How to make games developers happy again? Answers on a postcard…

Big mainstream games at the moment aren’t fun to work on… We are so stuck doing the non important stuff (1000 facial mocaps and shaders on 10 processors with actors and cameramen straight out of hollywood…) that the actual process of making the important bit (the gameplay) has becomes nasty…

It sucks, its no fun and given how much work everybody (code, art, design, qa and production) has to do to make a game, having it being no fun, really isn’t good. I’m not sure every big game development isn’t fun but I’ve never seen one (and I’ve worked on several).

The games industry has always had massive burn-out rates (see Games Development salery survey’s age demographics to see that… anybody who survives more than 5 years is considered a veteren, anybody who survives 10 is mad…) but its going/is getting worse because the huge teams are making it less personal and less satisfiying.

Being unhappy every day just isn’t good for anybodies health. I’ve seen so many good friends start as happy, bright, talented men and women and the current development paradigm (its seems to be prevalent across the entire industry) has turned them into emotional wrecks that just need to get out… I’ve never really been a programmer in the traditional sense, I only ever taught myself programming so I could make (i.e. now called design) games, yet I never do any of that. Hell I do little programming these days either.

I’m sure I’ll finish this project but after this I don’t really see me wanting to do this again… What/how I’ll do I don’t know but my life is too devoted to games to have them become un-fun… for me thats basically a punishment worse than death…

I can’t see me leaving games, I have several chances to move in graphics and always turned it down because fundementally my passion is games and can’t see life without them. So maybe like many of my colleagues I just have to go the small game route where I get some say in the games design when this project is done and dusted.

We need to get more good designers, and we don’t have to look far, there are talented people already in the industry but not in design cos traditionally the only people who got into design where those who weren’t particular good at anything else (thats not fair to the good designers out there, but many design and production roles have been filled simply by who-ever was most available) and ironically those who really want to do design are often stuck doing other jobs, because we all believed that it helps to be in the industry to get design jobs (it doesn’t)…

IMHO we need to promote cross-disciplinary skills, there are some great pure artists and pure programmers, but there are a lot of people who are artist/designer, programmer/designer, QA/designer. These people should be encouraged rather beaten into dispair by being told (and I’ve heard this several times…) that artist/code/QA can’t do design. :roll:

The positive side of it all, is that fundementally its up to those of us who are in the industry to do something, otherwise there won’t be an industry worth working in 10 years…

I won’t give up on my industry, there has to be a way of making fun creative games that sell, that don’t have the burn-out and suckiness we have at the moment.

Anyway thats enough ranting for me… Its ripe for a change in paradigm, but how is the hard question thats going to take more than a blog rant…