Cypress131 / Member

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Cypress131 Blog

Go home, Nintendo. You're drunk.

I'm not one for making extremely opinionated claims... but...

 

2ds

 

Is this a joke? The normal 3DS is already fairly inexpensive for $170... But now they're releaseing a horrible monstrocity for just $40 less? This is the worst design i've ever seen for a game console. It's just... ugly...

 

If they WERE thinking anything, than it was probably this:

Nintendo Axe

A developer's opinion on the used game market.

I see a bunch of heated debate about this topic lately, and I feel that, as a developer myself, I'd like to get some things off my chest.

 

Games are meant to be kept. The problem isn't that games are getting "re-sold", it's that people want to "trade-in" their games in the first place. This desire to "trade-in" games takes away from the value of the game. In fact, I've made a clear formula to represent this point:

(n/s)*p = v 

where:

n is the amount of firsthand purchases,

s is total number sold (firsthand+secondhand),

p is the price of the game,

and v is the adjusted value of the game.

With a single purchase, trade-in, resell (at $60): it is (1/2)*60, which means the value of the game was only $30 for the publisher.

Publishers and Developers want to make as much money as they can from their games. So, looking at that equation, of course they'd want to get rid of 's'. Take the used game market out of the equation and their profits would be looking pretty darn good. So... is there a bad side to this?

I'm sure most people who support the used game market would happily speak up. Many people can't afford first-hand prices, as used prices drop much faster than first-hand prices. There are some studies that show just how much word of mouth affects sales, so the more people a game reaches the more people will purchase that game (or better yet, the next game that publisher releases).

But my point is simpler than that. A person who trades in a game, does not want the game anymore. That is not how games are meant to make you feel. If a person wants to trade in a game from their game library, they're not going to choose the games they like the most, they're going to choose the games they like the least. And that is absolutely healthy competition. I still have games from every era back to the good old days of the NES, and most of the games I still own, I wouldn't give up for anything. I did my fair share of "trade-ins" over the years when I couldn't afford games all the time, but when it came to games that I love, you'll have to pry them from my cold dead hands.

The Game Development Cycle: Endgame and Day-One Controversies Explained.

I'm posting this specific blog entry due to an article that came out today, about Bethesda defending day-one DLC. I've noticed that there's much of confusion about what exactly goes on in the final stages of a game's development. As a developer, I'd like to clear away some of the smoke and mirrors.

There are a few major sections and events that occur during the end of the development cycle that I'm going to cover. The main events are:

Branching, Submission, and Release.

 

Branching:

The end of the development cycle starts with a special "stopping point" called branching. At some point, you have to decide "ok, this is all the content we're going to release with". It's because if they kept adding in more content, then they'd never finish the game. The branch essentially is a duplicate of everything they have so far, and is put in it's own development line, separated from the main development line that is normally considered the "trunk" within the companies I've worked with.

Between Branching and Submission:

So the branched version goes through debugging and polish, while the main development trunk gets newer and newer content being put in. The reason why, is because adding content will normally break the game and cause more bugs. So while the branched version gets more and more stable, the main development line is getting newer bugs from all the added content. Bug-fixes normally are focused on the branched version, but are many times also put into the main development line.

Once the branching occurs, that's when QA is put into "crunch" mode, and all the horror stories of late nights and long hours comes into play. QA works their butts off breaking the game in every way imaginable, and engineers work with them to help figure out, and create fixes for all the bugs that are found. Although this QA cycle goes on throughout the entire development process, "crunch" time is where it is absolutely the most important. This is the "polish" that people talk about.

However, most artists, animators, designers, and some scripters and engineers, aren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs while crunch time is going on. They don't get paid for waiting. Instead, they are working on all the content and features that didn't make it into the game before the branching occurred, and are committing them into the main development trunk.

Submission:

Submission is when a game is compiled together, and given to various different companies for the approval needed to release. These companies will normally include the publisher, and the companies in charge for whatever platform it will be released on (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Steam, ect...). These companies then need to review the game's contents and features and ensure that they are acceptable and do not break any rules and guidelines they have. Those guidelines are called TRC (Technical Requirement Checklist), and are different for each company.

Already on-disc DLC controversy:

When the game is submitted, the developers can put the assets and parts of the development trunk onto the disc, but just locked away somewhere. This is one of the great disconnects people have, when they hear about "DLC already on the disc". In most cases, these parts of the game are "mostly" done, but were not so during the development branching. Because these pieces are from the trunk, and not the branch, they cannot be part of the game for release. This is because whenever you add content to a game, it's bound to break something. Because these pieces can cause problems due to not being fully tested within the branch, they are put on the disc separately, ready and waiting so that once all the polish and bugs are cleaned out, an update can occur to incorporate those bug-fixes and "unlock" the DLC. Believe it or not, that tiny little update that you download to unlock DLC content actually contains all those bug-fixes and polish, and are (NORMALLY) not just a code telling the system to "release" the DLC to you.

That being said, there are some clear examples of this not being the case, and that is where the confusion has come in lately. The biggest offender being Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken, where hackers uncovered that all the DLC characters were complete and ready by the time of submission, and already had a great amount of obvious polish and work put into them. I want to note that I do not agree with this business style and refuse to defend it.

Between Submission and Release. The controversy of the day-one patch:

Crunch time continues even after Submission, to ensure that there are absolutely no major issues that break functionality of the game. In the old days, companies would have to pull a submission, and re-submit with the fix if they found a huge problem. This would not only delay the game from being released on-time, but also cost the company literally millions of dollars (for a AAA title). Nowadays, most companies opt out of re-submitting, and instead include a day-one patch with the fixes.

Yes, this sometimes frustrates gamers, but the amount of money it costs to make a submission for a game to go into physical production is an astounding amount. The money is upfront to the company that produces the mastered discs, and the date has to be reserved MONTHS ahead of time. If you have to change or cancel your order for the discs, you lose your deposit. Not only is that incredibly expensive, but then you have to get a "rushed" job, meaning cutting in line of other companies so that your game isn't delayed for too long. This is talking about millions of dollars for missing a submission deadline, or having to change it. That is why, for the developers, the day-one patch is such an important tool for them.

Release and post-release DLC:

We're not done yet! So now we've released the game. We may have a day-one patch, and/or some day-one DLC, depending on how well things went. Once those are released, it's time to finish up all the other content that hasn't been finished, or possibly even plan to produce more DLC content. These decisions come not from the developers, but the producers. If the producers decide that they want more content and DLC, they'll pay the developers to keep rolling. However, this extra content after-the-fact isn't cheap! The producers have to take a good look into deciding to contract more DLCs or not. Sometimes, DLC content is in the original contract and has already been paid for. Sometimes, DLC content is decided very late into the production cycle, though the producers may have had a general idea in mind before then.

However it gets decided, these after-the-fact man-hours cost money, and only a small portion of the fan-base will actually be purchasing the DLC. This is why DLC costs seem outrageous sometimes. It's trying to make these DLCs worth making to the company. However, this brings us to the vice of DLC.

The Dark-Side of DLC:

So here we are. The one thing that I'm sure you're all thinking about. This is the part of DLC that you want to hear about to validate your outrage.

DLC in concept is a great idea. It's that little extra boost to a game that is optional, and the people who like the game will have some fun extras to play around with. But then there's another concept about DLC that game companies don't like to talk about. That is: The money.

So we know where day-one DLC comes from. It originally was part of the development cycle, that couldn't be implemented before branching, but finished before release. So, if it was originally designed to be a part of the game, and took no more "after-the-fact" man-hours to create, and was in the budget in the first place... then why charge the player?

Answer: Because they can absolutely get away with it.

So we know about how there are a bunch of man-hours put forth for most DLC... but what about all those re-skins, re-colors, and micro-transactions in AAA games?

Answer: That is almost all profit. The amount of time to create re-colors, re-skins, and incorporate micro-transactions is all about creating the least amount of content and spending the least amount of man-hours while charging a price that enough users will begrudgingly accept.

I know that sounds awful. And I'm not going to defend it, because I personally don't agree with that business model. I'll let those in the industry that agree with that business model to defend it.

 

Finished!

Woohoo! We're done with the game! Time to cross our fingers and hope the public likes the game and that we don't go out of business! We had better start planning the next game, or else we're out of a job! If you made it this far, then I hope you guys learned something! Please leave me a comment or question, and I'll do my best to get back to you!

Until next time!

PS4 announcement impressions.

Alright let's get right to it.

 

Hardware looks good for the next gen. 8GB memory, Graphics card with GDDR5 Memory, an HDD (would have preferred ssd but probably too expensive for consoles still), a decent controller...

 

And the one thing that everyone is shouting about, the x86 processor.

Now let's get one thing straight, because it seems everyone is jumping on this saying "Why not 64bit?! why are you only going 32bit?!". First off, x32 is shorthand for x86-32. x64 is shorthand for x86-64. For some god awful reason they decided to label a ton of things that are 32bit as x86, as their way of saying it will work for both 32 and 64 bit systems.

tl;dr: x86 does not mean 32bit. both 32bit and 64bit processors use the x86 architecture. They did not specify if it was 32 or 64 bit.

 

Now that the elephant in the room is out of the way, let's continue.

I was kind of sad they didn't show the console itself. The controller looks fine but I feel like having an actually sharing "BUTTON" is going a bit overboard.

 

The features were actually not that bad! The ability to spectate games is something I'm very excited for! The ability to actually control someone else's game is something that is kind of blowing my mind, as it's just... mindblowing to me. I have a few friends who aren't "great" at games and one or two ask me for help (beating a boss, getting an achievement/trophy, ect...), so this would apply to my situation perfectly. Being on the fence about whether to get a game or not, and being able to simply spectate someone playing it to see if it's worth the cash is pretty fantastic. Game spectating and the interacting while spectating is one of the greatest advancements i've seen to console gaming in a long time. It's like having your PC game streamed in real time to a friend, and when you do something cool, you can just click a button and let your friend try it out himself! This has some pretty great potential!

 

Facebook, twitter, social stuff, blahblahblah...

 

Didn't care for the playstation move... but the controllers having lights that a sensor reads has me a bit intrigued. They eluded to the fact that the system could "see" what's going on around you and I have this deep dark fear that they're going kinect on us. Hopefully I'm wrong or like the PS Move, they won't focus on it at all.

 

And then the games!

 

I'm VERY surprised that the first game they showed was knack. I expected more of the hyper-realism shooters that they always seem to pander towards. Seeing the lighter side first had me very happy, as the game looks... charming, I suppose would be a good word for it.

Killzone looks completely generic.

Drive Club only interests me because of the first person aspects and being able to actually walk around and interact with your car.

InFamous: Second Son looks like a perfectly good game. The guy introducing the trailer, talking about big brother and other conspiracy theorist "the government is out to get you" kind of stuff was pretty nauseating to listen to. gimme a break.

Witness, Destiny, Deep Down, Watchdogs... all look great.

 

and Squenix then kicked them in the balls, showing off a trailer that was released months ago and then announcing that they were going to announce something ELSEWHERE about a new final fantasy game. wtf?

 

 

Overall, I thought this looked pretty good. I'm honestly more interested in this console then I thought I would be, and I can't wait to see the price point they set (probably at E3). I'm also interested in what media their games will be (disk or flash drive format).

 

That's all!