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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Michael Moore and Capitalism

In Capitalism there is a great deal of talk about how as a society we've allowed the "gentry" to choose a way for the rest of us that is well...

... a raw deal. It got me really thinking about the games industry.

In the last couple weeks my old haunt, Blue Fang has laid off an additional 13 people, bringing their total of people fired/ laid off/ removed to about 51 for the period of 10/15/08 to 10/15/09.

Those 13 aren't alone though. Reports came in from friends of entire studios being shuttered, putting quality developers on the street. Shaba Games, 989 Studio are the first two that come to mind because I have friends there. Is it a fact of a bad economy? Or is there more to it?

Is there a shift being made in the games industry from having permanent employees, to hiring people on a project basis, as movie producers do? By the further reduction in the population of development studios, are the big publishers being cemented as an all directing oligopoly? What can a developer do to have some semblance of a normal life complete with a consistent job, and being able to choose where they want to live?

These aren't questions with easy answers, or answers that devs even want to look at. As a few friends have succinctly stated to me, "I don't care, I just want to make games." What will it take to get devs to care, and then give them the power to control their futures? Can this period of unbalance serve as a catalyst to usher in the "Era of the Indie"? (I should trademark that. HAH!)

Over the next few posts I'll explore it a bit. I have strong feelings on the subject, maybe I can coax a few of my industry friends into lending their perspective.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Work, work, work.

So, when I was laid off, I started really looking at the games industry, and noticed an alarming trend. The shift from hiring people as permanent members of a company, to treating them (outwardly or otherwise) as hired guns brought in for a specific project.

Many of the game industry layoffs this year only serve to reinforce this idea. What is really important to the industry? Short term profitability, or developing a strong workforce for the long haul?

How will this trend affect the games being made? Is this the beginning of the "Era of the Indie?" Since networking in Boston, I'm finding more people working as indies then I'm finding working at developers, they are also seemingly happier and more relaxed on the whole. This echoes what I had seen in SF as well.

Makes me think that the industry is at the start of a major shift. A change from large centralized teams working on the bulk of the projects to smaller, more adaptable and agile teams working on more culturally relevant games. The next year or so should shake this all out, the indies that are developing products now have the ability to position themselves well should this shift occur.

The development of a game, from concept to completion.

I've decided that it would be neat to document the road taken in the development of the Zombie game project I'm designing. I won't be giving out any secrets here, but I think it would be good to cover what is being done.

Right now, we're in pre-production. Basically, this is where the idea goes from just that, something that would be "neat" and turns into something that would be fun, plausible, and marketable.

During this phase, the primary design is being done, the programmers are doing some R&D, we're defining our platforms (PC, XBox 360 and maybe ZuneHD...), and getting concept work done.

We're looking to kickoff the project officially next week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ZOMBIES!

Since I'm no longer with Blue Fang, I decided that it was important to keep my skills up, and to indulge my own creativity a bit.

Since so many of us were laid off at once, I was able to organize a few of the guys into a group, and collectively we're going to be working on a PC/Xbox game. Not a lot I'm going to announce right now other than, it's a Zombie game.

That's right, Zombies. With luck, we'll be able to make enough of a splash with it that we'll be able to port it to the iPhone, but as of right now, we're officially in preproduction.

More later, until then...

BRRRAAAAAAIIINNNNSSSSSS!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Collective voices.

Of interest to me is this tiny blurb I got in my inbox today:

"IGDA Announces Dr. Tim Langdell has stepped down from IGDA Board

Monday Aug. 31st, Mt. Royal, NJ: The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) today announced that Tim Langdell has resigned from the IGDA Board of Directors, effective immediately. Dr Langdell had served on the Board since March 2009.

The resignation means that Dr Langdell's seat on the Board is vacated, and will be up for election in early 2010. The special meeting called for the membership in Oct. on this matter will no longer take place."

Looks like the wishes of the membership were listened to, and he respected the IGDA enough to vacate his position. I see this as a win for IGDA members everywhere. Not just because of my opinions on what he is alleged to have done, but because there was a group concerned about the association, and they mobilized to successfully bring about change. In an association where most members don't vote or show up to meetings, this is a great step in the direction of empowering the members.

This post has ceased to be.

Just a quick little note while I get my website situated and running on my new host.

I've deleted the old content because it was old. Besides, gotta start anew when you have a new website. My new website address is: http://www.davemata.com

I'm in the middle of starting a move, and designing a casual game. So, when I get some down time I'll write some here and there, vent my spleen, and wax poetically on the games industry.