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Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay.

I'm tired of people saying gameplay pales in importance to pretty lights and sounds. Even if it did, we now have the pretty lights and sounds, so it's time to start working on gameplay. It's time to stop skinning the same skeleton over and over again.

Author: crueltyinc

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Posted by crueltyinc Monday August 10 2009 at 4:54PM
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Sorry about the botched 1337 (Go Where No Programmer Has Gone Before if you can't read my writing) but a statement needed to be made. Programmers are not code monkeys. Programmers are not (just) tools to turn your ideas into reality. Programmers are innovative creatures who should have their abilities tested at every turn. It appears as though they are really being underused.

Case in point: The lack of interesting gameplay advances in MMOs.
I mean, kewl, you have good graphics, kewl, you have realistic sounds. I'm not saying I don't want my sword hit to sound like a rubber chicken rubbing its rubber, but we've been there, we've done that. We've got sword hits 1-1000, doppler, spatial distortion, lighting, reflection, refraction, shadow, and detail accurate to the cellular level (Spore joke anybody?). Yet we consider developments on the same answer to the question of MMORPGs that we've been using since the NES to be progress.

"So what exactly is he whining about?" Quest structure, NPC AI, storyline structure, player life cycle, and reward systems. To name a few. These have all been the same since MUDs went underground. We've become addicted to skinning old carcasses, letting developers get away with tossing a new minigame into the mix to "make things interesting". Last I checked, minigames, POH, and the like were side effects of the game itself, not the core.

Let your code monkey out of its cage. Give it that banana you've been tempting it with. Let it do what it does naturally: Solve problems. Take away its Rubik's cube first or you'll never get it off of YouTube.

Annwyn writes:

If the Code Monkey think his talent is worth more than what he is asked to do, he is always allowed to apply to a new company that will let him freely use his abilities and work on much more important projects with inovative features (though it's more common to see "inovative features" in a single player rather than a MMO)

Let me see,

Ubisoft (Rayman, Assassin's Creed,, Prince Of Persia)
Valve (Half Life, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead)
BioWare (Star Wars, Mass Effect, Baldur's Gate)
Activision [well ... Blizzard] / Infinity Ward (Call Of Duty)
2K (BioShock, The Elder Scroll)


If a programmer is not happy, he has the possibility to attempt joining some greater companies who needs his talents. Or he can gamble a bit and create his own company to create his own game.

Mon Aug 10 2009 10:43PM Report
Trucidation writes:

The problem is most code monkeys are exactly that: monkeys. They don't have any say in the direction the company is going. Speaking as someone who's worked in large organizations before, I can tell you based on first hand experience that you can come to the meeting table prepared with a dozen good ideas complete with pro/con lists, estimates, and backup plans up the wazoo... only to watch as someone higher up tears each and every one of your points completely apart, and often for assinine reasons.

Many of the more imaginative games I've played come from studios where either the devs/programmers have way more say in the running of the company (e.g. garage based 2-man outfit where the programmers are also the owners), or the devs are already very famous and very high up the hierarchy and can afford to ramrod their ideas through.

Anyone else is just a cog in the machine. You pass a good idea along, and ten meetings later the all the other departments involved (PR, design, etc) have completely butchered and simplified it up to the point you don't even recognize that it was your idea. Hell, it can often end up the exact opposite of what you suggested.

Programmers are low on the food chain, most of the time you're given part of a module to code by your manager and that's it. Even the manager doesn't do everything by himself, they in turn go to war in meetings with the designers, the art people, the sales people, etc. In the meanwhile finance is yelling at you to hurry the f*** up and why are you asking for more time and money. They'll tell you to cut corners, cut features, toss this out, toss that out, hurry hurry hurry we gotta ship in three weeks because we already mentioned a launch date, the investors and shareholders are breathing down your necks to ship fast because they want to see a return on their investments by yesterday, yadda yadda yadda.

A programmer with no deadlines and can do as he pleases is either un/self-employed or not making a living from it.

Tue Aug 11 2009 9:41AM Report
crueltyinc writes:

In truth, I wrote this to see how wrong I was. It does seem as if programmers are lowest man on the totem pole. So, if I got this right, the hierarchy (though company-dependent) is more or less programmer, developer, and then some bureaucracy-oriented mess at the top

Self-employed is sounding good about now. Hobby it is.

Thu Aug 13 2009 5:42PM Report writes:
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