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[Column] General: Gamers in the Game Industry

2

Comments

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,453Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Pokket

     

    The problem with, let's say the artist, is that you end up with things like "space pope" in SWTOR.

     

    A friend of mine, a decent composer but actually known in sound recording circles, was asked by a dance troupe to compose music for a modern dance piece.

    He did and the people at the dance company didn't like what he did. They thought it too complex. No problem he said and he changed it.

    Back and forth they went, he was constantly sending them new material but it wasn't what they were looking for.

    Finally, out of ideas, and in a crunch time between school, his business and trying to get the music out, he quickly sent them a very simple, very new age type of piece.

    Somethnig that he quickly dashed off and something that anyone (myself included and I'm not a pianist) with some piano ability could have improvised on the spot. A piece of fluff.

    And they loved it. Perfect! Just what we were looking for.

    One doesn't have to be a gamer to avoid space pope. That decision could have come from anywhere.

  • divmaxdivmax JhbPosts: 106Member
    Yes, yes, a 1000 times yes. Well said, Pokket.
     
  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    Too bad Smedley Is full off it.  His own game company does not even support that.  I can tell you for a fact that in EQ2, hardly none of the dev's we have working on the project actually plays the game.  We asked for years as certain subclasses were left without much being done to them.  Troubadour, Wizard, Warlock, to name a few none of those classes are played by any dev. 

    So Smedley needs to step up to his statement and actually instead of listen to what I say actually do it.

     

  • shavashava Somerville, MAPosts: 282Member Uncommon

    OK, Pokket, how about the next column being:  Gamers who think they can be in the game biz with no biz background?  The game studios are getting pwned right now by folks like EA who have biz savvy and no gaming/fan ethics, but want to be entertainment businesses.  SOE was probably the first example of this.

     

    Business decision have to be made on the basis of...business.  But how long a perspective?  Can you make an argument that will justify your judgement to your investors?  So long as gamers think that the biz stuff -- the marketing and funding and all -- are *dirty* -- the studios are going to get pwned by the funders, the big studio/producer/distributors (and whatever you call Valve and Steam these days...?  That's a transition point, I'm not sure where they stand on the spectrum...or what category...  Do they? :) and all.

     

    So, where does that go from here?

     

    It's like, some games have a class or two that you need in raids -- it's not popular, and it's a pain to solo up to level cap.  But it's freaking VITAL for crowd control or healing at level cap.  These are the real business people, the Speaker-to-Animal types who can scream and leap and protect you from corporate raiders, who you can trust to be on your side, but know the exact way to deal with the baddies who do biz on the other side (the funders, the producers, the marketing/ad bits, whatever...).

     

    And we don't have enough of those folks, because everyone wants to make games.  Well, that's part of making games too.

     

    (Former vp/marketing & bizdev, entertainment licensing, company in Inc5000; former ceo of itty bitty indy game co, retired; 53 yo grrl gamer playing MUDs, EQ in 2000, then EQ2, Eve, Wow 3 months, EQ2 briefly, LOTRO, SWTOR mostly now, beta dilletante)

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member

    Good article Pokket.  :)

    image

    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • phantomghostphantomghost Atlanta, GAPosts: 694Member Uncommon
    I agree with Smedley.  EQ Next!
    photo SIG_zpszteuyd0ejpg
  • bobfishbobfish SouthamptonPosts: 1,688Member

    I think it helps, but I also think it can be bad too.

     

    Too many times I've seen games made based on the personal gaming desires of the team that is making them, rather than on the desires of the audience who are supposed to be buying them. When this happens you can end up with a great game, that nobody wants!

     

    This is just as bad as the suits telling the team to make what they think is going to be profitable (WoW clone for example).

     

    At the end of the day the most important thing is that the team understands gaming mechanics and understands the needs and desires of the audience they are trying to sell their game too.

  • IrishChaiIrishChai St Louis, MOPosts: 529Member Uncommon

     

    Good article Pokket, and I agree. The industry definitely has an over abundance of people that want a career related to gaming, so the hiring company should be very particular about who they want and what level of experience they should have.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    The gaming industry is going like the music industry. These big publishers are becoming increasingly irelevant with the rise of the internet and ability to self publish.

    So you will see a split. You will get a few surviving big publishers churning out heavily commercial short term tat to the masses. E.g. the equivelent of xfactor / American idol. Or games terms zynga / ea / activision

    You will get the rare publisher that sticks to the old ways e.g. music - virgin, games - zenimax

    You will get lots of independents just self publishing on their own stuff - e.g. mojang

    You will get a variety of devs putting their stuff on online distribution steam / itunes
  • itsneoitsneo HAMILTON, ONPosts: 18Member

    Welcome back Pocket, that was a much better read than the last, good to see your back in your old form.  :)

     

    Firstly, I'd like to agree with you, for the most part.  While I am unsure by your column if indeed you were pointing a pejorative finger directly at developers employed by gaming companies, or the executives of these gaming companies(or the company in general).   Clearly from the posts above there is a lot of finger pointing at the developers themselves.  And it is with that I have an issue, and to an extent, disagree with you. (if indeed you were fingering out the developers)  

     

    A developer, irrigardless of the project he/she is working on, has a job to do, for the most part, that job includes writing code.  It is their role to, for lack of a better explanation, convert ideas, logic, and or any form of function/method etc., into 'virtual' reality.  That is to say, they are given a set of rules, some logic for instance, and it's their job to ensure that a specific result is achieved.   When I press a left mouse button, my character interacts with what ever I am mouse'd over, or, I activate a skill.. etc....  For the likes of me, I can't see where having gaming experience can make that task any more easier, or more to the saticfaction of the gaming community as a whole.      Ok, I know that is a very litteral example and a poor one at that, however it gets my point accross.  Being a gamer has little to no baring on developers.  They have a task they are assigned and it is their role to ensure the desired results are achieved, no more, no less.

     

    Now, if indeed you were pointing your finger towards the executive, designers, artists, world designers, quest/lore writers, customer support, team leads, community managers, and the like (the list is too long), well, then I agree whole heartedly.    It lies squarely on the plate of the creative minds, this, lack of gaming experience we talk of has the greatest impact from the 'creative' departments.   This is the area where I personally believe the problem begins, it is these groups and those like it that send their requirements to the dev teams to bring to light.  It is their expectations, design rules, good or bad, their logic that needs be coded to produce the desired results.  Keeping in mind the technology requirements, also dreamt up by the engineers who like to built lots of pretty blinking lights into the hardware (lol), a developer has a lot on his plate to contend with, lets cut them some slack.

     

    Ok yes, I agree that EVERY employee should be questioned as you were with company 'B'.  That was AWESOME.  And yes, I agree that IF it were my company, I would indeed be looking to employ as many creative minds with some REAL WORLD GAMING EXPERIENCE.  And yes, I would indeed hire someone who is NOT a gamer if their specific skills would be considered an asset to the final product.   So, in closing, I do NOT agree that every developer needs gaming experience, their skill in developing solid, bug free code is, or would be, my first priority, but I assure you, the creative minds had better have their sh_t together or find themselves replaced, I've a budget and a timeline/deadline to meet.  Investors to please, and of course my own ass on the line.    :))

     

    Good job Pocket, cant wait to read more.

     

    GAME OVER!

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member
    Not sure I understood the point of this article or maybe it was not all that interesting to me.
  • Mors.MagneMors.Magne LondonPosts: 1,420Member

    Notch is an excellent example of a gamer in the games industry.

     

    I'm slightly concerned about Hilmar Peterssen - CEO of CCP (Eve Online). He was a games player once, but not any more. I agree with Pokket when she says "There are no [metaphorical] unicorns in Eve" - this is a short coming which seems more obvious to me as time goes by.

     

    If Hilmar played Eve Online, I think the game would be further improved.

  • Stuka1000Stuka1000 Posts: 868Member Uncommon
    People in certain positions within the company need to be gamers, not all of the employees.  Anyone who actively makes decisions concerning the games direction or development needs to be a gamer with a good understanding of both the game and the target audience.  The company also needs people who are experts in other fields if they are to be successful.  It's a nice ideal that everyone should know the game inside out but I would rather have people that actually know what they are doing in the job for which they are employed.
  • TithenonTithenon Fountain, COPosts: 109Member

    The best gaming crew would be to have the CEO/Boss be both a gamer and a business professional, perhaps degree'd; however, if a gamer boss is not possible, the boss should be a business professional, someone who can run the business, keep people moving, meeting objectives, and getting the game out.  The Production Manager should be in a similar position and, if there were a gamer and a business professional finding this company, the business manager needs to be on top.

     

    How much money is spent on marketing by these companies when they're getting a game out?  Almost none.  Why?  Because the people who are on top are NOT business professional's, they're simply guys with a vision, and so the budget they have is very rarely large enough to include marketing.  A marketing budget should be at the core of expenditures, and account for 30% or more of that budget, from the beginning, not as a side-effect or an in-case notion.  Blizzard spent a great deal on marketing, and they continue to advertise, and they had, at one point, more than 13 million subscriptions, and still carry more than any five games out there at this point.  Most games fail, post-development, because of a serious lack of proper marketing.  So, having a business professional, whether they are a gamer or not, is absolutely mandatory, especially if they have a gamer second who can direct the game and its people to continue moving it forward at a proper rate.

     

    For the rest of the developers, it's handy to have as many business-minded folks as possible, though I agree that ALL of them should be gamers.  However, what type of gamers?

     

    If you're developing a console game, you should be a console gamer.  If you're developing a PC game -and for those who don't know they are massively different- you should be a PC gamer.  If you're developing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, you should be a pen-n-paper role-player.

     

    Were I to hire people, I would hire people in this order: Passionate-Skilled-Degree'd, Skilled-Passionate, Skilled-Degree'd, Passionate, Skilled, and finally Degree'd.  If an individual doesn't know games, in general, and is not skilled, it doesn't matter if they have a degree or not, they're worthless to the project.  Most of the games made today are NOT made by real gamers, they're made by console and PC gamers... forgive me, a real gamer, to me, is someone who plays pen-n-paper games first, and then graphically-based amalgam's.  If they were made by real gamers, a great deal more would come from the games than "get from point a to point b", "recover 10 bear pelts and return", what we've come to classify as the various types of quests in video games, but nothing to do with real Role-Playing.

     

    Don't tell me it's not possible to do these things... SWTOR and Oblivion were ALMOST there.

     

    Finally, I do agree that certain other requirements, such as being a CURRENT player, and someone who does their research on the present desires of the MMO community, are important traits.  However, before someone decides to throw $50,000, up to a GOOD DEAL more than that, at an attempt to get their favorite idea into the mainstream, they need to do some research on business practices, in addition to budgeting for the market, and they need to be ready to go for the long-haul.

     
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,657Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by eric1000
    People in certain positions within the company need to be gamers, not all of the employees.  Anyone who actively makes decisions concerning the games direction or development needs to be a gamer with a good understanding of both the game and the target audience.  The company also needs people who are experts in other fields if they are to be successful.  It's a nice ideal that everyone should know the game inside out but I would rather have people that actually know what they are doing in the job for which they are employed.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that everyone in the company needs to be a diehard player of the game they are creating, although if your own employees are not playing your game that might prove a warning sign in certain cases.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    It really depends on the role the person plays in the company. This holds true accross industries, btw, it isn't restricted to gaming. Certain positions really require an indepth and fundemantal understanding of using the product and what it's like to be a customer of that product, others really don't. It's also possible, though really difficult, to be a in a management position where you don't really use the product....but in that case you really have to be able to trust the judgement of individuals who do when making decisions. Lets use a hypothetical Surfboard Manufacturer company as an example....

    - The person who designs the surfboards had better be a surfer and have an in depth understanding of their needs and wants and how they actualy use the boards, as well as the details of what the boards actual do.

    - Ditto for the Sales Rep who sells the boards and the Customer Service Rep who interacts with Customers.

    - The Accountant who keeps the books straight never needs to have been near the ocean in his life. He just needs to know accounting.

    - For the CEO, it really, really HELPS if he's a surfer and understands it well. However a non-surfer CAN function in that job, IF he learns to trust the advice of those who are surfers in matters pertinant to that subject matter. For example, if the designer comes to him and says "If we cut this piece out of the board to save on manufacturing costs, it'll make it virtualy unusable." He needs to trust that expert judgement. On the other hand, if he's going out to try to find the best deal on capital investment...he really doesn't need to as the surfers anything about that to get it done. It's all about knowing your own limitations and knowing who to trust and how to delegate responsibility to subject matter experts.

  • CassSmithCassSmith ParkesPosts: 17Member
    I have to agree wholeheartedly with Smedley, if you dont game yourself, how can you design for gamers?  Yes you can go off "stats" but thats not going to give you the full picture, gamers know what works and what doesnt for you, its hard for a non gamer to even understand the culture, I've tried educating some :P 
  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,758Member Uncommon

    Executives took over the gaming industry years ago. That’s what they do in every field of business they enter into. You start with a few and then you have tons of them. You can see this process in the UK in everything from the BBC to the NHS. Old time actors and doctors look around media centres and hospitals and wonder why their organisation needs so many suits now.

    That organisation may not now have the quality of output it used to, but it is now keeping a lot of executives in employment. :)

    The whole focus of executives on the business approach is meant to make sure the organisation is a success. This can work well, in the gaming industry, like any new industry, lack of business know how caused a lot of gaming companies to waste fortunes on games that never made it.

    But once you let the executives, not the innovators and pioneers run the company, what do you think is going to happen? The company just releases safe bets, giving them what they liked before, designing to a template.

    The CEO of EA was a VP at Häagen-Daz and some cleaning company. These are the guys who are calling the shots on your next MMO. God help us.

  • m249sawm249saw nyc, NYPosts: 5Member
    lame argument.  a programmer is hired for his skills and expertise in coding.   i cringe everytime i see a bug list of a game that goes unfixed for months and developers continues to dump garbagage code on top of it.  only silly people like you think a gamer would somehow write better code.
  • Angier2758Angier2758 Mt. Prospect, ILPosts: 1,011Member

    Hmmm plenty of games have been made by "true" gamers... (love how true = what I think a gamer is..lol)

     

    and they died.... even faster than the ones lead by non-gamers.

    Wonder why that is?  Whole article is a bit too much like gamers patting themselves on the back.  I'll fix the entire article: good games are made by smart people.

     

    Look at any game forums....do you REALLY think they'd make good gamers?

     

     

  • IsaneIsane EnglandPosts: 2,629Member Uncommon

    I am sure the author eats a bag of sugar before each article.....

    The best designers are not always gamers and vice- versa. Knowledge know how and in depth knowledge always works. But some people who are gamers made it in this industry , when there was no competition and money could be easily made.

    Second time round they proved they were clueless about , how to run a business and develop a game.

    The Authors viewpoint is flawed and wrong. What is for certain is it doesn't do any harm but it is not the case you have to be a gamer. You just need to understand the industry and that can be done via good communication skills and nothing more.

     

    ________________________________________________________
    Sorcery must persist, the future is the Citadel 

  • DarkcrystalDarkcrystal st clair shores, MIPosts: 809Member Uncommon

    uMMMM The comments people are making are funny  a bit, do you people even have a clue the time needed for a DEV to make an MMo,  I was a hardcore gamer, I went to school because I wanted to make games and such, after going to school getting a job and designing my own stuff, Devs do not have time much anymore to Play a game that often....

     

    Do you people think it takes 5 seconds to make a game,  making simple models textures and even game play mechanics take alot of time to do, and you need to make sure your on top of your field by practicing alot... So this topic is funny when you think devs have all the time in the world to play games, when we do not have the time we once had before, I game very little these days because of trying to get to know my field and learn new things daily...

    So get in the field then come back , then you will agree and your comments will change, I was that way before I got in the field thinking what some of you have in the past, but I know better now.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,657Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Darkcrystal

    uMMMM The comments people are making are funny  a bit, do you people even have a clue the time needed for a DEV to make an MMo,  I was a hardcore gamer, I went to school because I wanted to make games and such, after going to school getting a job and designing my own stuff, Devs do not have time much anymore to Play a game that often....

    Do you people think it takes 5 seconds to make a game,  making simple models textures and even game play mechanics take alot of time to do, and you need to make sure your on top of your field by practicing alot... So this topic is funny when you think devs have all the time in the world to play games, when we do not have the time we once had before, I game very little these days because of trying to get to know my field and learn new things daily...

    So get in the field then come back , then you will agree and your comments will change, I was that way before I got in the field thinking what some of you have in the past, but I know better now.

    It''s disappointing to hear that you feel your situation is the norm in the industry. If it's any consolation, many devs find time to play games and many devs actually still enjoy playing games. Most studios have a 'gamer tag' list or a list of who's playing what games right now that you can sign up with. Some studios even have organized teams for different games. You'll find that a lot more devs are avid gamers than you think. If the studio that you work at doesn't have a game room, maybe it's time to set one up.

    "So get in the field then come back , then you will agree and your comments will change,"

    Been in the field for a decade now. Of all the devs I've spoken with and all the few studios I've been to (Origin, EA Tib, Turbine, CCP, NCSoft)  not only has gaming been a common passion among the team members but there have been designated areas and established policies within the studios to support it. 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • ElsaboltsElsabolts Greencastle, INPosts: 2,594Member Uncommon

    I here by submitt my application with the exception of Funcom, for concederation and approval. Waiting to here back from you.

    Sincerly, Personel Photo attached

    image

  • kaiser3282kaiser3282 Phoenix, AZPosts: 2,690Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Angier2758

    Hmmm plenty of games have been made by "true" gamers... (love how true = what I think a gamer is..lol)

     

    and they died.... even faster than the ones lead by non-gamers.

    Wonder why that is?  Whole article is a bit too much like gamers patting themselves on the back.  I'll fix the entire article: good games are made by smart people.

     

    Look at any game forums....do you REALLY think they'd make good gamers?

     

     

    I dont think you realize which games were made by gamers and which were made by non-gaming suits calling the shots and who are after nothing but profit. Most of the older games, some of which are still succesful today, were designed and developed by gamers. The trend of games quickly dying started in more recent years because the development of those games is being completely controlled by the suits who saw there is more money to be made than they initially thought a decade or so ago.

    A comparison:

    Diablo 1 & 2, made by gamers - Diablo 3 made by suits

    Vanilla WoW made by gamers - TBC made by a mix of gamers and suits - everything in WoW post TBC made by suits

    In Diablo's case, most would argue that D1 & D2 were superior games in many ways to D3 (not graphically of course), and D3 lost themajority of its playerbase due to its design decisions driven by the suits / profit and now they are in the process of overhauling a lot of things in the game. A huge portion of D2 players played it for years, they didnt leave in droves shortly after launch like with D3.

    WoW has achieved the success it has due to the work done in Vanill and TBC. Since then the direction and focus of the game has changed and with the last couple expansions WOTLK and Cata, MoP has yet to be seen) population started dropping shortly after the release of each.

    In both cases, the original devs have since moved on to other companies & projects while less talented people have replaced them. Similar things have happened with other games and their sequels or expansions over the years.

    Anyway. The whole gamers making games thing doesnt mean every gamer would make a good game. However only a gamer could actually make a truly good game. A gamer tends to create a game with an actual vision and consideration for what their target audience enjoys. They make decisions based on wether or not the game is enjoyable. A non-gamer / suit makes their decisions based on profit, or lack of it. They dont play their games and dont have the slightest clue what is bad about their games or what their playerbase actually desires.

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