修补上一代设备的问题。我们目前正面临主机硬件更新换代的转型期，许多公司都发布了面向Xbox 360和PlayStation 3的大制作游戏。所以现在有许多技术发展的用途就是整理之前被忽视的元素，例如光影技术。
体元。体元是在数十年前与3D像素一起引进行业的概念，它是多边形的替代性选项。但目前还没有赋予其生命力的有效方法，所以它们也从未以真正有意义的方法进入多数游戏，除了用于地形之外。事实上，有些公司仍在使用位元来绘制它们的地形，过后再使用多边形来替换这一数据，因为位元实在是过于精确严格了。更有趣的是，sparse voxel octrees已同全局光照技术一起被广泛运用。
网站开发管道。网站开发管道是游戏领域中相对较新的开发概念，主要由Insomniac Games中的Mike Action等群体推广。网站开发管道允许标准化生化，可以让客户端不再依赖特定开发环境，并且便于部署。它们当中一者的更新会同时影响到团队中所有人的工作。这看起来也很像AAA管道的未来走势。
Game Bundles是另一种针对独立群体的捆绑式营销活动。Humble Indie Bundle以及Indie Royale等捆绑营销会选择一些刚发布，或者已经发布的游戏，赋予其新生命，将它们分别打包出售，允许用户购买自己想要的内容。在这类营销活动中，可能每个捆绑项目仅有5名左右开发者，但收益却可能高达400万美元。
Windows 8。开发者对Windows 8的反映并不太乐观。这是一个更为封闭的微软平台，而开发者并不欢迎封闭性的平台。这也正是他们为何针对PC开发内容的部分原因。Gamasutra最近有文章指出两件有趣的事实——一件是被公认为2011年热门PC游戏的《天际》，可能由于其成人内容而无法现身Windows 8。作为2011年度最大的游戏之一，居然也会无法在PC面台露面。
该文作者还指出，Steam可能也无法立即登陆Windows 8，因为Widnows 8不允许除了自己应用商店之外的平台重复销售其他内容。这里的“登陆Windows 8”我指的是Metro桌面，这实际上是Windows 8界面。
游戏的心理学和经济学。心理学目前在游戏设计中的运用超过以往，其中一例就是游戏设计师Ara Shrinian关于用户界面与心理学关系的讨论，尤其是界面中一个对象或成份给人的感觉，以及其实际功能之间的落差，并使用了工业设计理念来举例说明许多这类已经得到解决的问题。另一个显著的例子是育碧成员Jason Vandenberge关于心理学5因素模型的讨论。
新的法律问题。这以最近的社交游戏领域最为典型，这其中有许多游戏彼此相似，甚至相互剽窃代码。例如《Triple Town》开发商Spry Fox起诉了一款与之相似的游戏《Yeti Town》，声称后者复制了《Triple Town》的机制。最后Spry Fox赢了这场官司，并且获得了《Yeti Town》的IP、所有权及代码。所以开发者应该了解，IP法律问题是一桩严肃的事情。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，拒绝任何不保留版权的转载，如需转载请联系：游戏邦）
The State of Game Development: Part 2
- Brandon Sheffield
If you missed it, here’s part one of our discussion of the current state of Western game development, which included charts and figures related to salary, technology use, and more. In this installment, we’re going to focus on the major trends that have revealed themselves over the last few years of Game Developer magazine and Gamasutra.com articles and discussion. We’ll talk
tech trends, design trends, marketing trends, crowdfunding, the indie game movement, and more.
Tech trends often fluctuate with platform cycles, and what becomes important to programmers changes over time. This section, then, is essentially a brief on what some developers are thinking about right now, technology-wise. Some of these summaries are a bit brief, since there’s a lot to cover, but should be enough to give you some fodder for further independent research.
Fixing the problems of last-gen. We’re currently transitioning between console hardware generations right now, and many companies are releasing their last big games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. So a lot of the tech advances right now are in cleaning up things that were glossed over before, like lighting and shadow.
We’ve had no less than four big articles specifically about shadows in Game Developer in the last year and half, as people try to figure out how to remove jagged edges, artifacts, and dithering from shadows. As Hao Chen, Bungie’s senior graphics engineer told me, “A lot of the things people consider solved problems are actually quite far from being solved, and shadows are one of them.” To rectify this, most people are still looking at MLAA — or morphological anti-aliasing.
Going big while scaling small. Essentially every big game development tool out there is simultaneously preparing for the next generation of high end consoles and computers, while also trying to figure out how to appeal to the growing indie scene, and smartphone platforms as well. This is pulling technology in two directions simultaneously, but ultimately is all about scalability. The ideal tool now is one that can scale across platforms — even if, as we saw earlier, developers may not always use the tool to port across platforms. They still want one tool that could theoretically work across everything for different projects.
Telemetry and game analytics. In social games, you’ve got all sorts of data points to analyze to figure out what players like and don’t like. How do they feel about this menu? What items are they buying? But in triple-A games as well, heatmaps and analytics have been used to figure out what areas are giving players trouble, where they might need more challenge, and how engaged they are with the narrative. This is essentially a map generated by player data, with red areas indicating lots of activity of a certain sort, but also with the potential for trails for player paths and discovery. The game analytics used are somewhat similar to what you might see in social games, but with greater awareness of how players are moving through the world in 3D space, and what they’re doing why they’re there.
Voxels. Voxels are an interesting one. They were introduced decades ago as 3D pixels, and an alternative to polygons. But there was no efficient way of animating them, so they never really made it into most games in any meaningful way, aside from terrain. In fact, some companies still use voxels to map out their terrain, then replace this data with polygons later, simply
because voxels are so precise. More intriguingly, sparse voxel octrees have been used to good effect with global illumination techniques.
Random generation of terrain. This is more for indies than it is for triple-A, but randomly generated terrain using algorythms like perlin noise have been gaining in popularity to generate worlds like those in Minecraft, or elaborate cave structures, and we’re just starting to see the potential of these techniques. This is obviously a cost-saving feature, since artists don’t have to model these worlds themselves, only tweak them.
Sculpture modeling. 3D sculpture-style modeling tools came to prominence in the game world with ZBrush, and have since become the defacto tool type for building highly detailed facial models. These tools make 3D character creation more like molding clay than ever before. Now there’s also Mudbox, Sculptris and others, and almost every character modeler is now well versed in these tools.
Web development pipelines. Web development pipelines are a relatively new development in games, popularized by people like Mike Acton of Insomniac Games. Web development pipelines allow standardization, the ability for the client to be agnostic from the development environment, and easy deployment. They are also relatively future proof since one update affects everyone on the team instantaneously. This very much seems like the way even triple-A pipelines will be going in the future.
Security and web back ends. One big concern for social, MMO, and mobile game developers is security from hackers, so we’ve seen a whole lot of time and thought invested into a safe back end
that has as little interaction with the player as possible, while still maintaining a quick player experience that is frequently saved and updated.
The new business model for tools
The free to play model, or perhaps more accurately the freemium model, has come to game tools. Tools like Unity, Epic’s Unreal Engine, CryEngine, have free versions, and many middleware companies such as Havok offer their product for free, but with license fees or tiers past which you must pay.
The big thing I’ve heard coming from game developers is that while this is intended to allow indie developers to afford more expensive tools, it doesn’t really allow them to make that much money either. When you’ve got Apple or Google’s app stores taking 30%, and Unity, or Unreal, or any of your back-end middleware taking up some more, there’s very little left for the developer.
It will be very interesting to see how this model works in the future, as it seems to cater more toward teams with a small amount of funding, versus pure indies. While this sort of thing has gotten many indies to try out middleware they would never otherwise have gotten to touch, it’s also pushed many indies to look more at free tools. In doing so, they have collectively made those free tools even better. While there’s no direct support for those tools of course, there are strong communities for them, and this has caused speculation about the future of
Social and mobile trends
Social and mobile games had a lot of momentum over the last few years, as developers figured out what to do in these new spaces. Though some of the giants, like Zynga, may be slowing down,
there’s still a lot of opportunity for small teams in the mobile space, and social to some extent as well. The following are just a few things I’ve noticed in those industries in the last year or so.
The “mid-core” social user. Developers have been talking about this for ages, trying to find some sort of hybrid between the hardcore game player and the casual player. Why would they want
to do this, you might wonder? This is because casual players tend to be pretty apathetic toward the games they play. They will play whatever comes along, but they don’t really consider themselves dedicated, and are not about to start a Zynga fansite. Hardcore players on the other hand, will buy every game in a series, or follow its developers no matter what they make.
Social game developers want to get that sort of fanaticism for player retention and discoverability through word of mouth. So far, not many companies have been successful at this. One wonders how possible it might be, but any company that can really do it well might get some extreme benefits.
Layoffs. You’ve certainly seen the big layoffs at Zynga recently, and all the studio closures. Zynga’s stocks are only around 22-25% of their initial public offering, and we are seeing a lot of studio contraction. Venture capital and investment is also slowing, and player retention is getting more expensive. All this has led many to say that the social game bubble has burst. That’s not to say the industry is over, not by a long shot. It just means that now the best will truly rise to the top.
Post-release marketing. One trend I’ve seen that hasn’t quite caught on yet is post-release marketing in mobile. Right now, many companies are treating their mobile games like traditional
game releases, and advertising them beforehand, or showing early trailers. But this can sometimes work against them, because most game sites will only talk about a mobile game once, if they
talk about it at all. And if the game isn’t out when you talk about it, people will forget it exists. Companies like Rovio, on the other hand, have done a great job of making sure updates are constant, and very obvious, and that word of mouth is spread by post-release marketing, not trying to treat the launch of a 99 cent iOS game as though it were Halo 4.
I happen to think indie developers are great, but I’m just a bit biased since I dabble in that field myself. But you’ve no doubt noticed that indies are gaining in status, with developers like Notch, who made Minecraft, John Blow, maker of Braid, and many others having massive success while big companies are trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Indies are taking much bigger risks, and when they fail nobody notices — but when they make it big, it makes the big companies wonder how they can emulate this success.
A lot of new game developers are skipping the traditional game industry entirely, nowadays, and going straight into making indie games, either by starting a company, joining a team, or doing it themselves. The path into the game industry has gotten much easier, it seems, or at least there are more ways to do it.
Game Jams have also proven to be a big driver of success and creativity. If you’ve never been to one, a jam is basically where a bunch of developers get together and make games in an incredibly short period of time (often 48 hours) with some sort of guidelines. A lot of full games have grown out of these jams, including a funded game that I’m making right now.
Game bundles are another huge development for indies. Bundles like the Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royale take several games that are newly launching, or even games that were already out, and give them new life by selling them as one package and letting people pay whatever they think it’s worth. These bundles have made upward of 4 million dollars with just 5 or so developers in each bundle.
By way of stats, from our salary survey we found that Indie games made more money in 2011 than they did in 2010. 48% of independent developers made less than $500 from the sale of their
game, down from 55% in 2010, which means fewer people are making less. 16% of independent developers made over $60,000 from the sale of their game in 2011, compared to 8% in 2010, which means more people are making more! Individual independent developers averaged $23,500 (way up from $11,000 in 2010), and members of independent developer teams averaged just over $38,000 (up from nearly $27,000 in 2010).
It’s hard to overestimate the value of crowdfunding for the western game market, for small and large developers alike. In the last year, crowdfunding has really taken off, and not only on the obvious sites like Kickstarter, but also through companies releasing paid betas in order to fund completion of their game – Minecraft is a classic example of this, but others have done it as well, like Mechwarrior Online, which had a “founders program” that allowed players to pay money in advance of the game, with the promise of exclusive items once the game launched.
Kickstarter is a huge driver though, and it’s really picked up just in the last year. As of April 2011, games had received 1 million in funding total, across all projects. Now large projects from well known developers regularly exceed that. Project Eternity, from the mid-sized developer Obsidion, has nearly 4 million, for example. But small games are also getting funded for just $25,000 at times, which is literally kickstarting the careers of a number of new, young developers.
One of the big problems with Kickstarter was that it was only available for U.S.-based projects, or at least those which used US currency. But just recently, Kickstarter launched in the UK, which seems incredibly important, as that country has had a lot of talent bleed over the years. The region has also traditionally had different taste from North American audiences, but publishers were unwilling to fund these titles. Now they have a new chance.
Most importantly, Kickstarter lets games come out that publishers would never fund. It’s a great way to sidestep the traditional money hierarchy and let your customers truly tell you what they want. I feel this could change the traditional publishing model pretty significantly in the near future.
These are a bunch of trends that didn’t fit anywhere else. I could go on forever, but I’ll try to limit myself here.
Windows 8. The developer reaction to Windows 8 has not been extremely positive. It’s a much more closed platform than we’ve seen from Microsoft in some time, and developers really do not like closed platforms. That’s part of why they develop for the PC, after all! A recent article on Gamasutra noted two interesting things — one is that Skyrim, what many consider the PC game of 2011, would not have been allowed on Windows 8 because of its adult content. One of the biggest games of the year would’ve been unable to release on PC (at least as it was).
The author also noted that Steam would be impossible on Windows 8 out of the box, because Windows 8 doesn’t allow re-selling of other content outside of its store. (Microsoft may have to make some provision for that). As an aside, by “on Windows 8″ I mean in its Metro desktop, but that basically *is* the Windows 8 interface.
Psychology and economics in game design. Psychology is being applied to game design much more than ever. One example is game designer Ara Shrinian’s discussion of User Interface as it relates to psychology, particularly what the perception of an object or piece of interface could do, versus what it actually does, using ideas from industrial design to show how many of these problems have already been solved. Another great example is Jason Vandenberge of Ubisoft’s discussion of the 5-factor model of psychology into the domain of play. Vandenberge has written about this extensively in Game Developer magazine, and I encourage you to seek out his articles.
Meanwhile, on the economics side, you’ve got Eve Online, which employs economists to study and make improvements to their ever-changing world economy. This sort of thing will probably get even more important as free-to-play economies take over the game sphere.
A new world of lawsuits. Lately in the social game sphere especially, there has been a lot of talk about games being too similar, and even lifting code from each other. In what I am pretty sure is an unprecedented case, Triple Town developer Spry Fox sued the maker of a similar game called Yeti Town, which had been found to copy Triple Town’s mechanics too closely. Amazingly, when Triple Town won the lawsuit, they were also granted the Yeti Town IP, rights, and code. So if you didn’t know it already, IP law is serious business.
The next steps
Hopefully, this has given you some idea of the state of Western game development, from tools, to salaries, to trends. There is so much more going on in games that I couldn’t cover here, and with the pace of the industry, as soon as anyone writes something like this, it’s going to immediately go out of date. It’s up to you, the readers, to go out there and forge the new trends in this industry. Get out there and do it! （source：gamecareerguide）