Aw, rubbish. I couldn’t do it.

Posted in Personal on March 19, 2010 by AN_D_K

My plans to put up a post each day for this week has hit a snag. I’m sure the 20 people who have bothered to read this blog this week will be crying for me. I did have half of an article written up already. It was a proper games one too and not just rubbish like this where I egotistically talk about me, myself and I.

A lot of the article intended for today was written before my first big post on Monday. I had every intention of releasing it on Monday but a debate cropped up on a message forum sparking my interest more.

Most of the things I’ll end up writing on here will have a similar spark. I love a good internet argument. It’s a bit annoying that I can’t really take part in them any more. Between work and home I don’t get the time to waste pointlessly debating with people I don’t know about subjects that don’t really matter.

In the time it takes me to write up this apology I could have completed the article. Without a doubt. The problem was that …it was shit.

Last weekend I would have been quite happy with it. It’s a good reply for an internet forum. It hits the points I want to make well, doesn’t just repeat the same mantras everyone falls into in such a debate, and there are few personal insults against the opposition. As an article it just doesn’t read well. Like this post, words just flow out in an attempt to just get it complete as soon as possible. As long as I’m right and it’s in reasonable English, I win.

Monday’s DLC article is written in a similar way. I took more time over Tuesday’s article about how I do/don’t want a MacBook and if you compare the two they’re worlds apart. It’s still not brilliant, I’m no writer, but my work being anything less would be a step back. Over the course of the week, and the practice I’ve had over that time, the article intended for today was certainly a throwback.

I’m not too sure what to do now. In needing to write an article every day I’ve noticed my skills improving as parts of my brain get restarted. It’s the good kick up the brain stem that I needed. On the other hand, I want my writing to be at a higher level that is better structured and more enjoyable to read*. I don’t think hammering out a blog post a day in the very little free time I have is the most conductive method of doing that.

Hmm…what to do?

*this post doesn’t count. This post was just knocked up in next to no time. I’m only going to start writing well …right now. That was it. Now. Oh wait, forget I said that. I’m just talking rubbish. I meant …as of now. Now.

Pre-Release Made DLC Part II

Posted in Game Industry on March 18, 2010 by AN_D_K

A bit for a cheat with my daily post today. Screw it, I’m off to the pub tonight.

This is actually a lengthy reply to the blog post from here that I put up on Gamasutra. Some people apparently think I’m wrong. A mistake, but obviously they don’t know me so I’ll let it slide.

The arguments are that if the additional content that is locked is on the disc then the owner of the disc rightfully owns the additional content (I just call it DLC to save on typing). Publishers probably just decide to rip out content for the main game and serve it up as DLC. The people who make the DLC during the production should be thrown at the main game to make it better.

They’re wrong. Here’s why…

———-

A publisher will say you have this much money and it has to be done by next Thanksgiving (or you’ll pitch by guessing the number the publisher is thinking of). So IMO …A complete game is what a team can complete on time, on budget and ideally with as few crunch-related fatalities as is deemed reasonable.

That is the line. That is what the publisher has gambled, yes gambled, will be the correct amount to produce the quality that will return enough sales to at least cover their bet. That is your $60.

I don’t agree with this but lets say …if level 3 gets ripped out and turned into DLC the publisher has changed his bet. The publisher is within their rights to do so. Their money. Their gamble. The quality of the initial $60 game will drop.

Worst case for the publisher is that there will be less sales. At the moment DLC sales are tiny compared to the box product so it’s highly unlikely they would recoup that money.

Best case for the publisher is that they make just as many sales as if they kept the level in. This is the evil we’re all against? Actually, it just says that they bet wrong in the first place. This is a bad thing for them.

Development of a game needs different people at different times. At the start of the project it’s all about new art and framework code. In the middle it’s more about the designers and even more art content. At the end it’s about fixing everything so it’s more programmers and a few designers.

If level 3 gets ripped out you’re not utilising staff well. Say you need 10 designers to make 5 levels. 2 of those designers will be working on level 3. Over the course of the project you’re paying for those 10 designers no matter how busy they are.

If level 3 was designed to be DLC from the off you could have created that level after all the other levels had been content complete. Since designers can now be reused you’d only need 8 designers over the course of the project. Developer saves some money. Publisher doesn’t have to pay as much.

I think that most DLC uses this clever allocation of staff now. Maybe they’re not starting the new content straight after they’ve shipped the game like you all want, but staff are starting it once they are more free to do so.

Sometimes this DLC content is going to be completed before the full game is released. Either by slippages or avoiding the new Call of Duty like the plague.

———-

It seems the biggest problem is that a lot of people don’t understand the production process and have a weird sense of right and wrong. If the Bioshock 2 DLC wasn’t on the disc, but released just a little later as a download, then people wouldn’t even question when the work was done.

Waiting to start work on the DLC until the game is being shipped out is crazy and inefficient. But that’s what the people want. So we have to pander to these people. Probably lie to them.

Ignorance is bliss.

Writing is hard

Posted in Personal on March 17, 2010 by AN_D_K

Writing is hard. It’s much more difficult than I remember it being when I was a wee lad and had to write all the time. Coming to a blank page in OpenOffice is a daunting prospect and the only way you can get over it is to sprout some nonsense like this for your first paragraph to start you off.

Yes, this is a vain blog post about writing blog posts. I’ll assume you’ll have read one before. Now it’s my turn due to my drunken bet with myself on Monday that I could write an article for every day of this week. Wednesday may seem a bit early and desperate for this attempt at wasting a word count. I do actually have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be talking about in my next couple of posts but I have less time to write them. Best to bite the lazy bullet now rather than later.

I miss school giving me a reason to write. Get at a topic, do an essay, get a B because I didn’t really do the prep work. I don’t really miss the rest of my school career. I’ve never liked academia. Too academic.

“Why?” stops being an intelligent question when assigned work once you get to A Levels. “You just do it, alright? Yeah?” the lecturer would lazily reply, “Here’s your D. I don’t know why you’re not applying yourself.”

Writing is a skill I’d like to relearn. I used to be able to draw really well too but after a decade or so not practising I think that is now out of my reach. It’s really annoying working with artists all
day seeing them doing what I would have loved to have done. But I picked the sciences at school. I don’t really regret it, I love being a games programmer, but I bet the art A Level work would have been a hell of a lot more interesting.

I think I can catch up again with the writing. I get to do some writing day-to-day. Most people do. I didn’t turn illiterate between university and now. Often I’ll write long, insightful posts on message forums and kick myself as my perfectly formed argument gets picked apart by people crying “yeah, well …so’s your face.” What a waste of my time as the posts drifts further and further down the list of topics never to be read again as new more interesting discussions take it’s place.

Of course, I’ll carry on posting on forums. It’s all good fun. There is something deep and primeval in all of us to want to say “I’m right, and you’re a tool for thinking otherwise.” How can I sleep at night when I know that someone is sprouting rubbish on the internet? The girlfriend doesn’t believe that is a valid argument for me to carry“tippy-tapping on my keyboard” because it’s keeping her awake. I suppose, on some level, she is right.

My compromise is to write these blog posts instead. You save some time when people don’t talk back so much. On that note I was stupid enough to put one of my posts on Gamasutra. Now I have to defend my position. That’s taking time away from me getting a head start on tomorrows post because I’m off to the pub.

You’re killing me internet people!

As featured on Gamasutra

Posted in Personal on March 17, 2010 by AN_D_K

Ooh, get me, I’m one of the featured blogs on Gamasutra. First ever post. Featured. Who wants to touch me?

I am also getting disagreed with heavily in the comments. Gits.

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AndyKeeble/20100316/4687/PreRelease_Made_DLC_Is_Not_Evil.php

I don’t want a MacBook. I must have a MacBook

Posted in Personal on March 16, 2010 by AN_D_K

I’m so frustrated as I type this in Starbucks on my crappy, old Compaq. The awesome heat from the ancient machine makes half of the once pristine Ubuntu sticker hang off, while the other half seems to be fused to the case never to be scraped off. My shoulder hurts as I type and I don’t know if it’s because of the way I’m hunched over the tiny keyboard with my arms squeezed in or from carrying the bulky thing around with me in my backpack. My coffee has long since grown cold once I got everything loaded to start writing this. The chance of a warm top-up is slim.

The other patrons of the coffee shop are proudly show their apple badges and are happily tippy-tapping away knowing full well of the jealously filling the rest of us.

Damn, they’re cool. I want to be that cool. It’s time for a new laptop.

I don’t really want a Mac. I’ve never liked them. I think it stems from being a child of the Amiga and not understanding how that rubbish survived the PC’s domination of the market but my beloved A600 is now molding away in an attic. I’m still stunned I got an iPhone six months ago and how addicted I am to it. “It’s not really a Mac,” I kid myself, “it’s just a decent phone that happens to have more games on it than the others.”

Yet here I am scowling at the MacBook users and putting them off their coffee. I want it, I want it, I want it. No candy-coloured HP attempt is going to win me over instead.

The reason I want a new laptop is to program games while I’m sat on the sofa watching whatever rubbish the girlfriend wants to watch. If I have to listen to loud cockneys argue or America’s top spottiest and lank-haired model going on about how unfair life is… I’d like to being doing something of substance rather than counting time go by on my watch until something decent is on.

Originally I was going to do some XNA games on my decade-old Compaq. It got me through university and while I didn’t excel in academia some of my work back then looks better than the rubbish on Xbox Live Indie Games. But nooo …to make these basic games on XNA you need a computer with a graphics card that can do shaders.

The rule of thumb with picking a laptop for graphics and games is to put your thumb down and just get a desktop PC. It doesn’t matter what the graphics card should be able to do on paper. You’ll be lucky if it’ll be able to handle 10 year old games. This guaranteed waste of money made me decide “hey, if I’m going to piss my money away I should at least look cool.”

Also, there is the temptation is to work on iPhone games. That’s seems to be the place for bang for buck at the moment. I’ll not lie to you, if I’m going to work on stuff on the side then I want to be compensated for it. I make games all day. I work hard for the money. If I’m going to be working at home too then I want more money. Sod artistic integrity.

I’m getting a MacBook.

I’ll hate it.

Pre-release made DLC is not evil

Posted in Game Industry on March 15, 2010 by AN_D_K

Some people are getting uppity about DLC being developed during the development period of the main game. As reported here  Fake-on-disc-DLC is simply unacceptable

On a very tiny level you can see their point. If it was made during the development of the main game, and especially if it ends up on the release disc but locked, then it should be available for people to play as soon as they get the disc.

Erm…no. That’s completely wrong.

You’re not paying for the disc!!! You’re paying for the time and effort that was put into making the extra content that makes up the DLC. Money, time and resources have been put to the side to develop the DLC separate from the main game. It doesn’t matter when it gets developed. The DLC content costed extra. You’re going to have to pay for that extra content.

Let’s combat particular points in the argument: -

Bioshock 2 had DLC that was on the retail disc that is unlocked. So? Aren’t you happy about that? Now you don’t have to worry about the huge download size. It’s still new content that is separate from the main game and that extra work needs to be compensated for. Bioshock 2 is no less of a game without the DLC. You still got dozens of hours of content for your money. You’d have to be pretty bloody ungrateful to demand more for nothing.

Tomb Raider Underworld had DLC content that was levels that weren’t completed on time. Yes, and they had to be cut out because the resources weren’t available to make them. It happens on pretty much every game except Duke Nukem Forever. They’ll have been working bloody hard just to get what they could finished on time. The incomplete levels were later completed with extra time and effort. Extra time and effort that has to be compensated for.

Some DLC is just cheap shit made for a quick buck. That’s a different argument. You don’t have to buy that stupid little hat for your character. But some people do. So someone will be paid to make it.

Most of the money doesn’t go to the developers anyway. Yes, but some of it has to. No sales, no future work, no jobs. The balance between what developers, publishers and retailers take on are a different argument. But what you should know is that if there is DLC going to made, then a publisher will have to pay the developer more to make it.

But what is made during main development should stay in the main game? It doesn’t matter when the extra content is made. It’s still extra content. The main game isn’t having anything taken away from it. Say the game demanded 100 developers and 2 years to make. The DLC demanded 20 more developers and 6 months. They aren’t taking away 20 developers away from the main game for 6 months. That would screw over the game. The resources for the DLC are additional. They’re extra.

Everyone wants something for nothing. That’s why complainers about DLC are trying to pull a fast one. But when it boils down to it you’re paying for something that talented, hard-working people have slogged their guts out to deliver to you. If you don’t pay for it then those talented, hard-working people won’t have any work to slog over.

Statement of Intent

Posted in Personal on March 15, 2010 by AN_D_K

I’m going to see if I can post something up every day this week.

I know some amazing people can make up something every day and that’s very impressive, but I’m going to see if I can whack up something substantial each day over a small period of time first …and kinda hope it runs into next week, then the week after that, and so on, and so forth, etc …

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.