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User information for XP-Cagey

Real Name XP-Cagey   
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Signed On Apr 30, 2011, 04:13
Total Comments 12 (Suspect)
User ID 56437
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News Comments > Star Citizen Squadron 42 Next Year?
22. Re: Star Citizen Squadron 42 Next Year? Sep 4, 2016, 17:44 XP-Cagey
I think they should just be upfront and give realistic dates instead of optimistic ones.

Full disclosure: I spent $60 on the original Kickstarter, but when the scope started going bonkers I didn't toss any additional money into the pot. I don't think I'm a cheerleader for the project, but it'd be nice to have a game in my hands for the money I paid.

I'm pretty confident they genuinely don't have a more accurate idea of the remaining time internally for a number of reasons. I'm not defending their PR style or their development practices, just saying that I understand why they can't set a release month.

First, software estimates become harder to make as you increase the size of a project--intuitively, you may think double the size would take twice as long, but it ends up being much less efficient. Accounting for interactions between systems and problems caused by coordinating programmers accurately requires input data about similar projects and preferably previous work from the same people. Without empirical data it becomes guesswork--and nobody is good at guessing if something will be 200 man-years or 250 when you don't have other examples. When a company like EA, Ubisoft, or Activision set up rotating game releases for things like CoD or Madden, they have a dozen games in the bag that make their estimates for the next item off the assembly line more accurate.

Second, the less you know about a system, the harder it becomes to estimate dev time--and CIG has been tilting at windmills the rest of the industry has moved on from (e.g. shared 1st and 3rd person animations). Even when you know a process is iterative, it's difficult to estimate how much time you will throw away unless you think all experiments will fail--in which case you probably skip those experiments. The problem becomes worse as you know less about what you're going to build, and CIG has a habit of following the ideas of Roberts as they form.

Finally, when you spin up a multi-year project with a large team it can be tough to know how good your team will be--it sounds silly, but if you have a studio of 30 and you're going to build one of 150 that's 120 unknown hires that may be better or worse than you expect. You might get lucky and have a talented person who throws themselves into overtime because they have a passion for the work, or you might have a bad hire who makes the job of every person around them harder and therefore slower. Obviously you want to interview carefully, but when you need dozens of positions waiting for ideal fits can drastically delay your project, too--I've been on interview teams where we've been asked to green light somebody shaky because so few people are available for senior or expert positions and we need to get started on tasks for that position soon.

Tossing out a number like 12 months is sometimes really saying "I'm not sure, but that seems like a long time so we'll go with that." There are entire estimation systems that are based on engineers calling things small, medium, or large without trying to be more specific because it's so hard to be precise at scale. Obviously that's a horrible way to deliver something that has already been paid for, but reading between the lines I don't believe they have a strict project schedule in place.

Ultimately, I believe that it is better to promise less than you're developing so that you can cut scope without disappointing people and make your customers happy with "extras" if you hit your targets. When the public face of your company is an idea guy who gets excited about possibilities, however, that's really tough to pull off.

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News Comments > Turbine Layoffs
10. Re: Turbine Layoffs Jul 9, 2016, 23:40 XP-Cagey
Steele Johnson wrote on Jul 8, 2016, 16:14:
Maybe it's that it is very accessible for the ultra casual gamer? I just don't see the appeal.

Taking mass transit every day, I sit in a light rail car crowded with people staring at their phones. Reception is spotty going through tunnels and underground portions of the route, so streaming isn't really an option. Some of them are reading books, but many are playing mobile games.

I personally do 90% of my gaming on a PC or console, but it turns out that the sheer number of people who own phones or tablets makes for an enormous but relatively shallow market. It feels like there are typically 3-4 monster success stories at a time while all the other companies are struggling to stay in business, but there are billion dollar per year titles on iOS/Android.

I agree that many of the games on the app store just don't appeal to somebody used to deeper, more complex experiences--part of the problem is that games need to be very short or friendly to pause and resume for that commute crowd. They're looking for something to fill a few minutes of boredom between stations, rather than a full night's entertainment.

I still think there are good games out there that can serve both purposes -- FTL and X-Com: EU were both ported to iPad, for instance. Any free-to-play company that is on the ball, however, is going to be trying to maximize the audience they retain through their "acquisition funnel" to convert them into paying customers, which typically means that the first experience with any game is going to be simple on purpose.
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News Comments > Red5 Misses Payroll
7. Re: Red5 Misses Payroll Dec 28, 2015, 20:58 XP-Cagey
It should be against the fucking law to skip out on paying employees (period), especially during the holidays.

It should be illegal -- and of course it is... Red5 is in California, so the rules for wage claims are spelled out here

That said, as somebody who has watched people go through this exact process for unpaid vacation after being laid off by a now defunct game company I won't name, simply demanding money from a company doesn't mean you'll ever see a dime when the employer is heading into bankruptcy.

There's also the possibility that some of these people feel locked into a bad situation because they haven't found other work and they're trying to ride out the storm until things work again--that was me about 13 years ago when some contract job paid up 10 months late. It's usually junior people who feel the crunch, and it's tough to burn the bridge with the people you work for when you can't find something else.

Keep in mind that Red5 is the company that allegedly spent millions of dollars on a gaming tour bus that never worked and a filming studio that mostly produced a few live streams. It isn't shocking that it's having financial difficulties now after digging that hole, and I wouldn't have touched a job application there with a ten meter pole; that said, sometimes people have limited options and I hope everyone affected can recover quickly.
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News Comments > Battlefield Hardline DRM Complaints
40. Re: Battlefield Hardline DRM Complaints Mar 25, 2015, 14:14 XP-Cagey
The extra layer of DRM is stupid, but this is an attempt at allowing offline play after "always on" bit them in the ass for games like SimCity. If they only used Origin accounts, they'd need to hold a connection. EA starts with the assumption that if their DRM goes uncracked for just 1-2 weeks they make millions of extra dollars--their opinion matters more than reality when setting policy, so you have to assume they're going to keep trying to lock down their games. After explosively bad publicity around always online DRM, they're trying something else.

I also think people are confusing cause and effect. EA is not purposely sniffing for hardware changes--they are trying to figure out what machine is running the game, and in the absence of a computer case having an unadjustable unique ID, they try to hash an identity together out of component IDs every time you run the program. If they used a single component ID people would be screaming that they are collecting user data without consent (Guru3D is already saying transmission of a lossy one-way hash is "a privacy breach on many levels").

The reality of the situation is that people think EA is a bad company, and EA is paranoid that they will feel justified taking the game without paying for it as a result. If you're a scrappy independent you can make no-DRM a selling point and rely on the goodwill of your customers; EA wouldn't have the same consumer relationship.
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News Comments > EA Emeryville Closure Confirmed; Maxis Name Continues
4. Re: EA Emeryville Closure Confirmed; Maxis Name Continues Mar 4, 2015, 20:42 XP-Cagey
Once EA discovered that no one was buying the malarkey, Maxis began to admit that, yes, a client-side, "always off" single-player version of the game was indeed "possible"--etc.

The offline mode work was partially a port of JVM servers to C++ so that they could be embedded into the client, and partly a code restructure to provide interfaces that could split into HTTP traffic or local function calls depending on what mode the game was running... the per-city simulation ran fine without phoning home, but regional level features and persistence were implemented as remote calls that had to be ported.

EA was dumb to require online play in the first place (and yeah, I think everybody knows it was a DRM tether), but the architecture they built on top of that decision made it slow to switch over once they realized how badly the product had been hurt by the negative publicity.

Personally, I think the fact that Glassbox was running in a single thread was more damaging to actual gameplay (causing the small city limit).

Hopefully everybody affected by this can use the remaining days of GDC to do some networking and job scouting.
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News Comments > Original Early Access Game Pulled
5. Re: Original Early Access Game Pulled Feb 9, 2015, 13:40 XP-Cagey
Then make your game first, and sell it when it's fucking done. You know, like pretty much every other business does.

As a dev, I completely agree with the sentiment here--I moonlight my personal project while other peoples' game projects pay the bills. That said, from the perspective of somebody trying to make their first game early access looks like a golden ticket because they think they can work full time on their project.

I'm looking at a 3 year cycle to make a basic mobile game because I'm only putting 15 hours a week into it. Making games has to be my primary avocation (I wish I had more time to play them), and if I had kids there is no way I could find the time. If I had a fraction of my normal income that I could rely on, I'd seriously consider being able to throw another 50 hours a week into the project and turn that 3 years into 9 months.

That's the trap however--early access is a massive can of worms because it is not an actual income, and I think most of the people who enter it do not understand how much development effort they really need to complete their projects. Until you have experienced the end of projects a few times, it's easy to paint a rosy picture of the future.

Many of these project founders are figuring out that this is actually hard work too late; when I read people making earnest declarations about how they are going to finish their unfunded games I sympathize, but wish they'd done some project management up front so they could see the path they are walking.
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News Comments > Morning Consolidation
6. Re: Morning Consolidation Jan 28, 2015, 14:44 XP-Cagey
In fairness, I think the actual term EA is looking for is "shareware", and they should talk to Apogee Games about what they did in 1990.

Releasing the first component of a game with the ability to unlock the rest doesn't divert resources the way that a demo with its own build does. Nothing worse than spending weeks slapping together a demo with its own exe and asset packs when the game isn't polished.
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News Comments > Rob Pardo Leaves Blizzard
10. Re: Rob Pardo Leaves Blizzard Jul 3, 2014, 21:07 XP-Cagey
Edit : oops, misread. Carry on!  
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News Comments > WildStar Head Start Underway
18. Re: WildStar Head Start Underway Jun 2, 2014, 00:53 XP-Cagey
I'm sure when they started development the landscape looked different, and when you convince non-technical investors to throw dozens of millions of dollars in your direction it is not because they like an idea without a track record. This studio was making this game for nine years; the budget required to do that dictated the product.

There is a reason that people who self-fund frequently have more innovative titles, and it happens to be the same reason why both movies and games north of nine figures tend to be sequels or copycats--investors who just want to turn profit want a comparison to estimate the upside of the money they spend. If you wanted to profit on a movie, would you rather pay for "Avengers 2" or an experimental film you didn't really relate to with some well-known actors? Decisions at MMO studio scale are based on expected ROI instead of potential entertainment value, and it's hard to predict what the market will do with new ideas.

If a developer wants to shop a game with a huge up-front costs, they have a choice between pitching "clone of profitable brand X but with a twist" and "give us $50,000,000 because trust us, we know people will like this idea". Given the high failure rate of studios to ship games on time and within budget, it shouldn't be any surprise which type of speech gets the funding more often. Wildstar completely replaced second-to-second combat but apes most WoW interfaces and gameplay concepts; the combat (plus housing IMO) is the twist you give investors.

Obviously a WoW clone is a bad idea now because the market looks like it's been saturated for years and you're not going to compete with 9 years of content production on scope... but again, the company was founded in 2005--they started as contemporary with LOTRO and Age of Conan development when more people were trying to be Pepsi to WoW's Coke. Nine years is a train wreck of a schedule, and they obviously course corrected their design somewhat after more modern games came out, but keep in mind that the today's MMO releases started development years ago.

You're also going to see major lag time in big-budget trends well past the time when a single person can see an idea is bad. Even if the development staff agrees a major shake-up would be better than the current course, it's extremely hard to steer away from your original idea after you've spent massive amounts of somebody else's cash--they will demand to know why you took their money for something you no longer believe works.
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News Comments > Guild Wars 2 Stress Test Tomorrow
17. Re: Guild Wars 2 Stress Test Tomorrow Aug 15, 2012, 02:21 XP-Cagey
The developer has never called it free to play--ArenaNet has been trumpeting the fact that it will have no monthly fee for over 5 years dating back to before "F2P" was common in North America, but the two are not equivalent.

If forum posts or news outlets are claiming GW2 is F2P, they're misinformed. It wouldn't be the first time that people have misused terms they only loosely understand.

They could even be the same people who refer to the original Guild Wars as an MMO, another thing that ArenaNet never claimed (they labeled it a "Competitive Online Role-Playing Game" instead).
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News Comments > More on Guild Wars 2 Microtransactions
7. Re: More on Guild Wars 2 Microtransactions Mar 22, 2012, 12:35 XP-Cagey
InBlack wrote on Mar 22, 2012, 11:05:
I thought you could start the game at full character level and with all the items??

Can someone clarify this issue for me at this point?? What exactly is listed in the store??

You can roll a max level PvP character with gear, just like the Original Guild wars. PvE characters must level themselves, just like the original Guild Wars.
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News Comments > Super Hero Squad Online Launches, Marvel Universe Online Details
1. Re: Super Hero Squad Online Launches, Marvel Universe Online Details Apr 30, 2011, 00:15 XP-Cagey
Quick Correction: the new game's title is just "Marvel Universe", without the "Online".

Edit: the source article credited for the news item is also using the logo from the original project, which is probably contributing to the confusion.

This comment was edited on Apr 30, 2011, 00:32.
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12 Comments. 1 pages. Viewing page 1.
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