[Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

GameLab specific topics and discussions.
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112103
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:52 am

Because Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment, not a charity. There is no joy in working extra hours for a team in which the average member works considerably less for the same payoff. There's more to life than Gamelab, and maybe it's just me, but I would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week.

081916
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 081916 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:48 am

112103 wrote:Because Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment, not a charity. There is no joy in working extra hours for a team in which the average member works considerably less for the same payoff. There's more to life than Gamelab, and maybe it's just me, but I would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week.
If your average team member works considerably less for the same payoff then he must be a lot more efficient in whatever he does. If you think that the grade you get for gamelab is the payoff then I believe you are really mistaken. Gamelab is an environment made to help you learn and make mistakes, there have been plenty of cases where projects failed and something awesome came out of that the payoff is what you learn from a project and not what that project is graded with in the end. Also, you say that you think that Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment and then you say you would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week, that's not really how it works in a triple-A studio.

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112103
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:45 pm

110177 wrote:What, exactly, is preventing designers/IGDers from doing this themselves?
110157 wrote:I don't see why you could not spend your free time on creating a prototype.
081916 wrote:Also, you say that you think that Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment and then you say you would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week, that's not really how it works in a triple-A studio.
I suppose I am the only one here who thinks Gamelab should be doable without overtime. I thought there would be some people supporting my side, but I realize that's not the case.

070565
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 070565 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:00 pm

I see the logic behind needing a pre-production phase, but personally I'd be worried about problems in practice due to inexperience.

Everyone coming into a Gamelab only brings limited experience in game development. As result of this a large part of the design is also based around the technical capabilities of the individual team members.

Now making D&P and IGD (with the least experience in Art and Programming in all of IGAD) make design and scope decision without any participation of the team that will end up implementing it sounds like something that causes more problems than it fixes.

While we all like to put value on the actual design, it's the implementation and the teams ability to adjust as they go that determines the quality of the final product.
112103 wrote:Because Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment, not a charity.
Gamelab can simulate an indie team working from a garage at most :)
Remco van Oosterhout
Former Game Programmer @ Funcom Oslo AS / MMORPG Technologies Inc.
Back in the Netherlands for IGAD.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 090387 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:04 pm

112103 wrote:And if you have the slightest aspiration to work in a studio with more than 4 people, you will soon have to let go of the idea of being involved into the entire design process.
This is wrong, I can tell from experience working at multiple AAA studios that every person in the team is involved in the design process. Sure the design team usually comes up with the ideas, and yes they usually have the final call (which can still be overruled by higherups). But in a good game team designers will be announcing everything they do and ask for feedback constantly from the entire team. All documents the design team make are public to the entire team. In fact have seen it a couple of times that a gameplay programmer comes up with an idea, submits this to a designer and ends up in the final game design (even during production).
We even had a few brainstorm days at DICE where all departments meet up and do some fun things to come up with some potential ideas, and that was with a bit more than 4 people.

Its true that before a team gets created to work on new game, a few designers already have the background story, the rough art direction, the core gameplay ideas etc. In the gamjams I did in the past every person was important during brainstorm, and funnily enough it didnt really matter if you are a programmer,designer or artist, brainstorming is something everyone can do,and you want as much people thinking with you as possible. After initial brainstorm, then a everyone does their own thing.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 081916 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:07 pm

112103 wrote:
110177 wrote:What, exactly, is preventing designers/IGDers from doing this themselves?
110157 wrote:I don't see why you could not spend your free time on creating a prototype.
081916 wrote:Also, you say that you think that Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment and then you say you would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week, that's not really how it works in a triple-A studio.
I suppose I am the only one here who thinks Gamelab should be doable without overtime. I thought there would be some people supporting my side, but I realize that's not the case.
As far as I know Gamelab has always been doable without overtime. The thing is though that if you want to create something better than the other students you will need to have an edge, you can gain this edge by being smarter and come up with a better design, just work harder/more, or any other way you can think of.

It seems to me that you are opting for a more communist based system where everyone is supposed to work just as hard but not harder and everyone would be awarded nice grades for nice games. Removing the possibility for people to gain an edge will only result in mediocrity.

081916
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 081916 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:12 pm

090387 wrote:
112103 wrote:And if you have the slightest aspiration to work in a studio with more than 4 people, you will soon have to let go of the idea of being involved into the entire design process.
...

Its true that before a team gets created to work on new game, a few designers already have the background story, the rough art direction, the core gameplay ideas etc. In the gamjams I did in the past every person was important during brainstorm, and funnily enough it didnt really matter if you are a programmer,designer or artist, brainstorming is something everyone can do,and you want as much people thinking with you as possible. After initial brainstorm, then a everyone does their own thing.
I would like to add to this that this is not only the case for the design, it's also really helpful to brainstorm over art and programming even though you don't know anything about it. Talking about the subject with outsiders sometimes let's you think about problems in different ways which help you solve them. Even if everything that the person you are brainstorming with says is useless it can still help you out a lot.

To cut out all these groups from a pre-production phase that lasts 1/3th of the complete production time just sounds like asking for trouble to me.

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112103
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:18 pm

090387 wrote:I can tell from experience working at multiple AAA studios that every person in the team is involved in the design process.
Again, I think this is a very good strategy during development, because everybody has good ideas and it would be a waste to ignore them. But this needs a decent game concept as the basis. Brainstorming simply isn't that effective at coming up with an initial idea.
081916 wrote:It seems to me that you are opting for a more communist based system
I honestly have no idea what you are talking about or how this could possibly be relevant. Not once did I mention grading.
081916 wrote:To cut out all these groups from a pre-production phase that lasts 1/3th of the complete production time just sounds like asking for trouble to me.
Except that block wouldn't really be 1/3 of the production time. Say 2 people make a prototype for a 12 man team. Pre-production is then 168 man hours (2 people x 3 ECTS x 28 hours/ECTS) where the entire production time is 2016 man hours. So about 8% would be pre-production, 92% production.
Those 168 hours, by the way, are less than the entire team spends in two working days. So what these two prototypers create over one block, during which they will hopefully consult their artist ad programmer friends, should be compared to what simply brainstorming for two days can create.

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120095
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 120095 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:07 pm

112103 wrote:
110177 wrote:What, exactly, is preventing designers/IGDers from doing this themselves?
110157 wrote:I don't see why you could not spend your free time on creating a prototype.
081916 wrote:Also, you say that you think that Gamelab is supposed to simulate a triple-A studio environment and then you say you would like it to be a fair environment which produces nice games without requiring you to work overtime every week, that's not really how it works in a triple-A studio.
I suppose I am the only one here who thinks Gamelab should be doable without overtime. I thought there would be some people supporting my side, but I realize that's not the case.
As far as I know, GL is doable without over time in the first year, but you are expected to 'work overtime' (do homework for GL) in the second and third year.. count the credits. I had this in Study Planning last year so yeah, also, GL1 & GL 2 are both 4 credit courses, not 6 credit courses...

But I do like the idea of a pre-production stage, but I would prefer to see this happening on the first GL day... maybe let the programmers and artists (ststststs, anyone else get annoyed by this pronunciation?) join in on the second GL day, giving them an actual choice to pick a team (assuming 8 hours is enough to draft out a concept). This way the designers (and IGDers if they're willing) get more practice in pitching as well.
The way making teams went this year was mostly: hey, I know this person, or: ah, no one else to join... not all that great, if you ask me ;)
Kimberly van Peppen
2GA-4DP

dini
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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by dini » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:32 am

It become apparent over the years that second year Gamelab had a problem where teams were too big at the start. So a few years ago, I put forward the idea of making GL3 a prototyping phase where only the best projects were continued into GL4. This was an improvement, but even still we found that the best projects were often those that students had to pull off in one block, because their project got cancelled, in block D.

This year we are trying two prototypes in one gamelab, because we really want to see a strong prototyping mentality. I would see this as:

* Keep the scope small
* Find and show off the USP
* Focus on the Fun

The idea is that the Gamelab is more like a game jam. On our GL day we have 10 teams, so that will be 20 projects to choose from for GL4. We will probably pick the best 5 to continue for two blocks in GL4 in more of a production mode. So, yes, I see where you are coming from, but I also think we are already addressing this issue. I am hoping that by choose the very best projects out of a large selection, we will end up with a great set of games at the end of the year.

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