How I Feel About AAA (warning: blabby and pointless and messy and structureless)

I got into a discussion the other day today about AAA games and big budgets and gigantic timeframes and huge, vast expanses of time. Here Ahead there be mountained molehills, by the way.

Just a warning.

1. So there are the people who care about graphics to the extreme, and I’m not sure how to take that. I know they exist, and I know there are very few people who don’t at least appreciate some kind of nice and pleasing graphical… thing, but… I don’t know. That’s not important. Just know that I am not, in any way, pandering in this blogpost-thing to the kind of person who enjoys games primarily because of eye candy. I want to say to these people “YOU DON’T LIKE GAMES YOU LIKE EYE CANDY” but that would be rude and not entirely true, I guess. People are allowed to enjoy interactive eye candy. Sure.

2. So basically here’s what I’m thinking. Pretend that you’re an entity who plays games, and you have some favourite games. Pretend that you pick two of them, A and B. Which one do you value more? I’d like to bet that you don’t value that one more because of how it looks. But maybe that’s just me imprinting my beliefs onto you, ugh.

Alright. Let’s try to get back to the point.

3. Pretend you’re a triple-A game dev studio. You have a hundred people, ten years, and a million dollars. You can make one big-ass fucking huge game with tons of everything, and it’ll probably sell well.

Or you can split yourself up into ten groups of ten people who each make ten games, spending a year on each game. That means you’ll end up with a hundred games — and every one has a ten thousand dollar budget. That’s pretty damn good.

Yes, these numbers are silly, and these numbers are fudged, but if you told me you’d rather have one HUGE BUDGET GAME than a hundred OKAY BUDGET GAMES, some of which are bound to be pretty good (please do not bring up Action 52* oh god – I’ll get to that later T_T) then I will tell you that you are crazy and there’s nothing I can do about that because I’m not a doctor.

None of this will happen, obviously, because there are consumers who buy huge games and there are people who don’t want to work on small games (I presume). However, it is my strong belief that while one can tell the difference between a game with a huge budget and a game with no budget at all, at some point all that money and time and MAN-HOURS just go (‘PERSON-HOURS’? whatever) to waste. Procrastination happens with everyone, goddamn it, and I’m sure it happens at AAA studios too. People fuck around because their job is their job, not their life. That’s fine. Whatever. I guess. Right? Yeah? Am I making sense?

Let’s get to Action 52.


Clearly a game without effort isn’t going to make the cut. Action 52, however it was done, turned out to be the biggest joke of a game (compilation of games) ever.

However, think about how much effort goes into making games like… I dunno, Half Life 2.
I’m biased for these, but imagine if they took every bit of everything (art, code peeps, brain peeps) and divvied that up into several pieces, creating ten or twenty smaller-ish but possibly fantastic games instead of just one.
Of course, that might not sit too well, so think about really terrible games instead:

Imagine, if you will, that you are fifty people making a game that is doomed to fail because you took a wrong turn along the way, or perhaps you’re making a game that’s doomed to mediocrity. If only you’d made ten, twenty games instead, in teams of 10 making two games per group over the same time period! It’s amazing!

I think the thing about making games is that it’s incredibly easy to divide up all of your resources and just… make more. If you have any other service or product, you’re limited by demand. Not so with games; you make it once and you’re done. It’s like inventing a brand new thing over and over and over again, creating entirely unique and irreplaceable (well… usually) products.

Where the hell am I going? Whatever! I’m done!


About Droqen

Droqen is a game designer/developer/creator/etc. from Toronto, Ontario. View all posts by Droqen

2 responses to “How I Feel About AAA (warning: blabby and pointless and messy and structureless)

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