Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Random Thoughts About Gaming School & Design

Hello everybody at 1:51 AM from Orlando, Florida.  Today was just a down day for me.  I wasn't feeling it.  I went to bed really early.  Rofl, you didn't come here to read about me moping around so let's cut to the chase.  Let's put it all in one blog post since I'm lazy like that.

So far, FIEA (the gaming school) hasn't really been hard.  I don't know if talking about this gaming school is "interesting" within the context of Sega games, but hey, I think it's interesting so deal with it.  It's been more enlightening than it has been tough.  The only thing I've worked on thus far is this Flash 2D overhead pizza delivery game.  My main job has been to create the car handling (drifts included) and an arrow system leading you to your next drop off point and it's really sweet--I like it.  It involved some incredibly convoluted math though and I'm lucky I pulled it off.  I can't show it to you yet though.

Today (err...yesterday), everyone showed their game prototypes in class today--all 13 of them.  And sure enough, the instructor had some "suggestions" for each one of our projects.  Ours was "make it less like a poor man's Crazy Taxi."  Which in terms of marketability, isn't that bad of an idea.  So now, our team has to come up with good ideas.

First of all, I will go on record and say I will not criticize my cohorts or their work behind their backs here.  It's shallow and they may be reading this so who knows.  Our team is getting along and putting in decent work so that's good.

The thing that has me most concerned about the project is, well, the grading scale.  This is determined by the instructor's opinion of your game as well as your teammates' opinions of your contributions.  So basically, it's a subjective topic so if you do it "right" but tick someone off the wrong way (even the slightest), then that's probably going to affect your grade.

Now this wouldn't bother me so much if the cutoff GPA was a 3.0.  I said this before--if your GPA drops below 3.0 or you lower than a C in a class, you're kicked out of the school.  Now that leaves little room for error, especially when you throw subjectivity into the mix.  I mean, I wouldn't mind working on a game, plowing ahead, having a good time if there wasn't so much worry on the outcome.  Oh well, that's the gaming biz for you!

And another thing.  The way the instructor critiqued your game is rather weird.  First of all, this game is your "baby" and like any good game, it goes through rigorous trials that may make you cry.  Question--if your team makes a racing game Gran Turismo-style and you all like it but the instructor doesn't like it because "it didn't have enough explosions/Burnout crash-cams" or "it needs aliens to come down and suck up the car," it's a bad game?  Games are an acquired taste anyway--I don't like RPG's or MMO's, for instance, but is it my job to review these games when I have no "expertise" in anyway?

Technically, in terms of programming and in gameplay (driving the car and doing donuts is fun) I would say that my game ranks in the top half of all the projects.  I know it sounds like bragging, but from an objective point of view, that's how I feel.  So I'll be disappointed if I'm docked for that.

Lest you forget--I'm a PROGRAMMER.  It really isn't in my job description to come up with ideas for games.  So if the producers come up with lousy ass ideas, is it my fault too no matter how good of a programming job I do?  I'M NOT SAYING that my current team sucks (cause it's good), but I am concerned about something like this in the future.

Anyway, I'll end my gaming rant on one thing--game programming really is tough if you want to make specific games "in your image."  Unless the game has a really small development team (like Angry Birds or Super Meat Boy), then, assuming all workers aren't drones, people (including those on the outside like focus groups, etc.) are going to want a say in what the game's like.  And the bigger the game gets, the more it'll change.

So it's tough to cope with.  It's not like art where you can paint it however you like.  It's ultimately, about, well...selling a game to make money.  And money's a good thing.  Without it, you're good as dead so screw making what you want--if a man will pay you to make a lousy game where you play a monkey throwing fecal matter at people, then you do it.  Oh, life sucks, lol.  You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

How will you deal with PRESSURE??  Lol, I'm good at this song in Rock Band 3 (Pro Keys).

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