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The only proper indie game I remember is Mount&Blade, and even then, it is kinda unfinished/unpolished... that's why people keep looking at the big companies - game development is just not cheap.

It is yet unfinished, as in, not 1.0 release version yet (currently v0.903). The last few releases have been huge leaps forward, but give 'em a chance to call it done first. Great game, and definitely a shining example of what an indie can do. Hell, it almost stands alone, and is better than any other of its type.

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It's not the case. It's just a career to most people. They're doing a 9 to 5 in an office and getting paid for it, the same as someone working in an accountancy firm.

 

I think you are pretty wrong on that. If somebody just wants to work for money, then he is FAR better off working for some accounting firm, or other "standard" projects. No crunch time, much better job security, regular payment, long term employment, no ridicoulous amount of overhours, not THAT much expertise required, and so on ...

 

Somebody would be pretty stupid to work on a game project thinking that this is a regular job, because it isn't. It's similar to professional sports. You have to love to an amount what you do, to stay in that business.

Gerhard

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You forget the kudos that comes along with doing a 'cool' job like game development. That is much better than accountancy, who are seen as boring grey twats.

People get into game development as players of games who think it would be the sexiest job in the world, but the reality is very different. It's just a job. Long hours and bad to average wages, and most of the content they're working on ends up in crap game titles that will be forgotten a few months after they're finished.

Most of the staff have no say in what gets made, and the few at the top are under the thumb of publishers and don't make any real decisions either.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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well, the original Deus Ex was a best seller and GOTY and all that jazz, so, clearly, it isn't impossible to make a clever quality game, that can still sell well. still, DX will never sell like Halo or GTA, even though it's vastly superior

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Working on ANYTHING varies from place to place. Some young game companies tend to begin enthusiastic, releasing quality products, then they go down into money making because they realize they can make so much money (Blizzard, Ravensoft, Bethesda, ID). Some companies continually work enthusiastically, and often end up going bankrupt or getting bought (Westwood, Psygnosis, Black Isle Studios/Interplay). Some companies are more or less balanced (Nival Interactive, KD-Labs). I am more than sure that work conditions in all these companies were drastically different over time as they got more (or less) money, and different management, and different technology inflow, and, of course, change of the work force.

Too late to save us but try to understand

The seas were empty -- there was hunger in the land

We let the madmen write the golden rules

We were just Children of the Moon

We're lost in the middle of a hopeless world

Children, Children of the Moon watch the world go by

Children, Children of the Moon are hiding from the Sun and the Sky

 

© The Alan Parsons Project - Children of the Moon

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You forget the kudos that comes along with doing a 'cool' job like game development. That is much better than accountancy, who are seen as boring grey twats.

 

Yes. But that is really a very extreme motivation. I don't believe that anybody can spend four years or more on smoe project with all the disadvantages that the job brings, just for the few days of fame. Especially as most programmers are not even known to the public. Some make it so that their name becomes more known among the audience, but the majority does not.

I bet that most people here wont even know the name of three developers of WOW without googling and that is a highly successfull game.

Gerhard

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They're not famous in the pop star sense, but within their own circles they have a cool job.

You can't seriously think that anyone who genuinely cared about games and wanted to make quality products would want to work in a modern game studio where they are nothing but an invisible cog in a shit-making machine.

No, they'd be much better off getting another job for the money and making a game in their spare time - but that doesn't' seem to be happening, you just don't see large conglomerations of ex-professional game developers working in teams to make free indie games for the pure love of it.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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A few do. Most (though not all) successful indies have a background in commercial game development. Moonpod, for example, was founded by ex-industry people.

 

The majority don't do this because going indie is a big, risky step. If you're single and beholden to nobody then you can afford to live in someone's basement and eat only bread and cheese for 5 years until your games start earning enough cash to make a living; but if you have a wife and kids, you need a decent, constant income to survive. Independent game development does not give you a decent constant income (certainly not at first).

 

There are a decent amount of salary-paying studios created with the idea that they're going to make games primarily for the love of it. It usually doesn't take long before they succumb to the brutal economic realities of the business; whether that means going under, getting bought by a bigger and more profit-orientated company, or "selling out" and making games for the lowest common denominator because that's the only thing that sells.

 

The most interesting studios are the ones that walk that fine line between love and money. You need luck and skill to do this. The best example that comes to my mind is 2K Australia/2K Boston (formerly Irrational Games).

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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A few do. Most (though not all) successful indies have a background in commercial game development. Moonpod, for example, was founded by ex-industry people.

 

The majority don't do this because going indie is a big, risky step. If you're single and beholden to nobody then you can afford to live in someone's basement and eat only bread and cheese for 5 years until your games start earning enough cash to make a living; but if you have a wife and kids, you need a decent, constant income to survive. Independent game development does not give you a decent constant income (certainly not at first).

 

There are a decent amount of salary-paying studios created with the idea that they're going to make games primarily for the love of it. It usually doesn't take long before they succumb to the brutal economic realities of the business; whether that means going under, getting bought by a bigger and more profit-orientated company, or "selling out" and making games for the lowest common denominator because that's the only thing that sells.

 

You can do another 9 to 5 job as a living and make the game you want in your free time.

It is possible you know, we've done just that here.

It doesn't have to be a commercial venture.

We were just a bunch of noobs who'd never made a game before. Imagine what a group of ex-professional developers could do if they could be bothered and weren't just a bunch of greedy lazy bastards.

No, this romantic idea that it's all the fault of big bad greedy publishers who are forcing poor little game developers to make generic games, is nonsense. The truth is that almost everyone in game development is a lazy cunt who doesn't want to lift a finger unless they're getting paid for it, and even then they want to do the minimal amount of effort possible to make the product.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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You can do another 9 to 5 job as a living and make the game you want in your free time.

It is possible you know, we've done just that here.

It doesn't have to be a commercial venture.

Game development isn't a 9 to 5 job. It's typically a lot more than that, and I'm told (and I believe) that it's rather all-consuming. There's not a lot of time and energy left for pet projects.

 

Some companies also have clauses in their employment contracts stating that anything you make while they employ you belongs to them. These clauses are utterly ridiculous, and I would reject a contract that contained one; however, given the competition for games jobs, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people signed the contract anyway out of a perception that they lack negotiating power.

 

We were just a bunch of noobs who'd never made a game before. Imagine what a group of ex-professional developers could do if they could be bothered and weren't just a bunch of greedy lazy bastards.

The Dark Mod got extremely lucky with its members. I think most of us could get a game development job without too much trouble if we wanted one. Some of us already have, and some of us doubtless will, in future.

 

It's been said before, and is worth repeating, that we're one of the most professional groups of gamedev amateurs around. The major difference between our collective output and that of a paid professional team is that they'd get it done faster, both because they'd work full time and because they'd have more practical experience. Once TDM is finished and polished, I genuinely believe that the quality will be reasonably comparable to that of a commercial game. I don't mean the 1.0 beta release planned for late this year; it won't be "completely done" by that stage. I'm talking in at least 2-3 years time, making a development time of around 6-7 years. Point is, this is longer than it would have taken a paid professional team to do, but the result will be in the ballpark of what they would have achieved.

 

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that you couldn't expect any better results than TDM from this hypothetical group of ex-pro devs.

 

No, this romantic idea that it's all the fault of big bad greedy publishers who are forcing poor little game developers to make generic games, is nonsense.

Oh, I agree, that's not the case at all. It's not the publishers that are "at fault" (for the most part), it's the underlying economic realities, as I've been saying.

 

The truth is that almost everyone in game development is a lazy cunt who doesn't want to lift a finger unless they're getting paid for it, and even then they want to do the minimal amount of effort possible to make the product.

I don't believe this is true at all. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to make a game that's halfway decent by anyone's standard. Games that aren't halfway decent by any standards don't sell, and games that don't sell = developers that go under.

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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Game development isn't a 9 to 5 job. It's typically a lot more than that, and I'm told (and I believe) that it's rather all-consuming. There's not a lot of time and energy left for pet projects.

 

I mean get another job that has nothing to do with game development. Anyone who actually cares for games cannot care about the current industry, so leave it to the wolves and the sharks, get out, do something else with better hours and better pay, and make games for pleasure.

 

The Dark Mod got extremely lucky with its members. I think most of us could get a game development job without too much trouble if we wanted one. Some of us already have, and some of us doubtless will, in future.

 

It's been said before, and is worth repeating, that we're one of the most professional groups of gamedev amateurs around. The major difference between our collective output and that of a paid professional team is that they'd get it done faster, both because they'd work full time and because they'd have more practical experience. Once TDM is finished and polished, I genuinely believe that the quality will be reasonably comparable to that of a commercial game. I don't mean the 1.0 beta release planned for late this year; it won't be "completely done" by that stage. I'm talking in at least 2-3 years time, making a development time of around 6-7 years. Point is, this is longer than it would have taken a paid professional team to do, but the result will be in the ballpark of what they would have achieved.

I think having some experienced AI programmers for example would have been very useful here. Imagine someone like Tim Stellmach, who I believe coded the original AI in Thief, giving a hand here, even if only in an advisory capacity.

We're only taking longer because we have less people working on it than a professional studio making a comparable title, and we had to work a lot of concepts out, technicalities of the engine etc, which may well have been transparent to professional developers.

Point is, if there were more people with the attitude of this team, that is of making a game we wanted to make, and not being interested in money or popularity, we could have had a larger team with more experience, and got the job done a lot faster.

That's my point, there aren't enough people like this team around, happy and willing to devote time for nothing.

 

 

I don't believe this is true at all. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to make a game that's halfway decent by anyone's standard. Games that aren't halfway decent by any standards don't sell, and games that don't sell = developers that go under.

 

Halfway decent yes, competent yes, but generic cookie-cutter genre titles and sequels - they are easy to make because experienced people have made them again and again, so they can just go through the motions with the least amount of effort. It's just a production line doling out the same product. Once you do the initial work of setting up the machinery, you can just continue pumping out the same product forever with a minimum of effort.

Making something new is what requires hard work, hard thought, and dedication.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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These clauses are utterly ridiculous, and I would reject a contract that contained one

Maybe it's mostly a litigious US thing, but it's been that way at every place I've ever worked, standard.

 

No one pays it any regard, of course; a friend of mine who runs his side business on his website would have to say the source (at least) belongs to them. Not going to happen, and I truly believe no court would uphold it. It's like them basically saying, "by working for us, you grant us ownership of your kidneys." Bullshit. Any good judge would just throw it out, regardless of contract.

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I mean get another job that has nothing to do with game development

Ah, OK. The bit about contracts still applies though.

 

Anyone who actually cares for games cannot care about the current industry

Mmm. Debatable, but I'll let you have that one since it's not particularly relevant and I really don't care.

 

I think having some experienced AI programmers for example would have been very useful here. Imagine someone like Tim Stellmach, who I believe coded the original AI in Thief, giving a hand here, even if only in an advisory capacity.

True.

 

That's my point, there aren't enough people like this team around, happy and willing to devote time for nothing.

I think it's fair enough if someone doesn't want to be so altruistic that they run themselves into the ground, so I can't really blame them. :)

 

Halfway decent yes, competent yes, but generic cookie-cutter genre titles and sequels - they are easy to make because experienced people have made them again and again, so they can just go through the motions with the least amount of effort. It's just a production line doling out the same product. Once you do the initial work of setting up the machinery, you can just continue pumping out the same product forever with a minimum of effort.

Making something new is what requires hard work, hard thought, and dedication.

When I said "half-decent by anyone's standards", I was meaning "generic cookie-cutter" titles as well. Game development is hard, production line mentality or no. It's a highly skilled and technically complex field, even when the result is Gory Splatterfest 11: The Return of the Revenge of the Bride of Count Blood's Third Cousin, Now With Bigger Guns.

 

Maybe it's mostly a litigious US thing, but it's been that way at every place I've ever worked, standard.

I don't know how common it is here. My current workplace doesn't, but I have heard of it happening in other jobs.

 

Regardless, any contract is negotiable, and I have enough faith in my abilities, and a strong enough desire to own my own work, that I'd kick up a fuss if necessary to get the clause removed.

 

Any good judge would just throw it out, regardless of contract.

One would hope so. Still, I prefer not to rely on suppositions about what a judge would or would not do. I wouldn't want it to get to that stage anyway.

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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On that topic: not that it relates, it's just a thing I remember (fondly; I wanted to go into law a long time ago) from a decade or more ago, on one of those People's Court types of shows. The plaintiff was suing to get their money back for broken merchandise. The defendant's defense was "It is store policy, AND there are signs everywhere, including on the register and receipts: NO RETURNS, EVER. If the customer doesn't like it, they are free to shop elsewhere. Buyer beware."

 

The judge basically said the dignified equivalent of "just because you set some bullshit rule doesn't mean I will enforce it," and he threw it out. Sure made this viewer smile. :)

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Oh, I think it's true. I know I've learnt a lot from releasing my own game. More than I originally thought I would.

My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.
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Maybe it's mostly a litigious US thing, but it's been that way at every place I've ever worked, standard.

 

We get them in the UK as well, but the law here only allows the company to take ownership of work you do that is actually related to your job in some way. If you worked for a games company and released your own game this might be tricky, but if you work for a web development company and write your own game, they don't have any claim to it.

 

Regardless, any contract is negotiable, and I have enough faith in my abilities, and a strong enough desire to own my own work, that I'd kick up a fuss if necessary to get the clause removed.

One would hope so. Still, I prefer not to rely on suppositions about what a judge would or would not do. I wouldn't want it to get to that stage anyway.

 

Indeed, I too will modify and negotiate (and ultimately reject) a contract I am not happy with, and have done so twice so far: once for an IP agreement which I "clarified" to make absolutely sure it only applied to work-related IP, and again for a contract of employment where I refused to accept what could effectively be read as a "mandatory overtime" clause (even though they said they would never do this, there is always the possibility of a change of management).

 

I have heard it said that you should not hesitate to sign a ridiculous contract because a judge will not enforce it, but I am not happy with this because you are relying on what a judge might do and there are plenty of judges that will enforce bullshit.

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People get into game development as players of games who think it would be the sexiest job in the world, but the reality is very different. It's just a job. Long hours and bad to average wages, and most of the content they're working on ends up in crap game titles that will be forgotten a few months after they're finished.

Most of the staff have no say in what gets made, and the few at the top are under the thumb of publishers and don't make any real decisions either.

...and you base this on all your experience working in a full time game development job. :laugh:

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