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What Happens When Gaming Auteurs Try To Go It Alone?

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the no-one-is-an-island dept.

Games 86

An anonymous reader writes: As news that Cliff Bleszkinski, Epic Games' legendary former creative, sets off to found his own studio, a new article takes a look at how six other gaming auteurs have fared after leaving a major developer or publisher to go it alone. The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way: just look at John Romero's Daikatana. The article also makes a good point that Peter Molyneux is striking out with a start-up for the third in his career now, but it may not be third time the charm: Godus has been far less well received than Black & White or Fable. Can Cliffy B avoid making the same mistakes?

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86 comments

Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434695)

Aside from a rather small collection of anime aficionados who are generally seen as total outcasts, Japanese-themed content never fares well in America and other Western societies.

That's what the problem was with Daikatana. It was just too damn Japanese for any Western market, and the Japanese themselves didn't particularly like it because it was too American.

The only Japanese content that really does well in Western markets has no obvious connection with Japan or Japanese culture. Games like Donkey Kong, the various Mario games, and other Nintendo titles are good examples of this. They're of Japanese origin, but not Japanese in and of themselves.

Most Western consumers think of anime as just being really shitty quality animation. The comic books are seen as just being shitty drawings. The pornography is seen as extremely deviant, because a lot of it is, well, rather perverse by any standard. There isn't anything remotely normal or natural about people being molested by tentacled sea creatures.

The lesson for success in America and Western markets is to keep the themes reasonable. That means limit the Japanese cultural references, and keep the content of a higher quality and more relevant for the Western consumer.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (5, Insightful)

kuzb (724081) | about two weeks ago | (#47434817)

That's probably because we don't see the aloof emo hero who in between fighting off a plethora of barely legal teen girl love interests, has hour long mid-combat philosophical debates with his enemies as being particularly appealing. Most of us find this just plain stupid.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434857)

"Most Western consumers think of anime as just being really shitty quality animation."

Really? Have you SEEN western animation lately?

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435621)

Mickey Mouse...

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

westlake (615356) | about two weeks ago | (#47435847)

Really? Have you SEEN western animation lately?

Japan has.

The remarkable 16-week run atop the box-office that ''Frozen'' has enjoyed in Japan has ended, and it took Angelina Jolieâs ''Maleficent'' to do it.
''Frozen'' is the highest-grossing Disney film ever in Japan, and ranks behind only ''Titanic'' as the biggest box-office hit ever in that country.

'Maleficent" Ends Incredible Box-Office Reign of 'Frozen' in Japan [thewrap.com]

PlayStation 4 ''Frozen'' Limited Edition [store.sony.jp] PS 4 ''Frozen'' case mod. Available in Japan only.

Uh. No. Sorry. (5, Informative)

Chas (5144) | about two weeks ago | (#47434927)

Daikatana failed because it sucked, and was three years late.

Romero's skills were GROSSLY oversold
The game was GROSSLY overhyped.
And they burned through an obscene amount of money trying to be a "rockstar" studio (spending lavishly on facilities and trinkets, rather than putting the money where it belonged, in the game.
On top of that, the studio couldn't deliver titles on time to save their lives and was basically had all the makings of a terrible reality TV show with constant infighting, turmoil, etc, etc.

Basically the only thing Ion Storm did RIGHT was to found their Austin office (which kept its nose clean of all the bullshit coming and going from the main Dallas office). Ion Storm Austin actually gained a rep for producing solid work.

Re:Uh. No. Sorry. (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about two weeks ago | (#47436467)

Is Deus Ex merely considered "solid work" now?

Re:Uh. No. Sorry. (1)

Chas (5144) | about two weeks ago | (#47436991)

Is Deus Ex merely considered "solid work" now?

I have yet to play a game I'd term a "masterpiece". And Deus Ex wasn't really my cup of tea.

Re:Uh. No. Sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47437577)

IMHO Dues ex was one big should shrug. The graphics aren't anything to phone home about, combat was hit or miss, and the game was ridiculously short.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about two weeks ago | (#47434939)

That is not telling the complete picture. I had dinner with Romero a few years back at one E3 and specifically asked him "Why did Daikatana fail?" not knowing how that would go.

He said 2 reasons:

* Hired people in the wrong order. He said you need to hire your most experienced people *first*.
* He messed up.

The design was only part of the problem.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about two weeks ago | (#47434965)

Daikatana was about as Japanese as the Teenage Mutant Turtles.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

creimer (824291) | about two weeks ago | (#47435433)

The opening level for Daikatana was death by a thousand mosquito bites and killer toads. I never got past that level. A FPS game is supposed to ramp up the difficulty as the player gets used to the new game world. Killing them off at the get go is bad design.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about two weeks ago | (#47437565)

The opening level for Daikatana was death by a thousand mosquito bites and killer toads. I never got past that level. A FPS game is supposed to ramp up the difficulty as the player gets used to the new game world. Killing them off at the get go is bad design.

I never played the game until I picked it up from GOG last year. I didn't find the first section very hard at all until the giant dragon. Even that was easy after I realized there's no shame in hiding and sniping. I even killed the sentry guns by destroying them instead of destroying their power link until I got to the door that could only be opened by destroying the power link, at which point I felt like an idiot.

The first weapon you get has essentially unlimited ammo (carry 100 shots with 50-shot packs sitting around every corner) and does a respectable amount of damage per shot. It can also fire around corners via bouncing off walls.

The only real problem I have with the game is that although there is a story, there isn't any game-play info in the story, so I wasn't sure if the cowering technicians were OK to kill or not (being used to games like Deus Ex where you don't kill something unless it's trying to kill you). I haven't finished the game yet (only gotten to the point where I have both sidekicks with me), as I had to rebuild my gaming machine and don't have a lot of time for games in general, so it could get a lot more sucky.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

creimer (824291) | about two weeks ago | (#47438231)

Perhaps it was the tech demo that I played that turned me off on Daikatana. If I paid full price for a video game, I would've slogged through the game. (I was a professional video game tester for six years.) These days I wait until a game appears on Steam for $5 (or less) before buying. If the game blows, I won't hesitate to drop it.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

creimer (824291) | about two weeks ago | (#47438261)

Daikatana IS on Steam @ $6.99. If it ever drops to $5, I might get it.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47439573)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

This is the best thing to come out of Daikatana.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435481)

Japanese animation is shit? Compared to what? SPONGEBOB? Get real. America is where the real shit animation is at.

Re: Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47436687)

Butthurt Wapanese kid is butthurt.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47437585)

I would rather watch sponge bob then anime.

Re:Daikatana failed because it was too Japanese. (1)

rochrist (844809) | about two weeks ago | (#47438471)

There's no accounting for bad taste.

Startups and acquisitions are the same (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434709)

There's no one to tell the big man that what he's doing is a bad idea.

Slashdot site maintainers. (0)

queazocotal (915608) | about two weeks ago | (#47434775)

Can you please implement something where submitters have to type the title in three times, and actually spell check it.

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about two weeks ago | (#47434789)

uh, what's wrong with it?

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (1)

Eddi3 (1046882) | about two weeks ago | (#47434841)

I believe he thinks Auteurs isn't a word. For what it's worth, I had to look it up.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/auteur [reference.com]

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434977)

and, for those who prefer to just see information rather than needing to click a hyperlink:
auteur [french] :
a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp.

Auteur (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47434871)

I think someone might not be aware of the loanword "auteur" [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Auteur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434907)

Now I had to look up "auteur" AND "loanword".

Re: Auteur (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435787)

Well doesn't that just make you an ignorant little nigger?

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434951)

It uses a faggy French alternative for a perfectly good English word.

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435477)

and that word is?

"Auteurs" is a real word, fuckface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434833)

Well, don't you look like a dumbfuck!

"Auteur" is a real word. If you don't believe me, you can learn more about it here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/auteur [reference.com]

You should at least ensure that you have a reasonable grasp of English vocabulary before acting like a polesmoking dipshit and making idiotic comments like the one you just made.

Re:"Auteurs" is a real word, fuckface. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about two weeks ago | (#47436295)

Except of course that it makes no sense in the sentence and hence is incorrect.

Hint: games are not films.

Just like if I say "What happens when gaming sous chefs try to make it on their own?" I make no sense, because games are also not food.

Re:"Auteurs" is a real word, fuckface. (2)

retchdog (1319261) | about two weeks ago | (#47436915)

the concept of auteur was developed in the context of film, but the idea extends obviously to games if you have half a brain and aren't totally ignorant.

see, with books and plays, it's pretty obvious that the author or playwright is the person who deserves the credit. with music, it was the composer. and so on. films were different. by analogy with plays, maybe the screenwriter should deserve the credit; but the script doesn't really determine the movie, does it? the big name actor matters more than the screenwriter, for better or worse. so who deserves the credit? after a lot of to and fro, the French determined that the director is the person who matters. this is, pretentiously, called 'auteur theory'.

it's exactly analogous with games. if anything, the persons described in the summary are even more auteurs than directors are, since the division of labor is even less distinct. they are the movers and shakers; the ones with vision (or, perhaps in the case of Romero, the charlatans who have masqueraded as such).

in short, you're an overly literal fuckwit with no real insight.

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434885)

Auteur: a filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie.

They did not misspell amateur.

Re:Slashdot site maintainers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435919)

Or "author", which is probably what he thought they'd misspelt, the dipshit.

Game industry alumni (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47434839)

The "auteurs" in the featured article had already worked in the industry for a long time. Is there an analogous article about auteurs who have broken into the industry without having worked for a well-known video game studio?

Re:Game industry alumni (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about two weeks ago | (#47435047)

It is really hard to do it all on your own without a studio. The analogy is trying to out compete Coca-Cola with your own brand of similar soda. Just because your formula is good doesn't mean you get success. There are other factors. First you need to get the overhead to even produce the soda. Then you need to marketing so people know your cola exists.

There's not a whole lot of money in it for amateurs compared to how much work goes into them. There's also a degree of luck involved. I think the people who made Angry Birds had made 40 some other games before getting success. Of course they just stole the idea from Crush the Castle with cutesy graphics. Candy Crush did about the same thing. They stole someone else's games directly, then sued the guy who made the game before them.

The only reason I'd suggest anyone get into video game making is that you love video games so much. I decided to be a video game programmer/designer back in 1987 when I played most of the NES/C64/Atari/Arcade games. I was bored because I played all the games that existed and wanted to make better games. I just felt the future was a MMORPG, multiplayer online and lots of action oriented RPG. Of course they didn't call them MMORPGS back then, they were just online RPGs games with a lot of players. People talked about these things because of what Quantum Link was doing.

I've been making games since 1992, and have very limited success mostly because I tended to get too ambitious when I first started. Here is a game I published just 2 weeks ago. Throne and Crown [kongregate.com] No one beat this game yet even though its only about 10 hours long. My next games I'm making with the idea that I'm making them out of a love for a game I'll enjoy over trying to script a game other people might. So I'm going to probably take the good engine from TAC and then make it similar to Angband except action oriented. Also I have some cell phone games I'm toying with making, but they're a long way off.

Re:Game industry alumni (1)

Xest (935314) | about two weeks ago | (#47447151)

"It is really hard to do it all on your own without a studio. The analogy is trying to out compete Coca-Cola with your own brand of similar soda. Just because your formula is good doesn't mean you get success. There are other factors. First you need to get the overhead to even produce the soda. Then you need to marketing so people know your cola exists."

Nonsense, this couldn't be further from the truth. Indie game development is easier than ever whether you're using someone else's engine like Unity or Unreal or whether you're starting from scratch in which case MonoGame makes things much easier than working directly with DirectX and OpenGL ever was.

Nowadays you can get going faster than ever, and even asset production is less of an issue with everything from the Unity Asset Store to TurboSquid seeing constant growth of their asset libraries.

You don't need marketing if you have a good idea, you only need marketing if your idea is uninteresting but you want it to sell anyway.

Which is the hardest part about indie development - producing something that genuinely grabs people's interest, coming up with a great idea, and that's where most indies fail. They produce something that sounds great to them but that frankly no one else gives the slightest toss about.

If you have an idea that genuinely matters, and the talent to pull it off by understanding what makes good game play, then you'll make a fortune. If you're just making some naff looking, done a thousand times before, uninteresting flash game, then no one cares. You're overinflating the value of your idea in that case.

Re:Game industry alumni (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435119)

To lamely answer your question: yes. I bet there are such articles. I recall a website named Gamasutra that is about video game development; I bet they or some other well-known gaming websites have made such an articcle.

Not exactly an answer to your question, but close, and may be more informative for ya':
IndieGameTheMovie.com [indiegamethemovie.com] is a video that describes Super Meat Boy (heavily), Braid, Fez (heavily), and more.
Also found on that website (in the Twitter postings): "the closest thing to a sequel right now is the special edition. But, a follow up project is in the works"
Note that this movie is not free: It can be purchased on Steam, and I see that the website has released a bundle that includes the movie (including the "special edition" where they added content) some games. The movie looks at the experiences of game creators during crunch time. In the case of "Super Meat Boy", they did previously release a game called "Meat Boy", but Super Meat Boy definitely sent two game creators into new levels of stardom beyond anything they had previously obtained.

Re:Game industry alumni (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435265)

IndieGameTheMovie.com [indiegamethemovie.com] is a video that describes Super Meat Boy (heavily), Braid, Fez (heavily), and more. Also found on that website (in the Twitter postings): "the closest thing to a sequel right now is the special edition. But, a follow up project is in the works" Note that this movie is not free: It can be purchased on Steam, and I see that the website has released a bundle that includes the movie (including the "special edition" where they added content) some games. The movie looks at the experiences of game creators during crunch time. In the case of "Super Meat Boy", they did previously release a game called "Meat Boy", but Super Meat Boy definitely sent two game creators into new levels of stardom beyond anything they had previously obtained.

I watched the movie on either Netflix or Amazon Prime; it can be found on one of the streaming services. It was interesting to see how the personalities of the developers influenced the kind or game and ability to really focus on getting the work done.

Re:Game industry alumni (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about two weeks ago | (#47436087)

Derek Smart and Battlecruiser 3000AD.
Now there's a fellow that brings back memories.

Cretinous American idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47434875)

"Peter Molyneux is striking out with a start-up for the third in his career now,"

For the third WHAT?

Re:Cretinous American idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435053)

The third in, of course!

Re:Cretinous American idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435155)

I think the author accidentally

Re:Cretinous American idiots... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435853)

I concur with your

Inliers! I'm shocked! (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about two weeks ago | (#47434921)

The results, surprisingly, are mixed

Why is that surprising?

Outside of Valve I don't think many developers.... (5, Insightful)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47434929)

...pay enough attention to game design to consistently produce quality games. Not that they can't, mind you, but it seems pretty clear to me that game devs tend to have their attention split between designing a game's mechanics and appealing to a broad audience. You end up with a game that isn't too far afield of what you tend to see these days, but that tries to compensate by having gameplay features designed to be marketed as 'innovative' and conducive to creative and emergent gameplay. A good example is Watch Dogs, marketed as a game centered around hacking but designed as a GTA clone with a hacking gimmick.

Games are an awkward state of limbo these days, publishers know they have to start pushing out the impression of creativity and devs try to figure out how to do that without alienating the average player. The mentality sticks, and developers everywhere end up glossing over technical details, focusing instead on the impression a game will make.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about two weeks ago | (#47434973)

> Outside of Valve I don't think many developers ... pay enough attention to game design to consistently produce quality games

That's because a game is too dependent on Art + Tech. You can have the world's greatest designer but if they don't understand how to capitalize on Tech & Art _tailored_ for their project you're dead in the water.

There are few Game Designers that are recognized as delivering the goods. Sid Meier, Shigeru Miyamoto, Will Wright, etc. How many of these game designers do the general public even know??
http://www.businesspundit.com/... [businesspundit.com]

> Games are an awkward state of limbo these days,

AAA games maybe, but not indie. Content creation costs are spiraling out of control. People are getting fed up with grind-for-gear ooh shiny with shallow gameplay.

Minecraft just reach 54 million across all platforms.
https://twitter.com/pgeuder/st... [twitter.com]

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47435581)

> Outside of Valve I don't think many developers ... pay enough attention to game design to consistently produce quality games

That's because a game is too dependent on Art + Tech. You can have the world's greatest designer but if they don't understand how to capitalize on Tech & Art _tailored_ for their project you're dead in the water.

There are few Game Designers that are recognized as delivering the goods. Sid Meier, Shigeru Miyamoto, Will Wright, etc. How many of these game designers do the general public even know??

I don't see how that matters, the point is games are homogenized for the sake of market friendliness.

> Games are an awkward state of limbo these days,

AAA games maybe, but not indie.

Okay.

Content creation costs are spiraling out of control.

Why did you bold that and then not follow up on it

People are getting fed up with grind-for-gear ooh shiny with shallow gameplay.

Minecraft just reach 54 million across all platforms.
https://twitter.com/pgeuder/st... [twitter.com]

Well that's a contradictory statement if I've ever seen one.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about two weeks ago | (#47436321)

How is that a contradiction?

If 54 million copies of minecraft have been sold then people must be getting fed up with the grind-for-gear ooh shiny with shallow gameplay that it epitomizes by now.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47436409)

Just reached. Sales are continuing.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

rochrist (844809) | about two weeks ago | (#47438487)

Gameplay isn't necessarily shallow. Which is kind of the point to it's success. It's a sandbox that becomes largely what you make of it. I played it for awhile with a group of friends on a private server where we constructed a city over a span of months. It was incredibly detailed and had some absolutely incredible constructions (not really by me).

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47438645)

You can make a city as elaborate as you like, it does nothing to determine your success as far as the game's win/lose conditions are concerned. It's just dicking around, the gameplay itself is incredibly unimpressive. Dwarf Fortress, by comparison, actually does involve the designs the player manages to come up with directly in determining their success or failure, and is by far the better game.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

rochrist (844809) | about two weeks ago | (#47438757)

Some games aren't necessarily built around win/lose conditions. Some games are sandlot building games. I understand that YOU don't find the gameplay compelling. 54 million in sales says that you aren't representative of everyone. /I/ had literally hundreds of hours of enjoyable gameplay from my $15 purchase. By far one of my best ever game purchases.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47439367)

Some games aren't necessarily built around win/lose conditions. Some games are sandlot building games.

You're talking in circles.

54 million in sales says that you aren't representative of everyone.

Irrelevant.

/I/ had literally hundreds of hours of enjoyable gameplay from my $15 purchase. By far one of my best ever game purchases.

Well I am very happy for you.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

rochrist (844809) | about two weeks ago | (#47440207)

How am I talking in circles? Do you claim that hard win/lose conditions are required for a successful game? Again, I'd say that 54 million sales says that your wrong. You can claim it's irrelevant, but that would be you, being wrong. It's rather the opposite; it's the only measure that IS relevant.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47440955)

You're talking in circles because you're making a point that was already raised and addressed. Going back to it doesn't further this discussion.

It's irrelevant because it's only tangentially related and mentioned only as an antecedent to a completely different point. I'm not going to address your argumentum ad populum.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about two weeks ago | (#47449727)

> Do you claim that hard win/lose conditions are required for a [successful] game?

You are conflating the issue. Remove the word successful.

A game by definition has a wining / losing condition, otherwise you have a digital toy.

Will Wright considers Sim City to be a toy.

"I have no mouth and I must design"
http://www.rpg.net/oracle/essa... [rpg.net]

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about two weeks ago | (#47450713)

Minecraft is about _user-driven narrative_, not designer driven narrative.

Skip the first 2 minutes of this epic talk on Game Design

* Attention, Not Immersion: Making Your Games Better with Psychology and Playtesting, the Uncharted Way
http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1... [gdcvault.com]

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about two weeks ago | (#47435081)

It is called throwing spaghetti to the wall to try and see what sticks. If you find people like a certain mechanic, you make a game around it. Another excuse is there are a bigger casual audience than ever, so the simplification of video games keeps getting more and more real. These start up companies barely have enough resources to put together anything. Just look at the Flash games on web portals. A lot of Flash games on web portals aren't as good as games you played in the NES. And there really isn't much money in free to play with advertisments unless your game goes viral, get a million plays, then you're looking at a couple grand anyway.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435467)

Mostly agreed, these days most big budget games seem to have gameplay as a low priortiy. Though I would argue that the recent Fireaxis stuff (Civ V, nu-XCOM) is very design-conscious, even if you don't agree with all their design decisions.

And then there's indie games, which generally don't have the budget for flash and have to rely on gameplay. I would say that the two most mechanically solid games I have played in recent years are Spelunky and FTL.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435489)

Don't forget presales and early access alphas. Games like Watchdogs sell big numbers before anyone has had a chance to play it, and then the final product is a dire mess. Case in point: Watchdogs sold big bucks, even though it is universally panned as being mediocre at best.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about two weeks ago | (#47436329)

How can there possibly be so many pre-orders. Sure I'll grant that gamers probably pre-order once but surely that first time is the only time since it's almost certain the game will be nothing like what was hyped at pre-order time.

Are gamers really stupid enough to pre-order something again? Or is the market growing fast enough for there to be enough new suckers each time?

I'm was dumb enough to pre-order one game long ago... I'm not completely moronic and hence never have again.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

Brulath (2765381) | about two weeks ago | (#47437043)

It's mostly the exclusive pre-order content, I assume, that causes them to want to pre-order a game they think they'll like so they don't miss out on whatever bonus it is. At least, that's probably the only reason I can think of for pre-ordering a console game.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47438095)

The word "content" is so stupid and meaningless. I think I'm going to write a greasemonkey script that replaces it with "bullshit" wherever it's found on a page.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about two weeks ago | (#47436833)

Games are an awkward state of limbo these days, publishers know they have to start pushing out the impression of creativity and devs try to figure out how to do that without alienating the average player.

Well, there is the Naughty Dog way: stick with a proven formula and polish the SHIT out of the implementation.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about two weeks ago | (#47437627)

...pay enough attention to game design to consistently produce quality games.

You're saying this mostly because of Portal. Without that game, you'd be left with the taste of Half-Life 2, which showed they were losing their touch because they had to have enemy spawn points that never run out of bad guys.

It also was a very linear game, where even the more open sections were just an A->B->C->D path for the player...there was no side exploring of any consequence. In particular, you very rarely left a building by the same way you entered. You would often see areas where you would soon be or used to be through windows/fences/etc., with the path between the two a very long maze.

Re:Outside of Valve I don't think many developers. (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about two weeks ago | (#47438555)

Actually I hadn't even considered Portal. It's an entertaining game but offers a rather narrow difficulty curve.

I don't really care if a game is linear or not, infinite spawns, etc. All that really matters is what options the game puts in the player's hands and how well opportunities presented by those options are exploited by the game itself. I think the game could have been improved in a number of ways (in particular, the acceleration curves found throughout the game were awkward. Vehicle sections could have tested a player's attention to detail, instead you just awkwardly flop from point A to B. Rockets also seemed random but this i s a minor point.) but in general it was solidly designed, particularly with regards to weapon diversity and how each affected your positioning and timing in each engagement.

Valve knows how to find skilled developers and put them in an environment in which they can be creative but still focused. Dota 2, CS:GO, Left 4 Dead, these games show a lot of attention to detail while being embellished by unobtrusive fluff.

So maps... (1)

Sowelu (713889) | about two weeks ago | (#47434969)

I don't know much about what he actually did at Epic aside from some of Unreal Tournament's best maps (it was pretty awesome that it showed the author name when you loaded a map) and I don't know what his job was the other companies at all. Was he a coder? Designer? Producer? Artist/art director? Nothing but level-design-o-rama?

Daikatana (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about two weeks ago | (#47435025)

Cliff Bleszkinski's about to make you his bitch. Suck it down.

What suprise? (4, Informative)

erice (13380) | about two weeks ago | (#47435045)

The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way

This might be a surprise to people who know nothing about startups or business but it should not be to anyone else. Here's the reality: Startups often fail. In fact, the overwhelming majority of startups fail. Being an "auteur" may improve the odds of a soft landing significantly but it does not remotely guarantee success because there is no way to guarantee success.

The reasons for failure are many including poor business skills (there is more to running a company than running a project) and unconstrained egos. The usual bad luck and mayhem that sink projects can also sink companies that only have one project.

Games are a team effort (1)

Kohath (38547) | about two weeks ago | (#47435167)

If these guys go it alone, we will learn that the rest of the people in the teams they left behind can make good games without them. I think the main benefit of having a big name in charge is that you need a creative authority figure to keep the corporate types from messing up the end product.

FROST PIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435185)

confirmed that *BSD (I always bring my

who gives a shit...? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47435215)

"CliffyB" is an annoying self-important twerp (sad state, for someone in their 30s...). what he does or doesn't do is of no consequence.

Re:who gives a shit...? (0)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about two weeks ago | (#47436559)

Any more than Phil Fucking Fish?

Star Citizen (1)

dlingman (1757250) | about two weeks ago | (#47436345)

47.9 million via crowdfunding. 'Nuff said.

Molyneux's games fail because... (1)

buckfeta2014 (3700011) | about two weeks ago | (#47436557)

They're basically the same game repackaged with different graphics. If he came up with something unique once in a while, he wouldn't have had to switch jobs 3 times.

Re:Molyneux's games fail because... (1)

Sedated2000 (1716470) | about two weeks ago | (#47449141)

Molyneux's games fail? Fable is one of the most popular games on Xbox. Every iteration of it has been fun for me. I know others who loved his other games, they just weren't in my genres.

cliffag is an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47436655)

cliff is a fucking retard full of himself desperately trying to remain relevant. His new game is pay2win shit, he claims its not so, but it will be. Fuck him and his brethren.

A Romero by any other name would be as Correct. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47436793)

I like how everyone brings up Ion Storm's Daikatana and never mentions Ion Storm's Deus Ex.

Especially when they cite Carmack as contributing actual games instead of the actual same exact game over and over as a tech demo for his new engine after Romero's departure. It really speaks to the level of understanding the average game pundit has about games or game design, or indeed even success: None.

Let's ask H.P. Lovecraft, Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Keats, Edgar Allen Poe, Kafka, and a miriad of other creators who came to fame posthumously what good a monetary or populary based measure of success truly is when it comes to art.

Fucking philistines.

Re:A Romero by any other name would be as Correct. (1)

drsquare (530038) | 5 days ago | (#47489909)

Romero didn't make Deus Ex though, he just hired the people that did whilst he worked on Daikatana.

Cliff has one thing going for him... (1)

nicobigsby (1418849) | about two weeks ago | (#47436871)

He was with Epic when it was making isometric shareware games. He was a big part of the reason Epic became one of the most influential AAA development houses on the planet, and that grew out of a startup. So he has already been there, he knows the path, and he has helped create some of the best and most influential games in the history of gaming. I'd say he has a damned good chance at making it again considering his premier game with the startup is a multi-player shooter. UT 2004 is still a hell of a lot more fun than most of the multiplayer shooters out there these days. The reason UT III failed miserably is because the company released it broken, didn't patch it up to snuff quickly, and generally failed to support the game because they believed the PC was a much worse market than console. Cliff is coming back to the PC, with a free-to-play shooter, which if he does right, will be a massive success on the scale of games like League of Legends. The reason PC was believed to be inferior by lots of developers was that people pirate games. But they can't pirate your game if it's free right? The game will be supported, and likely regularly release new content because he's not dumb enough to let it die. This might be the shooter people have been waiting for for 10 years. Not some shitty Console port, but an honest to god PC monster. I can't wait.

making games is a business (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about two weeks ago | (#47437013)

Its too expensive to pull the starving artist living in a studio apartment and eating macaroni unless you likewise keep the games extremely simple and something that can be done entirely by ONE person.

The instant you start pushing beyond that you need cash flow and that means you need a business.

These game makers are often masters of their craft but they're first and foremost artists and creative type people. Just because you're a master in one thing doesn't mean you're competent in anything else. And from what I've seen most of them are highly incompetent at business.

They don't work out their budgets properly... they miss payroll... they don't do proper advertising... and so big projects turn into debt... and the debt eats them alive.

I've seen it over and over again.

The big evil companies they were working for might be soulless monsters that don't grasp or respect their vision... but they are typically competent in business.

In games... if you have to be competent in one thing or the other... being competent in business is more sustainable then being competent in the art of making games.

A soulless company can stay in business forever if its good at business.

An extremely gifted company that is bad at business might not survive past one product release.

Re:making games is a business (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about two weeks ago | (#47437151)

Good points.

Surprising? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about two weeks ago | (#47437131)

The results, surprisingly, are mixed

That's not surprising at all. SIx people in vaguely similar situations do a vaguely similar thing and the results are on a broad spectrum of success-failure.

Isn't that exactly the sort of thing one would expect to happen?

sgreat (1)

AngryBirdsEpicHack (3746705) | about two weeks ago | (#47448843)

An interesting article, really great! through
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