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Article: Five Things I Didn’t Get About Making Video Games (Until I Did It)

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Minor Annoyance, Feb 25, 2015.

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  1. Kutuzov

    Kutuzov Prince

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    Once again, no-one is saying that you can't criticise a game without having made a game yourself. And no-one is saying that you have to be intimate with every detail of the design process to say that you don't like it.:rolleyes:

    Like and dislike IS very intensely subjective and if you (in the plural sense) tell me that you dislike the game, I believe you and I won't insult you either directly or indirectly for not liking the game. (The manner in which attitudes are conveyed is an entirely different matter and I have been known to take issue with that from time to time.)

    If you read the article, you will see that it talking mainly about how much harder it is to design games than most of us appreciate and an appreciation of the difficulties is actually of some use when you are discussing game design on a game's forum with other people who play the game, wouldn't you agree? This lack of appreciation sometimes results in posters making criticisms along the lines of "the designers are idiots'. Now, to be fair and balanced, we have actually seen a few posts like these on these boards, haven't we? ;)
     
  2. kingsbury

    kingsbury Warlord

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    Probably, but I can't imagine someone like Tolkien just "going with the flow" when writing.
     
  3. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    There is a "flow" to get into in any line of work, it's a mental state of being :p
     
  4. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    No, certainly not - but planning will only get you so far in writing, a lot of the "meat" is created by actually starting to write and then seeing how things develop around the storyline. That's probably less true for someone who has done a LOT of that, as such a person can certainly factor in a lot more stuff, just because he has the experience to do so.

    Overall I feel like game design and most other forms of art are a lot like building a house. You get as much into that blueprint as you can, if possible even the whole thing - and then you just "recreate" what you planned in your mind. Writing a book is a lot more like a growing tree. You can design the trunk in your head and it will be the foundation of what you create, but the whole blooming will only start once you actually start creating your story word for word.
     
  5. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    A much better way of putting what I was trying to say. Nicely done.
     
  6. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    In at least one of Tolkien's forewords to LotR, he mentioned that after he got done, the whole thing had to be essentially "re-written backwards." So, yes, he went with the flow, but then he had to do an awful lot of tidying up to make sure the ending worked with the beginning.
     
  7. Minor Annoyance

    Minor Annoyance Deity

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    Going with the flow, is easier with a real world setting. I'm sure by the time Tolkien wrote a first draft through to the end, he had rethought the laws of nature a few times.
     
  8. JokerJace

    JokerJace Prince

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    I strongly disagree (surprise). I have a M.Sc. in Software Systems Engineering and I think that anybody has the same right to call the developers 'idiots' for something as I have - which I am not doing BTW. I say we have a very bad product in relation to the resources I estimate were invested. And I totally don't need my scientific degree to make this assessment (or evaluate the performance of the developers in any other way). All you need is a decent overview of the gaming industry. That's how you rate the providers/publishers of other things, too, provided enough data is available. So even if I completely lack any knowledge, I can call the developer of some product incompetent, when 19/20 other developers of a very similar product deliver a significantly better product. I know the numbers are off for the gaming industry but you get the idea. Even if the gradiation of quality is distributed more evenly, I can tell who's probably doing a bad job (idiots, if you will) and who's probably doing a good job. In many cases I can even tell what aspects they seem to fail in, again, without any knowledge. No appreciation of the alleged difficulty required. And btw. bad decisions in game design and the refusal to fix bugs aren't really things that relate to one's skills as a software developer in the first place.

    The simple truth is this: If you don't know how to achieve quality, don't do it. If you still do it (for economic reasons for example), expect to get criticised for it. We have a very strong excess supply in every branch of the entertainment industry. Video games being absolutely no exception. So naturally you get a lot of bad products. But for some reason customers of entertainment behave completely differently from customers of commodities and industrial goods for example. I fail to understand the reasons for this. Is it because society evaluates the process of creating differently?
     
  9. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    How do you know the developers are comparable? Do you have access to their internal workings? Do you know their comparative earnings?

    You have no idea. All you can do is speculate based on what you consider to be true.
     
  10. Hail

    Hail Satan's minion

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    the Gaussian function?
    a few winners, alot of mediocrity and a few loosers? :goodjob:
    imho Firaxis fails at keeping the talented folks. new people come and repead old mistakes (release civ5 and ICS is a good example).

    about idiot(s):
    the Spore game dev after game's release stated in an interview/postmortem that "the reason Spore is what is it" is that he could not say no to the money men.:lol:
    pathetic

    game studios are comparable because they all make... games. they can be compared as accurately as boxers within one weight category.

    with civ:be Firaxis failed to deliver. period. on March 12, Firaxis will have two projects earning them money: civ:be and Starships. can Starships carry them to civ6's release?
     
  11. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    So an Indie Dev could be held to the same standards as EA?
     
  12. Fr33lanc3r

    Fr33lanc3r Chieftain

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    That's patently false, I would say that comparing game devs in the same genre and budget group would be the same as categorizing boxers; but even then, that's not nuanced enough.

    I'll stick with the boxing analogy, because why not.

    Boxing has distinct, MEASURABLE weight classes, but they also have the ephemoral, the distinction between amature, pro-am, and pro, even across governing bodies. Game design companies also have measurable "weight classes" based on the size of the company (AAA, indie, small shop, etc), and they have the ephemoral of genres. But, unlike boxing (usually) you will see a featherweight (indie) going against a heavyweight (AAA) company. And, the heavyweight (AAA) could also release across the ephemoral lines producing first-person shooters and strategy titles at the same shop, or even spin off an indie subshop to handle genre groups.

    Using two disparate categories of systems and trying to mangle them into the same group is a little rough. I would much rather go about the analogy this way.

    Game development is akin to Microsoft product development in that they both use code and a development cycle. Boxing is akin to Ken-po because they both use objects to moosh your face.
     
  13. JokerJace

    JokerJace Prince

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    Hail's analogy was better. There is not one market for indie strategy games, one for AAA strategy games and so on. There is only one market. If a person decides that a bad game is worth the same price as a good game because the developers had different circumstances, then this might be very noble thing to do. It's also completely arbitrary and the majority won't behave in this way. But don't cry for indie developers now. They just have to aim for a different kind of good. Not the kind that's based on how much money you can spend. This can result in a indie game that's better than a similar AAA game. So distorting the competition by saying this one is allowed to do worse games than that one is a terrible thing to do. Also we will get less good games this way, obviously.
     
  14. Kutuzov

    Kutuzov Prince

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    Well, I'm not surprised to read that you have some sort of qualification because I've read your posts and I can see from them that you're obviously educated. But from reading your same posts, I can't see that you have any actual experience of designing a video game and that's the whole point of this article. It's not as easy to do as we think it is.

    The blogger who posted the article we are discussing also thought he possessed a decent overview of the industry and posted scathing blogs on game design and, as a result of his inside experience, has admitted that it was much, much harder than he had suspected.

    The developers likely have the same qualifications that you possess but yet, in your opinion, they 'failed' and created a 'bad product' worthy of your scorn. Their degrees just opened the doors for them. But in spite of all their education, it turned out that it wasn't as easy for them to do as they'd thought it was. From that alone, we cannot reasonably conclude that they are 'idiots' but rather that they're just green. But they've tried and they've learned something from the experience (hopefully) so they're not so green any more.

    I won't comment on other parts of your post here as I believe you are just blowing smoke in our faces and trying to pose as someone who fully appreciates the difficulties involved in making games.

    And, finally, I know that you, and a few others are 100% convinced that this is a very bad game indeed. Broken even, so badly in one poster's opinion that that they will never be able to fix it. The Steam reviews and user stats 'prove' this. But I don't see an egregiously broken game when I play it. It needs some loving, that's for sure but it's not significantly worse than most other strategy games on release. I've played quite a few of them too and am able to compare them and I wouldn't go so far as to say that 95% of them are 'significantly better on release' :lol:. They may be better received though. Had this game shipped with only two trade routes for each city and better balanced wonders, who knows how differently it would have been received? Probably not much better though because it's not SMAC 2:D

    Instead, it just seems to me that people are taking their dislike for a computer game a tad too seriously. Especially when those feelings develop into animosity and actual 'hatred' towards the developers and other people who enjoy the game.
     
  15. shaglio

    shaglio The Prince of Dorkness

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    Here, here! I completely agree with the entirety of this post. Especially that second last paragraph. I think that’s a problem with society today in general: too many people have extreme viewpoints. They either absolutely love something to death or they utterly despise it with every fiber of their being, with no middle ground whatsoever. BE is far from being a perfect game, but it’s not “horribly broken” or “completely unplayable” either. Those terms would imply that a game of BE can’t possibly be played to completion due to some sort of programming bug. People can, and do, play BE from start to finish all the time. Some of them even enjoy it, while others don’t. “To each, his own.”

    And, yeah, it’s easy to criticize developers for putting out a subpar product. But, without knowing the specifics of what took place behind the scenes, it’s not fair to verbally attack the developers themselves. It would be so much easier to create a video game that was perfectly polished and enjoyed by almost everyone upon release, given an unlimited amount of money and an unlimited amount of time. But those two things rarely exist in this day and age.

    To use another sports analogy, it’s easy to criticize a team’s Manager/Coach (developer) when a team doesn’t make the playoffs (produce a perfect video game). But sometimes the players have off years or injury problems (a game concept doesn’t work as planned or coding can’t be written in the format being used). Sometimes the General Manager (higher-ups/”suits”/money men) don’t sign quality players that would give the team a chance to succeed (money constraints/time restrictions).
     
  16. Joch

    Joch Warlord

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    whenever I hear terms like "completely broken", I always think of "Falcon 4", the flight sim that came out in 1999. Even after multiple patches by the Dev, 1 in every 2 missions would result in a CTD mid-flight and various functions just plain did not work at all. Yet, Falcon 4 is now considered a "classic" flight sim.

    BE is perfectly playable, some may not like it for whatever reasons, but that does not make it "broken".
     
  17. Minor Annoyance

    Minor Annoyance Deity

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    That reminds me of Mass Effect 2. In a conversation if a character put their hand together they would pass through each other and become this single mass of fingers going in two directions. A very obvious bug and it assumed easy to fix, but now I'm thinking maybe it tied into all hand location code and fixing this one instance may have disrupted everything else, resulting in guns being separate from the hands holding them etc. Something even more glaringly obvious.
     
  18. JokerJace

    JokerJace Prince

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    Since people won't stop arguing the semantics of this word, I will also add my thoughts. The closest describtion of the term applicable to software that can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary would be "not working properly". So we would have to ascertain what 'properly' means in this context. Since software is a human made product, I would argue that 'properly' means 'as intended by the producer'. In this case the point could be made, that only the producer can decide whether his software is broken or not. For example he could claim that his software is supposed to crash every 5 seconds. So it seems like a bad approach to solely rely on the assertions of the producer. It follows that his intentions have to be estimated to a certain degree. (by common sense, comparison and various other means) When doing this one can conclude to what degree he achieved what he intended. So the definition of the word broken totally depends on what product we are talking about. For example, it is very likely the producer of a video game does not want it to feel imbalanced and shallow. (two of the most common points raised against Beyond Earth) So finally, to assert whether the game is broken or not, we will have to analyse how much this unintended aspects contribute against the primary purpose of a video game - being entertaining. Just like a flat tyre contributes against a car's primary purpose - being ridable. Since the former part of this analogy is more subjective than the latter, we would have to use some empirical data to come to a conclusion. And since we know that a significant majority dislikes the game for reasons that relate to aspects of the game that have not been intended by the developer - we can say this game is broken. ■
     
  19. JokerJace

    JokerJace Prince

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    I think a reason for this is that the people in the middle are polarized by overly enthusiastic fans and ha anti-fans. Also this is very typical for entertainment products in general. There is a certain emotional threshold by which you feel something is entertaining you. If you cross it, everything's fine. If you don't, well, you are angry for spending money on it. That anger is reinforced by promotion that might feel deceiving in retrospective and by people that praise the game for reasons you personally can't relate to. So there really isn't any middle ground when money comes into play.

    You have to understand the demographics of video gamers and people that post about video games in particular. They are mostly young males with a very limited income (pocket money). When spending it they have different expectations than you and I. Also, there are people like me, who are fans of a franchise and simply disappointed by wasted potential / opportunities. But I wouldn't say that I'm overy passionate about it. ^^ Even if some people here would probably disagree.

    I think we need to clarify what we're talking about here. If a team performs significantly sub-standard in it's competetive environment, you wouldn't buy shares of that team. Anyone who tries to convice you to do so anyway is clearly biased or not acting in your best intentions. That's because - objectively - the team DOES suck. Now when articulating your criticism it is still fair not to ignore individual circumstances, agreed. But in regard to any practical consequences that doesn't play a role. If the circumstances of a team do not allow it to play in a certain league, they should descent into a lower one. This can be no one's fault, but all I'm saying is don't be ignorant towards reality.

    In regard to any practical consequences for the product, being green or an idiot shouldn't make a difference.

    Why would I when I keep saying that it doesn't matter. ^^ Also, I do (to a certain degree). But it doesn't matter. :crazyeye: For example I can tell you that developing a game with a fixed engine is drastically easier than the opposite case. Basically you have one API that provides everything you need.
     
  20. Ryika

    Ryika Lazy Wannabe Artista

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    I'll just ignore most of the nonsense that you've written there, but this here:

    A significant majority of people dislikes the game? What "majority" are you talking about? 53% of the ratings for Civ 5 on Steam are positive, so there's no majority that dislikes the game. Metacritic displays 365 positive and 312 negative (as well as 205 neutral) votes, so there's no majority that dislikes the game. Overall the majority (not a big majority, but certainly a majority) of people seems to like the game.

    Are you saying the game is broken because a minority doesn't like the mechanics, although the majority of people seem to think the game is fine? Or do you have some hidden statistics that render those available to the public meaningless? Or are you just pulling this stuff out of your ass? It's almost as if you don't care about reality and think that your lies will become true if only you repeat them often enough.
     
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