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Reblog: I’m Taking Responsibility for Getting Raped

Click: I’m Taking Responsibility for Getting Raped.

Reblogging because awesome.

Note on the closure of Irrational Games

Hey, remember this post of mine? Where I speculated the following might’ve happened for Irrational Games to be closed down:

1.)    Ken approached Take-Two about making a new, risky, untried endeavor, still under the name of, and with the staff of, Irrational Games.

2.)    Take-Two, looking at the development process behind their past projects with Ken, were skeptical.

3.)    Ken threatened to leave and make the game himself. Possibly (probably, he’d be stupid not to) by securing funding from Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding avenue.

4.)    Take-Two offered the compromise: “We’ll pay for the project, but seeing how you usually work and the development hell of Bioshock Infinite, we can’t afford to pay for anything other than a skeleton crew while the game is in R&D mode. Later, when the concept is proven, we can staff up again. Meanwhile, we can’t imagine this thoroughly broken team at Irrational making anything else, whether with or without you, so pick the ones you want from that team and then we shut the studio down”.

5.)    Ken accepted.

Well, there was an article on Polygon just now. Among other things it said this:

“Briefly, Levine referenced his recent decision to close down his development house Irrational, along with the loss of dozens of jobs. Many of his former teammates were in the GDC audience. He said that the problem he has given himself demanded that he “go back to the drawing board” with “a smaller group of people.” He added that “we need time to fail. We can’t have 150 people asking for something to do.”

It doesn’t confirm the details of my theory, but I still wanted to throw it in for what it is.

Addendum on Auteurship

Just wanted to throw in a little follow-up to the whole “game auteur” discussion I recently posted about.

That last post was mostly about why full creative control isn’t practical or even possible in the absolute sense. But that’s just one of many ways the autocrat approach, even if implemented as partial as it inevitably must be, can fail.

I’d like to bring this forum thread to people’s attention:

Double-Fined: Selling Overhead to Fans

Ground Zeroes Boxart

A few days ago, the following good-natured exchange happened on Twitter between myself, David Jaffe (Twisted Metal etc.) and Tim Schafer (Grim Fandango etc.):

[Full disclosure: that was the end of the conversation. Must've been something I said.]

I recommend reading the article linked to in the David Jaffe’s original tweet, it’s quite good. But for the sake of what I’m about to write in this post, the Twitter exchange should be sufficient.

Actually, it’s not really the contents of the back-and-forth in itself that’s interesting. We have the original text, and we have Tim Schafer’s clarification in < 140 characters. Whether you believe him or think he’s just whitewashing a gaffe is up to you. His real attitude toward his work, his fans, publishers and the industry at large is probably only truly known to him, and I’m not interested in pretending to know his intentions. I’m more interested in knowing what you, the readers think – and how that will influence your actions.

Let’s take Tim’s original statements at face value for a second. Let’s say that development agreements with publishers are completely cold, calculated business endeavors. The only bad thing that can happen is that they stop funding the project and/or sue the developer, and that’s the only thing the developer needs to care about. Ethics or morals don’t factor into it; even if you are interacting with people on the publisher side, they are just cogs in the machine and don’t really need to be respected as stakeholders or even human beings. They are there to fund Tim Schafer [or Ken Levine or Warren Spector or Shigeru Miyamoto – I’m not calling anyone out in particular] games, and passive, silent partnership is the only thing their financial sponsorship buys them.

Read more…

Infinite Possibilities – Why the idea of the Auteur Game is Irrational

Be skeptical of icons...

There’s been quite a bit of commotion in the wake of the announcement that Irrational Games, the development studio behind Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite, would be closing its doors and laying off its employees. The spotlight has primarily been directed at front-man and spokesperson Ken Levine, with people taking particular interest in his role in the shuttering of the studio, and his plans for the future. This is not surprising in itself considering the naïve paradigm of the “Auteur” game developer that still hangs over the industry. What is all the more surprising is how critical the perspectives of some of the articles on the web have been and that I, for once, am not the only one endeavoring to knock the halos off of people.

This gives me the luxury of taking on another role. I’m going to focus on the whole concept of these nebulous Auteurs who, rather than actual people are carefully constructed and altogether fake personae – a concept the Bioshock franchise explored at length, incidentally. Because even though the authors of some of these articles have made it quite clear that they understand that the games we all play and love are the products of teams of people, nobody has really explained in any satisfactory detail what this actually means in practice, from a development point of view, and in a language that even laypeople can understand. So I’m going to try to do that as best as I can. Because the industry’s many unsung development teams do not simply deserve token nods, or blanket admiration for that matter. They deserve to be taken seriously. They deserve that we make an effort. They deserve to be understood.

Read more…

Success doesn’t have to mean private disaster

Odious Repeater:

Good post by a friend of mine about the perils of surprise successes.

Originally posted on Less shitty than it could be:

I would like to write about the Flappy Birds story.

Backstory: Flappy Bird was a very successful, simple mobile game. It created a lot of controversy because of duplicating Nintendo’s Mario art style, being a clone, being a hard game, being a successful game etc. There have also been accusations of it being a money laundering thing for the mafia or about the developer manipulating the app store rating. True or not, these are the usual accusations and discussions that you might expect about a game that suddenly gets very successful.

It’s creator, Dong Nguyen, a young Vietnamese man who created Flappy Birds as a test project, took down the game while it was generating about $ 50,000 per day. There has been a lot of discussion, more discussion and even more discussion  about why he closed this gold mine. His own tweets indicate that he couldn’t take…

View original 389 more words

Kickstarter – Experienced Teams/Indies and New

Featured Image -- 502

Odious Repeater:

Everyone should read. Though the definition of experience is not perfect by the author’s own admission (I for one would like to average the experience out across the team – if only one out of 100 devs on the team has actually launched a game, then that needs to be taken seriously), it’s still a pretty good indication of what experience does or doesn’t bring to the crowdfunding table.

Originally posted on World 1-1:

(Full disclosure – I have backed Kickstarter projects. The data for the following article is based on UnSubject’s original data. My worksheet with the new variables and my final numbers is located separately here.)

Author UnSubject over at his blog, Evil As A Hobby, scrubbed through video game labeled Kickstarters spanning 2009 – 2012 and assembled the data into a compelling look at the extremely low rate of follow-through made by over 366 projects. It’s a great article that has encouraged quite a bit of discussion both there and across the ‘net.

It’s a revealing look at something that I could only touch on in the end summary to my survey of 2014′s gaming landscape on Gamesbeat – a disturbing implication of completely missing release estimates by Kickstarted projects based on only a tiny sample of reported releases slated for 2014. UnSubject’s exhaustive work not only nails…

View original 1,853 more words


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