CliffyB Says FPS Campaigns Take up 75% of The Budget

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I think he's probably skewing that figure a little bit but I don't doubt that most of the budget (not including marketing) does go to single player. However I think that some of the money he's suggesting is going into making assets for the campaign that also get used in the multiplayer (animations, some voice acting, environment/ texture assets).

But if this is true then it paints a VERY damning picture on some of the multiplayer only games we've had recently which have the same amount of content as the multiplayer section of AAA game with a singleplayer for the same price (some regions such as the UK have seen price increases FYI) and have very aggressive season pass/ dlc plans.

That would be why a good campaign also feels 3x more enjoyable then multiplayer, and why I'm not paying $60 for 1/4 the game with these new fancy MP only deals.
I wouldn't really mind devs doing MP only if that game either came at 1/4 the price or the content was mind boggling in scope, but usually they don't even deliver close to the same as full SP+MP games, so you are getting screwed on all fronts.

I actually can understand what he's saying if he just wants to say it's not economically viable anymore to make a campaign mode for a game, where statistics shows nobody plays it anyway. Fine. Then make a multiplayer only game (Battlefield), put that HUGE amount of leftover money into making the game bigger, more balanced, more polished, and with some longevity, such as being able to play with bots.

But don't try to make statements like that, nobody buys your shitty statements anymore. In a perfect world, your statement would stand, but as it is, there's so much bullshit in it. Multiplayer games are smaller and still charge full price for it, plus DLC and seasons passes.

And yeah, a campaign may last anywhere from 6-14 hours or so nowadays assuming we are talking about FPS games here. But what if that's all people want to play? I've just got done playing Max Payne 3 for the 3rd time around, cannot believe I still have to sign in for ridiculous Rock Star Social Club or whatever fucking bullshit when I have not the slightest interest in the damn multiplayer.

So what I'm hearing here is, if devs didn't try to shoehorn multiplayer into everything regardless of whether it's wanted or even a good idea, then single player games could be at least a third better than they are.

So the campaign AKA the actual game only takes 75%? What the hell are they spending the rest of the money on?

I play lots of single player games over the weekend, in any given year I might substantially play 2 multiplayer games. Good luck being one of the two, I don't give you great odds.

PS. of which only TF2 is F2P, but after seeing people spend ungodly amounts of money on keys I'm rethinking that. In the end no matter how well they hide it all these games hunt for whales and it's hurting people. It's STILL a scummy way to do business, it might no longer be hip to say it but it's true as it ever was.

Can it really be 75%? Both the story mode and the multiplayer mode use the same models. Hard to believe that people used to play for the single player and the online multiplayer was just the extra thing you played after. Me, i have zero interest in online gaming. I do like a nice campaign mode and shoot my way through the story. Even if its 6 hours long, as long as i had a fun 6 hours then im happy. I think this concentrating on just multiplayer only deathmatches is just because its easier, cheaper and has alot of DLC selling opportunities.

Sorry not buying it. First of all there are shared aspects between multyplayer and singleplayer. Mainly the gameplay, engine all the cogs that make the game actually work. Only using 25% of your budget to develope the actual game mechanics doesnt sound really reasuring in terms of quality (especialy since everything else not specificly single player is part of that 25%)

Second of all: If Bioware can construct a content monstrosity like dragon age inquisition or Mass effect and STILL include a somewhat capable multyplayer mode then i fail to see why your single player campaign can be solved in a mere weekend.

So where does that 75% of the budget go exactly? The writing? HAHAHAHAHAHahahaha...heh... no. The engine? Again they often reuse old engines. Animation? That would be something shared with the multyplayer... same for special effects.

Are you telling me that they use 75% of the budget for a handfull of scripted flashy events during the singleplayer campaign and voice acting?

Then its not a problem with single player campaigns.. its a problem with managment and resource allocation. YOU ARE FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THINGS!

Who cares if you have a celebrity voice acting the main villain? No one gives a shit! You could save millions if you didnt hire the latest hollywood darling to voiceact for your game and invest it into a more extensive campaign.. that cant be simply breezed through.

The fact is that for FPSs a large chunk of the budget is used for PR (and yes, PR cost is factored into the total development cost of a game).

And even then: Didnt Far cry kinda proofed that FPS campaigns DONT have to be so short? Sure it was more of an open world game with padding and side activities but it shows that its possible.

Just another developer who lays the blame at everyone elses feet instead of realising that they dont have a fucking clue how to prioritize a budget or what the money is actually spend on and just making shit up on the fly to deflect critisism... remembre folks: Its NEVER the developers fault!

Also as others have noticed: If most money is spend on single player... why are we still paying premium for multyplayer only titles? By definition shouldnt these games be cheaper since they dont eat up so much resources? Or is the dude seriously suggesting that multyplayer only titles have better and more multyplayer content then games with single and multyplayer?

Evolve? Battlefront? Not exactly full of content those games... wonder where the 75% that where freed by not having a single player campaign went to...

When did SlappyB become legendary? From Unreal Tournament I guess? I thought Chris Avellone was the dev darling at the moment, and well deservedly. Hopefully Slappy doesn't get upset if his multiplayer-only game doesn't sell to people who prefer singleplayer campaigns or if people move on from his game after playing it for a weekend anyways.

Scy Anide:
When did SlappyB become legendary? From Unreal Tournament I guess? I thought Chris Avellone was the dev darling at the moment, and well deservedly. Hopefully Slappy doesn't get upset if his multiplayer-only game doesn't sell to people who prefer singleplayer campaigns or if people move on from his game after playing it for a weekend anyways.

That also confused me; the man is known for two things: Unreal Tournament which was an era ago and Gears of War which just ripped off Resident Evil 4 and made it boring. That is nowhere near enough to classify him as legendary. Now Shigeru Miyamoto, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Alexei Pajitnov, Will Wright, John Carmack, Yasumi Matsuno, and Koji Igarashi are legendary or at least excellent. Cliffy is just a stereotype who made a couple of popular titles that did not age well and became a symbol for problems in the gaming industry after which his career has gone nowhere.

Irridium:
Honestly multiplayer only games are fine. Those aren't the problem. We've had them for over a decade. Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress... they're not new. But what those games had are bots. Remember those? Bots let us play the game without having to deal with other people. Or they let us play after the games' communities are dead and gone. Bots are great because then the games will still have value when the servers are shut off.

Bring back bots.

In Battlefronts 1 and 2 those story modes were basically just glorified bot matches. And those were fine. Galactic Conquest was just bot matches. And that was amazing. Bring back bots.

I love Titanfall, but nobody plays it anymore so I can't enjoy it. If it had bots that emulated players I could still play it and have fun.

QFT

This is what I'm hoping for in Titanfall 2. There are still some active player groups in the PC version, but it's full of rampant hacking and pub stomps. The only non-PvP option is the Frontier Defense mode, which can technically be played solo.

It's not as fun solo, and it doesn't quite provide the same experience as the core PvP modes, but it's at least something.

Charcharo:
Old School Shooter Campaigns were very well designed... but not THAT long...

RTCW? Can go through it in 3 hours, first time play - around 10 I guess.
Half Life 2? 12-13-14 hours? Sounds about right.

People should stop complaining here.
Start complaining about bots and modding. That is probably the big reason why you think MP-only games of today are not worth the full price.

Also QFT.

Are they so costly? I would have never guessed, taking into account how bad most of them ended up. But that wasn't surprising; as it seemed like every FPS tried really hard to be CoD-clones (all spectacle, but not meat). If you make campaigns that feel tacked-on and mediocre, players won't linger too long in them.

Silentpony:
Wait you spend 75% of a multimillion dollar budget on a campaign that gamers easily blow through in a weekend?!
Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?! Maybe don't make your campaign piss easy and short?!

Long time ago, reports indicated that most players didn't finished long campaigns. The success of CoD:MW2 (and its short campaign), made lots of people in the industry believe that less content and more spectacle was better. And that's how spunkgargleweewees like Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter campaigns came to be.

XenoScifi:
If 75% of a budget goes into single player campaigns and you cut that to make an online shooter. Then why are we still paying full price for a game that is only a 1/4 of the budget of a "full" game?

Yeah. That confuses me too. But as long as suckers keep paying that price, they'll keep going like that.

If the game is worth replaying, it's okay if players will blow through it in a weekend. I've replayed both Portal games and Half-Life 2 countless times. I've replayed precisely zero Call of Duty campaigns. You've gotta have good writing and/or enough player freedom that replays feel different if you want people coming back, and most single player campaigns in games fail miserably at these. When even Halo 4 has better writing and is more open than the majority of the genre, something is very wrong.

I understand wanting to cut back on campaigns, but first it might be worth actually designing them with the intention of making something good and memorable, rather than just showing off your fancy setpieces. Hell, Half-Life 2 was loaded with setpiece porn, but even that had the sense to wrap it with interesting characters and an engaging story.

P.S. Thansk

TsunamiWombat:
Shock and horror, the game part of the game takes up 75% of the budget.

Maybe if you put more game in and less overblown moronic set pieces that were expensive and time consuming to make?

PS: Also, Cliffy B? Really? What is this 2006? Shouldn't he be off being irrelevant somewhere?

Silentpony:
Wait you spend 75% of a multimillion dollar budget on a campaign that gamers easily blow through in a weekend?!
Whatever happened to campaigns that take weeks?! Maybe don't make your campaign piss easy and short?!

Both quoted for the truth.

Perhaps they should try making games which don't take 3 hours to complete! I know games are more expensive to make than ever before, but remember when games used to take us weeks to get through?

Seems a little misrepresented as I'm sure assets developed for the single player are recycled as much as possible for the multiplayer to avoid doing the same work multiple times.

Great, so if the single player campaign eats up 75% of the budget, then if you leave the single campaign out and just have multiplayer, you'll take 75% off the price of buying it, right?

...

Right?

As Jim Fucking Sterling Son said: then you better damn well make sure there is substantially more to the multiplayer in return.

So far, I haven't really seen a single multiplayer-only shooter that does that. Except for the MMO's.

Don't you guys get it? In a multiplayer only game, 100% of the budget goes to the multiplayer mode.

So fully-priced AAA multiplayer-only games should have 4 times the content of multiplayer sections in games with a single-player campaign.

Ok, that's the standard I'll be using from now then.

I think Mr. Bleszinski has misspoken. In modern AAA games 75% of the budget goes to marketing, not singleplayer.

Elfgore:
75%?!?! The fuck are you spending that on? I'm actually completely baffled by this. It certainly can't be the writers, certainly isn't the voice actors, nor the graphics. The hell does it cost so much? Spend it all on hookers and blow?

Well voice actors are very expensive. the MINIMUM charge for a voice actor in an union (read: everyone with a name) is 100 dollars an hour. thats the minimum, often they are paid 200 or even 300 an hour. The "big names" go double that. Considering how much voice acting dialogue there are in games nowadays, that can easily span quite a sum of money and thats just the actors themselves, without taking into account renting studios, editing, effects, ect.

What do you expect when you create a 10 hour sightseeing tour? I seriously doubt some of the most famous arena shooters in the business spent that much on story, but their stories were great.

Seth Carter:
Well, if we take his basic math. MP = 1/4. SP = 3/4. So an MP only shooter should have 4 times the content for MP that a one so burdened with a campaign does. Yeah, that doesn't really pan out with the examples at large. I'm not debating that the camaign probably could be that expensive all-told (voice acting, motion captures, some of the alternate physics/gameplay they pop in at times, extra textures/modelling/soundtrack, etc), but if thats your justification for MP-only, you need to do a hell of a lot better at the MP component then most have so far.

This.

BUT, Cliff knows MP shooters better than anyone. Except maybe Epic themselves of course. If I trust anyone to make a good MP shooter, it's him as well as Epic.

Although... UT4 is looking better and better and better these days. He's got some serious competition.

How can a single player campaign cost so much?

Easy, because there's a LOT of unique assets that go into a campaign so that it doesn't feel horrendously boring and samey throughout the 4-15 hour experience that are unlikely to be re-used in any multiplayer mode tacked on.

Lets use an example so we have a good reference point like, say, The Last of Us.

image

In that shot we can see Joel, several big buildings, various models of cars a few different types of foliage, the road, the wall and fence, some debris.

So what exactly goes into making each of those?

Well, for character models, they're usually sculpted in a modelling program in super high resolution:

That's a timelapse of someone modelling a high resolution model of the Juggernaut. The upperbody. Even at a accelerated rate for the video, just the upper body is an hour of watching be created(It took the dude a month of free time). So figuring design changes and various other things, we can figure a professional could take a few days to hammer out a high resolution model for a single character.

So what happens next? Well, then they need to do ANOTHER model that's a lower resolution so that the game can actually run at an acceptable speed. It's lower resolution, but now we've created two models, both of which take time.

After that, the low poly model is 'unwrapped', in that it's 3d topography is split down until it cleanly lays on a flat 2d surface for texturing purposes. Once that's done, they'll "bake" the high resolution model onto the low resolution model to get what's called the normal map. This lets the low poly game model have the same detail level as the high resolution mesh without the ludicrous polycount.

From there, a texture artist will draw the color texture, and then a specularity texture will be made, which defines what parts of the model are shiney and how shiney.

Pretty much every single 3d asset you see in the above scene went through at least this much work. Every bush, every building, each chunk of debris. Every car. The wall. The lightpost.

Characters, however, also need to be rigged for animation. Someone has to add in a skeleton to the model, and tell each vertex in the game model what bones it uses for animation. Then you have to record animations for the characters. The more fluid the character animation, the greater number of animation clips that need to be recorded. Games like assassin's creed have several hundred and I believe Max Payne 3 had nearly a thousand so that they could blend between them on the fly to get that smooth motion.

Each character animation clip in a AAA studio is motion captured, using an actor performing the motion, often several takes. This then has to be cleaned up and processed by an animator for actual use in the game.

Stuff like foliage also requires additional processing so it can do stuff like sway in the wind.

So now think about when you played through the story of The Last of Us.

How many buildings were there? How many different cars. How many different trees and bushes? Unique signs and billboards? Highway models, blockades. Building interiors with furniture. How many unique character models were there? How many different fungus zombie models? How many unique bandit models were there?

Each and every one of those went through most all the steps listed above. Also consider that an artist needs to create the smoke particle effects, clouds in the skybox, a sound engineer needs to create and process gunshots, footsteps, impacts, dialog.

Then for the cutscenes, they hired actors to levy a powerful emotional performance. They did a full acting routine comparable to some movies for all the cutscenes, and then animators had to clean up and process all those animations too, and sound guys to clean and process the actor's dialog.

Then there's the supporting crews like the guys that go out to record sounds, take pictures of surfaces to help with texture creation, guys working the motion capture equipment and directing the actors.

Sure, character models will get re-used, as will weapons and basic sound effects. A good number of assets too, but all the work for cutscenes, unique characters based in the story, dialog that is only played during the campaign, unique enemies, locales that AREN'T re-used in the multiplayer maps, etc. All of that is sunk cost just for the campaign.

It's astoundingly easy to imagine how they burn through all that cash when it takes that much work to create a single animated model, let alone the hundreds or thousands of unique assets you see across the course of the game, and thinking of the hundreds of people that dedicate tens of thousands of man-hours to produce those assets, all of which takes time.

If a developer did it right, you'll never really think about all this because it just feels 'real', but if you really stop to consider all the work that goes into making even the most basic AAA level that you blow through in 20 minutes, it's pretty surreal.

... Wait, what? I mean seriously, what? Most of the time campaigns in shooters suck royally. Where exactly does that 75%? Into shades of brown?

Areloch:

snip

I'm sure someone will come along and argue with you in more depth but I have a couple of points to make.

1. Your argument is to use a game that was primarily a single player experience. Of course a lot of effort will be done on the campaign.

2. Assets are re-used. Devs make things for single player then pull the assets over to the multiplayer. While the argument can be made that it still means the budget is mostly spent on the single player, a proper understanding of accounting practices would require the value of those assets to be apportioned appropriately between single-player and multiplayer departments or however the budgets are apportioned.

3. You are seriously under-estimating the amount of re-use assets will get. I will accept the argument in the case of The Last Of Us (however, see point 1) but the stuff Cliffy B is famous for is another matter.

4. Assuming this is all completely accurate, there is still one glaring flaw. If 75% of the budget goes to single-player, removing the single-player should see either a massive increase in the quality of the multiplayer or a massive decrease in the games price tag. We have seen neither.

MiskWisk:

Areloch:

snip

I'm sure someone will come along and argue with you in more depth but I have a couple of points to make.

1. Your argument is to use a game that was primarily a single player experience. Of course a lot of effort will be done on the campaign.

Sure, but I could easily have nabbed a picture from any of the call of duty games, or battlefield games as well. People tend to go to those for the multiplayer, but they have the same kind of effort put into them for the singleplayer campaign too(for better or for worse).

2. Assets are re-used. Devs make things for single player then pull the assets over to the multiplayer. While the argument can be made that it still means the budget is mostly spent on the single player, a proper understanding of accounting practices would require the value of those assets to be apportioned appropriately between single-player and multiplayer departments or however the budgets are apportioned.

3. You are seriously under-estimating the amount of re-use assets will get. I will accept the argument in the case of The Last Of Us (however, see point 1) but the stuff Cliffy B is famous for is another matter.

Ah, but I did point out that assets can be reused. And I'm not underestimating how much re-use occurs. But it's a fact that most multiplayer games that re-use certain single player levels for their combat spaces don't use the entire SP level, instead making a section of it a walled-off arena(CoD does this a lot).

Buildings, foliage, cars, etc can all get a re-use here, but given that large parts of the SP map won't be used in the MP arena space, those unused sections are still SP-only assets and therefore sunk-cost to the campaign.

This goes further for cutscene animations and dialog, campaign-specific dialog chatter, scripted set-pieces and so on.

Lets go with what you were saying about using a game that's 'MP focused' like, say, Modern Warfare 3. The Black Friday level at the start, as far as I can remember, doesn't really see a re-use much at all in the MP. Most of the mission - the various city streets, the office buildings you work through, the stock exchange, the rooftops, the underwater segment, the boat segment. All the exploding ships at the end, the scripted setpieces, the helicopter shootout, the various dialog bits occuring, etc.

Heck, even the loading screens are custom animations that provide a tidbit more story or faux briefing for that particular campaign level.

None of that sees re-use in the MP at all. And as was pointed out by others, actors are expensive, so any dialog or motion-capture animations done by them exclusively used in campaign sequences are big sunk costs for the campaign that won't ever get utilized by the MP.

4. Assuming this is all completely accurate, there is still one glaring flaw. If 75% of the budget goes to single-player, removing the single-player should see either a massive increase in the quality of the multiplayer or a massive decrease in the games price tag. We have seen neither.

See, now THAT is a different issue. However it's also really, really important too. That's more of a "We only spent 10 million on the game rather than 70 million" situation. I agree, one would think that the price tag would decrease, but 'maximized profits' and all that fun fun publisher shenanigans.

$60 is the assumed price tag for a AAA game(or whatever the average cost is for your country of choice), so they don't really have any reason to NOT charge that. It just means they make back way more cash than if they went all-in on a full singleplayer campaign. That's honestly probably why MP-only games got so popular in the AAA space, even if it meant the rate of consumption slows.

Beat a campaign over a weekend, you're ready to buy and consume another game. But if you really like CoD's MP, you'll play that all year. MP-only games may have a slower rate of consumption, but they offset the potential loss in consumer spending by the higher price-tag to how much unique content is in the game. I mean, which is better to you? Make 100 million bucks after spending 70 million(30m profit) or make 100 million after spending 10(90m profit).

Disagreeable as it may be, not hard to see why the price tag doesn't budge.

I've no trouble believing it. Most of the mo-cap, voice acting, writing, scripting and general programming will go into the campaign. All the really expensive things are mostly seen in single player (mo-cap and celebrity voice actors) and single player requires more people to work on it since it involves heavy scripting, plotting and all the other stuff you need when you want actors to run around doing pre-determined things. In contrast multiplayer can be done with a far smaller team, since a lot of the workload with single player can be dropped (do you even need AI programmers, three celebrity voice actors, half a dozen mo-cap actors and the writing team for MP? Unlikely) and much of the work is about completing assets (weapon models, maps, player models etc.) and moving on to another bunch of assets.

All that budget doesn't necessarily make the single player good, but considering what goes into it it is bound to be expensive.

Aren't many assets shared by both? Like, I dunno... the game's engine? Graphical models, environments, items, core mechanics etc... seems like you could say 75% or 25% for the exact same game.

Either way, I'm not paying $60 for a lazy 5-hour campaign (with 3 hours of cutscenes).

Remember Starcraft: Brood War? It dominated the MP scene for years, and the multiplayer was simply the established gameplay, often in locations from the campaigns, or player-made maps.

Battlefront is living proof that the whole "sacrifice singleplayer for better multiplayer" is a load of BULLSHIT, because that game launched with absolutely fuck-all content and features. Absolutely barebones and utterly stripped-down...yet EA had the balls to charge full price for it. It's a hollow shell of a game (albeit very beautiful) and pretty much everyone can agree it's worth $25-30, maybe $40 at a stretch.

But I none of that matters anyway because PS4/XBO owners lapped it up and EA are rolling in money.

I think Jim Sterling made a good point when he said (I'm paraphrasing from memory here) that he wasn't interested in what a game lacked, but in what it did do. Not having a campaign is fine, but if your multiplayer is lacking as well (by most accounts, evolve is a good example of this) then I'm not interested in your game anymore. It just doesn't have a lot of content and what it has isn't that good. The idea that multiplayer (or singleplayer) only games can be more focussed and have their budget all on one thing is nice, but as we have seen there have been games that had no singleplayer (or no multiplayer) and that still sucked.

Jesus Christ.

If nothing else, let this thread be proof that people on the internet dont read the thread before posting, even when somone explicitly answers their question not only less than 5 posts before theirs, but literally the post immediately before.

Gundam GP01:
Jesus Christ.

If nothing else, let this thread be proof that people on the internet dont read the thread before posting, even when somone explicitly answers their question not only less than 5 posts before theirs, but literally the post immediately before.

Life's to short to read 65 whole posts before giving an opinion.

Soviet Heavy:
If that is the case, why are developers pushing for multiplayer only experiences, stating they can reallocate the resources to make multiplayer even better? And then we still get a barebones Battlefront despite it having a huge budget.

That, is apparently because Disney told them they cannot break canon so they're not allowed to mix and match with the new movies. What that has to to with the limited levels, small character customization, simplistic shooting and flying, I Don't know but that's the excuse they gave.

OT:
Isn't this how it's supposed to be? Most of the budget on EVERYONES favorite shooter from the 90's, Golden Eye, the multiplayer was tacked on and not even approved till the last minute.
Some shooters, yes should entirely be just multiplayer because they can build a bigger and better game and focus on longevity and community vs kicking a new one out ...every year...with DLC filling the gaps.

Look at TF2, great game, lots of content to be had, maps, items, weapons etc and it's never been a full price title. It's a great time. Battlefield should probably be only campaign as well. I played 3 single player and it was a joke. It felt more like a ride than playing a game, where you were forced to experience big events but you really didn't feel in control of the character or events.

Single player is great, hell I played some of the recent Call of Duty Black Ops and it was ...surprisingly good fun. But devs focusing on both are going to lose quality on either end it seems.

75% of the budget may be taken by the single player campaign but how many of those assets are recycled for the multiplayer portion of the game?

Animations, levels, weapon design and sound effects....I could go on. Just how much of the multiplayer needs to be created solely for the multiplayer?

Charcharo:
Old School Shooter Campaigns were very well designed... but not THAT long...

RTCW? Can go through it in 3 hours, first time play - around 10 I guess.
Half Life 2? 12-13-14 hours? Sounds about right.

GoldenEye and Perfect Dark probably were no more than 3 hours long from beginning to end as well and those had an awesome campaign on top of amazing multiplayer.

Bilious Green:

Elfgore:
75%?!?! The fuck are you spending that on? I'm actually completely baffled by this. It certainly can't be the writers, certainly isn't the voice actors, nor the graphics. The hell does it cost so much? Spend it all on hookers and blow?

Kevin Spacey doesn't come cheap.

Then don't hire Kevin Spacey then. Heaven knows there are some amazing voice actors out there in both the gaming and animation worlds that could easily do the job and are ten times cheaper. Heck I couldn't tell you who voiced over Niko or Roman Bellic in GTA 4 but they were memorable characters while the Kevin Spacey guy was just Kevin Spacey with what looked like greasy skin.

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