Anthony Hart-Jones's Blog
I am a casualty of publisher-led development, having spent over four years doing games design and writing before being cast adrift in a round of redundancies in mid 2010. I tried going back, but my casual projects designed to keep me in practice and improve my portfolio slowly took over until I was starting to think of myself as an indie and feeling curiously relieved that I had broken free of the cycles of crunch.
One of the curious parts of my last job was writing for a training course on design, trying to teach people how to write design documents, etc. My parts tended to focus on storytelling and I even presented a few lectures on the topic, but it was a little odd to be moving from making games to talking about making games.
My time as an indie and a freelancer has taught me a great many things, not least of all being that working as a designer has left me ill-equipped to make games. I spent just a little too long writing documents and sending them to someone else to implement, so it took a while to a) scale back my ideas now I don't have half a dozen artists and almost as many programmers and b) remember how to do what I once considered simple things like 3D geometry and messing with matrices.
These days, I work as a writer, creating stories for games and writing training materials for game-design and game-writing students.
I have long argued that marketing teams within video-game publishers are a necessary evil. They know what sells, how to sell it and can often tell you with curious accuracy whether a game's worth making. And yet, I am starting to reconsider my position…
In recent years, a number of pre-packaged 'low barrier to entry' engines have gained a certain amount of acceptance; people will happily use UDK and Unity for their games. This is a good start.
But what about game-assets?
So how much is the game worth? The answer may seem controversial, but I think it is simple…
Any game is worth only what the buyer / player is willing to pay for it, even if they happen to be a pirate.
Piracy is about as old as copyright; it's possible that the first time some caveman poet said 'no copying my work', someone would have gone home and tried to write a particularly pleasant poem in pictures. Denying it exists is just naive.
Cut loose from big-business, I suppose I am free to consider myself a freelancer or an indie, but the last thing I want to be is a bum. Unemployment does not suit me, but working on my own projects while I find gainful employment is enough for now.
True authorial control... Now there is a scary phrase to use in front of your producer...
True authorial control is like taking your player and asking them what they want to do today, rather than telling them what they are allowed to do. Is that wise?
Anthony Hart-Jones's Comments
[News - 07/06/2011 - 03:36]
[Blog - 07/07/2011 - 07:08]
It wouldn't let me post ...
It wouldn't let me post the video, but for those who have not seen it - http://www.youtube.com/embed/up863eQKGUI
[News - 03/17/2011 - 05:43]
In many ways, the relationship ...
In many ways, the relationship with your pet in 'Black and White' was an example of how more 'truthful' relationships can still be manipulative. It was dialogue-free, but you rewarded and punished the pet to shape them into the beast you wanted. I suppose the issue with Dragon Age was ...
[Blog - 07/26/2010 - 01:04]
[News - 07/26/2010 - 09:22]
I know that feeling. I ...
I know that feeling. I have been there, creating dialogue that players might never see because they might choose one path over another, might skip the text even if they choose the correct path. I agree that the trick is to make sure that the player knows there was a ...
[Feature - 01/26/2010 - 04:35]
I would say something insightful ...
I would say something insightful and intelligent, but you have actually given me quite a bit to think about. I think game-narrative is evolving, perhaps faster now than at any other point in video-gaming's history, but you do a good job of giving a snap-shot of the issues we face ...