The cost of games

 Posted by (Visited 1297 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Jan 172018
 

Yesterday I was in Anaheim giving a talk called “Industry Lifecycles.” It was intended to be a brief summary of the blog post of the same title, with a dash of material from my recent post on game economics.

Now, that latter post resonated quite a lot. There was lengthy discussion on more Internet forums than I can count, but it came accompanied by skepticism regarding the data and conclusions. If you recall, the post was originally replies to various comment threads on different sites, glued together into a sort of Q&A format. It wasn’t based on solid research.

As many pointed out, getting hard data on game costs is difficult. When I did my talk “Moore’s Wall” in 2005, I did some basic research using mostly publicly available data on costs, and extrapolated out an exponential curve for game costs, and warned that the trendlines looked somewhat inescapable to me. But much has changed, not least of which is the advent of at least two whole new business models in the intervening time.

So the Casual Connect talk ended up being an updated Moore’s Wall. Using industry contacts and a bunch of web research, I assembled a data set of over 250 games covering the last several decades. This post is going to show you what I found, and in rather more detail than the talk since the talk was only 25 minutes. (You can follow this link to see the full slides, but this post is really a deeper dive on the same data.)

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2017 Year in Review

 Posted by (Visited 108 times)  Misc, Open thread
Dec 312017
 

As usual, I’ve promised to post more on here, and as usual, what used to become

Tiny Castle

blog-length posts instead become a bunch of individual and usually shallow Tweets instead. Twitter, what hast thou wrought?

But here’s a little bit of contemplation of the year anyway.

Almost everything I have worked on this year has been other people’s projects that I cannot tell you about. Which has been a bit concerning to me, honestly — it’s been quite a while since something of my own went out there for people to play. That’s something I plan to fix in the new year. Doing consulting, in particular, has taken up a lot of the creative bandwidth and space to think and work on things.

Board games

A lot of my project time has gone towards tabletop games. This year I only worked on four and finished one, which is a slowing pace for me. Over the last few years I have been making new abstract strategy games at a pretty steady clip. The new one that is actually reasonably finished this year is currently nicknamed Tiny Castle. It was originally a “tiny game” using only 16 tokens, but I took it in a bit of a sculptural direction; two players build a castle together, trying to satisfy one of several victory conditions. It’s a small game, with a decent sized possibility space, and it’s very bite-sized. I got to show it to Tim Fowers and he suggested skinning it with the Town Musicians of Bremens. I kind of like the castle though, as I suspect four stacks of animals may not really look as appealing as it seems on first blush. Continue reading »

Some current game economics

 Posted by (Visited 454 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Nov 272017
 

Recently I was over on The Ancient Gaming Noob blog, where a discussion broke out on all the recent discussions about lootboxes, game development costs, game pricing, microtransactions, and all the rest. In particular, it was prompted by this video:

Despite the title of that video, games are indeed plenty expensive to make, and more specifically, they’re definitely too expensive to make without the revenue brought in by all this upsell stuff.

But the reasons why are complicated, and worth explaining in more detail. So I did, in comments on that blog, and the replies there suggested that I needed to make a blog post of it.

So here it is, basically a fix-up post, and not up to my usual essay standards, being as it is cobbled together from several impromptu comments. Bold text is comments I was asked or replied to.

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Nov 012017
 

A while back I gave a keynote at the Game UX Summit in Toronto. Video of the talk is now up, so I’ve gone ahead and posted up a whole page for the talk that has the slideshow as well as the video.

The talk was similar to some of my other talks on game grammar, but with a focus on user experience: the way in which we can see each UI button as a “game,” each high-level experience as a “game,” and that therefore there are huge commonalities between UX design and game design and narrative design… but there are also big differences when we dig into looking at them granularly. In some ways it therefore draws on the same stuff (and many of the same slides!) as my talk on Game Grammar from PaxDEV, and also from my blog post about UX vs game design.

If all you want is the video, though, the organizers have you covered. And if you watch to the end, you’ll get to see some stuff about some of the tabletop games that I have been working on for the last few years:

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Ultima Online’s influence

 Posted by (Visited 416 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Sep 282017
 

https://i1.wp.com/www.uoguide.com/images/d/dc/Uologo.png?w=695This is the first question I’m answering from the ones I got for UO’s 20th anniversary.

I never played UO, so not knowledgeable. Maybe a routine question, but how do you think #UltimaOnline pushed the genre forward?

This is a big question.

I think we should start with a look at what the world was like in 1995, when the project was formally launched. Most people connected to the Internet via modem, and many of them were on 14.4k or 28.8k speeds. The 56K modem didn’t come out until 1998.

For comparison, my cable Internet at home gets 70.7Mbps for downloads. That’s 70,700k per second, versus 14k or 28k. The bandwidth difference is almost 2,500 times as much, if we look at the 28.8k modem. And that’s not counting speeds – ping times everywhere are quite a bit faster than they used to be. Old routers used to add 20ms just from you going through them, and getting 250ms ping time to anywhere was considered normal and if sustained, pretty good. Continue reading »