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AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 02:06 PM)
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Hi,

In my head now, this post and what follows is probably going to backfire on me at some point, but whatever, I've learned to not take things personally and live with the consequences. So read on as I tell you a story about the time I was in game development (game design, if you want me to be upfront here), what I did back then, the love hate relationship with GAF, and what I'm posting this now. So, where do I start...

==============================================================

My name is Harold, and I once worked at Tecmo Koei Canada for four years as a designer and a programmer right up to getting downsized this time last year.

...and the cynical part of me knows that I've lost half of you already because I worked at the studio that made Fatal Inertia and Warriors Legends of Troy, but I like to think you'd read on more.

Before I go any further: I still have nothing but great things to say about the people and the opportunity I had working at Koei. This isn't meant to be a bitter "fuck you" statement, but just a more reflective look at my time there. Was it shitty I got laid off? Sure, but for you guys who just sees the end result, you too can justify why it happened.

Starting in mid 2007, I had worked on 4 different titles: Prey The Stars (DS), a port of Warriors Orochi 2 and the Dyansty Warrior 6 for the PSP and ending off with Warriors Legends of Troy. Initially I started out as a programmer on Prey The Stars, and I slowly transitioned over doing production and design work on the other titles. On Warriors Legends of Troy, I had joined the project maybe somewhere north of halfway through production, and I was in charge of designing one of the boss fights, in addition to adjusting a lot of the combat and AI routines.

...and given how WELL LOVED Troy was around these parts (aka, “not a single fuck was given” or “you suck and you should feel bad”), I hope you feel better now, since many others and I were laid off pretty much immediately after the project shipped.

Did I know that the game wasn't that good? Yes. As a gamer, I knew it had it's problems. Is it Metacritic 44/54 bad? It's a bit harsh, but most of them to me as a gamer, is a fair assessment. Then why didn't I fix any of it? I wish I could, I really do. I wish I had more time to fine-tune things, I wish I had more time to fix things, and I wish I had jumped in the project earlier and gave my two cents in the direction earlier, but it's one of those things where my hands were tied even before I knew what to begin with. Yet despite all that, I'm still very proud of what the team had achieved, given the constraints we had to deal with. I'm not sure if people want me to go into anymore specific details, so feel free to ask me below and I'll answer as much as I can without breaking any NDAs, etc.

==============================================================

But enough about what I've worked on, and onto the main point of why I'm posting this: the Developer-GAF relationship.

First off, I have to thank the people around here. Of the ones who's talked to me either through twitter or in real life in GAF meetups have been fantastic. I've often introduced myself to people on GAF IRL where I work, but I asked that they keep that info on the downlow on GAF, and for the most part, they've respected that, and I have yet to be called out on something like that yet. So thanks, I'm sure there are plenty of industry folks around here that really appreciate the privacy.

So, what is there to say about how game companies sees GAF and vice versa?

Edit: In hindsight, seeing ShockingAlberto delete the comment, I'm not going to dig it back up again, so I'm going to bury that whole chunk and mention something else, so instead, I present you, the GAF Warriors Legends of Troy thread: Warriors: Legends of Troy -- Why didn't anyone tell me?!?

This thread, and subsequent threads on games I've worked on, has always been fascinating to me: dealing with the nice and not so nice comments. And it's pretty much the reason why I see most devs suggest to never read or post on GAF. It's a cynical, it's bitter, and it's rage inducing. Hey, let's pull some choice quotes:

Originally Posted by Decado

lol. It's from KOEI. How can it *not* suck?

Originally Posted by jiji

yeah, I lost interest when I read this. now it will be crap in a way everybody can agree on.

Originally Posted by The Take Out Bandit

Is this still from the Bagged Milk team behind that rubbish Wipeout clone?

Just wait on Dynasty Warriors 7.

Sorry guys for calling you out. If I were you, I'd do (and have done) the same thing myself. If you've seen me around racing game threads (Blur, Split Second, Burnout, Ridge Racer etc, yes I love my racing games) you've seen me say things pretty similar, both defending and calling out devs on their bullshit. I recall at one point that I've ranted so much about the new Ridge Racer both in person and online that I got an e-mail from a producer on the game talking to be about it (in a very open a frank design discussion, which I really appreciated). From a gaming enthusiast side, it's great. It's a tad cynical, but it cuts the the BS and keeps people honest as long as they know not to take it personally.

I wasn't even on the project back when these were posted, and I felt like I had to throw and give a giant "fuck you" to every reply. Yet throughout the whole thing I know I can't talk about the game and my involvement, because it'd break all sorts of NDA. That part was perhaps the most depressing for me, has a gamer who knows and understand games, but now am sitting on the side of development, and knowing the restrictions and limitations, and not be able to do a damn thing about it. No matter how hard I try, it always ended up feeling like a personal attack: it's like everyone of those posters saying, "you're shit, all your ideas are shit, and you as a gamer are wrong". I'm suppose to take in everyone comments as they come, and yet I can't even defend myself or the team I worked with?

In the past 4 years, I'm sure I've rage-typed and rage-deleted thousands of potential replies I had. The temptation for me to reply was strong, but it was something that I've now learned to live with and try not to take anything personally. I've seen people, especially developers, who take the position of “don't read GAF, it's an echo chamber of bullshit drivel”, but I personally think there's still some truth in what's being said. I am still very much on the side of “read everything and take in feedback” rather than “ignore the rubbish that gets posted”. In the office, I was the “GAF” guy, posting quick observations and feedback to the team our game, and even other games that are in similar space. Did that label work against me in the office? I'm sure it did. I know that there was a point where I've had opinions and ideas shot down strictly because I represented the vocal minority. Oh well...

==============================================================

So, why post this now? It's been exactly a year since many others and I were downsized, and I want to give this thing some proper closure(don't remember reading about it? Of course you didn't. The same day we got the axe, Sony Online chopped The Agency, and that, obviously got way more coverage than some studio up in Canada that made games that no one was ever too excited about). Some found employment within core games, but many more just packed up and left the industry. Fun facts: less than 50% are in games and game-related positions, and if you want to cut it further down, less than 25% still deal with core games (and I'm lumping in iOS into that group. In the group that got downsized, there was two that formed a company that started working on iOS games.). More than 50% of the programmers packed up and left for business/finance, which in their words, “pay much much better, with much less stress/bullshit”.

I'm sure you can be cynical at this point, and point at the track record of what we've worked on, and say that's damn good reason. You may be right. I can't defend that. What I can say is that the people I've worked with are talented and fantastic people, and in the right circumstance, could have built something interesting and wonderful, and it's a shame that the talent pool has now gone to waste.

And as you can deduce by now by this long post, I'm still unemployed (hence, the complete freedom to talk about stuff). It's been a difficult year, banging on doors, realizing that a) 3+ years isn't a whole lot in design land, and b) everyone is just asking for social and facebook designers now. I'm not here to make a statement on how social and facebook games are bad, but rather the fact that my skills and what I know don't translate directly to those games, and it's kinda odd looking in wondering how any of it works.

==============================================================

If you've made it this far, congratulations. And I'm also sure by this point you've realized that the promise of a free game is really my whole bait for you to check out something I've been working on for the iOS. Oh, did I mention that it's FREE? And it comes with GameCenter Achievements?

Download Sometimes You Just Can't Win


I'll be upfront about it, it's not a game in the traditional sense: the visuals are definitely “designer art”, and “sound” is pretty bad too (getting a designer to do art and sound is probably not a good idea). It probably needs some more balance work, a bit more polish and an actual game. In a way, the game is this weird summarization of me working in games for the last four years. More importantly, it's my therapy session, a proper closure. The game from start to finish, is somewhere around 20 minutes, so it's not a huge timesink if you were wondering.

I ended up writing a full post about the game and how it related to me working in games, and I would encourage you to read it if you end up playing the game. This post is running long now, so I'll just toss the link to a page and you can do the rest from there: Sometimes You Just Can't Win Landing Page

==============================================================

So, yeah, thanks for reading all that. Feel free to ask me anything and I'll see if it's kosher to respond. Feel free to tell me to go to hell to for the bad games I've work on. I understand.
FrontalMonk
Banned
(04-04-2012, 02:18 PM)
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I wasn't around GAF at the time, but as far as I'm concerned, you've lived what I've wanted to since I was a kid. I'll give your app a shot when I have a chance, and as I'm sure you know, not all of us on GAF are angry troglodytes. :D

sucks that you're still unemployed, and I wish you all the best. Don't really have any questions for you, just well wishes.
mclem
Member
(04-04-2012, 02:35 PM)
There's so much in your post which echoes my own experience. I'm one who was laid off a while ago (a little over two years in my case), and I'm one who found a job in a completely different industry, where I'm actually a little uncomfortable about how amazingly well I'm being treated here compared to the conditions before.
ElFly
Member
(04-04-2012, 02:38 PM)
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Koei Canada wasn't the most glamorous dev to work at, sure, but at least that meant you were out of the spotlight that GAF is. Me thinks you should try to sort things out financially and keep doing indie games until something comes out.
Dusk Golem
A 21st Century Rockefeller
(04-04-2012, 02:47 PM)
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Very interesting read. And I also am glad more and more people in the industry are talking about how bad some of the current practices really are in gaming. While any creative business is tough, the game industry is just downright cruel often with so many hefty jobs put on people, layoffs at the tip of a hat, a huge difference in rank between the people who actually make the games and the ones who make the calls, and just a large variety of bullshit a lot of people have to go through.

I'm hoping these recent revelations continue to stack up because honestly the industry in several ways is needing some big changes that are becoming increasingly apparent, and in part, happening as more developers unhook their ties with the publishers and companies that resort to these practices. There's still a lot to change, especially in the 'core' gaming development circles.
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 02:58 PM)
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I don't think I'm making a comment or statement about the practices and condition at where I worked, and I hope my post didn't come off that way, but I think I may have to put up a few disclaimer about that before hand.

I'll put it in a very simple term: If I had a chance to choose whether to work there again 5 years ago, would I? Yes. Sure, there was difficult times, but there were great times. Some of the projects went absolutely fantastic, and it was because of the people that I got to work with.

Originally Posted by ElFly

Koei Canada wasn't the most glamorous dev to work at, sure, but at least that meant you were out of the spotlight that GAF is. Me thinks you should try to sort things out financially and keep doing indie games until something comes out.

The personal financial stuff is much more interesting and weird to try to explain to people, but I'll try here. By trade, I was a programmer, and on paper, I can go look for something that's your typical software development job. But once you take on a full 9-5 job, you really don't ever muster up enough energy and commitment to do anything else (even if the company you work for is OK with you making stuff outside of work). I'm sure other people will claim that it's feasible, but I know myself well enough that for me, it's a pretty binary choice of continue doing games in some capacity, or just back away from it entirely.
Zeouterlimits
Member
(04-04-2012, 03:06 PM)
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Interesting story, and I can empathise with the urge to write an angry reply to an unfair post that you read, happens quite often for me.

Hadn't really heard of the games you worked on (certainly aware of the DW franchise, but not on PSP), but I shall check out your iOS game.

Must say, I really admire your desire/willingness to talk about it. Transparency is cool in my book.
TimeKillr
Member
(04-04-2012, 03:16 PM)
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I actually had a headhunter who was harassing me about a game designer job at Koei Canada, for Troy in particular. (Not that he ever mentioned it was that, but when a guy says "It's for a big international developer who is working on a game based on ancient greek history/mythology" it's pretty damn obvious.)

I'm a huge fan of Dynasty Warriors so I was tempted, but then I figured that moving to Toronto would probably be a huge hassle, so I kept declining.

Apparently I made a wise decision :)
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 03:35 PM)
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Originally Posted by TimeKillr

I actually had a headhunter who was harassing me about a game designer job at Koei Canada, for Troy in particular. (Not that he ever mentioned it was that, but when a guy says "It's for a big international developer who is working on a game based on ancient greek history/mythology" it's pretty damn obvious.)

I'm a huge fan of Dynasty Warriors so I was tempted, but then I figured that moving to Toronto would probably be a huge hassle, so I kept declining.

Apparently I made a wise decision :)

Hard to say, could have been fun? Well, except for the getting axed part. Or, if you think of it the other way, YOU, could have made the game a success! :P
Apoc29
Member
(04-04-2012, 03:46 PM)
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I know that feel bro, 'cause I think we come from the same place...almost the same place actually; I remember you from the UW Gamers Club, haha. You don't know me but I've also worked in the games industry in Toronto for 4 years and still do and still enjoy it. You probably already know the indie community here is pretty supportive and there are a lot of creative types to draw inspiration from. I don't really have any advice or anything, just want to say best of luck to you and keep living the dream.
OrangeYouGlad
Banned
(04-04-2012, 03:52 PM)
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I'll read it when I have some time today and grab your game to try. Does this thread mean you've offloaded all that cynicism and rage? I think it would do you some good to relax.
TimeKillr
Member
(04-04-2012, 04:01 PM)
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Originally Posted by AlphaTwo00

Hard to say, could have been fun? Well, except for the getting axed part. Or, if you think of it the other way, YOU, could have made the game a success! :P

Yeah, not a big fan of being axed. :) It hasn't happened yet in the 9 or so years I've been doing this!

And knowing how these big companies work, I highly doubt *I* would have made that much of a difference, to be honest. Besides, the direction was already off with the game - the mandate was, iirc, to make a musou game that would appeal to western sensibilities, which most japanese developers sadly misinterpret.

That being said, I'm pretty sure I could adapt the musou formula for the west, but it's a challenge because most people here understand the gameplay as "Mash Square".
Casier98
Junior Member
(04-04-2012, 04:18 PM)
I may as well chime in here. I'm a former programmer at Koei Canada as well. A programmer on both Fatal Intertia and Troy. I ended up leaving about 3 months before the downsizing happened. Lucky in hindsight, I guess, but I was under the impression before I left that the team was going to be given another shot at a large-scale project. I was offered a job elsewhere (still in the industry), but they tried to keep me with the promise of another project. That may have been true at the time, but I suppose a lot can change in 3 months.

Originally Posted by AlphaTwo00

I still have nothing but great things to say about the people and the opportunity I had working at Koei.

This couldn't be more true. While management may not have had their priorities straight all the time, working there was an experience I wouldn't change for the world. The people were awesome, and the opportunities I was given while I was there were amazing. I don't regret my time there at all.

Just wanted to chime in with my 2 cents (or I guess it's my nickel now...pennies don't exist anymore in Canada)

Oh, and yes, I will be checking this game out.
Felix Lighter
Member
(04-04-2012, 04:29 PM)
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Good read. I wish the best of luck to you and hope you can stick with your passion of game development.

As for the cynicism on Gaf, is it seen as worse than the cynicism of the internet in general? Some of the constant negativity can be a little draining even for an ordinary poster like myself but I always felt that on neogaf, at least the level of discourse was a little higher than the general internet. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe it's worse when the vitriol is surrounded by some decent discussion, I don't know. I can understand the rage though. The inability to defend yourself when someone attacks your work or even worse, attacks you personally, is extremely frustrating.
Nome
Member
(04-04-2012, 04:31 PM)
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I feel ya brother. I go through the same rage-post/delete process several times daily wanting to clean up misperceptions but can't due to NDAs. I think the longer you spend in the industry, the more jaded you become towards the gaming community. It feels horrific.
RobotNinjaHornets
Banned
(04-04-2012, 04:43 PM)
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I'm going to be applying for game programming jobs fairly soon and this is one of the main things I'm not looking forward to. I mean I already get annoyed enough by people's generally negative attitude about everything, so when it's about something I worked on...not going to be fun.

Just out of interest, would you happen to have any advice for applying? Like what sort of interview questions come up and stuff?
yogloo
Member
(04-04-2012, 04:47 PM)
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Don't be discouraged by gaf. The majority of gaf is a retarded bunch anyway. You lived the life that each of us dreamed to live. Good luck to you on future endeavours!!!
TimeKillr
Member
(04-04-2012, 04:59 PM)
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Originally Posted by RobotNinjaHornets

I'm going to be applying for game programming jobs fairly soon and this is one of the main things I'm not looking forward to. I mean I already get annoyed enough by people's generally negative attitude about everything, so when it's about something I worked on...not going to be fun.

Honestly, programmers are probably the people in the best possible position when it comes to the game industry.

Mostly because while you mainly are a game programmer, you also have this very useful skill, called programming, that you can take with you to other industries and find meaningful work.

I, on the other hand, have developed 9 years of "Game design", of which there aren't many opportunities outside of video games. Sure, I could go board game design? Educational game design? Maybe work on game shows? I don't know, but as a "discipline" it's not as useful and I would say respected than programmers (or artists - there's a LOT of work to be had as an artist if you leave the industry).
Flambe
Member
(04-04-2012, 05:03 PM)
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It's the internet, try not to get upset about people anonymously posting on a forum to get a laugh from others.

There can be great feedback to be had here, but there's always going to be very vocal naysayers shitting on pretty much every topic/thread to be had.

I'm glad you enjoyed your time at Koei. If you enjoyed yourself and worked the best you could within the guidelines and limitations imposed by management then there's really no regrets. It's unfortunate perhaps that decisions were made that led to the products' lack of success, but that part was out of your hands.

Unfortunately some GAF folks don't always see or even exercise critical thinking as to WHY the product may have been lackluster. They see the end result and just kind of blanket-crap on the whole team.

I suppose feedback is important from everyone in the sense that they're a potential customer, but it seems difficult to readily accept criticism from people who don't get it I guess?
Kuro Madoushi
Member
(04-04-2012, 05:08 PM)
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You were at the TO meet up, eh?

Would've been nice to know this.

People here like blaming without understanding how things work.

Ie it's QA fault for bugs.... -_-
Programmers were bad.
Etc

A lot of programmers program what they are given and that is that. You aren't there for business and sometimes design decisions.

You also need thicker skin since GAF hivemind will never love one game unconditionally. Still good luck with everything!
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 05:09 PM)
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Originally Posted by Apoc29

I know that feel bro, 'cause I think we come from the same place...almost the same place actually; I remember you from the UW Gamers Club, haha. You don't know me but I've also worked in the games industry in Toronto for 4 years and still do and still enjoy it. You probably already know the indie community here is pretty supportive and there are a lot of creative types to draw inspiration from. I don't really have any advice or anything, just want to say best of luck to you and keep living the dream.

Oh? o.0 Small world. Maybe we can catch up and stuff at the next IGDA meeting.

The Toronto indie community is an absolute fantastic one and super-supportive about the projects within the community, but personally I've always felt like an outside observer looking in. I've never really participated in any of the community stuff back when I worked at Koei because to me it always felt like I was part of "Big Company" peeking in; but even after getting let go and working on my stuff independently, I don't think I've ever felt like I was in the community.

Part of it may just be down to how things operate around here: there are fantastic indies who've got stuff that they're working on, and those become their talking points and conversation piece. People were working together because they were already working together in some capacity before, and I just feel like I gotta get something out there before I can even get a word in.

Originally Posted by TheNiX

I'll read it when I have some time today and grab your game to try. Does this thread mean you've offloaded all that cynicism and rage? I think it would do you some good to relax.

I doubt it.

Those who've worked with me and know me in real life knows how much I care about games and how much critiquing I do on them (and my backloggary account of 1000+ games kinda proves the point). Give me a good game, and I'll poke enough holes in it to make it look bad; give me a bad game, and I'll find enough redeeming points to make it seems playable. My personal design philosophy has always been about trying to know as much as I can, and try to see past the decisions that were made, and it annoyed me that I've talked to people who worked on games who hold no particular insightful comments.

So until I run out of games or run out of money, I'll keep the rage posts coming.

Originally Posted by TimeKillr

Yeah, not a big fan of being axed. :) It hasn't happened yet in the 9 or so years I've been doing this!

And knowing how these big companies work, I highly doubt *I* would have made that much of a difference, to be honest. Besides, the direction was already off with the game - the mandate was, iirc, to make a musou game that would appeal to western sensibilities, which most japanese developers sadly misinterpret.

That being said, I'm pretty sure I could adapt the musou formula for the west, but it's a challenge because most people here understand the gameplay as "Mash Square".

You're right with the idea that one person isn't going to make a world of difference, you can do your part and sleep well with it, or you can try to over-extend yourself (like I did when I slept in the office just to get more hours in to fix things), and get completely burned out by the process and still get trashed on.

Your post about knowing "Mash Square" is interesting, because it's a good story:

When I applied and started working there, my exposures to Koei as a company, and they games they made (and owned) were:

WinBack
Gitaroo-Man

Of course I knew what Dynasty Warrior was, but I brushed it off like most people in what the game's appeal is. After working on the two PSP ports and playing wayyy too many hours, I can say I finally get it. It's funny that the Madden comparisons hold up, because Musou games is the Madden for Japan: The fans love it not because of it's realism, or story, but rather they see the characters as "action figures" of sorts, and the gameplay is this fantastical retelling of story that people may or may not care for. Yet the core mechanic is well defined: make you feel like a badass clearly hundreds of enemies on screen, a very light sprinkling of tactical management in a "battlefield", and grind out stats on ridiculous characters.

As a FYI: I went back to Orochi 2 as my "comfort game" when I was working on the iOS game as a stress release. Sure, the AI is dumb as bricks, but does it make me feel somewhat awesome by beating on these AI? Sure. If the game's goal is to make you feel good while not using much skill, this did the job.
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 05:26 PM)
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Originally Posted by Casier98

I may as well chime in here. I'm a former programmer at Koei Canada as well. A programmer on both Fatal Intertia and Troy. I ended up leaving about 3 months before the downsizing happened. Lucky in hindsight, I guess, but I was under the impression before I left that the team was going to be given another shot at a large-scale project. I was offered a job elsewhere (still in the industry), but they tried to keep me with the promise of another project. That may have been true at the time, but I suppose a lot can change in 3 months.



This couldn't be more true. While management may not have had their priorities straight all the time, working there was an experience I wouldn't change for the world. The people were awesome, and the opportunities I was given while I was there were amazing. I don't regret my time there at all.

Just wanted to chime in with my 2 cents (or I guess it's my nickel now...pennies don't exist anymore in Canada)

Oh, and yes, I will be checking this game out.

Don't worry, your secret identity is safe with me. :P

You do remember though, that fun conversation we had back the November before you left, when I asked you what your thoughts were about how things would turn out. Boy, weren't we both wrong on that one! I ended up blowing more money right away assuming I still had a job by booking time off to go to GDC and PAXEast myself.

Originally Posted by Felix Lighter

Good read. I wish the best of luck to you and hope you can stick with your passion of game development.

As for the cynicism on Gaf, is it seen as worse than the cynicism of the internet in general? Some of the constant negativity can be a little draining even for an ordinary poster like myself but I always felt that on neogaf, at least the level of discourse was a little higher than the general internet. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe it's worse when the vitriol is surrounded by some decent discussion, I don't know. I can understand the rage though. The inability to defend yourself when someone attacks your work or even worse, attacks you personally, is extremely frustrating.

Yes and no. Is GAF more cynical than other place? Not really. Since I was working at Koei, I did end up randomly browsing the koei-warriors fan forum, and the scepticism is just a strong there. The echo chamber here though, and the idea of "establishing a personality" by one-up each other in saying outlandish things happens more often. But I like to think that developers are smart enough to be able to read and analyze what's being said, who's being hyperbolic about it, and who's straight up trolling.

Originally Posted by RobotNinjaHornets

I'm going to be applying for game programming jobs fairly soon and this is one of the main things I'm not looking forward to. I mean I already get annoyed enough by people's generally negative attitude about everything, so when it's about something I worked on...not going to be fun.

Just out of interest, would you happen to have any advice for applying? Like what sort of interview questions come up and stuff?

As TimeKillr have said above, if you're looking into programming, it'd be no different than any other programming jobs (well, almost like any other one). From my perspective, the programmers I've worked with are the superstars that solves all sorts of crazy ideas that we come up with. It'd be great if they know and like the games we make, but at the very least, they're going to be the geniuses that glues the entire thing together.

As for applying? Do you have any specific speciality in mind? What you may want to know would wildly different from, let's say, an AI programmer vs an engine programmer.
Returners
Member
(04-04-2012, 05:32 PM)
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Got nothing to say. Just showing up for support.
GloriousIntruder
Junior Member
(04-04-2012, 05:52 PM)
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Well, I was also one of the designers that were laid off from TKC at the time. I worked on 2 projects with AlphaTwo00 here. Sure the projects were not great but I found something better than that, friendship. I was honoured to be able to work with some people with great integrity, humility and dedication to the project.

It was not perfect but I am glad I was there. In fact we all still hang out until today together(yes, AlphaTwo00 is one of them). There is never any hint of regret in my heart at all. It was a damn good time, I definitely wish that we would have been working together again and I am still lucky to be able to work in this industry that I love.

Downloaded the game and I love it (not bias :p).
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-04-2012, 06:29 PM)
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Originally Posted by TimeKillr

Honestly, programmers are probably the people in the best possible position when it comes to the game industry.

Mostly because while you mainly are a game programmer, you also have this very useful skill, called programming, that you can take with you to other industries and find meaningful work.

I, on the other hand, have developed 9 years of "Game design", of which there aren't many opportunities outside of video games. Sure, I could go board game design? Educational game design? Maybe work on game shows? I don't know, but as a "discipline" it's not as useful and I would say respected than programmers (or artists - there's a LOT of work to be had as an artist if you leave the industry).

So, we're in the same boat, essentially. I really want to say "I REGRET NOTHING" when I made that slow transition from programming to design, because I knew that's what I wanted to get into, but yes, trying to land anything with "design" now is basically a lost cause. I've had cold call recruiters straight up ask whether I do UI design work, thinking that's what I do.

Originally Posted by Flambe

It's the internet, try not to get upset about people anonymously posting on a forum to get a laugh from others.

There can be great feedback to be had here, but there's always going to be very vocal naysayers shitting on pretty much every topic/thread to be had.

I'm glad you enjoyed your time at Koei. If you enjoyed yourself and worked the best you could within the guidelines and limitations imposed by management then there's really no regrets. It's unfortunate perhaps that decisions were made that led to the products' lack of success, but that part was out of your hands.

Unfortunately some GAF folks don't always see or even exercise critical thinking as to WHY the product may have been lackluster. They see the end result and just kind of blanket-crap on the whole team.

I suppose feedback is important from everyone in the sense that they're a potential customer, but it seems difficult to readily accept criticism from people who don't get it I guess?

I've ended up listening to the old Out of the Game Podcasts, and it's really interesting for me to see other people talk about their transition into games and "seeing things on the other side". As a player, you don't, and you shouldn't be expected to care why a game is bad, because as a consumer, you only care about the enjoyment of the end product. But as a developer, it's a delicate balancing act in dealing with interesting choice and consequences. The best comparison about how game development I remember reading about is that we were essentially building the plane as it was flying in the air.

Originally Posted by Kuro Madoushi

You were at the TO meet up, eh?

Would've been nice to know this.

People here like blaming without understanding how things work.

Ie it's QA fault for bugs.... -_-
Programmers were bad.
Etc

A lot of programmers program what they are given and that is that. You aren't there for business and sometimes design decisions.

You also need thicker skin since GAF hivemind will never love one game unconditionally. Still good luck with everything!

Yeah. Guy in Jays hat. :P

I really rather not lay blame anywhere at this point, it's really bridge under water. Designing a game on paper is easy, but really, game development is a series of events where you make blind choices base on what you know now, and deal with the consequences afterwards. The ones that makes the best bets at the start and/or best manages the consequences wins.

I know to not to take things personally at this point, and actually it's kinda funny right now cause I haven't seen the "you suck" post yet here. In my fantasy world, the studio getting downsized would have been a thread, where people would then post "good, they deserve it for their shitty games", and then I would jump in and say "thanks, and when did I kick your dog". But nothing goes the way they should, right?
Corto
Member
(04-04-2012, 07:13 PM)
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I'm not in the industry but I just want to show my support and that I will check your game for sure. I can't even imagine having a job where my direct work is so publicly discussed as this and listening/reading to my customers direct feedback on my output. I guess if I was to pursue a career on video games I would go the independent/niche/garage way and try to find an audience with similar taste as my own. I empathize with you regarding the whole pack mentality situation that some times happens on the internet as I know that it would break me completely. Cheers, thank you for your openheartedness and good luck!
Felix Lighter
Member
(04-04-2012, 08:31 PM)
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Originally Posted by AlphaTwo00

Yes and no. Is GAF more cynical than other place? Not really. Since I was working at Koei, I did end up randomly browsing the koei-warriors fan forum, and the scepticism is just a strong there. The echo chamber here though, and the idea of "establishing a personality" by one-up each other in saying outlandish things happens more often. But I like to think that developers are smart enough to be able to read and analyze what's being said, who's being hyperbolic about it, and who's straight up trolling.

I see. I get that but I thought that was more a general problem with communities built up of anonymous members. I guess over time you start to read Gaf with a personal filter. You get a sense of who you think are intelligent critical thinkers, who are truly clever and funny, who are loud and obnoxious and who you think are trying to live up to some persona they created. I guess personally, I'd rather be a poster that blends into the background and is mostly ignored, than build up an exaggerated personalty just to make sure I'm heard.
Quadratic
Member
(04-04-2012, 10:34 PM)
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I enjoyed chatting with you at the Toronto GAF meetup. Remind me to buy you a beer at the next one!
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-05-2012, 01:01 AM)
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Originally Posted by Corto

I'm not in the industry but I just want to show my support and that I will check your game for sure. I can't even imagine having a job where my direct work is so publicly discussed as this and listening/reading to my customers direct feedback on my output. I guess if I was to pursue a career on video games I would go the independent/niche/garage way and try to find an audience with similar taste as my own. I empathize with you regarding the whole pack mentality situation that some times happens on the internet as I know that it would break me completely. Cheers, thank you for your openheartedness and good luck!

The nature of the medium, naturally lends itself to this sort of scrunity. You just learn to deal with it. I'm sure if you happen to make the magical product that everyone loved, then that pressure doesn't matter as much. Really, it's more of an interesting observation, and I really wonder how other devs deal with it (not that I expect any of them to jump in here and talk about it)

Originally Posted by Felix Lighter

I see. I get that but I thought that was more a general problem with communities built up of anonymous members. I guess over time you start to read Gaf with a personal filter. You get a sense of who you think are intelligent critical thinkers, who are truly clever and funny, who are loud and obnoxious and who you think are trying to live up to some persona they created. I guess personally, I'd rather be a poster that blends into the background and is mostly ignored, than build up an exaggerated personalty just to make sure I'm heard.

Once you see enough posts within a certain thread or genre, you do end up picking up on who's coming in for a hit and run comment, and who's got actual constructive context and serve solid ideas to bounce off of. The recent Rock Band Blitz thread is a great example for me, and you can pretty much see the type of black and white, love it or hate it echo feedback right at the start, then as the thread drags on with more info coming out, then you get the regulars of the genre, or people who still care about it in a more interesting, more analytical look at the game. I've seen threads where I've seen good constructive ideas that arise that devs really would have benefited from.
Wario64
works for Gamestop (lol)
(04-05-2012, 03:01 AM)
I don't really have anything to add but I appreciate the app you put up in conjunction with this thread, especially since I've seen you tweet about it for past few months and I've been curious about it since
Vamphuntr
Member
(04-05-2012, 03:17 AM)
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I wish you luck in your future projects. I downloaded you app and will try it later tonight or tommorrow.

I know it must be awful to read bad comments about the projects you worked on but I wouldn't put the blame on GAF as a whole. The fact that we are posting on the internet sure isn't helping when you are trying to find actual feedbacks and interesting opinions on your work.

It might not be enough to cheer you up and it might sounds harsh but at least GAF is probably one of the place where we will discuss any game from the smallest project to the big AAA blockbusters. You just have to sift trough the joke posts and harsh replies to find good posts that could be interesting but at least we will discuss anything.

I think your insight on the whole issue is quite interesting when you consider that GAF is describing itself as an industry favorite while we already got many instances where some people in the industry actually loathed the place.

Hope you find a new job in your field soon or that you find another career soon.
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-05-2012, 04:41 AM)
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Originally Posted by Vamphuntr

I wish you luck in your future projects. I downloaded you app and will try it later tonight or tommorrow.

I know it must be awful to read bad comments about the projects you worked on but I wouldn't put the blame on GAF as a whole. The fact that we are posting on the internet sure isn't helping when you are trying to find actual feedbacks and interesting opinions on your work.

It might not be enough to cheer you up and it might sounds harsh but at least GAF is probably one of the place where we will discuss any game from the smallest project to the big AAA blockbusters. You just have to sift trough the joke posts and harsh replies to find good posts that could be interesting but at least we will discuss anything.

I think your insight on the whole issue is quite interesting when you consider that GAF is describing itself as an industry favorite while we already got many instances where some people in the industry actually loathed the place.

Hope you find a new job in your field soon or that you find another career soon.

I don't think I would ever blame GAF for anything. For me personally, as much random crap see on GAF being cynical about games and all, it's a surprisingly good design compass. It's not always right, and I would never try to come in expecting people to give certain games a fair shake, but overall, it's like the straight shooter friend that's willing to cut the crap out and not sugar coat things.

While working as a designer, it was always interesting for me to try to look at both sides of the how things happened in the game. If people remember the old Burnout Paradise thread, I was pretty much the only guy that defended their no-restart patch decision all the way to the end. As a player, did I understand the frustration on not having restart? Absolutely. Yet there's part of my designer brain that looked at what they did, their reasonings on why it was done, and can see why they did it (and I would have agreed with keeping no-restart till the bitter end). I was called out plenty of times there because I was told it's just stupid "just because I was". An experience like that always wakes me up in looking at what I post: I can look at a game, see something totally broken, and second guess myself now on why it is, and consider that the devs themselves could have already known that it's an issue, but just can't actually fix it.
KTallguy
(04-05-2012, 05:29 AM)
GAF is a tough crowd, but so is the greater internet. Honestly the number of fuckwads on the internet is incredible. At least Gaf is cleansed of most of the filth.

Working on a game that is shit on feels bad. Working on games that have devoted fans feels good. You take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Thankfully you managed to hold your tongue while under NDA ;)
WrenchNinja
Member
(04-05-2012, 05:29 AM)
That was a great read. Well, now I feel bad for ever dog piling on a game or developer. I haven't played Troy and the other games but i probably would have said the same things as those other posters and thats just...agh. I always forget while posting that devs are real people too who have feelings and usually don't get the chance to do what they really want with a game, realities of development and all that and are probably reading these comments. I guess the added anonymity just adds more emotion to things people feel, be it positive or negative (oh my god this game is the best, this game is shit, etc) and general laziness prevents anything constructive to being said. I hope you can ignore the stupidity when it hits on forums.

We met at the the Toronto meet up (brown guy in the blue hoodie with the 3DS) and I was intrigued by all the indie scene talk you were mentioning, I've never met any real developers or people in the industry. I really hope you get a new job somewhere that'll be good with experience you do have.

Dont really have anything else to add. I would download the app but I don't have any iOS devices, will check it out on my friend's phone, definitely. Also have fun at PAX.
Boerseun
Banned
(04-05-2012, 05:47 PM)
This thread has been an eye opener. I thank the op for sharing. Sorry for not buying any of your games.
Xander51
Member
(04-05-2012, 06:10 PM)
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Fantastic thread AlphaTwo, thank you for making it. As someone who bought and enjoyed both Fatal Inertia and Troy in spite of their faults, it's really cool to have some genuine perspective on the studio from someone who was there. I think Troy could have been a modest hit with the right marketing cycle behind it, the art is gorgeous and the combat often has a cool feel to it. I almost wonder if it would have been more successful here without the Warriors name on it.
JWong
Banned
(04-05-2012, 08:03 PM)
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It sounds like you were a victim of events out of your control.

In these days, a designer is not about having a great design, it's about managing with what you have to make the best game. Strict development schedule, deadlines, limited budget is the juggling act of designers. Add in the fact that high-level, unchangeable decisions were probably forced on the team. I'm not sure if there was any concept design or prototyping allowance before the hack&slash genre and platform decision was slapped on it, but I feel like Koei made your former studio its own competition since Koei spits out so many Musou games.

As for the public feedback, I sympathize with how you feel. Gonna have to keep quiet and take the criticisms. Well, at least there wasn't many proclamation that Dragon Age 2 was a buggy mess.

Edit: I bet no one knows Slant Six had some layoffs yesterday.
AlphaTwo00
Member
(04-06-2012, 07:18 AM)
AlphaTwo00's Avatar
Sorry for the lack of replies, I was out driving to Boston for PAX, and it's been a long day.

Originally Posted by KTallguy

GAF is a tough crowd, but so is the greater internet. Honestly the number of fuckwads on the internet is incredible. At least Gaf is cleansed of most of the filth.

Working on a game that is shit on feels bad. Working on games that have devoted fans feels good. You take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Thankfully you managed to hold your tongue while under NDA ;)

It's not really all about "working on a shit game", but I sometimes feel even on Gaf, we get all up in arms over games that aren't meant for us. One example I was sort of joking about was like the Ubisoft's Petz's games (like the Horses 3D one that showed up recently). Is it for any of us who posts here? No. Did people have a field day with it here? Yes. Would I mind or care what people think if I was working on that? Not really? As long as what I'd working, gets the fans and the target as much fun as they were hoping for, I would have done my job.

Originally Posted by Crewnh

That was a great read. Well, now I feel bad for ever dog piling on a game or developer. I haven't played Troy and the other games but i probably would have said the same things as those other posters and thats just...agh. I always forget while posting that devs are real people too who have feelings and usually don't get the chance to do what they really want with a game, realities of development and all that and are probably reading these comments. I guess the added anonymity just adds more emotion to things people feel, be it positive or negative (oh my god this game is the best, this game is shit, etc) and general laziness prevents anything constructive to being said. I hope you can ignore the stupidity when it hits on forums.

We met at the the Toronto meet up (brown guy in the blue hoodie with the 3DS) and I was intrigued by all the indie scene talk you were mentioning, I've never met any real developers or people in the industry. I really hope you get a new job somewhere that'll be good with experience you do have.

Dont really have anything else to add. I would download the app but I don't have any iOS devices, will check it out on my friend's phone, definitely. Also have fun at PAX.

Oh don't feel bad about piling on devs; that wasn't the point of me posting. It's only human nature to assume what you don't know it's easy, and I'd catch myself sometimes doing it too. As I was packing for the drive down, I was listening to the GFW Reunion podcast, and once again, Jeff Green and co echoed that same story I feel so much for: once you've been on the other side, it's a completely different look at how games are made: If you think something was dumb and can propose a solution, chances are, it was thought of, tried out, and failed to happen for numerous reasons.

Originally Posted by Boerseun

This thread has been an eye opener. I thank the op for sharing. Sorry for not buying any of your games.

Don't worry about it. Not all games aren't meant for everyone, so what should you feel bad if a game didn't appeal to you? In that regard, it's more my fault for failing to make something interesting and engaging, right?

Originally Posted by Xander51

Fantastic thread AlphaTwo, thank you for making it. As someone who bought and enjoyed both Fatal Inertia and Troy in spite of their faults, it's really cool to have some genuine perspective on the studio from someone who was there. I think Troy could have been a modest hit with the right marketing cycle behind it, the art is gorgeous and the combat often has a cool feel to it. I almost wonder if it would have been more successful here without the Warriors name on it.

I won't go into detail on the whole naming issue other than we've had more than our share of discussion about that.

Sure, marketing the game would have helped. I am still pretty annoyed to this day that a few friends of mines, who were huge musou fans, never heard of the game outside of from me directly. I'm really not sure what happened. My personal feeling about Troy as a game, is that it was a product that from start to finish had a very conflicting personality: it attempted to serve both the typical musou fan, and cater to the western audience with a more action feel to it. Sadly, mashing two great ideas don't result in peanut butter and chocolate, but more like fries and ice cream.

But thanks for mentioning the combat "has a cool feel to it". I think that's the first time I've heard or read anyone say that (especially in a positive light). I can definitely forward this to some folks who'd get a kick out of that.


Originally Posted by JWong

It sounds like you were a victim of events out of your control.

In these days, a designer is not about having a great design, it's about managing with what you have to make the best game. Strict development schedule, deadlines, limited budget is the juggling act of designers. Add in the fact that high-level, unchangeable decisions were probably forced on the team. I'm not sure if there was any concept design or prototyping allowance before the hack&slash genre and platform decision was slapped on it, but I feel like Koei made your former studio its own competition since Koei spits out so many Musou games.

As for the public feedback, I sympathize with how you feel. Gonna have to keep quiet and take the criticisms. Well, at least there wasn't many proclamation that Dragon Age 2 was a buggy mess.

Edit: I bet no one knows Slant Six had some layoffs yesterday.

The days where design was "you being the guy with the awesome idea" has long gone. Everyone has awesome ideas, the ability to analyze, take criticism, and work with others, and actual execution, like you said, are the key. Yet everytime I talk to people about what I do (or did back then), the image of those two guys talking about "tighten the graphics on level 3" always pop up.

Oh and a bit of an update for the game: I've gotten a ton of positive feedback, and yes, a few of you have noticed bugs/things that I should really fix, like messages that are timer based,etc. I'll try to squeeze a patch in, but they're going to be ugly hacks. It's funny that this happened, but it kind of proves a point: Even on a one man team project where I had total control, there are things that people will find wrong, and ironically, most of them were things I had struggled with thinking about and/or implementing it. I can give you the excuse here (like the message system would require a different re-write for it to work, adding maybe like 2 weeks of fixes), but as players, these things would never factor in on your views on the game.
Neuromancer
The Mayuh of f'n Bawston
(04-06-2012, 07:28 AM)
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I don't care what anywhere says about you AlphaTwo00, you're OK in my book. Thanks for the free game and best of luck in your future endeavors.
AlphaTwo00
Member
(07-27-2013, 01:27 AM)
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Hey.

Sorry for the epic bump, and even worst, an epic bump on my own post about me. Just a bit of closure for me (incase ANYONE was ever following this sad tale), I've called it quits as far as professional gamedev goes, and I've blogged about it as a throwaway post on Gamasutra...

http://gamasutra.com/blogs/HaroldLi/..._Interview.php

...which then turned into some featured post that I never expected. I don't know if what I've went through is the norm, or whether other people have been through similar points within their career, but at least I've shared a bit more about the process of getting out of the industry (not necessary willingly). I often see people who still desperately wants into the industry, and it's always great to see and hear that, but I hope at least this gives a slightly more "realistic" look at how things are right now.

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