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Location: Oslo, Norway

I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The AAA title horror

The only reason indie game developers are freaked out by MS and EA's talk of the vast production teams future AAA titles will require in production is only due to the fact that MS and EA are making said claims. That "indie" developers are horrified by this, to me, means one of two things:

1. They want to create AAA titles

2. They don't want AAA titles to be made as to make their indie titles look worse off

What strikes me as odd is that we had essentially the same kind of situation back in the dizzle, where shareware games distributed by apogee were up against the then-AAA titles Origin were putting out. You still had the same crowds going either way.

Reality check; Indie studios cannot make AAA titles, much like a guy with a DV cam and a couple of thousand bucks can't make a AAA effects laden hollywood action flick, or 5 people in a basement with regular day jobs can build a Lamborghini and expect to make money off it. This is a fact of life that is incredibly simple to accept. Great things require great effort, both economically and in manpower.

What IS worth fearing is distributors elbowing out the indie distributors. In the end the problem has little to do with who makes the game and more to do with who sells it. What we can hope for is that the bubble will burst (and it will), and we will see a recession in the budgets rammed into these productions. My favorite example of this problem is Burnout 3, a game that is so laden with "cool-by-EA-standards" that it actually breaks the game if you leave the audio fully enabled. It has menu systems that look good but slow interaction. The gameplay absolutely rules, it is out of this world, but the "features" it could've done without. I'm quite sure they could've lopped a nice and fat piece of the budget off had they been more moderate. EA would have made more money off it with less put into production. Something to consider.

Eventually i can envision film distros such as Lions gate find parralels in game distribution. Lions gate films has a knack for distributing independent, low budget films in a grand way, as Majesco has recently become known for. The indie scene will never die just because the big players are having circle jerks with their economics departments.

Developers, game designers, artists; stop being so damn afraid of the bullies and just make games that are better than theirs. In the end gameplay truly does win out, as much as MS and EA hate to admit it.

Quality games are for keeps. Filler and franchise games are for resale at EBGames. Its a shame for EA that 90% of their releases are both filler AND franchise games. A licensed track by Blink 182 isnt going to make up for garbage.

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