A developer's perspective; the current generation of consoles

#31SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/24/2013 5:07:25 AM
PS, FFT-Fan, I attempted to reply to your personal message, but apparently I am now on "Warned" status for trolling.
I truly do slap my face rigidly into my palms with this site sometimes.

My response was: Hi there mate.

Canada's actually a pretty decent place for games development - if I didn't make it overtly obvious I actually work for ******* ***********, the UK sector of the company. Vancouver and Montreal also have studios.

The trouble is barriers to entry are crazily high right now - though not quite as high as, say, three or four years back. You need a degree for QC/QA these days. I got hired as a junior not on the pieces of paper I had but rather my copious amounts of extra work (as you've seen I do a lot of side-development just for myself). They saw I was a little more side-field but enthusiastic, though I'm sure that masters degree didn't hurt.

Basically what I'm getting at is - be unique. Honestly, be different from the other candidates. One of our programmers got hired because he handed in a pop-up CV, no joke (though I'm sure he had other qualifications!)

Don't rely on traditional "Get a first degree and make absurdly high poly models". Be new, interesting - you'll get noticed.
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#32SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/26/2013 9:05:33 AM
So, most of the guys I know from the office posted on Facebook that they got either Xbox One, PS4, or a Wii U this Christmas. And you know what? We all came to the same conclusion.

We're all really excited about this console generation, and all have this similar level of cautious optimism. I haven't got a PS4 yet; I have a Wii U and Xbox One, with the intention of having the full trifecta by March when more specific games are available - but one thing that really jumped out at me is that my colleagues all agreed with me (apart from one or two truly devout cynics) that this may well be the return of game console significance, not through warring factions, but rather each console being so very significantly different and unique that design documents will be tailored and fashioned to suit new experience. Whether we're talking trackpads and raw power (PS4 and Vita), Motion-hybrid controls and multitasking (Xbox One), DS-on-the-big-screen action (Wii U) or true 3D (3DS), every game console has something really cool to bring to the table.

Last generation, the Wii attempted something innovative but it was underbaked; a high concept genius idea hampered by lacklustre execution and arguably a marketing alienation (with mass success they arguably alienated their core audience, but Nintendo strengthened overall as a company). Kinect was a cracking idea that wasn't quite there yet - being an optional peripheral as well truly killed it, because developers saw it as a truly niche, low-install-base risk. The Xbox One packing it in with the console really will change how developers view the device - every consumer will have one, thus it's a more viable development option.

Simply put, this generation is almost like last generation's buds now blooming - taking ideas hinted at last generation and now fully developing and enhancing them.

It's easy to just sell plain hamburgers. It's lowest risk, because it's so neutral. When trying to improve upon the plain hamburger, it would be easy just to make the BIG plain hamburger, and be equally low-risk, but a little better. But to TRULY improve it, you need to try cheese. A bit of bacon. Maybe a fried egg or guacamole. Maybe it's an artisan roll or maybe you swap the burger out entirely for a chicken breast. In doing so, sure you're going to alienate a few people (not everyone likes cheese, but do you risk never selling a cheeseburger because of that?) but it's the only PROPER way to innovate.

My fellow developers are really embracing each console's uniqueness - it's really bizarre that consumers are so totally against diversity.
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#33KolanifvPosted 12/26/2013 10:43:23 AM
SigmaLongshot posted...
This statement wasn't referring to port-overs, but rather, unique games. As for the framerate/resolution issue, that's nothing more than teething issues. The 1080p thing really is a tired and ignorant one; we managed to get a last-gen Xbox 360/PS3 game running at full HD with 60FPS, and it was generally really well-received. It didn't split the earth in two, mind you, which is what seems to occur right now with the current big-hitters (and I have zero understanding why people perpetuate this notion).


So, Ascaron, Sega or EA Street sports developer? Since those are the only multiplats that ran at native 1080 on both boxes that I'm aware of.
#34SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/26/2013 10:55:49 AM
Kolanifv posted...
SigmaLongshot posted...
This statement wasn't referring to port-overs, but rather, unique games. As for the framerate/resolution issue, that's nothing more than teething issues. The 1080p thing really is a tired and ignorant one; we managed to get a last-gen Xbox 360/PS3 game running at full HD with 60FPS, and it was generally really well-received. It didn't split the earth in two, mind you, which is what seems to occur right now with the current big-hitters (and I have zero understanding why people perpetuate this notion).


So, Ascaron, Sega or EA Street sports developer? Since those are the only multiplats that ran at native 1080 on both boxes that I'm aware of.


None of those you stated, my friend. Though what I will say is that the anonymity is simply to avoid having my own opinion affiliated with that of the company I work for itself - trust me, people have been fired for less.

Incidentally the game in question was a steady 60FPS at top resolution on 360, but variable FPS under stress on PS3. I can see the roles being reversed this generation, but that said, I genuinely think people put far too much emphasis on these minor peripheral details when the unique selling points/quirks/features of the consoles should instead be flouted.
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#35SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/26/2013 12:28:14 PM
CKnight posted...
I think the exclusives will stand out more as each one plays to the consoles strengths and weaknesses but from what I'm hearing multiplatforms games will largely be the same with the main difference being some only being 1080p on the PS4.


I'm glad to see someone else sees the potential in non-traditional exclusives that don't just "do a Crytek" and try to say, "this exclusive was worth it because LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY!" - did you see some of my videos of my old game pitches for the Nintendo DS (I think on page 3 of this topic)? Imagine something like that on the Wii U.

Have you played "Frobisher Says!" on the Playstation Vita? One of the minigames is "Don't smile at badgers". It's a quickfire sexy woman/badger flicking back and forth, and you have to smile at the women and frown at the badgers. It sounds stupid but it's immensely entertaining and as it stands, the Kinect is almost four times more precise than the camera technology in the Vita. We've managed to (unreliably so far, but still a big deal) isolate fingers on a person in the kinect camera view - it centres around the bunches of digits (hilariously, if you use puppets it tries to re-centre the head to the middle of your arm) and chooses individual fingers. Imagine if, like with vocal commands in Dead Rising, certain gestures could be commonplace? Hey, I'm not condoning it, but imagine if in CoD online matches you could give your opponent the finger to Kinect, and it automatically did it in-game. It's highly possible and a very, very simple example of how a small, very (disgustingly) natural thing could be added into the game.
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#36Hucast9Posted 12/26/2013 12:58:25 PM
SigmaLongshot posted...
TerraUniverse posted...
SigmaLongshot posted...
I am a developer working for a large games studio...


Yeah, they are all kind of different, and that is interesting.


I both appreciate your comment an accept the statement, but do you believe that the current generation of consoles might be the most interesting and diversive yet?


I think so. I think that the more power a console has, the more convincing a game world can become. I am better convinced that I am the last hope of saving the galaxy in Mass Effect than I am in something from a previous gen such as Knights of the Old Republic. No, I did not start playing games recently either. I've been playing since Atari.
#37SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/26/2013 1:12:31 PM
Hucast9 posted...
SigmaLongshot posted...
TerraUniverse posted...
SigmaLongshot posted...
I am a developer working for a large games studio...


Yeah, they are all kind of different, and that is interesting.


I both appreciate your comment an accept the statement, but do you believe that the current generation of consoles might be the most interesting and diversive yet?


I think so. I think that the more power a console has, the more convincing a game world can become. I am better convinced that I am the last hope of saving the galaxy in Mass Effect than I am in something from a previous gen such as Knights of the Old Republic. No, I did not start playing games recently either. I've been playing since Atari.


Jesus, if there's anyone I'm likely to suck up to, it's you, HUcast. I'm a big HUmar fan, personally, and my ex was nuts for FOmars. I had to dress up a lot.

But yeah - "convincing" doesn't necessarily meaning verging on uncanny valley all of the time. For example, I was fully-invested in the world of Earthbound, as I was in Eternal Darkness, as I was in Lost Odyssey. There are some games that absorb you no matter how "realistic" the stimulus might be, and this is because more money went into writing and environmental design than art.

Do you know how galling it is to sit doing a 3D mesh of an entire American city for a mini-map that sits in the bottom corner of your screen, being told "you need to make it more attractive, more shiny, higher-poly, smooth it out - give it a spec map", etc - it's a freaking MINI MAP. You want icons that are attractive, legible, decipherable, and above all - functional. But no - many a time during the 360-PS3 era it was all about the race. The "who has bigger balls" race.

It truly gutted me down to my skin (I actually got clinically depressed and dropped to 90lbs in the end because my work was so constant, 14-hour days for just.... crap) - now, I'm ready to start again and this new generation has me back to my former self.

I want to see the console gaming community returning to the former glory it once had!
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#38Hucast9Posted 12/26/2013 1:32:34 PM
You want to know where I see video gaming going, tc? I see us going into the map room in a Metroid game, then the map of the area phisically pops into your room. This can be achieved with 3 or 4 holographic projectors, the Kinect, and the console. I believe that they can make this inexpensive by 2020, so maybe by next gen we may be able to have Mass Effect Joker's console pop up in front of us, and we interact with it in order to pilot the Normandy space ship in a mini game. No one is talking about this right now, but I see this as the inevitable and awesome next step in gaming.

Let me be clear though. I'm not talking about replacing the action on your tv's screen. I'm talking about objects popping into your room in order to augment the main action on the screen. In this idea that i'm describing, all games will be played exactly as they are played today, except for the occasional mini game or graphical pop in like the map example that I mentioned.

Ran out ot text space. Continued in next post.
#39SigmaLongshot(Topic Creator)Posted 12/26/2013 1:34:03 PM
But alas, I do not speak for every gamer nor every game developer.

I think the hilarious thing is that people seem to think games development is some sacred rite, when in reality it's more like a technician's job.

Sadly, it's no longer like "This should be a game, let's make this a cool game!" and it's now, because the gaming world has warped to this notion, the "the cobbles in this street don't look sandstoney enough. Spend the next fortnight applying the correct filters and exporting the files with the most exasperating series of actions known to man" job.

The shame is that about five years ago even a QC tester could say something about the game - ie, "this is broken, it'd be easier if the character could see treasure on their map"or something - but now, no such luck. Just, "make it higher res! Higher frame rate! All money to make this SHARP AND FAST! SHARP AND FAST BOLLOCKS!"
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Double Jump Game Comics: http://doublejump.thecomicseries.com/
#40Hucast9Posted 12/26/2013 1:37:09 PM(edited)
continued:

So basically, the technology that I have described is not like the illumiroom tech that we've seen before. For more on that just google illumiroom or youtube it. My idea makes objects pop into the 3 dimensional space of your room.