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High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the death o

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Bioshock and Aliens developers talk changing the rules of the publishing game

There's been a lot of uproar about the escalating risks of console games publishing over the past six months, a lot of talk about the "death" of triple A, of boxed videogames, and of consoles full stop. The hubbub far outweighs the reality, doubtless - key franchises like Assassin's Creed, FIFA, Call of Duty continue to sell well, in spite of hectic doom-gloom pronouncements - but these are clearly serious times for the industry. Caught between market fatigue and mountainous development costs, publishers are busily consolidating veteran teams out of existence.... read more

High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the death o

Postby Dobs » 14 Jan 2013, 21:04

I've only recently entered the world of Xbox 360 games -- in middle age of all things. And it surprises me to learn that developers seem to build so much of these AAA titles -- or any titles -- from the ground up, so to speak. I'd imagined that some computer-aided design software might have long since made the process quite streamlined -- that the main delays and complications would only arise in the crucial creative choices and not in cobbling together the physical mechanics or the visual integrity of the games. Might someone develop a master software that provides for every developer a quick and dynamic framing-out of any game's architecture and cinematics?
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby OXM ETboy » 15 Jan 2013, 10:22

Welcome to the forum, Dobs - nice first post. Did you pick up an Xbox for any particular games?

As far as streamlining development goes, it entirely depends on the game. Some of them are built using more user-friendly or simply better-understood middleware, like Epic's Unreal Engine or the Call of Duty/id Tech 3 platform. Generally speaking, though, even adapting software to serve a new concept is costly, and then there's the marketing spend to account for.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby mariachi2000 » 15 Jan 2013, 10:29

As a matter of reference... how much more expensive is a AAA xbox 360 game to make than a AAA original xbox game?

If it is double the cost then we have proof that the industry can survive the upgrade. Also, the customer base has increased dramatically over the last 7 years which makes it even more likely to survive.

I like AAA games and think most people on the forum agree... there was a poll a month or two ago showing that people buy AAA games. This means that the developers will surely survive. I think they're making a bit of a fuss to be honest.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby OXM ETboy » 15 Jan 2013, 12:00

how much more expensive is a AAA xbox 360 game to make than a AAA original xbox game?


I'm not sure, but probably by an order of magnitude. Agreed that there's a precedent for the industry surviving this kind of transition, but the odds seem to be stiffer nowadays. So many studio closures...
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby CunningSmile » 15 Jan 2013, 13:03

As Ed says it doesn't bode well that so many well respected studios are closing as we approach the end of this cycle, but we've also seen a lot a new studios (particularly Eastern European ones) spring up in the last few years and quickly build strong reputations.

I think the switch to new generation will probably bring something similar to what we are seeing in retail: Companies that can forge a new identity and move with the times will thrive whilst the ones that can't will go the way of HMV. Strange as it sounds I can't shake the feeling Acti may well be one of them. Just like most of the fallen high street giants they have come to rely more and more on fewer and fewer products, and both CoD and WoW have seen a drop in customers this year. New consoles are the time people try new things, meaning they risk losing market share to newer FPS and the 14 year olds who buy one game a year probably won't be early adopters of new tech so poor old Activision may suddenly find themselves in a more competative market without the old safety net and, more importantly, having closed the very studios that they could have looked at to develop new IPs.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby FishyGinger » 15 Jan 2013, 13:20

If activision were smart they would have been investing the millions and millions they get from call of duty and skylanders but you're right, I can see them sticking all their eggs in one basket and if it doesn't work for them they could crash.

It maybe would have been better for them had modern warfare not been as successful.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Thos. » 15 Jan 2013, 13:23

We could potentially be heading for another industry crash. Companies such as EA rely on making higher profits every year, which is simply unsustainable.

We've already had numerous failed MMOs with everyone trying to copy WoW. Free to play and mobile gaming are a big gamble, which usually fail to pay off.

People are getting wiser to money-grabbing shenanigans, and with a huge number of 'living room based entertainment devices' coming out this year, there aren't enough customers to go around, and each platform will have far fewer players than the current generation.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Dobs » 15 Jan 2013, 21:06

OXM ETboy wrote:Welcome to the forum, Dobs - nice first post. Did you pick up an Xbox for any particular games?


Thanks for the warm welcome. Truth be told I was relentlessly cajoled into the purchase by my older brother, who hoped to combine our forces in either MW3 or Black Ops 2 online -- aided by his fearless 7 yr. old son/my nephew. Frankly, the only title I was familiar with even by name at that point, a scant six weeks ago, was the Assassins Creed franchise, and only by virtue of its many eye-catching advertisements over the years -- with their panoramic visuals and dramatic combat scenes.

Ironically, Assassins Creed 2 was then the second game I returned to the store -- after MW3 -- as I found the initial AC 2 missions tiresome and the fighting mechanics underwhelming. It's thus been a steep learning curve, as I've acquainted myself with the AAA titles via online reviews such as those provided here and by watching parts of other's gameplay videos.

I find myself gravitating toward older, less expensive games that remind me of the simpler ones I enjoyed as a teen. An intense Smash Court 3 match, however primitive it might appear next to a Mass Effect 3, for example, nevertheless grants me a challenging, "honest" game world that doesn't seem as far removed from reality as an FPS or an RPG, my two least favorite "cheat" genres thus far. (The former "cheating" mainly for its merciful health recoveries and its often endless ammo; the latter, mainly for its one-attacker-at-a-time, polite melees and its encyclopedic inventories)

In fact the only two AAA titles that have so far genuinely enthralled me are Red Dead Redemption and Bioshock (if the latter qualifies.) Extensive care and much thought were manifestly invested into both worlds. And both are grounded in a sense of reality's limitations -- the former title in every way possible, the latter at least in its graphic, philosophical revelations concerning the limits of human progress.

I therefore wouldn't consider it a great loss if fewer AAA titles were created for the next generation of consoles. More effort ought to be brought in giving the games deeper, more distinctive settings with starker rules of reality -- no more two-second health recoveries or magical time-outs for quick inventory scrolling. "These kids today..." seem to want the rules bent too far in their favor, rather than exploring disciplined game worlds, proving themselves honestly, and in the process learning something more about the real world around them.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Drainwater » 16 Jan 2013, 00:42

Dobs your post has me wondering if the problem might be the fact that since many of the games released these days are all about the instant gratification, maybe people aren't enjoying them on some subconscious level. Sure we buy them because we think they look fun, but then we realize how easy and/or simple the game is and we start avoiding either that title's sequels or the publisher entirely. Then they escalate by throwing more money in to production to try and lure us back and we just keep repeating the cycle until something breaks. Like...the industry? I do have to agree though, reading this article had me thinking of all those fun games I played as a kid. I still fire up Super Mario Brothers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade game (that last one was a multiplayer fest at New Year's no less!), and really, if they made more games like those, I would totally buy them. Maybe I wouldn't pay $60 or 120 pounds or whatever the conversion is, but I'd definitely be willing to pay something to see games like that again.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby CunningSmile » 16 Jan 2013, 10:41

Wow Dobs, great second post. I'll second Edwin's welcome and hope you stick around as judging by your wordy analytical post you'll fit in perfectly round here.

Sorry you didn't enjoy AC2 as it's one of my favorites, but good call on Red Dead and Bioshock two of the best games on 360. As a newbie try looking at our reviews thread and Best Games of 20X threads for suggestions of others you may like. I'll throw in my personal recommendations for Batman:Arkham Asylum and Mass Effect 1 as both are great games that really offer a rewarding experience for anyone willing to put in the time. If you like a certain amount of realism you'll probably enjoy ME1 more than it's later sequels due to it's lack of recharging health and greater reliance on health packs but the richness of the universe makes everything within it feel real and genuine, and whilst Batman does offer recharging health it doesn't kick in until after a fight ends so you still get a realistic experience of Batman's vulnerability.

And if you like cheaper and "old school" check out Xbox Live Arcade as many of the games on there, even newer ones, deliberately try to evoke a more retro ethic than most of the AAA games.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby FishyGinger » 16 Jan 2013, 11:46

Didn't metro 2033 have a dlc thing for hardcore mode with no hud etc?

Otherwise it's all horses for courses really and what I would like you might not. Fallout 3 has probably been my fav on xbox, along with AC2 and mass effect 1.

Maybe max payne for it's fairly simple but effective gameplay.
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby DoucheVader » 16 Jan 2013, 17:30

"that damaging obsession with countering pirates and demonising the pre-owned market."

Damaging obsession from preventing non-content owners from getting a free ride?
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Drainwater » 16 Jan 2013, 23:45

CunningSmile wrote:And if you like cheaper and "old school" check out Xbox Live Arcade as many of the games on there, even newer ones, deliberately try to evoke a more retro ethic than most of the AAA games.


I keep forgetting about the arcade. Good idea...
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Xbox11 » 17 Jan 2013, 18:20

Well from what Ive heard , The next gen isn't going to need any upgrades to be made internally for developers , The games arent going to be massively different to what they are now,

Unless we have all been lied to and Xbox Loop is going to be a super computer with a 50ghz 8 core processor things will be OK,

In fact its a lot better for them this time round , I cant see why it was such a big thing last time ,The only reason i can think of is because they was tight asses for years without upgrading and preparing for something i would say was easy to predict,

Next gen games need more work and better equipment to develop them on , That is something a baby should be able to realise
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Re: High end vs next gen: how creators will survive "the dea

Postby Dobs » 17 Jan 2013, 23:51

Drainwater wrote:Dobs your post has me wondering if the problem might be the fact that since many of the games released these days are all about the instant gratification, maybe people aren't enjoying them on some subconscious level. Sure we buy them because we think they look fun, but then we realize how easy and/or simple the game is and we start avoiding either that title's sequels or the publisher entirely. Then they escalate by throwing more money in to production to try and lure us back and we just keep repeating the cycle until something breaks. Like...the industry?


Drainwater, I think you've deftly described my typical response to games of this generation. It's a very similar story in the movie theaters: Explosions of shallow CGI/graphic light and sound -- very little underlying substance. It's funny that it wasn't until I started delving further into video games that I became a little less disdainful of today's blockbuster CGI movies, as I could now appreciate that, at the very at least, they were fantastic cut scenes of a sort.

Honest and compelling jeopardy is what's missing today -- the kind of stakes I felt while playing games as a kid. But this requires first creating scenarios wherein we vicariously confront our own vulnerabilities. (What could be more humbling than playing an Italian plumber or an armed turtle?) All of the exotic armor, fearsome artillery, godlike magical powers, and instant health regeneration bestowed upon gamers today only robs them of that underlying sense of shared vulnerability and legitimate jeopardy -- substitutes for these instead a false fleeting sense of limitless ego and virtual invulnerability. And for older gamers like myself, who no longer feel very invulnerable -- or even wish to do so -- this difference is perhaps more obvious.
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