much lower relatively.
I still think the most recent UE3 games on consoles look fantastic.
 
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12. Re: IGN - Why PC? Jan 9, 2010, 21:10 Bucky
 
LightAssassin wrote on Jan 9, 2010, 16:58:
Where are people having issues? I personally don't get many, sometimes games are buggy, but that's a fault of the developer/hardware vendor usually (ie patch fixes it, or driver update) which is generally automatic these days.


I can remember the days of beating my head against a wall to make a game work right (or at all), but I've rarely had an issue in the last few years of gaming. As for the rare issue I do have, well, I simply consider that the price I pay for playing on a superior platform.
 
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11. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 20:09 Jerykk
 
So your suggestion is to cut payroll first? If you're spending 10 million to develop a graphics engine, that's -all- in payroll. I fail to see how laying people off earlier helps anything.

You're not laying people off if they aren't hired in the first place. If your game's graphics budget is reasonable (like Torchlight), you don't need 50 artists spending at least two years on creating content. More artists + longer development time = higher budget. Higher budget means more risk. If the game sells below expectations, the whole studio is at risk. Lower budget = lower risk and much easier to meet expectations.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 19:38 Stormsinger
 
Prez wrote on Jan 9, 2010, 14:48:
If you have to spend 10 million dollars to develop a proprietary graphics engine rather than spend, say, 1 million on licensing the Unreal 3 engine, that means your game has to sell that many more units to break even, and is that much more of a financial failure when it doesn't. When a company can't make ends meet because its games aren't selling enough to pay for development costs, the first thing to be cut is payroll.

So your suggestion is to cut payroll first? If you're spending 10 million to develop a graphics engine, that's -all- in payroll. I fail to see how laying people off earlier helps anything.

I also completely agree with his analysis on the stupidity of firing people and then acquiring others immediately after, while I don't understand your explanation for disagreeing with it at all.

That's because you're assuming that all people are interchangeable...but you're wrong. The skills, talents, and experience in one group of people (the folks being laid off) generally are either going to be quite different than those of the new company you're acquiring, or if they're the same, then the management has some reason to think the new group is -better- than the ones they laid off. Not to mention the IP that comes with an acquisition...that's often a fair part of the reason for the acquisition.

Basically, the impression I get from his article is of a just-out-of-college or almost-out-of-college author who has no real-world business experience, but thinks he's ever so much smarter than those who have actually done the job for real.
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 18:48 PHJF
 
Yeah we all know Blue is getting filthy rich from game advertising. Damn him!

...
 
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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8. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 18:33 LittleMe
 
Yeah we all know Blue is getting filthy rich from game advertising. Damn him!  
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Perpetual debt is slavery.
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7. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 17:46 ASJD
 
Advertising, overpaid actors, and graphics (especially CG, if the game has a fair amount, which people don't really care about anyways). That's where most of the cost of a game's development goes.  
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6. Re: IGN - Why PC? Jan 9, 2010, 17:43 Icewind
 
LightAssassin wrote on Jan 9, 2010, 16:58:
Where are people having issues? I personally don't get many, sometimes games are buggy, but that's a fault of the developer/hardware vendor usually (ie patch fixes it, or driver update) which is generally automatic these days.


Kids today are just lazy. Most have been raised on the PS1 or later and are used to just throwing games into their console and having them play. (They didn't know the joys of blowing on cartridges or cleaning connector pins) They are just plain LAZY.
 
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5. IGN - Why PC? Jan 9, 2010, 16:58 RenownWolf
 
I see a lot of their comments and such mention "setting up your system, driver issues, system config" etc... as a negative for PC gaming. I hear this everyhwere....

I gotta say though, I installed Win 7 64bit on release, Windows update nabbed the latest Nvidia drivers for my card (heck it even did my monitor, mouse, keyboard, sound, lan, and motherboard chipset) and away I went.... I haven't done SFA (well now I have my dev tools with VS 2005, DX SDKs and others).

Games that use DX9 come with a auto installer anyway, so that was taken care of as I installed my first DX9 game on the fresh system. I had all my steam stuff backed up and copied a folder across, installed steam into that folder and let itself update. BAM 20 games installed and I clicked PASTE once, and next a few times on an installer.

Where are people having issues? I personally don't get many, sometimes games are buggy, but that's a fault of the developer/hardware vendor usually (ie patch fixes it, or driver update) which is generally automatic these days.

** Actually just remembered something... issues with punkbuster for BF2... I always hated punk buster... they were so freakin slow with support for win7 and it required some hacky action beyond a avg user imo.
 
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4. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 14:48 Prez
 
Reducing the emphasis on graphics doesn't save jobs (if it saves any money at all, it's by -shedding- jobs).

Completely disagree. If you have to spend 10 million dollars to develop a proprietary graphics engine rather than spend, say, 1 million on licensing the Unreal 3 engine, that means your game has to sell that many more units to break even, and is that much more of a financial failure when it doesn't. When a company can't make ends meet because its games aren't selling enough to pay for development costs, the first thing to be cut is payroll.

I also completely agree with his analysis on the stupidity of firing people and then acquiring others immediately after, while I don't understand your explanation for disagreeing with it at all.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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3. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 13:38 Stormsinger
 
Funny, I would call that article "utterly clueless". The author doesn't appear to have the slightest idea what he's talking about. Reducing the emphasis on graphics doesn't save jobs (if it saves any money at all, it's by -shedding- jobs). Nor does buying another company have any relevance to firing people, unless those people were directly competing with the company you're buying (and not doing it very well).

Actually, it appears that his idea of what a business is for, is to provide jobs...a beautiful dream, but no more than that. In the real world, the purpose of a business is to make money...providing jobs is wholly incidental to that. This op-ed piece is more in line with Lennon's song "Imagine" than anything connected to the real world.

This comment was edited on Jan 9, 2010, 13:39.
 
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2. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 13:17 Sepharo
 
Prez wrote on Jan 9, 2010, 12:32:
Would "Portal" have been any better if they hired Paris Hilton to voice GLADoS?

No but it woulda been neat to hear her voice as one of the cores at the end. Then you could drop her into the hot lava.
 
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1. Re: Op Ed Jan 9, 2010, 12:32 Prez
 
Great article on the escapist. To it I would add stop spending so much money on celebrities for your voice acting when there are hundreds of extremely talented voice actors and actresses out there who could be had at a fraction of the price. Would "Portal" have been any better if they hired Paris Hilton to voice GLADoS?  
Avatar 17185
 
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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