For the past 3 days now I have been trying to wrap my head around writing an article. One of which has actually made me insanely passionate for the game development space, and rather terrified. Why? Because frankly I’m worried that I’ve been barking up the wrong tree this entire time, and yet I’ve got absolutely nobody to blame for why gaming is the way it is. Now don’t get me wrong, we can do the song and dance that money infects art and art becomes a way to take money, but we already know all that. It always has been to a certain extent. Why weren’t Microsoft doing Microtransactions back in 2007? They had Microsoft Points, something which we now all detest as virtual currencies are a way to just shroud what an item actually costs, and make it so you never have enough, hence need to keep buying more. Like, they were doing these things back then, so why didn’t they go all the way?
To be honest, I was looking into exactly that. Game Studios, what changed, who left. I was looking into Dice because they’re a most recent example with Battlefield 2042 have a disaster of a launch. It’s pretty easy to see who built it, they have 4,400 credits detailing exactly who did what. But you end up looking at this list of people, these fellow developers and really not wanting to point the gun at them. Mostly because I’ve worked in the space too.
I’ve worked in Web Development for the past 5 years now, and while I’d love to say that everything was my managers fault for why we never launched things, it’s just not true. Things happen. The parent company can overrule a decision that we made 5 months ago, thus rendering all our work completely pointless. Our CEO can decide they don’t actually want a feature shipped that we spend 3 months on. A mock up in one month be completely thumbs up, then the next have massive sweeping changes. The problem with all of that is, it’s just the joys and rollercoaster of being in a software development company. And there’s nothing you can really do about it. It’s the joys of working in web, there aren’t any release dates, there aren’t any deadlines, everything is all set by us, so if we don’t keep to our schedule, then that’s on us. The customer isn’t going to wonder why we never launched something, our competitors might catch up, but in gaming it’s different.
Game studios by and large set a release date and aim to hit it, if they don’t they’ll push back and delay, but not as much as we’d like, as evidenced by certain games releasing that should have had another few months.
So what do I do? I’ve done a ton of research into Dice. Looked up who joined the company, where they came from, came to pretty damning conclusions, including one which references TTK games and how it’s going to fix absolutely nothing. Like, you all realize the people that screwed the fanbase with BF2042, is the same people that now work at TTK Games. Are we saying that ALL of those people had 0 say in BF2042 and were just told what to do by Andrew Wilson? A lot of those DICE devs also left to go work at other companies which nobody likes, such as Ubisoft.
I’m writing this article, because I just don’t know what to do. I had an idea for a project. You’d put in a game you’re looking forward to, and it’ll check who’s building it, what studio, who’s came on board recently and what you might expect from the team. So in this case, a bunch of DICE devs that haven’t done very well recently, leaving to start a new firm, why would you expect them to do any better? Because EA isn’t telling them what to do? Well then why does Respawn do so well with it’s games? Why is DICE hiring ex fifa product managers onto the BF team, are they forced to join the team by EA?
All of it is a complex topic, one of which if I think there was a story in, it might’ve been done by now. It’s also very hard to get comments on any of this when game devs sign NDA’s and can’t talk about anything.
Also, in general, I’m scared to write anything on it because I absolutely love and adore the game development space, want to be a game developer and can think of no better way of getting myself black balled than writing an article effectively attacking dev teams and roles, and creating a product that would shun names from gaming spaces as untrusted. It’s just not a nice thing is it?
Let’s say Battlefield has this critical bug in its engine. Smoke can make explosives go through walls (That is an actual thing) and I write an article detailing who was on the engine team and why are they still there, infact, perhaps they’ve been promoted! Let’s just imagine that scenario, you’d call me some pretty nasty names for going after the individual probably responsible for that change. So instead we shift the blame onto their managers, perhaps even QA, they should have caught this, but even that’s perhaps unfair, so we shift it to the directors, the people in charge of the making of the game, perhaps these folks weren’t given enough time to polish and make the game what it should be.
The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be any accountability for anything. If a bricklayer misses out some vital engineering which goes un-noticed for two months before the home owner phones up saying…. “I’m missing a wall btw” I’m willing to bet somebodies job isn’t staying after that. Perhaps that’s a useless example as being far to exaggerated, but you get what I mean? In this space, I’ve only ever seen people falling upwards, or leaving a job and getting the same job elsewhere.
Is there a creative blacklisting process; “Don’t hire this developer as they’re actually useless”. Because I’ve met some BAD web developers in my time, none of them get a bad reference, it’s easier to just let them go be someone else’s problem. None of them got fired either, they just eventually left getting offered MORE money than what they were getting here. It’s kind of insane.
Which is where I go…. IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT THIS? I’m in this space, it seems insanity to me, but it also seems insane to effectively blacklist someone from a career, but at the same time if you hire a dodgy plasterer, you’ll be on Facebook calling them all the bad names under the sun because your wall fell apart. Why isn’t the same done here. We buy a product, from these developers, yet criticism of them specifically seems very… frowned upon in the space. I can understand why, if someone looked at my code, my articles and was mean towards me I’d probably cry for a week.
The more I think about it. The more I hear the words “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say nothing”. I think for now, that’ll be what keeps that article in the drafts.