I'm not much of an gamer but I have an Xbox One and bought Destiny last night. The marketing was way too much, but I figured it should be a decent game. Well, it is, its something of a milquetoast Halo-clone shooter with some tacked on multiplayer/MMO stuff, but, my god, the game is drenched in Hollywood-esque overly-done orchestral music, big dramatic overtures, epic-style storytelling, etc. Its a lot of art and music that really doesn't need to be there. Setting the scene shouldn't be this big of a job, nor as serious. Its just a game- Let me play it.
I doubt AAA games will ever go back to not being movie-like, but it just seems like a huge waste of money and time (yet another 10 minute intro to sit through for example). A part of me would just rather dive into a simpler game that gets me to the gaming parts quickly instead of hitting me over the head telling me how awesome the game will be via cutscenes and dramatic scores.
Simplicity can be its own reward and can be just as emotionally fulfilling, as many low budget and simple-graphic indie games have shown. When Destiny is almost forgotten, we won't be reminiscing about its cutscenes or whatever currently popular actors they got to do the voice-overs. We'll be talking about our battles and accomplishments. Shame the focus on these games is more towards the aesthetic than the actual gameplay.
Notch as our collective gaming conscience is kinda nice. I think someone who has a high profile should be saying these things. A lot of lower profile indie guys certainly have, but they don't have the gaming cred to make the front page of HN, reddit, etc.
Here's another way to think about it: most games companies employ nobody with any training or experience in game design theory (they might give someone the title "game designer", but that doesn't suddenly confer them skills and knowledge they didn't have previously.) So where would you expect novel game mechanics--or even interest in "making games fun"--to come from?
Maybe we could learn from that. What if the games industry followed the more standard Hollywood pipeline of "screenwriter writes a screenplay, shops it out for publication; some production company buys it and starts making it"? Imagine if we had indie game designers making their living writing game design documents and shopping them around to AAA companies--there would actually be a coherent game that the AAA edifice was hung upon! It might even be playtested and prototyped so as to guarantee it's fun before the AAA company even buys it!
Effectively, in games industry terms, you'd have the indie game makers creating the initial "game", but never publishing it--and then the AAA company creating a souped-up clone of that game, which is the first version of it anyone will ever see.
I do know people with the title of "game designer" at most of the big names, though, so that bit of your post falls flat for me.
It seems to me that a lot of people think the old Microprose's and Id's were the AAA of their day and the nature of AAA games has mutated from something simple, fun, and authentic into the horrible monstrosity of today's overblown games.
I rather think that today's AAA games are a new phenomenon that overshadows but doesn't replace the kinds of games & game studios that most of us grew up loving. Those simpler, less overproduced games never went away.
Even in the 90s there were quite a few attempts to create movie like games, where live movie footage was mixed into gameplay. Night Trap and Rebel Assault are early examples of this.
The problem they had was that there was too jarring a difference in realism between game sprites and movie footage.
Not just that - fancy animated cut scenes for intros and finales like in Dune 2 (1992) for PC. For a game that was maybe 10 MB on disk, those short animations were about 10 - 20% of the total installed size.
In any case, a team of ten people over the course of a year is typical for the time. The whole CONCEPT of a megabudget game with a hundred people solely dedicated to art and design for several years is something I've first associated with Final Fantasy VII.
The term "AAA" for me has implications of "Three million copies sold and we didn't even make back our IT budget".
Take for example the issue of computer & video games from january 1991, right after the release of commander keen.
What were the ads? The untouchables, michael jackson's moonwalker, ghouls 'n ghosts, what's the score? (Microprose soccer game), f29 retaliator, ...
The games we remember most fondly aren't the mainstream games of their time, they're the ones that we kept playing long enough in order not to forget about them.
We also have to remember that Shareware games only really got real traction with Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, which would not come out for years. Keen was always more of a cult classic than anything else.
And despite this, I see an ad for one Sid Meier's Pirates, which is a classic. An Amiga review for Cinemaware's It Came From The Desert, another big classic, getting a 95%. An entire page of clues on Indiana Jones 3, a tremendous adventure game. An ad for an old Dragonlance RPG/Action hybrid, which was pretty fun. A once page ad for one Sim City, which is about as important a game as it gets.
The top sellers for C64 and Spectrum are dismal, but on the Amiga/ST charts, I can't blame people for liking the Strider port, but we see one Space Quest 3 in there, and more Indy, Bloodwych, and the pretty good for it's time TV Sports Football, another Cinemaware classic.
Action games sold very well, and yet, like all action games, they are quickly surpassed by some of the same with some gameplay tweaks and better graphics. It's just an issue of genre longevity.
So based on my reading of the magazine, the games we remember from the era, barring a few exceptions, just happened to be the most popular games of the era outside of the action genre. They are all over the magazine.
So yeah, the great games were still there, and well reviewed.
I've found huge amounts of joy at reasonable prices with Indie Games, retro games and emulation.
I've absolutely fallen in love again with the Dreadnaught Factor for the Atari 5200, it manage to convey a sense of mood and has amazing gameplay, all in just a couple kilobytes.
Granada and Ranger X on the Genesis/MegaDrive are also games I've just discovered.
Ranger X is a AAA title from 1993, and feels innovative and fresh and never gets bogged down in useless cinematics. You fight in the set pieces instead of just watching them. The first part of the game has you tearing along the desert on your robot bike right outside the ruins of an old fortress as you fight enemies while outgoing artillery fire shoots off into the distance over your head.
Granada is an old-school style top down tank shooter with great music that's perfect for a 10 minute game session.
There's hundreds of thousands of old games you can cheaply mine through, and they're well emulated. I play Granada and Ranger X on a portable emulation device for example. My 2006 netbook is more than capable of emulating just about anything up to the SNES era...add in XBOX controllers and hook it up to the VGA input on my TV and it's basically like I'm console gaming again. Except it's better with save states and filters.
There's also tons of great indie games with smart sensibilities and great gameplay. The Humble Bundles come fast and frequent and usually have great games. You can usually score a half dozen games each time for under $7.
I love small, single-person-made games; and I love grand $100million dollar games. They each have their ambitions, and both of them are worthy of attention.
I'm not sure, I remember a couple years ago going to a GDC session where a pretty high up executive at, I believe, EA was more or less predicting doom. (This was his own opinion not his employers). Anyway his point was that AAA games are inconvenient for players (short play sessions on low end computers are impossible), and extremely expensive to make (A lot of them are north of $60 million now), and that while expenses are growing exponentially profits are not. So I wouldn't be shocked if AAA games just become so expensive that they're not worth making at that price point anymore, and the giant epic AAA thing becomes more of a niche.
There are games that take "cinematic" set pieces to great effect, and create a condensed experience that can leave you emotionally drained at the end.
There is the "cutscene every 5 minutes" issue that comes up, but it seems to be an issue mainly in the beginning of games. I feel like the games industry could really use some A/B testing on intros.
Shadow of the Collosus is a game that is only about set pieces yet I will probably never forget it. The gameplay itself was somewhat terrible (some would praise it but you're basically just a cameraman, there's no real decision making in the game).
You don't become great by doing big things, you become great by doing little things and fooling around and starting projects and then abandoning them when you've gotten everything out of them you want to get. Then, when the big things find you, you will be ready.
I would expect a site called Hacker News to understand this. That most of those comments are at the bottom of the page indicates that many do.
And actually, Minecraft was ambitious, just not in the ways the game industry would think of as ambitious. The infinite open world, the surprisingly challenging combat, the varying ways to play the game.
Still, putting it on Notch to duplicate the success of Minecraft is ignorant of the reality that phenomenons don't happen very often. And I don't believe he even knows what made it a phenomenon. I don't think any people involved in the creation of such things understands what made them big.
Thus, criticizing Notch for "messing around" and having "no focus" is actively interfering with the creation of the next Minecraft!
And woe to those who've bilked others into thinking that from-the-ground-up hits are just an aspect of following a recipe.
Sure, The Planning Spreadsheet wants a new hit every year but it completely ignores the slow iterative process that it took to pull that rabbit out of the hat.
Delayed gratification, a like-thinking spouse, and compound interest is the answer.
I often think about following this path. Do you have any regrets? Do you get enough time to program?
I program about the same amount of time now as when I was last paid a salary back in 2006, i.e. about 40 hours a week.
Recurring revenue sounds more moderate, $X,000 a month is a more realistic goal than $X,000,000,000 company buyout
But at the end of the day, they both mean you get to work on fun stuff more often :)
If you have recurring revenue of $x thousand per month from a product or service where revenue doesn't scale with hours worked you still have stress because if your customers leave (for example a competitor launches something better or cheaper) your revenue drops. So you still must spend at least some of your time working on that.
On the other hand, our business is based on a quarterly subscription model so recurring revenue is a very important metric.
Pick an episode, pick a difficulty, and literally 3 seconds later you've blasted somebody in the face. And the music. Phenomenal. Why is everything orchestral now?
It was a game. Not a semi-interactive movie. You could play it for 30 minutes or 3 hours, didn't matter. Dozens of enemies on screen, shooting you, insane fun.
What did we arrive at? Overly-dramatic, Michael-Bay-inspired "Saving private Ryan"-wannabe's with "realism" and "grit" and a 50 minute intro, with 5-minute levels, separated by 5-minute cut-scenes....ugh.
I would, immediately, pay $60 for a game like Doom, with retouched graphics, Fast-paced, fast-moving, maze-like levels you have to actually explore, with secrets (yes, I know it's not realistic) and just dozens of baddies you can blast to smithereens. And when you die, get this - you respawn in 3 seconds or less. No dying animation, no "Loading..." screen.
$60, right now.
IIRC the "plot" involves time travel, aliens, and how fast you can shoot them. Loads of fun, pretty difficult, decent 3d graphics, none of that other bullshit.
Still one of the most fun games ever.
I still think Quake 1 is a lot of fun, too.
Also, these kind of games make it feasible to write a random level generator that actually makes okay levels (there are such generators for Doom), and allow users to create their own levels with custom art styles in a day or so.
Also, in case you're interested, I created a making-of video for Xibalba that explains the tech and level editor a bit.
Here's how it works.
A doom engine is a little more involved and requires BSP trees, more clipping/culling and something closer to actual 3d (floors and ceilings with variable heights, geometry that doesn't fit onto a grid).
Both of the games used 2d sprites for enemies rather than 3d models, so you could draw all of the graphics with paint rather than a modelling tool which would probably be a significant time saver.
I keep thinking about the Malcolm Gladwell "Ten thousand hours to expertise" idea, and for Carmack to be looking at this sort of stuff at the age of 22, he basically had to eat sleep and shit computer graphics for years and years on end before he could be in a position to apply this to a computer game.
A psuedo 3d wolfenstein clone written with a reasonably optimized raycaster would probably outperform a unity version quite significantly. I don't know how well suited unity is for having 3d game entities represented by flat textures instead of 3d models for example.
2) Game logic - a game like Wolfenstein has basically planar gameplay, you can't jump or aim up and down. You could play the same game in top-down view on a grid of squares.
3) Rendering - it should take you at most a day to write a Wolfenstein like renderer. Might be scary if you've never done 3D before, but it's a great starter project.
In any case, heretic and hexen actually let you look up and down. Crispy Doom (among others) have backported this feature and hook it with mouse aim.
Try shotgunning someone high up and far far away. Either there's a distance limit to auto aim, or it's just really damn picky about how perfectly you're lined up. Most of your shots will hit the wall below him.. it can be frustrating.
Here's the entire cacodemon spritesheet http://doomfansite.synthasite.com/resources/Cacodemonsheet.g...
Every monster that can walk needs to have a fully animated walk for going towards the player and away from the player and every angle in between. Ditto firing anims. That's a lot of walk cycles. They cheat with the death anims since the monster always faces the player to die. Still, lots of walk and firing anims.
The approach also fails for PVP models because players can fire and move at the same time, which creates the "skating" effect from Doom/Quake1/Quake2.
- signed, an art person.
And if the Microsoft rumours are true Notch could be well on his way to being a billionaire
"Coding With Angersock" could be a thing.
I've got to sign up and maybe pay to 'cast.
There's no simple "This is how you get started...push buttan receive broadcast link."
I'm super super lazy.
That brings back memories of playing around with WAD files, pulling out graphics and palettes, reading level data and drawing it with LineTo() and MoveTo() calls, and running into all the limits of a 16-bit C compiler (Turbo C)...
In retrospect, our sprites had their own lofi charm but yea, I never thought to just open up the WAD files.
Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners. As the majority shareholder, I’d know. Every time a big money making deal comes up that would make a lot of money, it’s of course very tempting, but at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us at Mojang.
This seems to be in conflict with the whole "selling Mojang to M$ for two gigabucks" thing.
I enjoyed his livecoding streams for Ludum Dare and on hitbox, so I'm sure it's still be fun whatever other project he wants to tackle on next.
PS: less importantly, gonna sell Mojang."
From his channel there is a link to the project repository: https://github.com/xnotch/dark/
EDIT: Google's recent inclusion of bus services in the public transport routing information for Maps has made it even better. Cheers for that, Google!
> I still like playing games and programming, and once I had the latest computer and consoles, there really isn't much more to spend the money on than traveling. I might eventually get a driver's license so I can buy a car.
It seems like Notch just likes doing the fun initial work on games but gets bored once he's worked out all of the hard problems. I can hardly blame him for that, most of us are guilty to some degree, but he shouldn't market his projects so strongly if he is just going to ditch them.
His stream is a big deal watched by a heck of a lot of people. If he just wants to experiment he should turn the cameras off like most of us do.
I think the ability to work on what you feel like and creative exploration is fine, but when there's a considerable gap between your last qualified success (or a lengthy period since you last actually completed something you were interested in), it should be a warning sign that you need to knuckle down a little.
Success is a thing in of itself, it doesn't require repetition for validation. If notch is in a place where he never needs to meet your criteria of success ever again I'm sure he would be quite happy.
One second thoughts, having been on the sidelines of gaming communities for a number of years, I imagine that not having to feel like you need a success ever again is probably the best possible outcome as an indie game dev.
Also some of the Ludum Dare stuff he makes is pretty amazing. And he is giving a huge boost to WebGL now.
Looks to me like he has continued to code awesome stuff. Just because something doesn't suddenly earn millions of dollars doesn't mean it isn't a success.
Life isn't all about money (which he already has a lot of) and pumping out products.