Erin Hoffman's Inside Job

Erin Hoffman's Inside Job
Inside Job: Go Indie, Young Man

Erin Hoffman | 4 Jan 2008 21:00
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Independent teams also, by necessity, are significantly smaller than most commercial teams. An independent project's inherent instability means that sustaining a commercial-caliber team of 20 or more developers would be nearly impossible. But one of the primary reasons that larger games lack consistent vision is their need for armies of developers. A symphony is a very different beast from a quartet, and the fewer instruments in play, the more you are going to hear individuals. Thus independent games frequently come closer to being individual works of craft or art. Large-scale games employ copious artistry, but individual artistic expressions they largely are not. And as technology advances, it becomes increasingly feasible to create a game from start to finish as an independent, competitive, polished work of expressive art.

Here's What Can Go Wrong
In the course of the commercial game development process, a vast panoply of things can happen to prevent you from making the game you otherwise might have provided freedom from outside distractions such as resource limitations. This is not to say by any stretch that independent games are free of such things, but there are a number of priorities in commercial game development that get placed ahead of innovation, even in the most ideal circumstances.

Dustin Clingman, game designer at Zeitgeist Games and instructor at Full Sail, has for years used a "Wheel of Misfortune" in his game development classes to simulate this real-world dynamic; a policy that I might argue with insofar as it potentially perpetuates this cycle of pain, but there is no question that it prepares students for what they will face if they enter development today. And Dustin's students generally get a lot of input on the initial game that they're developing - a fillip that professional developers usually only get if they're in the top percentile of their studio.

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