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  "Independent Development" Myths debunked  (Read 4792 times)
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Offline Bombadil

Senior Devvie





« Posted 2004-01-15 03:23:49 »

http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20000918/morton_1.htm

I think it's a good article.

Any thoughts/opinions/comments on it, maybe?
Offline crystalsquid

Junior Devvie




... Boing ...


« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-01-15 07:07:43 »

Its pretty much on the ball as far as 'mainstream development' goes. Personally, I'm dubious about articles such as these - they perpetuate the myth that there is only the one path to follow, the one where the Publisher holds all the cards. It's a mean path to follow. For example: we wrote a ****** game, which was pretty good (despite the design being changed by the publisher from a 'cartoony fun' style, to a 'realistic' style, but  the publisher didn't want to buy any of the real licenses! Finally the production run was limited to 5000 copies (yes, thats not a typo) - as they just signed a different game (same genre) from an external studio just after our game went final. There was no way the product could make money, and none of it was our fault, ut we had to foot the bill.

I get the same feeling about the 'you need teams of 40 people to write a game these days'. We had teams of up to 40 people, and 90% of the work in the final game was done by about 5 of them. The rest could have been replaced by empty chairs and we would have shipped the same product for a fraction of the cost.

Don't believe everything you read on these lines - the industry was started by kids in their bedrooms, and it will be perpetuated by kids in their bedrooms. (Go for it all you budding Java developers out there!) 'Doom' was not published by any publisher - it was a shareware game. Now look at Id.

- Dom
Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


Medals: 421
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Eh? Who? What? ... Me?


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-01-15 07:41:41 »

...firmly in Activision's pocket Wink Sellouts!

Cas Smiley

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Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-01-15 07:50:01 »

Quote
Its pretty much on the ball as far as 'mainstream development' goes. Personally, I'm dubious about articles such as these - they perpetuate the myth that there is only the one path to follow, the one where the Publisher holds all the cards.


Gamasutra is the big-companies' lacky, usually. Fair enough - they depend almost entirely on advertising revenue for their existence (I haven't the figures to hand on how many free copies of GD mag they give away, but IIRC it's a lot). You just have to read everything from them with that in mind...

Quote

I get the same feeling about the 'you need teams of 40 people to write a game these days'. We had teams of up to 40 people, and 90% of the work in the final game was done by about 5 of them. The rest could have been replaced by empty chairs and we would have shipped the same product for a fraction of the cost.


Peter Molyneux famously agrees with you - one of the founding aims of Lionhead was to keep the staff as small as possible (IIRC he wanted it around 10 if possible?). But then, he's also famous for being a poor team-worker, and employing the "surgical team" development model - which ensures he's never able to run larger teams anyway.

Quote

Don't believe everything you read on these lines - the industry was started by kids in their bedrooms, and it will be perpetuated by kids in their bedrooms. (Go for it all you budding Java developers out there!) 'Doom' was not published by any publisher - it was a shareware game. Now look at Id.


I agree with your point, but Doom's a bad example.

Doom, like Lineage: The Blood Pledge, owes it's massive commercial success to a canny distributor/publisher/etc (for Doom: Apogee, for Lineage: some nameless internet-cafe owner). Yes, Doom did wonders via Shareware; no, it wasn't their idea, it was the publisher's (IIRC - feel free to beat me over the head if I'm wrong Wink)

It's always interesting to note that Doom is still id's biggest commercial success Smiley. Even though the market is now much bigger, no id product since has shipped so many copies...(although id is no longer quite so open about numbers, I still have notes taken from when they put useful info on their corporate website)

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »


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« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-01-15 09:39:52 »

I just registered and read that article now and it doesn't actually say anything remotely nice about publishers at all!

Cas Smiley

Offline aldacron

Senior Devvie


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« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-01-15 09:54:15 »

The thing that gets me is that they truly weren't independent as the title suggested. They left their jobs, started a new company, then immediately went to a publisher looking to secure a deal (and a cash advance). Nothing independent about that at all. Lionhead, on the other hand, was completely self financed, not on a publisher's timetable, and had complete creative control. *They* were independent. So this article really debunks no myths at all. All it did was rehash everything I've heard about the pro game biz for years. Of course, it was written 3 or 4 years ago, so maybe independent meant something different to them then.
Offline Bombadil

Senior Devvie





« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-01-15 11:04:30 »

Quote
The thing that gets me is that they truly weren't independent as the title suggested. (..) Nothing independent about that at all.

Yes.
Still I think we've to consider that most so called "independent dev studios" are in a similar way "dependent" on the publisher actually, as described in the article...

Very probably Lionhead is an exception. Unfortunately.
Do I recall correct that they're not independent anymore, too? (Bought by some big publisher...?)
Offline aldacron

Senior Devvie


Medals: 9
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Java games rock!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-01-16 06:36:30 »

Quote

Still I think we've to consider that most so called "independent dev studios" are in a similar way "dependent" on the publisher actually, as described in the article...


I suppose it depends on your definition of 'independent developer'. To me, it means the developers have total control over the development process and any funding is raised/provided by the developers themselves, not issued as an advance from a publisher. Once the game is completed it matters not if they get picked up by a publisher, sell online through a distributor, or handle it all themselves - no one told them what to make or how to make it.
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