Friday, February 29, 2008

Developer Vents on Making Games for the PC Platform

Here's a post made by Michael Fitch, a producer for the PC game 'Titan Quest':

ILE shut down. This is tangentially related to that, not why they shut down, but part of why it was such a difficult freaking slog trying not to. It's a rough, rough world out there for independent studios who want to make big games, even worse if you're single-team and don't have a successful franchise to ride or a wealthy benefactor. Trying to make it on PC product is even tougher, and here's why.

Piracy. Yeah, that's right, I said it. No, I don't want to re-hash the endless "piracy spreads awareness", "I only pirate because there's no demo", "people who pirate wouldn't buy the game anyway" round-robin. Been there, done that. I do want to point to a couple of things, though.

One, there are other costs to piracy than just lost sales. For example, with TQ, the game was pirated and released on the nets before it hit stores. It was a fairly quick-and-dirty crack job, and in fact, it missed a lot of the copy-protection that was in the game. One of the copy-protection routines was keyed off the quest system, for example. You could start the game just fine, but when the quest triggered, it would do a security check, and dump you out if you had a pirated copy. There was another one in the streaming routine. So, it's a couple of days before release, and I start seeing people on the forums complaining about how buggy the game is, how it crashes all the time. A lot of people are talking about how it crashes right when you come out of the first cave. Yeah, that's right. There was a security check there.

So, before the game even comes out, we've got people bad-mouthing it because their pirated copies crash, even though a legitimate copy won't. We took a lot of shit on this, completely undeserved mind you. How many people decided to pick up the pirated version because it had this reputation and they didn't want to risk buying something that didn't work? Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy."

There's the full post here:

It's an interesting read because you'll learn about the challenges PC developers face when making games for the PC platform. After reading that, I feel a bit sorry for PC developers in general. From reading that post, it seems that developing games for the PC platform must be incredibly difficult.

From a consumer standpoint, I used to be a PC gamer myself, but I stopped because PCs seem to require that you upgrade your video card, CPU, motherboard and RAM every six months. Having average hardware yields average performance out of your games, and it doesn't help that the advertising on PCs always goes along the lines of "Buy this so that you will play your games the way they're MEANT to be played." At first I must admit I found the whole 'upgrade-mania" that's part and parcel of PC gaming to be quite a bit of fun.....but it does get taxing on the wallet at some point. Couple that with the fact that big games for the PC only come out every other year (if you're lucky), and when they do come out, they always have system requirements that are higher than what you anticipated they'd be. So you end up spending even more on PC hardware, just to make sure everything works perfectly.

At some point I switched to console gaming because there's less of a need for system maintenance and hardware upgrades with the format. I don't have to worry that I'm running a game at a less-than-optimal rate than my peers, because everyone with the same console as you has the same hardware; and I guess even developers will find that easier because they have a set target configuration to work with when making games. This ensures that the quality of their games is more focused and consistent, too.

The only negative with console gaming?

Console wars on the Internet.

"My multiplatform port is better than your port!"

"The PS3 is better than the Xbox 360 because it has Blu-ray! Movies FTMFW!!!"

"Uncharted justifies my $600 purchase! YESSS!!!"

"Final Fantasy 13 is PS3 exclusive! EXCLUUUUUSIVE! That JRPG of yours is just a copy of this! So what if it was worked on by the father of Final Fantasy? We've still got the BRAND! THE BRAND!!!!! LOLZ"

I see this a lot on NEOGAF forums. Every single day. I try to ignore it and still go to NEOGAF because they get all the console gaming news first. It's still annoying to me when I see it though.

...hmm, come to think of it, when I was a PC gamer usually the forum threads are like this:

"OMG my rig can do 400 FPS, a whopping 4% better than your rig! pwn3d lol"

No comments:

Post a Comment