Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer

The Problem with Value Of Games – A follow up response

This is in response to a blog written by a friend check it out first:

Below is my response to why game development has reached this point and why sometimes developers have to bite the bullet, not go for the money rather aim for the play.

The problem is that as a market it is reaching saturation point, it is not like several years ago where game development was to those who could a) afford b) understand game development. Engines like Unity have allowed ALOT more developers to enter and once supply reaches higher than demand per title price reduction trends occur. Also reputation matters, the trust people have to have in a game MUST be high and to gain trust is to build reputation which often means giving away a free version or reduced price early versions of a previous title to allow future ones to gain the rep to be able to sell at higher rate. Yes developers need to eat currently understanding this myself too however sometimes the distribution is worth more than the profit, getting people to play your game should be priority NOT financial gain. Art typically only reaches such value due to rep itself, yes skill comes into act but with so many more people now able to produce titles its has and will continue for at least a while lead to a barrage of poor titles or low pricing strategies.

Here is a related video from the Co-Optional Pod-cast:

The (He)art of gaming

As I delve deeper into my own personal game development projects I understand more and more about the art and science behind what makes a good game, not just in terms of fun but in terms of its lasting impact upon myself and choices in life. I got into games quite late, in regards to those of similar age range and my library is not as big as many others however I feel the choices I have made are those which suit my tastes. I have a fondness for RTS’s, Strategy and sandbox style games as they make me think and I find it personally fascinating how people interact with technology and solve problems and believe digital content to be an accessible medium for this, people play games and are not often aware of there lasting impacts.

Games nowadays are in a state of flux, we are facing a potential negative shift which could limit audience scope and sadly create negative perceptions about a form of media which is at its core a digital art form. I am NOT a gamer, I am NOT a game maker what I AM is a Passionate Creative who believes that we must at times defy convention to create deep experiences which excite and inspire the next generation to create a more audience friendly world. I play games and whilst playing them I live them but I also know the importance of a social life and the real world implications, I like to think of myself as passionate bursting with ideas but to be frank it is human behaviour which gives me the most inspiration, watching others can help you reflect on your own standpoint and cans / interactive media can showcase this to as many people as possible driving emotions whilst remaining safe in their execution.

I will make my way into the interactive industry even if others may put me down as what are we if without passion and drive, I do what I do and must for those I love and to build a future I so desperately seek. LIfE is my baby and with your feedback, your experiences and your support it will become one that grows.

A question of Greed VS Need

There is a lot of moaning and accusations regarding business practices recently sparked over the debate of copyright and ownership over everyday words such as ‘Candy’. King games are on a moral standpoint are wrong in the sense they are suing business and brands over the use of words that to be brutally honest should not be copyrightable however in this world of ours there is a system in place, its name is money.

Morally developers and designers would love to be able to produce media purely out of passion and the art of doing so, however creation costs and I do not mean just money when I say this. As someone developing some games himself I can safely say development is a long, time consuming slog with no promise of reward. This is where the argument between need and greed, when is passion overwritten by monetary requirements based on living and when can we over extend this human instinct.

The need in Need:

Human beings have various base requirements these are covered in Maslows Hierarchy of needs, we must fulfil these in order to feel self gratification and make our existence and investment in work and time feel worthwhile. As a student I often find it easy to overlook some of these due to the pressure exerted to get a job and earn money which is only getting more desperate as my time at university is drawing to an end.

Alongside this I am developing various titles which in themselves take up a lot of my time and effort which requires some sense of end gratification for the investment required, sadly in order to live we have to have money to buy these base needs. This has led to a fine line between what we need and what we want and when the two push too far when greed sets in.

The need for Greed:

Greed, is seen as an evil, something we should avoid and morally and ethically I agree however it has a need in society sadly, this need is to as a motivator. Sometimes we must overextend our wants and needs to drive us forward and give drive to and means to do good in the world. As a student I am lets just say rather skint nearly all the time yet I feel the need to help others in the form of charity and such even at expense of own growth, sadly though as time passes this want to help is having to diminish as I must look to the future and the live and family I want to eventually have.

Greed is a sad fact of business and human beings will if given the chance screw each other other as the base urges for self protection set in. I try and fight these urges and openly say that like everyone I have faults and those who kid themselves or put on any perceptions of kindness or moral superiority are more often than not deceiving themselves. This sense of moral superiority is in a sense an aspect of greed and self gratification, how many people donate to charity to help and how many to make themselves feel better, there is no morally unquestionable actions and businesses do what they do often cause they can.

In Kings case the copyrighting of a word is stupid but on the flip side they see an opportunity for financial gain and even bad press is press, given the chance how many others would do the same if they saw an avenue for money, sadly the evil taint of money is enough to drive the most moral corrupt. I am trying to develop everything I can whilst at university and the need for money and survival is lower however I know that once the safety net of uni has lifted the need to survive will need to kick in and creation costs, art is not free nor is time.

LIfE Video Development videos – Episode One Live

Episode One of my game development series for our first major commercial focus project LIfE is now on-line and should hopefully help explain what the game is about and some of our goals in regards to its future.

Game will be available for: PC and Mac initially with plans for a mobile version in future

Watch Video below or open in YouTube for Higher resolution (HD Recommended)

Crossing Boundaries – Quantum Break concerns and thoughts

Quantum break is the latest game claiming to cross the boundaries between television series watching and playing a game with the first example being the poorly received Defiance MMO. Developed by Remedy this third person shooter with time manipulation will include an on-disc series of episodes that players can dive in and out of as they progress through the game. An idea that already in execution sounds ALOT better than Defiance’s play the game collect data and then attempt to change episode storylines off this and yet never really do. The idea of bundling a series with a game is a great idea and can serve as a nice little sideline activity giving added depth and back-story to game characters that whilst in the action you may not care much about, however my concern is how engaged the two will truly be.

‘A crack in time saves nine’

Hardcore gamers i.e. those who are very involved in the play experience are likely to progress through the game until it bores them with game sessions reaching long spans at a time IF they are having fun. The experience someone has whilst watching a film or program is different to that of playing a game, a good game engages with user’s actions giving a sense of empowerment typically. Watching a film or television show typical is a mass social engagement i.e. a good show or film is a conversation piece and whilst both forms of media can go hand in hand a reliance on each other for information can underpin both. Thankfully Quantum break does not seem have this issue by both media forms being packaged together from the start, as such there is not this need to watch a show on TV to understand a game or vice versa. This is arguably one of the reasons a lot of film to game based releases commercially do not do very well sales wise, the experiences of one are hard to replicate in another.

Film games shouldn’t have this tarnished record IF they were developed correctly, take the transformer movie games for example they tie into the movie’s plot by acting as a what happens before and after story segments trying to place the player in the role of the characters they have watched on the screens. However let down by hastily rushed releases and this sense of over reliance on the movies branding to try to sell the game not on its own merits rather its ties.  A show, game, film or even book must be able to stand up on its own if was to be split up from the rest and entice its audience into further exploration, if Quantum Break can do this by making its game plot enticing then the show included will be watched and the game sales will reflect its success.

When the phase ‘your choices impact’ the show or games direction this is always a phrase of concern and although being a companion piece can help being too interactive can distract the audience, interaction is something gamers want but if it is slapped on it can cheapen the experiences. Until I can have a go and see Quantum Break hands-on as it were, struggle to see what will make this any different (it’s the cynic in me, I want it to work but depends on how story is).