Warren Spector Is Tired Of Leather-Clad Men

Warren Spector Is Tired Of Leather-Clad Men

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Deus Ex creator Warren Spector says working at Disney is a great experience because he's tired of making games about guys who wear black leather and carry guns.

Spector, who previously worked for storied developers including Origin Systems, Looking Glass Studios and Ion Storm, formed Junction Point Studios in 2005. He became part of the Disney conglomerate when the company acquired Junction Point in 2007, a move he described in last week's Game Education Summit keynote as very positive, according to a Gamasutra report.

"I love working with Disney because I'm so tired of making games about guys in black leather carrying guns," he said. "I don't want to make those anymore."

He added that the days of overly long games are over, largely because the increasing cost of development is a great incentive to ensure players can enjoy the entire experience. "Game costs are going to be $35-$40 million, even $100 million, and the expectations are huge," he said. "You have to differentiate yourselves. One-hundred hour games are on the way out... How many of you have finished GTA? Two percent, probably. If we're spending $100 million on a game, we want you to see the last level!"

The predicted cut in length will necessitate an increased focus on the quality of gameplay, Spector added, saying that dazzling technology was no longer enough to make a game successful. "Building a game is as complex as making a Hollywood movie. Do we have the right people and how do we harness creativity without crushing it? We are in a business that is both software engineer and entertainment, and we have to balance it," he said. "It used to be that you could trade off gameplay for graphics, but you can't do that anymore."

One of the industry's most widely-respected developers, Spector has worked on games including Wing Commander, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Crusader: No Remorse, Thief and many others. He is currently at work on an unannounced project for Disney based on the Source engine.

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Hope he works on Thief 4 at some point.

Missleading title dont'cha think?

I think it is a shame that consumers seem to want 10 hour games, same price less playtime. It would be alot better if there was a good game rental service in Sweden.

Why do games cost so much these days? Is it mainly because of the increased standards of graphics?

This guy is a douche and a fruitcake.
Long games are going out the window? To my knowledge short games get bad reviews due to length. And can someone tell me what this guy is talking about when he said, "It used to be that you could trade off gameplay for graphics, but you can't do that anymore." ?
Is he seriously suggesting that a game that isn't HD will never sell?

sammyfreak:

I think it is a shame that consumers seem to want 10 hour games, same price less playtime. It would be alot better if there was a good game rental service in Sweden.

It's less of a case of wanting and more a case of getting what's given.

Aside from Stalker I can't think of any Fps in the last couple of years with decent lifespan.

TheNecroswanson:
This guy is a douche and a fruitcake.
Long games are going out the window? To my knowledge short games get bad reviews due to length. And can someone tell me what this guy is talking about when he said, "It used to be that you could trade off gameplay for graphics, but you can't do that anymore." ?
Is he seriously suggesting that a game that isn't HD will never sell?

Words from my mouth. Come get your stick so we can beat him with our Solid Snake action figures. Frankly, I'd like to know which GTA he's talking about. I finished GTA4 (as well as my four friends who have it) in 2 weeks. I also own Liberty City Stories, and that only took like...what, five days? The GTA4 games have a lot of playability, that's why gamer's get them. Hell, I'm still playing GTA4, and in months to come, if I'm not still playing me then either the box it came in is made of AIDS, or the game bricked my 360. But besides that, I don't give a damn what he thinks. Sure, the Super-Ultra Soldier with the BFG9000 is a little overdone, but hell, gamers still buy the games. Halo 3? Gears of War? And if MGS4 doesn't sell great, that'll surprise me too. Let him go to work on his $5 puzzle game while we blow the heads of off aliens with our chainguns.

[edited due to tasteless joke]

Lets just hope he actually has some inspiration and isn't just talking out of his ass like so many game designers appear to be these days.

The numbers he's quoting aren't pulled out of thin air. Xbox Live monitors this kind of stuff for "Live Aware" games, I know, and I think Steam does too; from what I've heard, an overall 2% completion rate for games doesn't sound too far off. Wish I could link to some hard numbers to know for certain...

Not everyone can dedicate enough time to gaming to finish a gi-normous time sucker of a game like GTA.

-- Steve

Yes BUT how many game designers/companies want to make a cash grab by slacking off on game length because it takes less work and still expect us to pay $50 for them? I feel better paying that for a 50+ hour game that I don't finish, because that's my choice to waste that money, than paying that price for a short game that makes me feel ripped off when I finish it.

This guy can say whatever he friggin' wants as far as I'm concerned. He's one of the few good game developers out there.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yes BUT how many game designers/companies want to make a cash grab by slacking off on game length because it takes less work and still expect us to pay $50 for them? I feel better paying that for a 50+ hour game that I don't finish, because that's my choice to waste that money, than paying that price for a short game that makes me feel ripped off when I finish it.

That philosophy is fine if you're running a restaurant, because bigger portion sizes don't increase the cost of serving a meal very much at all. Raw ingredients are cheap, the stoves/ovens will be on much of the additional cooking time anyway, and making bigger portions doesn't consume that much more time for the cooks or servers.

However, if you're a game studio then creating tons of unconsumed content means you're spending a lot of money on stuff the vast majority of your audience isn't going to see. And that's a HUGE part of the cost... art assets and coding time make up the bulk of a game budget, now squared and cubed in the HD/"next-gen" environment, so the temptation is to trim away any that players likely won't see. Remember, too, that many games don't earn out their costs on the shelves... so there's additional pressure from The Money to keep those costs down.

-- Steve

Zombie_King:
Frankly, I'd like to know which GTA he's talking about. I finished GTA4 (as well as my four friends who have it) in 2 weeks.

Wow... so after you got home from work, took the kids to the park, fed them supper, gave them a bath and sent them to bed... you then played for an hour and a half each day. So it took you only 21 hours total to complete GTA4? ;-)

Gamers are growing up, man. If they don't start making games that allow parents to play them within a reasonable amount of time, they're going to miss out on a lot of sales. I'm sure GTA4 is an awesome game, but I don't have the time to play anything that time consuming. I loved GTA3, but lost interest after playing it for a couple of months... and I was still not even close to finishing it. It took me a month and a half to finish Fable, 20 hours total.

Echolocating:

Zombie_King:
Frankly, I'd like to know which GTA he's talking about. I finished GTA4 (as well as my four friends who have it) in 2 weeks.

Wow... so after you got home from work, took the kids to the park, fed them supper, gave them a bath and sent them to bed... you then played for an hour and a half each day. So it took you only 21 hours total to complete GTA4? ;-)

Gamers are growing up, man. If they don't start making games that allow parents to play them within a reasonable amount of time, they're going to miss out on a lot of sales. I'm sure GTA4 is an awesome game, but I don't have the time to play anything that time consuming. I loved GTA3, but lost interest after playing it for a couple of months... and I was still not even close to finishing it. It took me a month and a half to finish Fable, 20 hours total.

Hey, for some of us the kids are grown and gone and, except for work requirements and the occasional visit, our time is our own. We want long games! (We still hate everything except Matlock, though.)

I've never finished Half Life 2 - but I will. Someday. As it is, I have a backlog of games I've bought and not yet finished (or sometimes even started.) Developers aren't doing me any favors by shortening games unless they suck.

I don't like what Spector's saying. I like plenty of meat on the bone: Big, huge, long games with ridiculous amounts of content that take me weeks to finish. I want more, not less, and I find it a little disturbing that a dev of his stature is telling me that I ain't gonna get it.

But I can't say I disagree with him. The hardcore demographic is undoubtedly shrinking as a percentage of the overall market, and that has to factor in to any decision about what kind of games are going to be made in the future. "Accessible" is a big priority these days and an 80-hour RPG doesn't really fall into that category.

And short isn't necessarily bad. Max Payne 2 is the example I come back to time and again; obscenely short, brilliantly good. I think I killed it somewhere under the eight hour mark, which in many cases would leave me feeling cheated, but the game was so well done that I didn't care. I came away feeling that I'd got my money's worth out of the thing. Quality can compensate for quantity - although in a perfect world, we'd obviously rather have more of both.

And let's knock off the name-calling. Spector had a hand in the creation of Wing Commander 1 and 2, the Ultima Underworld games, System Shock, Thief: The Dark Project, Deus Ex and numerous others. As far as I'm concerned, he could spend the rest of his days killing babies and I'd give him a pass on it. Deus Ex, for god's sake.

werepossum:
Hey, for some of us the kids are grown and gone and, except for work requirements and the occasional visit, our time is our own. We want long games! (We still hate everything except Matlock, though.)

Hey and that's why you can enjoy Oblivion... and I really can't. Games like Mass Effect are pushing the length of what I can handle. I'd really love to play some MMOs, but I just can't make the time. I'm not saying long games are bad, but I could definitely use some GTA style games where the plot is done in 20 hours.

By the way, Matlock can't hold a candle to Columbo. ;-)

I won't disagree with him, longer games are becoming harder to develop. However with the move to short games you really need to take a lesson from what Valve did with Portal, it was short and one of the most critically acclaimed games of the year, however it was also very cheap, $60 with Hl2, episode 1, episode 2 and TF2 included so probably $10-20 by itself. Great game, with a great price that allowed you to overlook the short time the game took to complete. I think the gaming community will accept shorter games, but as a trade off we also expect lower prices and generally better games.

I have three words for everyone worried about "meat on the bone" as Maygris said: Procedurally Generated Content.

I think that is the way to go, to have your cake and eat it too. I think its an important step for game developers to keep their man hours where they want it but still give the consumer the level of depth in a game's world that they are looking for.

Current iterations of GTA wouldn't even be possible if it weren't for all the semi-random crap to make those things enjoyable. The AI director of Left 4 Dead, Spore's friggin Universe, even possibly a MMO-like game being made by one guy - Eskil Steenberg.

So before you decry Warren Spector's comments, kindly take a look at his own influence in amazing games of yester year, its not like he is ignorant of what it takes to make a good game and its content. He's been saying for years that games need become more like what GTA has become and proved it with System Shock & Deus Ex.

The only thing that bugs me is Warren Spector having a relationship with Disney. That's akin to me hearing about Arch Angel Gabriel and Arch Demon Mestophiles going on a date (fictional characters I made up, influenced by comics, but I hope you get the idea). o.O

Here's a quick quiz : Who has actually finished GTA? I'm sort of betting it's more than 2%

The_root_of_all_evil:
Here's a quick quiz : Who has actually finished GTA? I'm sort of betting it's more than 2%

Even if you managed to pick a number for GTA, which I just really beg to see, just for fun, you forget that it's about all games, not GTA alone.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yes BUT how many game designers/companies want to make a cash grab by slacking off on game length because it takes less work and still expect us to pay $50 for them? I feel better paying that for a 50+ hour game that I don't finish, because that's my choice to waste that money, than paying that price for a short game that makes me feel ripped off when I finish it.

Back in the good old days, I have no problem paying the equivalent of 50 dollars for a good platform game or shoot'em up. They could have been short, but they were so good.

It depends on what you consider long; frankly I think that ten to fifteen hours is a good length for any genre other than an rpg which I think should measure about thirty to fifty hours. I wish that shooters for example measured closer to ten hour in the single player campaign more often rather than the six hour campaigns we seem to be getting right now.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yes BUT how many game designers/companies want to make a cash grab by slacking off on game length because it takes less work and still expect us to pay $50 for them? I feel better paying that for a 50+ hour game that I don't finish, because that's my choice to waste that money, than paying that price for a short game that makes me feel ripped off when I finish it.

I feel best paying for a couple of shorter games because they provide a welcome respite from the timesink that is stuff like Civ4. What do I care if I buy two 50 hour games for $100 or one 15 hour game for $50 and an 85 hour game for $50? It still works out to a dollar a game hour.

PedroSteckecilo:
Yes BUT how many game designers/companies want to make a cash grab by slacking off on game length because it takes less work and still expect us to pay $50 for them? I feel better paying that for a 50+ hour game that I don't finish, because that's my choice to waste that money, than paying that price for a short game that makes me feel ripped off when I finish it.

Do you feel cheated when a music CD has only 30 minutes of songs compared to another CD with 50 minutes? Does a film suffer when it's only 1.5 hours compared to 2.5 hours? Do you honestly judge the value of a book by the number of pages? Give me a break.

I don't know why people equate the length of a video game to it's value. It makes no sense to me.

I agree with Echo.

I had a free evening, so I finished CoD4 in a single 8-hour sitting. That experience was far more rewarding than slogging through Oblivion with no hope of ever seeing the end. There will always be a market for persistent worlds - WoW is testament to that - but as more games take on movie-style, self-contained narratives, so their structure will change to reflect it. Like great movies, great games deserve to be experienced time and time again, regardless of their length... hence the fact that I still return to CoD4.

I returned countless times to Starfox, just to play the first level.

Man, Warren Spector publicly defending selling out for Disney money.

I guess he got tired of trying to get the rest of the game developers in the industry to stop selling out and decided if he couldn't beat the big money production groups, he might as well join one.

Warren Spector at Disney, Lum the Mad at NCSoft, the industry is slowly running out of mavericks and ne'er do wells.

Least Vince Desi is still out there doing his crazy man impression.

See, this is the difference between giving players what they want, and giving them what they SAY they want. Spector is smart enough to know the difference.

The predicted cut in length will necessitate an increased focus on the quality of gameplay, Spector added, saying that dazzling technology was no longer enough to make a game successful

I take that as the quintessential from the above text. And I have to say that I agree with him. I'll take a 8 hour long game that's brilliant from start to finish above a 40 hour marathon that's 60% filler material without any real value.
Valve's most recent games, especially Portal, are a great example for that. Portal is how long again? 2 hours? 3? Perhaps 4 if you really take your time. But it's simply awesome from start to finish.
The only exception to that for me would be RPGs. An RPG is only good with a truely great story, which needs depth, a bit of complexity and the likes. Also, RPGs need to give you time to slowly develop your character. Thus, RPGs should be longer.

Oh, and btw: Lay off the name calling. It's Warren Spector, for god's sake?

 

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