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Thread: Balance and Ruin - Currents

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    RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff InstaTrent's Avatar
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    Balance and Ruin - Currents

    In this week's issue of Currents, the cost of next generation development has reportedly quadrupled, Square Enix begins to change its business model, the Unity engine may be the future of collaborative video game development, and Mad Catz enters the micro-console wars with a high price tag. We also want your opinions regarding next generation development.

    CURRENTS

    If I could ask you readers some questions this week, they would be:
    • What fears do you have going into this next console generation?
    • Do you think many developers will fold due to production costs? Which developers?
    • How would you bring balance back to the industry?
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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    I know I've mentioned this a few times on the podcast, but I have a couple clients who were formerly "mid tier" licensed developers -- the 3-5 million USD bracket -- who left because that pocket dried up nearly completely in the mid 2000s. It's recovered gracefully at this point, in some ways thanks to things like Kickstarter, but it's nowhere near the broad pocket it used to be. Now they're either web game or mobile developers and stayed successful because of that.

    As for MadCatz, RIP. I miss when they used to make one size smaller accessories -- I still have my mini-PS2, GameCube and XBox controllers.

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    A Witness to Destruction Moderator DarkRPGMaster's Avatar
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    AAA gaming truly needs to stop. You shouldn't have to make a game big and flashy to sell, and there have been numerous indie developers who have proven that making low budget stuff truly can sell well. Examples include our friends at Zeboyd, Supergiant Games (Bastion), Frictional Games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent), Studio Pixel (Cave Story), etc.
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    Veteran RPGamer watcher's Avatar
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    If they were smart they'd realize that if they just kept the camera a minimum distance away from most things, they wouldn't have to worry about detailing things as much. And sooner or later, if someone wants to make loads of cash, a piece of software that specializes in automatically producing environments and dungeons based on certain parameters (size, urbanization, climate, pathways, etc) from which customization can be done could bring down costs. Although, that may be something someone's done already and I'm just unaware of it.

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    Moderator Moderator flamethrower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkRPGMaster View Post
    AAA gaming truly needs to stop. You shouldn't have to make a game big and flashy to sell, and there have been numerous indie developers who have proven that making low budget stuff truly can sell well. Examples include our friends at Zeboyd, Supergiant Games (Bastion), Frictional Games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent), Studio Pixel (Cave Story), etc.
    I don't disagree with your point - I just don't like your examples.
    Zeboyd, Frictional Games: OK
    Supergiant Games: Bastion is a one-hit wonder. Their next game is in development. It remains to be seen how viable this developer is.
    Studio Pixel: All pixel's games are free; the TL patch for Cave Story is also free.

    I would add developers who make games, they just don't make AAA games. Which is a long list.

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    Watcher, there's been things like that, but they have the problem of feeling same-y. A great example is SpeedTree, which was something developers could use to generate trees without having to make them themselves. After a few games of it, all the trees felt kind of the same between them all.

    I'm sure people could do a better job nowadays, I've always been a fan of procedural generation. Games like MineCraft and Terrarria really show what some of the possibilities are with such things, and I'm hoping it goes farther in the future!

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    rabble rabble rabble

    First of all.

    Great article, I think this is one of the few places that I actually read every word so thanks for forcing me to put on my glasses.

    OnT: Just to chime in on the Ubisoft mention, the engine and environment used to make Child of light wasn't a small endeavour, many people have been toiling over the tools needed. Now I suspect they just made, are making, assets for it.
    But yes this AAA mania that has taken the world by storm is silly. I do not believe every game released must be a technical showcase of said platform. Leave that up to the Platform holders. Sure we all love a beautiful game, but a game can still be pretty without
    running at 1080p 60fps. For those gunning for that I would recommend the BF/CoD path, re-use your tools/engine and assets as much as possible just work with improving it, will still cost a lot but probably cheaper for everyone already owning an x86 engine to do it now.
    Especially for shooters that don't add all to much overall and are sold on a yearly basis, perhaps even platformers can be added to this genre as well? Just upgrading mechanics to keep it fresh enough, works for me in Mario at least
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    But much of this we can, should, blame ourself for. I remember Final Fantasy as something of beauty, every time a new game was released I was always giddy in excitement over how pretty it was. But that was so much horse crap it's sickening. I didn't play the
    Final Fantasy games because I found them to be the pinnacle of graphics, I played them for every emotion they could evoke inside of me, every tear, every laugh, every damned feeling of sadness and hate in the pit of the darkest regions within me every time they
    made me feel as the game was alive. That was why I loved Final Fantasy and so many other RPGs.

    I give Squeenix a lot of hate since their love for cellphone games(can I still say that or is it Smartphone and iOS?) But they are going down the right path. They really
    need to spread their games, I believe they can create multiplat tools/assets/engines for that, to the major platforms out there. BUT here is the important part.
    Handhelds, why in McSnackCakes don't they release for us? Every DQ game for 3DS or Vita? I would purchase them again even with Nintendo's awful awful DRM management. A remake of FFVI? I have a hard time believing that game needs a remake,
    I can't really remember anything about it that bugged me, ofc I have nostalgia glasses so fill me in if I'm wrong I welcome it.
    But Sure I guess many of us, especially of a certain age, prefer our games physically but when you don't have another choice?(not counting import, many are to afraid of that) We'll settle for Digital Copies.
    We in EU have gotten used to it in the last year, thank god for Sony non region locking(I like physical).
    So sure Square, FFXV looks to be a monster of a graphical game(hope I can control Gladiolus, I prefer beefcake above Bishie) but remember that it doesn't mean much for us expecting some sort of RPG if you forget the tale, the emotions the THING that makes Final Fantasy Final Fantasy!
    And for your other IPs and future IPs...I really hope The Collective works out, I like the idea, afraid of the unknown but I chose to believe that you aren't going to corporate IndieGoGo....

    And everything here is IMO...hope I didn't step on any toes.

    /Faustek, long time lurker first time poster

    EDIT:

    Sorry forgot the questions...was in the moment you know

    but anyway.

    1. That my niche("j"rpgs) will die out not only due to localization costs but due to the cost of producing them for a new platform.
    2. No real answer but I don't want any developer to go under, I don't think I would mind if many of the Publishers died out thou. The Publishers can be seen as a monetary consultant but to my recollection they have forced devs to stray to much of late and keeping good IPs locked up. may be perhaps of the Internets making everyone so connected so these things come out in the open but I can't say how it was.
    3. I'm a firm believer that some chaos can do many good, civilized chaos that is. So back to my point above. A new Industry where the devs can actually call the shots. Not saying this will cure everything if anything but it should be interesting to see what happens.
    Last edited by Faustek; 10-11-2013 at 01:06 PM.

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    GM,DM,PC,NPC,1P,2P & TG TG Barighm's Avatar
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    I've been saying the AAA revenue model is unsustainable for a very long time now. I'm worried my PS4 will die out a few years after a buy it because devs will prefer to keep developing for the 360 and PS3, or just move to the handhelds.

    I can see the future of gaming boiling down to PC vs. mobiles and brands like Xbox and PSN and all them becoming dedicated downloadable game services. Handheld gaming is unique enough to remain viable.

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    The Gratitude Pokemon Shaymin's Avatar
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    What fears do you have going into this next console generation?
    That the cost of games for the end user will continue to spiral out of control with season passes, DLC beyond said passes, and all sorts of microtransaction BS as AAA developers try and recoup their losses on systems without massive userbases.

    Do you think many developers will fold due to production costs? Which developers?
    At least one of the big 5 Western devs (Activision, EA, Ubisoft, Warner and Zenimax/Bethesda) will go down, and of that group I'd probably bet on Zenimax simply because they're going all in on a for-pay MMO and some incredibly disreputable business practices. Ask Human Head about that. Also, SquareEnix as we know it is pretty much dead after FFXV/KH3 at their current pace, since they'll be so far up the IAP rear end they'll be able to spit out All The Bravest weekly.

    How would you bring balance back to the industry?
    I'm not sure it can be done, so I'm just going to hang out in the handheld/WiiU ecosystem for a couple of years until the fallout clears.
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    Veteran RPGamer watcher's Avatar
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    "How would you bring balance back to the industry?"
    Same way Vader brought balance to The Force. Destroy them all and let things begin anew. Bwahahaha!

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    Member Cidolfas's Avatar
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    I think game companies are going to have to come to the realization that there's a continuum of quality. My personal feeling is that we reached the point where most games look "good enough" at the tail end of the PS2 era / very beginning of PS3. Past that point, the vast majority of games don't really need the crazy amount of graphics power and level of detail we're getting. There are a few exceptions, series that are built on realism - your Metal Gear Solids, Halos, and main-series Final Fantasies - but to make an enjoyable game, you don't need to see every striation on every leaf. They need to realize that whenever people gush about graphics lately, it's not about the processing power, but the art design they're really talking about.

    What they really need to sink some cash into is talent in the art and writing departments - give video games stories that people want to play through, and creative ways to do it.

    If a few high-tier game companies took these risks by downgrading their resources, they'd find their bottom line much more agreeable than throwing millions of dollars away on an AAA title. (I'm heartened that Ubisoft, of all companies, has taken the lead here.) There will be an unfortunate period where game media will probably dock the games marks for their poorer visuals - but it won't last long, I think. As long as they can deliver a quality product, they'll find people willing to gobble it up. The indie game market has stolen all the thunder in the last few years, to the point where I almost assume that if I see a game costing more than $20, it'll almost inevitably not have any innovation in it. If they want to steal it back, they'll need to learn a few lessons from that market.
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    Veteran RPGamer watcher's Avatar
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    Yeah Cid, I wish that instead of wasting time and resources on making a few things top end graphics wise, that someone would do something towards the middle and then use the freed up power to increase the number of combatants in battle for instance. Call me crazy, but I'd like to see something like the Star Ocean 3 battle system with up to half a dozen heroes and potentially dozens of enemies in awesome, fever pitched battles.

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    Member TheAnimeMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watcher View Post
    Yeah Cid, I wish that instead of wasting time and resources on making a few things top end graphics wise, that someone would do something towards the middle and then use the freed up power to increase the number of combatants in battle for instance. Call me crazy, but I'd like to see something like the Star Ocean 3 battle system with up to half a dozen heroes and potentially dozens of enemies in awesome, fever pitched battles.
    Star Ocean three only allowed for three battle members at a time so not sure which game you're thinking of
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    Member Aurian's Avatar
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    He's saying he'd like to see something LIKE Star Ocean 3, except with more combatants and enemies.

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    A Witness to Destruction Moderator DarkRPGMaster's Avatar
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    No thanks, I hated SO3's battle system. Losing all HP or MP equaled a death? No, just no. It means you're better off not using any abilities whatsoever.
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    Member lolwhoops's Avatar
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    killing enemies with high power mp bombs was amazing cheap and effective though. I enjoyed it.
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    Veteran RPGamer watcher's Avatar
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    Yeah, Aurian interpreted correctly.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkRPGMaster View Post
    No thanks, I hated SO3's battle system. Losing all HP or MP equaled a death? No, just no. It means you're better off not using any abilities whatsoever.
    I just threw out my personal preference, your mileage may vary. But honestly, it wasn't much of a threat for PCs past the early part of the game. But the point was, you could toss in more enemies and allies into encounters for whatever your favorite battle system is to spice up combat, rather than worry about flashy effects and such.
    Last edited by watcher; 10-14-2013 at 09:54 PM.

  18. #18
    The system is already transforming... Star Citizen has raised almost $23 million - the biggest crowdfunded project ever - and will show that an AAA title with innovative gameplay can be developed for a fraction of the cost by avoiding publishers and overhead... and be profitable with many fewer sales - without sacrificing the core fans for mass appeal. Hoping a lot of games end up going in that direction and we see some of the good games coming back.

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