Sunday, May 27, 2012

In Defense Of Super Sprint & Electronic Arts

Edit: Moved the racing conclusions to the previous post.

You may notice I've been posting more often recently.  So far in this Summer semester, we've been free-floating a bit.  Haven't had any other work other than to work on our capstone games/portfolio stuff.  Chilling out with other people.  It's good but it's like we're organelles free-floating in the cytoplasm.  Now's the time to prep for future careers.  And hence, another long-winded discussion on my future career plans on tap for you guys.

So, about Super Sprint.  I've still been working on this thing.  I've added plenty of features such as track selection (as seen above), better collision detection with "realistic" physics (so you can't overlap the other cars, see above again), better keyboard controls, more settings & improved menus, real-time position tracking, general improvements to code/performance, and, of course, network play (complete with a chat window).  I'll probably give a more detailed explanation of how this stuff is done in future posts.

Right now, I've got basic online working but there's so many kinks to work out to keep a server & multiple client session moving from race to race while accommodating for any minor holes that could crash the server.  It's incredibly tedious and all I can really do is chip away at it.  I could possibly release an off-line only version of Super Sprint with the new stuff but I have to get the online portion solid as soon as possible.

The reason I keep bringing up Super Sprint, much to the chagrin of everyone reading this, is not to rub it in anyone's faces or to get a million downloads.  The main reason why is because I want to have at least one "solid" racing game on my portfolio heading towards the future.  Honestly, I don't know how many racing games I'll get to work on in the future.  Between the combination of game studios to choose from AND the abysmal failures of the racing genre in recent times, odds are slim to none that I'll get the chance to work on a racing game that I'll truly like ever again.  So before I enter the workplace, now's my chance to "cherish" a racing game for the very last time.

This brings me to my next point and that is job opportunities.  In about a month or two, several companies, such as EA, Electronic Arts, EA Tiburon, EA Sports, and Electronic Arts in Maitland, FL, will come around doing internship interviews with students.  My pickings will be very slim and there's no getting around that.

I had a sad, pitiful goal as soon as I entered the game industry that you all know too well.  As I hit the floor running, I make a bee-line towards Sega of America.  Get Sega of Japan/Yu Suzuki/Toshihiro Nagoshi on the phone.  Make another Sega racing game, particularly Daytona 3.  Then the game gets made and the world is eternally blessed for our efforts.  The problem is THIS IS NEVER HAPPENING (at least not right away).  Sega is an inept company which is hardly on the move.  They're developing fewer games and hiring fewer employees.  They don't even develop their own games in the US anymore.  See the Sega post I made earlier.

But there's always a home at EA...  I already burned bridges with EA in the past with my incredible "EA sucks" post.  But now I may have to rethink that opportunity.

For some reason, the best analogy involves the 2005 movie Lord of War, featuring everyone's favorite Caucasian male celebrity, Nicholas Cage.  The movie is about an arms dealer (Cage) who buys weapons from the Soviets and sells them to African mercenaries/terrorists/militia men.  He's a wealthy, well-to-do man but his job is clearly dangerous, illegal, and immoral.  But when Cage's character is confronted with his decision to aid in the death & destruction of other people, one of his quotes (and I paraphrase) is "I'm a necessary evil...if I don't sell weapons to terrorists, then others will, so what's the difference?"

So let's say I remain the little rebel that I am.  I reject the EA propaganda and turn down any offers that they  give me as I storm out the building seething from the mouth in a fine display of bravado and swagger.  Okay, fine.  You got 'em that time, boss.  I can go work for some other local studios like N-Space which specialize in hallmark titles such as Call of Duty and Hannah Montana games for the Nintendo DS.  Radical!  Then some other schmuck in the long line of EA wishfuls hops on-board with them and The Powers That Be continue to bang out Madden, Tiger Woods, and other Origin crap titles that continue to settle in the morass known as the video game marketplace.  So by me refusing to work at EA, does that change anything???  I put myself in a worse position and nothing is gained from it.  Way to go, me!!  You held out...for nothing.

Crap picture of the EA HQ in Maitland, Florida.

Let's look at the benefits of working at EA Tiburon.  First of all, it's close to where I live now so I don't have to sweat it out moving half-way across the country for someplace completely unknown.  Lots of old FIEA classmates will be working there as well.  The studio isn't a bad place to be--the working conditions and pay are pretty good.  They got rid of the yearly contracts so now you get paid healthcare (I think).  The experience of working at a top-notch studio looks great on my resume.  Plus, I'll be working on Madden or Tiger Woods.  In all honestly, I'd MUCH rather work on something innocuous like a sports title rather than something that would grind my gears, such as RAGE, Diablo, or Mass Effect (yes, I said it).

But like I said before, that's not the point of going into the game be a subservient lackey for EA for the majority of my career.  We must get out of here and work on actual good racing games.  One problem is that to game studios, their workforce is their greatest asset.  Unlike other goods produced such as cars & furniture, the value of video games drop rapidly a year or two after release so all they've got is their workforce.  Therefore, big studios like EA can be a bit "clingy" when it comes to keeping their employees.  If a person quits, it takes much time to bring in new employees to fill the position and get them up to speed.  In other words, studios hate people who move from studio to studio a heck of a lot.  It looks like crap on your resume.  So when you pick a job, be prepared to spend at least a year there.  I don't want to spend too much time at EA while Sega continues to whither away like a dying rose!

Never mind Sega for a moment.  We're looking for racing game studios in particular (EA and NFS DOES NOT COUNT).  Too bad that the only racing games that are made nowadays are dinky little $2 games (I tilt the iPhone and the car steers!!!) or big-budget dreck that we've seen for the last 5-10 years such as Need for Speed, Burnout, DiRT, and Forza.  Hell, even being able to work on ANY racing game would be nice but which studios specialize in racing development nowadays?  Uh, EA (sort of, they're outsourcing NFS games every which way).  Then there's Codemasters though I'm not a fan of many of their games (DiRT).  Then there's Sumo Digital, probably my best secondary target besides Sega and will always be high up on the list.  Don't forget Slightly Mad Studios (Shift series) and...uh, Eutechnyx (NASCAR: The Game)?  Kind of running out of options here.  Gotta keep my eyes peeled for all racing job opportunities that crop up here and there and hope the interview process is successful.

...there is one option left on the table that's really not worth mentioning but here goes.  We start our own company.  Hire some guys (preferably ex-classmates or online Sega fans) and make the games we want.  But that would require so much business & legal work that I'd need tons of help.  And assuming you do make it to the "big leagues" (more than half of all start-ups fail miserably), most of your projects will be menial tasks from EA/Activision--the games that are so irrelevant they are too lazy to make on their own (i.e. Madden on the 3DS).  If you could wheel & deal with Sega it would be worth it but it's not likely so it's hardly worth the entrepreneurial effort.

I've made the hiring analogy of a NFL Draft before in the past.  Basically, as an employee, you have very little choice in where you want to go, especially when you are just starting out.  You may hate the company/organization/team/colors you play for, but you gotta make it work for the betterment of everyone around you.  And if somehow Sega manages to wither away in the next 5-10 least I hope the good little drones that buy the EA titles are more "blessed" due to my work.  If Sega is "doomed" anyway, then why not help other people?  It's not my dream but it's better than nothing.  So you must make do with what you got.

This has gone on way too long...I'm done.  Gonna keep plugging away at Super Sprint.  Hopefully, we'll be able to catch Sega's eye though unconventional means besides working there.  That's one reason why this blog exists too.  And Happy Memorial Day, we support the guys in uniform that gave their lives for our freedom.  I've said this plenty of times before and I'll say it again.  Already made the "official" Memorial Day post so it's alright.

BTW guys, you gotta buy this to help save Sega:


  1. good luck in your job future.

    i was dreamy eyed about doing
    computer graphics programming when
    i graduated.. i did end up in a nice
    tiny company and it was fun for year
    and a half...

    although they were clobbered when
    microsoft incorporated most of their
    functions into windows.. i never
    got back into programming or game
    development for a company again
    after that.

    anyways, it's good to get some valid
    experience under your belt.. learn
    the tools of the trade..

    keep working on programming games for yourself.
    thats what me and my friend are doing
    with gamemaker. we are making retro remakes
    and sequels for games that we think should
    have been made, and adding improvements
    and fixes to games that should have them.

    do a kickstarter project, and make a
    clone for 'daytona' 3.. i'm sure the
    emulator guys at supermodel could help
    out. and the source code is out there.
    although looking at it, its mostly
    about the emulator..

    i remember someone made their daytona
    clone game, and it was pretty good.
    so it could be done..

    anyways, it's been interesting reading
    about your progress. and trying out
    super sprint. etc..

    don't forget what happened to the
    guy at the end of lord of war,
    he got taken away to jail.


  2. Ha, okay! I won't go to jail (I hope). We'll beat EA fair and square. I want to see some of your work in the future if it's possible.

  3. well, some of the games are located
    here..*you have to search for RBRgames
    classic arcade

    they moved the forums around, and
    also a lot of the files are down,
    because they were hosted on megaupload.

    anyways, we remade/ported space invaders,
    missile command, pac-man, ms pac-man,
    q*bert, joust, jr pac-man, and lately
    have been doing a very faithful version
    of gauntlet..