Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

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Argh
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Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Argh »

[RANT MODE ON]
Anybody else read the Wall Street Journal's estimate on the real cost of Spore, before the promotional budget is factored in?

Fifty million dollars.

For fifty million dollars... jeez. I know what I can do with just me and GMN and the help we get (and an engine that would, according to Tobi, have cost about three million dollars+ by now, mind ye, but a lot of that would not have been necessary for a typical commercial project done to spec, imo).

Hell, give me ONE million dollars, and I'd make a great game. A small game, sure, but it'd be all right. SOSE was built around that level of a budget.

Fifty. Will it do our homework? Shine our shoes? Change our lives?

Fifty. For something that was supposedly launched because of the high cost of content.

Fifty. I could find, finance, and launch 48 game designers on 48 real projects, for that cost, use the other two million on viral marketing campaigns and websites on a common template base... and I'd probably see a better ROI in the end. Fifty.

I dunno whether I want it to succeed or fail, frankly. I like Will Wright, but I've been very skeptical about the game's premise and design, and now I'm very, very skeptical about profitability.

Fifty million dollars. For a game where people make ambulatory penises, and share the results online. I can't wait for the lawsuits to start- "your software showed my kids filthy things", etc.

Fifty.

Those guys can have an art director, who "just" supervises the other artists and gives them feedback all day long, and maybe tweaks stuff and makes things along the way.

They can have a lead architect, and a game designer, and a producer, and a sound designer, and multiple level designers. Several engine coders, specialist coders, coders brought in because they're Experts At Exactly One Thing.

They can go spend tens of thousands of dollars on site-licenses for various fancy software that I can't even look at, because I'd be knee-deep in piracy if I started, and I've been clean for years now, so I just avoid looking, frankly.

They can spend a half-million bucks on a Flash 'site Web campaign that takes three months or more to code by a small team, with "destinations" and "experiences".

When I think about all of that, I want to give somebody the Finger.

But who? Is this the fault of people who buy the games, or is it something terribly wrong with the money guys?

Is it the fault of the game critics, and guys like AF, who aren't willing to lower their expectations about what's realistic to deliver?

I've read various POVs- the guy at Stardock who produced SOSE had really pungent things to say about budgets and ROI. Almost made me want to approach them, see if they'd provide seed money for commercial games with this engine or something crazy like that- give people like me our lives back, by letting us do this right.

But the machine is mainly still just doing what it does.
[/RANT]
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smoth
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by smoth »

heh. 1mill will not last as long as you think. I am not a veteran of the industry. However, working for a consulting company and prior to this job I worked for a phone company... you really have not had your eyes opened to the reality that software development is extremely expensive.
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Argh
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Argh »

I know it's expensive, especially if it's not done right.

At JTAC, I was responsible for testing and suggesting new features, among other things, and was one of four people responsible for testing our product.

I watched our developer piss money down the toilet with inefficient, crappy workflow, which I was powerless to do anything about, because such decisions were made by people without any experience with the actual workflow of coders, and basically were willing to buy into a lot of bullshit.

No SVN, no way for outside review of the source on a daily basis, poor documentation of commits to their code, poor merging. The fact of the matter is that Spring has taught me a lot about how good projects should run their shows- open all the way, communication between management all the way, no merging, and when major features need to be built, they need to be spec'd very, very carefully, instead of thrown together and rebuilt a bazillion times.

You can't avoid high costs or time investment- coders aren't cheap, things take time. I've worn that hat, along with the other ones- it's not like waving a magic wand, and hurrah, we have game.

But a one-million budget produced SOSE. Go read their lead designer's essay, it's easy to find on their Forum.
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smoth
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by smoth »

not sure that it would work out like you think man.
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Argh
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Argh »

Go read the essay, it's quite enlightening. There are some things I couldn't see getting done, for that budget, absolutely- something like, say, Fallout 3. Ok, it needs a budget of three to four mil for coding alone, I'm sure, and 10-15 for content. I can see that. And I'll be BethSoft paid 2-3 times that, because, what the hell, they can do that, and they will probably be profitable anyhow.

But there are lots of games that would be great, that don't need that kind of money to get developed.
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Dragon45
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Dragon45 »

fuck man i could i build spore for like ten bucks
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Argh
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Argh »

Want that via Paypal? And will the delivery date be in decades or centuries?
souledge
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by souledge »

I think you're very naive. There are hundreds of man years put into a game like spore. You know nothing of the processes used to create spore and you claim you could make it cheaper on the basis that it cost fifty million?

...
Satirik
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Satirik »

souledge wrote:I think you're very naive. There are hundreds of man years put into a game like spore. You know nothing of the processes used to create spore and you claim you could make it cheaper on the basis that it cost fifty million?

...
he didn't say he could make it cheaper ... if you can't read just don't post
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Otherside
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Otherside »

Spore owns

Image

so what if it cost that much
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Crayfish
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Crayfish »

Yeah. Stuff costs money, sometimes surprising amounts.

That's steep though. Wonder if that includes distribution costs etc. or if that's development alone?
[Krogoth86]
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by [Krogoth86] »

Now make sure you sit and then start to imagine what Duke Nukem Forever already must have cost 3D Realms... :mrgreen:
manored
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by manored »

Well spore is a game like none before, perhaps they wasted a good part of that money researching how to get it done first :)
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jcnossen
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by jcnossen »

They are commercializing completely new area's of cool algorithms and generated content. For once they are finally spending money on new things instead of sports game 200x, so I really have no idea what your problem with spore development is.... :?

As i understand it, Spore required investment in actual new research, which causes a lot more risk and a much larger number of developers to make sure you succeed. A game such as fallout 3 would not require any new research.
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Forboding Angel
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Forboding Angel »

50 million hurts my balls greatly though.

For that I would create the most godly rts known to man, complete with a usb fleshlite and wiibrator for added intensity.

Good lord that's a lot of money...
souledge
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by souledge »

Satirik wrote:he didn't say he could make it cheaper ... if you can't read just don't post
Sorry I thought talking about how much something costs, how past experiences with software have shown how money can be pissed away and how other experiences with software can be very efficient might have something to do with making something cheaper. Like making 48 games and promoting them for the cost of 1...

If the point of this thread is to say things cost money. What exactly is there to be discussed? Vista cost billions, I could've made 50 Linux kernels for the cost of vistOMGWTFBILLIONS
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Otherside
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Otherside »

if u compare that with the cost of movies nowadays its nothing. Especially when movies are only 2 hours long on average
Satirik
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Satirik »

souledge wrote:
Satirik wrote:he didn't say he could make it cheaper ... if you can't read just don't post
Sorry I thought talking about how much something costs, how past experiences with software have shown how money can be pissed away and how other experiences with software can be very efficient might have something to do with making something cheaper. Like making 48 games and promoting them for the cost of 1...

If the point of this thread is to say things cost money. What exactly is there to be discussed? Vista cost billions, I could've made 50 Linux kernels for the cost of vistOMGWTFBILLIONS
he just wants millions for his games ... that's all and it seems he doesn't like the concept of spore :)
souledge
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by souledge »

Satirik wrote:
souledge wrote:
Satirik wrote:he didn't say he could make it cheaper ... if you can't read just don't post
Sorry I thought talking about how much something costs, how past experiences with software have shown how money can be pissed away and how other experiences with software can be very efficient might have something to do with making something cheaper. Like making 48 games and promoting them for the cost of 1...

If the point of this thread is to say things cost money. What exactly is there to be discussed? Vista cost billions, I could've made 50 Linux kernels for the cost of vistOMGWTFBILLIONS
he just wants millions for his games ... that's all and it seems he doesn't like the concept of spore :)
Yeh but he thinks he can get a higher ROI from 48 games than from 1 game. Therefore there is the argument of "I can make more money for less", which I think is very naive.

With an average 40,000 promotion budget for each game, all of which would be aimed at the same low end market, all with a 1 million total budget which means not much room for innovation, so similar sorts of games that will all be competing with each other, etc.
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Argh
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Re: Spore's real costs, implications therof. A rant.

Post by Argh »

Cheaper != equivalent.

Innovation != profitable.

Yes, yes... sometimes, somebody makes a DDR, a Smash Bros., etc., and innovation becomes profitable. Sometimes, you get a Wii.

But that doesn't mean that it works out that way all the time. A lot of projects just get killed before they get too expensive, or they're innovative and released... but terrible.

So yeah, I think it was a crappy investment of 50 million dollars, pure and simple. Innovation is not a compelling reason to spend that kind of money.

And yes, I do believe that 48 games could be made, and that they'd be profitable, and that they'd all be different. But hey, let's concede that point... let's be more "realistic". Five games, 10 million dollars. Argument making more sense now? Juggle 50 million dollars around, and you can come up with various combinations that would probably have been spent more effectively. In the end, it's a business decision, people. When you're doing a commercial game, that is what matters- whether it's profitable or not.

In short, Blizzard's people are probably laughing their asses off.
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