Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Monk Ed
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Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby Monk Ed » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:54 am

I work in video games. Working in video games, one learns things first-hand that fans on the outside looking in (including me, at one point) either don't know, might have big misconceptions about, or might have suspected but never really known for sure.

Here are some of those things:

* You know how Unreal Engine 4 has become practically a selling point for the games that run on it? Turns out it's not actually an especially fast or powerful engine; the studios licensing it have to modify it heavily to make it so. Rather, what has made UE4 so ubiquitous is its superb authoring toolset.

* Xbox One is vastly inferior to PS4. That's the word around the office at least, but I've seen shades of it firsthand as well. I work with two devkits at my desk, one of each; the Xbox One version of the same test build has to run at a lower resolution to keep up with the same 60 Hz framerate that the PS4 one handles easily. The coworker who pointed this out to me said that the upcoming Xbox One X likewise lags behind the technical capabilities of the PS4 Pro, but the gap is smaller.

* Sony's stated reason for why it restricts cross-platform play is a complete lie. Sony doesn't even handle player interaction management (e.g. handling cheaters); the individual game companies do. The real reason is because merging the online player bases of the PS4 and the Xbox One would be a proportionally much bigger boon to the Xbox One than to the PS4. By restricting cross-platform play, the PS4's larger install base and online community remains a competitive advantage over the Xbox One.

* Microtransactions exist in $60 games because a lot of people are willing to pay for them and not many are turned away by them. Or at least, that's what came out of a conversation between me and a coworker who had a very different opinion on the subject from mine.

* Game industry people, like the rest of us, interpret evidence through their own lenses. Hearing a business intelligence professional mention to someone else that players overwhelmingly play a certain game mode first, I asked her, is it fair to say, then, that people are buying the game for this game mode? She said no, it's only the game mode they play first. Later, in the company chat, in a completely unrelated conversation, someone on my team posited that players are clearly buying the game for the aforementioned game mode. When I told him what the business intelligence professional told me, it didn't seem to do much to change his opinion.

* The company I work for doesn't receive any of the money you pay into XBL or PSN, nor do those dollars pay for the game servers.

* There is one female programmer in the entire studio -- and she's a temp.

* A lot of little quirks you might not like about a game, the developers might not like either -- even quirks that persist from game to game. A game at the AAA scale is a huge team effort requiring input from many, many different disciplines. Organizational inertia, inter-team communication (or lack thereof), and who has the power to sign off on what, are just a few of the factors that play a part in what things get fixed, what things get fixed "later", and what things don't get fixed because the guy whose permission is needed thinks it's actually a good thing.

Friendly reminder: Don't ask what company I work for, and don't guess it out loud. I'm not exactly giving away company secrets here, but I wouldn't feel as comfortable talking about this stuff without this level of anonymity. Also, I'm just one guy working at one, undisclosed AAA company; the statements made above are a combination of my own observations and those shared to me by coworkers.
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Tankred
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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby Tankred » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:47 am

Congratulations on the job, Monk Ed, for me your points kind of confirm a lot of my own suspicions. :)

chazthesilencer
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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby chazthesilencer » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:03 pm

Monk Ed wrote:* There is one female programmer in the entire studio -- and she's a temp.

First company I worked for had an animation team of five. Three being female, including lead-roles.
That was seven years ago. Haven't worked alongside any other female colleagues (in a non-administrative role) since.
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Ray
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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby Ray » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:38 pm

You're not gonna get in trouble for this, are you?
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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby Tankred » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:43 pm

View Original PostRay wrote:You're not gonna get in trouble for this, are you?


No, because he's not divulging what company he's working at, as long as it stays that way he won't be in trouble.

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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby jcmoorehead » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:44 pm

View Original Postchazthesilencer wrote:First company I worked for had an animation team of five. Three being female, including lead-roles.
That was seven years ago. Haven't worked alongside any other female colleagues (in a non-administrative role) since.


Where I work it is mostly male in my area (I work in the AI/Gameplay Code department) but across Art/Animation/QA there are quite a few women working there. I have a friend who works in audio and a couple of friends in production.

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Re: Dispatches from the Video Game Industry

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Postby robersora » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:29 pm

Oh, do I love such juicy insider info... thanks for sharing!
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