Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The next creative industry?

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  • Rachael J,

    On a slight sidebar: I take it you have seen Jane McGonigal's excellent TED talk about how gaming could solve the world's problems...

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Still on gaming... allow me to introduce Level 80 number 2.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Hey, I'm actually doing some stuff in the gaming space right now.

    How about the government pick me up from airside in a chaufferred car, feed me Moet and canapes at Premier House, and flick me a few mill in tax breaks and subsidies?

    In return, I'll vaguely promise to turn something out sometime in the next few years, other funding sources permitting. Oh, and can I have a few laws revised in my favour while we're at it...

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Eve Online. Only the Icelanders could come up with something that looks so nice, but is so unbelievably boring.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Hey Rich of Observ! Raise the expectations!
    Grand Perrier Laurent & caviar & a mobile hotel and 'a few mil'?
    The entire nation's output is only just sufficient eh?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    NZ creative industries consistently cross streams in my midi-master-controlled-wifi-world Russel. All our base belongs to us!

    Vospertron, the NZ international dance performance group has plans to rock the Imax premier of Tron Legacy from 11:30 pm onwards tomorrow. We do so with force 10 glowing Trons (would do more if the suits weren’t currently in Spain)
    [Vospertron[url/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zQ8th61FHE]]

    Our unpaid tribute to Tron, the iconic 1982 film that portrayed computer games as cool for a generation of geekdom desperate to validate the many reality free continues of hours gone gaming our imagination.

    Interesting to note that

    In the year it was released, the Motion Picture Academy refused to nominate Tron for special effects because, according to director Steven Lisberger, “The Academy thought we cheated by using computers”.

    cheat codes to that

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Nick Shand,

    “The Academy thought we cheated by using computers”

    O the irony. The sheer mind-numbing hand-made frame-by-frame drudgery that underlay Tron Mk.1’s visual effects wouldn’t have been possible without the many poorly-paid fingers of the Taiwanese studio that gave the world the Care Bears.

    It was an era where “computer graphics” were hyped as being far more advanced than they really were by employing a horribly labour-intensive old-school fakery. By the mid-90s technology had caught up, and the kind of sweatshoppery that involved such horrors as nitpickingly hand-painted mattes gave way to the brave new world of digital fx serfdom.

    Have fun kids.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman,

    Eve Online. Only the Icelanders could come up with something that looks so nice, but is so unbelievably boring.

    Eve Online may not necessarily be native to Iceland...

    ~~wavy lines of faded memories~~

    Many years ago, in a small terminal room in the UoC engineering building, I spent many a hour/day on MUD's playing and coding. One of my fellow X-terminal (good for gopher and this new Mosaic app) dwellers was an admin on Discworld MUD. This led to a job offer to develop code for Eve Online, as it would become. In conversation he mentioned that the reason for Iceland* was geographical. It sat on the (then) major bandwidth pipe between the US and Europe - a (or the?) reason for Iceland was simply trying to maximise bandwith and response to those major markets.

    ~~end wavy lines~~

    I await the cool story plaudits.

    Cheers,
    FM

    *was still in Iceland 10 years later as far as I know, but he had left CCP

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    Food for Thought

    Kiwis do neat stuff from time to time.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Neil Graham,

    Thanks for those Neil, Conflux looks very nice.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'd be very surprised if NZ could hold onto really top notch developers. Unlike with film, there's no particular attraction to this location. So the ambitious ones will follow the cash. But we could do well nonetheless, there's no particular detraction either. I don't think great developers are the most crucial part of cranking out successful games. It's a full-court press, marketing figures highly, as does market research and a good business model. Most importantly, a good new idea/angle.

    We're perfectly capable of making indie games, although indie game developers don't seem to care so much about $, for them it's a lifestyle choice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Still on gaming... allow me to introduce Level 80 number 2

    What, no level 85? You'll get ganked. The bitterness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    I can't say I'm keen on the idea of the NZ Game industry developing a Fonterra analogue.

    Perhaps a few things can be learned from the local music industry. It's been a while since I did a (commercial) game myself, but I ended up by doing it as a result of a conversation with another game maker and we just felt we had an idea that might work so we knocked it together. It worked very similar to how I imagine musicians join up for projects. The music industry isn't all musicians though, there's a significant infrastructure that gets the creative product to the people who want it. That doesn't exist so much for games. There are plenty of services that provide a similar service to iTunes but they only reach a fraction of the market (and often take a larger chunk).

    For the larger projects, games work like the film industry, huge teams and huge budgets. The huge budgets make people extremely risk adverse. Unless there is a lot of faith in the developer, the end product will be just like Transformers, crap but sufficiently hyped to make money.

    To make a gaming Lord of the Rings, you need a Peter Jackson to make someone fund a really creative effort. To get a Peter Jackson, You should be looking for the crazy genius gaming equivalent to Bad Taste. Even then It'll take a decade and a bit of luck to get there.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Shand,

    yes I agree. Conflux snagged me as well

    auck • Since Aug 2008 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    I'd be very surprised if NZ could hold onto really top notch developers. Unlike with film, there's no particular attraction to this location. So the ambitious ones will follow the cash.

    The best developers are attracted to the best projects more than the cash I think. I was once in the position of asking a friend if he wanted to do some work on Fitznik 2, Valve asked him to work on HalfLife 2. He's quite happy now in the states.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t think great developers are the most crucial part of cranking out successful games. It’s a full-court press, marketing figures highly, as does market research and a good business model. Most importantly, a good new idea/angle.

    This, very much so. One gaming company trying to get off the ground in Christchurch had a game – which they put a great deal of effort, money, and some very bright developers into – which did pretty badly because they’d got so caught up in the awesome concept they hadn’t bothered to do much testing outside the company, and it played like shit. They didn’t notice because they’d all got used to the clunky controls during development (at least, that’s the theory.) This stuff is hard, and having good ideas and good people is really the smallest part of success.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    If there's money to throw around, why not just put more into the industry with a proven track record: Film.

    May I suggest Government playing a role in expanding New Zealand's porn industry? Too innovative?

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to chris,

    Too innovative?

    Too saturated, I'd have said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • "chris",

    Too saturated, I'd have said.

    Video, photography, print: Sure, true, Ben, but the digital domain opens doors for all kinds of new interactivity. The Leisure Suit Larry legacy is sorely lacking a successor, and the kind of hardware being used by Weta and their ilk could perhaps open a door here and there.

    Related to funding. Rob Mayes has finished his "masterwork", I'm a bit skeptical about quoting oneself.

    location, location, locat… • Since Dec 2010 • 250 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    If you're only thinking of it in terms of Halo and Eve Online and mega-million dollar results, then it is hard. But gaming is happening at a much lower level as well. Dave Frampton is seeing success within a small but profitable sector. I doubt he's the only one - he's just the only one I know of.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    Dave Frampton is seeing success within a small but profitable sector. I doubt he's the only one - he's just the only one I know of.

    We tried to get Dave on the show, but he was unavailable. His success via the App Store is very interesting indeed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    An aspect of gaming that interests me is it mainlining consumer driven tech development - gaphics being an obvious example - and the influence on platforms with mobile devices being flavour of the month. I'd hoped for some advancement in narrative complexity in computer gaming given visuals had arrived at the point of delivering what ever the creators may envisage but the development seems rather to have shifted to other platforms rather than deepen the eperience on others. No doubt I may be looking for something gaming isn't best to deliver but would really like that borderline tested.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Neil Graham,

    For the larger projects, games work like the film industry, huge teams and huge budgets. The huge budgets make people extremely risk adverse. Unless there is a lot of faith in the developer, the end product will be just like Transformers, crap but sufficiently hyped to make money.

    There are exceptions though. Probably the best example is CD Projekt CODE RED from Poland, who made the leap from English-to-Polish games localisation to publishing one of the best RPGs of the last five years, The Witcher. That game had zero marketing in the English parts of the world initially, but it was hyped by word of mouth (and it helped that the game was actually extremely good.)

    The real problem with predicting how New Zealand should approach the games market at the moment is the massive fragmentation that is going on. Ten years ago, a "gamer" was someone who played games, the end. Nowadays, a hardcore raider in World of Warcraft, a stay at home dad in Farmville or a party animal who knows all the riffs for Guitar Hero 5 are all "gamers", but that's where the similarities end. There's no one game or strategy that will capture all those different consumers, and they all have vastly different financial habits when it comes to paying (or not paying) for their games.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    If we can develop this into a real money-making industry, awesome. It's low-footprint, environmentally light-weight, and has a lot of room for high margins.
    But, we need to invest in the tube infrastructure to get stuff off our shores. Right now, that's lacking, and sending builds by DVD airmail ain't happening.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I've been in the computer biz for 3 decades now 2 of them living in the SF Bay Area (aka Silicon Valley) - while I've not worked on games I've known a lot of people who do - the game biz is a terribly fickle one - you can spend millions and flop and thousands and make a mint - it's terribly hit or miss - and gaming companies also are known for treating their employees abysmally (at least compared to the silicon valley startup world I work(ed) in).

    I don't think anyone should base their country's economic future on gaming - think of it more as economic gravy - if we get a few hits great! but don't bet the farm

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2608 posts Report Reply

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