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Topic: Industry Insights - Discussing the Gaming World!

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Haruki_NLI

Topic 1: Micro-transactions, DLC & Console Power - The Relation

I know the topic name for this portion of the thread sounds insane, and it is just one long chain of events that shows a correlation (Six Degrees of Separation, if you will), but the reality is that a lot of things relate within the games industry, and many don't see it, either from a development standpoint, or a business standpoint.

To better illustrate this, first understand the three core components of the industry.

Game Creators and Publishers - These guys want to make money. Developers may state they also want to produce something for consumers to enjoy, but they also want a job at the end of the day, so if a publisher is involved, their will is bent.

Consumers - These guys are core to the concept I will put forth, so understand their role. They shell out cash. They are what makes the money roll. Appease them, you get paid, you continue appeasing them. It's consumer-supplier relations at it's finest. They also demand. Those demands are what we will look at.

Hardware Manufacturers - The poor saps caught in the middle. The delivery tools for the consumer and the place of work for developers. They have to bend over both backwards and forwards, and it's for these people in particular, the concept of what I have dubbed "Conceptual Reality" (I'll think of a better name I swear) is a driving force, and hindrance, as both other parties will pull on them for opposing reasons, that also relate.

You with me so far? Good. Now let's look over monetisation.

Micro-transactions are commonplace across mobile devices, as within how those devices are used, within how that market consumes media, that form of monetisation is the most sustainable source of income for a company. The demands of the consumer is simple: Something short and sweet to enjoy in small bursts. This allows monetisation through micro-transactions to work.

On consoles however, micro-transactions are less welcome. You put down a fee for a game on a device designed primarily for that purpose. The consumers have different demands (I'll get to them shortly), and ultimately with exceptions (Such as harmless skins in Overwatch, an artefact of being designed for another market entirely), these draw ire.

The most recent example is, of course, For Honor from Ubisoft. The title has $700 dollars, reportedly, of micro-transactions, for a lot of pointless stuff you can unlock through over 2 years of play. Consumers didn't respond well to this, obviously, and we need to wait to see what happens next.

The thing with DLC and Micro-transactions is this: Why are developers doing it more and more, for greater and greater amounts, when consumers already pay $60 for a title? Why is this happening? Why is this becoming the norm?

Anecdotally, an assignment for Games Design course required, when providing a business plan as an independent studio for a game prototype, to include DLC and micro-transactions. Have those features planned from the base concept. I didn't, because personally I feel like doing that and dividing a game even before its begun anything close to production is foolish, and I failed. I failed because my game wouldn't work with those aspects, yet we were expected to do it.

So, as I said, why is this being taught as a feature you need in a game? Why is it commonplace? The answer is consumers, of course. Told you I'd get to them.

Here's the thing: We as consumers demand more and more from our games. Better graphics, mostly, as the cries get louder and louder. This demands better hardware. This means the hardware manufacturers need to spend more on making hardware, but the demands of the consumers are outpacing the longevity of these systems at this point.

This is where "Conceptual Reality" comes in. I have banged on about how Nintendo Switch is a great idea, as it chases the other demands of consumers. The anywhere at anytime mentality that has become commonplace because of industries like streaming TV, music and even our phones.

I have also banged on about how the complaints about power, about how it needs to be on par with Xbox One to be relevant, is a problem. The conceptual reality of the product is this: Either this thing does what it needs to do to fit into a wider range of lives and accommodate the changing world, or it could melt your hands with the heat it would generate, and burn one very large hole in a wallet with how much it would realistically cost.

Hardware Manufacturers are indeed in a tight spot. As consumer demands for more power grow, the costs of that grow. Nintendo Switch, PS Now and Xbox Game Pass show steps to a Netflix style way of consuming media, but the demands for power will not wane.

So developers have to produce better looking games. This requires better hardware. Noisier hardware. Bigger hardware. More expensive hardware. Consumers have to pay for that, and then the games. They are demanding these things in even growing numbers. Developers have to appease them, and the hardware manufacturers do what they can to fit into the world and offer what consumers need.

So how does the console power increase result in micro-transactions, I hear you ask, bored out of your mind? Simple. Money.

Consumers demand more power, better looking games, better games, more immersion, more polygons, and it grows and grows. Games will therefore take longer to make. Therefore, games will be released in fewer quantities, and therefore, the cost of production of new assets increases and over time of development, the expenditure into a product increases and increases, meaning more money needs to be made back, on what is realistically fewer products.

Micro-transactions are the simplest way of maximising profit. Making the money back. In many ways it can be what actually causes a break even, as $60 for a game really isn't a lot.

Consumers demand more power, and bigger, better games. Hardware manufacturers need income, and so oblige, and developers need that hardware to make the games the consumers keep asking for. The developers have to spend ever increasing budgets and time on what is ultimately fewer products, and thus revenue starts to dip.

It's a harsh reality. But it's one that, unless something changes with demands, or developers fight back, is here to stay.


So there you have it. The first topic of what I hope to be many industry insight discussion...whatevers. I'm not much of a writer (I have few talents, sue me) so feedback would be nice. That took over half an hour to actually write out.

Discuss away below, and stay tuned for the next topic in the thread when something catches my eye. I hope you all enjoy my wall of text and it's thought inducing nutrition.

I'm writing these because I want to shed light and reasoning on a lot of aspects of the industry, for both consumers and fellow developers. I am by no means a great writer (In my opinion anyhow) so this is something fun to do as I sit watching my other ventures slowly die off (Thanks YouTube), and I look for work while I wait to get my game properly off the ground.

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Octane

@BLP_Software It's part of a bigger problem I think.

It doesn't explain why we're still getting big AAA games that don't have micro-transactions (MTA). To me it seems to be more publisher specific. They just add them because they can, not because they need them. For them it's just another way of making more money off their games; easy short term profits.

I think that the "free"-games market on mobile and the relatively cheap games on Steam also play a part in this. Some of my friends don't ever buy games at full price, not even €20, because it's "too expensive", when you can get a copy for a few bucks on Steam, a free game on mobile or just download a pirated version. MTAs could be used as a way to milk the so-called "whales" to make up for the potential loss in customers that are waiting for a price drop instead. Maybe...

Octane

Haruki_NLI

@Octane Thats a good point. As I said, its one reason but publishers could do it for other reasons. Simple greed, is actually very plausible.

As I said, I wabt to promote discussion of whatever topics pop into my head, and this is why.

I can try and work out why my course required it, and why its becoming commonplace by looking at whats happening but the reasons you gave are just as feasible.

This was just the first topic, of course. Ill try and throw more viewpoints in for future entries.

Thanks for reading too! Didnt think anyone would.

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Octane

@BLP_Software Why not ask them? As a university course, I guess it's never a bad thing to have experience with. If you ever end up in the mobile business, where micro-transactions are pretty much the only viable way of keeping your game profitable, it may be a useful thing to learn about. Unless they're actually teaching you how to implement them in more ''traditional'' portable/home console games, that's a bit weird indeed.

Octane

Haruki_NLI

@Octane The requirement was for consoles/PC.

And yeah, I did ask. I figured on one hand its good to learn about.

On the other hand tbis topic keeps popping up. They want us to make games for Xbox/PS4/VR/PC, and there is constant demand to put DLC/MTA in our proposals. It HAS to be part of the game.

When teaching they say it's one major requirement of a game. They also teach that you need a large intricate story. Ive had marks docked for not focusing on story in an assignment to make a game.

Then again they also said GBA counts towards GB sales because its the same thing.

Honestly I could have a long list of ways this course has left me either very confused or bashing my head off a wall.

And thats if they arent teaching us about CGI in movies or interactive magazines or mobile apps (That are actually mobile websites).

...Yes I realise my unuversity career has been wasted with these people.

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Octane

@BLP_Software Has to be one weird university

I mean, I understand learning the importance of DLC for example, or learning the importance of a story in a video game, but requiring it... That's weird. Assuming your teachers aren't that dense, you could easily point them to Tetris, a game without a story at all. I mean, those arguments aren't that difficult to counter.

Anyway, I shan't go too far off-topic, back to MTAs!

Octane

Haruki_NLI

@Octane Hey, you wanna know the most head wall banging thing they did?

For that interactive magazine (Game design, not sure how it relates), we had to take an aspect of the world and predict how it would be in the future, any length of time away. So I figured, sure, why not, NX has just been name dropped, I have an idea.

I said based on other industries like laptops and phones, things get more and more portable. I also noted, even diagrammatically, that Nintendo historically has peripherals to play handheld games on a console, and even console games later ported to handheld systems. In recent times, the time a game takes to hit a handheld is reduced quite considerably.

I said based on those facts, based on Wii U having an aspect of portability, based on how consumers are consuming media via portable devices, that Nintendo would create a hybrid system, that allows home console games anywhere.

They said it wouldn't happen and I didn't get marks for that aspect.

That's the kind of stuff I'm putting up with for a few months more.

I gave up trying to counter them (This was in my first year) because they wont listen. They don't have much respect for me since Nintendo has me lined up to developer for their systems, and it's a Sony partnered uni and they want to push us to them.

I'm a defiant little sucker ain't I?

But yeah MTAs, not sure what the next topic will be. Any ideas?

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NaviAndMii

@BLP_Software Haha! Oddly, I had to endure a similar experience at University - in sixth form, I was encouraged to write discursive essays, to put my opinion to one side and to try to see both sides of an argument...at University, it was barely tolerated if your opinion differed from that of the lecturer! I went to have my mind opened - I left feeling I had only written essays to please whomever was going to mark it! Ah well..!

Anyway, returning to your original post (good read by the way!), I have my concerns about the direction gaming is going in - you're spot on about these perceived demands of consumers - more power, better graphics...but I having this nagging belief that this direction isn't sustainable and that the gaming market might implode on itself..

When I was growing up, we had CRT TV's - and that was pretty much it. Games consoles tended to appear on a roughly 7 year cycle. There'd be a steady stream of games; some good, some bad, some broken - but, in the absence of internet connectivity, when you bought a game - you were buying the final product. If you bought a console at launch, it was pricey - but you felt that you'd get 7 years use out of it, which made it feel like more of an investment than a splurge.

Fast forward to today - and things have changed.

  • TV tech is rapidly improving; SD to HD, HD - 4K - I'm hearing there'll be something closer to 10K on the market soon, but how long until 10K is rendered obsolete by 20K? or 40K? or 100K?
  • Games consoles seem to have shorter and shorter lifespans - my PS4 has already been (kind of) superseded by the PS4 Pro...should I buy the PS4 Pro now? ..what if Sony announce a PS Pro+ at E3 capable of 10K? ..maybe they'll announce PS5 at E3 next year?
  • There's still a steady stream of games; still some good, some bad, some broken - and the internet can help here...people deride the 'Day 1 patch' - but if ET was fixed with a day 1 patch, maybe the gaming industry wouldn't have died (later revived of course) - and maybe they wouldn't have had to bury the game in the desert! ..the problem is that games, in one form or another, don't tend to be the finished article any more - we're expected to spend an (often significant) amount of money, then spend some more to get the DLC, spend even more in the form of MTA's (often these MTA's give you a competitive advantage - 'pay your way ahead of the competition') ..I think the idea of DLC packs and MTA's is reasonable - but there's a fine line between what is perceived as reasonable and what could be perceived as greedy or unfair

...my point is, how long is this sustainable for? ..how long until the consumer feels like they are a cash cow that is being milked too much?

There's always the danger in any industry of 'diminishing gains' - the leap from SD TV to HD TV felt huge...the leap from HD to 4K? Not so much... How much better will 10K look? The truth is, there'll be a critical point where the consumer will barely be able to tell the difference between the current standard and the new standard that you are expected to 'upgrade' too...the point of diminishing gains for your investment.

The same, of course, also applies to the power of a console - how much more 'realistic' are games realistically going to get? Look at a screen shot of Gran Turismo Sport - it's like looking at a photograph! ..how much better would GTSport look in 10K?? Nothing compared to the difference between SD and HD...the gains are diminishing.

There's already been some backlash to the emergence of MTA's in the video games industry - if the MTA's feel in any way unbalanced, offering too much of an advantage to those that pay, it gets the internet riled! (The heated reaction to H1Z1's microtransactions springs to mind)

Then games in general; how different does each Assassin's Creed game really feel to the previous installment in the series? Same with Call Of Duty.. Same with FIFA... You can make this statement about many franchises... the important thing to the corporate fat cat's is that they are marketable - why innovate when you can release the same game with a different skin next year for an annual milking of the collective cash cow? How long until the games industry begins to feel stale because of a lack of innovation? Crytek never released a new TimeSplitters game because they felt that, with no central character, it'd be difficult to market - ignoring the fact that the selling point was that it was different...so instead they made an unoriginal shooter, where a humanoid robot kills stuff, to add to the already saturated 'humanoid robot kills stuff' market! Now Crytek find themselves in somewhat of a crisis..!

Anyway, time to conclude my ramble/rant! I feel that the video games industry is in a dangerous state - but innovation will always win. People bought in to the idea of the Wii, not because it was a top-of-the-range product - but because it was something fresh and exciting.. I can see a point in the not too distant future where people don't buy, for example, a PS6, because it won't feel like enough of an upgrade on the PS5 - you can achieve photo-realistic on both! Maybe people will move to PC, where you can upgrade each individual component of the system as and when you want, rather than buying a whole new computer (console) every couple of years? ..but people will always buy in to a fresh and exciting new idea - so maybe, when we reach this critical mass, there'll be an innovation boom as people look to reinvigorate interest in the industry?!

I'm not saying that the industry is doomed, I think that video games are here to stay - I'm just trying to look beyond the horizon. Some modern trends, I feel, will probably also stay - the Netflix model for on demand gaming that you mentioned, Microtransactions (if done right: I think GTAV has a good balance - you can buy currency, but there's no exclusive content eg. special 'purchase only' body armour to make you 3x stronger), DLC (and patches) etc. ..these are things that I believe that consumers actually want and buy in to. ..but, when the point of diminishing gains is reached with TV resolution, graphical power etc. - every type of game will be possible: from Pong to photo-realism, from a self-contained level to an unimaginably vast open world - that's the point where a developers will have a canvas with no boundaries to create their art and only the most interesting concepts will hook people in

(Gosh, I need a lay down after that!)

Edited on by NaviAndMii

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Octane

@NaviAndMii Some things haven't changed though, the ''concole cycle'' has always been from 5-7 years. That's still the same. You don't need to buy the PS4 Pro if you already own a PS4, there are no exclusives (I'm looking at you new 3DS..), same is true for the Scorpio. Just another option for those who have a 4K TV.

DLC is different from MTAs. If done right, DLC can offer more value than the base game; Mario Kart 8 and The Witcher 3 are great examples of DLC done right. MTAs don't belong in €60 games in my opinion. They don't offer anything substantial, and they only exist to milk the userbase who can't resist the temptation to buy that skin, or get some extra in-game currency. Things that used to be part of the base game in the form of rewards.

You also talk about the annual franchises and the lack of innovation. Well, the former has always been part of the industry, remember Mega Man on the NES? That will never change and I don't see why it should disappear, if anything, it'll ruin the franchise by overexposing the public to that franchise, and people will get tired of it. They're only hurting themselves in the long run. The innovation? Well, you forgot to mention VR. I don't know about these so-called innovative ideas. Most of them come and go. The reason why motion controls are a thing again is because the Switch features them out of the box, but I wonder how long they will market that aspect of the system if the motion control aspect isn't what sell the system.

Anyway, that wasn't the point of this thread though, but I had to reply.

Octane

Haruki_NLI

@Octane The thread can discuss anything really. @NaviAndMii brings up great points. Last gen was somewhat of an anomaly, with the recession in no doubt playing a part.

I feel DLC can be done right. Just not in the way my uni pushed it. Navi mentions that they had the same kind of thing. Do it for the marks. Some of what I have been taught is very good to know. Others....is a bit mismatched and some aspects of making a game I straight up taught myself, while some things they taught have nothing to do with anything.

But to relay this to a personal note, when developing PRIME (Full name to be revealed) I did think, would DLC work? In theory, yes. Will I do it? Probably not. I'd be just as happy launching a complete product and if the fancy or demand comes, make more and add it on. My problem comes with funding. I haven't ot a job to save up funds from, nor will I crowdfund if I cant guarantee release on the target platform (Switch), so it's a rough spot for monetisation, so in one respect, MTAs are a good thing, but I wont do it, because the game wont be a fit for it, nor does it suit what I wish to do.

So, I was thinking in a day or two write up the next topic for this thread and I was thinking, since y'all seem to have some interest in this, what if it covered what us young developers are being taught, the practices and quality of the teaching we receive, and how it will shape the future of the industry? I can relay what information we are given and then discuss what it means, what relevance it has, and how it will shape future games.

I can tell you right now though, don't expect any positive words on Nintendo in it. When I say I am a stand out amongst them in that I not only want to work with them, but exclusively, I really mean it.

Would you guys like that to be topic 2 in a few days?

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NaviAndMii

@Octane Yeah, I may have gone off on a tangent there ..I just enjoyed @BLP_Software's post and felt the urge to share my perception of the gaming landscape! I'll keep this brief so we can go back 'on topic'

I worry about PS4 Pro exclusives (although, you're quite right, there are none yet...or even announced! Maybe I'm just a pessimist!) ..there's just potential to divide the player base there that I'm concerned about.

DLC and MTA's are okay, if done right - if DLC represents value for money, that's a good thing...if it doesn't, people won't buy it! ..devs have to strike a fine balance with MTA's - like I say, GTAV, in my opinion, is an example of MTA's done right: the MTA's pay for the free DLC, the MTA's also offer no competitive advantage to the purchaser...I can't really see many problems with that model - but there are examples of bad MTA's too!

You're probably right about franchises on reflection...touché with the Mega Man example!

..as for innovation, I meant more at the point of diminishing returns - once consoles and TV sets have reached the point where and upgrading offers a barely-noticeable difference, consumers will be less inclined to do so. When gaming reaches that point, the leaders in the industry will have to rely more and more on a unique selling point to stand out from the competition. They'll no longer be able to rely on 'this is the most powerful console ever', because that won't matter to the consumer - so they'll have to find other ways to entice them.

EDIT: Just saw I missed a post while I was typing - topic 2 sounds good @BLP_Software

Edited on by NaviAndMii

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Octane

@BLP_Software I think that's how DLC should always work. Finish the game, make sure you're satisfied with the final product, and don't leave anything out. If you still have ideas left after you're done with the game, add them in as DLC. Don't do any day-one shenanigans, that's the stuff that's most off-putting to people, even though it may result in higher profits. But if your game is good, people will be back for sure when there's more content available.

I do think DLC is considerably different from MTAs though (also a reply to @NaviAndMii). One represents an add-on; a good amount of playtime is added through one or two DLC packs. MTAs on the other hand are nothing more than cheap cash-grabs, because the publishers know there are people that will end up buying them. Capitalism, I know, but I still think they're a disgrace when they're included in a €60 game. I already paid full price for the game, so seeing the publisher cut out small chunks of the game and offering them for a euro or dollar each is revolting in my opinion.

Octane

Ryu_Niiyama

What about optimization? I know that the consumer market is crying "bigger, better, faster" with a boatload of industry ignorance to go along with it but it feels like devs aren't really producing games that utilize current hardware instead of just complaining that it needs to be more powerful to make it work. Yet we are getting games with more bugs, frame rate issues, poor netcode, and quite frankly given the obsession with graphics poor textures resolutions as well. Considering that many of the AAA games tend to reuse assets but STILL have severe optimizations issues I'm starting to wonder where the ball is being fumbled here. Is it the annual dev cycles so many of the paper chasing publishers are demanding? Derth of talent in the industry? Back room politics gone awry?

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Haruki_NLI

@Ryu_Niiyama I'm gonna cover this in Topic 2 in a few days. I think my have a reason.

@NaviAndMii @Octane

Next topic in the thread is going to be on what we are being taught at university. Believe it or not, it answers all of Ryu's questions about optimisation or lack thereof.

And the news aint hot. So hang tight, I'll have a piece on that shortly!

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Haruki_NLI

Topic 2: Young Developers, What We Are Taught - It's Not Sunshine and Rainbows

You guys might want to sit down for this.

So you all know I have become disillusioned with my degree as a Game Designer. It's become something I see, and many others see online, a reflection of the negatives of the industry. I always believe if you are creating a form of entertainment, you should make it your best efforts, otherwise a lack of enjoyment from users will mean it wasn't entertaining. Catch my drift?

So, for simplicity sake, we are going to go through the classes and some anecdotes of my time studying Computer Games Design, explain why I am self taught, what we are taught, what the marking states we are expected to do in the industry, and how we are expected to progress as individuals and businesses.

So, let's start at the start.

They hate Nintendo: I'm just getting this done with now, because it's the most bassackwards kind of thing you've ever heard. So when discussing what game systems sold the most, just as a bit of general knowledge, we had 5 options.

Game Boy
Wii
PlayStation
PlayStation 2
DS

So, we had a logical question: Obviously it's PS2 right? Well, we asked, for obvious reasons, does that include hardware revisions like the DSi? They said yes, so stuff like the GBA counts towards Game Boy sales as its the same thing.

To these people, teaching the young folk of the industry, the GBA is just a Game Boy. Not new hardware, not new games, just a Game Boy. I did point out (After promptly bashing my head of a table like several others in the room did), that this would mean the Wii U did very well, and the PS4 is well over 400 million units by now, if we use that logic.

They stood by it, so whatever. They also said Wii U games cant be near the size of Blu-Rays, and Nintendo doesn't make big games anyway so why expect AAAs. (This was before Switch, I must stress). This was a collective head bash again, as the Wii U discs go to 25GB.

Be at the forefront of new technology....that we want you to be at: Do you know how fast they were all over PS4 Pro? PSVR? Sony partnered uni for you. Interns there are making VR games, even. That's cool.

So when I had the opportunity to demo Nintendo Switch, and be given some of the opportunities I have now (Through my own actions and skill, not theirs, I have to add), they weren't happy. Why? This is something I've never gotten a straight answer on. You tell us to be at the forefront for new and exciting stuff, but seemingly only if it suits them.

Oh, and for those wondering, yeah, they think platformers are outdated. Cant have running and jumping no more.

Now we move on to the content, I have more anecdotes about their very weird views on what we should be doing, because some of it is flat out restrictive to making games and content, but those will pop up in the next section.

I will be tagging folk who made reference to these issues earlier in the thread too, because it's all coming back here.

Year 1

Production: Making 12 page Game Design Documentation, and small prototypes. This is all fine and good. There was an inordinate amount of time spent on writing stories (I have no idea why they spent that long on that, it was at least 5 weeks), but they did cover some handy things like progression through a game and mechanics. This was pretty good. Only downside was very little, maybe 1 week, of programming, which means making the actual game was....hm.

Creative Design: This started strong. Making company logos, scene concept art, character concept art, promo materials, all good stuff. But that was just half of it. The 2nd half, bear in mind this was mandatory to pass, involved making an interactive magazine, with a video review of content, and amazingly enough, a prediction of the future of something we have interest in.

So I said, based on previous industries like phones and PCs, and them having peripherals to play handheld games on consoles, and console ports on handhelds, that Nintendo will create some kind of hybrid system.

They said we aren't giving you the marks, as that's not realistic, citing Nintendo wont be around and the technology isn't there yet to make it compelling. You can imagine my feelings on this now.

3D Modelling: I have no issue with this. Despite not being very arty, its relevant and covered everything from individual models to whole scenes. This was good.

Web Development: Making websites. In a games design course. Yep. People had the option to do Flash animations as well, as an alternative, but neither a super relevant. You could say Flash based games are....kinda...maybe?

Year 2

3D Animations: No problem here. Make 3D animations. My only issue was, amazingly, being put in a group half the size for group work, one of whom didn't work, and the others didn't want me. So I opted to redo it this year. I'm on my own for a 6 man task. Purely personal, but some poor management of the course there really.

Level Design: Also kinda relevant. Don't know why they pushed CryEngine (shudders) so much, as I think everyone universally hated it, both years I did it. This was one I had to redo because despite having the right sized team, one guy actively faked doing work until he vanished 4 weeks prior, so all I had was code and no assets, and the other guy, bless him he is lovely, doesn't do any good standard of work. The new team is far better, despite having to teach myself C++ for Unreal Engine 4, because the uni seems to have some weird aversion to teaching how to actually make the game part.

Mobile App Development: What has this to do with games? Nothing. It was mobile website development, by the way, just thinly veiled. Had to make apps to track people via Google Maps. Riveting. Had the same lovely guy working with me on this one, never did any work, had to teach myself PHP for server side stuff, because they wouldn't teach that for some reason (again) despite being half the marks. They focused solely on front end.

Games Programming: hey look. It was a trainwreck. A good attempt but most didn't get it (Heck I didn't get it) as the information wasn't being conveyed in a way that made it learnable, it was just pure here's some code away you go slap it together. The attempt at teaching programming was a copy and paste effort.

User Interaction: Critiqueing UI across devices and suitability for things like VR and such. I didn't do this one, wouldn't let me because I didn't do Flash animation (What) but, hey at least it was relevant to the field.

Multimedia Web Development: This was an extension of making apps except it was making videos and images for web based viewing. Wooooo! Game Design remember?

Audio: Smashing stuff. Didn't do this, because I didn't do Flash, but hey they you go. Another relevant one.

Professional Awareness: You know I have no idea what this is? Talking to people who did it, they didn't either. It was something to do with team work.

Year 3 @Octane @Ryu_Niiyama This is your stuff

Here we go. So a note, they wouldn't let me do the group project or individual research project. I'm going to get to something else they didn't let me do this year as well, at the end.

Advanced Concepts in Gaming: Debate issues around gaming such as womens rights, sex, violence, anthropomorphism, realism, middleware and so on. We had to make either a realistic building render, a character creator (Which I did, guess what there was a complete lack of material on?) or a transmedia narrative, spanning multiple devices. Basically glorified marketing. I actually failed this one, because for whatever reason, my side of the debate, when it came to the debate, didn't back me up in the slightest. Didn't help every debate prior had been a one sentence thing, while this was a paragraph on why anthropomorphism is bad for games as it is dehumanising. Overall, this wasn't a bad idea, it just wasn't...a good marking thing? Its hard to explain. Like why the class existed was okay, but what you had to do to pass was all kinds of huh.

Digital 3D Effects: Make a 90 second CGI movie. Take real footage and CG something in. And make a documentary about making it. Teams of 4, I got a team of 2, with the nice guy who does nothing.

Side note, the people in the class did say "Thanks for taking one for the team". Cheeky sods.

But again, this is Game Design. Making CGI/Live Action movies? I....alright?

Indie Game Development: Here we go. The things you need to know when making a small studio. Great right? It also went over ways to make money and such. Didn't cover talking to other companies or acquiring anything for development but hey.

When writing out a business plan however, we were required to plan out DLC and micro-transactions (Not just for marking purposes), but it is a requirement they want us to do when we plan a game. They want us to put MTAs and DLC in from the start.

And I didn't do that. I openly object to that.

Also, this required submission of exe files and code via electronic submission. All handy right? Electronic submissions doesn't allow zips, rar files, code files or exe files. Whoops. Another mismanagement.

Advanced Concepts in Web Production: Judging by what Advanced Concepts in Gaming was about....probably the same but Web based. Again though, it's Game Design.

Creative Visualisation and Animation: Do you know those Casually Explained videos that have neat animations explaining things and how they work? It's that. Make that. Pick something and explain how it works via animation. Game Design.


And that's the course structure. As you can see, a lot of it is irrelevant to the actual subject, but it's what you didn't see that worries me more. While a fair chunk of it is relevant, even within those, there are alarming holes, not most beyond teaching some dodgy practices and business moves.

Firstly: Where the hell was optimisation? I cannot stress this enough and @Ryu_Niiyama brought this up. We aren't taught how to optimise anything, even for PC. Looking back it was mentioned in passing, like what it is and why you do it, but nothing on it. When submitting something, hardware just has to brute force it.

Secondly: Programming! They tried, bless, but it was so poorly done, in addition to a lot of mismanagement, it's worrying that they hand wave the key component of making a game interactive. The bit that makes the game a game.

There was a week where Intel were coming around and allegedly offering job opportunities (Now why Intel came to game designers to offer them jobs, some of whom wont pass for two years, is a mystery) but it happened. Interns ran interviews, and all was well. Got emails and checked the sites for the list of times and such.

Great, long list of names, covering all second and third year students.

Except me.

I have been withheld from an opportunity that was listed as mandatory I must stress, and they never once said why. They never once said "We don't want you there", they just never let me do it and never mentioned it to me. I asked my housemate, once they revealed they were one of the people doing the interviews. They said they didn't know why either. The staff pretend it never happened.

Now, they had, since day one, said we should be striving on our own as well. Working on games in the background, and eventually, trying to get relations with developers and publishers who visit for talks, see the exhibitions at the end of every year, and so on.

So, being a guy who likes to make progress, I did the numbers, looked at what games I wanted to make, so on and so forth, and by the half way point of that first year of learning, I was already talking to the first company I even spoke to. That company, obviously, was Nintendo. Even back then I was actually getting requested to make Wii U and 3DS software, and yes, Switch is in the pipeline.

Now that very initial correspondence, that first reaching out to them, was done via the university's own e-mail client, as my own email that I now use wasn't established yet (This was very early days throwing it out there kinds of correspondance). As such, they can probably monitor my emails.

But here is my thing. Thy say go to the new tech. Make the games you think people will enjoy. Work with people, who get you where you want to be. But it has become increasingly apparent, that it doesn't apply to Nintendo. I don't know the exact reason why, I don't know for what purpose, but I have been locked out of opportunities on many occasions beyond the egregious one I listed, ever since I took their initiative, showed initiative, and made myself known.

At the end of the day I got ahead, did as they asked, and I am being pushed away by it. And that's on a personal level, the worst aspect, that doing what I want and what they said I should do, has led to being left on the side.

But here is my closing statement.

In a lot of ways, I have enjoyed myself. I have learned things, that granted, I did pick up over time just by playing games and being analytical about them, but the doesn't excuse the gaps in knowledge, some of which is crucial, and the blatant irrelevancy and mismanagement of the course in general. For £9000 tuition fee per year, and all the loans I'll have to repay?

It needs to be better.

Now Playing: Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Crash Bandicoot 4

Now Streaming: Sonic Lost World, Just Cause 3

NLI Discord: https://bit.ly/2IoFIvj

Twitch: https://bit.ly/2wcA7E4

Ryu_Niiyama

I need a drink. Virgil's root beer on the rocks please.

I've had a general idea of how the new blood of the gaming industry was being shaped. I have a few buddies that got game design/dev degrees (NONE work in the industry now because of most of what was said above) and a few of my friends that are in game writing feel like they have no soul. So yeah. This doesn't give me confidence in gaming as an entertainment medium and I've been seeing for years a great deal of (optimization is my major point of contention. As a lot of games could run on more systems with less stringent hardware requirements if people actually cared about optimization and testing.) missteps and (I can't think of a AAA non Nintendo game that I've been really, really excited for. Even the ones I buy day one I expect a number of issues that for any other product I would deem unacceptable.) inconsistencies that are making me less and less enthused about the hobby as a whole. I'm not walking away yet but I will likely be exiting from one of the major hardware manufactures next gen (MS seems to be on the chopping block for me. I wish they would just make an XBOX OS so I could buy the games I want and not buy their paperweights.) and focusing on retro gaming/backlog. I feel like the industry is growing into an unsustainable fashion (not enough talent, too much executive meddling, overhead costs, system parity issues) and I think either we are going to keep seeing an output shrinkage (either for quality or quantity) for the majority of devs or an outright crash once again. Perhaps we shall see a shift in focus at some point to bring quality back to the forefront. I do feel like programming education is hit or miss in university. I was required to minor in computer science for the Astrophysics major but I've taught myself way more than I'd learned in class and I went to a pretty good school. However I'm seeing that a lot of programming is just "getting it to work" and structure and elegance are lacking. Seeing as programming is a logic based language that really shouldn't be the case but I see it even in my current work. SQL Devs that can't query worth anything and pasting too many joins together when other functions work with less margins of error.

That being said, I do still think there are pockets of sunshine and competency in the industry. I still mostly enjoy being a gamer and it can be one of my most rewarding hobbies at times.

Thank you for giving more insight into your experiences.

Taiko is good for the soul, Hoisa!
Japanese NNID:RyuNiiyamajp
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Haruki_NLI

@Ryu_Niiyama You're very welcome. Sorry this one took so long to get out. God knows I've been wanting to share this before.

I'm not getting my degree. I have come to accept that as has my family. And I am actually appaled to here that some of your buddies have gone through this too.

I value how fun a game is to play. I will hit 60/30FPS at the cost of it being 1080p if one of the uni PCs it' being marked on cant hit that due to a bottleneck. I sit and I work for hours but performance isn't marked outside of it runs.

In a way, I am very happy to be a part of a community that accepts developers and their work for what it is: Masochism. Another thing I am happy about is that, even with my doubts and self-loathing, I had the guys to reach out to Nintendo of all things. And it worked.

So I kind of....sit frustrated really. I'm holding on, very stringently, to a set goals for my game. None of which have really been covered in university. I am striking out on my own and in many respects that is terrifying.

But I absolutely was not going to be a guy who plans DLC from a conceptual level, and be shunted along a conveyer belt to Sony for VR and experiences I wouldn't be happy with, being told that I can only want to work for certain things because they don't like the others.

Now Playing: Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Crash Bandicoot 4

Now Streaming: Sonic Lost World, Just Cause 3

NLI Discord: https://bit.ly/2IoFIvj

Twitch: https://bit.ly/2wcA7E4

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