Games Industry

Oblivion – did you know?

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Interesting…

Patches that change the product you bought…

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I think the issue brought up here is very interesting philosophically and personally. Weather it is a game changing for the worse, adware that gets patched in, or gameplay that gets altered this is becoming an issue. I’m still fighting hard to get to continue using my Windows 7 despite Microsoft’s horrible efforts to mess it up for me and force me to go win10, and similarly i feel very happy with my Photoshop CS6 (would’ve even with a cs4) and am fighting not having to buy a subscription service. Interesting fight between producers and consumers, where the producers have the advantage of all digital distributions becoming the norm giving them absolute power to unilaterally change the chair you bought into a sofa, and then through a later patch into a table+blender combo, even if you had preferred just a chair or were expecting just a chair with a bit more polish and less squeaking.

The Memorable Great Bridge

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This bridge is one of the places that sticks in my memory among the strongest in the wonderful world of Dying Light. It’s a testimony to Techland’s amazing masterpiece that it isn’t even part of the main questline but encountered in a few (awesome) secondary stories, should you find them, and should you feel like doing them, or simply like going there because it looked interesting. I love the feeling of discovery to find something so big and interesting inviting but not forcing you to explore (and in multiple stages of “secret”)… how amazing!

I can only hope that the new Assassin’s Creed will learn from this and make the leap into first person on this level of quality, and whenever I think of the Mirror’s Edge games, which i should’ve so loved (first person, exploring worlds!!!) I think what a shame they haven’t managed to create worlds nearly as beautiful or intricate or alive or open or inviting to explore as this. And since I’m already making “enemies” of fans of other games, I should also mention that the much praised new Doom game which is so praised for secrets and exploration has not just a much worse environment navigation system with many surfaces that seem climbable being invisible walls and the world not being nearly as interesting (although it should, being an original world as opposed to boring old contemporary reality!) but also having to lamely point out “you found a secret” and give counters and numbers to motivate, while Dying Light invites exploration with aristocratic elegance, with visual cues, with stories, with curiosity, and having whole huge amazing areas as “secrets” yet not feeling the need to brag about it.

So much respect for Techland!

Doom Post-Mortem

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very interesting stuff

Skywind – Official Development Video #4

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Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan this project is so amazing!!!! I really hope these guys manage to bring it to completion!!! It would be sooooo cool to walk the lands of Morrowind again with this much love given!

Atari vs Nintendo (business history)

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The business and law side is quite interesting.

FZD Design Considerations

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Interesting discussion with many implications for not just game creation but generally entertainment design and business.

Games Industry History: Playstation

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Very interesting games industry business history bits.

Game Budgets Through History

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An interesting article on Kotaku with some price estimations for many big titles in the last 30 years:

http://kotaku.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-make-a-big-video-game-1501413649

SketchUp used in Uncharted 2

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I had no idea. Great to hear Robh Ruppel thinking.

The Business Behind the Artwork Choices

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Beautifully explained. Why most big games take the safe choices, the budgets for different game categories, the way the pipeline can amplify problems and punish exploration. Very interesting stuff. All explained with the help of going through a hypothetical concept of a dragon for a game.

Why the shift in creative software sales’ model may affect us for the better

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I’m quite excited. I am truly excited! No, I am deeply excited! There is a progressive shift that is happening in software sales’ model that is going to affect a lot of people: affordable or subscription-based licenses, for high-end, professional creative software in particular. I won’t go too deep into the criticisms and caveats of this shift today, but I’ll rather try to explore how it may affect the creative community, if not every creative person, in a positive manner.

More affordable, centralized, accessible tools

When Epic introduced their subscription model for the 4th generation of their Unreal Engine, I… actually could believe my eyes. But, I was facing an example of an incredible shift that’s happening in software nowadays: an engine’s source code that used to cost a million bucks was now available to anyone, for 19€ a month? If game creation in general was already accessible, with this new software generation, it is now high end, very technical creation tools that are at every single person’s fingertips.

And it’s not only Epic! On mobile devices and Mac, productivity tools and entertainment apps have shared affordable prices for a couple of years already. But more recently, this movement has started affecting the whole PC world: Steam, a mainstream gaming platform, now features professional grade creation software! It promotes innovative tools that are used on big productions like Substance, Sonar or even 3d Coat. Even the CryEngine was added to the list lately. New tools released there tend to be [relatively] cheap. And not only that, but they generally offer ergonomic User Interfaces. In other words, we’re getting strong tools, smart tools, and cheap tools centralized in a common marketplace.

I like that compact kind of environment, as it brings the developers and users closer together: Steam provides forums, articles, a newsfeed, and links to get in touch with the software authors rather quickly. In other words, we get the benefits of the social functionality of the platform. This facilitates bug reports, feature requests and other kinds of feedback.

Now, don’t get me wrong on this: Steam is far from being the best platforms for software. I would love to see the Steam Workshop and Guide features used more often to share tutorials and resources among users for example, just like it’s done in games. Content presentation isn’t always structured in the most efficient way for professional users as well, who will often favor the tool’s official website. But I do think that this broader diffusion of software represents a solid step towards open tools, accessible tools, thus smarter tools.

Subscription-based models or the promise of faster release cycles

This trend is a more recent one: to ensure user loyalty, regular revenue, and to prevent piracy, the creators of various tools are choosing more and more to use subscription-based licensing. Adobe product users have made some noise when they got forced to rent their software for a monthly fee (that rattle started in 2013, as Adobe stopped to deliver definitive licenses for all of its tools, increasing drastically licensing fees for many firms and individual users). Microsoft already does this with the Office 365 suite as well.

First of all, I do think that the accessibility in terms of pricing is once again synonym of broader communities. Those tools aren’t priced far less than before though: it is a matter of entry price point. Because the subscription is billed monthly, the cost may feel easier to handle. Only a little amount of money is being charged at a time, and the user can cancel after a month or a year if the toolset just doesn’t fit. The cloud-based licensed tools do come along with nicer packages as well: some cloud storage, a limited access to a subset of companion products… even if those features are meant to retain the user within the brand’s environment!

I do think that the steady flow of income the firm gets from it is not only healthy for it from an economic standpoint, but it forces the development team to accelerate the tool’s release cycle.  We can already see it with the Adobe tools, which get a couple of features added every 4 to 6 months (there was only a release per year before). However, I guess that users deserve to have the choice between subscribing and buying a definitive license, which is still too often not the case. But this is a topic for another article!

 

Did this trend in software sales affect the way you use your computer? Did they permit you to get new tools to express your creativity with? Don’t hesitate to share your experience with us and everyone in the comments below! We are always glad to get in touch with you.

You can also message me directly on social networks (facebook, twitter or google plus)!

Unreal Engine 4 Features Walkthrough

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How very exciting. If i didn’t have so much to learn about painting environments I would be like sooooooo tempted by my old level editing passion.

Making of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag trailer

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Pretty interesting stuff.

EA’s Origin Spying Stuff

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Well, there’s a lot of reasons I’ve been rather upset on EA in recent years, mostly for shamelessly spamming you to to use their online stuff even after you bought their games, but I just stumbled onto a debate about it’s Origin service Eula. Apparently it relies on nobody reading it to say that if you install it you give it full authorization to send a lot of data about you.

 You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION.

 

Some interesting discussion on the subject on “The Escapist” forums:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.308724-EAs-Origin-is-creepy-and-watches-you-sleep

with some quite upset reactions:

Dirty Hipsters :
Well ok, not really, but EA’s Origin does watch everything you do on your computer.
If you read the End User License Agreement for Origin it states that by installing Origin you’re giving EA the right to monitor your PC and to make a profile of you, including what programs you have installed (and whether you have any illegally downloaded material), what websites you use, etc., and that EA reserves the right to share or sell this information to third parties.
Why have I heard NOTHING about this yet? Where is the outrage? Is it just that no one actually reads the EULA, or is it that in the age of facebook no one cares about people monitoring everything they do?

and some more here with some steam discussion thrown in for the mix:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.338236-Steam-vs-Origin-EULA-privacy-and-whatnot

and an article here:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/24/eas-origin-eula-proves-even-more-sinister/

PS: one good thing i have to say about Origin is that they recently got onto the humble bundle wagon and I might actually be able to buy Dead Island Riptide on it while Steam gives into the bullying of the German regulators.

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