Jimquisition: Irrational Decisions (Or Freedom In Chains)

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Irrational Decisions (Or Freedom In Chains)

Major studios are not just shutting down because evil publishers are closing them. Some of them are falling on their own swords. Certain developers are trading in one cage for another, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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foxes in reno smile tenitively
Another beautiful vid THANK GOD FOR JIM!

Sorry Jim, but I just couldn't keep a straight face when you tried to claim to be mature and professional.

Your maturity knows no bounds, it extends beyond the reaches of human awareness of the thing. Your treatment of David Cage shall be sung from the highest mountains and in the schools with young boys and girls for years to come... the power of EMOSHUN.

But yes, I get your point. It's still sad to see less BioShock: Infinites in the AAA world though, and I say that as somebody who didn't like BioShock: Infinite.

Fair enough Jim. Fair enough.

Thank God for that very mature ending ;)

And Thank God for Jim.

This episode was full of emotions, it really inspired emotion in me.

Nive vid Jim

Thank gods for you

Well, you can blame AAA publishing as much as you like for wanting to make money, but all in all, it is us, as a gaming community that continues to support them by purchasing clone after clone after clone. Unfortunately, game theory teaches us that we will never make the choice that would benefit everyone, instead choosing the selfish choice that actually hurts us.

Emotions? EMOTIONS!?

Please give this man millions!

lassiie:
Well, you can blame AAA publishing as much as you like for wanting to make money, but all in all, it is us, as a gaming community that continues to support them by purchasing clone after clone after clone. Unfortunately, game theory teaches us that we will never make the choice that would benefit everyone, instead choosing the selfish choice that actually hurts us.

To be fair, you are throwing people under the bus.

Now, excuse me while I go play another shooter, because it is not call of duty in name only. Wait, I don't play those games, so why would I play that?

I've noticed that this last year we've heard more studios saying that publishers are giving them a little bit more creative leeway, and I think it's in large part thanks to the exodus and rise of big name indie studios. Big publishers can still have there place, and it shines well with games like the upcoming Thief and Wolfenstein. Publishers are feeling more pressure than ever to just let the devs make what they want. Thief isn't even really the same game it was a year ago, because despite what the money men demanded, the devs and players more or less got what they wanted in the end. Games like Titanfall and Wolfenstein are getting the chance to say "we don't want SP or MP in our game" and they can get away with it. Those elements would have been a waste of resources.

While it's still more or less the same beast, executives and investors are losing their deathgrip on studios because a new standard is slowly being exampled, where if the devs get too pissed off about what they're told to do they will now simply leave.

Honestly? I am lamenting the decline of narrative driven, single player, AAA games. Many of my favorite titles of the past few years have fallen under this banner and the possibility of losing these deeply worries me. Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoy plenty of indie games with smaller budgets and artistic freedom, the likes of Don't Starve, Limbo, To The Moon etc.

However if the day comes when all the AAA scene pumps out are competitive multiplayer games like Titanfall (even though I seriously enjoyed the beta), and we no longer see big budget blockbusters like Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us and Tomb Raider... I will be immensely disappointed.

Also why would studios not want to make games like these? Yea they cost a lot to make, but the good ones sell like hotcakes and receive massive critical acclaim. Again I point to Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, these were mega popular titles and I can't see why people wouldn't want to make more in the future.

I continue to hold out hope that Dead Space will find new life with a smaller, tighter budget. It's a snowball's chance in hell, but if hell didn't freeze over occasionally very few of us would actually get laid.

Thank you again, Jim - for the emotional speech and the Chainmale.

Open questions to game industry:
Why aren't you using smaller Creative Teams for the creative stuff that needs give-a-damn, and have a set of publisher spesific programers that jumps from one project to another?

Wait, that was cardboard mask?
I thought Jim used CGI magic to but face of David Cage on his own.

Sorry, but no.

I agree with your assessment of the AAA industry, but while I think Levine has every right to leave in search of greener pastures, I think you and many people are missing the point of his actions and forgetting the other side; the real victims of personalities closing mega-studios in search to narrow their reach are not the gamers that want more high budget RPG and less modern shooters, its the hundreds of talented people that busted their asses to give us one of the best games of last year, and collaborated a whole lot to its success, even when not in the spotlight, finding themselves without a job one day because their master and commander decided to jump ship and left them with nothing but an empty office and a few lines in a resume.

"Irrational Games has been sunk, but Ken Levine is still here"... I am sure its a big consolation for those people. When Romero and Carmack left Id, it was still there the next day. The same with Jaffe and Santa Monica or Bleszinski and Epic... This here is closer to "I'm going to take my ball and go home!". Of course, I believe Levine is a very talented man and I will eagerly wait for his next work, but I don't think this is a time for celebration, as much as I don't believe its a lost for the industry.

Its not just the narrative reasons why AAA is moving away from single player.

narrative single player demands smart level design and balance of challenge, smart AI and resources. Its easier to just throw all the assets into a map and say let the players tussle with each other, while they referee from the sidelines, and add in more microtransactions.

Right now AAA video games is basically seeking to replace Zynga and Magic the Gathering as the premier choice of long term addictive expensive competitive social gaming.

In the future if you wanna have fun with action adventure by yourself without being on a company server. Its side scrollers, walking simulators and point and click, or play your old games.

You know what the gaming industry needs? It needs to embrace the Hollywood style of marketing and production. By that I mean instead of having the next game from Irrational Games etc. we get the next Ken Levine game etc. In that kind of environment publishers would simply give the developers money and let them make the game according to their vision. Games would be marketed as the creative vision of the game director.

A system seems to be collapsing. And triple A games industry is still pre-chunky Prego as always...

Although it's upseting to see people in the AAA games industry completely screwed over, at the same time refusing to be part of the whole next gen thing, at least for another year or two, means I can chill out and play some old games I never got around to playing.

Just bought the original Luigis Mansion for 15, i'm good.

hermes200:
Sorry, but no.

I agree with your assessment of the AAA industry, but while I think Levine has every right to leave in search of greener pastures, I think you and many people are missing the point of his actions and forgetting the other side; the real victims of personalities closing mega-studios in search to narrow their reach are not the gamers that want more high budget RPG and less modern shooters, its the hundreds of talented people that busted their asses to give us one of the best games of last year, and collaborated a whole lot to its success, even when not in the spotlight, finding themselves without a job one day because their master and commander decided to jump ship and left them with nothing but an empty office and a few lines in a resume.

"Irrational Games has been sunk, but Ken Levine is still here"... I am sure its a big consolation for those people. When Romero and Carmack left Id, it was still there the next day. The same with Jaffe and Santa Monica or Bleszinski and Epic... This here is closer to "I'm going to take my ball and go home!". Of course, I believe Levine is a very talented man and I will eagerly wait for his next work, but I don't think this is a time for celebration, as much as I don't believe its a lost for the industry.

Adam Jensen:
You know what the gaming industry needs? It needs to embrace the Hollywood style of marketing and production. By that I mean instead of having the next game from Irrational Games etc. we get the next Ken Levine game etc. In that kind of environment publishers would simply give the developers money and let them make the game according to their vision. Games would be marketed as the creative vision of the game director.

Unfortunately these two points stand at an impasse, because with the latter the whole reliance on bigger projects fall on single big names whilst ignoring the many gears that work within the behemoth, and the current system acknowledges a studio despite it having a very forward creative mind at the helm.

It's probably a bit overstated that the guys who went down with Irrational suddenly get nothing but some lines on a resume. I'm pretty sure "I worked on Bioshock" isn't exactly something that's overlooked by anyone who isn't living under a rock.

I also can't reasonably agree with the stance in the video, as much as I'd love to. I adore indie games and am glad that some of them succeed to the point of spotlight, but they never hold me, personally. Maybe I'm just shallow and vain and want something really basic by playing triple-A games, but that's just my shtick. Massive single-player spectacles are, to me, much more enjoyable than a tightly constructed indie game. I can definitely appreciate the latter and play it, but... If that became the driving force behind the market, I couldn't participate until their budget was within expectations of what I've come to progressively expect growing up with video game development. And therein comes the problem of a repeating cycle.

Either way, I'd like both to exist, but I'd also just like games to keep evolving on multiple fronts, not just under various budgeting/publishing categories.

I have to say that despite all it flaws, I liked Beyond:Two Souls. The story is good and there are some stages I had a lot o fun. Of course, the EMOTIONS thing get in the way some times.
Aside from that, I definetely want much more Thomas Was Alone and Super Meat Boy games than another shooter. Maybe Instead of AAA games we can have shorter AA games that look good but have something to say.

MrFalconfly:
Thank God for that very mature ending ;)

And Thank God for Jim.

Yeah, I was almost getting worried.
As for Ken Levine: I liked the news that he was going Indie.

After all:

BioShock Infinite << BioShock <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< System Shock 2

in terms of gameplay depth and focus.
Fun Fact: If you reverse it, you get the budgets.

The Broken Age example only makes sense if you literally believe the old clickbait narrative that Double Fine "ran out of money", but in it's actual context, it's all about what Jim just described here, more freedom to decide what the creators want to do.

They could have still chosen to make a very short, very simple $2m game, or they could have chosen to delay the development and only finish it by 2015, and instead they rather creatively chose a thid option to boost their budget with a two-parted release.

If anything, this is a prime example of how non-conventional development models can be started outside the conventional wisdoms of AAA publishing. If Activision would be faced with the same decision, that they have too much content planned for a game's budget, we already know what they would do, because we have seen it with Starcraft II: Split it in three parts and sell it thrice. Alternate optiomns include releasing it unfinished with a half-assed ending, and delaying it for an absurdly long time.

Hooray for the creative best of both worlds.

Ferisar:

hermes200:
Sorry, but no.

I agree with your assessment of the AAA industry, but while I think Levine has every right to leave in search of greener pastures, I think you and many people are missing the point of his actions and forgetting the other side; the real victims of personalities closing mega-studios in search to narrow their reach are not the gamers that want more high budget RPG and less modern shooters, its the hundreds of talented people that busted their asses to give us one of the best games of last year, and collaborated a whole lot to its success, even when not in the spotlight, finding themselves without a job one day because their master and commander decided to jump ship and left them with nothing but an empty office and a few lines in a resume.

"Irrational Games has been sunk, but Ken Levine is still here"... I am sure its a big consolation for those people. When Romero and Carmack left Id, it was still there the next day. The same with Jaffe and Santa Monica or Bleszinski and Epic... This here is closer to "I'm going to take my ball and go home!". Of course, I believe Levine is a very talented man and I will eagerly wait for his next work, but I don't think this is a time for celebration, as much as I don't believe its a lost for the industry.

...It's probably a bit overstated that the guys who went down with Irrational suddenly get nothing but some lines on a resume. I'm pretty sure "I worked on Bioshock" isn't exactly something that's overlooked by anyone who isn't living under a rock...

Of course. As I said, the studio is likely filled with talented people that will have no problem getting a job in the industry if they wish to do so, on the names of Bioshock and Infinite alone. The question is, why would they wish to do so? The developer community in Boston, outside of indie teams, is shrinking fast. Outside of Harmonix, Irrational was pretty much the only studio left.

So, those people that still care enough about games can opt to go independent or move their families to another state in search of a job. And why would they? For a job that forces them to huge crunch times, anonymous work and years before they can even ship a game. To the risk of having a publisher deciding that their job is redundant they now have to add a new one, the risk of having their boss deciding he has enough, so all their jobs are redundant. There is a reason why most people last in game development no more than a few years.

I'm confused. Why did Jim get David Cage to show up at the end and say "Thank god for me"?

I don't want to thank god for David Cage!

TiberiusEsuriens:
Big publishers can still have there place, and it shines well with games like the upcoming Thief and Wolfenstein.

I think you spoke too soon. Thief is getting carved up in reviews for being a watered down design-by-committee publisher-ruined cash grab.

So... we're fine with basically saying that unless you're the creative director, employment rights aren't a thing in the games industry?

'Cos I'm not. I think it's morally wrong, and I think long term not good for games. Because people don't do their best work when they're stressed out from having no life stability and having to constantly look for the next project whilst working on the current one.

That ending...

What did I just see?

There are no words.

Why do the words "Cop Out" keep ringing in my head. Not of Jim, but of the game industry.
I remember back in the early 00s the big deal was game companies didn't have enough money to do what they wanted. And we, stupidly apparently, gave them more money.
"Oh sure, you could have made a good game if you had more money. Here's millions of dollars!"

Now game publishers, or the men behind them, are saying that they could make a good game, if only that had less money.
I can't help but feel we as a gaming community are being taken for a ride. Its too damn convenient that the problem is always external:
We didn't have enough money.
Too many people wanted a say on the story.
The fans wanted too much.
The fans made fun of me.
There's too much money.
We need a new console generation!

Anyone else see a problem with ALWAYS letting game designers off the hook for bad games? Or better yet, always accepting the blame leveled at us? That we as the gamers are simply too much for the game publishers to handle? That being successful was simply too hard for them...

What a load!

Adam Jensen:
You know what the gaming industry needs? It needs to embrace the Hollywood style of marketing and production. By that I mean instead of having the next game from Irrational Games etc. we get the next Ken Levine game etc. In that kind of environment publishers would simply give the developers money and let them make the game according to their vision. Games would be marketed as the creative vision of the game director.

Didn't we get that with Warren Spector and Epic Mickey? Didn't work out so well.

I don't think I'm quite ready to buy the "money is the root of all evil" hypothesis. Yes, the AAA industry as it currently exists is unwieldy and risk-averse; I don't think there's a lot of dispute on that point. But it's worth noting that while there are certainly Double Fines that raise eight or more times their Kickstarter goals and then fumble while trying to get the promised product out the door, there are also studios like Harebrained Studios (Shadowrun Returns) and inXile (Wasteland 2) which have a similar narrative yet seem to be more or less on track.

inXile, in particular, seems to have taken a particularly thoughtful approach: yes, we have millions of dollars, but let's use the Unity engine. Let's let our community help us create assets to use in the game. Let's have a prolonged beta and get a second round of feedback about what people really want to see in this sequel.

I don't know for certain what happened inside of Double Fine, or what happened inside of Irrational, for that matter. But it seems that the problems that plague big productions have at least as much to do with leadership and baseline thinking and planning as they do with bloated budgets. Yes, having a bloated budget means that you can skew wildly off the original design document and throw manpower and money at problems when the project gets away from itself, but it doesn't have to go that way if wiser heads can prevail. Just because you have one incredibly new, shiny, and expensive tool in your toolkit, doesn't mean you have to let its availability distract you from all the other tools you used to use to get the job done.

Let us not forget all the lauds that Bioshock Infinte received, nor the high-profile Kickstarter failures, nor the flood of independent projects on Greenlight, the App Store, and Google Marketplace that may be fantastic but just can't capture an audience. We're in a time of shift, but where that shift is headed, I don't think I can predict. It seems like a lot of creative talent is going to starve waiting for discovery, a lot of indie games are going to get ripped off by groups with slightly bigger budgets; it's not entirely clear to me we're entirely healthier with a pool full of piranha than we were with a pool full of sharks.

Why Jim, you should never pass on an opportunity to rip on David Cage! It is your sworn duty to knock self-proclaimed auteurs down a peg. Now where's that .gif of Jim in the Cage mask saying EH-MOH-SHUNS a lot?

OT: It's one thing for a "name" developer to leave the studio, but another to shut the whole thing down afterwards. If Levine kicked all his employees to the curb, that's a big dick move.

Sometimes we forget the little people behind the scenes of, say, Bioshock: Infinite. It's kinda sad for them to lose their opportunity to be part of a great game again.

I wonder if being part of the AAA industry is worth it at all. Sure, you'll have a steady pay-cheque for maybe a year or two, but you'll be dropped as soon as the game you're making is finished. Might as well go indie where you consistently know you won't have any income. Therefore, you don't get the shock of having money, and then no money. You just simply learn to live with no money. And you'll eventually have something to show for it. Eventually.

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