The Escapist Presents: Senior Creative Director, EA BioWare Keynote

Senior Creative Director, EA BioWare Keynote

Paul Barnett, Senior Creative Director of EA BioWare shares some thoughts on game development and the golden ages of gaming.

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Funny and pretty informative. All in all I thought it was a great segment he did there. Awesome accent too. Thumbs up.

I personally enjoyed how he covered a lot of things in his discussion of gaming. Though the ending made me laugh good.

um...were you guys watching the same thing I was? because all I saw was a guy pacing back and forth going on about some drivel and misusing analogy. seriously this guy is the Creative Director? he sounds like one of those "give me money and ill tell you the secret of happiness" con men.
no wonder they got problems over there...

Interesting, but I think he was trying too hard to be entertaining. I won't say he didn't make me chuckle a few times, but I guess I was hoping for something more nuts and bolts of game design. Nothing I haven't already heard before and better from Extra Credits.

Wow, did no one catch the part were he basically said he didn't care whether or not the consumer like his games? He says that unless your in the game making business your opinion doesn't matter to him, and he specifically says your opinion about the ME3 ending doesn't matter to him. He says this stuff around minute three.

TheVioletBandit:
Wow, did no one catch the part were he basically said he didn't care whether or not the consumer like his games? He says that unless your in the game making business your opinion doesn't matter to him, and he specifically says your opinion about the ME3 ending doesn't matter to him. He says this stuff around minute three.

oh yeah I saw that, as I mentioned he sounds more like a con man or spin doctor rather than someone who makes games (I know he's only one man but he is the creative director) and entirely wrapped up in himself

Eric Morales:
Interesting, but I think he was trying too hard to be entertaining. I won't say he didn't make me chuckle a few times, but I guess I was hoping for something more nuts and bolts of game design. Nothing I haven't already heard before and better from Extra Credits.

well im glad he hit your chuckle buttons (and i mean it, I'm not being sarcastic :) ) but yeah I wanted something with at least some substance, instead we got drone drone drone...

TheVioletBandit:
Wow, did no one catch the part were he basically said he didn't care whether or not the consumer like his games? He says that unless your in the game making business your opinion doesn't matter to him, and he specifically says your opinion about the ME3 ending doesn't matter to him. He says this stuff around minute three.

EA is the anti-Valve. You can't be a high-ranking EA officer and still care for customers.

i did raise an eye brow at the you can have an opinion but im going to ignore it if you havent made and released a game

zellosoli:

oh yeah I saw that, as I mentioned he sounds more like a con man or spin doctor rather than someone who makes games (I know he's only one man but he is the creative director) and entirely wrapped up in himself

Thats because he IS a con man and thats why they kept him around even after axing the entirety of mythic.

He was pretty much the public face of Warhammer online and lied and spun to the people untill even the die hard fans wouldnt even believe him anymore.

He even went so far as to insult people as whiny bitches because people where not happy with the unbalanced classes. The fact that both factions aknowledged a severe inbalance with classes on both sides left them totaly cold because as he put it "they had the metrics to show that everything was allright"

Well we all know how Warhammer online turned out.

Its nutjobs like him that are the reason why Bioware and Co. detoriated from real artists to a studio that mass produces games with less and less quality.. and less and less "game" in it.

This kind of behavior from game developers is extremely unsettling. It's okay for comedians to go onstage and insult every single person in their audience, but it's not for somebody who actually has to sell a product. Telling your customers that their opinions don't matter to you is not a way to make friends (and even bringing up ME3 should be an obvious bad idea). Way to PR, Bioware. Perhaps they ought to take a few pages out of the recently disseminated Valve Handbook in regards to customer relations.

Eppy (Bored):
This kind of behavior from game developers is extremely unsettling. It's okay for comedians to go onstage and insult every single person in their audience, but it's not for somebody who actually has to sell a product. Telling your customers that their opinions don't matter to you is not a way to make friends (and even bringing up ME3 should be an obvious bad idea). Way to PR, Bioware. Perhaps they ought to take a few pages out of the recently disseminated Valve Handbook in regards to customer relations.

actually that's something I noticed and commented about before, in particular the developers response to criticism about AMY. it seems to be a current trend for developers (from the big names like EA and Activision to a few small Indi developers like Phil Fish, although that was more of tantrum but I think it relates) to react to criticism by (as I see it) attacking the general market, usually with insults, belittlement and just telling them that really their opinion doesn't matter (we make it and if you don't like it, your the one with the problem).

I was kind of hoping the facebook comments were just pricks but this video has little reason to be on this site.

Was this guy trying to invoke more discussion about Fish but in a more properly placed manner?

He claims to be giving advice for Game devs but it is so much easier to watch Extra Credits for this advice.

Also this isn't EA buying Escapist ad space. This is something that the escapist thought would be nice to show us considering how much we love to complain about Bioware.

Honestly it more sounds like HE does not care about non-game maker opinions, rather than the company as a whole.

Then again Bioware does not seem to care about what fans want either.
Because honestly...no one wanted to pay 60 dollars for a nice R/G/B color test on their tv/computers.

I think you guys are taking him far too literally. It seemed obvious to me that he was being sarcastic and trying to be funny to a group of fellow industry people. It was a dude cracking in jokes with people in his fellow industries. I know people do the same at my workplace.

He was also talking about being a game maker/developer, their interactions amongst themselves, and what their career choice is like. Not developer interaction with the consumer.

And if you even listened to the beginning, he even said he didn't like the ME3 ending.

I actually want them to rip off and remake alot of old games. If we stay locked at 1080p on a 42" screen from 6-10 ft away for many years to come, I'd like them to remake some classics or games that were classic, but because of low-res textures or uncharmingly dated bitmap graphics. They're already doing it with games like Double Dragon and other games had long ago been eclipsed by newer and better version like Streets of Rage did with Final Fight. Now they just need a new Streets of Rage. Coming from the NES era (Vetrex and Calicovision were the first consoles I played not owned). Damn near anything above mediocre is amazing to me. I can marvel at how good Fallout 3 looks, then go to Crysis 2 and just get lost at looking at the graphical fidelity and wonder how difficult it would be to do that in Fallout. Mass Effect was great, I'll give him that, only the first JRPGs I played could compare, but the ending unfortunately didn't transcend the way the rest of the game did. I'm enjoying games more than ever this gen.

I don't find his keynote coherent really, but partially what I was getting out of it are that games are hard to make and in real life they are better than ever, even mobile games. Agreed on the parts I gleaned and I would stick up for Bioware, if only the caved and let the fans help them and completely change the ME3 ending.

He doesn't sound anti-fan exactly, but he's explaining how difficult it is to try to please everyone since gamers--people in general--have alot different trends more than anything, even if people stay relatively the same. And after the absolute end, I'm guessing he's calling out gamers who think they could do it better and COULD if they had the drive. He has a point. He's fine by me, but he needs to learn the difference between loving (though harsh) criticism and flat out hatin.

TheVioletBandit:
Wow, did no one catch the part were he basically said he didn't care whether or not the consumer like his games? He says that unless your in the game making business your opinion doesn't matter to him, and he specifically says your opinion about the ME3 ending doesn't matter to him. He says this stuff around minute three.

I caught that part when I saw "EA" in the headline. No real need to watch the video after you see that. Nobody at EA cares about the customer. Disc-locked content, online passes, server closures, Origin, single-player game bans, SecuROM, always-online DRM, and all the other evil things EA does to their customers in this industry should have been a big enough giveaway. They don't really need to admit it, although I suppose it's nice that this guy didn't lie about it.

Parshooter:
He claims to be giving advice for Game devs but it is so much easier to watch Extra Credits for this advice.

People still watch Extra Credits? And furthermore, people would actually take anything they say seriously? I'd take Michael Pachter seriously before I took Extra Credits seriously. :|

He sounds like an idiot, honestly.

mjc0961:

Parshooter:
He claims to be giving advice for Game devs but it is so much easier to watch Extra Credits for this advice.

People still watch Extra Credits? And furthermore, people would actually take anything they say seriously? I'd take Michael Pachter seriously before I took Extra Credits seriously. :|

How have Extra Credits offended you?

So, let's go over what he said in a rough sequence. The following are approximations of his points, and I'm honestly trying to be as neutral as possible. I'll say up-front that I don't agree with this guy, but I will try and be as objective as I can. Yes, he might be trying to be funny, but he also believes what he says, so it's valid.

1) All of you here today are liars, or lazy.

2) Unless you yourself have made a video game, regardless of quality, I have no responsibility to listen to your opinion. As soon as you have made a video game, I must listen to and apologize to you.

3) People get into gaming when everything in their life is done for them by someone else, when they have plenty of time and patience for it (note that he's talking about PLAYING video games, not making them). This is the Golden Age, when you gain an appreciation of gaming and your preference about gaming.

4) Any games you play outside of that golden age you automatically consider rubbish, because you think they are derivative.

5) Young people won't be able to relate to the games that inspired you to be a designer.

6) Your boss will always have been inspired by games outside of your golden age, or games that made the most money.

7) Making a game is like being in love, with all the implications that implies. Mainly, love fuels desire.

8) People express themselves when viewing art in a similar way to expressing themselves in a pub. The artist is the past could not hear what was said when they were not around in the past, in modern times everything is recorded, every piece of criticism is held in stasis indefinitely.

9) Artists are fragile creatures, and fans give them mostly negative feedback on their games.

10) Being hardened against fan feedback is a vital skill, because now you have to listen to it.

11) Outside perspectives about EA (or a country) are invalid becuase they are different from the truth. America isn't warmongering because I haven't seen people like this.

12) Fans commenting online are like drunk people talking in a pub.

13) Talks a bit about iPad games being adapted to show to journalists.

First and foremost, I design videogames. I haven't gotten to the production point, but I'm close. And my video game is not derivative of any game I played during my "golden age" of 8 to 16. It is entirely new and innovative, building mainly on games released AFTER that "golden period" (16-21). I find his insinuation that game designers seek to replicate past nostalgia exclusively an insulting remark.

Second, I think a lot of his analogies are pretty silly. Final Fantasy was a marketed FAILURE, implying that future game designers will want to base their game on its mechanics is stupid, plain and simple. Any prospective game designer worth their salt will research the games upon whose mechanics or themes they wish to draw upon, and draw mainly from successful games.

I think desire is part of making games, but I think there's lots of people that make games that don't have a burning passion for playing games. There's a woman (I forget her name) that works at Bioware for goodness sake who would prefer to skip the combat of Mass Effect 3 and focus on the story.

I think that he doesn't realize that gaming is ENTERTAINMENT. That's why people play it. It's a basic premise that he seems to ignore.

I could write more but...

TL,DR: Paul Barnett's arguments and views are very narrow, unaccommodating, and flawed. He may be a wonderful game designer, but his reasoning and positions are jaded and more than a little insulting.

nikki191:
i did raise an eye brow at the you can have an opinion but im going to ignore it if you havent made and released a game

I really, really, really hate that piece of idiotic shit kind of attitude.

"Oh, you've never been president or prime minister of a country? Not allowed to comment on politics! Never been pope? Can't talk about religion! Haven't been part of a multi-million dollar company working on AAA games? Can't comment on whether or not games are good!"

It's such a retarded idea. Games are made for the consumers, so the consumers have just as much right to criticise the game as the developers.

Also, I made a game with my dad when I was 6, so can I say something to him? The ME3 ending sucked, Ea's business practices are absolutely shit. How you treat your consumers is appalling.

Well I enjoyed it - the presentation that is.

The funny part is that the examples of good golden age games for his son, were all non EA(all indie). I guess he is aware of his bad work over there.

ha people on the bioware forums "if you dont want us to buy your games, just say so"

it is starting to feel that way

For disclosure reasons, I won't/can't say what industry I am in. But it is in a very creative and technical one. Maybe it's highly egotistical or self-absorbed, but this man has many dead-on points. Until you've poured your soul and skill into a product, then removed all sense of self-decency and pushed it out into the universe, I do not believe you can assume you understand what goes into such a process.

The customer is always right is a phrase created by people in marketing and sales. You are not always right. This is our/my product. If you don't like it or didn't like the idea of it, you should not have bought it. 95% of the time, we are super clear on what you have received and what you were advertised. It's like going into a restaurant, seeing an item contains chilli peppers, then complaining it is too spicy. Yes it is spicy. This is the intended result. It was on the menu. It even has a small pepper indicating it is potentially spicy.

Don't take this the wrong way. Long story short, consumers should be aware of what they are buying. And if they feel betrayed, stop supporting the people that created the product they bought. But this requires responsibility on behalf of the consumers to try to be aware of the product they intend to consume.

Vote with your wallet. Don't like what we did? Don't buy it. We'll try again. If we fail again, we go out of business. Don't complain that all the CoD games are the same, then proceed to buy every single map DLC that contains maps from older games. Don't tell a chef his dish was too salty when the menu says salt cod.

Also, as a small addendum; if you read anything Valve has on hiring, being able to ship a product and react a bit to the initial feedback is a KEY part of what they are looking for. Which is a large part of what this man is talking about. Shipping is key.

Have to say WATCH THE WHOLE VIDEO. Yes he says some some controversial stuff about the 2 minute mark. But once you get past that he says some really interesting stuff and some really hilarious stuff about the gaming industry.

Also

Daedrin:
Don't take this the wrong way. Long story short, consumers should be aware of what they are buying. And if they feel betrayed, stop supporting the people that created the product they bought. But this requires responsibility on behalf of the consumers to try to be aware of the product they intend to consume.

Vote with your wallet. Don't like what we did? Don't buy it. We'll try again. If we fail again, we go out of business. Don't complain that all the CoD games are the same, then proceed to buy every single map DLC that contains maps from older games. Don't tell a chef his dish was too salty when the menu says salt cod.

This is sooo true.

Wow, what a dick. With people like him it's no wonder that EA has been voted worst company in America.

Keep up the good work, guys. I'll give my money to more deserving companies, thank you very much.

I know that he doesn't care about gamers opinions but here is an undeniable fact WITHOUT GAMERS VIDEO GAME COMPANIES WILL NOT MAKE ANY MONEY. Yes it's a fact if the " game makers " don't have " gamers " they won't have MONEY. So yes while you live off the royalties / profits of your current game you'll live in a box if YOU try to sell any other games because gamers will remember how you treated them from this game.

 

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