Author Topic: Goblins Of The Game Industry  (Read 31126 times)

Offline FaeryShivers

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Goblins Of The Game Industry
« on: October 06, 2005, 12:58:24 am »
"Goblins of the Game Industry"



  Most of us on the internet have thought at one point "I want to make a game"
or "I could make a  game so much better." If you actually do so and succeed, good for you;
 you're one of the few. The purpose of this article is to neither discourage nor stop people from
 developing games; only to make you more aware of some of these nasty little things that can occur
 from alpha to beta, and even into the "gold" version of a game. If you are not careful, you will be
consumed by the goblins of the game industry. (Cue thunder and lightning)


 The first little goblin is one I like to call "we don't need a contract." This is the first
and most fatal mistake for most development teams.It doesn't matter if you're on a team
 full of people who have known eachother since the first grade, you need a contract.
 You need to establish what happens if someone decides to leave. Do not leave any legal holes
 for the project to be destroyed if someone loses their temper. This happens time and time again
 with small projects. Get rid of the "we don't need a contract" goblin immediately and burn this phrase
into your head: "verbal agreements rarely hold up in court."  Yes, you did read  that correctly, it doesn't
 matter what was said out loud. You need to have the game protected on paper. If everyone on the team
 truly cares about completing the project and not just about their own interests, they will see that a
contract is the best way to go. The signature of every person working on the project needs to be on a
contract and the company owner should have them safely stowed away in a fire protected safe or box
 (many department stores sell them.) Do not go past the "concept" stage until this is complete.

Here are some things you may want to include in the contract:

-The "company"  or "group" owns all pieces of work made for the game, no exceptions.
-If someone dissappears for weeks on end without any attempt to contact the project leader
and/or company owner they give up their position and all rights to their work for the game automatically

If someone on your team refuses to sign a contract, get rid of them immediately.
Thats a hint right there that something could go wrong further down the road. You may
even see these little guys pop up in a heated argument:

"Its mine because I made it!"
" I never signed anything!"
"You can't tell me what to do, nobody owns it!"


Game design is very stressful and you're going to see a side of people that
you may not have seen before. This makes contracts all the more important.
If a person is not willing to agree to a reasonable contract when they are calm, what do you
think they are capable of when angry? Deleting or leaking the source? Putting something offensive
 on your group/company's web page? You bet. The more power someone has, the more papers need
 to be signed to prevent them from abusing that power.


The next nasty little goblin often comes out of the programming department and goes
something like this "We don't need source control, there are only x number of us." Big mistake.
This one will get you into trouble especially if one programmer leaves abruptly and you need to
 replace them or you only had one programmer to begin with.  Have your programming team
setup a system where you can revert to any version of the game at any time simply by recompiling
 that version. Get the programmers in the habit of documenting everything. It is very important that
 you do so.

From the depths of good intent rises our next little bundle of  green joy, "We're all friends here,
 we don't need a leader." Chances are on your team there is a person who wrote the majority of
the design documents (which of course you better make sure you have) and/or wrote the original
 concept of the game. This person is key to keeping the "dream" of the game intact. They should
 probably be the project leader. Gather your team members together and elect the person you all
think is most likely to not try to change the game for their own reasons. In many cases  this person
 will be the one who gathered up the team to begin with (and in the case of a company, the company
 founder if it is the first project.) The company owner may however want to elect someone else.
 If you don't agree with the choice, voice your opinion early. You don't need to get nasty, you
don't need to get mean, just make sure you speak to the person who appointed them and say
 why you don't think its a good idea. A "board" of people can also work but it may often end
 up in stalemates and/or disagreements among members especially if personal ideals get in the
 way of the original concept of the game.

  Most people will probably ignore this one out of all of the goblins. This may be because they do not see
 the value in having a leader. I can't even count the amount of stalemates I was in during the course of
 Illutia because of the way the "power" was setup. Stalemates slow progress, they slow it to a point where
 compromises  are going to be made that hurt the game rather than help it.  In my experience, more gets
 done and the game is more likely to stay on track if one person is in charge of making sure the dream of the
 game is kept intact. Co-leadership or having a "board" of leaders only works if everyone's interest is in the game
 concept that was created, not their own.  If you're working over the internet the chances of everyone being on
 the same page at all times are very slim (especially  if you ignore another little goblin that I'll describe later on.)
I'd honestly suggest having every staff member work out their own game idea (on their own time) so that once you
r initial project is done you can work on someone else's idea and have them be the project leader for their own idea.
 This gives everyone the hope of being able to be project leader if they finish  the current project and should encourage
them to listen to others when its their "turn" to be project leader. I know this sounds like a very elementary school
solution but you don't always know the maturity of the people you're dealing with, and most people have the dream
of being in control of their own game in this industry.


 Now we arrive at the gruesome twosome. These need to be avoided at all costs even if it means getting
 rid of someone."Keep x artist happy at least until they finish" and "keep x programmer happy until they finish."
 No one team member should be valued over everyone else based on their "talents." You may be equipped
with the best artist and  the best programmer in the world but if they have an attitude problem and keep
 pushing for control of more and more, they just aren't worth it. If the programmer or artist refuses to follow
 the plans that everyone else has to follow, and the rest of the team is keeping them happy in hopes they'll listen,
 your team is in trouble. They know you're going to appease them no matter what, they're never  going to listen.
 If you're the project leader, put your foot down early. Here are some warning situations that might arise over time:

Project leader: "We need to get x feature done."
Programmer: "I don't want to work on that, I want to work on this system."
Project leader: "We don't need that system yet, we need this feature."
Programmer: "If you push me, its not going to make me work any harder."

(If any team member is "threatening" you so they can do what they want, get rid of them immediately.
 Never give someone power enough to be able to stay and do as they wish
especially with something as important as the programming of the game.)


Project leader:" I need a "wild beast" as soon as possible."
Artist: "I'm working on goblins right now..I'll get to it when I can."
Project leader: "Please work on the wild beast for now. Its needed more."
Artist: "You can't make me drop a project in the middle to work on something else
You asked for my help and I'm giving it to you, but some things need to be done my way."

(Make sure you're being assertive with your team members, if they can't give a valid reason why
  they can't work on something else then they should not argue. Beware of people who have a
"card" they play from their hand often.)


 Please Do not get me wrong here, sometimes there are very good reasons to assert that something
 else needs to be done first to your project leader. The leader of the project should not be able to do
whatever  they please, or treat anyone however they please,  just because they are the leader (unless
of course they own the company too, in which case you're screwed.) If you can't assert yourself in a
reasonable way without being punished then its probably best you leave the project and/or find another
 one. Hold meetings regularly and make sure everyone voices their opinions as early as possible. Holding in
 your feelings about a particular way the project is going is only going to build resentment. 


 The final goblin I wish to cover at this time is " I'm very busy, I don't have time to keep myself up to date."
WARNING: This person is probably lazy.  If they expect another team member to be their "secretary" all
 the time because they do not feel like reading through the documentation, posting on the team forums
 and/or going to meetings, this person could cause problems later down the road. If they care fully about seeing this
 game through to the end, they will be very interested in joining with other team members to discuss the project
. It is very rare that someone is going to post fifty pages of documentation and updates every day for other
members to read, they can take time out of their day and keep themselves up to date as it will increase everyones
 productivity for them to do so. If they believe that keeping themselves informed is a waste of time,
 they are a waste of time.I know people who work their butts off day in and day out and still
come home and read the newspaper or turn on the news, why? They want to know what is going on in the
 world around them. Even though they have a lot to do they know its important to keep up to speed with their
 community and the rest of the world.

Every team member has something important to say, sometimes goblins will appear when they do,
everyone needs to be right there to squash it when it happens. Pay attention and address issues
when they come up. If you are all good friends working on a project together, remember this phrase
 if nothing else; " True friends wouldn't want you to suffer for their actions, even if you weren't friends anymore."


For everyones sake, slay the goblins.


-Faeryshivers



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stoven will be adding his thoughts to this as soon as he gets time.
I hope this article will be of help to some of you looking to get into the game industry,
I know it would have saved me a lot of headaches had I had this information 2 1/2 years ago
when we started Illutia/Aspereta.

Also as a final note here, please know your rights before starting a project.
I strongly suggest reading the DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act.) If someone on
your project randomly deletes something out of anger, there is a strong chance with the new
laws that they have committed a crime, even if there are no papers signed (though contracts decrease the
likelyhood of loopholes). It is so important to know your rights when working on a project of this nature.








« Last Edit: October 16, 2005, 08:24:19 pm by Peppermint Pig »

Offline Darion

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2005, 02:49:37 am »
Which is why one should just learn to make music,art and program him/herself.

Offline MadMonkey

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2005, 03:07:43 am »
wow. i didnt read it all, but you've got a point there. or two. or 50. anyways great post, i can somewhat relate to this, in a way.

 ;)

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2005, 03:53:16 am »
Which is why one should just learn to make music,art and program him/herself.

Unfortunately, most people aren't -that- multi-talented and the project would
take even longer to accomplish. Working on a team can be fun but there are some things
you have to look out for or they could destroy the entire project. You can't let a "jerk" ruin the whole thing
even if they are  a talented jerk.

Offline st0ven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2005, 04:01:53 pm »
I think that was a very good rundown of some awesome points... and forgive me for not being able to join in on this conversation/thread sooner. It turns out that ive been through a good bit of turmoil in just a short amount of time so ive gotten a good chance to see some of the dirtier sides of the industry. So in addition to all of FS's great points, i would like to take this opportunity to add some of my own awares.

Know what you're getting yourself into(First Job in the industry): Silly little suggestion, but it is of awful importance. Let us say that you are a pixel artist and you've found a very promising job posting either through a friend/colleague, or a post via gaming site (gamasutra.com, et all). Youve read their 'sell' on the job description, and you couldnt be more thrilled with how good things sound! This job description is the furthest thing away from a summary of 'just how well off' a company is doing.... also you could be given the complete wrong idea by what kindof work is involved. For instance, you read a job description summary and it sounds something like:
" Come work at our luxurious offices in sunny [enter state here] and get a chance to put all your creative talents towards some great AAA titles we have in development, we offer great competitive salaries and benefits..." and such and so forth. 
My first point is this. Know what you want to be doing(work wise). its very possible that this AAA title is something youre not even initially signed onto if you get the job, and after youre hired you find out its of a genre that you dont enjoy working on or something like that. The interview process for a job is a great opportunity to find out exactly whats going on behind the scenes, behind the facade of the great company thats doing great things. Ask what projects specifically are going on, past present and future. Get a well rounded idea of what kindof business model the company works under (Are they an external solution of some other publisher/developer? or do they make their own licenses/ip?) as well as the type of games and clients they work on/with. Its really easy for the first time working in the industry to come in with the attitude that 'youll work on anything', but after you work on 3 barbie titles in a row (no offense DMax if youre reading, hehe), you might get really bored with it and lose the joy in working. If you like working on RPG's and platformers, make sure the projects they want to put you on arent educational games or puzzle games. Learning a company's past and future game projects/prospects is a great glimpse into what kindof work you're going to be getting yourself into. Some random other considerations you might want to take in... does this luxurious office reside in a luxurious city where cost of living is very high? if so, and this is not reflected in your salary, youre putting yourself at a big disadvantage already. What are the hours?  What compensation do you have for any extra time put in? (if youre new to the industry, you may be surprised ... in this industry, youre expected to put in long hours and dont usually get a thing extra for putting in a 60 hour week instead of a 40 hour week.)

Know the company you're working for:  Sounds similar to the previous point, and I admit it does tie in, but this is important with any job really... LEARN THE COMPANY HISTORY. How is it doing financially? Who are the board of directors and the CEO? do they have any outstanding reputations? (good or bad)... if you can find out their names which are often published somewhere on the company site, it isnt hard to do a quick background check on them thanks to google. One thing about companies in the game industry is that there are new aspiring teams popping up every day. Many developers are springing up thanks to new diverse hardware, and are therefore relatively new, young companies. The chances that youll be joining a startup company (especially in wireless/handheld sectors) is quite high. KNOW THE RISKS, and this goes hand in hand with FS's point to NEVER WORK WITHOUT A CONTRACT. Ive seen this happen very recently... teams of guys all work on something where they hope that some big investor will pull through to help them out, but it never happens, and because they have no CONTRACT or terms of employment, they're technically unemployed workers volunteering their time towards a common effort (even though its possible these guys might THINk that they are being 'employed'.) Also, make sure the company you wish to join is in good financial standing. Do a background check on their projects... did they have any big flops/failures recently? did they waste a bunch of much needed cash on development for a product that never made it to shelves? These kinds of risks hit hard when they fail, and its not as uncommon for a younger company to undergo such practices. Make sure the company you work for is a financially sound institution that has enough cashflow to pay bankroll each month. Otherwise its quite possible that your jumping aboard a sinking ship, so to speak (and yes, this has also happened to myself within the past year).

Know the Industry: "We're in business to make money...":  Yep, just like any other company in any other industry in existence, companies in the entertainment industry exist to MAKE MONEY. what does this mean? It means that larger companies became large or are staying large because they are in business to make money, NOT because they want to make games. Understand that making games is a means to an end to make money, and therefore MANY decisions regarding a game's development , despite its effect on a game, are made with the interest/intentions of MAKING (or in some cases, saving) MONEY. Why is this such a big deal? Because it is in stark contrast to why the developers are working in the industry. These people want to make the games, they want to put their heart and soul and creativity into a product no matter what the cost, and are most likely not in this industry for the money (because anyone will tell you youre in the wrong industry if youre looking to get rich, heheh).
Lets say youre working on a game and its been in development for some time, but as always, production is taking longer than scheduled (and this is a very common case), and certain 'sacrifices' have to be made that might affect what youre working on. Naturally youre pissed because you know that its really going to hurt the game's overall experience and youre emphatically opposed to cutting it out. Heres the bottom line. It doesnt matter. If the game doesnt make it on the shelf because youre trying to add some fancy effects, then all is lost. No company in the industry can afford to miss ship dates, and most (unless the game has a lot of hype behind it) will ship despite the game's flaws. If this were not the case, then every game ever made would probably get a very good rating in magazines... but thats not the case because that is not how BUSINESS works.
If i could give any advice to anyone caught in this situation is the following: dont hold it against the industry. Too many developers out there are completely 'jaded' because theyve seen things fall to shit so many times they wonder how an industry exists at all. There are a lot of problems and misunderstandings that happen throughout development in any team/company. A lot of them are crippling to a game. Just remember youre being paid to do your job as best as you can, and if there is a huge serious problem where a decision is made which is impeding you from doing your job as best as you can, bring it up in a politically appropriate way. If you bring it up the wrong way, and make enemies, it could very well haunt you for a long time.

I could probably think of a few more, this should be fine for now though, ill amend this if i can think of anything to add at a later date. other than that, thanks for reading and i hope these additional points can help point out some potential pitfalls so the impact of them can at least be softened by forewarning.

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2005, 04:29:10 pm »
Thank you Sto, you've beautifully covered the other side of the issue.

To add to your "We're in the business to make money " point; while many game companies start off only caring about the games, in order to stay in business and make better games they need more money. Then suddenly some of them make a
ton of money off of one project and it gets addictive. They want to  make more money and become bigger and bigger.
Unless the company started off with tons of capital, the company probably had "good" intentions to begin with.
Just please keep in mind,"Corporate America" (or wherever you live) started off with people like you and I who are just doing
what they love to do. Things just never end up like you want them too, eventually if you want to stay in business you pretty much HAVE to start caring about money. If you don't you'll probably be swallowed up by someone that does.

One thing that really gets me is games that are made from movies and/or TV shows, they are usually not top quality games
and it seems to me that this is because people are going to buy it anyway because of the name on it. But as sto says, thats the way the business work. People jump on the chance to work on a game made after a movie or show without realizing what type of projects these are. Just once I'd like to see a game that was given even more time than the movie or show to get it right.


Offline janus

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2005, 04:35:45 pm »
Great thread! Haven't had a chance to read over all of st0ven's stuff yet, but one comment for FaeryShivers:

I don't think that the person with the design vision should necessarily be the project leader. Project leadership requires a lot of extra effort and leadership skills that a good designer isn't always going to have, and requiring them to both design, do their normal work, and lead, could be a pretty significant hindrance to your project - I've heard stories of this being a real problem in both large-scale commercial development and indie development.

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2005, 05:06:32 pm »
Great thread! Haven't had a chance to read over all of st0ven's stuff yet, but one comment for FaeryShivers:

I don't think that the person with the design vision should necessarily be the project leader. Project leadership requires a lot of extra effort and leadership skills that a good designer isn't always going to have, and requiring them to both design, do their normal work, and lead, could be a pretty significant hindrance to your project - I've heard stories of this being a real problem in both large-scale commercial development and indie development.

You're right, but its an easy way to ensure the game vision stays in tact on a smaller team where there is not much money
to influence people to follow the game design and not try to "overthrow" the project with their own beliefs so to speak.
If you know someone who is a great leader and is dedicated to keeping the original game idea intact thats great. Its just really hard to find  that on a smaller team especially one without anything to keep peoples minds focused, IE an income. As sad as it is, almost everyone has a price at which they will accept money in exchange for their time without question as to what they are doing.
It is harder to keep volunteers from wanting more control of the project as they do not always feel they are getting something for their time.

On more than one occassion I've had people quit just because they assumed that because we did not change the game the way they wanted to every time they made a suggestion, we were not listening to them. People will often also quit a free project if they cannot do as they please as once again they feel they are not getting anything for their time. Its more common with programmers than artists in my experience but it does happen. Beware of the person that assumes that because you do not do exactly as they say all the time, you are not listening to them. Especially if their ideas are usually ones that would completely change the way several systems work.

Please don't get me wrong here, volunteers are to be appreciated but, there are some people who get onto a game team with an agenda that was not disclosed immediately
« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 05:31:01 pm by FaeryShivers »

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2005, 05:40:20 pm »
A lot of good points. The only thing I disagree with is the constant 'get rid of them immediately' sentiments. In hobby work (and even in pro work) sometimes you have to put up with egos or quirks to get the job done. Casting aside talent at first sign of any problems is not always the way to go. If someone's a danger to the project then yes, they need to go away. But as a director I'd be more than willing to work with someone who's a handful, so long as they're producing top notch work. Because that's essentially what a project lead needs to excel at - keeping people going. Getting rid of someone from a project temporarily kills the project momentum, so it's often better to work with a talented but problematic person rather than trying to replace them.

- Adam

Offline Helm

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2005, 05:55:39 pm »
I'm with Darion in that all this stuff ( and my very fringe rub against it ) have made me be very sceptical about getting work in the industry anymore. I'm more interested in the c64-type one-person-does-almost-everything of game-making, even if it's 'amateur'. That's the type of games I like to play too. Two people teams are the best for my type of stuff since I'm not a very strong coder, but that's it. I do my music, I do my design, I do my art, I do my writing.

Obviously, for people really wanting to break into the actual industry and live off of this stuff, good luck, and read this thread thoroughly. Stoven particularily has been through the gamut, I remember since he started making his first steps in the industry, and he doesn't paint a pretty picture.

One additional point: Learn to sever emotional ties with the game you're working on. Especially if you're hired help and aren't spearheading the project, if you're just doing tileage or sprites or animation, when the time comes and industry demands and shipping mean the game starts getting cut down, even sucking, keep your head on what you're supposed to do to get paid. It's a bum-out, but there's no other way. Sever emotional attachments, do what you're supposed to do, ship, get paid, move on to bigger and better things. 90% of the projects you see looking for artists are usually 'baby dream' projects. They person who is team leader and lead designer probably has thought of his first game more than anything, it's his prize accomplishment and will do anything to get it done as we wants. When and if it starts sucking due to time demands or talent issues or incompetent programming, he's going to freak out. Make sure you don't. It's not 'we either make this PERFECT, or we don't make it at ALL!'. Not under contract. Do what you have to do, don't falter, put the work in, finish, ship, move on.

Offline AlexHW

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2005, 06:27:54 pm »
and because they have no CONTRACT or terms of employment, they're technically unemployed workers volunteering their time towards a common effort (even though its possible these guys might THINk that they are being 'employed'.)

heh, I've been in this situation befor with a group of others.
Specific hours were made that we had to work (8 hour days), and I confronted the boss and told him that this sounded illegal and such, and he was like, "I don't know if it is or not, I'd have to check." or something like that.. o_o
No contracts at all were being signed and people were just willing to trust each other. Kinda scarey.. They also promised many things which they never did.
Also even tried pitching some final fantasy project.. o_o

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2005, 06:30:53 pm »
There's a big difference between putting up with a bit of an ego or a little quirk and sacrificing your whole staff to please one person which is what I focused on for the most part. The "get rid of them immediately" attitude comes from 2 1/2 years of letting myself be tortured by people who thought that having talent meant we should do whatever they wanted. I didn't write this article based on cutesy little ideas I thought people might like or find "smart", its based on real bad experiences I've had, and boy oh boy have I had lots of them.

If that artist/ programmer/musician etc isn't worth the junk they put the rest of the team through then they need to go down the laundry chute. You need to trust your gut when it says something stinks like a big rotten ego.I've never found getting rid of a person like that kills the momentum of the project. Usually when someone actually gets fired its a big relief. A lot of artists complain to me that they lose their desire to work with someone like that around.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 06:33:33 pm by FaeryShivers »

Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2005, 11:51:43 pm »
I don't really think that it's fair to say that just because these companies are so interested in making money that they therefore care little to none about the quality of the game. As you've said, money is a big part of the mindset, afterall if you aren't making money then you aren't going to be around for very long. But these publishers do not get money from publishing crap. Sure, there are the exceptions that despite being painfully crappy, manage to get a nice bit of revenues. Businesses with such a business model suffer in the long run, though, as people become increasingly suspect of the quality of their releases. I'm thinking of Acclaim here.



Offline st0ven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2005, 02:05:01 am »
I think that i sortof put an unfair light on the industry perhaps with my last bullet point :). First off, i really dont want to scare anyone off from the industry because in all honesty there arent too many careers out there that could be more rewarding when things are going well, the benefits are awesome, the work in general is much more exciting than most other jobs, granted you like doing your job to begin with. I would just like to point out that what crab2 points out is very true. In defense of my positions previously stated, i was pointing out things to be aware/careful of, and was not so much concerned about pointing out the great cool exciting things of the industry (i mean look at the title of the thread :P ) ... But Crab2 has a really good point... you cant make good money putting out constant crap games. Huge License AAA Titles  or titles which are meant to showcase new hardware and such (like Gears of War, Halo x, Ninja Gaiden Black, Final Fantasy XIIIIXIXIXI, etc)  are all things that you can count on being great games, and the publishers/developers cant afford to push such titles out and have them not live up to their expectations... but a realist has to understand that this is the pinnacle opportunity in the industry. You cant put yourself into such a position as a developer unless you're a proven developer (which means youve been through your fair share of 'get the titles out the door on schedule' projects)... and then when positions come available to work on those titles, they're searching for the absolute top talent they can find that are available at the time.  So while its true, there are many companies out there making great games, they also carry bread and butter licenses which cant afford to falter, or else the value of their hard earned IP falls through the floor, plus they can afford the development costs to ensure such quality. It should just be noted that such a thing is not standard in the industry, its a rather priviledged position to be in.  Also, it should be said there are companies out there that are more envisionary than just 'make money', and they may have some financial means to back that up... but unless theyve inherited millions, in order to officially call your operations a 'business', you have to turn a profit so many years in your first 5, and if youre not making a dime in 5 years chances are youre not going to last. ( 2 years is a realistic expectation to turn a team around into something that will break even and begin to make profit). Also, there are smaller platforms (wireless) where cost of development is significantly less, but even then your priority is to pump those babies out quick and with quality so that A. your idea isnt beaten to the marketplace, and B. you have more games making revenue (as this means that cash isnt initially available to you from such games).

Ok sorry for the blurb.

-st0

Offline janus

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2005, 06:04:02 am »
There's a big difference between putting up with a bit of an ego or a little quirk and sacrificing your whole staff to please one person which is what I focused on for the most part. The "get rid of them immediately" attitude comes from 2 1/2 years of letting myself be tortured by people who thought that having talent meant we should do whatever they wanted. I didn't write this article based on cutesy little ideas I thought people might like or find "smart", its based on real bad experiences I've had, and boy oh boy have I had lots of them.

If that artist/ programmer/musician etc isn't worth the junk they put the rest of the team through then they need to go down the laundry chute. You need to trust your gut when it says something stinks like a big rotten ego.I've never found getting rid of a person like that kills the momentum of the project. Usually when someone actually gets fired its a big relief. A lot of artists complain to me that they lose their desire to work with someone like that around.
I have to agree with this. I've seen many projects lose all their momentum due to total jerks being on the dev team (whether they're writers, artists, programmers, or musicians) and people being unwilling to tell them to cut it out or get out. I've even personally complained to the individual(s) in charge of the team when it's a project I'm involved in, and people are often unwilling to be 'harsh' or 'unfair' and kick someone out when their work is up to par. I personally don't even consider trying to work with someone anymore if I can't at least get along with them, and if it looks like they won't get along with the rest of the team I have a hard time finding it worth the effort to give them a chance.

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2005, 06:25:53 am »
you cant make good money putting out constant crap games.


That is correct. However, many big companies can afford to put out "eye candy" that doesn't have interesting
gameplay or a good story and people will still pay for it. If you have one good game, chances are your next game will sell better than if your previous game was a flop. Basically you can "afford" some mistakes if you are well known and have a good record of games.If you have 10 good games you'll probably start getting what are often referred to as "fanboys" or "fangirls" that will buy things with your name on it regardless. I don't approve of companies taking advantage of this too often (except in "emergencies") the fact remains that the better reputation you have the more likely people are going to forgive you for putting out a rushed game from time to time.

Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2005, 10:15:13 pm »
Quote
That is correct. However, many big companies can afford to put out "eye candy" that doesn't have interesting
gameplay or a good story and people will still pay for it
Yeah, it is possible to pull a fast one over by pasting a nice pretty picture over lackluster ideas, but impressions from pretty pictures wear away quickly, and these games are soon exposed for what they are. I don't think someone who spent $60(Can$) on a miserable piece of software is going to look at that series or developer/publisher in the same light again.

Quote
If you have 10 good games you'll probably start getting what are often referred to as "fanboys" or "fangirls" that will buy things with your name on it regardless. I don't approve of companies taking advantage of this too often (except in "emergencies") the fact remains that the better reputation you have the more likely people are going to forgive you for putting out a rushed game from time to time.
Well of course they're going to forgive you when you've got a library filled with dozen(s) of games of exceptional quality. They recognize the one crappy game as the exception, not the rule. If the crap continues, then I think their attitudes would definitely change, though.

Offline xanthier

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2005, 06:21:43 pm »
Excellent article, I only skimmed it but I will print it out and read it in its entirety later.
For this, a long time have I waited.

Offline sedgemonkey

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2005, 05:02:03 pm »
Interesting thread indeed.  I'd just like to point out that most of what st0ven and FaeryShivers are saying can be applied to any industry/hobby really. The following tips stick out most in my mind when deciding on a job...

  • Clearly establishing roles, rules, boundaries, goals, etc. before a collaborative project starts will save everyone a lot of heartache especially if there's any chance of money being involved.
  • Investigating a potential employer is always a good idea for a contractor and crucially important if you are looking for full time work. Working in a lousy situation sucks whether you're a pixel artist or an auto mechanic.
  • Talk to a soldier on the ground if at all possible. Find someone who does your job or something similar at your potential employer and try and talk to them before taking a position. If you don't have an oppurtunity to chat on an office tour (assuming there is one) ask if you can call someone later to ask about the job.
  • Choose happiness. No matter what career path you choose make sure you are paid fairly, but don't get too greedy. Working on quality projects for a good company will benefit you as you move up in an industry.  Working in a bad situation for more money (unless it's a shitload more money) will just make you miserable.
  • Ownership is king! Owning a piece of a business or a piece of IP is the only way to make "real" money. Stock options were mocked because of the dotcom bust, but they're still a great "icing on the cake" just in case the company hits the jackpot.  ;)
  • Don't overlook benefits.  Matching 401k, dental, medical, vision, life insurance, employee stock purchase discounts, reimbursed education and pension programs can save and make you thousands of dollars no matter how young you are.  Just make sure there are no weird little caveats with any of the programs.

Offline Headsplode

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2005, 09:53:22 pm »
Great advice, especially for those looking to work out of their basements with no experience. The parts pertaining to leadership are particularly important. Even in the hobbyist field, people can have ulterior motives and you'll always come across individuals who just annoy you on a personal level that you'll have to cooperate with. In these instances, strong leadership is essential to keep the team from falling apart.

I learned this from spending almost two years with one indie group (which eventually disbanded after the leadership fell apart) as a concept/texture artist; numerous times, the extremely conservative opinions of one of the most prominent team managers caused him to have heated disputes and debates with some of his team on matters that were completely irrelevant to game design, and this definitely cut down on productivity. It's also not uncommon for co-leaders to find ways to cut off access to forum boards, IRC and FTP resources from one another, effectively firing them.

Also, if you're just breaking into game development, don't overlook the multitudes of other developers out there who can give you advice and encouragement. Participating in programming/game design communities such as GameDev.net can not only teach you a lot, they can allow you to give your project some publicity among your peers.

Offline hawken

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2006, 02:34:09 pm »
thanks for the interesting post. I read all of it and see sense in every word.

I used to work in a game design team as the AD, and the problems you mention used to arise with my artists, but if you nip it in the bud early then things end up better all around. Also you can have over zelous game designers but this is a good thing.

After I went freelance I worked on some Sky TV games with an ex-collegue of mine. We didn't make any contracts because we were friends. In the end, I never got paid, even though I did all the work and the game went live. He did this to a few of my other friends and they are taking him to court. I lost about 700 from the project but I charged out at a fairly good rate so not too much time was wasted.

Sometimes it's essential to learn this for yourself, even with this great advice.

Offline EyeCraft

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2006, 12:00:54 pm »
Very good read. I'll keep these warnings close to me.

Offline MrNormS

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2006, 05:35:06 am »
I too.  I have little experience in team efforts but see the value of these rules.

Offline jagged software

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2006, 10:28:44 am »
This is a great thread, Shivers. Some excellent points are made.
The bottom line, everyone, is cover yourself. Either as the employer or employee.
A little protection goes a long way.

Be open with your peers. If you've got a problem or opinion, voice it. It's healthier than the alternative.

And for god's sake, if you're a developer, get a gameplan going instead of shooting from the hip. Plan the ENTIRE project out to get a good flow pattern going, streamline the whole process. You'll get better gas mileage.

And learn from history or it will repeat itself. Find out why all the other millions of games before yours failed. And get a plan on how to overcome the problem.

Developing the game is one thing, running it is another - it's a delicate balance, like an eco system or economy. It doesn't take much to crash. Murphy's law says if anything can go wrong, IT WILL - be ready for it!

Offline jagged software

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2006, 10:31:17 am »
ounce of prevention  >  pound of cure

Offline TheAbyss

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2006, 07:45:05 pm »
Well that makes sense.
Japan + Canada = Japanada

Offline Juniper

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2006, 09:02:06 pm »

One additional point: Learn to sever emotional ties with the game you're working on.

Hear hear!  This is one of the most valuable things I've learned.  Even if you know what's best for the game, in the end it's about what the higher-ups want.  You should absolutely try to make them understand why things should be done "your way," but if they decide against it, don't push the point anymore.  Move on, do exactly what you are asked to do without sulking  :-X

This is also good to think about when you -are- one of the higher-ups.  The people working on your project may know what's best, even if it doesn't mesh with your original vision.  When I designed my own game, I was a little too attached to the work I'd already done in pre-production.  I bitched and moaned when the guy who was actually going to do most of the art wanted to do the sprites in his own style, but in the end he was right!  The game looked better his way, and he was probably more productive because he was a happy camper.

This is basic professionalism I guess, but it's hard to keep in mind when you are far too emotionally attached to the game!


Offline Juniper

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2006, 09:10:29 pm »
One thing that really gets me is games that are made from movies and/or TV shows, they are usually not top quality games
and it seems to me that this is because people are going to buy it anyway because of the name on it. But as sto says, thats the way the business work. People jump on the chance to work on a game made after a movie or show without realizing what type of projects these are. Just once I'd like to see a game that was given even more time than the movie or show to get it right.

In the big license titles I've worked on, the problem with quality has been precisely because not enough time was spent on the game.  However, the reason wasn't because we were counting on the license to sell units and hence didn't care about quality...it was because the stupid license holder didn't look for developers and/or sign a contract in time!  Usually it's like, "ok we have this big movie coming out, oh yeah we should have a mobile game released simultaneously...hey can your team make a game in 6 weeks?"

The fact that it's a big license suckers you into saying "sure we can do that!" because that kind of work is great for the ol' portfolio.  If it was not a cool license, you'd be saying "no way are you crazy, that's not enough time!"  You can't ask for more time because if the game comes out a week after the movie, sales slip alot.

As a result, another crappy movie license game hits the airwaves. 

I guess that's what you were saying, FaeryShivers!  It -would- be great to see the games given more time.  Darn those license-holders.  Drat those publishers.

Nevertheless, it -is- good for the resume, so I'd say it's worthwhile to work on such games now and then.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2006, 09:13:42 pm by Juniper »

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2006, 06:43:47 am »
Juniper speaks the truth. :) And it's a damned shame. A console tie-in may get anywhere up to 3 or 4 years of being worked on, but the handheld versions rarely start production more than about 6 months before they're due. There's no real reason for it, other than an industry-wide shrug to handheld gaming, which is a shame since last time I checked, DS and GBA were dominating consoles in system sales and increasing user base.

My advice is whenever possible, go small and fight for that decision. On X-Men GBA we worked far larger than what our time allowed comfortably, and scrambled to put together something that was ultimately sub-par. With Justice League GBA, we cut the levels and bosses in half and came out with a much more polished title. Time is the worst enemy to handheld developers (much more often than budget), but size if often the best weapon to fight back with.

This is also good to think about when you -are- one of the higher-ups.  The people working on your project may know what's best, even if it doesn't mesh with your original vision.  When I designed my own game, I was a little too attached to the work I'd already done in pre-production.  I bitched and moaned when the guy who was actually going to do most of the art wanted to do the sprites in his own style, but in the end he was right!  The game looked better his way, and he was probably more productive because he was a happy camper.

Testify! I designed X-Men myself, and we held to my design for better or worse. With Justice League, the first thing I did was design the game by comittee with my two lead programmers over the first 2 weeks of production. We were able to better exploit the strengths of the system and of the programmers, and they felt more investment in the project which drove them to make an even better product.

- Adam
« Last Edit: November 05, 2006, 06:45:33 am by AdamTierney »

Offline Soup

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2006, 12:49:16 am »
In a way the leader has to be multitalented. If someone who has horrible taste in everything will the game sell? This would lead into the whole money issue where the leader may become addictited to the money made thus forcing everybody to do everything thus destroying the whole get rid of everybody thing because you yourself are the problem.
Sorry if this is random and sounds stupid.

Offline baccaman21

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2006, 04:53:39 pm »
Juniper speaks the truth. :) And it's a damned shame. A console tie-in may get anywhere up to 3 or 4 years of being worked on, but the handheld versions rarely start production more than about 6 months before they're due. There's no real reason for it, other than an industry-wide shrug to handheld gaming, which is a shame since last time I checked, DS and GBA were dominating consoles in system sales and increasing user base.

My advice is whenever possible, go small and fight for that decision. On X-Men GBA we worked far larger than what our time allowed comfortably, and scrambled to put together something that was ultimately sub-par. With Justice League GBA, we cut the levels and bosses in half and came out with a much more polished title. Time is the worst enemy to handheld developers (much more often than budget), but size if often the best weapon to fight back with.

Testify! I designed X-Men myself, and we held to my design for better or worse. With Justice League, the first thing I did was design the game by comittee with my two lead programmers over the first 2 weeks of production. We were able to better exploit the strengths of the system and of the programmers, and they felt more investment in the project which drove them to make an even better product.

- Adam

hey another Justice leaguer - we should set up a club Adam...  Which version did you do? I was responsible for the horror that was JL Chronicles... for midway :S - the shame... but in my defence I did tell them - the publisher and WB and DC - that if they wanted to go down the path they forced us down then it'd be a bad move... but... as ever the publisher knows best - they were dissappointed with the side on view and wanted to move as far away as possible from it so they told us do it like Gauntlet, top down... I was like - "hang on there guys (to the publisher), we got a license here that's got 7 major comic heroes in it, each of which requires dedication and time spent to animate in facing one direction and now you want an 8 way scroller with 7 heros in it... rendered in 8 directions (5 if you take the x-flips out) that can punch, kick, fly, walk, run, die etc... hmmm... ok... how bigs the cart? ah 4 megs... nice.... are you sure you don't want a die scrolling beat-em-up?.... no.... sure... ?" - so we were stuck with creating what we made... gauntlet/chaos engine view... wasted so much time creating umpteen million animations for those characters... hardly any enemies...  jeez what a knightmare... so much so that the GAME suffered... got to meet Jim Lee though... and went to a few DC parties in LA which was kinda cool.
Buy the book - The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams

www.burnzombieburn.com

Offline tandemar

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2007, 10:12:00 pm »
I'm baffled.

The industry is finished for start-up teams now. It's a fact.

I've been doing this for 23 years and I've seen the once great UK games scene turn into a ghost town. Pixels aren't going to go away, but making a really good living out of them is proving to be increasingly difficult.

I've freelanced for most of my professional career and the handheld development scene in the UK and Europe is pretty much a thing of the past. I had some great years with GBC and GBA and can actually remember it going POP!
The year is a bit vague now but I'll never forget it was a September and all my clients just disappeared.
The industry drew it's horns in and decided to try something else.

Too many people jumped on the handheld bandwagon thinking that it was fast and easy money. None of that "let's take 3 years to develop a ps2 title that might not even sell if it's finished" bollocks. No, these guys saw development times drop from years to months and imagined the revenue they could generate by turning out 3 titles a year instead of one every 3 years.
Acres of crap was produced, I worked on some of it; I'm not ashamed, when someone offers you money you don't say "no thanks. I don't want to pay my mortgage this month. I would rather keep my integrity intact."
It would be nice to be able to do that, but this is reality and anyone who actually DOES that is either rich already or clinically insane.

Working on titles you like, or titles that you are proud of is a rarity, for the above reasons. Freelancers and in-house artists have little or no input in what titles they work on or indeed the design of the title itself. Unless you are working for a small company and you are part of the start-up team that is.
But most people want to work for established companies, with years of experience and shed-loads of cash behind them.
These companies are machines. They seldom care about the true quality of their titles. If they did they wouldn't fill them with hours of pointless FMV and waste countless hundreds of thousands of pounds / dollars on said FMV. They would spend it on the best designers, the best artists and take the japanese on at their own game and make quality titles.
But let's be honest (cynical, yes, but honest as well.)

Most games today are a clone of some earlier and more successful title.
Bully/Dog eat Dog call it what you will is GTA with kids. It's the Sims with violence. Who in their right mind would want to sit building Sims year after year?
Wooo...they have different hairstyles in this version!!!
Hoo-bloody-ray!

If you come into the games industry you must realise that what was once fun becomes the way to pay the bills, pure and simple. And if Microprose offer you a quarter of a million to develop Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies. You snatch it out of their hand so fast their heads spin. And hopefully you can try to do the best Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies title ever.

But that's debatable, because EA and THQ and Microsoft and all the other behemoths now have the industry in a stranglehold.
Having a demo for one of the consoles is very unlikely, Dev Kits cost a small fortune.

Even the mobile scene, while still paying my bills in a semi-erratic manner is lost and confused. It tries to take on the consoles and shouldn't.

It's a new beast and should act like one, but it too has it's own inherent problems. Try designing a game for a mobile sometime. It's a nightmare. The control system is a pig.

Mobile companies open and close at an alarming rate, but not for much longer.Again the behemoths are coming along and buying up the teams who have been around for a few years and have one or two titles under their belt.

Starting afresh these days is, while not impossible, at least terrifyingly difficult and I wouldn't encourage anyone.

The handhelds are on something of a hiatus. Most titles are developed in the States, not many of them let's be honest. And the Stateside dev scene is almost sewn up by the likes of Vicarious Visions etc.

We'd all love to work on a clone of our favourite game, but as I mentioned in a ost that got people really annoyed with me many years ago on the old Pixelation site, "Why develop a Castlevania clone when people can buy Castlevania?"

Licenses sell.

Painful but true. Your small team of empassioned mates may have created this entire fantasy world and drawn some beautiful sprites and backgrounds. Your coder might have written some of the best code ever. But if it's not a movie or tv license, it's almost guaranteed that no-one will touch it with a bargepole. Or if they DO actually buy it then it will sit on the bottom shelf while the kids run out and buy the latest Naruto title or Harvest Moon 7.

All of the points the guys mentioned above about following the rules are all very well and good. But the bottom line is this.
Do you enjoy what you do?
Do you want to get paid for it?
Are you prepared to relocate? (the chances of finding a local company are astronomical)

If all of the above apply then you are going to be working for an established company. Most BIG companies have designers seperate from artists, so they won't want to hear your ideas. they pay a designer for that.
And if you DO get a job with a BIG established comany, you will have NO say in what type of games you develop graphics for. The Suits at the very top decide that and they won't even know you exist. They seldom if ever come down from their ivory towers to meet the workers, and even if they do they have more pressing things to fill their time with than remembering the name of someone they most likely will only ever see from a distance at the company Christmas party.

You must learn to balance what you do with WHY you do it.

You got into pixels because you love it. The job you do from 9 to 5 will pay for your house, your bills and your family. (I know that mst of you are probably too young to even have left home yet, but go with me on this.)

The Job you do from 9 to 5 will be filled with a lot of crap you don't want to do. But do the best possible. Bite the bullet. If you kick up a stink and complain, there's loads more kids out ther who will jump at the chance to sit at your desk.

If you want to do games for fun, do them at night. Freelance every now and then. Small jobs.
Draw your brains out. Draw amazing things.
These will NEVER make you rich anywhere except inside.


Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2007, 07:47:54 am »
I think that's maybe a little bit pessemistic. I make a pretty good living in pixels, and I don't have to work on projects I hate to do it. But a lot of your advice is well-said.

"Bully/Dog eat Dog call it what you will is GTA with kids. It's the Sims with violence. Who in their right mind would want to sit building Sims year after year?"

I'm guessing you haven't actually played the game? Bully has some of the most refined, intelligent game design in years and the story and characters are just fantastic.

"If you come into the games industry you must realise that what was once fun becomes the way to pay the bills, pure and simple. And if Microprose offer you a quarter of a million to develop Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies. You snatch it out of their hand so fast their heads spin. And hopefully you can try to do the best Strawberry Shortcake or Muppet babies title ever."

But those licenses aren't necessarily a bad thing either. It just depends on where your interests lie. I've found that it's often easier to create new gameplay and convince a publisher to go with stranger gameplay ideas on a less-prominent license, not to mention your gameplay is less built-in. By this I mean if you work on a Naruto game, the gameplay, animation style, etc. is pretty much decided on and expected before anyone starts on the game. With a Strawberry Shortcake game, there might be a lot more room for experimentation and artistic ownership.

- Adam
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 07:57:00 am by AdamTierney »

Offline Doppleganger

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2007, 09:32:39 pm »
Quote
Working on titles you like, or titles that you are proud of is a rarity, for the above reasons. Freelancers and in-house artists have little or no input in what titles they work on or indeed the design of the title itself. Unless you are working for a small company and you are part of the start-up team that is.

I agree with that whole-heartedly. I've freelanced for about 2 years now and your input varies entirely on who it is you're working for. While I've had the fortune of working for smaller development groups and company's starting up for the most part, there are also the gigs that place as you a small aspect of a larger scheme. Here, you rarely have a say and have to match several artists work. You probably will get placed in an area where you have the most experience but don't necessarily like to do what it is you're good at. Making tiles, usually, in my case. Making quality pieces that tile is a rather difficult ordeal and since I've spent so much time in the past on them, it's my specialty in situations where there are several places I could be used. I don't particularly like making loads of tiles though. The point here is, the more ornate a project the less chance there is that you'll have a say in it or be happy doing it. And with ornate projects comes higher pay, so you are basically sacrificing freedom in exchange for money. That's a drab way to look at it, but it's kind of the way it goes.

If you're lucky enough to strike a good deal with a company that's just starting up, you'll certainly have a lot more say and room for advancement. The pay might not be as great as it could be with a bigger company but, if you're lucky you can find something that can pay you close to what you could be making. Companies like these are not without their problems either though. The afore mentioned obviously, and then there are a few other things. The main thing I've noticed amongst small companies or indy developers is that usually it's just one person doing all of the artwork. And if you're working for them it's probably you. Haha, of course! With that being said, you may find your self with an exorbitant amount of work. There may be deadlines imposed, and there may be new projects starting in between other projects deadlines. In other guides/topics talking about making it in the freelancing business, they talk of taking on as many jobs as possible in order to survive during an off period. The same applies to dev companies. In the beginning they're trying to make enough money to stay afloat and keep their help happy and so they take on as much as they can chew. So, you might end up doing things you don't want for job security reasons. XD The other thing worth mentioning is game quality; since smaller developers don't have as many resources, you can't expect the quality of the game to be that of fully staffed companies. While it's possible, that a determined group of indy developers might produce something of utmost quality, the norm will usually be games that never see the light of day, or games built around current funds and resources.

Basically, I just addressed the two main routes that I've come across in my days as a freelancer. One could use this as a loose guideline of what they could probably expect when they're past the stage of taking up as many jobs as possible in order to survive and at the stage where they need to make up a decision of how to progress their career, if they want this as a career.

A larger company generally offers higher pay and security, whereas a smaller company offers less pay, less security, but more freedom. And by security I mean the lastability of the company.

Offline Fry

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2007, 05:06:42 am »
I'm really glad I read this, I was just hired at a gaming studio and there are a lot of things which I hadn't considered.

-Fry
I try to do pixel art like porcupines fornicate... very carefully.

Offline Eponasoft

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2007, 02:36:17 am »
This was a very good read. We are just starting up ourselves, and the game industry has changed a lot since I was last in it professionally (which was during the height of the C64). Great food for thought that I will certainly take into consideration as we put together our strategy.

Offline Rargh!

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2007, 06:55:15 am »
A fascinating read.

I come from the other side of the fence. I work for one of the bigger videogame publishers, in marketing. I see a lot of development, and am even lucky enough to spend time in one of the development studios we own. The guys who work there are now friends of mine and I have a huge admiration for what they do. There's a lot of very wise advise in this thread. If you're looking at working in the games industry heed it. Even Tandemar's thread--(I hope you don't mind me saying so...) though jaded--has lots of truth in it. And that is there will be many occasions that development teams are called on to grind on titles that are often uninspiring or license-driven (can be both a good and a bad thing). The key--as in any job--is to simply do your best. The threads on this site prove that even with a license or a year-on title, you can still produce brilliant work. The trick is realising that you may be working on the same thing for 6 months, 12 months, 2 years, even longer. And if it's a bad movie or TV show, that gets panned by critics, then there's a good chance that your great work will tank too, both commercially and by the critics. On the flipside are those rare gems. Hopefully, if you can prove that you can do a great job on the ordinary, then you'll earn a shot at an original IP or idea. I've seen it happen. Recently. And I've also seen a small "indie" developer team up with a publisher such as ourselves and suddenly have a world wide hit on their hands. Anybody here heard of the DS game Drawn to Life? Or the developers, 5th Cell? On the Australian charts the game just went number three on the "All consoles" chart, almost beating Phantom Hourglass for the number 2 spot (and number 1 spot on the DS charts) in Zelda's launch week. It currently sits... 1: Halo 3, 2: Zelda Phantom Hourglass, 3: Drawn to Life. Awesome company to be in for a game that has a completely original concept, isn't produced by a first party, has no licensed franchise and isn't a sequel.

The games industry is as tough and as wonderful as any other entertainment industry. Be realistic in your expectations. Love what you do. Live a balanced life (seriously!). And know that, rarely, anything goes completely to plan in PD! It's all about flexibility and a commitment to doing your best and attempting to create a great end product. And that's the same for all of us, no matter what our role is or which part of the cycle we're in.

Cheers,

Offline Lazycow

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2008, 07:26:16 pm »
Well, I know which industry I will stay away from professionally now. It looks to me like too much BS, not enough benefits. I'd rather develop a game in my free time and find a way to make some money off of it.
One hint from someone who made the same decision: Try to team with 1-2 peeps, otherwise your job and all this "real life" stuff ;) will definitely hold you back from creating marvelous games...
« Last Edit: January 31, 2008, 09:22:51 pm by Lazycow »
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. Yes we can!

Offline Sevensheaven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #38 on: May 10, 2008, 11:48:18 am »
Hi,

Maybe you'll find this an interesting story regarding this subject matter. It happened many years ago, but I guess a lot of it is still happening these days.

Offline Sevensheaven

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #39 on: May 15, 2008, 02:08:11 pm »
Thank you very much Xelados, much appreciated. And I totally understand your mixed feelings.

Offline wah_wah_69

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #40 on: June 05, 2008, 06:59:23 pm »
The main skill I'm missing is music authoring, and I haven't found a single piece of software that makes the learning experience a little smoother.

Have you tried Reason?

Offline Ben2theEdge

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #41 on: June 06, 2008, 01:40:53 pm »
Reason looks pretty scary to me... :o but then again I use both OSX and Windows so I have Garage Band, which is probably the easiest music software I've ever seen. :lol:
I think it helps a lot to have a peripheral like a real, physical guitar or keyboard. Systematically laying down notes one at a time is torture to me.
I mild from suffer dislexia.

Offline ddustin

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2008, 11:10:19 pm »
Quote
Project leader: "We need to get x feature done."
Programmer: "I don't want to work on that, I want to work on this system."
Project leader: "We don't need that system yet, we need this feature."
Programmer: "If you push me, its not going to make me work any harder."

(If any team member is "threatening" you so they can do what they want, get rid of them immediately.
 Never give someone power enough to be able to stay and do as they wish
especially with something as important as the programming of the game.)


Project leader:" I need a "wild beast" as soon as possible."
Artist: "I'm working on goblins right now..I'll get to it when I can."
Project leader: "Please work on the wild beast for now. Its needed more."
Artist: "You can't make me drop a project in the middle to work on something else
You asked for my help and I'm giving it to you, but some things need to be done my way."

(Make sure you're being assertive with your team members, if they can't give a valid reason why
  they can't work on something else then they should not argue. Beware of people who have a
"card" they play from their hand often.)
I like parts of your post.  The section quoted above is one I sincerely disagree with.

Gaining assertive control over your teammates is the largest killer of creativity I know.  I'll tell you right now I'm going to program the way I want because I know how I program best.  To think some project leader could know better than me is just part of the idiotic dogma preached by corporate America.

A good "project leader" will provide rational arguments for all the things he wants done.  The team members will see these rational arguments and come to the same conclusion as the leader.  Any other system will hurt people individualities, egos and the quality of the game.

All this being said, I only work with sane and rational people.  Because of this I do not need to teach rationality to my team.  Maybe your advice applies correctly if you are working with irrational people.

Offline FaeryShivers

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2008, 04:44:17 am »

Gaining assertive control over your teammates is the largest killer of creativity I know.  I'll tell you right now I'm going to program the way I want because I know how I program best.  To think some project leader could know better than me is just part of the idiotic dogma preached by corporate America.

Why exactly are you automatically more qualified than the project leader?
You are assuming this. The project leader could have 10-15 years programming experience on you, you have no idea.
Also, just because you can program does not mean that you know whats best for the development of the game
over someone who has limited programming experience but plenty of games under their belt.

"Some" project leader could be Richard Garriott and you know what he more than likely would say to people who decide
right off the bat that they know best how things should be programmed and in what order? ...Goodbye!
That would make you an unreasonable person to work with.

In fact I do believe that for Tabula Rasa he required extensive planning and set out how the code was to be
done through various meetings before anyone was even allowed to start programming. There was no "oh just
everyone do what you think is best..you're the programmer!". They got together with their team, made up a
plan, and made sure it was stuck to. They took input from the programming team of course for the planning,but
ultimately, the final decision was his to make. No one was permitted to just "change" the order of things because
they didn't feel like working on what they were assigned to do.

If you're working on a game and you decide that making hello kitty a nail salon is more important
than adding something so that hello kitty Island adventure can be run for more than 10 minutes without crashing
it doesn't take a genius to figure out you're not right for the project (you may say "ha" I would never do that..but
there are programmers and artists who would do such things and indeed do so). The project leader is designated as such
because the team, or company believes they are competent in making those decisions with or without input.
If you did not agree, you would not be working on the project I assume. You either can trust your team members
or you can't, having your back up all the time because you believe that corporate America is putting people
less intelligent than you in charge to "bring you down" isn't going to be good for anyone.





A good "project leader" will provide rational arguments for all the things he wants done.  The team members will see these rational arguments and come to the same conclusion as the leader.  Any other system will hurt people individualities, egos and the quality of the game.

If the project leader is a good project leader, you would have received a design document before the project was started, and
if you didn't agree to it you wouldn't have worked on the project. I see no reason why the project leader should have
to waste tons of time that could be spent developing because "programmer knows best" when "programmer agreed
to project". Yes compromises must be made, agreements must be reached but I don't believe it is right or fair
for the person put in charge to have to argue for every little thing. It seems a little counter productive.



I have worked on plenty of projects where I had no control over the game, just did what I was asked and
my creativity was in no way stifled. Creativity is not always going to be  a sandbox someone throws you into and says "do what
thou wilt". Sometimes being creative means working within given boundaries, and still wowing the client or teammate.



All this being said, I only work with sane and rational people.  Because of this I do not need to teach rationality to my team.  Maybe your advice applies correctly if you are working with irrational people.

The title of this thread/article is "Goblins of the game industry". I would say that dealing with irrational people (or how to avoid problems from irrational people) is one of the major points of the article? If not the point entirely?
It easy to say you only work with sane and rational people, but people change under stress, people buckle, people break.
Assuming that everyone you work with will always be awesome and co-operative is a nice fantasy...but it is just that..fantasy.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 04:48:05 am by FaeryShivers »

Offline Corinthian Baby

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #44 on: October 15, 2008, 06:07:00 pm »
For those who want to make games by themselves, then get rm2k3. I make games but I don't f with all this groups and contracts and junk, I be rockin it at me own pace, yo.

Offline Twirly

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #45 on: March 15, 2009, 06:57:13 pm »
Those goblins in the team appear pretty much in every
project which has a team. Like when you worked on a school project,
there always was a team with a lazy bum in it...
But nonethless this is a pretty useful guide you made!

Offline Shrike

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #46 on: March 15, 2009, 07:38:33 pm »
The main skill I'm missing is music authoring, and I haven't found a single piece of software that makes the learning experience a little smoother.

Have you tried Reason?

[OT] Reason is FAR from simple.  If you know how to write music try Sibelius, but if you don't and/or you want more techno/synthy stuff definitely go with FL Studio 8.  I have the producer edition but the free is quite workable as well.[/OT]

Offline Ben2theEdge

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #47 on: March 16, 2009, 02:03:08 pm »
Why exactly are you automatically more qualified than the project leader?
You are assuming this. The project leader could have 10-15 years programming experience on you, you have no idea.
Also, just because you can program does not mean that you know whats best for the development of the game
over someone who has limited programming experience but plenty of games under their belt.

Just saw this and figured I'd fuel the fire by agreeing  :D
Creativity is not a democracy. We tried to make it a democracy and look what we ended up with: focus testing and obsessive market research that usurps the creative minds everywhere they go.  :'( :'( :'(

Collaboration between two or possibly three people is often successful but once a team gets bigger than that, it requires hierarchy and vision or it fails to achieve anything. That doesn't mean the creative head should be a tyrannical dictator because often other people have good ideas. But someone with a vision needs to be calling the shots and when there is a disagreement, someone has to yield. Why should the visionary sacrifice his vision just to be "fair" to his team?
I mild from suffer dislexia.

Offline Doppleganger

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #48 on: March 16, 2009, 03:16:46 pm »
I'll agree with that. We once tried a design by committee for one of our games and a huge amount of time was wasted. Not only that, but the entire game was compromised because each individual aspect of the design was headed by someone else. The result was nothing short of horrible. Never again will I take part in a several week conversation debating the pros of sticking with a traditional experience system.

Offline AnnIshman

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Re: Goblins Of The Game Industry
« Reply #49 on: December 28, 2010, 02:51:27 pm »
The first little goblin is one I like to call "we don't need a contract." This is the first
and most fatal mistake for most development teams.

I realize I am coming into this 5 years late, but I disagree with this notion that we must turtle ourselves with a wall of legal protection. An example to counter this mentality is a successful music label who does not use contracts for any bands that they work with. I am referring to Dischord Records. As is stated in their About section:

Quote
"We work with bands through a rather organic process. We do not work with contracts so our relationship with our bands is based on friendship and trust."

They have been around since the 80's, worked with dozens of bands, run tours all around the world many times over. No contracts.

I am also a fan of small, personal development environments where the person/people you are working with is a relationship, and like a relationship you are constantly working at it and at some unfortunate point it may be time to end that relationship. If that break up is violent and someone wants to maliciously go after myself, or someone else on the team, my reaction would not be to figure out how I can wear a suit of armor for all future endeavors. I would look at why things ended so badly? Was there something I did or did not do that could have prevented it?

Maybe I am just a stinking hippy, though.