The Big Cost of Small Places

Shamus Young

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The Big Cost of Small Places

There's just more to design in games today and that takes resources.

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Nooners

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Seamus? Holy crap, where have you been? We haven't seen you here for...a couple of years, I think? Anyways, good article, but it's just odd to have you pop out of nowhere all of a sudden.
 

DustyDrB

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I thought you had hit this point before. Or maybe you alluded to it and then other commenters added more detail. Either way, it's a great point and something to have in mind when gamers ask for more detail and photorealism in their games.

Is there any way the time-consumption problem with this can be addressed? Ready-made models with things such as the Unreal Engine would help, right? But crafting just the worlds without objects and creatures to inhabit seems a monumental task on its own.

So is the better option to scale back on the realism for the sake of a bigger world, or to keep pushing for more detail while (hopefully) adding little tweaks to make it easier?

Also: Welcome back.
 

Wolfram23

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Shamus Young said:
The Big Cost of Small Places

There's just more to design in games today and that takes resources.

Read Full Article
I missed you.

Also, good read. Thanks.
 

tjoris9

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Now if you could explain why it's so damn expensive to give my NPC war buddies in (Insert name of any shooter made this generation) a personality.

Honestly, I'm not so worried about quantity in my games. A four to six hour campaign is alright if it's so good I want to play it again every time I have an evening off. Some games almost achieve that degree of greatness, but unfortunately everyone in CoD and MoH is too busy being "professional" to be interesting, and everyone in GoW is too busy roid raging for me to care.

At least in the new Ace Combat they let the characters show, oh so briefly, that they're really not just machines from an alien planet of creatures that only have two emotional states, "calm" and "HULKSMASH!!!"
 
Apr 28, 2008
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I'll admit, I squealed a bit when I saw this.

Anyway, yeah, you pretty much explained why I'm not exactly too hot on a new console generation. Game budgets now are high as hell. A new generation would exacerbate that. People would see "next-gen consoles!" and would reasonably expect a big jump in graphical quality, since that's what has happened with each jump into a new generation. To make graphics even better than they are today would take insane amounts of work/money. And if they did go into a new generation but didn't focus on graphics, the consoles themselves would have to be rather cheap, otherwise people would feel like it's just not worth it (why buy a new console for so much money when it doesn't make things look much better than the current consoles?).
 

The.Bard

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I ask this question in all seriousness... are there REALLY people out there who don't understand this seemingly very basic concept? Give me a person who can watch Toy Story 1 followed by Toy Story 3 and NOT understand that more detailed things require a lot more effort/time, and I will show you someone in serious need of a cup of water to the face.

I think this whole article would have been just as effective in two sentences... "Ugly doodles take 10 seconds; beautiful paintings take 10 hrs. Same with games."
 

Woodsey

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Things come at a cost: advanced AI and world's that feel more real are worth the extra time and some of the inherent restrictions (especially when you're rolling out examples like Human Revolution). Furthermore, I'm not sure that "better world design necessitates better, more adaptable AI" is a completely solid line of argument. Would this advance as much as it has if developers weren't forced to do this? There's always going to be a back and forth, and there's a case to be made that the current gen consoles are now actively holding developers back (a few have come out and said as much).

Anyway: welcome back.


Irridium said:
To make graphics even better than they are today would take insane amounts of work/money.
Perhaps; I remember Naughty Dog saying they ramped the engine up for Uncharted 3 and then spent most of the time bringing it back down so the PS3 wouldn't implode.

I would also kill for PC ports that didn't give me splitting headaches because they have a FOV the size of a letterbox, crappy anti-aliasing methods, and no v-sync. If they could at least implement those properly on the consoles then - even if they were being lazy - it wouldn't physically affect my playing a game.

Plenty of game engines also prove to be far more capable than they appear in their out-of-the-box form, and that's just from 'part-time', unpaid modders tinkering with them.


Nooners said:
Seamus? Holy crap, where have you been? We haven't seen you here for...a couple of years, I think? Anyways, good article, but it's just odd to have you pop out of nowhere all of a sudden.
Years?! I think its only been a few months.
 

twm1709

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I'd like to direct every person claiming we NEED a new console generation right now to this article.
 

JaceArveduin

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So, does this mean you're going to do a "Shamus Plays TOR"? Cause the WoW and LotRO ones were awesome. Nice article, all the good points are there that I know of.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Woodsey said:
Things come at a cost: advanced AI and world's that feel more real are worth the extra time and some of the inherent restrictions (especially when you're rolling out examples like Human Revolution). Furthermore, I'm not sure that "better world design necessitates better, more adaptable AI" is a completely solid line of argument. Would this advance as much as it has if developers weren't forced to do this? There's always going to be a back and forth, and there's a case to be made that the current gen consoles are now actively holding developers back (a few have come out and said as much).

Anyway: welcome back.
Actually, we apparently have ways to make "smart" AI. The AI in FEAR was really, really good. And if I recall correctly, this is because it is completely un-scripted. Enemies would actually behave intelligently. And I don't mean "they followed where they were supposed to go as set by the developers" I mean "they make actual decisions based on the circumstances".

Of course, FEAR was a PC game. So that might be why the AI was able to be so good. Though then again, FEAR did eventually come to consoles, so who knows. But I did notice that the AI in FEAR 2 was decidedly less interesting. I'm not sure if it was the same and I was just not that impressed with it anymore, or if the AI took a backseat to other things.
 

Woodsey

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Irridium said:
Woodsey said:
Things come at a cost: advanced AI and world's that feel more real are worth the extra time and some of the inherent restrictions (especially when you're rolling out examples like Human Revolution). Furthermore, I'm not sure that "better world design necessitates better, more adaptable AI" is a completely solid line of argument. Would this advance as much as it has if developers weren't forced to do this? There's always going to be a back and forth, and there's a case to be made that the current gen consoles are now actively holding developers back (a few have come out and said as much).

Anyway: welcome back.
Actually, we apparently have ways to make "smart" AI. The AI in FEAR was really, really good. And if I recall correctly, this is because it is completely un-scripted. Enemies would actually behave intelligently. And I don't mean "they followed where they were supposed to go as set by the developers" I mean "they make actual decisions based on the circumstances".

Of course, FEAR was a PC game. So that might be why the AI was able to be so good. Though then again, FEAR did eventually come to consoles, so who knows. But I did notice that the AI in FEAR 2 was decidedly less interesting. I'm not sure if it was the same and I was just not that impressed with it anymore, or if the AI took a backseat to other things.
I dunno how it works if I'm honest (I was just rolling with the example he'd given); I would presume that dynamic AI is actually a combination of a lot of incremental scripting and some very limited "free-thinking" stuff.

Or I might just be talking out of my arse; no idea.
 

The Random One

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Ah, the prodigal son returns with a really interesting take.

It's true, and the worst part is that a new console generation would be exponentially harder and more expensive to build but would not, to the players' eye, be an improvement as noticeable as the one from the N64 to the 'Cube, for instance. We might be at the end of the era of the massive, graphically beautiful adventure as the go-to kind of game.
 

Jorias

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I think in alot of ways some people out there lose perspective of what it means to play a game. If a person is complaining about not having enough chairs in a dining table on a random house they discover in a pointless part of a map, then i think that person needs to really evaluate what is meant to play a video game, which is to be entertained and have fun. I think for the most part the people have spoken, all of these "cults" and followings out there filled with people that play games like Minecraft, and TES 4 and 5 that sit there and entertain themselves by using something called an imagination...you know that thing we should be using to have fun, instead of relying on a programmer from "insert evil corporate backed dev company here" to show us to have fun...but hey that's just me...
 

SandroTheMaster

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For the people that missed Shamus, have access to him 24/7 in Twenty Sided Tale, his site:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/

Really, all the Shamus we can get in The Escapist is not nearly enough.
 

Darth_Dude

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Ah, it's good to have you back Shamus.

Good article too, I'll be sure to link it to friends when I cant be bothered explaining why games cost so much.