[ Shihiko° × Game。]

About Games. by Shihiko°

February 7th, 2011

Not sure if this would work or how such a system would start up… but imagine if the game industry was made up of a community where the companies that make games post up their concepts to the consumers and have people bid on the ideas. Some times as a consumer I feel that it is hard to make a difference or see potentially good ideas for games go to waste because the newest first person shooting clone game came out the other day because they are low risk and sell well to the market.

So the idea is that we have a system where ideas for games are posted in simple concepts and detailed game design documents for consumers to read, and they then put money into the production of the game… Example: Level 5 posts up that they will be making a new type of RPG game and will be looking to get Ghibli to create the art and design for the game world and characters. Consumers then look at it and can consider putting money into the idea because many people enjoyed the quality of their previous collaboration… This then gives the company an idea of how many people want this game to be made and also gives them an extra amount of funds to help start the project. It can be quite flexible with small bids of a dollar and larger bids of even a hundred dollars or more…

What is even possible is that companies can out bid a game that they want part in creating. This may seem a little strange when you think about it… but it can also be a good thing. There are many cases where a great idea ends up in the wrong hands and results in a poor quality game that tarnishes a franchise. Example: Sonic… yeah poor hedgehog gets reborn as everything these days but recently there have been some exceptional fan base remakes or concept works that seem more fitting to the franchise than what the big companies are pushing out. In this case, these fan made projects can also receive bids and support from consumers to have these ideas pushed to completion. Though this case maybe a little tricky as there are intellectual property and licensing issues that maybe involved, then again with the money and interest generated… a company such as Sega might see that if they were to license the game created by these fans it would actually be doing their franchise good and they don’t really have to do squat? Hence they could bid/donate support by granting the license for free…

Episodic game development becomes possible with this system… features to games can be bid on to help improve future iterations or versions of the game. Some game ideas sound great and all, but they might not work out when they are completed, rather than release a game and risking it all for a experimental concept the games can be developed in sections with consumers bidding on the next features before the wrong decisions are made. Developers can then take these risks without it being a huge blow on their budget as it is the consumers who are bidding are putting cash on the line for experimental features that could break the game. I think recently I read about a game which might be doing this business model… another plus to this model is that the developers receive instant feedback before the game is completed, so any experimental routes can be salvaged in the worst scenarios. This system potentially works well for making MMO games, as they require a lot of resources to develop now days especially with Blizzard still holding that genre at their disposal.

Now wait a second, you might wonder what the bidders get from the game or company for bidding on the game proposals…? Well the system is also similar to looking for investors. These people who contributed whether it is a little or more will be rewarded by the developers with either a free copy of the game, beta testing opportunities or extra content for when they purchase the final release. So those who only contributed a little still receive something, while those who contributed more may receive a collectors edition of the final product.

Let’s try to put this concept to work…

  1. A game proposal is posted up for consumers to read, discuss and bid. The proposal asks for 20,000 dollars to begin prototype development.
  2. Everyone can see the title of the game, genre and basic information of the idea. Non-Disclosure Agreements are placed on detailed game design documents.
  3. Consumers who approve of the idea and would like to see it become reality can bid and invest on the game proposals.
  4. The initial development budget is acquired and the game goes into development. If the original developers back out, the money returns to the consumers and the project stops here.
  5. Prototype is completed, the consumers or investors are invited to review the concept and play the prototype…
  6. A video is made of the prototype to drive more interest and the game goes into the bidding cycle again
  7. With enough interest and investors the development reaches the end of the project… The game is published and released to the market.

Ideally this is what would happen if the game was successful, but there will be cases where the game doesn’t get past the prototype stage and the investors will feel like their time was wasted. I guess there is ways around this problem, but then again if the developers were to have some penalty for experimenting or taking a risk with an idea that people actually bid and voted for then there would be less interesting proposals and more first person shooting clones and we will be back to square one.

September 16th, 2010

So the Tokyo Game Show 2010 started today… I haven’t been following the news and press release closely, but I do see a few things I look forward to trying this weekend. Ni no Kuni, Patapon 3, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, GranTurismo 5, Little Big Planet 2, PlayStation Move and also up coming 3D games. I don’t think they will be awesome but might be a good experience and enlightening to what 3D may or may not be capable of.

Minna no Golf 5 had a short 3D display… I wonder if that means they are planning to patch the current game?

Anyway doesn’t seem like an awesome line-up of things to come but it is interesting none the less. :D

August 14th, 2010

Looks like all the predictions and talk in the past is finally coming to fruit. Sony are really going forward with the PlayStation Phone. This can work out really well for Sony if they play it right … Rumour has it that the design is quite impressive and is a sliding touch screen with the PlayStation buttons featured like the PSP Go. Since there isn’t much to go by other than that, let’s see what points could make or break this phone for the hardcore gamer.

Games

No doubt this is the most important part of the phone and it is the selling point that will be pushing this device out to the consumers. It will be important that games created for the device are well supported and fully functional console quality games… No gimmicky games that people release on the other phones just to make a few bucks and bloat the online store or system. Keeping the system catering to more polished games will give it a more exclusive and upper class feel so that games purchased are well worth the money and there won’t be a top ten lists populated with dollar deal games and more quality games.

Hardware

Looking around at what other devices are out there that this would be competing with, this smart phone-portable console hybrid will need to ramp it up a little in order to catch the market that it needs to succeed. Firstly the hardware must support the current collection of PSP/PSone games, this isn’t an option it must be done… However this is not good enough, the device apart from featuring the ability to play PSP/PSone games also needs a refresh or update. The PSP Go failed because of this, people don’t want to pay more for a device that actually does less while despite having a nicer design and some software features. If they say they have learnt their lesson from the PSP Go, then I expect to see a brand new series of hardware that can possibly be a new type of PSP. Clue: Dual Analogue Sticks, L2 + R2 buttons, Camera, Capacitive Touch Screen, Accelerometer, Compass, GPS, Gyroscope, High Resolution Screen… pretty much anything and everything that it needs to stay on par with a high end smart phone. It would also need an awesome battery life… another thing PSP Go failed at despite the new chips and removal of the UMD drive, they decided they will reduce the size of the battery so that you end up with the same battery life as a standard PSP Slim. There is clearly more that can be said about the hardware, but I think if they wish to keep the phone competitive, they will have to have base hardware requirements for the series and refresh and update the hardware over time. However only changing the appearance, design, memory and storage so that games are designed for all systems throughout the system’s life cycle.

Software

Now this is where Sony usually struggles and dies trying. Rumours have it that the phone will be using Android 3.0, most likely skinned and modified to work how Sony wants it… similar to the Xperia X10. I’ve used an Xperia before, and well it ain’t no iPhone, even the new Samsung smart phones are nicer to use with Android 2.0. Sony needs to get the software for this right or it will crash and burn. No one wants to use a device that lags and struggles to respond no matter how beautiful it may look. A new and improved XMB would work, especially with a multi-touch screen should provide a good combination between using the directional pad and selecting icons on screen quickly. A quick example would be using the XMB menu then selecting the Photos menu on the PlayStation 3 then seeing it tile on screen which allows you to scroll with the directional pad or touch each tile for viewing. Being an Android phone, apart from supporting Android games it should also have it’s own propriety format so the games stay exclusive and will only work on the PSPhone. I’m sure this part is already thought of and clearly separates the system’s abilities from a normal Android phone… if not well then this will clearly be another lost cause.

PlayStation Network

Really, who is the market that will be buying this device? PlayStation owners and hardcore gamers. A fully functional and always connected PlayStation Network client on the phone would mean a lot to these people. If Sony wants the device to keep these people gaming, the community must be there and even though mobile devices isn’t the best idea for staying connected as connection dropping is or can be expected, it should not mean this shouldn’t be included. Most people are in the hardcore category with their portable consoles usually spend the majority of their time playing their games at the comfort of their own homes and usually have a stable internet connection there anyway. Just provide a warning that they may lose connection if the player chooses to play their games over the mobile network. The PSP had the PlayStation Network added later in it’s life cycle which meant it was slightly limited, however not being able to communicate with your friend’s list while on the PSP version of the PlayStation Network kind of defeated the purpose of signing in. So a fully functional PSN could turn it into a must have device for the daily PlayStation gamer.

Marketing

Lastly, probably another place where Sony tends to over look or do weirdly is the marketing of their devices. All I can say is, keep it simple and make sure you cover the market targeted and also the related markets such as multimedia audience and the casual gamer smart phone market. Show what it does… I think the recent advertising teams are doing better, but really that’s comparing it to what was already considered bad advertising. They will need to push this one hard if they want it to expand beyond just the gamer that doesn’t like having to carry a phone and their portable console.

Summary

I’m all for this idea, and it seems the general online feedback for it is quite positive as well… the downside is Sony has done this sort of thing in the past and failed to live up to the hype and advertising of some of their products which is why they don’t pick up as well as some of the other products and devices out on the market. Hopefully they will get this right and actually innovate again instead of only improving technology and hoping people will buy it on the specifications alone.

July 25th, 2010

Answer: Yes.

Well technically yes, everyone has their way of solving a problem. Unless you are solving a logical problem, there probably is no correct way to how you deal with or solve it. Since this isn’t a psychology site there won’t be any dwelling on that matter.

So what is problem solving skills for when part of a game development project? In most cases it is the game designer/planner, programmer and graphical or non-graphical user interface designer that needs the skill in general.

Just a quick outline of what each job probably deals with on a regular basis…

  • Game designers/planners have to identify flaws in their design before production and find the solution before it becomes a game breaker later.
  • The programmers probably face a lot of problems with balancing visuals and functionality and solve it while bringing a game to surface from the designs.
  • Graphical or non-graphical user interface designers would need to find the solution to making an easy to use interface that is capable of handling the needs of the game.

So how to establish or practice problem solving skills? Programmers have it a little easier here, as they actually practice their logical thinking and problem solving with the more programming they experience.

Exercises for game design can be a bit of work if doing it with designs/works from scratch. An alternative would be to play games often and try to break them, find flaws, bugs and problems and think of solutions that would prevent these problems occurring in future designs.

Do you hate it when you interact with a game or software and find some things are not where they should be? Looking for the close button in the top corner but it isn’t there? User interface problem solving is probably easier to solve than the others, various ways of doing it include applying your own experiences with the controls you are using to interact, then tweaking and testing until you feel others will use it the way you intended, but the ultimate problem to solve is when you hand it to someone to try…

These are all just an idea, they aren’t always how you should find your solutions as a solution can be found differently… An example is the other day I thought of an idea to program but instead of trying with my solution I had offered my friend the exercise to see if he was up for it. I had my own solution and ideas planned for it but as my friend also had his own ways of solving the problem, I didn’t fully explain my methods to him. The result of course was a different solution to the same problem. Granted I probably still feel my solution is much simpler, but there is nothing wrong with his solution either as it does the job required.

Though everyone may solve problems differently there is another skill that probably is required… Identifying Problems. That is of course because identifying problems is the first step to finding a solution and finding the solution will lead you to the Answer.

July 17th, 2010

So I was asked to write about refining ideas… Where should I start? Well with most ideas they sometimes appear from no where, other ideas can come from inspiration or influences. Ideas are always great when they are still fresh and in your head, but they can also not work out so great when you put them down on paper.

Well yesterday I did exactly that… occasionally when an idea that feels and sounds good comes along, you want to put it down on paper… It starts simple but as you start laying out the details and specifics the idea can sometimes look less attractive than you originally thought.

However this is all part of the process to refining an idea. Having the idea down on paper now becomes a design proposal and allows you to see the potential errors in the idea. At this point you should be refining your design if you wish to continue with the idea.

Since this is a game related site, I guess specifically tackling the refine process for the purpose of game play is the point. Currently my problem is the game has no purpose, most ideas I think about always takes down the route of productivity or fun. If fun is dependent on the player’s ability to enjoy what is available then the result may not be that great.

Well with that idea there is still room for improvement and things can still work out given enough time and refining before prototyping. On the other hand there is always games out there that have been published and released.

Games have sequels for a reason, apart from the money making for popular franchises a sequel is a chance for the design to be reanalyzed and modified for the better… a sequel should play the same or better than the original. Anyone ever played a series to be disappointed by the next release of the game? I know I have, in most cases this happens because there was a change in the designer or director involved producing the game.

To finish up, I will say that an idea that becomes a design proposal doesn’t have to always work out, a game idea may not work now… but it may be more suitable later and with a little refining and modifications the results might be better than the original concept.