Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

  1. You can now buy a 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0 for $30 USD (includes postage), simply [donate to the campaign] here!
  2. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.

AAA games are cheaper to make than you think

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by MetalCraze, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. MetalCraze Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    MetalCraze
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Messages:
    21,104
    Location:
    Urkanistan
    Suchy Brofists this.
    ^ Top  
  2. Infinitron RPG Codex Staff Patron

    Infinitron
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011
    Messages:
    32,731
    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    Cool story bro
    ^ Top  
  3. Morgoth Arcane

    Morgoth
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    13,564
    That was actually a pretty good read, and Daniel Vavra is a true bro. I'll keep checking what his new studio is coming up in the future.

    It's a CryEngine 3 RPG right?
    ^ Top  
  4. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    14,261
    Location:
    Australia
    High quality indie productions with small teams like Natural Selection 2, Overgrowth and Hawken support this article.
    ^ Top  
  5. deuxhero Prophet

    deuxhero
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Messages:
    5,111
    Location:
    Flowery Land
    Even if AAA games got a lower budget, the money would be put to marketing instead.
    ^ Top  
  6. MaroonSkein Prestigious Gentleman Augur

    MaroonSkein
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Messages:
    347
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Russia
    Any hobo can make a AAA game. It's all about AAAA games now.
    ^ Top  
  7. Chuck Norris Learned

    Chuck Norris
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Messages:
    252
    Location:
    Texas
    It's always a good idea to summarize what long ass articles are about ( or at least quote the important parts ) when you link to them. Some of us are busy here. I can't and don't want to read 157 lines of text about how to make AAA games cheap. I like to know about it, I'm interested. I just don't want to read the whole fucking article. Thanks.
    Shannow Brofists this.
    ^ Top  
  8. deuxhero Prophet

    deuxhero
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Messages:
    5,111
    Location:
    Flowery Land
    "Cut down on redundant staff" was what I got from a skim

    And sadly, unlike women and grades, games do not get better the closer to "A*∞" they are.
    ^ Top  
  9. sea Prestigious Gentleman I support InXile

    sea
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5,684
    This is a great post but I think it does exaggerate things a little bit for dramatic effect.

    High-quality art assets take an incredibly long time to create. The main character in a game might go through five or ten stages of revision even once concept art is hammered out. Minor characters can take weeks or months of work. Animation, motion capture, cutscenes, etc. all take months, even fairly short ones, and require huge amounts of planning and coordination to pull off (because you're probably working with other studios to do a lot of it). Recording dialogue can take months, and even a random shooter has a lot - this can only be done once you've

    Now to be fair, I totally agree that modern game development is bloated - there's a hell of a lot of bureaucracy, everything must be approved and finalized and checked and double-checked by the publisher, marketing, lawyers, the producer etc. before it enters full development, and QA stuff must also be very strictly documented - you don't fix a bug without filing some sort of report about it so that others won't go ahead and repeat or break your work. It gets very excessive, sometimes to the point of absurdity.

    However, think about a game like Call of Duty, or Assassin's Creed, or whatever. Those have thousands upon thousands of detailed art assets which take years to produce and tweak to get looking right, even with a large team. To make game levels as shiny and interactive as they are, they go through multiple stages of iteration, additional detail passes, etc. Placing those hundreds of interactive objects by hand takes time, after all. What about all the complex scripting that takes place? A single 15 minute sequence in Call of Duty has more raw work effort poured into it than most RPGs have in 6+ hours of gameplay.

    It's also worth noting that this is very, very variable. Many developers have smaller teams of 50 to 80, and they still produce "AAA" games. Their employees tend to have more autonomy and not every stage of the project is explicitly micro-managed. Many developers create high-quality titles even with very small teams, and developers do all sorts of different tasks. I recently interviewed for a level design position (didn't get it :() and was told that I'd basically be working on everything from the core level design, to doing scripting and triggering of events, to writing dialogue, to contributing to other aspects of the game design. That might not be true at all at another studio depending on how it's structured. So yes, EA might have some guy working on modeling noses of Madden players for 2 years straight, but that simply can't be said of many or even most other studios.
    Ed123 Brofists this.
    ^ Top  
  10. Cowboy Moment Arcane

    Cowboy Moment
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    3,234
    I'm kind of torn on this issue. On one hand, the headcounts on development teams for AAA games are ridiculously excessive. Windows 7, which is as large a software project as one can currently imagine, had roughly a thousand people working on it. So, why the fuck does Assassin's Creed 2 need 450? What exactly is it about Epic Mickey 2 that requires the attention of nearly 200 people? There's no way this is appropriate, given the quality and breadth of the games.

    On the other hand, I think comparing game development to movie development can be deceptive. Sure, you don't need five writers and three managers for a CoD clone, but it's naive to think one person can maintain creative control over a game the same way the director can author a movie. Perhaps the problem comes from the fact that games use software development processes, which aren't meant to encourage authorship. It's like if someone tried to produce a movie the same way they design a house for an unspecified client - the result probably wouldn't be very good, because the methodology doesn't fit the medium.

    One thing I'd also like to point out, is that a huge percentage of people involved in any software development project - and this is even more true for games - will be the QA people. Polish (and I don't mean potato juice) on a complex piece of software costs A LOT of money and time. Even in the smallest of indie projects - AoD - Vince and co have spent most of the past year tweaking and polishing stuff. Incidentally, this is the one useful service publishers provide - they have extensive and experienced QA departments.

    It's also about the sheer size of game scripts - most easily seen in RPGs. 120 pages of script with typical formatting is about 30000 words. The script for PS:T clocks 800000 words. There's no way a single writer can produce and revise all that.
    ^ Top  
  11. sea Prestigious Gentleman I support InXile

    sea
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5,684
    Bingo. Any developer with some experience can churn out a game in a year, but making a game that is free from major issues, outstanding bugs and glitches, and is actually fun to play is a very different question - heck, even small things, like getting the heads of characters to move properly in a scripted sequence, or animations to transition smoothly, require tons and tons of effort that players only notice if something goes wrong. Call of Duty without the polish and tweaking plays like... well, like Fallout 3's shooting.

    Design and engineering only goes so far on paper and most of development time comes down to making everything flawless, not just building levels and dropping a few AI characters in there. There's a reason why modern games play so smoothly, have such good UIs and controls, cameras that don't get stuck on walls etc. - it's because they've been tweaked to oblivion just as long as the game was in development. It's making a game where you *don't* really notice any major problems that takes so much time and effort, not just making the game in the first place.
    Cowboy Moment Brofists this.
    ^ Top  
  12. SCO Arcane

    SCO
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2009
    Messages:
    14,662
    That's true of all software. Maybe slightly worse in games since they are meant to simulate worlds and hide stuff from you for a while.
    ^ Top  
  13. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    10,464
    His dismissive comments about game writing are concerning considering the open world with stats-thing they're making. Why settle for Bethesda-level writing in a prettier looking world?

    Also I wouldn't be surprised if those Harry Potter movies had script doctors, they're never actually credited.
    ^ Top  
  14. MetalCraze Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    MetalCraze
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Messages:
    21,104
    Location:
    Urkanistan
    Actually here's a related short quote from the recent Brian Reynolds interview

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-03-23-game-industry-legends-brian-reynolds

    Really they have too many fucking asshats getting money for doing nothing so that Bobby Kotick can come out and say we spent 60 mln bucks bros.
    And of course when you have former Pepsi-Cola manager as a head of EA expenditures will be 10 times bigger than they really should be to achieve the same.


    Console assets are forever stuck in 2004/2005. Graphics doesn't change but games became shorter. At the same time teams grew.

    They produce 2 times less assets of the same quality than 7 years ago but have two times bigger teams than 7 years ago.

    Also doesn't seem to bother Bohemia or Larian which are p. small. CDP too.
    ^ Top  
  15. sea Prestigious Gentleman I support InXile

    sea
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Messages:
    5,684
    I dunno. Call of Duty (for example) has hundreds of unique character models and pieces, hundreds of gun models (first person and third person, mods on weapons, etc.), tens of thousands of models for environment art, etc. Every gun, piece of clothing, hairstyle = new high-detail model and texture that takes longer to create than it used to, because you can't get away with sticking a few boxes together anymore. Same goes for say, destructible environments, dismemberment, and so on. Modern console assets may not be much higher quality in terms of texture resolution and polygon count, but asset streaming systems mean they have far more variety than they used to, which requires far more base artwork - can't get away with tiling 2 textures over and over anymore.
    ^ Top  
  16. Damned Registrations Prestigious Gentleman Furry Weeaboo Nazi Nihilist

    Damned Registrations
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    7,349
    I'm inclined to agree with the article. Aside from the facepalmingly obvious lack of need for dozens of writers to write 300 pages of script over 3 years of development, things like making assets are also easier in a lot of ways. You can't tell me the difficulty of making textures scales linearly with their complexity or size- we have insanely good tools these days, photoshop version umpteen billion and various 3D tools, scanners, google, various online resources (not to mention resources of already owned assets used on previous games). Some bloat is reasonable, but nowhere close to the extent that has occurred. I still recall playing Goldeneye on the N64 and picking one thing out of the credits that struck me as totally fucking insane- elevator music. Someone on the team specifically did the fucking ELEVATOR MUSIC. Yeah, that creative endeavour must have warranted thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. I'd imagine if the game was made today they'd have different people doing music for each individual elevator.
    ^ Top  
  17. Dim Not sure if advertising plant?

    Dim
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    Syndi Vegit notanatzi
    This is 2/3rds of the article . I agree. More proof is what people make for free;
    or for oblivion or just look at moddb.
    ^ Top  
  18. sgc_meltdown Arcane

    sgc_meltdown
    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Messages:
    6,000
    District 9 - 30 Million
    Transformers 2 - 200 Million

    Witcher 2 - 8-14 Million
    Skyrim - 100 Million (estimated)
    Kingdoms of Amalur + Copernicus MMO - 50-100 Million

    Apparently polishing everything to a high degree of shine and no rough edges anywhere costs tens of millions of dollars.

    yes but raw work here means production assets and making sure the interactive cutscene train isn't derailed while the player follows the onscreen instructions with his thumbsticks, i.e. out of the player's hands one track bullshit like the truman show of games

    you might as well say that michael bay films have more raw work effort poured into it than most dialog driven psychological crime dramas have in an entire season

    A 100-hooker papal orgy cum buffet with slaughtered endangered animals probably costs a lot more than an excellent dinner+standup comedy tickets+professional escort, but is the expense justifying itself just as much on the former because 'services and goods were rendered' on both ends, so to speak?

    Likewise, I really do think nextgen game budgets are more for general perception of luxury than focused goal-related utility or need.

    [​IMG]
    tweaked to oblivion you say
    yeah for this example tell me how much of this tweaking went to the famously broken ps3 port or pc ui and hilarious memetastic bugs

    and what about the famous Crysis 2 barricade with a zillion tesselated polygons

    come on bro I don't think good polish or recognising that a camera needs work is a reason that studios spend as much money these days as you like to think, it's all about the makework and bloated asset pool

    in closing I feel the point of the article is to
    1) point out the diminishing returns associated with AAA budgets
    2) how good knowledge of what needs to be done to make a complete game without the chaff can reduce even the requirements of something that equals the 'enjoyment' of AAA and cost far less
    ^ Top  
  19. Morgoth Arcane

    Morgoth
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    13,564
    Creating the actual assets isn't that much of a time effort, but once you apply it with physics, animations, shaders and other shit so that it behaves properly when it interacts with the rest of the game, problems arise quickly.

    Character driven games particuarly are very expensive to make (duh).

    Remember, the original BioShock was created by ~50 people (minus PC port). It sold something like 2.5 million units within a few months. Take a look at the game. Not much character variation, animations were crude and basic, no direct interaction a'la Mass Effect, no facial naimations needed, no complex interaction with the environment (except little sister/big daddy)...and whoopy, you don't need to hire another 100 animators, cutscene designers and other "experts".

    If I'd ever end up making a friggin' game, it would propably be a dungeon crawler a'la Unltima Underworld or Dark Souls. You can keep the team relatively small yet the shit has potential to sell at least a decent amount of copies.
    ^ Top  
  20. circ Arcane

    circ
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
    Messages:
    9,114
    Location:
    Great Pacific Garbage Patch
    Not really the best of comparisons as D9 is up there with shitty movies along with Transformers. Never saw Transformers 2 as I had enough of derp with 1. Also D9 had a tiny budget compared to Transformers and its massive ad campaign.
    ^ Top  
  21. Morgoth Arcane

    Morgoth
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    13,564
    I like your avatar, circ. Very chic.
    ^ Top  
  22. attackfighter Liturgist

    attackfighter
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,094
    Skyrim had tons of content to justify its development cost.
    ^ Top  
  23. Awor Szurkrarz Arcane

    Awor Szurkrarz
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2009
    Messages:
    18,894
    Codex 2012
    Take into account that the Witcher 2 used cheap labour from the labour camp of European Union.
    It's very easy to have a small budget when you have workers doing 200% of the norm for 1/4 of the money.
    ^ Top  
  24. Cowboy Moment Arcane

    Cowboy Moment
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    3,234
    Witcher 2 was also made by a team of ~40 people, so it's a good example in favor of Vavra's point. I imagine not having retard executives without any understanding of games fucking with their development process helped a bunch too.

    Btw. that 100 million for Skyrim seems too high. Is that supposed to include marketing costs?
    ^ Top  
  25. evdk comrade troglodyte :M Patron

    evdk
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2004
    Messages:
    9,350
    Location:
    Corona regni Bohemiae
    Codex 2012 Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    From the stories I have heard about crunch time at big development studios I can't quite imagine how would you do 200% of that without dying. No disputing the working for potatoes part though.
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above links helps us pay the hosting bills)