Game Industry change


Game Industry changes. How, Why and What it means for game developers? Leaning on resources and personal experience I tell it how I see it. This comes from a more traditional gamer and developer who is fascinated about the change.

What has changed?

Lots of things, some main points in short:

  1. First is old news but worth repeating: Game industry moves more money than films.
  2. New and possibly now most popular game types draw from games of the past – Arcadeish casual aka quick-to-play games are doing incredibly well.
  3. Gaming is more social hobby than before with a new and growing audience.
  4. Games and game platforms are more readily available. Now everyone with a modern smart phone/pad or a cheap personal computer and internet-connection has a solid gaming platform and access to a portable game library.

Why the change?

The following is info compressed from several sources. I will follow it with my take.

My take on the change-statistics

I don’t see any type of gaming to be more innovative than some other, nor do I see social and/or casual games replacing others. Also I don’t think rising PC will kill off any consoles. I believe the change is simply that there are lots of new gamers and new ways to play games which allows ever wider variety of games and platforms to flourish. That doesn’t mean traditional game types, platforms or players are going anywhere.

What does the industry change mean for game developers?

  • New options are available for delivery(Steam, Xbox Live, online marketplaces, Appstore…) removing or reducing the costs of getting the game out and selling it.
  • New game creation software lower the barrier of entry both in price and time invested in learning and ease developing for several platforms at once(check out Unity).
  • Older established game creation softwares also lower prices or otherwise do their best to compete with newcomers.
  • Range of topics found profitable is wider than ever.
  • Small ‘bitesize’ games are (again) a very valid recipe.
  • All of the above mean indie developers(individuals and small companies) have better changes to succeed.
  • Due to the above large companies too are creating small flexible teams and targeting new markets.

How to get a position in New game industry

Mostly requirements are the same; To get into creating games you need to be very good at what you do, to know the right people and to be persistent. Also likely you will need to work as a trainee in a game company or on indie/non-profit game releases to get experience and recognition. Other route is of course raise enough capital to start your own or shared business.

Difference is in that generalists may now have more work than narrow specialists. Specialist jobs are not going anywhere but are hard to land since only big companies can hire a specialist long-term. Smaller companies now blooming hire people that can wear many hats – for mass production of any one thing they usually outsource (just like the big firms). Also since small companies make small team productions, that is games for online/mobile, it means optimization in everything, art stylization and carefully managed resources. If you aim for this area better make sure you know what is expected, like relevant coding languages or art style.

That’s my take on the change. Agree, disagree?

Sources

I link to many articles above but refer to 2 following more than anything else. I’m also adding others that may be of interest to you.

Gunshine.net Beta release, Supercell insider and articles


Today marks the release of Gunshine.net Beta, a free browser action roleplaying game, and publishing of the company behind the game, Supercell, and investors behind it. This post tells about the above, about my involvement, and links to other articles.

Gunshine.net Beta

The game is technically special, perhaps even amongst the first in a new wave of browser gaming. Why? Scores of other current browser games(MMOs included) are static and slow-paced. Gunshine brakes the mold: It is a fast real-time strategic action with friends – that’s the special bit. Also it is all free and easy to get into and play. I know it sounds like marketing spiel but that really is an accurate description. Fans of online roleplaying games and/or fast action, or those bored with old generation of online social games, will likely enjoy it. Other developers may follow with more fast paced browser games.

Gunshine runs in browser without special things to install. Game does require Flash-plugin but then again 90%+ people who use browser have it already. Ipad and Iphone-users though are out of luck without Flash-support (for now).

Gunshine.net is still in early Beta meaning it has bugs and the content is in progress. But worry not – there is plenty to play at the present. Currently we invite Beta testers to play and give feedback so we can improve and build what we have. The game is built to grow step by step.

Supercell and my part

In short Supercell is a promising startup with strong backing and a great creative team. I can say some well known game industry veterans have seen Gunshine.net and Supercell worth investing in. Supercell-site and the articles linked below will tell you more about the company and about our backers. I’m more on solid ground writing about our creative process.

My work at Supercell is why this blog has been quiet-like since December 2010. I’m happy to be part of a team of professional game developers. We have a flexible pipeline on the art-side, each can and do juggle many tasks. However quite naturally the majority of certain type of tasks go to people who spezialise in them. I create 3D and 2D assets, weighing on the former, and lots of animations. To me it feels quite sweet a role – so far getting to model and animate many of the coolest creatures in game. Regardless mine is just a small part of the whole, the team together make it all happen.

I hope to share more inside info about our creative process later.

Articles

Here are some articles about Gunshine.net and about Supercell. I will keep adding links for a while to this list.

So, what do you think? Is Gunshine a hit or a miss? If games like Gunshine are not the future of browser gaming then what is?

Working Independently or for a Company?


This is food for thought to those comparing solo freelance freedom with employment and teamwork – perspective of a person going from one type or working to another.

My Change for one way of working to another

Since December 2nd 2010 I have been part of a new game company, Supercell, as a Game Artist. My main tasks are character animation and modeling, but since it is small company still I get to do many other things as well. It is teamwork.

Before this I’ve been a freelancer for 10 years, partly on the side of studies. I think it was 2002 when I last worked for someone else, before this. The change is reason for this article.

Company or independent?

I’m biased – I fell in love with teamwork early on at multimedia project on first year at university or more likely before that playing basketball and rinkball with friends. Regardless of this in working life I’ve found myself working far more by myself, for clients, rather than in someones employ. I’ve done everything myself from web pages to 3D-animation and to accounting for quite some time. And even thought some projects I am/have been in are teamwork, like U6 Project in Team Archon, those team are either spread far apart like Archon or work in otherwise scattered manner . It is not the same as in a small team driven game company.

This article really comes down to what feels good – working alone or in a team. That’s the change I feel most meaningful.

Here is a little comparison-table – quite obvious stuff.
[styled_table width=”600px”]

Freelancing Company job
You decide how you work for your client, and when. You’re the creator. Team together or team lead works out the how and when. Team has better changes to come up with more creative solutions.
You handle everything in the project – the tasks you like and the ones you don’t. People specialize – if you are best at something you get to do a lot of that.
The scope of yur project is limited by resources and your skills meaning smaller projects or painfully long production times for big projects. A good team can create pretty much anything and fast – a bad team can spend endless hours and get nothing decent done.
You need to be a generalist – good at many things. Everybody in the team needs to excel at something.
You need to get along with your clients and yourself. All in team need to work well together.
Feedback and rewards are external. Feedback and rewards come from inside and out.
You learn by doing and from following others (i.e. online). You learn from and teach your teammates.
[/styled_table]

The thing about team is that working together on a common goal gives it more importance and momentum, keeps ideas flying and everybody gets feedback for their work. If things work right, there is a sense of We and Us, together. Capacity to do teamwork really is one reason humans survive and thrive, so it comes no suprise working in a good team also feels rewarding. On the other hand one wrong piece in a team can break the whole machine.

Your choice depends on what you like and what you are like, of course. Not everyone works best with others and not everyone can make it by themselves (nevermind the steady paycheck employment brings). Any good or bad experiences? Would you rather go solo or work with others?