Ask Me Stuff

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Ask Me Stuff

We did this last week to great success. So let's do it again. This is your chance to ask me anything about the games industry. Just pop your question in the comments and I'll reply - at some point today - with an answer.

I'll be leaving this post open all day today and Thursday as well. Oh, and enjoy another image from Far Cry 2.

Comments

  • Which would you prefer to have handy in a street fight – Twice the Mega Power of a normal man or Blast Processing?

  • How does the hosting work with multiplayer games?

    Killzone 2 i can get 32 & Resistance 2 I get 60.
    But with Warhawk i can only host 12.

  • What gameplay elements do you think are missing from the traditional “Beat ’em Up” gaming genre? What do you think could be introduced to make this a viable genre for developers?

  • @Tom

    These are design decisions rather than technology issues. The developers of those games felt that these player numbers would provide the best experience. It’s something of a pet hate of mine actually that some gamers feel that the higher the player count, the better the game. When really it’s a choice a developer makes based on what is most appropriate for the type of experience they wish to create. I’d much rather play a well-designed 4-player deathmatch than a poorly-designed 60-plus-player game.

  • Hi, not to be rude but don’t you feel the gaming journalism is filled with lots of cookie cutter scripted ‘coverings’?

    Would you prefer the ability to be brutally honest about a game/company without them blacklisting you from content/announcements/exclusive coverage etc?

    Cheers

  • Do you really think there’s only one senator that opposes the R18 classification?

    Far better to push one forward and save the others the infantile abuse heaped on by gamers who cannot see that the R18 debate is small compared to the real problems inherent in the system.

  • Do you think that BETA testing is hurting sales figures?

    The reason why I ask this is Little Big Planet on the PS3 didn’t sell as well as sony had hoped. This got me thinking why? It was such a hyped game… even if you weren’t in to gaming chances are you have heard about it.

    Little Big Planet were very generous with the amount of people they gave access to the beta over in the states, could this be linked to the low sales charts?

    Now I for one loved the game, but I have to admit I got over it fairly quickly and started searching for something else to play. I dare say that a lot of the beta testers got their taste of what LBP had to offer and decided to not purchase the full game.

    Do you think that Sony need to reduce the amount of beta testers in order to ensure better sale figures?

    From my understanding a beta isn’t there to spread the word, thats what demo’s and marketing is for. From my point beta’s are in place to iron out some bugs that they may not have detected. Spreading the word of a game is all to do with marketing and advertising.

    Another thing… when you get that many Beta testers there, you would think that upon release you would have a game that works fully out of the box which is hardly the case anymore. There is often a patch within the first few weeks of the release.

    So yeah, Do you think the generous distribution on Beta keys are giving people the opportunity to play the game for free and therefore hurting sales figures?

  • @Miguel Koldlabia

    More Mega Power would be a good place to start.

    Serious answer: I assume you’re talking of beat ’em ups in the style of the old side-scrollers like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. We’ve seen two notable attempts at this genre recently: Castle Crashers and Watchmen. The first succeeds through its art style, its online co-op, its sheer variety, its simple RPG elements, its exuberance and sense of fun. The latter fails, despite some solid combat mechanics, due to its bland environments, mundane enemies and predictable pacing.

    Beat ’em up developers should look at the likes of God of War and Devil May Cry and bring some of that over-the-top action, along with online co-op and perhaps some of the other elements from Castle Crashers (where appropriate), to the genre.

  • I have noticed that much DLC when downloaded is as small as 100K… for entire new levels, multiplayer levels, characters, planes (Ace Combat – I’m looking at you), etc. It seems clear that this content was on the disc when I bought the game and that I’m really just buying an unlock code…

    Should this really be called DLC or should a “spade” be called a spade – DUC (Downloadable Unlock Code)?

    Should developers come clean that this is not additional content available for “download”, that it was pre-existing, there the whole time, and are just grabbing for more $$$ when I’ve already paid far too much for the game in the first place?

  • “Games journalism isn’t real journalism; your job is trivial. Go get a real job and make an actual contribution to society.”

    Thoughts?

  • @Danny Zucho

    It’s true that most games coverage these days involves a PR person acting as gatekeeper between developer and journalist. Journalists rely on PR to invite them to heavily stage-managed press events. PR people are the ones sending us preview and review code of upcoming games. If we want to interview a developer, we typically need to speak to the PR person first. Often there’ll be a PR person present during the interview, whether in-person or over the phone. If the interview is conducted via email, a PR person will see the questions before they go to the developer and see the answers before they’re returned to the journalist. And yes, I’m aware of tales of publications being blacklisted by games publishers over the years, but it usually only lasts until the next big game.

    Of course, none of this is unique to the games industry, nor is it going to change.

    But it doesn’t mean a journalist can’t do his job properly and honestly. You can attend a press event and write your own take on what was being presented. Just because there’s a PR person sitting in on the interview doesn’t mean you can’t ask hard questions. And if they’re not answered, you should write that. Although my first preference is always for a phone interview, I’ve agreed to a number of email interviews recently where the replies have read like a press release laced with marketing-speak. I’ve chosen not to publish them as a result. What the journalist has to do is always remember their responsibility is to their reader, not the PR person or developer.

  • @Evil Otto

    I suspect the QLD, WA, NSW and NT Attorneys-General are waiting for the public consultation period to take place before determining which way to vote. Certainly they don’t appear to be as heavily invested in opposing an R18+ category as Mr Atkinson is.

  • What do you think about the current state of contribution towards the general video games industry from developers based in Australia?

  • Hey Wildgoose

    I have no question, I’m just saying Hi. I remember you from your pcpp/hyper days.

    Keep up the good work.

  • @EzyLee

    It’s a little naive to think that beta tests are solely for network stress testing and quashing bugs. They’re right there in the marketing plan alongside that web-exclusive teaser trailer and that billboard ad campaign. Halo 3’s beta was smartly done, as was Call of Duty 4’s; both of them were calculated to generate hype and leave participants hanging for more.

    I doubt if LittleBigPlanet’s perceived low sales were due to over-exposure to the beta. The word-of-mouth form the beta was some of the most positive I’ve ever heard. There were probably other issues at stake there, more closely related to the type of game it was, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.

  • Ahoy broadly in relation to the gaming industry, and with the job rush that Australia is currently facing, namely people trying to get solid long term employment, I was just wondering what your opinions of a game based career are. and the best way to get involved. Having completed my degree in Psychology (I graduated last night) I am torn between looking for a career in a games related field, and seeking more mainstream employment working in say HR or marketing. Realistically speaking I know Perth, where I reside, is not a great place to be getting a start in a game related career, but I am not quite ready to sign my life away to be a boring office worker dealing with a subject material I have no love for and little interest in. wondering about your thoughts, thanks.

  • Hey David, what Xbox games are you currently playing? Shoot me an e-mail and lemme add you to my XBL gamer list. πŸ™‚

  • @DamQ

    Simple: If it’s on the disc, it should be already accessible as part of the game or be unlocked for free at a later date. There’s no excuse a developer or publisher could make to convince me otherwise. To be honest though, I think most of them have learned that this isn’t the way to release DLC.

  • Hi Dave, thanks for this opportunity.

    My question: Do you think that a career in games is a realistic option for an Aussie. I looked at starting with QANTM College this year but decided against it after further scrutiny of both the college and the Australian games industry in general.

    It seems only one or two developers are making decent games (Such as Creative Assembly) and everyone else is scrambling for scraps (Such as the Brisbane firm that released the Wii and PS2 versions of Force Unleashed). I was interested in the industry not for money but for the enjoyment of creating interesting, original and worthy games. It seems liek the Aust. industry is just scraping by on selling B grade budget titles to ‘Grandma’.

    Now I know my criticism may seem a bit harsh but it has been shown that indie developers can make incredible games (See: Braid, Darwinia and a heap of others) and these guys do so on very little budgets.

    I guess I’m just sad to see the lack of lateral or original thinking in the Aussie games industry I mean c’mon Viva Pinata? Deblob? Where are the block buster titles on the international market? Or better yet where are the interesting, original and creative niche titles that small studios can hit the jackpot with.

    Please give me a reason why young (and old) Australians should pour their life into an industry that seems to be floundering at best and producing horrid titles at worst.

  • Hey David.

    I mostly game on my Xbox 360.

    Anyway, I’m considering a PS3 to add to my arsenal. Mostly because I feel like it and think to myself I simply must have it; however, I can see a few genuine reasons to enjoy this piece of hardware.

    So putting money aside, in your opinion is this a console I should bother with since I already own a 360?

    Some thoughts of mine-

    1. My 360 turns my room into a heater in summer, even with a fan on it. So maybe a PS3 is a good summer system?

    2. There are some cool games, ‘exclusive’ to the PS3, that I’m interested in, such as, Killzone 2, MGS4.

    3. Blu-ray?

  • @DamQ:

    The developers aren’t hiding away locked levels that are already loaded onto the disc. The art assets required for new levels are already on the disc, as is all the functionality for interacting with the level. What you are downloading are newly designed areas and events that use pre-existing assets.
    Please don’t accuse developers who work their butt’s off to get this content out for everyone as devious money-grabbers. They want to get as much into their game as possible.

  • @Clocks

    What’s “real” journalism? Obviously not every job is about saving the world. But games are important to a lot of people. If a games journalist is providing information about a form of entertainment or art that society views as important, then isn’t that making a contribution to that society?

  • @Glenn
    @Benjamin Djung

    Dismissing the majority of our development industry as “scrambling for scraps” is harsh. You’re ignoring the success of BioShock, Puzzle Quest and De Blob, to name just a few recent Australian-made titles I’d certainly consider creative and interesting. Sure, you may not consider Krome’s work on Viva Pinata: Party Animals or The Force Unleashed to be “worthy”, but they’re the kind of gigs that keep business ticking over.

    Expecting to walk into a development job on a hardcore, blockbuster project anywhere in the world will only end in disappointment. Anyone contemplating a career in dev should realise that opportunities to work on, for example, Half-Life 3 or the next Mario game are the exception. And just because you are working on a game you perhaps wouldn’t be interested in as a gamer, it doesn’t mean you’re not using your skills in a creative and satisfying way.

  • @HotDamn!

    Unless money is no obstacle, I’d suggest waiting until the PS3 is cheaper. If you play online, you’ll probably find yourself sticking to the 360 for multi-platform games, even after you’ve got a PS3, simply because you’re already part of that community. Which leaves exclusives, of which there are plenty of worthy ones (I’d add Valkyria Chronicles, LBP, Uncharted and a bunch of PSN games to your list), but they’ll still be there to play no matter when you buy the console.

    Blu-ray? Well, if high-def movies are important to you, the PS3 is generally regarded as the best Blu-ray player.

    Really, it depends on how badly you want those exclusive titles. Only you can answer that.

  • @nik

    Off the top of my head: Silent Hill 2, The Last Express, Thief, Planescape: Torment, the Ultima series, Psychonauts, Metroid series, Deus Ex, Outcast, GTA III, Mario Tennis 64, Castlevania series, er… that’s more than ten already, isn’t it?

  • David, why can’t you find any better FC2 images than those months old promo shots? Seriously, use any of the pics in my Flickr stream – anything to ward off those same-same promo photos! http://is.gd/nP2p

  • To those of you who keep asking about getting in games programming or design or anything to do with making games really. I graduated in 2000 (So I’m 26) and a mate of mine did a Uni course in it’s first year at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, NSW. From what I understand it was a broad course that covered programming as well as design, graphics, sound, etc. The final year of the course was placement with a company. A bunch of them got picked up by Sony’s Cambridge studio in the UK. My mate still works there, as a programmer, and I’ve seen his name in the credits for games such as Medieval (PSP), 24 (PS2), Heavenly Sword (PS3). He says the job has it’s ups and downs. Pay isn’t good and the hours are crazy (a lot of 7 day weeks with 14 hour days) but he says there are rewarding parts too. Just keep all this in mind, and check out the Charles Sturt Uni course if you are interested. You may not be as lucky as him but who knows!

  • David,
    I was wondering what your thoughts are about the future of local area co-op gaming. This issue really confronted me with Left 4 Dead. I wonder how a game so aimed at having a very small group of players working together seems to focus entirely on internet play, not LAN (true, consoles do allow two players per machine). Though there are pros and cons to both internet and lan, what annoys me is how few games these days allow you to make your own choice, instead forcing internet use. Though this is usually for security (a very legitimate reason), once installed I feel the game should be free from mandatory downloads, updates, and especially being bullied into playing through an internet server. Of course, I am probably biased as my personal computer doesn’t have internet connection (when needed, I run a cable to the other end of the house). But my point is, do we really need the internet to play games?

  • Dave,

    Bioshock was not an Australian game, it was developed in Boston, with assistance from the Aussie team. I think you missed my whole point – I’m not interested in making the next half life game, this kind of budget is way out of expecations. I was more comparing a mob liek Krome to say Introversion.

    Both small teams (intro tiny) and both making VERY different games. On one hand you have well thought out highly original games, then you have a really cheap Mario party knock off. With uninteresting characters, mediochre gameplay and sold straight off the bat as a ‘free bundle’ or budget title. Seriously if that’s the kind of games we are producing then I’m happy to stay on the ‘hobbyist’ side of the fence.

    I fail to see the attraction of the industry when no matter how much pride you take out of or effort you put into a title you end up with… Viva Pinata. I’m not having a dig at the individual developers, just the direction that the companies are going – which seems to be cheap, budget, contrived and mass produced material.

    Be grand to see some Aussie talent out there with the kind of attitude that Jonathan Blow etc. have.

  • On the Far Cry 2 pic

    Why is it taking SOO long for them to come out with a new patch? Also why have they only done one DLC (for consoles only, why not PC)?

  • @Dave

    Looking to get involved anywhere that deals with the people involved in the industry, maybe HR or Marketing in relation to games/companies etc, I am relatively intelligent and articulate and deal well with people, and as well have been an avid gamer most of my life. With a background in Psyc, I figured I might be able to bring an interesting perspective to such positions, as well as the people that I would work with. (Not to mention the organization and creative skills that where cultivated within the degree.) This is sounding a lot like a job application, but rather then the creation of games, or bug testing them (although not opposed to the latter) I was looking for something more in relation to the distribution, I even considered working for the Local EB which opened up about a week ago, but as they got some 100 odd job applications in the first day of business, it’s not looking good. Any ideas?

  • @David Wildgoose

    Cheers for the response…

    When do you forsee a price cut? Given all the hoopla spouted by Sony they seem adamant that the console will NOT get one and that it’ll always be more expensive.

    Also, generally, how much cooler is the PS3 over the 360?

  • @HotDamn!

    Rumours overnight out of the UK that there could be a PS3 price drop quite soon. I’ve heard nothing locally though. Oh, and significantly cooler.

  • @Glenn

    I still think you’re being very unkind to the local industry. BioShock was a joint effort between the two Irrational offices, with design lead out of Boston and tech lead out of Canberra. You’ll find more Australian names in the credits than Bostonians. Your handpicked comparison of Krome and Introversion is unfair, too, as no single studio is representative of a country’s development output. Why not compare Infinite Interactive with, I dunno, Heavy Iron?

  • @bob squiggles

    I wish I knew. I understand there are still issues with corrupted saves on the 360 version. Fixing that would be nice. Otherwise, what sort of DLC would you like to see?

  • @Hips

    Can’t say I know much about HR in the local games industry, but I suspect most companies aren’t large enough to warrant full-time HR managers. As for marketing, a marketing assistant role at a local publisher would be the place to start. You’d want to be living in Sydney though. Some development studios have product or brand managers, so there may be opportunities for junior roles too.

  • I really cant decide if I like farcry 2.

    1. Some many little things/bugs that just made it so frustrating. (The game wouldn’t let me access radio towers for those assassination missions in Leboa Sako!)

    2. All that talk about it being a sandbox experience was just rhetoric. Besides the fire I can’t think of any other variables in the box-o-sand.

    3. Multiplayer is…strange. Every player (exaggeration) using that one-shot-kill sniper rifle? silly. Flamethrower? Completely useless. If you spring someone with it they just turn around and kill, then die.

    Now, my question. Why does listing these faults make me want to go back and play it?

  • You wouldn’t know of any updates to the in-development Warhammer 40,000 MMO? Last update I heard from from around May last year.

  • So I was wonder if there is any DLC coming to Resistance2???
    I am hanging for some more co-op missions or new maps…anything on the horizon?

  • Hey,
    In Australia it is damn nigh impossible to get MGS1 or old Ps1 games for that matter. (im not counting ebay) It seems like a good business decision to put the original MGS on PSN (Japan has it).

  • Hi David.

    Mad props for attempting to keep everyone happy!

    Any truth to the rumour that Starbreeze’s “project RedLime” is a Syndicate remake? πŸ˜€

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