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Author Topic: What will bring RPGs back?  (Read 6502 times)
Tomara
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« Reply #60 on: November 20, 2010, 01:29:28 PM »

What will bring RPG's back? Are they gone? Looking back, I really enjoyed the games I played this past year and most of them were very recent.

Fragile Dreams made me cry, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony was like a nostalgia bomb, Atelier Rorona was fun as always, the new Ys game is really cool, Strange Journey kept me busy for nearly seventy hours, I played through Devil Survivor three times in a row and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes took me by surprise with its unique and clever strategic puzzle battles.
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« Reply #61 on: November 20, 2010, 02:26:47 PM »

Mellencollia, Lard, and etc. I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that this is only a taste changing issue. I as many others on the board, are around 30-35, which means we were at least 18-23 when the PS1 Final Fantasies came out... we weren't children. I didn't play my first PS1 RPG (FF8) until I was 20. I wasn't blindly dazzled by the game because I was a child and didn't know better, and I wouldn't say my tastes have changed much in games, or in any other area: I'm still listening to epic progrock, I'm still watching anime, etc. The reality is far simpler: jRPGs have stagnated. I know, it's difficult to get your head around because for many years during the late 90s, young gamers decried jRPGs at their pinnacle, so we've been accustomed to having a thick skin when it comes to criticism of jRPGs. But now, even the developers themselves are starting to say that things are falling apart. This is one of those elephant in the room situations. It's there, it's real, but a lot of people just don't want to believe it.

And since 10 years ago, wRPG developers have started to get a clue. They've taken a lot of the aspects of jRPGs (progressively portrayed storytelling, stylized environments, etc) and begun using them. They're far from perfect. Many still don't get it about exploration (though I quite like Fallout's dedication to exploration), and all of them try too hard to be hard boiled. And as someone said, they could use a strong dose of humor in the narrative. But as I've said, that's been a problem with jRPG developers too, being either dead-pan serious or absolutely goofball with no middle ground. All I see is that wRPGs are starting to get it, while jRPGs are starting to lose it. I think Square Enix is still in the game, they're constantly trying new things, even if people hate them for it. But a lot of the rest are regurgitating old memes.
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« Reply #62 on: November 20, 2010, 02:45:36 PM »

Quote
I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that this is only a taste changing issue.

I was coming into this thread to say this. While some have moved onto WRPGs, that can't account for a decline of interest in JRPGs as a whole. They HAVE become a stagnant (sub)genre and haven't evolved so much as other genres (like the WRPG, who got a lot of crap here years and years ago for being boring and whatnot). And I think, after reading Inafune's super-long tl;dr interview with 4gamer, it doesn't exactly help that a lot of Japanese developers are still stuck on old Japanese business practices that other companies there have already moved on from. The lifetime employment, that job security doesn't require you to innovate as much as fighting for your job from one day to the next would. (eg. I see layoffs ALL THE TIME at Canadian studios.)

But then if Square Enix is innovating and people hate it, that could be an argument for some tastes NOT actually changing. Either that or Square's execution was simply bad - I can't say since I haven't, and won't, be touching Final Fantasy XIII anytime soon.
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« Reply #63 on: November 20, 2010, 03:05:17 PM »

TL;DR of Below
A quick overview of why the JRPG really is in a severe pickle, where this kind of thing has happened before, and where subcultural production has really moved.

* * *

I'm with kyuusei and Prime Mover on this one. It isn't a matter of taste, and we can't blindly defend the market because we want to cling to a hopeful idea. As consumers, it's our right to demand change, either by waving our wallets and pointing to the competition, or by directly approaching developers if we have the opportunity.

Perhaps, however, it's because of the pendulum effect that every industry (and heck, just about everything) is subject to. For a large portion of the early 90's (or even late 80's) through the early 2000's, Japan was the foremost producer of fan subculture material. From anime to video games to comic books (re: manga), Japan was doing excellent work. There were all kinds of cultural reasons, from a growing economy to an excitement about new techniques and technology. Japan's subcultural markets were growing, eagerly.

That current has move to North America, though. I was recently at an Anamanaguchi concert and it struck me that North America is really where the cultural movement has shifted. From some of the better games out there (re: Mass Effect, BioShock), to the rise of the indie comic (similar to the doujin movement, but far more legitimate. re: Scott Pilgrim), to the general effect it's having on music, movies, and art in general, it isn't hard to see where all the work is happening.

It's an interesting parallel to what happened in the Japanese market a decade ago, with the rise of the doujin market, the anime market, and so forth. But it's larger now, and carries far more impact because the North American industry is building on the ideas of the Japanese. A decade from now, we're likely to see it shift back, or at least somewhere else (Korea? India? The UK?), and a whole new movement will take hold.

RPGs are a slowly fading medium, I believe. But I'd actually extend that to the idea of distinct genre. Think of how laterally the genres are moving, melding and borrowing from each other with each new title. God of War (and I am speaking strictly about the first) has a better sense of characterisation and dramatic theme than most RPGs these days. This gets back into the whole "what is an RPG" discussion, but if we can lift ourselves up from that, it's interesting to note that a lot of RPGs, if supposedly based around dramatic themes and narrative, especially in the JRPG market, simply don't deliver.

There's also an immaturity of storytelling that the JRPG needs to grow out of. I don't know if it's because of the Japanese otaku mentality, but JRPGs are almost always providing either escapism or comfort in some way. Bright, cutesy designs are more formulaic and prevalent than ever. As much as I want to like Reccetear, the critic in me is repulsed by the character designs. Not because they're "bad" (whatever that means), but because they speak to me about the mentality of the target audience. Cute, bright, and comforting.

Now, is comforting bad? Is cutesy or bright bad? Is escapism bad? Well, no.

But:

They do limit what a developer goes into a project with. They limit and curtail how "out of the box" the thinking will be, right from the very start. If a company feels it needs to make money, it could very well compromise any vision whatsoever for appealing to a target demographic. In this, the masses really are dictating how the art is made, and that my friends is a sorry state of affairs.

There's a fine balance to be had: Companies need to respect the needs of the players, listen to criticism, and respond to it accordingly. But the audience can't fully dictate how the game is wrought. To do that is to proverbially put too many chefs on one soup. In the end, you'll wind up with a thin, watery mess with no real substance.

Oh sure, people will buy it. But people also buy McDonalds and Burger King food, despite how crummy it all is. You simply can't rely on your audience to dictate good taste. Although that may sound elitist, it's kind of a sad and painful truth. Most people will eat whatever's in front of them, and ignore a better meal in favour of a cheaper or more familiar one.

So why would a developer in a tight economy make the choice to be different or work on substance over appearances? That's kind of the problem with JRPGs right now. It became an oversaturated market (and still is), full of bandwagon-jumping developers who are looking to make money, rather than do the right thing and make a good game. Look at what happened to fighting games in the early 2000's. It's the same story all over again.
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Yoda
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« Reply #64 on: November 20, 2010, 03:07:02 PM »

In the next year or so I'm going to find XIII for cheap an give it a shot. Such varied opinion on that game I want to see where I stand.

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xXMelancholiaXx
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« Reply #65 on: November 20, 2010, 04:03:44 PM »

Mellencollia, Lard, and etc. I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment that this is only a taste changing issue. I as many others on the board, are around 30-35, which means we were at least 18-23 when the PS1 Final Fantasies came out... we weren't children.
I don't recall implying that any of you were children.

I didn't play my first PS1 RPG (FF8) until I was 20. I wasn't blindly dazzled by the game because I was a child and didn't know better, and I wouldn't say my tastes have changed much in games, or in any other area: I'm still listening to epic progrock, I'm still watching anime, etc.
   
Regardless of whether or not I'm wrong in your respective case is irrelevant, though I do still think that has a lot to do with it. Not to mention I hardly see how tastes your in anime and progressive rock not changing provides an effective counterpoint to what I'm trying to say. The point I'm really trying to make is that Japanese RPGs are made for a Japanese audience. The same way Western RPGs are made for a western audience. Now you may have some cross appeal as a I mentioned before, but by in large this remains consistent. 

I just find it pretty shocking that people here are audacious enough to insist that there is something wrong with a genre that isn't even designed to appeal to them in the first place. As far as I'm concerned any interest that westerners might have in JRPGs, anime etc is strictly incidental. Sure it's nice and allows us to explore a genre that would otherwise not be accessible to us, but it doesn't alter that fact that they weren't really designed with us in mind. I'm going to stop anyway since it doesn't seem like people are "getting" what I'm saying. I've already made my point.

As consumers, it's our right to demand change, either by waving our wallets and pointing to the competition, or by directly approaching developers if we have the opportunity.
You have every right to complain and demand change if you see fit. It probably won't amount to much but I agree none the less. Anyway, while you guys are complaining I'm going to be enjoying all the awesome JRPGs that are coming out in 2011. :D
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 04:59:15 PM by xXMelancholiaXx » Logged

Tomara
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« Reply #66 on: November 20, 2010, 05:21:19 PM »

Oh and, don't we do this every year? I remember how much people complained Final Fantasy VII wasn't enough like Final Fantasy VI, that Chrono Cross was a poor sequel and that everything was better in 1996.

Don't like the cutesy stuff from Gust? Go play Nier or a random Shin Megami Tensei, or something. Are those Sting games and the like too innovative for you? Well, there are some nice remakes of those classics you love so much or how about some old-school dungeon crawling?
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Chronix112
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« Reply #67 on: November 20, 2010, 05:26:19 PM »

TL;DR of Below
A quick overview of why the JRPG really is in a severe pickle, where this kind of thing has happened before, and where subcultural production has really moved.

* * *

I'm with kyuusei and Prime Mover on this one. It isn't a matter of taste, and we can't blindly defend the market because we want to cling to a hopeful idea. As consumers, it's our right to demand change, either by waving our wallets and pointing to the competition, or by directly approaching developers if we have the opportunity.

Perhaps, however, it's because of the pendulum effect that every industry (and heck, just about everything) is subject to. For a large portion of the early 90's (or even late 80's) through the early 2000's, Japan was the foremost producer of fan subculture material. From anime to video games to comic books (re: manga), Japan was doing excellent work. There were all kinds of cultural reasons, from a growing economy to an excitement about new techniques and technology. Japan's subcultural markets were growing, eagerly.

That current has move to North America, though. I was recently at an Anamanaguchi concert and it struck me that North America is really where the cultural movement has shifted. From some of the better games out there (re: Mass Effect, BioShock), to the rise of the indie comic (similar to the doujin movement, but far more legitimate. re: Scott Pilgrim), to the general effect it's having on music, movies, and art in general, it isn't hard to see where all the work is happening.

It's an interesting parallel to what happened in the Japanese market a decade ago, with the rise of the doujin market, the anime market, and so forth. But it's larger now, and carries far more impact because the North American industry is building on the ideas of the Japanese. A decade from now, we're likely to see it shift back, or at least somewhere else (Korea? India? The UK?), and a whole new movement will take hold.

RPGs are a slowly fading medium, I believe. But I'd actually extend that to the idea of distinct genre. Think of how laterally the genres are moving, melding and borrowing from each other with each new title. God of War (and I am speaking strictly about the first) has a better sense of characterisation and dramatic theme than most RPGs these days. This gets back into the whole "what is an RPG" discussion, but if we can lift ourselves up from that, it's interesting to note that a lot of RPGs, if supposedly based around dramatic themes and narrative, especially in the JRPG market, simply don't deliver.

There's also an immaturity of storytelling that the JRPG needs to grow out of. I don't know if it's because of the Japanese otaku mentality, but JRPGs are almost always providing either escapism or comfort in some way. Bright, cutesy designs are more formulaic and prevalent than ever. As much as I want to like Reccetear, the critic in me is repulsed by the character designs. Not because they're "bad" (whatever that means), but because they speak to me about the mentality of the target audience. Cute, bright, and comforting.

Now, is comforting bad? Is cutesy or bright bad? Is escapism bad? Well, no.

But:

They do limit what a developer goes into a project with. They limit and curtail how "out of the box" the thinking will be, right from the very start. If a company feels it needs to make money, it could very well compromise any vision whatsoever for appealing to a target demographic. In this, the masses really are dictating how the art is made, and that my friends is a sorry state of affairs.

There's a fine balance to be had: Companies need to respect the needs of the players, listen to criticism, and respond to it accordingly. But the audience can't fully dictate how the game is wrought. To do that is to proverbially put too many chefs on one soup. In the end, you'll wind up with a thin, watery mess with no real substance.

Oh sure, people will buy it. But people also buy McDonalds and Burger King food, despite how crummy it all is. You simply can't rely on your audience to dictate good taste. Although that may sound elitist, it's kind of a sad and painful truth. Most people will eat whatever's in front of them, and ignore a better meal in favour of a cheaper or more familiar one.

So why would a developer in a tight economy make the choice to be different or work on substance over appearances? That's kind of the problem with JRPGs right now. It became an oversaturated market (and still is), full of bandwagon-jumping developers who are looking to make money, rather than do the right thing and make a good game. Look at what happened to fighting games in the early 2000's. It's the same story all over again.
^ joining the older tired of eating same old regurgitated crap train. I still to this day love turn based battle systems, but the plots...... I don't really think this is just an American problem. The fact that there are not that many JRPGS on the ps3  or Wii at this point shows how much they are not selling. Part of it is due to the economy the other part is due stagnation  and overall lack of quality.
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« Reply #68 on: November 20, 2010, 05:31:48 PM »

TL;DR of Below
A quick overview of why the JRPG really is in a severe pickle, where this kind of thing has happened before, and where subcultural production has really moved.

* * *

I'm with kyuusei and Prime Mover on this one. It isn't a matter of taste, and we can't blindly defend the market because we want to cling to a hopeful idea. As consumers, it's our right to demand change, either by waving our wallets and pointing to the competition, or by directly approaching developers if we have the opportunity.

Perhaps, however, it's because of the pendulum effect that every industry (and heck, just about everything) is subject to. For a large portion of the early 90's (or even late 80's) through the early 2000's, Japan was the foremost producer of fan subculture material. From anime to video games to comic books (re: manga), Japan was doing excellent work. There were all kinds of cultural reasons, from a growing economy to an excitement about new techniques and technology. Japan's subcultural markets were growing, eagerly.

That current has move to North America, though. I was recently at an Anamanaguchi concert and it struck me that North America is really where the cultural movement has shifted. From some of the better games out there (re: Mass Effect, BioShock), to the rise of the indie comic (similar to the doujin movement, but far more legitimate. re: Scott Pilgrim), to the general effect it's having on music, movies, and art in general, it isn't hard to see where all the work is happening.

It's an interesting parallel to what happened in the Japanese market a decade ago, with the rise of the doujin market, the anime market, and so forth. But it's larger now, and carries far more impact because the North American industry is building on the ideas of the Japanese. A decade from now, we're likely to see it shift back, or at least somewhere else (Korea? India? The UK?), and a whole new movement will take hold.

RPGs are a slowly fading medium, I believe. But I'd actually extend that to the idea of distinct genre. Think of how laterally the genres are moving, melding and borrowing from each other with each new title. God of War (and I am speaking strictly about the first) has a better sense of characterisation and dramatic theme than most RPGs these days. This gets back into the whole "what is an RPG" discussion, but if we can lift ourselves up from that, it's interesting to note that a lot of RPGs, if supposedly based around dramatic themes and narrative, especially in the JRPG market, simply don't deliver.

There's also an immaturity of storytelling that the JRPG needs to grow out of. I don't know if it's because of the Japanese otaku mentality, but JRPGs are almost always providing either escapism or comfort in some way. Bright, cutesy designs are more formulaic and prevalent than ever. As much as I want to like Reccetear, the critic in me is repulsed by the character designs. Not because they're "bad" (whatever that means), but because they speak to me about the mentality of the target audience. Cute, bright, and comforting.

Now, is comforting bad? Is cutesy or bright bad? Is escapism bad? Well, no.

But:

They do limit what a developer goes into a project with. They limit and curtail how "out of the box" the thinking will be, right from the very start. If a company feels it needs to make money, it could very well compromise any vision whatsoever for appealing to a target demographic. In this, the masses really are dictating how the art is made, and that my friends is a sorry state of affairs.

There's a fine balance to be had: Companies need to respect the needs of the players, listen to criticism, and respond to it accordingly. But the audience can't fully dictate how the game is wrought. To do that is to proverbially put too many chefs on one soup. In the end, you'll wind up with a thin, watery mess with no real substance.

Oh sure, people will buy it. But people also buy McDonalds and Burger King food, despite how crummy it all is. You simply can't rely on your audience to dictate good taste. Although that may sound elitist, it's kind of a sad and painful truth. Most people will eat whatever's in front of them, and ignore a better meal in favour of a cheaper or more familiar one.

So why would a developer in a tight economy make the choice to be different or work on substance over appearances? That's kind of the problem with JRPGs right now. It became an oversaturated market (and still is), full of bandwagon-jumping developers who are looking to make money, rather than do the right thing and make a good game. Look at what happened to fighting games in the early 2000's. It's the same story all over again.
^ joining the older tired of eating same old regurgitated crap train. I still to this day love turn based battle systems, but the plots...... I don't really think this is just an American problem. The fact that there are not that many JRPGS on the ps3  or Wii at this point shows how much they are not selling. Part of it is due to the economy the other part is due stagnation  and overall lack of quality.

Don't forget the cost of making games these days!
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« Reply #69 on: November 20, 2010, 05:37:59 PM »

I agree with Hidoshi's post 100%.  It echoes my sentiments but more deeply and eloquently.  And I do agree with the sentiment of speaking with our wallets.  Needing spare change to enact change.  I still posit that until the economy improves and people have more disposable income, the industry will continue to deliver what sells.  And as butthurt as it may make you, fanservice sells, tried-and-true forumlas sell (i.e. the film Vampires Suck raked in more cash than Scott Pilgrim), and the retro-trend is a hot market right now.  

So I still stand by my point that before anything in most any industry changes, the economy has to improve.  Nowadays, people are more cautious with their money and not willing to take the kind of financial risks they did before this whole economic crisis.  Like any industry or business, the gaming industry is most certainly not immune.  In fact, it's probably hit harder because it's more of a luxury than a necessity.  Familiar and comforting is what sells since people see a risky investment as what put them in the hole in the first place.  And that mentality even trickles down to 'minor' consumer stuff like movies and games.  People these days seem to want to know everything about what they're getting into- past, present, and future.  Predictable and formulaic is comfortable and safe- and these days comfortable and safe are strong consumer emotions. 

As for the argument that "Japanese games are made for a Japanese audience" makes me wonder if a mirror community like our RPGFan one in Japan is sick of all the same things we're complaining about and doing the point-and-laugh to dumbass kids shelling out their money for some retread RPG.  But if it sells it sells, and the companies struggling for a profit will milk whatever meager oases they find.  People seem to forget that the gaming business is just that: first and foremost a business.

I'll bet many of you in this thread are thinking analogous sentiments from this video, especially the chorus:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmBk9rxu2Lk
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 05:45:11 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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Chronix112
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« Reply #70 on: November 20, 2010, 05:51:30 PM »

Don't forget the cost of making games these days!

That is the point. If people buying were them like hotcakes like in the ps2 era, we would still have more rpgs then we have now on next generation consoles. This is also the reason why  I mentioned the wii, because its basically nothing more then a glorified gamecube with a motion controller.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 05:53:40 PM by Chronix112 » Logged
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« Reply #71 on: November 20, 2010, 06:19:05 PM »

The games may be made for Japan primarily, but that doesn't mean they'll ignore overseas fans - especially of IPs that sell just as well outside of Japan if not better. Even if so, how do we know some Japanese players aren't sick of the stale JRPG formula also? (Dincrest beat me to it, but I had to re-iterate it. :))

^ joining the older tired of eating same old regurgitated crap train. I still to this day love turn based battle systems, but the plots...... I don't really think this is just an American problem. The fact that there are not that many JRPGS on the ps3 or Wii at this point shows how much they are not selling. Part of it is due to the economy the other part is due stagnation  and overall lack of quality.

Pretty much. With the cost of development for the PS3 and Wii plus the final product costing between $80 and $90 in Japan (for a regular edition), no wonder you see series like Valkyria Chronicles' sequels go from PS3 to PSP. There's lots of rehashes, throwback types and ports, but they're all cheaper options at the moment.
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« Reply #72 on: November 20, 2010, 06:23:39 PM »

It makes about as much sense as criticizing WRPGs for always taking place in some medieval environments or always being first person shooter based. Different audiences, different approaches in mind.

But I don't like that either!

You know, while there is undoubtedly some degree of people wanting these games to take after Western RPGs there's another facet to this; some of these Western RPGs are reminding me WHY JRPGs were compelling in the first place. The quests? Look at most Final Fantasy games, as you progress through the game there will be dungeons and quests you can do on the side, particularly at the end. It's still very linear, and they're certainly not as abundant as a Bethesda game, but it's still something that's fallen to the wayside, or worse has been replaced by MMO-esque quests which are just obnoxious in a single player game. It's something I'd appreciate seeing more of that again, giving more of a sense of exploration and rewarding me for it rather than turning the games into plot trains; it's not as if I want them to fully conform to Western design or anything here.

... Though it doesn't help that what looks like one of the most promising titles for getting that fix very well may not come out here at all.
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« Reply #73 on: November 20, 2010, 06:33:54 PM »

Even if so, how do we know some Japanese players aren't sick of the stale JRPG formula also?
It's possible. But even still it doesn't change the fact that there are cultural differences at work. I was reading an article that's somewhat related to this on 1up. I wasn't too surprised to read that Halo, Oblivion, etc actually have a very enthusiastic niche following. I would imagine to be some what comparable to the following that JRPGs enjoy here.

As for the argument that "Japanese games are made for a Japanese audience"
It's not an argument it's an axiom. I'm not saying that the criticisms that some of you are making are entirely false, I understand a lot of the problems you guys have with JRPGs, I don't share them but that's just me. Unless there is a huge fan uprising in Japan of the type sentiments that Prime Mover, Hidoshi and yourself are espousing I don't see them changing unless it's under their own volition.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 06:57:51 PM by xXMelancholiaXx » Logged

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« Reply #74 on: November 20, 2010, 10:27:26 PM »

Typical sarcasm put on hold here.

I think indie gamedev is the future, in all accounts, not JUST JRPGs, but certainly that applies. Minecraft has proven that it can be profitable if you want to go that route. Hugely so. Most games aren't going to be AS profitable as Minecraft, but hey, it's there.

Digital distribution platforms like Steam and Impulse can give a leg-up to people whose products otherwise wouldn't get noticed.

Startup costs are often negligible for indie dev and frequently non-existent. Dev time is shorter. Faster turnaround times means more games, more improvements, just... more products-per-year shipping. Both of these also mean the projects that aren't really going great can get retooled, revised, re-factored, and updated, instead of getting stuck on a release-anyway deathmarch.

User requirements are also less, since if you don't have a huge budget you can't actually produce something with the production values -- NOT overall quality -- of something like Mass Effect. Ergo, bigger audience.

And it's egalitarian. ANYONE can make a game if they put in the effort. You don't need an expensive dev kit or a license (for the most part. Steam has some fees associated, but they're small. I don't recall RPGMaker licenses costing that much. 60-100 dollars? XBLA is also apparently fairly cheap to publish too. I don't know if you can sell Game Maker games but that's like 20-30 bucks to register. UDK and Unity are free if you do wanna go the high end, 3D route, though licensing costs for those are huge, so no selling. Also there are a lot of freeware Flash game studio things now).

Basically people just need to have the revelation that if you want to be a game designer, the only thing you have to do is make games. You don't need to be in a company. You don't need a game-related degree from Digipen or Fullsail or whatever. You don't need a lot of money. You don't need a lot of assets otherwise. You don't need expensive hardware.

Just make.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 10:29:40 PM by MeshGearFox » Logged

o/` I do not feel joy o/`
o/` I do not dream o/`
o/` I only stare at the door and smoke o/`

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