Currently working my way through Mass Effect and loving it, as a game its big enough to make it feel like i’m control but has enough of a directed main plot to make me want to continue and save the galaxy.
The character development is particularly good, both your own back story and how that ties in throughout the game but also the other main character. The ability to talk to them about there homes and life, even flirt and have romances fills in it so its much much more than simple shoot, get XP, shoot game.
I’d love to build a world like that, not neccessarily the same genre but something with that level of immersion. Mass Effect is brillient but from a game design/development point of view, I can also see how much more we can do and that excites me greatly. I play Mass Effect and see how much more character development, romance, back stories, non linear plots I think we can do now.
However if I were to work on a game like ME, i’d have lots of creative input into it, just being a peon for something so big would frustrate me massively. The problem is that I expect the only way you get that level of creative control is to be a director of your own studio, which is my ultimate goal but obviously isn’t that easy.
The largest stumbling block is always the obvious one, how do you convince a publisher to literally buy in. From issues like IP (particular while employed some where else while you work out the details before going indie), to good ol’ fashioned money (how to you build up enough reserves to go indie for enough months while obtaining a deal), to things like should you do the “big project that you think is AAA” or “small first project to prove to publisher you can finish on time and on budget”.
While the download/indie scene is interesting at the moment, with PSN, Wiiware and XBLA, the fundemental problems remain the same just on a smaller scale. Even with over a decade of games development under my belt, I still don’t really know how to make the jump, I expect I need to dig into the money/biz side of things more and hopefully figure how others have done it.
Of course I’ve known and indeed worked for people who’ve done it, but still haven’t really figured out how they did it… For example how did Nina, Mike and Tameem (Directors of Just Add Monsters/Ninja Theory) start JAM and get MS to publish Kung Fu Chaos, or Alex and co get the Little Big People deal with Sony. It just seems like magic sometimes hehe or maybe I’m missing something.
I sometimes wonder if I should take a ‘money’ job for a few years to build up reserves but even then the kind of extra money you’d need to generate feels a bit out of reach. (well unless you Gabe at Valve (if the rumours are true) who worked for MS, earnt lots via stocks and then got given the Quake engine by Carmack!!! lucky bastard! ;-) Tho if there a company that deserves and used there early luck for good, its Valve. I recently played through Orange Box and HL2 and its episodes is pure genius!)
Any comments welcome of course, and anytime anybody wants to comment or talk directly, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org Tho be warned i’m sometimes really crap at replying, its not that I don’t mean to but I leave it just one more day… repeatly. So sorry to anybody i’ve never replied to when I should, feel free to nudge me I never delete emails just sometimes they get delayed in replying (I think 3 months is the longest i’ve pushed one off for…)