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T O P I C
But if *THEY* can do it...
July 5th 2000, 01:04 CEST by andy

Have you heard of Harry Potter? He's a wizard. He's also the star of a series of very successful children's books, and he is soon to appear in his very own movie.



Over at Harry's official web site, there's an announcement about the forthcoming film and an invitation for child actors to send videotapes of themselves to the casting agency.

The film is being made by Warner Bros, will be directed by Chris Columbus (of Home Alone fame), and is scheduled to begin shooting in England this summer.

What struck me as weird about this whole thing is that, on the web site, they proudly declare the film's release date: "Arrives in theatres, November 16, 2001".

When you think about it, this isn't unusual in the film industry. Film release dates are often decided before shooting even begins. This is especially true of Hollywood films, and most of them turn out okay, don't they? The majority are throwaway popcorn flicks, with a few classics every now and again, but you don't get many that are truly terrible. (This is subjective, of course. My pain threshold on films is pretty high.)

So it seems that film studios can work to strict schedules and still come up with the goods. Why can't the games industry do the same thing?

After all, a game going over schedule doesn't guarantee quality, and sticking to a deadline doesn't mean the game will be bad. Obvious examples: Daikatana was horrendously overdue, while Quake III Arena hit its target date with ease.

It has become a bit of a joke nowadays, but ask most developers when their game will be out and you'll be told "when it's done". (Hmm, maybe Apogee should trademark that?) This is meant to give us the impression of a hard-working team that is committed to quality, but you could easily argue that it signifies a team of half-competents that can't work to a schedule.

Is the "no deadline" culture of games development just a trait of a still-immature industry? Or are the movie and games industries so different that it's an invalid comparison? And what was I doing over at the Harry Potter web site? For the answers to all of these questions, and more, it's over to you...

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#1 by "Matthias Worch"
2000-07-05 01:06:56
mworch@legendent.com http://www.langsuyar.com
Just saving Warren from getting mad about a "First Post".
Hi Warren!
#2 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 01:19:08
gakruger@hotmail.com
I usually chalk this up to the fact that most of game development is really R&D, which is unpredictable and impossible to schedule. Most of the movie industry is well known and they seem able to schedule out to the day how long the various phases are going to take. I would imagine they have to be, much more money at stake (for now). Movies do have overruns and delays. Waterworld, Titanic, Charlie's Angles..<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#3 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-05 01:22:01
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
films and games are hardly comparable


film industry, multi hundred billion industry, been around 100 years, established, depth of talent in the thousands, large market penetration.

game industry, multi million industry, been around 20ish years, established in some areas, depth of talent in the 100s, small market penetration tho growing

Many games _do_ ship when they say they would, often incomplete or rushed, many dont. But if you think hard, recall how much Titanic ran over budget and time, no? How about Terminator 2 or The Abyss, or Saving Private Ryan.  Then remember how many shovelware games there are, and compare to the number of straight to video releases.


:)

Ds
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#4 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-05 01:25:04
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
Was that Apogee trademark crack really that necessary? Geez.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#5 by "Talion"
2000-07-05 01:26:10
talion6@hotmail.com
First of all: movies miss their planned release dates.  Usually they don't like to give exact dates like what you quoted, sticking to something like Summer 2001 or something like that.  But they do miss.  An example might be the extremely anticipated Lord of the Rings films, which were originally supposed to come out Christmas of 2000, summer 2001, and Christmas 2002.  Then the Internet "preview" came out revealing they will now be out Christmas of 2001, 2002, and 2003 (a year between each in addition to being pushed back).  Slippage happens.

I'll grant you it doesn't happen as often as with games.  However, as anyone who has done any programming knows, it's extremely difficult to know how long it will take to do something.  Usually you can guess pretty well how long it will take to write the code...but debugging is very variable.  It's not something that can be scheduled very well.  With film, the producers plan out every single day of shooting, so forth.  But there, the only "debugging" comes when the director wants to reshoot something in hopes of getting the actors to do a better job, or changing stuff around.  Movies slip when the director (or those over him/her) changes the direction of the film during shooting or post-production, or if the director is more picky than expected about takes.

Making games in this era means programming the game and making content.  Let's look at a game which missed its release date, though most people didn't know it at the time: Quake III.  Yes, Q3 missed, according to interviews with id afterwards.  With Q3, they didn't publicize their release date, but they expected (as I recall) to make summer of 1999, and that was what they were shooting for.  As they approached that point, the maps were finished, the models and skins and textures were finished, Carmack's engine was in its final tweaking stage...but the bot AI wasn't working.  Carmack has said that Q3 was the first game where it wasn't his part, the engine, that was finished last.  Since Cash failed to get the AI up to snuff, they had to get Mr Elusive (forget his real name) to come on and whip up something.

Now, did they miss because they were immature or didn't plan properly?  Not really.  The bot AI just wasn't there.  As I understand it Cash just couldn't get the job done, but who knows what was really going on.  Thresh and others came and played the game and thought it was complete.

Anyway, the point of all this is that by its nature programming involves unexpected delays which aren't present in film.  The "when it's done" philosophy is validated by the fact that Andy thought Quake III hit it's release date without a hitch.  If they'd been more specific, everyone would have complained and moaned about it.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#6 by "Andy"
2000-07-05 01:26:14
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#3</b>, Darkseid-[D!]:

The games industry is worth more than the film industry. I don't have any figures, but it's a well-known fact. (It's probably so well-known because you'd expect it to be the other way round.)
#7 by "Ian"
2000-07-05 01:29:14
terrencelaukkanen@hotmail.com
Actually, you usually don't have a release date at all (example: Hannibal preview) at first, then a year, then a season, then a month, and then a concrete release date. In addition, release dates of Movie's often depend on genre, target audience, etc. Thats why the movie business has phrases like "Summer Blockbusters" and "Oscar Season". The only parralel in the games industry is X-mas, which shows how much gaming is still considered children's entertainment. The rest of us can buy a game whenever we feel like it. Also, movies don't have to keep pace with rapidly updating technology (Like 3DR did when they switched engines a while back.) Because of the fact that technology can become obselete before you finish your game, you may have to reprogram a few times, like the Daikatana team had to do (Although that was hardly their only problem). Sometimes a bug may be discovered that requires fixing. I'd prefer getting a game later than having to patch again and again and again, especially when that patch deletes all past saves.

As for Daikatana and QIII, they really are different genres, one single-player focused and one multiplayer focused. Single player takes a lot more time to create. Besides, the Daikatana developement was so messed up that the only example it should be used in is how <b>not</b> to make a videogame<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#8 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 01:31:50
gakruger@hotmail.com
The game industry I think just recently passed movies. BUT this includes all the hardware sales of consoles. The PC game industry is pretty small compared to the movie industry.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#9 by "Andy"
2000-07-05 01:32:39
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#5</b>, Talion:
<QUOTE>
The "when it's done" philosophy is validated by the fact that Andy thought Quake III hit it's release date without a hitch. If they'd been more specific, everyone would have complained and moaned about it.
</QUOTE>
Fair enough. I thought they'd been aiming for November/December.
#10 by "Dethstryk"
2000-07-05 01:34:32
dethstryk@damagegaming.com http://www.damagegaming.com/
<b>#6</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>The games industry is worth more than the film industry. I don't have any figures, but it's a well-known fact. (It's probably so well-known because you'd expect it to be the other way round.)</QUOTE>
I'd love to see some facts on this, because this one sounds a little screwy to me. There aren't nearly as many games sold as a hit movie sells tickets, but then again there is a price difference.

Someone dig up some numbers or something.


--
Dethstryk
Damage Gaming
#11 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-05 01:34:36
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
incorrect andy :)

the film industry is worth an awfu lot more....


unless of course, you discount _adult films_ which make more money that mainstream films and music sales put together (according to US figures last year)


ner :)


Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#12 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-07-05 01:42:24
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
Matt :
<quote>Just saving Warren from getting mad about a "First Post".
Hi Warren! </quote>

*single tear rolls down cheek*
You're the best Matt!  :)  ...now go eat a carrot or something.  :P


Darkseid :

Yes, speculation can be fun, so I'll partake as well.  :)  I could swear I heard the games industry brings on more cash than the film industry ... don't have a source though ...  Remember that "games industry" include PC's AND consoles ... and probably arcade machines ... as well as all the various merchandising (t-shirts, mugs, posters, etc) ... lots of stuff to add into the total.  :)
#13 by "None-1a"
2000-07-05 01:43:20
none1a@home.com http://www.geocities.com/none-1a/
<b>#6</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<B>#3</B>, Darkseid-[D!]:

The games industry is worth more than the film industry. I don't have any figures, but it's a well-known fact. (It's probably so well-known because you'd expect it to be the other way round.)
</QUOTE>

Acctauly andy the last I heard the figures for moview only accounted fr US ticket sales (video, and world wide sales be damned), while the video game figures where video games in the US as a whole (ie any thing sold to play video games or the games them selves). <I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#14 by "Andy"
2000-07-05 01:46:13
andy@planetcrap.com
<b>#11</b>, Darkseid-[D!]:

<a href="http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid%5F817000/817089.stm">This page</a> says: "Worldwide, the computer and video games industry generates around $16bn a year." So that's one figure for you. Now all I need is the other one. ;-)

I'm fairly sure I'm right about this. I've seen it quoted as a little factoid in so many articles that either it's true, or lots of journos have made the same mistake. (Or they've all listened to the same person, who made the mistake...)
#15 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 01:53:42
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#6</b> "Andy" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<B>#3</B>, Darkseid-[D!]:

The games industry is worth more than the film industry. I don't have any figures, but it's a well-known fact. (It's probably so well-known because you'd expect it to be the other way round.)
</QUOTE>

Actually they only make more than the hollywood film industry. This aint include a lot of the rest of the film world or a lot of the tv/video films. Thou it is a impressive feat none-the-less. I didn't believe it at first until someone shoved figures under my nose :P

<b>#2</b> "Gabe" wrote...
<QUOTE>

I usually chalk this up to the fact that most of game development is really R&D, which is unpredictable and impossible to schedule. Most of the movie industry is well known and they seem able to schedule out to the day how long the various phases are going to take. I would imagine they have to be, much more money at stake (for now). Movies do have overruns and delays. Waterworld, Titanic, Charlie's Angles..</QUOTE>

God No. Next you will be claiming that it is because more "art" in games or something absurd like that. 99% of games are cookie cutter games. The technology is nothing new, nor is the story - they are the equivelent of video movies. The games industry (well at least programmers of the said industry) are close to 7-8 years behind other industries in practices. This may not sound like a long time but in programming terms it is huge. The reason ?
* Games Programmers get payed about 80% of regular programmers.
* Games Programmers are hired for knowledge rather than skill
* No incentive to change skills
* Poorly managed in most part
...

Actually I could go on and on. As industry matures you will see more professionalism and more of the removing ownership (ie Programmers can be moved from project to project on monthly rotation). I believe there are some "matured" developers - I heard Raven was one of them ????? Basically this allows quicker turnaround (didn't they do heretic 2 in under a year???) that is faster, cheaper and more reliable.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#16 by "Ian"
2000-07-05 01:55:41
terrencelaukkanen@hotmail.com
Usually, what magazines and web sites do when talking about the games industry is pick a number out of a hat, or if they can't find a hat, add a million to the total they used last article. If this is their first article and they don't have a hat, they use an imaginary number.

Some examples:

"The games industry is now the fastest growing entertainment media, up 2 kajillion dollars from last years total"
-<i>PC Gamer, July 1999</i>

"The biggest slice of the home entertainment pie is the games industry, now grossing around infinity + 5 dollars a year"
-<i>Electronic Gaming Monthly, 1999: The Year in Review</i>

Or you can use my favorite Price is Right bidding strategy is bet low and hope everyone else goes over:

"Quake 2 alone sold over 10 copies in the North American market"
-<i>Wired, October, 2000</i><I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#17 by "Chris Johnson"
2000-07-05 01:59:47
For what it's worth, the last figures I heard quoted were two years ago, where the games industry (again, PC, console, and related merchandise) fell short of the Film industry (and its related merchandise) by 500 million bucks.

Still, for soemthing that quite literally started about 20 years ago in a bunch of people's garages, it's impressive that the interactive media industry made it to within a half a billion dollars in a relatively short time.

Back to the subject at hand, there are far too many reasons to name (although many have been hit upon by Gabe, Ian and Darkseid, above).  Add to their reasons that the number of developers (individuals, not companies) actually doing the work are very few in comparison.  Other than Squaresoft (which I understand uses teams into the triple digits as far as employees are concerned), most games nowadays are put together by teams of 20-40 people, give or take.  For the amount of content in most good, looked-forward-to titles, that's an awfull lot of man hours put in to catch every problem, continuity problem, bit of content, etc.  Which are usually handled by (depending on the film) production staffs of three to five hundred (or more), all with specialized jobs, where as developers are usually a bit more generic in their roles (although this is changing among the more accomplished houses).

Also, game development is far more organic by nature.  Story changes, tech changes, design alterations, project restarts, all of these are things that are much more prevalent in games than in film, although it does happen there as well.  It's just that in film, the scripts are usually nailed down before the casts and crews are assembled.  Then they are nailed down.  And filming and editing and post production are all (except for the effects departments in many cases) more-or-less exact sciences, with known quantities oh the how, where, and why of how the production is to be made.  Not so in game development.  

Is it in the best interest to at least have a target time frame for a game to be done?  In my opinion, of course it is.  But as far as exact dates or anything that pinpoint, it's a near-impossibility.

---CJ

<I>Nothing I say is necessarily the opinion of my employers, my family, or necessarily the human race.  After I think more, it might not even be my opinion.</I>
#18 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 02:01:26
gakruger@hotmail.com
We don't really talk about cookie cutter games like the Barbie line or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? around here, so I was referring to games like Quake, Unreal, etc. Those games ARE R&D...just read post-mortems. They may include several understood techniques, but those techniques have rarely been put all together into a real time system.

I will agree that there is a lack of proper engineering practices amongst many game programmers. But to be honest, it seems most programmers in general fall into that category.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#19 by "Ian"
2000-07-05 02:04:05
terrencelaukkanen@hotmail.com
Of course, in some games, story isn't an issue at all. For example, if you look at the Half-Life story, compared to other games at the time, it is certainly a step up, but compared to movie scripts, its very difficult to defend.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#20 by "Apache"
2000-07-05 02:05:05
DOWN WITH BRITISH TYRANY!

Happy Fourth of July!
#21 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 02:06:40
gakruger@hotmail.com
<b>#20</b> "Apache" wrote...
<QUOTE>

DOWN WITH BRITISH TYRANY!

Happy Fourth of July! </QUOTE>

Wait until they see The Patriot. Yikes.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#22 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-07-05 02:08:15
darkseid-d@planetcrap.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
ah ah ah

down with _ENGLISH_ Tyranny


the Scots, Welsh and N.Irish had bugger all to do with it except be shipper off to the US as undesirables ;)


bit like now really :)


Ds<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#23 by "Chris Johnson"
2000-07-05 02:08:34
RavinTaka (Yeah, I'm sure I misspelled that): <QUOTE>"99% of games are cookie cutter games." </QUOTE>

True.  But then again 99% of games are also games that don't sell and don't have the hype behind them that make people wonder about their releases.  

I'll agree that game technology is behind regular tech.  Any programmer will admit that games tech is just a new way of using existing techniques or theory.  I's figuring out how to utilize it all and make it work and be an enjoyable experience that the R&D goes into.  If R&D wasn't performed, we'd still be playing variations of Sopwith and Flightmare.  (that dates me, doesn't it?).  

Just because it's not a "new" technology per se doesn't mean that you should say that the programmers are either not doing any type of R&D, nor does it mean that they are less proficient in programming, or willing to increase their skills, and it does quite a few of them a great disservice to say so.

---CJ

<I>Nothing I say is necessarily the opinion of my employers, my family, or necessarily the human race. After I think more, it might not even be my opinion. </I>
#24 by "DanM"
2000-07-05 02:09:28
Why don't we just discuss why apple growers
can't get their produce to be just like that
of those orange growing fellas.
#25 by "PiRaMidA"
2000-07-05 02:14:36
piramida@agsm.net http://www.agsm.net
Post <b>#16</b> by Ian:
<QUOTE>"Quake 2 alone sold over 10 copies in the North American market"</QUOTE>

yeah, this way you can say that "game industry makes well over 15$ per year while film industry is way behind with only more than 10$ per year". Actully, average person watching movies spends around 10$ on one (not including merchandise), and gamer spends over 40$ on one. So yeah, games are way ahead.

We just need the numbers of how many people watch movies and how many play games :) I for one do buy more games than I watch movies. These industries are actually sharing the same market, though they probably do not know it, because when I'm playing, I'm less likely to go to a "theater near me"; wheh there are no good games and I'm bored I'll go watch a movie. (There are other things in my life too, but most of them are free of charge :) ).<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#26 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 02:20:34
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#18</b> "Gabe" wrote...
<QUOTE>We don't really talk about cookie cutter games like the Barbie line or Who
Wants to be a Millionaire? around here, so I was referring to games like Quake,
Unreal, etc. Those games ARE R&D...just read post-mortems. They may include
several understood techniques, but those techniques have rarely been put all
together into a real time system. </QUOTE>

Well okay what about q3a ? Technology wise anything new ? The only "innovation" was the really the shader system. And well quite frankly that has been in other products and been touted as the future that all I can say is ... uh der ? The research behind q3a was not "Research" per se but the main guy learning about techniques that already existed and filtering out the crap ones. This happened in the pre-production of q3a too.

The only "revolutionary" aspect of q3a was that it was multiplayer only as that had been done by very few titles before.

<QUOTE>I will agree that there is a lack of
proper engineering practices amongst many game programmers. But to be honest, it
seems most programmers in general fall into that category.</QUOTE>

depends. Web industry is rife with it aswell thou server industry won't tolerate such incompetence or behaviour so it depends on industry. (And coresponding paychecks).<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#27 by "Desiato"
2000-07-05 02:24:30
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
I fail to see how the game and film industries can be compared in this way.

In film, your cameras won't suddenly stop working because of the wrong driver, your actors speech won't stutter because you forgot to initialize a global variable.

Sure, there are physical things that can happen in filming, but that is what insurance is for -- and I really doubt that with the kind of preplanning that goes on for a big movie production, that anything short of a major disaster could prevent production. (Or perhaps running out of money.)

There are certain things that are dependable in making a film that aren't true in programming a game.

That is why I don't think that this analogy of film and gaming holds up.

Desiato
#28 by "[KAG]formerly known as Seth"
2000-07-05 02:24:38
d_k_denz@hotmail.com http://www.aelk.org
Andy wrote:
"while Quake III Arena hit its target date with ease"

well, correct me if I'm mistaken, but if I remember correctly, Q3a missed(!!) cristmas (in germany at least). Lots of people bought UT just 'cos Q3a wasn't in stores yet(not that I mind it, serves them right, these at least are now stuck with UT just like I am)
#29 by "Valeyard"
2000-07-05 02:24:42
valeyard@ck3.net http://www.ck3.net
<b>#24</b> "DanM" wrote...
<QUOTE>Why don't we just discuss why apple growers
can't get their produce to be
just like that
of those orange growing fellas. </QUOTE>

Precisely.

How can my local restaurant offer a guarantee that my lunch will be ready in 15 minutes or its free?

Why do car and home repairs notoriously take MUCH longer than the estimate?

Etc, etc.

Movies are MUCH less complicated creatures than video games, especially PC video games, and many of them still go WAAAY over budget and WAAAY over time.  (Abyss anyone?  Waterworld anyone?)

You don't have to test your movie in 50 different theaters to make sure the sound and video work properly.  You can also release a movie on the PC with almost no problems.  Why?  Because there's no interaction, one targetted format one...hey wait a minute...

Anyone with even the SMALLEST bit of understanding and common sense knows that this is a ridiculous comparison.  Is your understanding so limited?  I really wouldn't expect you to make this sort of myopic comparison.

-Valeyard<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#30 by "Apache"
2000-07-05 02:29:54
Deadlines are a part of everyday life for most industries. I have deadlines (self imposed, but deadlines still) in my job, and most people who live in a competive industry face deadlines quite frequently.

3D Realms, Valve, Blizzard and other such companies would be an exception...
#31 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 02:34:04
gakruger@hotmail.com
<b>#26</b> "RahvinTaka" wrote...
<QUOTE>
Well okay what about q3a ? Technology wise anything new ? The only "innovation" was the really the shader system. And well quite frankly that has been in other products and been touted as the future that all I can say is ... uh der ? The research behind q3a was not "Research" per se but the main guy learning about techniques that already existed and filtering out the crap ones. This happened in the pre-production of q3a too.

The only "revolutionary" aspect of q3a was that it was multiplayer only as that had been done by very few titles before.
</QUOTE>

There was the integration of a VM. That happened partway through the project and they had to move the regular compiled C to the VM C. My understanding of how the BSP was created and used was modified to be even more friendly to a hardware-only rasterizer. Since I have not seen the code or been present during production, I am sure there were quite a few other research paths explored.

When you talk about well understood techniques, what other projects have integrated networking, VM, high-end graphics, etc. all in a real-time system? That is the big thing, getting everything to work together.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#32 by "Mankovic"
2000-07-05 02:34:19
mankovic@bellsouth.net http://n/a
<B>Andy</B>

Are you trying to somehow get back to the <I>quality</I> of games issue that seemed to dominate PC for the most part of last year, Your position on this is well known, and I respect your opinions. But I dont think the two industries can be compared at all. I think Gabe nailed it on the head when he said: <quote>"most of game development is really R&D, which is unpredictable and impossible to schedule. Most of the movie industry is well known"</quote> The only area that might not be as well known in the movie industry is the technical or special effects departments, where things are always evolving. I think the distinction is whether or not the game, or movie, is considered a <I>"cookie cutter"</I> product or not. There are ground breaking Films as well as ground breaking Games.

It would be interesting to know if those "cookie cutter" game developers are held to more stringent budget/time constraints by their publishers than say someone like Carmack or the Unreal team who develope completely new technology and design. Should we first determine who in the game industry produces "cookie cutter" games, and who leads the way? And is there a real distinction there at all?
#33 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 02:35:13
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#23</b> "Chris Johnson" wrote...
<QUOTE> RavinTaka (Yeah, I'm sure I misspelled that): <quote>"99% of games are cookie cutter games." </quote> </QUOTE>

left out the h - RaHvintaka :P~
 
<QUOTE>I'll agree that game technology is behind regular tech.  Any programmer will admit that games tech is just a new way of using existing techniques or theory.  I's figuring out how to utilize it all and make it work and be an enjoyable experience that the R&D goes into.  If R&D wasn't performed, we'd still be playing variations of Sopwith and Flightmare.  (that dates me, doesn't it?).</QUOTE>

Well I am not saying there is no R&D just that it is few and far between. Most game R&D is learning about things that already are known (also known as educating self).
 
<QUOTE>Just because it's not a "new" technology per se doesn't mean that you should say that the programmers are either not doing any type of R&D, nor does it mean that they are less proficient in programming, or willing to increase their skills, and it does quite a few of them a great disservice to say so.</QUOTE>

No but they generally are hired straight out of college (or may not even go there) and generally have little to no idea of methodology that reduces cost. Try telling a garage programmer that spending 90% away from computer will actually decrease production time and sure enough I will watch you get called a liar. It is not that they are technically inept or unproficient because they would more likely be more technically adept (This is pure speculation thou :P). Even the good ones suffer from the HIH syndrome so they end up doing excessive amounts of work on wrong things.

The programmers are quite willing to increase theirs skills as long as the new skills don't conflict with world view and as their world view is limited to games style they won't learn the general practices that are known to be effective in industry because they are not something wanted by a programmer. (Trust me I am a reformed garage programmer and I HATE some of the things I have to do eventhough they increase productivity hugely).

<QUOTE><I>Nothing I say is necessarily the opinion of my employers, my family, or necessarily the human race. After I think more, it might not even be my opinion. </I> </QUOTE>

cute :P<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#34 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 02:42:40
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#31</b> "Gabe" wrote...
<QUOTE>There was the integration of a VM. That happened partway through the project and they had to move the regular compiled C to the VM C.</QUOTE>

Technology from the late 70s and early 80s yea

<QUOTE>My understanding of how the BSP was created and used was modified to be even more friendly to a hardware-only rasterizer.</QUOTE>

Well it became unfriendly to software renderer if that counts ? As they no longer required software they removed features from format that supported software and voila. I believe they used standard vertex format aswell (x,y,z,s,t) but this really doesn't count as innovation  or technically brilliant as that format existed in many popular software proggies early 90s (and possibly earlier thou not sure).

<QUOTE>Since I have not seen the code or been present during production, I am sure there were quite a few other research paths explored. </QUOTE>

well if you think of any feel free to share :P

<QUOTE>When you talk about well understood techniques, what other projects have integrated networking, VM, high-end graphics, etc. all in a real-time system? That is the big thing, getting everything to work together.</QUOTE>

Well as that is something I am currently researching for my thesius I can say that a lot of the techniques date to pre 1990 and those techniques that aren't that old come from early 90s work (with the latest being '94 that I can think of). The only thing newer in quake is the shader system thou I think that has been around since at least 96 ???? (anyone know ????)
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#35 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 02:43:16
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#34</b> "RahvinTaka" wrote...
<QUOTE>
Well as that is something I am currently researching for my thesius I can say that a lot of the techniques date to pre 1990 and those techniques that aren't that old come from early 90s work (with the latest being '94 that I can think of). The only thing newer in quake is the shader system thou I think that has been around since at least 96 ???? (anyone know ????)
</QUOTE>

I should probably note that the vast majority of this research is military based.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#36 by "Steve Bauman"
2000-07-05 02:55:23
sbauman@adelphia.net http://homepages.together.net/~sbauman/
<quote>The games industry is worth more than the film industry. I don't have any figures, but it's a well-known fact. (It's probably so well-known because you'd expect it to be the other way round.) </quote>
This is a creative "fact" the IDSA came up with. The videogame industry, in total, did about $7 billion in revenue one year (maybe 1999), and the US box-office was around $6 billion in the same year. They draw the conclusion that videogames are bigger than movies, but that completely ignores all of the secondary channels of revenue movies have, the biggest being videotape (which often eclipses box-office).
#37 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 02:56:24
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#32</b> "Mankovic" wrote...
<QUOTE>It would be interesting to know if those "cookie cutter" game developers are
held to more stringent budget/time constraints by their publishers than say
someone like Carmack or the Unreal team who develope completely new technology
and design. Should we first determine who in the game industry produces "cookie
cutter" games, and who leads the way? And is there a real distinction there at
all? </QUOTE>

Well just because something is "cookie cutter" doesn't mean it is bad. For instance you mention Carmack. I consider many of his products cookie cutter with neat innovations.

For instance
Original Doom: great set the stage for many later developement. Had many techniques implemented thats was great.
Remainder of Doom Saga: Cookie Cutter
Quake: Ground braking. First to include a whole bunch of features. PVS, VM, Client-Server, etc etc
Later Quake versions/Quakeworld. Ground braking with new client side prediction + first attempts at hardware
Quake2: Cookie Cutter
Q3A: Mostly Cookie Cutter with exception of Shaders.


Now consider the Unreal engine. It is one of the few games products that had ideas implemented beyond the current state of the industry. It's networking architecture is shear brilliance as are some of ideas in scripting design. Only now is the research formalizing on something similar (Deadline for US defense projects is October 1st this year to go with something similar to Unreal design).

Unreal was not Cookie Cutter in any ways shape or form ... but quite frankly I didn't like it. I couldn't even play it until UT came out and I decided I wanted to have a bash at some of them old levels :P
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#38 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 03:05:47
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#27</b> "Desiato" wrote...
<QUOTE>In film, your cameras won't suddenly stop working because of the wrong driver, your actors speech won't stutter because you forgot to initialize a global variable. </QUOTE>

But at one time they may have come out all grey because u used the wrong film or the wrong camera or perhaps you used it on a tilt which it wasn't designed for etc.

<QUOTE>Sure, there are physical things that can happen in filming, but that is what insurance is for -- and I really doubt that with the kind of preplanning that goes on for a big movie production, that anything short of a major disaster could prevent production. (Or perhaps running out of money.) </QUOTE>

Preplanning for a game if done on that scale could also virtually guarentee it's completion - yet how many dev teams do you know who does suchg planning ?

<QUOTE>There are certain things that are dependable in making a film that aren't true in programming a game.</QUOTE>

Err ???
Well consider Consoles. Mostly a fixed platform - as dependable as most movie tech (at least of few years ago). The only difference is in the games industry everyone wants to be a part of product. In films industry most of team is walk in walk out - depending on film house. In some cases a film crew may be filming one film one day, another the next day and a different one all together a week from now. They don't have opportunity to invest emotionally in film as much as game developer does a game. The game developer investment also works to their advantage helping to lock out other developers from working on product because certain parts of game are written by a sole individual and they are only ones who understand it.
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#39 by "Steve Bauman"
2000-07-05 03:08:07
sbauman@adelphia.net http://homepages.together.net/~sbauman/
The movie/game analogy is weak (as many have noted), but the majority of games (and movies) ship on time and on budget. So many high-profile games (and occasionaly movies) are delayed (ie "the ones anyone pays attention to before they appear on shelves") that it gives the appearance this is an industry-wide problem. While it is a problem, it's generally overstated by both the press and by gamers.

Most film shoots are like 6-8 weeks long, then the real work happens. Effects, editing, etc. We're seeing a fair number of CG-dominated movies missing release dates.

Another reason it appears movies don't slip is that they usually don't announce release dates until principle filming is complete. That Harry Potter movie has already been in development for months, maybe years, so it's possible they're building sets, creating costumes, working on effects, who knows? But the actual photography will, as I said, probably take about six weeks to complete, and it's likely the entire movie will be complete and in the can by Spring or, at the latest, early summer. I'm sure they'd like to start filming so they can put out some teaser trailers to get the hype going a la Lord of the Rings.

As for games, I think the whole "when it's done" mentality is done for marketing and PR purposes. It makes it appear the game is being so lovingly crafted that they won't ship it until it's brilliant.

Well, Stanley Kubrick worked that way with Eyes Wide Shut, and sorry kids, that wasn't his finest hour... more time does not guarantee a better final product. In fact, I always wonder if the teams get distracted over time; it has to be hard to maintain interest in a project that drags out 3-4 years.
#40 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 03:15:58
gakruger@hotmail.com
RhavinTaka:

I am not talking about R&D in the sense of coming up with brand new techniques that never existed before. I am talking about examining and testing out approaches (that may or may not already be known) and determining which is the best for your particular application. That is the kind of R&D I am talking about.

Another key element is the integration of several elements into a real-time system. There may be established research on most elements that eventually get into a game, but often the orignal researcher only did special cases or did not worry about performance, and they definitely wouldn't care if their visibilty determination system worked on a dataset that was network friendly.

As for your post saying everything was already done, mostly pre 90s...I wish I had been playing the games you were playing then. I had to play things like Leisure Suit Larry. While fun, not the most technologically spectacular.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#41 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 03:40:11
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#40</b> "Gabe" wrote...
<QUOTE>

RhavinTaka:

</QUOTE>

RAHVINTAKA !!!!! :P

<QUOTE>I am not talking about R&D in the sense of coming up with brand new techniques that never existed before. I am talking about examining and testing out approaches (that may or may not already be known) and determining which is the best for your particular application. That is the kind of R&D I am talking about. </QUOTE>

Feasability analysis is a well thought out established process in other industries, why isn't it games ? Why do games programmers do feasability analysis by actually programming and testing particular feature ? Worse yet is that some of these feasability analysis code blocks end up making it to finished products ! arrrrrrrrgg. Is it any wonder that games are always late ?

<QUOTE>Another key element is the integration of several elements into a real-time system. There may be established research on most elements that eventually get into a game, but often the orignal researcher only did special cases or did not worry about performance, and they definitely wouldn't care if their visibilty determination system worked on a dataset that was network friendly. </QUOTE>

Well most of the research I refer to did exactly that. Military simulations were mainly limited by scalability - generally they reached about 300 participants before braking. Later research pushed this up to ~850 and I think even more recent research has pushed this figure higher. Scalability on network and visual clarity was one of the most important facets of this research.

<QUOTE>As for your post saying everything was already done, mostly pre 90s...I wish I had been playing the games you were playing then. I had to play things like Leisure Suit Larry. While fun, not the most technologically spectacular.</QUOTE>

Well if you had owned a $100,000 computer and were friendly with a military simulations contractor you may have been able to. Now when the similar power can be gotten with a under $2000 grand computer you can experience it :P.<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#42 by "Mankovic"
2000-07-05 03:50:30
mankovic@bellsouth.net http://n/a
<B>RahvinTaka</B>

I didnt mean to imply that "cookie cutter" games are bad.

You drew a good distinction between the original Doom and the rest of the saga, but a good majority of games being published as of late are using liscensed technology, such as Half-Life, Heretic2, Kingpin ect. Liscensing engine technology brings in some serious cashflow to companies like ID and Epic. I'm pretty sure that a game built on an existing engine would take less time to complete than say a game like Unreal, which was in developement for close to 4 years if I remember correctly. I might be wrong however.
Myself, I like to stay informed about games and new releases and the such, because I'm a fairly hardcore gamer, and I'm sure that if I was a big time movie buff I would watch the motion picture industry just as close, and get just as dissapointed about a crappy picture that I had waited months or years to see, as I do when I get a buggy game out of the box. So in that respect I can see where Andy is coming from with this topic. I guess Andy is a movie buff as well as a gamer...;)
#43 by "Warren Marshall"
2000-07-05 03:53:01
warren@epicgames.com http://www.epicgames.com
<quote>Well, Stanley Kubrick worked that way with Eyes Wide Shut, and sorry kids, that wasn't his finest hour... more time does not guarantee a better final product. In fact, I always wonder if the teams get distracted over time; it has to be hard to maintain interest in a project that drags out 3-4 years. </quote>

I wonder about that too ... I've never been involved in a project for that kind of time (3+ years) ... I wonder how you go about maintaining your energy/focus level for that length of time.  I hope I never have to find out, but it IS something I think about from time to time ...

I mean, after a few years, are you really still into that project?  I know Epic did it with Unreal, but they were laying the foundation for their future existence (engine licensing, etc) so there was a pretty strong incentive there.  :)  But being a guy in the trenches, working on the same game for 3 or 4 years has to take it's toll on your sanity.
#44 by "Gabe"
2000-07-05 03:54:09
gakruger@hotmail.com
<b>#41</b> "RahvinTaka" wrote...
<QUOTE>
RAHVINTAKA !!!!! :P
</QUOTE>
Hey, sorry, I got close. If it is any consolation, you didn't spell break correctly later in your post...

<QUOTE>
Feasability analysis is a well thought out established process in other industries, why isn't it games ? Why do games programmers do feasability analysis by actually programming and testing particular feature ? Worse yet is that some of these feasability analysis code blocks end up making it to finished products ! arrrrrrrrgg. Is it any wonder that games are always late ?
</QUOTE>
Maybe, because like you, they think the problems are well understood? I imagine it is because of schedule pressure that they dive straight into programming the game. I have read many comments from game developers wishing the tech was established before work on the game began. But then we get Daikatana, where the game gets ripped for having dated technology (amongst many other things). Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

<QUOTE>
Well if you had owned a $100,000 computer and were friendly with a military simulations contractor you may have been able to. Now when the similar power can be gotten with a under $2000 grand computer you can experience it :P.</QUOTE>
Is THAT what they were using those computers for? Wow. So Quake was ported from a military Vax?
<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#45 by "G-Man"
2000-07-05 04:01:24
jonmars@shiftlock.org http://www.shiftlock.org
One point that I haven't seen mentioned here, is that very often movies are purposely held back from being released by studios, usually for marketing/financial reasons. Only very rarely is the same thing done with games (Super Mario Bros 2, Final Fantasy games etc,.), simply because games get 'dated' a lot faster than movies. So a producer can easily just pin an arbitrary release date down, and then let the film sit in a closet until that day.

 - [g.man]<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#46 by "RahvinTaka"
2000-07-05 04:08:30
donaldp@mad.scientist.com
<b>#44</b> "Gabe" wrote...
<QUOTE>

<B>#41</B> "RahvinTaka" wrote...

<quote>
RAHVINTAKA !!!!! :P
</quote>
Hey, sorry, I got close. If it is any consolation, you didn't spell break correctly later in your post... </QUOTE>

:P

<QUOTE>Maybe, because like you, they think the problems are well understood? I imagine it is because of schedule pressure that they dive straight into programming the game.</QUOTE>

Unfortunately that is the wrong way to go. Jumping straight into program actually increase time to market - ie the end up achieving exactly what they hoped to avoid.

<QUOTE>I have read many comments from game developers wishing the tech was established before work on the game began. But then we get Daikatana, where the game gets ripped for having dated technology (amongst many other things). Damned if you do, damned if you don't.</QUOTE>

depends on the game. Both Thief an System Shock2 had a engine that most people thought was dated and they got bagged alittle from hardcore gamers. I still loved it. If a game is carried by it's tech then it has to have the latest wizbang or else has to have some unique feature to keep it going. I haven't looked at Daikatana at all but does that fall into this category ?

<QUOTE>Is THAT what they were using those computers for? Wow. So Quake was ported from a military Vax?</QUOTE>

Yer but they couldn't call it Quake. Being the military they had to use acronyms. I once read a project that used a acronym four levels deep !! ie They had an acronym for a description that used another acronym, which in turn used another acronym. No wonder they get payed the big bucks - they have to think up witty acronyms all the time :P<I><B></B></I><I></I><I></I>
#47 by "Steve Bauman"
2000-07-05 04:17:32
sbauman@adelphia.net http://homepages.together.net/~sbauman/
<quote>I wonder how you go about maintaining your energy/focus level for that length of time. I hope I never have to find out, but it IS something I think about from time to time ... </quote>
Actually, my choice of the world "interest" was poor... maintaining interest may not be hard, but focus could be. And the longer a project drags out the more likely you'll have staff turnovers, which can lead to that damn pots stirring the cooks analogy (or something like that). Also, you can miss that nebulous "technology window", and I know this is a problem on every game, at the end of a project everyone wants to re-make those early parts of the game because everyone's still levels have increased. But you can keep "re-making" your own game forever...
#48 by "Sgt Hulka"
2000-07-05 04:33:22
sgt_hulka@yahoo.com http://www.hulka.com
Last time I read a comparison between Hollyweird sales figures and Games, games were like 400 dollars under movie revenue.  It was very close.
================================================
I've made films in the past, none that you've seen, and I've made games.  I would say that the two ARE very similar. Why?
Well, first of all you have to have a story/screenplay to start with.  Depending on the director, this story/screenplay may have a bit of improvisation during the development cycle, depends on the talent involved in creating it and the leniency of the director and his vision.  You have milestone dates based on major stopping points through development, for a game it could be a monster model/skin/AI, in a film it could be the big car chase scene where the hero gets the girl, but she disses him because he's got buck teeth.

You have a final deadline in both.  The advantage a movie has here, and probably the reason they make their preset movie release dates is the fact that studios will throw massive heaps of cash at a film production, whereas games have MUCH smaller development funds to work with, and the gaming job market is not as stable as the movie industry.  People leaving here because they don't like him, or his vision, and forming a new company then making a game based on an aging rock band who dance about in Kabuki makeup singing the Pepsi jingle.  The movie industry has it's share of unions, are well paid, and tend to stick together much more than gaming companies.
================================================
I'm actually working on a screenplay right now and am looking for a writing partner, so if anyone is interested, contact me.  It's a dark comedy, not that it's funny and/or violent, we're just filming the entire thing without the use of lights.
================================================
It's July 4th here in the US and all the local yahoos are lighting off illegal fireworks.  It's noisy as hell.  I think they're drunk.  I'm not, not tonight.  I've been drinking Lemon flavored Ice Tea all day.  Yummmm... Nothing better than Lemon Ice Tea on a hot summer day, well, yes there is, pink lemonaide is better but I'm all out of that.
================================================
Two canibals are eating a comedian, one looks to the other and asks "Does this taste funny to you?"

- TIMMYYYYYYY!
#49 by "Dave Long"
2000-07-05 04:37:29
ogv@gamestats.com http://ogv.gamestats.com/
You know, wondering about how many games really are late in a year has always bugged me. One thing that might be interesting is to take the listing that Computer Games Magazine does every year (for the past two years anyway) of all the games at E3 and see how many made the date they were listed with at that E3. It'd probably be pretty eye opening how many didn't come out on time and also how many show up in the list for more than one or even two or three years.

The best thing a company could do IMO is to keep a lid on things until the basics of the code are done. Tell me about the game when the engine works and the ideas are finalized. When someone like Blizzard announces something like Warcraft III and then completely changes direction a year later, it gives everyone else a black eye. Team Fortress 2 also sticks out like a sore thumb of terribly managed game development.
#50 by "Apache"
2000-07-05 04:40:07
Diablo II's opening day box office success... 128,000 units sold at roughly $48 a pop... that's over six million bucks in one day. Not too bad.

I can't even fathom the pre-order madness sales, heh. 70 mill or so?
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