Thursday, December 08, 2011

Congratulating DEVELOP magazine

I guess it doesn't matter, but nowhere on the list of jobs did the DEVELOP annual salary survey of the game industry include "Writer," "Narrative Designer," or anything of that ilk. Not that it's the most important role, but you'd be surprised how many dev studios do actually use writers. Apparently, some players (those crazy guys and gals!) actually think that having professionals craft the plots and people improve a game.

What will they think of next?!

Seriously, I realize that adding that kind of thing just makes a complex survey more difficult, and after all a writer can just call his or herself a "designer" because it's like, you know, all the same thing, right?

In fact, I'll be petitioning the BAFTA and the WGA to stop those goddam awards and get their noses out of our industry, because everyone knows that the only thing that this writing stuff does is make a developer's job more complicated. And who needs writing anyway when you have such great graphics and destructible environments?

I mean, Michael Bay clearly doesn't have any use for writers on his films, and look how much cash he rakes in!

So I just though I'd be the first to congratulate DEVELOP for their refusal to kow-tow to the Chris Avellones, Eric Wolpaks, Marc Laidlaws, Rhianna Pratchetts, John Gonzalezes and Andy Walshes of the game world who just add a lot of stuff that none of us really need.

Way to go, guys! Keep up the good work!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Managers pissing me off, part 367

Guillaume de Fondaumiere, founder of the studio that did Heavy Rain, just gave an interview where he complained about the used game market and how it was eating into his profitability. In fact, he said that the one million used game sales represented a loss to him of between €5 and €10 million.

Wow. There is so much "gaaa!" there I'm not sure where to start.

Dude, 3 million people played your game. 2 million of them paid a price you yourself say is "...probably too expensive..." to do so.

So, with a little clarity, let's ask the real questions:

1. How many of those extra million players would have paid full price if there was no other option?
- If my understanding of royalty rates is correct (~15% to the studio), de Fondaumiere is claiming that at least half if not all of those million players would have purchased it new at a €60 price point.
...okay, raise your hand if you believe that. And in Santa Claus.

2. What is better, 50% more people enjoying your product, talking about it, and wondering about the next one, or thinking about draconian measure to try and maintain a price point and margin expectation that is clearly out of line with what your customers are willing to spend?

Did de Fondaumiere stop for one second and think, "Maybe at €40 we could have sold 4 million? Or 6 million at €20?" In a business that has essentially zero variable cost and enormous network effects that is a serious question. Yet he shows no indication whatsoever that he is thinking about the price/reach/community trade-offs. In this day and age, that seems to be a critical question for a studio director given the evolutions in game distribution and pricing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Today marks the beginning of another Clarion West write-a-thon. For those of you who don't know, Clarion West (and the 2-3 other Clarion workshops) are six-week intensive courses dedicated to helping promising authors write speculative fiction. Admission is through application, and the workshops are taught by famous authors from the spec fic world.

The write-a-thon is an event that pulls together workshop alumni (around a hundred of us this year) with several goals in mind:

1. Get us energized and writing

2. Provide moral support for those in the program

3. Raise funds for the workshop (the most important part)

I'll be doing the write-a-thon this year (in spite of a hellacious schedule) both in order to get my own writing back on track and to try to raise money for a great cause and community. So please stop by the web site if you're curiuos (or if you want to give):

I'll be doing updates over the next six weeks as the words begin to flow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Geek Dad

I just found a very cool infographic, so I 1) tweeted it, and 2) sent it to my kids. Here is the link in question:

Any time I run across science-made-understandable, or cool-Earth-facts, or science-made-entertaining, I like to share it and send it on. What I am beginning to understand is the importance that I attach to my kids also being touched by this bug. Because these things release happy brain chemicals for me, I assume that they might for others and should for my children. As a result, I am in a constant dad-struggle of trying to pique their interest and fire their imagination with lots of ideas and recommendations, but without being overbearing.


Because I believe people should never stop learning. Because I believe that knowledge should be shared. Because I believe that we must constantly strive to accept and understand and challenge ourselves. Because, most of all, I want my kids to believe this as well.

We'll see how it works with ZoƩ and Louis. There are promising signs; they both devour good YA SF literature, and Louis decided on Monday that he was going to learn to start programming in QBASIC. They both ask a lot of questions, and they don't let me get away with half-answers.

On the other hand, they often roll their eyes when I do things like send them cool infographics about the topology of the Earth.

The good fight goes on...