Next Generation Game Development issues – Ten Trends for the Future

GCDCAs I already mentioned I attended the Game Convention in Leipzig and its Developer Conference, named GCDC this week. Like last year I was there to be a speaker again and so I introduced our SunLab project around a game- and device-agnostic Gaming Server, called Project Darkstar . If you haven’t heard about this please find a short report and interview here at Gamasutra.com (and many thanks to Chris Melissinos to point me to this article as I haven’t seen it before).

At GCDC I visited some other slots as well. One of the most interesting speaks had been from Don L. Daglow, President of 1988 founded game company Stormfront Studios Inc (The Lord of the Rings: The two Towers (EA), NASCAR (EA), Neverwinter Nights (AOL) and actually finishing Eragon for Vivendi). He shared his ideas about “Next Generation Game Development issues – Ten Trends for the Future”.

Don L. DaglowHere are his Top 1: Trends:

  1. Next Gen is THIS Generation. Future is happening now!
  2. Fewer titles: Average Budget will jump sharply and being able to manage large teams is now an essential skill. Handheld games take a larger share. Good time for new ideas and new IP. Bad time for second-tier licenses: “I’ve got a movie which will come out in near time which will be kind of good! Do you want to buy a license to built a game?” This won’t work any more…
  3. Daglow’s Law of Media (“I do every year a new law, hoping it makes me more important…”): Bigger budgets mean more “suits”. Creativity most come from “jeans”. Quote: ”In any entertainment industry, the degree to which predictability is valued over creativity grows at the same rate as the ratio of suits to jeans.” Inevitably, the budget managers exert control over the creative managers.
  4. Sony will succeed – “don’t underestimate the ability of change in prizes” so Don in his list. The battle for the living room: Which rooms of the house do we spend money to fill? That’s at the end of the day, where we have the most expensive things – beginning with our sofas and ending with the biggest TV, the best audio system and the loudest music. Sony is in every technical system – Microsoft is coming from the desktop area. Nothing is sure – but future will not be decided in 6 months. “European people understand this because of their understanding of history. For us in America things are very old if they’re 200 years old. In San Francisco already if they’re 100 years old – and in LA, if they are 2 weeks old…”
  5. A handful of mayor studios control much productions and distribution. Only they can afford to promote films to create mainstream expectations. But with all their money no studio can guarantee a hit. Money is important – but creativity will help you to get absorbed into the systems, even if you have no money. Exampel: Sim City which was refused by all of the big companies to publish.
  6. New Champagne and old Magazines: The phenomenia of aging on the shelf: Like the short fiction magazines in North America – after a period of exploration and innovation, the survivors settle into niches. There will be more good games than customers to pay the rent for their developers.
  7. The future is not only with Massive Multiplayer Online Games – but by 2008 most major titles will have multiplayer functions.
  8. Multiplayer – but not always online. The “Guitar Hero” effect: Games with focus on family and groups. Here are smaller budgets needed and they won’t require special and fullblown PCs.
  9. It is WE who put the “next” in Next Gen. The HW manufacturess set the table – but it is the game designer who prepare and serve the meal. “Our precious children are the ones who will shape our future…”, so might have said an old greek philosopher, “unless we can band together and stop them first!” (Homer Simpson).
  10. The Individual drives the Art. Passion can be inspired but not required – and without passion (“commitment of the heart”) you cannot create great games. “Kings, Dictators and Captains cannot compel a game to be a hit.”

Finally Don ended his passionate preso with german poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”

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