Posts Tagged ‘Developer’
Rock Band and Dance Central developer Harmonix today confirmed a modest staff reduction, cutting a “small number” of jobs ahead of the holidays due to “shifting staffing priorities.”
“We can confirm that a small number of Harmonix employees were let go today,” a Harmonix representative told GameSpot after Joystiq broke the news. “This decision was made due to shifting staffing priorities for Harmonix’s multiple future projects.”
It is unclear how many developers total lost their jobs today or what the company’s current headcount is.
This is not the first round of job losses at the Cambridge, Mass. developer this year. The studio also cut a small number of jobs in April, using the same exact quote to describe the cullings as the statement issued today.
Harmonix is currently working on the Xbox-exclusive Fantasia: Music Evolved, but also has other unannounced projects in the works, including possibly a combat-themed game. The studio is not ostensibly looking to staff up significantly, as the outfit only has one open position posted to its website.
Earlier today, Microsoft listed a few of the independent studios it’s working with for its ID@Xbox program, which lets independent developers self-publish content directly to the Xbox One. One eye-opening addition to the list was Crytek, a studio notable for the Crysis series, the CryEngine development tool, and, most recently, the Xbox One launch game Ryse: Son of Rome.
GameSpot editors Justin Haywald and Tom Mc Shea face off in trying to answer the question: Is Crytek really an indie developer?
Justin Haywald: Going by the comments in the story for this announcement and the noise on Twitter, a lot of people seemed almost offended that Crytek could be considered an “indie dev.” But I really don’t see what the problem is. It’s not a plucky two-man studio, but it’s no different from the other developers on this list. It partners with publishers to get its content out, just like Double Fine, Inis, and all the rest do.
And unlike some of the other studios Microsoft listed that are recognized only for making ports of existing franchises, Crytek makes the games it wants using its own intellectual property.
Can you not be considered indie if you’re also successful?
Tom Mc Shea: Success has little to do with being designated independent or, um, dependent. Various studios have made waves both critically and commercially and still carry the indie developer label, such as Team Meat, DrinkBox, and Mossmouth. My problem is not just that Crytek–with its budgets soaring past dozens of millions of dollars and its cutting-edge, proprietary engine–has no place among the likes of two-man studios, but that the very categorization is fundamentally flawed.
What exactly are we trying to communicate by calling certain studios indie? It can’t be based on the size of their bank accounts, considering that the tiny Size Five Games and behemoth Mojang carry that designation. It can’t be originality if you look at the plethora of puzzle platformers and roguelikes being churned out by smaller studios. And if you think refinement should factor into that label, look no further than Gone Home, which is just as smooth as any AAA game.
So what does indie even mean anymore?
Justin: That’s the real issue. To some people, indie has an almost hipster-like connotation of “that studio that makes this game I like, but you probably haven’t heard of it.” Indie studios create games that might be rougher around the edges, but they do things their own way.
The only solution I see is to separate the two ideas. Studios like Crytek and BioShock-developer Irrational are “independent.” They develop their own games, but have to seek outside companies for publishing.
Studios like Capy are “indie.” They develop their own games, but have fewer than 50 employees (at least two of whom must have dreadlocks).
Tom: And then there’s Valve. The Greatest Company in All of Gaming destroys every independence-related argument. Those who seek thoughtful, creative, and interesting games flock to Valve’s offerings, and there’s no question that the house that Half-Life built develops whatever it wants. But Valve rakes in so much money, and has so much control over the market with Steam, that to label it as anything but a brilliant megacorps is disingenuous.
It’s because of companies like Valve and Mojang that I started to avoid using the term indie. The connotation is obvious–studios built on a passion for gaming rather than money–but there are just as many me-too indie studios as there are AAA teams who endlessly recycle, and Bethesda and DICE prove that all the resources in the world won’t save you from a buggy project.
Why do we need to use indie, independent, or any other label when no one can decide on a proper meaning?
JH: Just because it has a broader meaning than some people put on it doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. Valve is a power unto itself, but Crytek, Mojang, Irrational, and Way Forward are all just different flavors of independent.
And any system that lets developers have more autonomy both in how their content is created and how it’s distributed is a gross positive. The closer the Xbox and PlayStation 4 come to the PC in terms of giving independent developers more freedom, the better.
Tom: Now that’s an idea that I can get behind. The lower the bar for entry, the more experimentation we’ll see, which will only strengthen the industry going forward.
But instead of trying to arbitrarily label every developer, instead of trying to separate the Infinity Wards from the Vlambeers, or debating where Housemarque and Thatgamecompany fall, we should just call them all game developers. Then we won’t unfairly downgrade Retro for having Nintendo to help it out, or excuse Paradox for releasing buggy games at launch. Without an indie designation, everyone could be looked at through the same filter, and we could let the games speak for themselves.
The full schedule of speakers and panels for the Game Developers Conference 2014 hasn’t been announced yet, but one can’t-miss talk is already lined up. Yu Suzuki, the designer behind the unfinished Shenmue series, will be doing a post-mortem of his Dreamcast classic. PlayStation 4 lead architect and game designer Mark Cerny will translate the talk.
Industry site Gamasutra announced the hour-long session, with more details to come as we get closer to the conference.
GDC runs from March 17 to 21 here in San Francisco, but if you can’t make it to the event yourself, you’ll be able to watch a livestream of the talk right here on GameSpot.
In this developer flythrough for Ryse: Son of Rome, sweep through the ancient streets of Rome and see the beauty behind the art, style and visual fidelity of Crytek’s recreation of the iconic city.
Gamespot’s Site Mashup
Take a look at this developer interview for Heroes of the Storm as they discuss the intricacies of game design, planning, art design, and how the goal of a fun, quick, raucous game came together at Blizzard.
Gamespot’s Site Mashup
Indie Developer Tried To Convince Valve and Nintendo To Work Together
The issue was this: Several months ago, Two Tribes released Toki Tori 2+ as a downloadable eShop game on Nintendo's Wii U console. They planned to add a level editor. They put the game out on Steam as well. Sadly, the Wii U game didn't sell super-well, …
Toki Tori 2+ Wii U level editor canned, free Steam copy offered in compensation
Nintendo hoping to make every developer want to publish on Wii U
Nintendo of America's Scott Moffitt has proclaimed the company's desire to position the Wii U as “the console that every developer wants to publish on.” Such a declaration isn't seen as “an either-or proposition,” with Nintendo keen to build the …
Nintendo wants every developer to publish on Wii U; exact opposite happens
5 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Wii U
Nintendo Admits Work to Build Wii U Install base
Nintendo Wants Wii U To Be "The Console That Every Developer Wants To …
The Wii U still isn't exactly where Nintendo wants it to be, with sales continuing to flag in both the West and Japan. The topic of third party support for the console has cropped up several times during 2013, but Nintendo's Scott Moffitt feels the …