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Jeff Vogel on How to be Smart & Cool & Awesome
Editorial - posted by Jason on Thu 22 April 2010, 06:24:39Tags: Jeff Vogel; Spiderweb Software
Responding to the Mother of All RPG of the Decade Articles, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel explains how the game industry can be saved from certain doom if studios would embrace his frugal, engine/asset recycling ways.
But it's gotten to the point where a company is expected to be ashamed for using the same engine for more than one title and a few DLC packs. The Gold Box games and the Infinity Engine are rare exceptions.
This is such an astonishing waste of resources. When I start a new game, I spend 3-4 months rewriting the worst or most dated part of my engine, and then I take that old (but solid) engine and make the coolest story I can with it. It's a small company. Our resources are desperately limited. Thus, I don't spend time remaking things that already work. If my wolf icon looks good, why make a new wolf icon just for the sake of making a new one? Instead, I focus on the story, the one thing that truly needs to be all new and excellent.
And the big companies, who make AAA games with these amazing awesome big-budget engines? They should re-use more of them! The Dragon Age engine is very cool. Make ten games with it! And not just piddly Dragon Age DLC either. Make games that are cyberpunk, horror, science fiction, fantasy in a new setting. The budgets will be much lower, and that makes it easier to take risks. And use the same dragon model. It looks really sweet. And, once the engine is a drained husk (in, say, five years), then spend a lot of money making a new one.
I'm not too proud to admit experiencing semi-arousal at the thought of a string of "cyberpunk, horror, science fiction, fantasy" games on the Silent Storm engine, only to have it wither away when the reality of Jagged Alliance 3 intruded. Erectile dysfunction aside, while I agree that re-using engines is generally better for studios and gamers (particularly fans of niche genres), it's a bit hard to swallow that AAA publishers would see it as a chance to take more risks instead of pumping out more Sims expansion packs.