Industry News / Upcoming Games

Antimatter

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Across the board, big game companies are discussing rising development costs (Microsoft, Square Enix, and Sega all in the past week) and signaling they will release fewer but bigger games.

Embracer, Take Two and other publishers shared the same sentiment earlier.

Larian's head of Marketing says it's wrong.

 

JustKneller

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Across the board, big game companies are discussing rising development costs (Microsoft, Square Enix, and Sega all in the past week) and signaling they will release fewer but bigger games.

That's great news. After my experiences with Fallout, I'm really looking forward to all of my other favorite franchises getting watered down to pander to the lowest common denominator. Over the years, I've grown tired of games that really speak to me and have been more oriented towards generic games that generic people, by the most generic definition of the term, might possibly like, or at least acknowledge are, in fact, games. And, if they have in-game ads, that's a double win because I'm totally incapable of finding new consumer products without rampant solicitation.

Totally unrelated, but @Antimatter you should look into some kind of sarcasm tags for text formatting. Or should that go into site updates? ;)
 

Chronicler

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Across the board, big game companies are discussing rising development costs (Microsoft, Square Enix, and Sega all in the past week) and signaling they will release fewer but bigger games.

Embracer, Take Two and other publishers shared the same sentiment earlier.

Larian's head of Marketing says it's wrong.



Nintendo said the same thing recently. Same thing as the first group I mean, not the same thing as Larian.

Said that as games get development gets longer, more complex, more sophisitcated, Nintendo is going to have to start leaning into mergers and acquisitions a lot more heavily to keep up with it.

They don't cite any particular force that's forcing them to keep getting longer, more complex, more sophisitcated. They just talk like it's some natural law that obviously this has to happen.
 

Antimatter

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What a mess.


Totally unrelated, but @Antimatter you should look into some kind of sarcasm tags for text formatting. Or should that go into site updates? ;)
Well, you can still use /s if you prefer that. Not sure what you mean by special text formatting? Any ideas?


Nintendo said the same thing recently. Same thing as the first group I mean, not the same thing as Larian.

Said that as games get development gets longer, more complex, more sophisitcated, Nintendo is going to have to start leaning into mergers and acquisitions a lot more heavily to keep up with it.

They don't cite any particular force that's forcing them to keep getting longer, more complex, more sophisitcated. They just talk like it's some natural law that obviously this has to happen.
At least, Nintendo seems to care about their employees and regularly shows that (by increasing salaries etc).
 

JustKneller

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What a mess.

So, I have this friend. We frequently discuss if we're heading towards (or already living in) an Orwellian dystopia (the truth is hidden by propaganda) or Huxleyian dystopia (the truth is hidden behind an abundance of low-brow trash). We don't argue, we don't debate, as there is compelling evidence on both sides. We just pretty much say, "hey, here's a thing," chat a bit about it and semi-morosely have a beer.
 

Chronicler

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I would argue a dystopia is an inherently fictional concept. We will never live in a utopia or a dystopia.

We live in a society with a lot of problems, but that could be said of every society that's ever existed. It's better in some ways than what came before it and worse in others.

A dystopia is basically created from the ground up to illustrate some particular social ill, but by nature anything real will always be a bit more multifaceted than that. In the same way that that spacefaring sci-fi tends to propose a lot of one note planets. "This is the planet where everybody speaks exclusively in haikus, and everything about the planet is built off that premise". But our real planet can't really be summed up in one sentence like that.

By that same note, both Orwell and Huxley did a good job of illustrating problems in their current society, and many of them are problems that we're still facing today, but that's not all we are.
 

Chronicler

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Maybe that's a bit of a spoilsport answer, but I think sometimes when we treat these stories as projections of the future, rather than examinations of issues the author could see around them even as they were writing, it can contribute to a feeling of helplessness. Like we're a fantasy hero whose entire journey has been prophesied before it even starts.

I can't claim I'm always super sure about what can be done about all of this, but I know previous societies felt just as helpless against the problems they faced. The divine right of kings was inescapable until it wasn't. Hopefully at some point we too can veer this ship onto a better course.
 

m7600

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Maybe that's a bit of a spoilsport answer, but I think sometimes when we treat these stories as projections of the future, rather than examinations of issues the author could see around them even as they were writing, it can contribute to a feeling of helplessness. Like we're a fantasy hero whose entire journey has been prophesied before it even starts.

I can't claim I'm always super sure about what can be done about all of this, but I know previous societies felt just as helpless against the problems they faced. The divine right of kings was inescapable until it wasn't. Hopefully at some point we too can veer this ship onto a better course.
No. We're living in a dystopia, and that's that. Always have been, and always will be. End of discussion.




(just joking)
 

Antimatter

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I figured, why not post something positive in this thread. This can also be considered industry news, heh. Josh Sawyer did an interview where he reflected on design for all games under his supervision, from Icewind Dale, to Fallout: New Vegas, to Pillars of Eternity, to Pentiment. A good read, recommended!

 

JustKneller

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That's a good interview. I have a lot of respect for Josh Sawyer. He's done some really good, stand-up work. As is, I can't even play New Vegas anymore without the mod he created for it, it's just that good. I tried to find it on YT and couldn't, but he did this really great interview/presentation some time ago. It was all about all the philosophy of design he brought to Pillars of Eternity and why the game system was designed as it was. I really enjoyed it. If I could pick the brain of one designer, one on one, and get all my questions answered, it would be him.
 

Antimatter

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Founded in London in 2004, Rocksteady had grown into an industry darling thanks to Batman: Arkham, a series of games that was revered by critics and sold millions of copies. Following Rocksteady’s third and final installment, which came out in 2015, the studio’s co-founders Jamie Walker and Sefton Hill, eager to do something different, started working on a prototype of an original multiplayer puzzle-solving game, codenamed Stones.

Around the end of 2016, Walker and Hill told their staff there’d been a change of plans. Stones was out. Suicide Squad was in. According to people who attended the meetings, Hill explained that he saw it as a better opportunity than making something new from scratch and that the company hoped to release the game in 2019 or 2020. (Walker and Hill declined requests to be interviewed for this story.)

At the time, the broader industry was growing increasingly fixated on “games as a service” — such as Destiny and League of Legends — which generate sales long after their initial release, continuously reengaging players with endless updates and raking in fresh profits year after year. Armed with a battery of presentations, Warner Bros. executives traveled to London and made the case that the growing category was the industry’s future.

It was a field in which Rocksteady had no prior experience. The Batman: Arkham games were all single-player. Even so, Rocksteady executives soon decided that, in keeping with their parent company’s newfound enthusiasm, Suicide Squad would become an online multiplayer game with live-service content.

As it set out to master a new set of skills, Rocksteady expanded. Over the next seven years, it would swell from roughly 160 to more than 250 people — a size that grew unwieldy for managers yet still remained far smaller than the enormous teams behind similar games, such as Destiny.

During the early days, the studio kept its work on Suicide Squad a secret, even from potential hires. Several people who came on board during this era said they were surprised when they first arrived at the offices to learn that they would be working on a multiplayer game, not at all what Rocksteady was known for. Many would depart as a result.

Over time, the leaders’ vision kept morphing, most notably switching from an emphasis on melee combat to heavily focusing on guns. The change left some staff members wondering why protagonists such as Captain Boomerang, known for fighting with his namesake weapon, would suddenly pivot to gunplay.

In August 2020, after three years and multiple delays, Rocksteady finally revealed its plans, telling fans Suicide Squad would be released in 2022. But additional frustrations kept piling up. The project’s massive world and four playable heroes were a significant increase in complexity from the Arkham games. Engineers, under the impression they were rushing toward an immutable deadline, prioritized short-term fixes that later proved to be hindrances as the release date kept getting pushed back.

Staff members sometimes waited weeks or months for Hill, the studio’s perfectionist co-founder and director of the game, to review their work, said the people familiar, creating a bottleneck that further slowed development. He scrapped big chunks of the script and struggled to convey his evolving ideas, they said, confessing that he hadn’t spent much time with competing games such as Destiny. The constant delays hurt morale and led staff to fret that they were discarding too much and failing to make real progress.

At one point, Hill pitched an elaborate system of vehicles that would allow players to deck out cars with weapons and navigate through the game’s alien-infested streets. But each of the four playable characters were already outfitted with modes of traveling, leading to more doubts among staffers. Why, they wondered, would players using Deadshot or King Shark bother with a motorcycle when they could just soar through the air? After months of experimentation and prototyping, the vehicle system was scrapped.

One of the biggest issues, said people familiar, was that the battles, levels and bosses in a live-service game needed to be designed so players could tackle them over and over again, while Rocksteady was accustomed to telling stories that were only experienced once. Hampered by bloated code, the team struggled to find ways to make these activities feel less tedious and repetitive.

Multiple people who worked on the project say their growing concerns were often met with promises from management that Suicide Squad would eventually coalesce at the last minute, just as the Arkham games had. Several employees adopted the term “toxic positivity” to describe the culture of the company, which discouraged criticism. Leadership didn’t seem worried, they say, even as other traditionally single-player game studios that chased the live-service trend were delivering abysmal results with games such as Anthem (which earned a lowly score of 59 out of 100 on Metacritic), Marvel’s Avengers (67 out of 100) and Redfall (56 out of 100).


From the new Jason Schreier's report on Suicide Squade, one of the biggest video-game flops (a $200 million loss).


I'd say it's a good explanation of what went wrong and why, and probably it's very similar to other live-service games' development stories.
 

Chronicler

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Some super dark horses from the new Nintendo Direct today.



Mario and Luigi: Brothership is the first Mario and Luigi RPG since 2015 I'm pretty sure. The studio that used to make those games went under so everybody thought they were gone forever. Mario remade Super Mario RPG for the Switch a while back, and then more recently released Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, which is another classic RPG of the mario franchise, and now there's this new game. Nintendo must've taken note from the remake sales numbers that the mario franchise RPG's still have a pretty thriving fanbase.



Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom is the first birds eye Zelda game since A Link Between Worlds in 2013. Nintendo has radically changed their design philosophy for the Zelda Franchise in the time since then so I don't think any reasonable predictions can be made for what this game will be like beyond what's in the trailer.



Nintendo just doesn't plumb do much with the Metroid franchise. I'm pretty sure the last Metroid Prime was on the gamecube. It's ostensibly one of their bigger franchises, and fans have remarked on how little Nintendo does with them. From what I understand there's some executive high up the ladder that just isn't a big fan of Metroid. Also, most Nintendo games are made in Japan, but the Metroid Prime games are outsourced to some studio in Canada. So I guess they're just pretty low on the totem pole when Nintendo is doing their budget and deciding which projects to greenlight, since they're not really a part of the crew in the same way.

So, fans have been waiting for that one for a long time.
 

Antimatter

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Tim Cain revealed the details of Fallout 3: Van Buren cancellation as part of his ongoing YouTube series focused on video game development.

"In the middle of 2003, an unnamed Interplay vice president asked him to play the Van Buren prototype, saying: “I don’t think they can get it done, so I’m just going to cancel it. But if you look over it and give me an estimate there’s a chance I wouldn’t cancel it.”

Cain said he played the prototype for two hours and asked the development team a number of questions before delivering his verdict to the vice president.

“I said, ‘I’m convinced in 18 months you could have a really good game shipped.’ And he said, ‘huh, could it be done any faster?’ And I was like, 'oh, shoot, I’ve said too long.' I said, ‘well, even if you did a death march crunch I don’t think you could do it faster than 12, and then you’d be shipping something that was unbalanced and buggy, and the team would be destroyed. So I don’t recommend that.’

“And he said, ‘ok, thanks.’ As we walked out he basically explained any answer over six months was going to result in him having to cancel it, meaning the answer I just gave got the game canceled. But he was going to cancel it anyway. He thought it couldn’t be done in six months, and I just confirmed that to him.”

According to Cain, the cancelation of Van Buren was, ultimately, about money; Interplay’s dire financial situation meant it simply did not have enough cash to fund more than six months of further development. But fans have always questioned Interplay and then majority owner Titus Interactive management, and the controversial decision to shift focus away from PC games to console games.

Interplay went on to close down Black Isle Studios and cut its entire staff. The company released console spin-off Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel in 2004 for the Xbox and PlayStation 2, but it was not enough. That same year, Interplay announced a licensing deal with The Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda for future Fallout games, and in 2007, Interplay sold the Fallout IP to Bethesda outright."

 
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