Votação: Gamers as Publishers
Halo 4, made by people who weren't involved with the first three Halos.
0 0%
An HD remix/re-imagining of your favorite game from when you were a kid.
1 100.00%
A completely new game that's only made because the demo floored you.
0 0%
Total 1 voto(s) 100%
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Gamers as Publishers - Digam o que pensam
Okay, let's have a quick show of hands. Which would you rather have tomorrow, to play on the platform of your choice:

A.) Halo 4, made by people who weren't involved with the first three Halos.
B.) An HD remix/re-imagining of your favorite game from when you were a kid.
C.) A completely new game that's only made because the demo floored you.

Not to knock the first two (well, I'll knock the hell out of "A" ), but let's momentarily assume you picked "C" and elaborate. It's a genuinely cool, free fifteen minute demo for a game that won't be made unless it gets financial backing first. From you. Say, forty bucks, or 2/3 of its eventual retail price. In return, you get the game when it goes Gold, earlier than anyone else and without paying another dime. You might even get your money back if it's a hit. How's that sound?

I bring this up because I caught a recent quote from Valve co-founder Gabe Newell:

"One of the areas that I am super interested in right now is how we can do financing from the community. [edit] In other words, 'Hey, I really like this idea you have. I'll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I'll also get a copy of that game.'"
One suspects that, had Newell applied this theory earlier, Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 would've been released as a cheap $10 expansion pack supporting Left 4 Dead 1, rather than as a pricey-but-fun $60 sequel shipping barely a year after the original.

That gripe aside, the idea of gamer community-funded game development interests me, sort of like PBS with more headshots. If Newell and Valve actually follow up on this, they'll join a growing list of adventurous game developers who are stepping away from traditional publishing routes in order to gain more creative freedom.

See, the way things generally work is game publishers develop a lot of product in-house, while third-party developers pitch their own projects (or are scouted) and either get shot down or assigned a budget. A lot of factors go into greenlighting a project, but that decision and all the rest that follow come down to one thing: Is it safe? We're talking budgets that can start at $10 million dollars for an A/B-grade commercial release and rocket sharply skyward from there, particularly once you add in marketing. That's a lot of money to lose, and a lot of games lose it, so the emphasis isn't really on innovation. It's about serving up as close to a known quantity as possible. Maybe you've already noticed that a new Rock Band/Guitar/DJ/Kazoo Hero game releases every three hours on the dot.

Even "extreme!" elements (i.e. sex and gore) are calculated choices based on what developers know their audiences (i.e. you) will eat up with a spoon (i.e. yum). It was no accident EA and Bioware repeatedly let slip that THERE'S FREAKY ALIEN SEX IN MASS EFFECT in pre-release interviews. And if that didn't help boost sales, a poorly-informed backlash did. Great way to successfully launch a new title.

The more cash on the line, the safer the bet. Small wonder a lot of highly anticipated games in the next year have numbers on them. Franchises are the easiest money of all.

They're also an easy trap to fall into. Sure, I'm looking forward to Modern Warfare 2 and God of War III, but having seen the former and played the latter, I'm here to tell you they're going to play almost exactly like Modern Warfare and God of War I and II. Franchises do need familiarity, no lie. I just always get a chuckle when developers point a big finger at the easiest, laziest innovation possible - the graphics - as proof they're somehow breaking new ground. It's the exact same game with minor iterations on new maps, but man, it sure looks prettier than ever! That's fine. I want new maps for those games. But if the whole Left 4 Dead 2 situation annoys some people to the point they start calling for a boycott, I have to wonder why they're cool with the exact same thing happening on practically every other franchise they adore.

Which is why it's so exciting when a developer takes a different path and does their own thing, and takes a real risk.

5th Cell is an easy example. Co-founder and creative director Jeremiah Slaczka had an idea for a game and money in hand thanks to a little Nintendo DS hit called Drawn to Life. So once follow-up game Locke's Quest was well under way, he put a team on it. They built tools, coded thousands upon thousands of objects, and burned through a good chunk of change without a single guarantee it would go anywhere, just because they believed in the strength of this idea.

It was well over a year post-concept before they told anybody about Scribblenauts. One month before IGN and other outlets named it the best game of E3 2009, 5th Cell still hadn't announced a publisher. Even then, Warner Bros. Interactive gave them two measly DS demo stations and stuck them way in the back of their spread at the L.A. Convention Center, which was itself at the very back of the convention hall.

But the idea - write any noun to create any object to solve every puzzle - was so original and engaging it didn't matter where they were hidden. Word spread fast. I personally told everybody from Koei booth babes to Konami executives about it. Imagine how gratifying it was to overhear a purchasing agent for a major retailer ask how many units he could get on release day. One million? Two million?

Two months later, at GamesCom 2009, Scribblenauts was front and center with its own 15-foot-tall installation.

Stories like that stand out because they're rare animals. Just as Scribblenauts made its ascent, my interest in side-scrolling shooters was seriously reinvigorated courtesy of Disney/Pixar animator Michel Gagné, indie developer FuelCell, and their super-awesome trailer for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. A trailer that, as far as I've heard, has yet to net one scrap of funding to help them finish it. Couldn't tell you why. There's nothing I've seen or heard about this game that isn't amazing. It's honestly shaping up as a reinvention of the genre. As-is, ITSP is a part-time project at FuelCell, coded between work-for-hire gigs they take to make ends meet. Oh, they're talking to publishers, and each one apparently has their own vision for the project. The impression I get is each one wants to monkey around with the awesomeness, dilute it in some way.

And I don't want that. I want pure visions made gloriously real. I want everything Gagné and FuelCell's trailer promises, both barrels, baby, right between the eyes. If it was an option and I thought it would help, I'd send them my forty bucks right now.

The question, friend, is would you?

Gabe Newell's community-funded model calls for the community to pony up the entire $10 million+ budget up-front, but would you buy a game before it's actually made? That's a big leap of faith he's asking for. I appreciate he's taking one himself by pouring time and resources into designing and building a free demo. I also recognize this pre-funded method removes the monstrous risks Newell faces of spending years and millions on a game that might simply flop without a similar guarantee we'd get a return on investment, be it monetary and/or a game worth paying for.

I think it's also fair to ask what happens if the game still doesn't get made. Do we get our money back? It's not hard to see the possibilities for widespread fraud and abuse if (when) a few vaporware merchants dip a toe in. Hell, even legitimate publishers cancel projects mid-stream for a variety of legitimate reasons. Plus, if everybody starts taking collections, it'll be nigh-impossible for any developer to grab enough attention - and enough donations - to be singled out from the ugly masses and get their game funded.

When it comes to Valve, that's probably a fairly safe investment. They're already well known and have a documented ability to turn lead into gold. On the other hand, Left 4 Dead 2 aside, they're not exactly known for quick turnarounds. It took them a year to release the second episode of their Half-Life 2 episodic series, and it was largely developed alongside the first. It's going on two years waiting for Episode Three, and these are five, six hour games, tops. Not exactly encouraging for a demographic comprised mainly of instant gratification personalities.

All that said, I think solutions can be devised for those problems. More to the point, they should be. Even indie developers like Team 17, who've had great success there, are saying Xbox Live's Indie Games channel isn't proving out as a platform for new talent and new ideas. Those gatekeepers want mainstream (i.e. safe) titles, and decline (i.e. reject) anything outside the norm (i.e. yawn). Sony's PlayStation Network is supposedly more open-minded, as you might guess from the way they support Jenova Chen's work, but it's still a matter of a thousand games vying for a dozen available slots, and the lucky winners aren't chosen by gamers. We need more avenues for those cool games to get to us.

Maybe instead of accumulating the full budget, only half or 2/3 is required to get the ball rolling. Hey, it's easier to get investors once you have investors, and if we're talking a downloadable or portable game, that budget won't be quite so astronomical to start with. And maybe that money goes into a trust of some kind, rather than a PAYGO scenario, with some legal protections written into the contract so everything's kept on the up-and-up. Indies can earn buzz by releasing trailers to the gaming blogosphere like FuelCell did, and update development blogs rigorously so their investors know things are progressing. There also must be an exit strategy in case things go wrong, even if it's time-sensitive and issues penalties for early withdrawal.

So if you're sick of a game market that occasionally feels like it's 50% first-person shooters, if you don't feel the need for a new Madden Football every single year, if you're tired of the familiar and just want something to brain-slam you, a new system of community-backed game development could be your chance to give something else a chance. I've never known a gamer who lacked an opinion. You want a say in what games get made? Have a say. Let's get this ball rolling.

Unless you originally picked "A" or "B." In which case, you've already made your choice.
There's no stoppin' what can't be stopped, no killin' what can't be killed. You can't see the eyes of the demon, until him come callin'...
(14-09-2009, 17:52)Cobaia Escreveu: http://home.myhughesnet.com/games_channe...id=1021347

Exactamente a mesma coisa... why? Para que ler duas vezes?
There's no stoppin' what can't be stopped, no killin' what can't be killed. You can't see the eyes of the demon, until him come callin'...

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