For the record (Gaming)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Monday, May 25, 2020, 13:29 (76 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Once again, I think Ubisoft is close to achieving a similar level of freedom. But they don’t seem to be quite there yet. They still need every single game they release to be a big hit in terms of sales. But I could see a point in the near future where their ongoing “live service” games like For Honour or Rainbow 6 Siege are bringing in enough revenue that they can free up a team or two to explore more creative and risky endeavours, without crushing them under the kind of deadline restrictions that lead to crunch.

But don't Live Service games require crunch? The releases and updates need to be timely and constant. Fortnite was a big moneymaker but a gigantic crunch for all. So are you saying you always need to sacrifice one team to the crunch to save others?

I don’t know. Possibly. It just seems to me that strict budgets and deadlines can only be maintained when there’s a high level of predictability involved with the product being made. The only way a large team can say with any certainty “this project will take us X years and Y dollars” is if they have produced that exact product before, multiple times. That doesn’t really fit with most video games, but some live service games have the potential to come close. If their business model is “we release X new maps, Y new characters, and Z new game modes every year”, that at least has a level of predictability and repeatability that lends itself to accurate budgeting and realistic project management.

Any remotely artistic creation is just... so NOT that. Most game leads will say that when they start on a project, they don’t even really know what they’re making yet. It takes months or years of banging ideas around within the team before things start to crystallize. That leads into another part of the problem... for many AAA games, the developers themselves aren’t really sure if their game is going to be fun until late in development. They might get 3 years into a project before the technical hurdles are finally conquered in a way that allows their creative vision to come forward. And many times, those technical hurdles don’t get solved in time, and the game AND developers suffer as a consequence.

Maybe part of the solution is to shift more development focus into the prototype phase? Maybe large studios should have 5-10 small teams all cranking out prototypes all the time, and only when one of those teams puts together a prototype that is already fun to play does the project move forward and into full production? That might help, but what about the games that start out one way, then pivot mid development and become something completely different. If it had been up to Microsoft, Halo May never have been Green-lit based on the initial prototypes.

So yeah, I don’t know what any of the answers are, lol.

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