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Major Arlene

I Can't Get Excited About (AAA) Games Anymore

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I've been long disillusioned from them as well, but for less cynical reasons I guess. Not that yours are less valid.

 

Most of the top game dev studios in the industry no longer have the sort of room to make games with personality and risk making things that are different. Trend chasing has become so normalized in these mutli-billion dollar studios that it's incentivized those in charge to do what Microsoft has done. They don't want to fund game studios, they want to fund money printers.

 

I can't get excited for what anyone makes if I know there's no soul.

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I understand your feelings. It's hard to enjoy games when you're burnt out and  shit is going on around you.

But the gaming industry has actually almost always been like this. The gaming industry has always been crap and there used to be a huge number of shitty games, self-repeats, copies and conveyors.

 

Often nostalgia makes us think that things were better before. In fact, history is cyclical and repeats itself again.

Bad games were released in the past mixed with good ones, and they are still being released now.

 

And the game industry, from the very moment of its founding, has always been a machine for pumping out money

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5 minutes ago, Astar said:

I understand your feelings. It's hard to enjoy games when you're burnt out and  shit is going on around you.

But the gaming industry has actually almost always been like this. The gaming industry has always been crap and there used to be a huge number of shitty games, self-repeats, copies and conveyors.

 

Often nostalgia makes us think that things were better before. In fact, history is cyclical and repeats itself again.

Bad games were released in the past mixed with good ones, and they are still being released now.

 

And the game industry, from the very moment of its founding, has always been a machine for pumping out money

Yeah this is kinda my point I guess. It's a shit cycle and I'd love some ideas on how to stop it.

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It all sounds rather like Hollywood; lack of originality, sequelitis, and so on. Not that the sequalization of film is always bad. I very much enjoy the Jurassic Park/World series, even though I realize they are money-making products rather than great films. 

 

That said . . . I have never been excited about AAA games. That's because I'm a Doomer, not a gamer per se. Further, I'm a mapper rather than a player, though as I near retirement I plan to do a lot more playing than before. Still, you can't map for AAA games, thus my lack of interest. And to go one step further, I'm an Amiga guy, not a PC guy, so I have a lot of interest in Amiga FPS games from the '90s, and in wonderful TCs like Project Osiris by @Arcturus, a fellow I've seen on AmigaBill twitchstreams a few times. I played Project Osiris over the past week, and it was a magical experience for me. Top-tier work from beginning to end. Would a AAA game give me such a thrill?

 

That said, I plan to buy DoomQuake, The Dark Ages of Conan at The Hexen Bar & Grill, because it showcases what we love about AAA games -- awesome visuals, wonderful gibs, incredible animations -- alla dat. And this time I might buy an Xbox to play it on. I do appreciate the troubles of the game industry and its employees that you write about so eloquently. At some point, there will be a shake-out and a new equilibrium will be found -- one hopes. Until then, I'll keep hoping that someone does a TC of the Amiga FPS Breathless, my personal fave, and I'll mess around with my A500 Mini. :)

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Steve D said:

Until then, I'll keep hoping that someone does a TC of the Amiga FPS Breathless, my personal fave, and I'll mess around with my A500 Mini. :)

That is, until we get that sweet Amico with the Karma gaming engine!! :)

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Agreed. At this point I find myself playing older games that I either never finished or haven’t played in years or missed entirely, play mods, add ons, etc. for wolf 3d, doom, quake, and Duke 3d, and play a lot of indie games.

 

I also don’t want to accept it myself but maybe for me another part of it is age and seeing the industry for what it really is, but also not being able to click with a lot of the newer titles. 

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I don't get hyped anymore for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned. It's hard when trends seem to stay in vogue for longer than they have before. It's hard when you've seen disappointment after disappointment. It's hard when the industry seems hell bent on treating the people who make games so disgustingly. It's hard when the discourse surrounding games is so toxic, and people are monetarily incentivized to be as negative as humanly possible about everything.

 

 At this point, I don't get hyped by events. I get hyped by a friend telling me about something cool.

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Heh, I got into wanting to learn game programming because nobody was making the space

shooter arcadey type games I grew up with anymore. That means I'm really f*ing old! The

newest game console I ever bought (used) was a Sega Dreamcast and the only reason I

got it was to play a CD chock full of NES 8-bit cartridge images through an emulator. Oh,

wait, I also bought that kickstarter thing, Ouya. Ended up doing the same thing with that;

playing emulated NES 8-bit cartridge games. I'd originally planned on programming for it

because I thought it would really take off. I shouldn't have been surprised how fast that

company went under...

 

Anyhow, the point is I don't ever buy new games or game systems. Nowadays, just happy

to be able to play my Mo'Tanky Enemeesh multi-player deathmatch with custom monsters

in Zandronum. Things get blown up in that. They get blown up real good!

 

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17 minutes ago, Major Arlene said:

That is, until we get that sweet Amico with the Karma gaming engine!! :)

 

Who knows what might happen? Amiga IP still has a certain cache, which, however unlikely, might tempt some corporation at some point in time in a universe far, far away; and they still make a run of new, modern Amigas every now and then. It's The Survivor, after all. ;)

 

Ap3SQmT.jpg

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3 hours ago, Major Arlene said:

my short time in the industry

I can't get excited about Early Access games anymore.

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AAA games are a strange case to me, some of them look really cool e.g most of the recent CoD games but I feel like they place more of an emphasis on graphics than playability or the amount of actual content. Black Ops 6 is reported to have a 309.8GB file size, which is absurd for a single game. The gameplay reveal trailers aren't even what they claim to be either, and naming it that when looking at the final video is nothing short of insulting to the people who still care about a mostly tarnished series. Doesn't ring a good bell for the actual amount of content included, as if I willingly bought this game, I'd probably take more time installing it than going through the campaign.

 

I will not be surprised whatsoever if companies like Activision Blizzard start partnering up with SSD manufacturers to bundle single games, give it a year or two.

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this is also how I feel! and I'm finding it very easy to not support modern microsoft, blizzard & ea stuff as a consequence

another point I can't help noticing is the way that boxed engines like Unreal create a huge number of devs whose skillset is tied to that engine and will be stuck making very similar games to the one they entered the industry with. it's not just the expectation of a sequel that ties the hands of the developer, the tools themselves also do

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12 minutes ago, yakfak said:

this is also how I feel! and I'm finding it very easy to not support modern microsoft, blizzard & ea stuff as a consequence

another point I can't help noticing is the way that boxed engines like Unreal create a huge number of devs whose skillset is tied to that engine and will be stuck making very similar games to the one they entered the industry with. it's not just the expectation of a sequel that ties the hands of the developer, the tools themselves also do

Not really. At least with the big ones (unreal and unity) it's not super hard to transfer your skills. Like, there is a learning curve, but if you're dedicated enough to learn one tool and make a career out of it it's not a huge effort to learn a new engine as there is a decent amount of crossover. Not to mention you can make pretty much anything with those engines anyway.

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I'm not sure why I bother getting excited since I can't even play any of them in the first place. My computer ain't a beast, it runs games that would have been considered high tier in 2008 at most. I am stuck just playing older games until I suddenly have a beefier rig and I probably won't even want to play AAA games by then if the industry keeps going in the directing its heading.

 

I'm still baffled about the layoffs Microsoft was dishing out, especially to the studio that made High-Fi Rush. Even more baffling when they made tweets about wanting more games like High-Fi Rush days after the layoffs and then couldn't even answer why the hell they shut down the studio in the first place. Genuinely really sucks to be game developer right now.

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2 hours ago, Major Arlene said:

Yeah this is kinda my point I guess. It's a shit cycle and I'd love some ideas on how to stop it.

Abolish capitalism.

 

Nah but seriously, though. Have you seen just how many people work on a game nowadays? Between coders, concept artists, texture artists, 3D modelers, level designers, composers and sound designers, you can have hundreds of people, even thousands once you add in all the testers and other QA people.

 

Game development takes time, about three years for an AAA title. So hundreds of wages multiplied by three years, plus of course the other functioning costs just to have a working office space for them, including taxes, utility bills, software licenses, hardware purchases, etc. That's really a lot of money. Money that they've got to recoup somehow.

 

Since funding a studio to develop a game represents such a large investment, the investors will apply pressure to reduce risk, and that does mean less originality overall. Same reason, same result as to why Hollywood blockbusters are so formulaic and stale.

 

So the way to avoid that would be, what, to fund studios to develop stuff regardless of expected market returns? That's possible if you happen to be a billionaire and you want to be a patron of the videoludical arts, but I doubt anyone around here fits that profile.

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1 minute ago, Gez said:

So the way to avoid that would be, what, to fund studios to develop stuff regardless of expected market returns? That's possible if you happen to be a billionaire and you want to be a patron of the videoludical arts, but I doubt anyone around here fits that profile.

I mean, the C-suites of these corporations often end up millionaires so maybe we should start there?

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I stopped being excited about big game releases in 2013 when the game I was waiting for, CoD: Ghosts, turned out to not only be disappointing, but also refused to run on my computer. That was the moment when I just stopped caring and began playing either old or indie games. Later down the line I realized how greedy AAA games are and started caring about them even less. I think the newest AAA release that I've played was Prey by Arcane, and even then it was gifted to me. Besides, even my current computer struggles to run most big games made after 2014, so they're inaccessible to me anyway.

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I think I've been in a state of complete apathy for the triple-A video game industry for more than fifteen years, with the addition that I'm not too excited about the indie scene either, even though I eventually play things that I enjoy in both sectors.
Sometimes I think if I even like video games anymore, beyond the theoretical concept, and even though I have never stopped playing my favorites.

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48 minutes ago, Major Arlene said:

I mean, the C-suites of these corporations often end up millionaires so maybe we should start there?

These guys only fulfill the "money" part of the equation, not the "want to be a patron of the arts" part.

 

These two parts are very unlikely to be found together. Typically, the people who have money have money because they're selfish and never spend it on non-profit causes.

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As piss poor as it is, should Id Soft take blame? Just asking the OP. I know they are now part of the Microsoft cog machine and that several studios (Including Tango) went ahoot, some of which was completely uncalled for. Tango in particular should not suffer such a fate.

 

So i get where you are at. Even if you were to enjoy The Dark Ages, it is published by a publisher for very much does not care about the status of a studio since they will just close it anyway. Who is to say Id Soft can't share a similar fate?

 

2 hours ago, Kinsie said:

I can't get excited about Early Access games anymore.

So you will be missing out on Selaco then. Pity.

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This thing you said in the article really got me. Feeling obligated to buy the new doom, even if it doesn't seem all that appealing just so id software wouldn't get broken up. I'm paraphrasing. Because especially lately, it sure seems like there's no pleasing the corporate machine. If a studio does poorly, they get closed, but even if a studio does really well, and their game is both financial and critical hit, they get closed too. Prime example being Hi-fi Rush developers, Tango Gameworks. It's a relatively low budget game, reaching to universal acclaim, everybody talked about it, and how they want more games like it. Good job, Tango congratulations for this great achievement, now clear your desks, you're all fired. 

What's going on here? 

So does it really make sense to throw 70 bucks in the gaping maw of executives who didn't actually make the game in hopes they'll keep id away from the chopping block? That's a lot of money for something you don't really want to buy, don't you think? By the way, you don't owe them anything. Yes, id is a legend in the industry but that status should never be used as a leverage over you as a customer. None of us is responsible for their success / failure. It's a company, and companies aren't friends. 

 

My last AAA game purchase was Saints Row IV, which was -holy crap- in 2013. Gone for indies since then. Small games made with passion. That's where the real innovation is, that's where soul is, not just seeking infinite growth at all cost. Yes, you have to sift through a mountain of garbage to find the real gems but they are there, and they're well worth the effort. For 70 bucks you can get 2-5 top tier indie games that will be way more fun than a single big budget AAA release, guaranteed. 

Plus, with indies you're far more likely to pay money for the game and then have the complete game, none of the exploitative in-game slot machine bullshit for cosmetics and features and what not. 

Edited by Sneezy McGlassFace

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I definitely get your feeling, even though I enjoyed a lot what was shown in Microsoft conference. I work in tech and layoffs have been dreadful for about 2 years already, and tbh, I think things will only start improving when the interest rates starts dropping (actually, 1 year after the first drop).

 

AAA industry is also in a self-destructive behaviour with bigger and bigger games and longer development/release timeframe, it's not sustainable unfortunately 

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Just a reminder that all these remakes, reboots, sequels and the endless nostalgia-baiting are all because we as a society have no future and aren't allowed to imagine one. We are rapidly approaching some level of societal collapse and everyone can sense it even if they don't have the words for it.

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1 hour ago, Gez said:

Game development takes time, about three years for an AAA title. So hundreds of wages multiplied by three years, plus of course the other functioning costs just to have a working office space for them, including taxes, utility bills, software licenses, hardware purchases, etc. That's really a lot of money. Money that they've got to recoup somehow

 

I absolutely agree, games are expensive to make. Keeping this many employees for this long costs a lot of money. The thing I would push against is about this from an older ign article. 

Quote

For comparison, a handful of companies disclosed their median employee compensation. Activision had the biggest discrepancy between CEO and employee pay, reporting a median employee compensation of $99,100 -- basically one dollar for every $1,560 that Kotick earns.

Source

Perhaps, games wouldn't need to be this expensive if people were paid in a more sensible way. I'm sure Bobby (and other higher-ups across the whole industry) do do some important work, but I have a hard time accepting they contribute as much to the game in proportion to their pay. 

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yeah, tbh i'm so jaded from not only the constant overhyping of new games that turn out to be okayish at best, but also the nonstop bullshit that seems to follow the games industry with every step it takes. i've been over modern aaa games for years at this point because there's absolutely zero point to it anymore. why try to follow new releases when there's a good chance it's either gonna be a shitty sequel, a mediocre game that gets the shit hyped out of it and disappoints everyone, or will be made using the most unethical business practices imaginable?

 

that's especially why, while i do follow them more than other franchises, i don't really care that much about the newer games in the doom series. if they're good, great, i'll play them in five years or so. if they're not? eh, that's a shame, but i'm not gonna sit around whining until the end of time like some people do, because i know it's never gonna be good as stuff that's made with actual passion backing them up. i'll just play those instead.

 

what really gets me more than anything though are the people who keep falling for it. they'll buy the game on launch despite all the horrible behind the scenes shit that's happened, and then start whining when it's not amazing and only then care about the employees who were abused.

Edited by roadworx

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