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Yogventures – Another failed Kickstarter

Thanks to commenter Yachmenev, I’ve decided to take the time to briefly comment on the following.

Seems that a bunch of total noobs making complex games for other people’s money didn’t work out. Shocker.

What’s especially funny is that right around the time I wrote my general comment on the whole phenomena in this post, someone had written their own piece, putting this very cancelled project in its spotlight. It’s a good read, check it out!

The author also writes at length about other relevant topics that I’ve mentioned in the past. Like the whole Dead End thing.

Another Kickstarter project goes for a second round of crowd funding

Kickstarter keeps killing off game dev heroes. Wonder how many more have to bite the dust before people grow a brain.

Dude, Where’s My Game – The Truth and Lies of Delays and Cancellations

The tagline "Everything is Connected" is fitting to say the least

Slowly, indeed far too slowly for my tastes, the mainstream games press and its clientele seem to be taking an increasing interest in games development. Granted, much of the interest stems from a desire for drama and controversy, and much of the time the wrong questions are still being asked (for instance “why does Peter Molineux promise too much” rather than “why would anyone even suggest a stupid idea like that in the first place”). But I’ll take what I can get – at least we’re getting somewhere, however slowly.

What I’d like to contribute is a unifying theme, a bit of a silver bullet if you will, that applies to many if not all of the stories of development woe we’ve been seeing lately. Thing is, even the well-researched and competently analysed stories are written in a bit of a vacuum; it seems like their authors don’t see the common threads between their own stories and the stories of others because of superficial differences, or because their own understanding of what game development entails is insufficient.

A small digression: before we get started, I wanted to warn that I do a lot of linking to relevant articles and other resources in this post. I do this because I think it’s important to have some case studies to reference. The articles are long, and I understand that getting through all of them would be quite a project. Rest assured that you don’t have to read them in any detail to get through this post. I do recommend watching the videos though.

Anyway, here are the questions I’m going to set out to answer in this article:

1.) What are the common threads between the articles below?

Article about why Japanese games take so long to develop

Article about the cancellation and panic-mode-fixing of the game Singularity

Three articles about the rebooting and/or delaying of the high-profile games DriveClub, Watch Dogs and Final Fantasy XIV

Article about the development of HomeFront and subsequent closure of Kaos Studios

Another article about that same game

Piece about Firefall and Red 5

(And many, many more stories – most of which nobody will ever write about)

2.) How are the identified issues handled in the immediate term by developers and publishers?

3.) How does this all connect to the macro- and business-side changes seen in the industry in recent years, specifically the focus on online, episodic content, social, free to play and indeed indie development?

But while I do realize that the answers to these questions have merit in themselves, I also concede that stories and anecdotes are more interesting, or at least sexier, than facts. Especially bloody stories – metaphorically or otherwise. So here’s some blood in the water for you.

Read more…

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…


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