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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessJapan: Do as the Hollywodians
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Author Topic: Japan: Do as the Hollywodians  (Read 7969 times)
Derek
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« on: February 28, 2007, 04:47:16 PM »

http://japanmanship.blogspot.com/2007/02/do-as-hollywodians.html

Some interesting insight into the Japanese game development workplace.

DISCUSS.  Or not. Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: February 28, 2007, 04:49:44 PM by Derek » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2007, 09:34:55 PM »

What I find more interesting is the freelancer model talked about as "The system of tomorrow", than the Japan references.  It's a model similar to what's evolving over at the jobs and portfolio's forums at IndieGamer, except we lack (or merely don't share) established standards and guidelines.  I've been experimenting with this recently myself by hiring a contract artist.

One of the trickiest early parts has been crafting the contract.  Now, I do have my contracts from my prior employments, agreements with other companies, but they're too heavy as I see it.  The point is to get this person enough in the loop to produce your content, tell them what you need, and you get the rights to the content for your money.  All this BS of non competition has to go.  I ended up borrowing a sample contract and NDA from a book on hiring for web design, and modifying them.  It's not perfect, but I think I came up with something that works.  Termination, completion and scheduling were tricky topics to cover, given my more loose schedule (2 months +/-).

The next battle is the approach to getting them up to speed.  I suspect the best way to handle this involves having them play the game, watch/read some promotional/pitch material, talk to them about what you need from them, and going with the flow.  Easy, right?  Undecided

This business model also means is more management duties on the plate of the core team.  In fact, this also means management duties for all parties involved, especially the contractors.  They really need to have their acts together.  With larger teams, programmers outside the lead/owner might be able to get away from the biz work, but artists, designers, and anyone involved in content will be getting themselves dirty.

I don't really know what my point is, but it's certainly at a unique time in game development.  Smaller games look like a viable business.  Content is our biggest adversary.  It's all about either finding ways to generate it, or ways to leverage it.  Screw Japan, they've already taken too long.   Grin
« Last Edit: February 28, 2007, 09:37:30 PM by PoV » Logged

Mike Kasprzak | Sykhronics Entertainment - Smiles (HD), PuffBOMB, towlr, Ludum Dare - Blog
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2007, 10:44:48 AM »

Well, I tried to discuss. Tongue

It's a neat article.  Someone must have something else to say.  Go ahead and ignore my inane rambling if you must. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2007, 03:08:35 PM »

I skipped the bit about japan, as I know dick all about it, but I quite like the idea of outsourcing a metric fucktonne of content and administering it in a smaller team. Problem is (As mentioned) you lose the immediacy of workflow and must therefore set rigid guidelines on content to ensure asset gel and getting a game that doesn't look like a bad patchwork quilt. A bad one! Could work well with code, perhaps better than art, as modules are much easier to define than art style and so forth.
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2007, 03:10:25 PM »

That article seemed too vague and at the same time too detailed. Those charts were hard to follow, and terms like 'serf mentality' made me wonder why he was being derogatory toward the Japanese on a blog that seems to be about Japan.

That said, I think Japan's days of leading the world in game development will be over when Miyamoto dies. He was the driving force there, and anyone else there can only be a shadow. Japan still produces generally better games than any other country does, but it's balanced out quite a bit; there are now great games being made in the US, the UK, Korea, China, even France.

So I think game development is going to become increasingly globalized. It's becoming easier to create a game via the internet, so we may soon see many more international teams. You might have a great game designer and director in China leading a team that consists of programmers in India and artists in France a musician in Brazil and some dialogue writers in Germany, all with a shared vision to create a great game.
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2007, 03:26:07 PM »

That said, I think Japan's days of leading the world in game development will be over when Miyamoto dies.

Um, he's 57. I think he's still got a few miles left in the tank Smiley

As for outsourcing, I'm a bit biased but in my experience you usually get 1 of 3 things:

1. excellent work, will call again A++++
2. guys who overcharge and underperform
3. people who just barely deliver, but in one way or another you end up fixing/changing their work and burning hours to the point where the advantage of contracting out is nullified

The #1's are rare and worth every penny. Unfortunately, you have to wade through a bunch of 2's and 3's to find them. I can't speak on the game industry, but in other creative fields that's been my experience.  Undecided
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2007, 03:28:27 PM »

Yeah, I expect him to live to 80 or 90. But I'm thinking very long-term, in terms of decades rather than years.
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2007, 07:29:34 PM »

Man, there's a whole stack of other Japanese game designers with a long career of making successful games. How about Yu Suzuki (Space Harrier, Out Run, Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop, Shenmue) or Yoshiki Okamoto (Time Pilot, Gyruss, 1942, Street Fighter, Resident Evil).
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2007, 09:47:51 PM »

Japan's days of leading the world in game development will be over when Kenta Cho dies.
And as we all know, Kenta Cho never dies.
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2007, 09:56:15 PM »

Here's a relevant postmortem on contracting out most of the work for a big (AAA) project and managing it all with a core team:
http://gamasutra.com/features/20060811/seropian_01.shtml
It's not something I'd personally ever want to do on such a scale though.

I've had mostly good experiences contracting out very specific peieces of code, art, and music so far, albeit on my deliberately small scale. My modus operandae has been to simply find the best and most relevant talent I can through the internet, and just asking if they'd be interested in doing some work.

Having a playable test version of the game to show has helped a lot I think, since I only contact people whom clearly already have passion for similar games and work. It's just that much easier to get someone involved if you can show them something they like and see potential in.

A really interesting model I want to try soon is to have significant contributors also have a royalty deal option instead of just simple fixed payments for work done. My payment processor (Plimus) supports automatic royalty payments made to people out of the gross sales, so I don't have to deal with it, and the contractors can have the confidence of getting timely checks directly from the 3rd party processor.

Of course the incentive to do better (game selling better due to better content) and more work (larger percentage deal) for a larger royalty payments is there for them too, which is def win-win.

Does anyone else have any experiences with royalty-based contracting deals? I'd be interested in hearing from both the contractor and -ee sides of things, so please share your wisdom!


« Last Edit: March 01, 2007, 09:59:12 PM by Data » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2007, 11:48:57 PM »

Japan's days of leading the world in game development will be over when Kenta Cho dies.
And as we all know, Kenta Cho never dies.
What if he got garbage collected?
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2007, 01:47:58 AM »

There are of course lots of great Japanese developers. But most of them make games in the style pioneered by Miyamoto, they don't do anything truly different. And the ones that are different, aren't popular. Miyamoto is the only developer in the world who is both original and popular.

Here's an analogy: there are lot of great manga artists in Japan today, but I'd say Manga has been dead since the death of Tezuka, because virtually all of those manga artists are still making Manga in the style of Tezuka. It's a vibrant industry, but they aren't really doing anything he didn't do. Similarly, Japanese games aren't really doing anything Miyamoto didn't do.
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2007, 02:06:07 AM »

That is some crazy ass BS.
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2007, 02:13:45 AM »

I admit I didn't offer enough evidence for anyone to take my word on it. And I can't in a comment thread, really. But what I'm thinking of is: Japanese games are all basically one movement, with similar principles in its games. Most of them involve the player controlling a character, an emphasis on exploration and fun, on completing missions or sections/chapters, on a gradually expanding set of abilities or inventory, and on getting to the end of the game.

The principles have become so prevalent that we think anything which doesn't have them isn't really a game. Now of course you can be creative within that framework, but, it's still within that framework. Nobody has yet created a game outside of that framework which became wildly popular (as popular as Mario and Zelda are), with the possible exception of Will Wright's games.

Miyamoto didn't invent every aspect of the framework I mention, but he did solidify it; before Miyamoto's games no game blended *all* of the elements of that framework into a cohesive system. Even Donkey Kong didn't finish the job, it took Mario, which had a series of 32 non-repeating levels, each unique, instead of ever-increasing difficulty set in the same or in a repeating set of levels, and it took Zelda, which added the idea of permanent increases in the player's abilities as they go through the game.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2007, 02:26:43 AM by rinkuhero » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2007, 03:04:19 AM »

If anyone is interested, I've made an entry in my LiveJournal about Miyamoto's framework, where I worked out the ideas I mentioned here. It too may not be enough of an argument, but at least it's better than the one I presented here.

http://rinku.livejournal.com/1211360.html
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« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2007, 09:10:25 AM »

All I can say is "Wow".  How did the basic elements of gameplay become Miyamoto's?  Even that he "perfected" them is entirely subjective.  Like I said, "wow".
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« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2007, 09:17:42 AM »

I didn't mean perfected, I meant solidified, or systematized. Anyway, again, I'm not asking anyone to believe me, I'm just saying that's how I model it. Of course different people can try to explain it in different ways, but those models will vary in how accurately they predict the future, so at least in that sense it isn't subjective.

Again, to use the manga analogy: Tezuka systematized manga, he didn't perfect manga, but he solidified the basic framework that all manga artists work in (a framework distinct from western comics, which have a different set of principles).
« Last Edit: March 02, 2007, 09:21:34 AM by rinkuhero » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2007, 12:09:51 PM »

Okay, I think I understand what you're getting at.

Off topic: I keep wishing some Amercian publisher would adopt the anthology magazine style.  I want THICK books to read and published on a regular basis, not 20 pages of art and 8 pages of fanboy letters published whenever they can get it done.
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« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2007, 01:57:05 PM »

Ooh, funny. That is one of the regular blogs I read. Small world.

I get about 50% of all my hits from that blog. It's great, and the guy behind it is greater.
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« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2007, 03:13:32 PM »

Ooh, funny. That is one of the regular blogs I read. Small world.

I get about 50% of all my hits from that blog. It's great, and the guy behind it is greater.

50% of less than 10 hits? That's not saying much  Tongue
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