Deus Ex 3 Team Didn't Get it at First, Says Director

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Break:

Therumancer:
I also maintain that the cost of games is an illusion given that most of the money goes towards human resources to begin with. I'm not sure what kind of "resources" they are talking about here, unless they simply mean themselves, and the fact that nobody wants to be the guy stuck in doing a very involved "secret area" that maybe 3% of the player base is going to see, sort of like the fat kid being stuck "way out deep" in a baseball game. :P

While you've quite accurately identified that the majority of a project's budget is spent on wages for people, to call it an "illusion" is, and I cannot stress this enough, a vast underestimation of how much it costs to pay a reasonably-sized dev team working on a modern game. Especially in recent years, where the time required to simply design and create a single room or character model has increased exponentially. The only reason we're able to see expansive, open-world games like Fallout 3 or FUEL is because of the growing use of procedurally-generated content, which allows large amounts of randomised, realistic-looking landscape to be created automatically. This means that manpower can be directed towards the individual and unique details which people actually pay attention to, rather than spending weeks hand-crafting forgettable expanses of land.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how to go about making you realise what kind of misconception you've made, simply because it's so damn big. I don't suppose it'd be as easy as telling you "that's not how it works, just because it's mostly Human Resources doesn't make it cheap"?

Someone else explained my point of view fairly well. I've been down this road before.

The bottom line is that irregardless of the technology being used someone sits down to bang out the lines of code or draw the pictures on the computer. It comes down to how much those code monkeys are demanding for their services in proportion to yesteryear. While you ARE dealing with people with college degrees and such, college degrees aren't what they used to be, and mean very little other than to prevent doors from being closed.

When you get to the bottom line, when you take a couple million off for hardware and office space and then divide up the human resources budget your looking at situations where these coders are liable to be getting paid hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for a couple of years work. The industry basically having seen massively increased demands from the employees, the budgets involved here aren't going into space and hardware. Even making John Funk's arguement about college degrees in computers or whatever, you run into a situation where there are guys with degrees who don't come close to making this much, including some that should. A guy with 2-4 years in criminal Justice who works as a cop or high end security professional and risks potentially being shot at every day doesn't make what these guys do.

Now, on the surface coders and other people do not claim to make that much money. There are many people who have said on these forums alone "I know people in the industry, and they don't make that much money" however at the same time we've also seen links to articles like one from Maxim talking about "why game programmers drive ferraris" (and I think that understated the issue). The bottom line is that the industry keeps it's finances secret, and this is why if you do some searching you'll find that most analysts don't even know how much the industry is making. When I last did a search for links, I found experts claiming anywhere from 19 to 50 billion dollars in profit the huge variation being due to the fact that the books are closed even compared to other businesses. Furthermore while everyone is predicting massive growth, nobody can tell if the industry is going to 'double' in 2 years or 10 again because those numbers are carefully sat on.

In the end, if you see a game with like a 100 million dollar budget, chances are like 90 million of that went towards paying wages and salaries over a couple of years. That's utterly insane. "Modern Warfare 2" took half a billion dollars to develop and market, there are entire nations that don't make that much money. While "Modern Warfare 2" is an okay game I guess, stop and think about what you could buy for half a billion dollars.

Don't get me wrong here though, I'm a capitolist. The gaming industry is out there to make money. On the other hand I as a consumer am going to look at how much people are making when someone tells me I need to pay $60 for a video game, and that the price should be higher, because of these massive budgets. I look at the amounts of money developers "require" from producers, along with the secrecy, and then pretty much come to the conclusion that the situation is fundementally ridiculous. While that's my usual point here, it does contribute to other discussions as well, like the one we're having.

In the end I'm not saying human resources are cheap, quite the contrary. I think the bottom line is the fact that your getting code monkeys who claim they are just making a living, while probably keeping a Lamborgini stashed in the garage of their second house or whatever. When you think about the numbers it puts an entirely differant spin on things.

Heck, look at the whole Infinity Ward thing. A lot of the issues involve come down to hundreds of millions of dollars in promised bonuses. I tend to agree that when money is promised by an employer they should deliver it, however on the other hand even allowing for the fact that it's split between everyone at the IW office, it is fundementally ridiculous that coders and game developers are expecting hundreds of millions of dollars for what amounts to drawing pictures and banging out lines of code.

See, I don't believe that game developers should be stuck working out of their basements for peanuts like int he old days, but at the same time I don't think we should be seeing these millions upon millions of dollars flowing into their payroll either (which inflates our costs as the end user). I believe there is a middle ground. Truthfully if the situation was as someone like John Funk believes it is, that wouldn't be terrible (and the problems must like elsewhere) but I don't think that's the case because in the end it all comes down to where all this money is going to, and whose pockets it winds up in. For all the people decrying how game developers don't make that much money, we see explosions like the one at Infinity Ward demonstrating exactly how much money is floating around these empolyees. This isn't even getting into the senior managers/faces like Itigaki or Peter Molyneux, Itigaki being in a fight with Team Ninja at one point over like twenty million dollars he claims he was owed.... and he does what exactly to earn 20 million? Remember in the end we the consumers are the ones who pay for this, it's the true face of those "Development costs" that keep our games expensive.

At any rate, while long, I hope this is clearer.

Loonerinoes:
There

Therumancer:

Loonerinoes:
Props to the guys for realizing that player agency is not just a 'waste of resources'. It's what can make the experience unique for a vareity of players, save for completionists.

Obsidian covered this issue at their PAX panel of 'But thou must' very well too. Of how if even half the people playing HL2 never even got to the end, why would anyone invest time into things players won't see, if they can't even finish games like that to the end?

Glad to see that doing the 'rational' and 'cost effective' thing is still not just blindly followed on every case.

Hmmm, well I think it's not just that it's a "waste of resources" as they put it, but also because designers want people to see their work like artists do. Creating something that only a tiny handfull of players are going to see... like some high end raid zones in MMORPGS used to be, makes them feel like they are wasting their time. Not to mention the fact that if the work is not well known and is hard for anyone to verify it makes it difficult to put on a resume later.

I also maintain that the cost of games is an illusion given that most of the money goes towards human resources to begin with. I'm not sure what kind of "resources" they are talking about here, unless they simply mean themselves, and the fact that nobody wants to be the guy stuck in doing a very involved "secret area" that maybe 3% of the player base is going to see, sort of like the fat kid being stuck "way out deep" in a baseball game. :P

In absolute terms to develop a game you need office space, computers, and code monkeys to bang on those computers (graphics design, line coding, etc... voice actors and such are not code monkeys but are in the same catagory as human resources). If you've got say a hundred million dollars, the office space and computers might count for a few million but the rest goes towards the people.

Simply looking at it this way is what fuels a lot of my discussions on the subject (which occasionally get John Funk involved), the secrecy of the industry when it comes to their use of money also doesn't help. In a lot of respects when I see complaints about game developers and the costs a lot of it seems to me like people basically saying "well, one of the big problems is that I demand so much money that finding people to keep paying me is rough".

I'd say there are different costs involved. There's the cost of money and then there's the cost of energy and the most critical one can be the cost of time.

Allowing for player agency will *always* cost time first, some energy second and perhaps also money if it involves complex cinematics or voice acting. To say that including player agency is not that big of a strain on monetary cost can even be correct in some cases.

But in terms of energy and time costs? Dude...I assure you, player agency costs a ton. Really, it's better explained in "But thou must", so I might as well link it to you. It's somewhere in the middle I think, explained very well with Alpha Protocol development being set as the example.

http://www.blip.tv/file/3491456

I went into things at length in an earlier message, so this is likely to be a short version. You can easily read a longer rant in my other post.

In the end it comes down to the fact that a game takes a couple of years for a design team to bang out usually, sometimes less.

When it comes to resources the big issue is more or less how much the developers demand for their services. It's like this, a developer tells a producer that it's going to need say a hundred million dollars to make a game over a two year period. They spend a couple million on new hardware, a couple million to pay off their office space and utilities, and then all the rest of that money goes to the human resources. Now how specifically it gets divided up is unknown but your basically looking at funding were depending on the game you could have guys banging out lines of code getting paid ridiculous salaries for what is involved, like a quarter of a million dollars a year or more.

I'm not someone who is saying that game developers should be living hand to mouth, but as a consumer there is a point where I look at this, since the expense is passed on to me, and simply say "that's ridiculous".

One of the big problems with the industry is that they keep their finances more or less secret. The analysts have no clear idea how much the gaming industry is making because of this. Ditto for the exact rate of growth. The last time I bothered to hunt down links the earnings for last year for the gaming industry as a whole were somewhere between 19 to 50 billion dollars, which is a huge amount of variance, which sort of demonstrates exactly how much fog there is over this thing (and doubtlessly for good reason).

A lot of people like to point fingers at voice actors and the like as the culprits for rising prices. I am however something of an Anime fan (I used to be bigger, but still watch it) and have seen a lot of stuff about people who do professional voice acting for animation and video games, and it's apparently hard to make a full time living at. These guys do not get paid massive amounts of money for their work for the most part. In the end the expense is again the code monkey running the machines.

The issue with "agency" comes down to the other points discussed, but also to the bottom line that coders are expecting ridiculous amounts of money, and that is what influances things. It's not so much that someone gets paid for everything, but the ridiculous amounts of money developers want to charge for what they are doing.

This is already longer than expected, but to again make a point I used in my previous message. Look at the whole "Infinity Ward" thing. Not only did Modern Warfare 2 cost half a billion dollars to develop and market (and think about what you could buy for half a billion dollars, and what they actually produced), but a big part of the battle revolves around hundreds of millions of dollars of bonuses promised to the workers. While I do believe that an employer should pay promised bonuses, I think hundreds of millions of dollars for an office full of game developers/code monkeys is ridiculous to the point of being obscene.

I've become very critical of the industry in recent years, as I honestly think greed is doing a job on gaming. The issue isn't so much the difficulty of producing these big game projects, it's how much people are trying to gouge in developing them. It isn't about people wanting to make a living doing something they love anymore, it seems to increasingly be about people wanting to get rich, for doing minimal effort, connected to something they love (but don't love so much that they aren't willing to let it die in pursuit of the allmighty dollar).

Whether anyone believes it or not, I've done quite a bit of reading on this subject over the years, and a lot of thinking on it as well. There are only so many times I was able to hear "Games are so expensive because of these budgets which are equal to Hollywood blockbusters!" before I started looking into it, noticing the lack of general information, and doing some figuring based on what things were being said.

Unrelated to the point as a whole, but it should clarify what I was saying.

NNNNOOOO - ITS ALL A LIE!

Deus Ex will never return and be good again!

*curls up fetally in the corner and rocks back and forth* Its all a trick to burn you; its all a trick to burn you; its all a trick to burn you...

Sounds reassuring and amazing at the same time. The latest last-gen titles really started to show the habit he just described.

Also, I am tired of these neccesary in-game tutorials or the long introduction scenes like Mass Effect 2. After the first playthrough, the system should get it I am quite advanced or assume I read the manual. Those are there for a friggin' reason.

I think Dugas truly knows what he is doing. But i am also skeptic about this oblivious team :S

This article is interesting and to me it explains why the early press releases for this deus ex were so off. I mean the first press snippets for this game it sounded like they were making a linear action fps with no rpg elements. Now later with the new press stuff we find out they are seemingly trying for a true deus ex with the exploration, the choice, and rpg stuff all intact.

If most of the company did not get the game to begin with and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to see the point of the the game can explain why earl on the releases seemed to be confused about what they were making.

All that said this game could be brilliant or complete fail if most of the people working on it never played deus ex.

CitySquirrel:

Eagle Est1986:
Well that's reassuring to hear, though I'm a little confused as to why they didn't get it to start with. Just hand them all a copy of Deus Ex, then when everyone has completed it get them to see who did what differently to everyone else. Problem solved.

Deus Ex cost much less money than it would cost to make the exact same game today. That is really the issue... imagine you spend two or three days working on a character model and then realize that players could bypass it completely.

Still, good for them...Deus Ex is one of my favorite games, and I am not an FPS person at all.

Yeah but you wouldn't think artists and programmers would be thinking like that? Surely not? Well it doesn't matter anyway, the point is that they're not thinking like that now, which is great news.

The thing is, a decade later, I'm still finding out shit about Deus Ex I didn't know before.

YOU CAN SAVE LEBEDEV!?WTF!

MindBullets:

sneakypenguin:
Joy agame I have to play 3 times in arbitrary manners to see half the content.

And here we have a textbook example of someone who doesn't get it.

I don't play games just to see the content. I play them for the experience and the fun. Having choices that actually make a significant difference to how the game progresses makes this game so much more interesting, and gives it replay value by varying the experience depending on what you do.

Ideally, you won't have to play through it again. You'll want to.

Its cool that your choices change the outcome, but for people like me who work 60 hours a week its nice just to sit down and be able to run through mass effect or halo, in 4-6 hours. Rather then spend 3 weeks playing a game an hour here and there. Plus you have to artificially change your playstyle to achieve different outcomes which for me is jarring. SOme like it though so more power to them, I just prefer a more focused experience, perhaps why multiplayer or linear games are ideal.

BaldursBananaSoap:
Too bad they're ruining it with bloom, regen health and a cover system. Ah well, that's consoles for you.

It's a brave new world indeed. I have hopes that DX3 will be a throwback to deeper more interactive games of the past but I'm not holding my breath. I'm quite certain that it will contain a healthy, or rather, unhealthy dose of Consolitis. We pc gamers may pine after the old days but I think we may need to face the fact that we may irrevocably, be screwed.

InterAirplay:
*does a little dance* ha-HA! the guy in charge of this project actually understands what's wrong with 90% of current-gen games! thank Christ this guy got the job, my anticipation has actually grown (and I didn't think that was physically possible).

Agreed, this one article has sold me on the game and I'm going to get it, something that no TV or net add can do :P

Therumancer:
Now, on the surface coders and other people do not claim to make that much money. There are many people who have said on these forums alone "I know people in the industry, and they don't make that much money" however at the same time we've also seen links to articles like one from Maxim talking about "why game programmers drive ferraris" (and I think that understated the issue). The bottom line is that the industry keeps it's finances secret, and this is why if you do some searching you'll find that most analysts don't even know how much the industry is making. When I last did a search for links, I found experts claiming anywhere from 19 to 50 billion dollars in profit the huge variation being due to the fact that the books are closed even compared to other businesses. Furthermore while everyone is predicting massive growth, nobody can tell if the industry is going to 'double' in 2 years or 10 again because those numbers are carefully sat on.

In my first games programming job after leaving university I got just under $30,000 per year, before tax. I don't know about wherever you are, but here that is only slightly more than what a newly qualified nurse is paid, and less than the salary of a police constable (the lowest rank), trainee firefighter, Army private or newly qualified school teacher. And the majority of programmers, artists, animators and designers working on a game are new graduates, because the studios aren't interested in giving pay rises to retain employees - they know there's a new batch of graduates coming next year to fill the gap. It is a small minority (management types, as usual) who get much bigger salaries.

Now compare that to other fields within IT, like mobile phones or business software. There, a new graduate going for their first job can expect $40,000 or more. That's what all my friends did, but I was adamant that I wanted to go into games, that I wasn't doing it for the money. What a fool I was. 10+ hours a day plus weekends just programming a cover system ain't no fun.

In the end, if you see a game with like a 100 million dollar budget, chances are like 90 million of that went towards paying wages and salaries over a couple of years. That's utterly insane. "Modern Warfare 2" took half a billion dollars to develop and market, there are entire nations that don't make that much money. While "Modern Warfare 2" is an okay game I guess, stop and think about what you could buy for half a billion dollars.

I would think that most of a game's budget goes on marketing. Which is the publisher's responsibility. A developer doesn't see any of that money.

Average salary $40,000 * 100 people * 3 years = $12,000,000 <- that's more like it

That's for a medium-sized team; for a bigger one that could easily be tenfold more people working on it, but then you're getting into the law of diminishing returns. You really don't need a thousand people working on a game, but these big studios don't see that, so they end up with inflated budgets that aren't contributing a proportional amount of end product value.

Don't get me wrong here though, I'm a capitolist. The gaming industry is out there to make money. On the other hand I as a consumer am going to look at how much people are making when someone tells me I need to pay $60 for a video game, and that the price should be higher, because of these massive budgets. I look at the amounts of money developers "require" from producers, along with the secrecy, and then pretty much come to the conclusion that the situation is fundementally ridiculous. While that's my usual point here, it does contribute to other discussions as well, like the one we're having.

I'm not a capitalist, so I'm free to stand back and say, "ha ha, look at your stupid system of paying people an amount of money apparently unrelated to the value of their labour."

It's not a case of developers demanding money from publishers, more like developers saying, "this is the game we want to make, this is all the cool features it's going to have, and this is how much it's going to cost to make," and the publisher says, "okay, we'll give you half of that, but we still expect the game to have all those cool features you just told us about."

It's really the publishers who are at fault, not developers. Developers do everything they can to bring costs down. Maybe the very very big developers share some of the blame, but they are a minority among development studios.

OMG... I don't know wich one has gotten me more excited, Fallout New Vegas or Deus Ex: Human Revolution... I loved being lost in the expansiveness of the Wastelands in Fallout 3, but also I loved the TONS of different ways I could play the first Deus Ex... decisions, decisions...

oktalist:

I would think that most of a game's budget goes on marketing. Which is the publisher's responsibility. A developer doesn't see any of that money.

Average salary $40,000 * 100 people * 3 years = $12,000,000 <- that's more like it

That's for a medium-sized team; for a bigger one that could easily be tenfold more people working on it, but then you're getting into the law of diminishing returns. You really don't need a thousand people working on a game, but these big studios don't see that, so they end up with inflated budgets that aren't contributing a proportional amount of end product value.

-

I'm not a capitalist, so I'm free to stand back and say, "ha ha, look at your stupid system of paying people an amount of money apparently unrelated to the value of their labour."

It's not a case of developers demanding money from publishers, more like developers saying, "this is the game we want to make, this is all the cool features it's going to have, and this is how much it's going to cost to make," and the publisher says, "okay, we'll give you half of that, but we still expect the game to have all those cool features you just told us about."

It's really the publishers who are at fault, not developers. Developers do everything they can to bring costs down. Maybe the very very big developers share some of the blame, but they are a minority among development studios.

Alright I cut a lot of this for the sake of space.

We're getting well off topic, but I will point out that your example about 12 million dollars would make sense if that is what the funding of these games was like. Most games are developed a bit faster (one or two years it seems going by most franchises) and the budget is also much, much higher. If a game has an 80 million dollar budget, and would logically cost 12 million for the coders, and say another 3 million for equipment and office space, your only looking at 15 million dollars so where did the other 65 million dollars go? This is the problem with most arguements made by people who try and say the programmers aren't making that much money.

In the case of Modern Warfare 2, the budget broke down as two hundred and fifty million for the game itself, and another two hundred and fifty million for marketing, or so they say publically. Given that the ads for MW2 didn't seem all that impressive, it also comes back to the "where did the money go" because compared to some other games with elaborate ARGs, short movies, and everything else done to promote them, MW2 wasn't anything special. That money is sticking out of someone's back pocket, because it sure as heck wasn't spent on promotional materials.

-

When it comes to publishers and developers, your partially right. The thing is that there is no one clear cut way this works. Publications like Game Informer and various websites have gone into the whole Publisher/Developer relationship on a number of occasions.

Sometimes you wind up with a developer that borrows money to develop a title, however in many other cases the producers themselves have an idea and head out to hire a developer to make the title, OR most commonly someone with a bunch of money who wants to put that money to work for them decides to produce a game (or several) as an investment, and will walk up and say "I want you to make me a game that will produce money like World Of Warcraft and make me rich" or something similar (albiet not in those words).

In other cases you have totally in-house production and development where a big umbrella company owns developers and produces ideas for games based on what analysis says will be popular and then distributes the money to their in-house developers to produce those games in what amounts to formula.

... basically in the end it all depends on whom your dealing with.

In many cases it's the developers deciding how much something is going to cost, based on how much they want to get paid. Some producer says "make me a game", and the developers say "okay it will cost you a hundred million dollars, we'll have it ready in two years" then the developer uses that money to keep their equipment updated, pay off their office rental, and most importantly to pay themselves. This is also how a lot of "vaporware" comes about, when a developer takes the money, spends it living like kings, and then never bothers to develop the game or do much work at all. In some cases developers have been able to string producers along for years, taking money and not producing anything. You can find dramas like this attached to a lot of games that never saw the light of day.

In cases where a developer borrows money to produce something (as opposed to being hired) the same basic thing tends to be a factor where the amount of money being borrowed again comes down to how much these guys want to pay themselves. This is why all contracts aside, when a company goes down there is usually a lot of legal threatening and so on because there might not be any way for a producer to get his money back if he wasn't careful. The company that borrowed from him no longer exists, but the wages paid by the company to it's employees are still the property of those employees... or "thanks for the new Lamborgini".

When it comes to the idea of totally corperate development, where producers and developers are both "in house", this is where things tend to get the most obnoxious. The developers pretty much demand outlandish amounts of money (despite what is publically disclosed) perhaps under threat of going to someone who will pay them if those demands are not met. The producers pay those fees as part of the game budget, but then set the prices accordingly and pass the expense down to us poor schmucks at the bottom.

All comments about scams aside, more often than not things work out between the two sides. The key element is basically that in most relationships even when acting honestly it's the developers who set the cost of production based on what they think they are worth, then the producer needs to sell the end product at a price sufficient to make their money back, and then some as a profit.

Of course this is all based on things I've read here and there where parts of the process have been explained by one person or another, not to mention some of the "Drama" generated based on deals that fell through. In the end though, most of the real numbers are kept under the table.

The point being that no matter how the game is produced, the bottom line is that if a game is carrying a budget of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, the guys doing the work are getting paid a ridiculous amount of money, because the cost of materials simply is not that high to produce these games. There is no way around that. Sure office space and computers are expensive, but not in comparison to these budgets. Someone winds up with that money in their bank account, money always moves, it does not disappear.

Typically most people focus on the tug of war between developers and producers. I am not taking a side on that here, just talking about the money and the bottom line.

This is good because it means the game gets what it's supposed to be. And also bad because it means your average game dev doesn't even begin to get what it's supposed to be. Can you become so focused on creating something that you forgot what it's like to enjoy it?

This is a key point:

Arec Balrin:
Basically to summarise this: the team working on Deus Ex 3 have not ever played Deus Ex. Assuming they are on average in their 20s and 30s, this is atrocious.

Nor have they likely played any Thief or System Shock game, or any RPG to speak of like Baldur's Gate, Elder Scrolls or even Zelda. Any one of those would have equipped them with the right expectations for a Deus Ex game. Even the people that worked on the disappointing Invisible War had either worked on the first game or played it, so what chance does this lot have?

...Although maybe they played some of these game and didn't realize that player agency was what players enjoyed. Or maybe the thought it was a bygone era of games. Like, back when our guys were big square robots it was no big deal to have a bunch of places you wouldn't see, but now it's work, so if I spend eight weeks doing the hairs on this carpet I'm going to stick it under the player's nose. Which is biased in its own way.

BaldursBananaSoap:
Too bad they're ruining it with bloom, regen health and a cover system. Ah well, that's consoles for you.

None of those things are bad in and of themselves. In my opinion, use of bloom lighting does not make Ico (and Shadow of the Colossus) any less of a masterpiece. Again, IMO, regenerating health doesn't really make Mass Effect 2 any worse than the original Mass Effect, I actually feel that it makes more sense. The same again with cover systems, although I can't think of any game where the cover system felt arbitrarily tacked-on (perhaps I haven't played enough any console FPSs or TPSs that have a cover system)

Therumancer:
If a game has an 80 million dollar budget, and would logically cost 12 million for the coders, and say another 3 million for equipment and office space, your only looking at 15 million dollars so where did the other 65 million dollars go?

Not on programmer salaries, that's for damn sure.

This is the problem with most arguements made by people who try and say the programmers aren't making that much money.

It's not an argument, it's the facts.

In the case of Modern Warfare 2, the budget broke down as two hundred and fifty million for the game itself, and another two hundred and fifty million for marketing, or so they say publically.

Where have you got those numbers from? This says the total budget was $200 million, with only a quarter of that going on production costs, which would include development team salaries. The remaining $150 million is claimed to be marketing and distribution.

You may not have thought the ads looked that great, but their production values are not the issue - TV networks regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars just for a single 30 second slot in prime-time, so multiply that by the number of times it was shown, then multiply that by the number of countries the game was marketed in, and you begin to see that a large, global marketing campaign can cost a shitload.

In many cases it's the developers deciding how much something is going to cost, based on how much they want to get paid.

The bigwigs who run the development studio are the ones with the big salaries, and they are the ones who tell the publishers how much their game is going to cost to make. But they are not the ones who then have to make it. Their employees do the actual work of making the game, and they take home a salary comparable to any other similar profession.

It's like you're blaming the tellers at your local bank branch for the whole banking crisis.

This is also how a lot of "vaporware" comes about, when a developer takes the money, spends it living like kings, and then never bothers to develop the game or do much work at all. In some cases developers have been able to string producers along for years, taking money and not producing anything. You can find dramas like this attached to a lot of games that never saw the light of day.

You are seeing a causal link where none exists. It's their incompetence, not their massive paycheques, that mean they fail to make a game.

When it comes to the idea of totally corperate development, where producers and developers are both "in house", this is where things tend to get the most obnoxious. The developers pretty much demand outlandish amounts of money (despite what is publically disclosed) perhaps under threat of going to someone who will pay them if those demands are not met.

That's complete nonsence. Game developer salaries are comparable to other similar professions. Any outlandish demands like you are suggesting would be laughed out of the office.

oktalist:

That's complete nonsence. Game developer salaries are comparable to other similar professions. Any outlandish demands like you are suggesting would be laughed out of the office.

I'm tired and have written a lot of very long messages fairly quickly today.

Everything else aside, it basically comes down to the quote above. Playing point and counter point is going to go nowhere, and I'm hardly the world's foremost expert anyway and even make mistakes. :P

Simply put, where is the money going?

I mean seriously. Let's say you've got say 30 million dollars. Let's say you spend a million on the hardware, and another million to lease your office and pay utilities. Where does the other 28 million dollars go? Your obviously argueing that it's not going to the human resources.

That's the problem with argueing the point, nobody knows for sure where that money goes because the industry keeps all of this very quiet. What I'm saying makes substantially more sense (it going to pay human resources crazy amounts of money) than anything else I can think of as even an outside possibility.

What's more I'll also point out that The Escapist posted a link to a Maxim article which listed the amounts of money the guys developing games were making, which was like two or three times what a lot of the people here have been claiming, and honestly I think that they were understating it, especially when looking at some of the bigger developers who churn out AAA titles one after another and constantly have people feeding the huge budgets into them.

SupahGamuh:
OMG... I don't know wich one has gotten me more excited, Fallout New Vegas or Deus Ex: Human Revolution... I loved being lost in the expansiveness of the Wastelands in Fallout 3, but also I loved the TONS of different ways I could play the first Deus Ex... decisions, decisions...

I just hope Fallout's engine stability issues have been resolved. Its hard to get involved with random CTDs.

BaldursBananaSoap:
Too bad they're ruining it with bloom, regen health and a cover system. Ah well, that's consoles for you.

The original didn't have bloom but it did have regenerating health (with nanotech mods) and a cover system. Basically it was just leaning out from behind an object, but still a cover system.

The original Deus Ex devs (Ion Storm I think it was) had a whole bible dedicated to the backstory of the game. I wonder if the new devs will ignore it completely.

The Random One:
This is good because it means the game gets what it's supposed to be. And also bad because it means your average game dev doesn't even begin to get what it's supposed to be. Can you become so focused on creating something that you forgot what it's like to enjoy it?

This is a key point:

Arec Balrin:
Basically to summarise this: the team working on Deus Ex 3 have not ever played Deus Ex. Assuming they are on average in their 20s and 30s, this is atrocious.

Nor have they likely played any Thief or System Shock game, or any RPG to speak of like Baldur's Gate, Elder Scrolls or even Zelda. Any one of those would have equipped them with the right expectations for a Deus Ex game. Even the people that worked on the disappointing Invisible War had either worked on the first game or played it, so what chance does this lot have?

...Although maybe they played some of these game and didn't realize that player agency was what players enjoyed. Or maybe the thought it was a bygone era of games. Like, back when our guys were big square robots it was no big deal to have a bunch of places you wouldn't see, but now it's work, so if I spend eight weeks doing the hairs on this carpet I'm going to stick it under the player's nose. Which is biased in its own way.

Yes but, and it's a BIG but: there have been plenty of modern examples of creative failure from this philosophy for them to know it's stupid and part of the reason why so many pine for older games. The second worst thing about Assassin's Creed(sandwiched between the repetition of missions as first and the giant black irremovable borders as third) was that it didn't trust the player. I can't think of a single review that doesn't criticise AC for this terrible error. A free-form open-world game with unskippable cutscenes and magic walls? All because the devs wanted to exert so much control over what the player does, working against players who don't want it and loudly make a point of telling developers this on forums.

There is simply no way a modern developer can be unaware of this at this point in time. If they didn't understand right away why Deus Ex still regularly tops polls of Best Game Ever, then they probably still don't get it but are pretending to 'get it' to stop being raged at. Deus Ex is a fairly long game if you don't rush it, most people that play it won't finish it unless they 'get it', so I doubt these devs have done so.

Funnily, this is actually a good thing. Going into something thinking you know everything would have beeen a little naughty to here

Therumancer:
Simply put, where is the money going?

Mainly marketing.

It's possible that the top executives of the games companies are giving themselves massive salaries, but they're not the ones who actually make the games.

That's the problem with argueing the point, nobody knows for sure where that money goes because the industry keeps all of this very quiet. What I'm saying makes substantially more sense (it going to pay human resources crazy amounts of money) than anything else I can think of as even an outside possibility.

Except it doesn't, because it's plainly obvious that they simply don't earn that kind of money. A visit to a game development studio would make this clear. The most expensive car in the lot is a Mercedez SLK, and that belongs to the CEO; the rest drive sensible compact cars, if they even own a car at all.

What's more I'll also point out that The Escapist posted a link to a Maxim article which listed the amounts of money the guys developing games were making

Okay, I dug out the article you're talking about: here. First, read the comments. Programmers average $90,000? I do not believe that for one second. Maybe as a maximum of the range of salaries, but not an average. And Maxim are not exactly renowned for journalistic integrity.

If that were indeed the case, then yes, that would be something to be angry about.

There are so many reasons why it just wouldn't make sense if that were the case, like how talented programmers from other fields would be jumping into the games industry and flooding the jobs market and pushing salaries back down, but the number one reason is just that if you do the bare minimum of research you will find it simply is not the case.

Look here. (Note: £1 = $1.50 approx.) From a survey of actual workers.

oktalist:

Therumancer:
Simply put, where is the money going?

Mainly marketing.

It's possible that the top executives of the games companies are giving themselves massive salaries, but they're not the ones who actually make the games.

That's the problem with argueing the point, nobody knows for sure where that money goes because the industry keeps all of this very quiet. What I'm saying makes substantially more sense (it going to pay human resources crazy amounts of money) than anything else I can think of as even an outside possibility.

Except it doesn't, because it's plainly obvious that they simply don't earn that kind of money. A visit to a game development studio would make this clear. The most expensive car in the lot is a Mercedez SLK, and that belongs to the CEO; the rest drive sensible compact cars, if they even own a car at all.

What's more I'll also point out that The Escapist posted a link to a Maxim article which listed the amounts of money the guys developing games were making

Okay, I dug out the article you're talking about: here. First, read the comments. Programmers average $90,000? I do not believe that for one second. Maybe as a maximum of the range of salaries, but not an average. And Maxim are not exactly renowned for journalistic integrity.

If that were indeed the case, then yes, that would be something to be angry about.

There are so many reasons why it just wouldn't make sense if that were the case, like how talented programmers from other fields would be jumping into the games industry and flooding the jobs market and pushing salaries back down, but the number one reason is just that if you do the bare minimum of research you will find it simply is not the case.

Look here. (Note: £1 = $1.50 approx.) From a survey of actual workers.

So basically what your saying is that you think they are actually spending tens of millions of dollars on a team of marketing guys? I'm sure they would probably be shocked to learn that.

See, as nice as it is to say "well if you saw the parking lot you'd agree with me" the bottom line is I can simply go by the numbers, and I'm sorry but "marketing" doesn't seem like a sensible answer to where all that money is going.

Let me put it another way as well, if you look at the entire Infinity Ward thing, you'd notice that a big part of the battle revolves around millions of dollars in bonuses promised to the employees which apparently weren't delivered. Now I'm all for companies keeping promises, but at the same time when your looking at a situation where people have been promised this kind of money to begin with it does tend to reflect on the industry as a whole especially when you consider that it would answer where all of this money from these budgets is going quite well.

While they are also singular exceptions, I'll also point out that there are guys like Itigaki who have been in fights with their own companies over huge piles of money as well, so this isn't unprecedented. I think he was going off on "Team Ninja" a while ago because they owed him something like twenty million dollars.

While I have no illusions that line programmers are routinely getting multi-million dollar paydays, if you look at what things do come to light, you'll notice that huge amounts of money ARE being thrown around in payroll, and that can include fairly normal employees.

Looking at things like the special features disk for "Alan Wake" the guys from Remedy were going off about their own history. While they didn't mention how much they were getting paid of course, they made it quite clear that where they started as a group of guys working out of basements, this was no longer the case, and they definatly implied that they were pretty bloody well off, and said flat out that the industry was increasingly corperate and people couldn't do what they did to get started anymore.

Eagle Est1986:
Well that's reassuring to hear, though I'm a little confused as to why they didn't get it to start with. Just hand them all a copy of Deus Ex, then when everyone has completed it get them to see who did what differently to everyone else. Problem solved.

Extra points if they give them a copy of Deus Ex 2 with the label "What Not to Do" on it.

OT: It is rare to see a linear game like this made with this kind of developement in mind. Sandbox games geared towards exploration, sure, how many people is going to find the town of the cannibals in Fallout 3 on their own? However, in linear games, having diverging paths like this cost time and money to do since you have to constantl retool gameplay and the story for it all to work. Alpha Protical had some success, but failed since some opitions were worhtless in some situations and gameplay was bugged up the... pipe.

You've got to feel for the developers on this one, if they mess this up, they will have the whole pc gaming community ranting against them and lets not forget no matter how good the game is, there will always be those who say its nothing compared to the original. I for one am actually extremely pleased someone has the balls to give deus ex anothor go (especially after No.2)

TsunamiWombat:
The thing is, a decade later, I'm still finding out shit about Deus Ex I didn't know before.

YOU CAN SAVE LEBEDEV!?WTF!

You probably know this one, but you can save Paul, too :P

Credge:
These are the same guys that did Prince of Persia and Mirrors Edge, and Assassins Creed, right?

If so... they're completely used to making games like that.

Actually it's this studios first project.

This sounded horrible at first, but now it's reassuring to see that they know what they're doing.

its kinda scary to think these professionals have to be told what player agency is and how to implement it.
Drives home the fact that the age of craftsmen (and craftswomen) is over, and the age of the technician is in full swing.

Therumancer:
So basically what your saying is that you think they are actually spending tens of millions of dollars on a team of marketing guys? I'm sure they would probably be shocked to learn that.

See, as nice as it is to say "well if you saw the parking lot you'd agree with me" the bottom line is I can simply go by the numbers, and I'm sorry but "marketing" doesn't seem like a sensible answer to where all that money is going.

Instead of repeating myself I will just quote my earlier post:

oktalist:
TV networks regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars just for a single 30 second slot in prime-time, so multiply that by the number of times it was shown, then multiply that by the number of countries the game was marketed in, and you begin to see that a large, global marketing campaign can cost a shitload.

The cost of advertising in print publications and online is less, but not by much.

Marketing for a Hollywood movie usually runs into the tens of millions, if not more.

I can't argue with the rest of your points; it's possible that there is a minority of people making much more money than they should be, just like in any other industry. But I note that all this has very little effect on the retail price of games; in capitalism, the retail price of a product is dependent on how much the suckers people are willing to pay for it, not how much it cost to produce. So if you don't like the price of a game, just wait for it to come down, don't rant about how much the people who made it got paid, because that has nothing to do with the price you pay for it.

You still pay the same to see a movie, whether it's a $100 million blockbuster or a $100,000 independent job.

oktalist:

Therumancer:
So basically what your saying is that you think they are actually spending tens of millions of dollars on a team of marketing guys? I'm sure they would probably be shocked to learn that.

See, as nice as it is to say "well if you saw the parking lot you'd agree with me" the bottom line is I can simply go by the numbers, and I'm sorry but "marketing" doesn't seem like a sensible answer to where all that money is going.

Instead of repeating myself I will just quote my earlier post:

oktalist:
TV networks regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars just for a single 30 second slot in prime-time, so multiply that by the number of times it was shown, then multiply that by the number of countries the game was marketed in, and you begin to see that a large, global marketing campaign can cost a shitload.

The cost of advertising in print publications and online is less, but not by much.

Marketing for a Hollywood movie usually runs into the tens of millions, if not more.

I can't argue with the rest of your points; it's possible that there is a minority of people making much more money than they should be, just like in any other industry. But I note that all this has very little effect on the retail price of games; in capitalism, the retail price of a product is dependent on how much the suckers people are willing to pay for it, not how much it cost to produce. So if you don't like the price of a game, just wait for it to come down, don't rant about how much the people who made it got paid, because that has nothing to do with the price you pay for it.

You still pay the same to see a movie, whether it's a $100 million blockbuster or a $100,000 independent job.

I can't argue the point about TV commercials because truthfully I don't know that much about TV advertising at the moment.

However I will also point out that price fixing is something else I tend to be very critical about. The game industry has been acting more or less like a cartel, engaging in price setting and working to avoid direct competition so nobody winds up having to lower their prices in order to compete. The same kind of behavior that has gas companies in the US under federal investigation, it's just that the game industry is too small right now to have attracted notice given a lack of serious complaints about it.

The fact that a game developed on a shoestring budget, and one developed with a AAA level budget both retail for $60 is an issue. As is the fact that you see companies do things like change release dates to avoid competing with other titles. A lot of things had their release date changed when "Modern Warfare 2" was released for example. This being done instead of companies trying to undercut each others price while providing the highest level of quality (which is the American ideal of capitolism).

Hollywood enjoys something of a special relationship with the goverment due to decades of battles back and forth over various issues. What's more I can say that locally differant theaters charge differant prices for admission, a lot of it depends on the quality of the theater. Also the films rented by theaters can vary greatly in price to them, this has been a factor on how long certain movies have run. A cheap movie can stick around for months with mediocre attendance and make a profit, an expensive one might require virtually filling the threater more or less constantly. Then of course you have theaters that don't show "first run" movies and instead show stuff from the year before since it's a lot cheaper to rent and a lot of people do like to watch stuff on the big screen in general.

I guess what I'm getting down to is that that Hollywood gets away with a lot of things it probably shouldn't. However in an abolute sense I think your wrong in saying that the price there is constant since it's not.

Of course the whole issue of cartel behavior is another subject entirely.

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