Jimquisition: Irrational Decisions (Or Freedom In Chains)

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Alterego-X:
The Broken Age example only makes sense if you literally believe the old clickbait narrative that Double Fine "ran out of money", but in it's actual context, it's all about what Jim just described here, more freedom to decide what the creators want to do.

They could have still chosen to make a very short, very simple $2m game, or they could have chosen to delay the development and only finish it by 2015, and instead they rather creatively chose a thid option to boost their budget with a two-parted release.

If anything, this is a prime example of how non-conventional development models can be started outside the conventional wisdoms of AAA publishing. If Activision would be faced with the same decision, that they have too much content planned for a game's budget, we already know what they would do, because we have seen it with Starcraft II: Split it in three parts and sell it thrice. Alternate optiomns include releasing it unfinished with a half-assed ending, and delaying it for an absurdly long time.

Hooray for the creative best of both worlds.

Wait... how is what Double-Fine did any different from what Activision Blizzard did with Starcraft, aside from having it planned out and accounted for since the beginning?(On the other hand, I think that Blizzard-As-A-Game-Studio has managed to maintain their much-coveted and famous "We're Good Enough To Do What We Want" carte-blanche from the publisher that they've always had - did they ever lose it?)

So, when the answer to "What would a AAA publisher do when faced with Double Fine's situation" is "Do what Double Fine did, but first!"... what's your point?

I'm still waiting for the AAA market to crash in on itself so it can be restructured to promote good, inventive games, not just good profits. Maybe with some of the biggest minds breaking off to work on smaller projects, it will happen sooner. Then, the guys with the good ideas can show the publishers how restrictions are hurting games. Probably won't happen but I'm taking enough cold medicine to make me think I'm wearing the magic slippers from the Wizzard of Oz and will keep repeating that to myself.

Also, I'm scared to know that Jim has a "katana" shaped like that at the end of the video.

gargantual:
Its not just the narrative reasons why AAA is moving away from single player.

narrative single player demands smart level design and balance of challenge, smart AI and resources. Its easier to just throw all the assets into a map and say let the players tussle with each other, while they referee from the sidelines, and add in more microtransactions.

Right now AAA video games is basically seeking to replace Zynga and Magic the Gathering as the premier choice of long term addictive expensive competitive social gaming.

In the future if you wanna have fun with action adventure by yourself without being on a company server. Its side scrollers, walking simulators and point and click, or play your old games.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Social this and social that with the new consoles. Multi-player being shoe-horned into to virtual every single player game coming out, often with lackluster results. It's easier, too, to nickle and dime players through multiplayer add-ons, like map packs and new characters, than to expect a console gamer to pay for a better weapon in the middle of a single player game. Halo and Call of Duty showed them that it's possible to addict people, so now every publisher has this set as their goal. Campaigns on those series' later game sucked, too, compared to their online options. I guess it's indie games, hacks and mods of ancient games, and Nintendo for me if the whole market hits this point.

Jimothy Sterling:
Irrational Decisions (Or Freedom In Chains)

Major studios are not just shutting down because evil publishers are closing them. Some of them are falling on their own swords. Certain developers are trading in one cage for another, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Watch Video

Well said Mr Sterling. I completely agree with you, which surprises me somewhat, because I'd have though you'd be the absolute last person to make the points that you just did. Since your "Last of Us" / "Bioshock Infinite" reviews, I've regarded you as largely disagreeing with my contention that games should be as "unscripted" as possible.

I was rather surprised to hear your "left hand" point made about "Bioshock Infinite" in particular though. Not that I don't AGREE with that point I absolutely do, there are several systems in "Infinite" that just don't seem to work together - I'm just surprised that it's you making it! But hey, I've crapped on "Bioshock Infinite" enough, and I do think it's a decent game, if not worth the forty squid that I spent on it.

But regarding your main point... I'm sadly old enough to remember when Ken Levine was a young up-and-coming game designer, and it's fair to say that the games he made then were a lot more appealing to me than the ones he's making now. It just feels as though he's lost his way. Maybe he realises that as well. I can't wait to see what he does when he starts to design smaller, more focussed indie-style games, because I think it gives him a chance to really go back to looking at using his particular strengths. Be a DESIGNER instead of a manager.

Again - I know I've kinda crapped on Ken Levine's latest work - but that's because I know how much MORE he's capable of. Here's hoping that he gets a chance to shine in his new role.

Hairless Mammoth:
I'm still waiting for the AAA market to crash in on itself so it can be restructured to promote good, inventive games, not just good profits. Maybe with some of the biggest minds breaking off to work on smaller projects, it will happen sooner. Then, the guys with the good ideas can show the publishers how restrictions are hurting games. Probably won't happen but I'm taking enough cold medicine to make me think I'm wearing the magic slippers from the Wizzard of Oz and will keep repeating that to myself.

Exactly this. I've said for a long time that not only WILL the games industry crash again, it NEEDS to. As it was said above, the reason these CoD clones keep flooding the market in place of brilliant single player experiences (A la, Last of US, Bioshock, Ni No Kuni, or even stuff like Way of the Samurai, or going even older, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) is because the vast majority of the market buys them, and they're a quick buck. Not saying the vast majorities of full fledged gamers buy them (I.E People who play games as their primary hobby. Not those casual gamers who ONLY play CoD or something like that), but the dude-bro market is strong. Add in the fact they can whore themselves out to other companies (Doritio's and Mtn Dew and such.) and they get good money, for not a lot of work. As much as I hate them, compare the original Halo to Halo 4. (Disclaimer: If Halo 4 is, in fact, a much better game, I wouldn't know. I've only played and hated Halo 2)

Not to mention, with FFXIII being the leading front on "single player RPG" and it shoveling cyanide pills down it's gullet as fast as it can manage, and trying to hang itself at the same time.
Well, it's not a good sign. It shows that the market, as far as the industry is concerned, hates single player RPGs, because they see a brand: Final Fantasy, one that's weathered the storm for decades, now receiving near universal hate, and it's sales numbers dropping like a rock, and they're going to see the same for FFXV, if the trailer and game play demo is anything to go off of (Before anyone makes a stink about that, FFXV looks like an amazing action game. But a FF RPG, it ain't.).

So, back on topic, the industry NEEDS to crash. It'll clear out these dude-bro Halo/CoD casual gamers that've been hanging around like a wet fart, dismantle the big, billion dollar method in place now, and leave the more indie studios, the ones more interested in making games than making billions. (I'm not saying designers SHOULDN'T be interested in making money, but not to the point of killing their games over it (*COUGHFFXIIICOUGH*)) I, for one, welcome the inevitable flaming doom of the industry. I'll bring the marshmallows.

Doomsdaylee:
So, back on topic, the industry NEEDS to crash. It'll clear out these dude-bro Halo/CoD casual gamers that've been hanging around like a wet fart, dismantle the big, billion dollar method in place now, and leave the more indie studios, the ones more interested in making games than making billions. (I'm not saying designers SHOULDN'T be interested in making money, but not to the point of killing their games over it (*COUGHFFXIIICOUGH*)) I, for one, welcome the inevitable flaming doom of the industry. I'll bring the marshmallows.

Nah. Don't agree with this.

I have no problems with the CoDs and Battlefields, even though I'm not into them myself. If people enjoy them and want to keep playing them, what's the harm? Where I agree with you is that their success shouldn't stop other interesting projects from being made and sold by the AAA games industry.

But do they? Maybe to an extent, but the last time I checked, there was plenty of competition to the likes of "Call of Duty" that I could choose instead if I wanted an interesting gaming experience.

If all of the creative blood keeps disappearing from the aaa market then it's going to crash, nothing can survive without innovation and evolution.

Today I skipped work to finish The Swapper. Also I increased my Humble Bundle order just to give the creators a bit more cash. I don't remember when was the last time I did the former and never did the latter. Such an amazing game.

Indeed this game could not come out in the AAA environment. I'm really not a fan of most indie games but this one... Oh man.

themilo504:
If all of the creative blood keeps disappearing from the aaa market then it's going to crash, nothing can survive without innovation and evolution.

Or new blood comes in to replace it. If the old guard leave, I suspect there are plenty of new designers who'd be quite happy to take their place. The best-case scenario is that the publishers realise that working under "marketing constraints" might be unfeasible and give the new bunch a bit more freedom and creative control. Leave the marketers out of the creative process, and let 'em do what they're good at instead: working out how to publicise a game when they have more of an idea of what the developer's vision is and who it should be sold to.

The abolition of some "big-name" game designers doesn't mean that the AAA games industry is heading for meltdown. Hell, I think it would probably be a bad thing if it did. D'you think I want to miss out on the next big single-player "Fallout" or "Elder Scrolls" game just because somebody dropped the ball with "Call of Duty"? To get games like "Skyrim" made, you NEED the big investors, you NEED the money and the voice actors and the rest.

Scow2:

Alterego-X:
The Broken Age example only makes sense if you literally believe the old clickbait narrative that Double Fine "ran out of money", but in it's actual context, it's all about what Jim just described here, more freedom to decide what the creators want to do.

They could have still chosen to make a very short, very simple $2m game, or they could have chosen to delay the development and only finish it by 2015, and instead they rather creatively chose a thid option to boost their budget with a two-parted release.

If anything, this is a prime example of how non-conventional development models can be started outside the conventional wisdoms of AAA publishing. If Activision would be faced with the same decision, that they have too much content planned for a game's budget, we already know what they would do, because we have seen it with Starcraft II: Split it in three parts and sell it thrice. Alternate optiomns include releasing it unfinished with a half-assed ending, and delaying it for an absurdly long time.

Hooray for the creative best of both worlds.

Wait... how is what Double-Fine did any different from what Activision Blizzard did with Starcraft, aside from having it planned out and accounted for since the beginning?(On the other hand, I think that Blizzard-As-A-Game-Studio has managed to maintain their much-coveted and famous "We're Good Enough To Do What We Want" carte-blanche from the publisher that they've always had - did they ever lose it?)

So, when the answer to "What would a AAA publisher do when faced with Double Fine's situation" is "Do what Double Fine did, but first!"... what's your point?

Activision is selling three separate games. When you buy Broken Age, you get the whole thing. You won't be able to play the second part until it comes out later this year. You won't have to pay more for it. Another example is when elements are clearly ripped from the game to sell as DLC. That's not happening with Broken Age.

I really couldn't follow Jim's logic in talking about Broken Age here. I don't see how the developement was at all compromised by the budget. When Tim got the extra money he planned for a bigger game. As it became clear that would cost more, they simply found ways to pay for it without resorting to outside money.

They retained control of the product throughout and are producing exactly what they wanted. Their plan appears to be working too; they've already made the money needed to cover part 2.

TheMadDoctorsCat:

themilo504:
If all of the creative blood keeps disappearing from the aaa market then it's going to crash, nothing can survive without innovation and evolution.

Or new blood comes in to replace it. If the old guard leave, I suspect there are plenty of new designers who'd be quite happy to take their place. The best-case scenario is that the publishers realise that working under "marketing constraints" might be unfeasible and give the new bunch a bit more freedom and creative control. Leave the marketers out of the creative process, and let 'em do what they're good at instead: working out how to publicise a game when they have more of an idea of what the developer's vision is and who it should be sold to.

The abolition of some "big-name" game designers doesn't mean that the AAA games industry is heading for meltdown. Hell, I think it would probably be a bad thing if it did. D'you think I want to miss out on the next big single-player "Fallout" or "Elder Scrolls" game just because somebody dropped the ball with "Call of Duty"? To get games like "Skyrim" made, you NEED the big investors, you NEED the money and the voice actors and the rest.

The fact that big people are leaving the aaa industry is more a sign of how bad things are starting to get, I highly doubt it's the cause of a potential crash.

and I do agree that the aaa industry crashing would be very bad, but I think that something very bad has to happen before publishers start changing their ways.

TheMadDoctorsCat:

Doomsdaylee:
So, back on topic, the industry NEEDS to crash. It'll clear out these dude-bro Halo/CoD casual gamers that've been hanging around like a wet fart, dismantle the big, billion dollar method in place now, and leave the more indie studios, the ones more interested in making games than making billions. (I'm not saying designers SHOULDN'T be interested in making money, but not to the point of killing their games over it (*COUGHFFXIIICOUGH*)) I, for one, welcome the inevitable flaming doom of the industry. I'll bring the marshmallows.

Nah. Don't agree with this.

I have no problems with the CoDs and Battlefields, even though I'm not into them myself. If people enjoy them and want to keep playing them, what's the harm? Where I agree with you is that their success shouldn't stop other interesting projects from being made and sold by the AAA games industry.

But do they? Maybe to an extent, but the last time I checked, there was plenty of competition to the likes of "Call of Duty" that I could choose instead if I wanted an interesting gaming experience.

I agree, there is no problem with the CoD's and Battlefields, if the industry existed in a vacuum.
It's the games themselves I have an issue with, it's the fact that "These are lower cost to make games, that pull in a wide market." The industry sees that, and floods the market with online FPS games, focusing far to much on that, leaving those of us who don't like online FPS', or even just don't like unimaginative FPS's to sit on the wayside with our thumbs up our ass.

Again, no problem with the games themselves. I don't even dislike CoD (I've played a free weekend or two, it's...adequate, Not good, not bad.) But the fact is that the market sees this success and wants to copy it, instead of taking the risk of going into a market that hasn't been tapped since the late ninties/early aughts, due to the big budget nature of the industry now-a-days.

TheMadDoctorsCat:

themilo504:
If all of the creative blood keeps disappearing from the aaa market then it's going to crash, nothing can survive without innovation and evolution.

Or new blood comes in to replace it. If the old guard leave, I suspect there are plenty of new designers who'd be quite happy to take their place. The best-case scenario is that the publishers realise that working under "marketing constraints" might be unfeasible and give the new bunch a bit more freedom and creative control. Leave the marketers out of the creative process, and let 'em do what they're good at instead: working out how to publicise a game when they have more of an idea of what the developer's vision is and who it should be sold to.

The abolition of some "big-name" game designers doesn't mean that the AAA games industry is heading for meltdown. Hell, I think it would probably be a bad thing if it did. D'you think I want to miss out on the next big single-player "Fallout" or "Elder Scrolls" game just because somebody dropped the ball with "Call of Duty"? To get games like "Skyrim" made, you NEED the big investors, you NEED the money and the voice actors and the rest.

Problem is that "new blood" is only making mobile games. The crash is coming, and thank god when it does.

hermes200:
Sorry, but no.

I agree with your assessment of the AAA industry, but while I think Levine has every right to leave in search of greener pastures, I think you and many people are missing the point of his actions and forgetting the other side; the real victims of personalities closing mega-studios in search to narrow their reach are not the gamers that want more high budget RPG and less modern shooters, its the hundreds of talented people that busted their asses to give us one of the best games of last year, and collaborated a whole lot to its success, even when not in the spotlight, finding themselves without a job one day because their master and commander decided to jump ship and left them with nothing but an empty office and a few lines in a resume.

I don't see how arguing that one side of the coin is a good thing means that Jim or others are missing the fact that a lot of people lost their jobs. Thing is, the video isn't really about Ken Levine. It's about him and other big names moving to smaller studios so they can be more creative.

It is a shame that he didn't mention this because, let's face it, Levine did this in the dumbest and most insensitive way possible. But it's also not really relevant to the points Jim is making. And is it even a point that needs making? Are there really a ton of people out there that don't realize that when you cut a major studio down to 10-15 people it means everyone else lost their job? I'd think that's pretty obvious.

I was sadder to hear that BioShock was being handed over to 2K, not that they're a bad publisher, but just that we'll likely see another 'okay' sequel instead of another fantastic one.

In Ken Levine died, that would be tragic, but moving onto something else is interesting.

The ending is so beautiful and filled with emotions. It inspired me so much that I had to make this.

Oh Jim.

SnakeoilSage:
I continue to hold out hope that Dead Space will find new life with a smaller, tighter budget. It's a snowball's chance in hell, but if hell didn't freeze over occasionally very few of us would actually get laid.

No. Just no. I absolutely love Dead Space, but I really don't want it to continued. The Awakened DLC ends the series in a very definitive way, and only the largest and lamest of ass-pulls could continue the series. The only thing that could be made are prequels. In the age of rehashes and remakes, I kind of like the fact a series can end. Granted, it was more murder than suicide, but still.

Hmmm, well for all the comments about smaller budgets not being an entirely bad thing, I can't help but feel that a big part of the problem, and the cause of gamer dissatisfaction, is simply that your not seeing decent RPGs and such given the AAA treatment. Your basically left with either say a good RPG experience that looks like refried crap, and no offense but the more stylized artwork becomes the more subjective it's "beauty" is and really it seems like style in many cases amounts to you know... people trying to dress up crap with fancy, positive sounding words.

The thing is that these games involving tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars are almost always directed at the most profitable seeming market. It's not that your AAA RPGs and such won't make a profit, it's that they won't make enough of a profit, and in that lies the problem and why the industry winds up under such fire. The industry equates arbitrary projections with reality, it doesn't matter if you make 20 million dollars in profit, if someone projected your going to make 40, they report that as a 20 million dollar loss and treat it as such. This is how you wind up with a multi-billion dollar industry reporting record profits as a whole many years, full of dozens of developers and publishers crying poverty and QQing about all the money they are allegedly losing.

As a gamer, tons of talented people leaving the AAA side of the industry and moving on to smaller companies doesn't strike me as a good thing, it just continues the divide, and ensures that the industry is a shadow of what it could be. Granted it DOES mean we'll see better, smaller-scale games, but it also means that say RPG fans are still going to be waiting absurd amounts of time before they get any real AAA level games aimed at them, and arguably Survival Horror fans have it even worse, I mean at least RPG gamers had the Bioware stuff for a while, the only decent IP coming out of Survival Horror is the as of yet unproven "Evil Within".

I'll also be fairly blunt about something when it comes to survival horror which is my second favorite genera (RPGs, Survival Horror, Strategy/Tactical War Games, and oddly enough Fighting Games in that order are my favorites), "Outlast" is a rare exception within that area of gaming as far as indie development goes, and honestly it, like the original Amnesia, largely stands out due to long term neglect of the genera. As good as they seem currently none of them have the "wow factor" of the original Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or Fatal Frame, titles. Heck I'd even argue they didn't even do as well as the "Obscure" or "Condemned" series. A big part of it is of course that they skipped the more complicated parts of the game design, such as trying to have a combat system that still allows the game to be a horror experience, while some would argue the focus on forced stealth and evasion is a "good thing" I suspect it's mostly a kneejerk reaction to all of the alleged "horror" games becoming action titles (namely Resident Evil and Silent Hill). For every halfway decent title like the ones mentioned, you wind up with some pretty big failures as well, "A Machine For Pigs" showed that a creepy atmosphere can do a lot for a game, but at the end of the day you still need to do something with it more frequently other than the occasional puzzle, "Huntsman: The Orphanage" seemed like it was going to be an interesting title, but it basically amounted to listening to amateur voice actors prattle on for hours and hoping you'd pick up on the important bits for the eventual puzzles, and there are of course others, last year I thought was going to be a sort of renaissance for the genera and honestly out of the bunch "Outlast" was the only one that I came away thinking was particularly good, and indeed it was so good in the deprived climate that I couldn't stop comparing "Machine For Pigs" to it, even if they were going for different things, and that probably reduced my opinion of the second Amnesia accordingly despite what is an immensely impressive environment...

Where would I get one of those long pink swords?

gargantual:
Its not just the narrative reasons why AAA is moving away from single player.

narrative single player demands smart level design and balance of challenge, smart AI and resources. Its easier to just throw all the assets into a map and say let the players tussle with each other, while they referee from the sidelines, and add in more microtransactions.

Right now AAA video games is basically seeking to replace Zynga and Magic the Gathering as the premier choice of long term addictive expensive competitive social gaming.

In the future if you wanna have fun with action adventure by yourself without being on a company server. Its side scrollers, walking simulators and point and click, or play your old games.

^Dead on the money. And what I was going to say, only probably more concise.
AAA doesn't care, and hasn't cared, about uniqueness or "artistic integrity" for some time.

They make products for money and no other reason. It's just a paycheck. And chasing the paycheck means bending fully to whatever trends is making bank at the moment. Gotta get on the big-bucks bandwagon or someone will beat you to it and eat your lunch.

"Online Multiplayer" is just the latest in the series of those trends.

When AAA trots out "online" as the future of all gaming; they aren't envisioning great concept gameplay, or new and interesting mechanics performed in ways that only two or more human beings can accomplish; they're envisioning putting you and your friends in their digital crack house, with them as your dealer.

They're envisioning persistent payments for microtransactions and/or subscription fees; backed by an easy to control, easy to prepare drip line of content delivered as DLC and sequels. Their gameplay will pander directly to the lowest common denominator, because to do otherwise is asinine.

Basically, all of AAA wants to become Blizzard Entertainment.

LysanderNemoinis:
No. Just no. I absolutely love Dead Space, but I really don't want it to continued. The Awakened DLC ends the series in a very definitive way, and only the largest and lamest of ass-pulls could continue the series. The only thing that could be made are prequels. In the age of rehashes and remakes, I kind of like the fact a series can end. Granted, it was more murder than suicide, but still.

Eh, everyone has their preference. I think there are still new directions it can go, however.

As much as I want to think Levine did something good, I really don't see it. If he wanted to break away to be an "smaller studio" thats fine, but shuttering his studio and leaving a lot of people out of work just seems wrong to me. I understand that his publisher said they would help find work in other studios, but at the same time that will mean relocation and if a person has a family it means uprooting their entire family.

The other issue I have is Levine isn't leaving Take Two, he is just starting a new studio with them so I don't consider what he is doing the same approach as someone going indie or trying to do something new, for he is still going to have the demands of a publisher with expectations of what he needs to be doing.

...if anything, it's a reminder that you can't just throw money at things for them to be good. Necessity really is the mother of invention and if an artist (of any kind) is in a cushy position, they're less likely to do something special. Add investors, deadlines, market research and corporate mindset to that and you have the gaming industry as it is today: Something truly rotten.

The only surprise is that developers aren't fleeing en masse instead of one at a time.
Then again, I'd kill puppies and kittens for a stable job right now... but I'm not an artist or someone who's trained himself to create things. It's borderline hypocritical to blame them, I know, but I also know that creative people rarely compromise out of anything but necessity and it has to hurt a lot of them.

Kevin Levine, in your own words you're a pretentious twat, but I respect your decision.

canadamus_prime:
Sorry Jim, but I just couldn't keep a straight face when you tried to claim to be mature and professional.

I took it more seriously than the assumption that this was a beneficial move done with the spirit of gaming in mind.

Sanunes:
As much as I want to think Levine did something good, I really don't see it. If he wanted to break away to be an "smaller studio" thats fine, but shuttering his studio and leaving a lot of people out of work just seems wrong to me.

As much as I don't see this as a positive move, I'm curious: what is the solution, then? To prop up a bunch of people for....How long?

At this point I'm more than a little sick of indie games. There are wads of arty thinky depressing/horror games each with a cute hook of some variety. There are gobs of deceptively smart funzos-for-days games too. But indies cannot pull off the gaming equivalent of the B-movie.

Sometimes I want to see a big meaty dude and his annoying best friend shoot some bad guys in the face, get double-crossed by the femme fatale, have their little gay moment where the annoying best friend dies and they declare undying love for each other (nohomo), and eventually save the princess and ride of into the sunset. To be totally honest, that's what I want to see most of the time. Because that is fun.

I'm GLaD that Ken Levine did what he did However, I'm extremely upset he left Bioshock to 2K, because they're going to TOTALLY FUCK IT UP. I can just imagine the Cannon and everything I love about Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite totally destroyed, because 2K won't be bothered about writing a good game. So I'm a bit sour that Ken Levine didnt take his IP's with him.

On his point about AAA developers who still can put out creative stuff and not get completely caught in beaurocratic none sense, that basically brings to mind Valve, who haven't let there millions of dollars impede their game making process. No, the things stopping Valve are the Team Fortress 2 hats.

Zachary Amaranth:

Sanunes:
As much as I want to think Levine did something good, I really don't see it. If he wanted to break away to be an "smaller studio" thats fine, but shuttering his studio and leaving a lot of people out of work just seems wrong to me.

As much as I don't see this as a positive move, I'm curious: what is the solution, then? To prop up a bunch of people for....How long?

If they are making games why not keep them open? From my perspective the studio is just being shutdown because Levine wants to do something different, why not just promote people within the company (or hire people) and let them continue to make games. For they already have talent and work together for they have worked on a game already.

Goliath100:
Open questions to game industry:
Why aren't you using smaller Creative Teams for the creative stuff that needs give-a-damn, and have a set of publisher spesific programers that jumps from one project to another?

you are talking to the wrong people. you need to address accountants and executives both of whom have probably never touched a video game in their lives

Sanunes:

Zachary Amaranth:

Sanunes:
As much as I want to think Levine did something good, I really don't see it. If he wanted to break away to be an "smaller studio" thats fine, but shuttering his studio and leaving a lot of people out of work just seems wrong to me.

As much as I don't see this as a positive move, I'm curious: what is the solution, then? To prop up a bunch of people for....How long?

If they are making games why not keep them open? From my perspective the studio is just being shutdown because Levine wants to do something different, why not just promote people within the company (or hire people) and let them continue to make games. For they already have talent and work together for they have worked on a game already.

Levine took people with him. He is aiming at a smaller studio. It looks like he took what he needed, so what more was he supposed to do? Take everyone and bloat the system?

Drummodino:
Honestly? I am lamenting the decline of narrative driven, single player, AAA games. Many of my favorite titles of the past few years have fallen under this banner and the possibility of losing these deeply worries me. Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoy plenty of indie games with smaller budgets and artistic freedom, the likes of Don't Starve, Limbo, To The Moon etc.

However if the day comes when all the AAA scene pumps out are competitive multiplayer games like Titanfall (even though I seriously enjoyed the beta), and we no longer see big budget blockbusters like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us and Tomb Raider... I will be immensely disappointed.

Also why would studios not want to make games like these? Yea they cost a lot to make, but the good ones sell like hotcakes and receive massive critical acclaim. Again I point to Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, these were mega popular titles and I can't see why people wouldn't want to make more in the future.

I agree with your lament. Bioshock, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls (epecially Skyrim), Dragon Age: Origins, Assassin's Creed (except maybe the 5th one:#3), Dishonored, Spec Ops: The Line ... there are plenty of big budget AAA titles with a single player focus, compelling story arcs, character driven narrative, etc. And the world would be lesser for their loss

But I think it's far to early to pronounce such games dead.

Studios are dumb. Or, to borrow from K "dumb, panicky animals." And right now, those panicky animals see spunkgargleweewee games, or anything with "zombie" in the name are making an absolute killing. They see Candy Crush (TM don't sue me for saying candy) earning upwards of a million dollars a day on micro-transactions. And big studios think, naturally, that they should be getting a slice of that pie. Plus, if they throw AAA budgets into the mix, they can conquer the whole pie!

It's why some of the first games for XBONE (Ryse, Forza 5) came with micro-transactions... on a $60 game that requires a $500 console purchase. But you and I (being neither dumb nor panicky) know it's untenable, long term. Sure, people might be willing to drop a couple dollars on that free game for their phone, but on games with over $600 worth of investment? Studios will learn too, eventually.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep playing TF2, Loadout, Octodad and KSP... all of which (combined) cost less than half the price of a single DLC car in Forza.

SnakeoilSage:

LysanderNemoinis:
No. Just no. I absolutely love Dead Space, but I really don't want it to continued. The Awakened DLC ends the series in a very definitive way, and only the largest and lamest of ass-pulls could continue the series. The only thing that could be made are prequels. In the age of rehashes and remakes, I kind of like the fact a series can end. Granted, it was more murder than suicide, but still.

Eh, everyone has their preference. I think there are still new directions it can go, however.

Dear God, I've finally talked with someone about Dead Space...and they're not utterly bitter about it/hate it. I suppose I was a bit too strong in my opinion though. If there's going to be more Dead Space, I'd sort of prefer it if they rebooted the series with a whole new main character in a different timeline/reality because the series from the motion coming to Awakened feels complete to me, and I'd prefer they didn't try to squeeze more into it.

It's nice to see you being mature and respectable for once Jim. Keep up the good work!

P.S. Ken Levine can rot in hell for getting all those people fired. I suspect this is the last we hear of him.

Flunk:
It's nice to see you being mature and respectable for once Jim. Keep up the good work!

P.S. Ken Levine can rot in hell for getting all those people fired. I suspect this is the last we hear of him.

You don't get jobs for life. For reasons that haven't been clarified yet, Levine left and 2k decided to shut down the studio. People will move on with their lives, just like everyone else who works in any industry will.

Drummodino:
Honestly? I am lamenting the decline of narrative driven, single player, AAA games. Many of my favorite titles of the past few years have fallen under this banner and the possibility of losing these deeply worries me. Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoy plenty of indie games with smaller budgets and artistic freedom, the likes of Don't Starve, Limbo, To The Moon etc.

However if the day comes when all the AAA scene pumps out are competitive multiplayer games like Titanfall (even though I seriously enjoyed the beta), and we no longer see big budget blockbusters like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us and Tomb Raider... I will be immensely disappointed.

Also why would studios not want to make games like these? Yea they cost a lot to make, but the good ones sell like hotcakes and receive massive critical acclaim. Again I point to Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, these were mega popular titles and I can't see why people wouldn't want to make more in the future.

Its like art or craftsmanship, you can't force it. You can't just have cookie cutter effort. Its what the AAA is doing now.

Look at Arcanum, that had a story that blew the biggest hole in the idea of an afterlife and made suicide seem like a good idea. The kind of game that plainly insults your religion at its basic level. That had meaning. Same as planescape and other games.

None of them cost that much. Hell, even the TLOU and Bioshock infinite are shallow compared to what other mature mediums like books can do and even these older games can convey.

Good craftsmanship =/= expensive to make.

AAA merely means a lot of money being spent, and good stories and good art doesn't have to cost that much to make.

Or are you going to ask Picasso how much his "million dollar" paint costs? Because it isn't the paint or money that makes the art.

TLOU and Bioshock are not praised for graphics or even gameplay, they were praised for their story. And other games with even more complicated stories show that a good story doesn't cost a thing.

Its only the graphics and gameplay that costs money, story doesn't. Stanley Parable kinda proved that too.

Ultratwinkie:
Its like art or craftsmanship, you can't force it. You can't just have cookie cutter effort. Its what the AAA is doing now.

Look at Arcanum, that had a story that blew the biggest hole in the idea of an afterlife and made suicide seem like a good idea. The kind of game that plainly insults your religion at its basic level. That had meaning. Same as planescape and other games.

None of them cost that much. Hell, even the TLOU and Bioshock infinite are shallow compared to what other mature mediums like books can do and even these older games can convey.

Good craftsmanship =/= expensive to make.

AAA merely means a lot of money being spent, and good stories and good art doesn't have to cost that much to make.

Or are you going to ask Picasso how much his "million dollar" paint costs? Because it isn't the paint or money that makes the art.

TLOU and Bioshock are not praised for graphics or even gameplay, they were praised for their story. And other games with even more complicated stories show that a good story doesn't cost a thing.

Its only the graphics and gameplay that costs money, story doesn't. Stanley Parable kinda proved that too.

I agree that you can't force art. However, there are plenty of people out there with ideas that would make for great games and great stories. If these people had a AAA budget, I'm sure we'd see some fantastic games come out of it. Problems occur when AAA titles are not made with that in mind, when publishers and investors demand the inclusion of whatever is popular at the time. See the inclusion of multiplayer in Spec Ops: The Line - a work of art if I ever saw one.

http://www.joystiq.com/2012/08/29/spec-ops-the-line-dev-brands-games-multiplayer-a-waste-of-mon/

I also agree that games can have great, deep and/or meaningful stories without a million dollar budget. Bastion, Limbo, To the Moon, The Walking Dead, Katawa Shoujo - these are all examples of that. What is more difficult however, is creating a game with a good story, impressive graphics and terrific gameplay. It is possible (Portal), but very difficult. Striking aesthetics can mitigate the lack of graphical power, yet that is not an easy feat to accomplish either.

Also I have to disagree that Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us were shallow - that is a subjective opinion. They may have felt that way to you, but for many people (myself included) they had great and interesting stories. Personally, I found The Last of Us's story fantastic, and while it didn't really do anything new, it did everything so damn well, I rank it up there with my favorite stories of all time (not just games).

They also were praised for their graphics and visuals, not just their stories. Both games are beautiful and this was reflected in many reviews:

http://au.ign.com/articles/2013/06/05/the-last-of-us-review
http://au.ign.com/articles/2013/03/22/bioshock-infinite-xbox-360ps3-review

Their gameplay received less universal praise, opinions tend to polarize quite a bit on that. Some people loved them, some people hated them, some people found them only okay. I enjoyed both (although for different reasons respectively).

All in all, I agree you don't need massive budgets to make great games, and many AAA are indeed crap. Publishers and investors can ruin games with their demands, and sometimes things just don't work out. In contrast, many smaller titles can be stellar, even when they're made on a shoestring budget. However, I definitely don't want to see AAA single player titles disappear, that would sadden me greatly. I love titles like TLoU, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider etc, etc, and I hope that we continue to see similar quality of them in the future.

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