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Video: Chris Hecker's wordless rant at GDC 2013
April 1, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

April 1, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    40 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design, Business/Marketing, Video



Typically, speakers at GDC's annual developer rant panel take to the microphone to rant for their allotted five minutes, but this year, design veteran and SpyParty creator Chris Hecker let the industry do the talking for him.

The video above, titled "Fair Use," was edited together from a handful of publicly available video streams from triple-A game publishers and developers. It was presented without further commentary from the author, and we're doing the same.


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Comments


A W
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Violence much?

Vincent Hyne
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Sure, but it's not only the violence that was critiqued there I don't think.

The video had me in stitches for the entire length of it.

Perfect ending too.

I am amazed by the originality and inventivness of Bungie's next game whos name I've already forgotten. Sphere? Ball? I know it's not Halo.

Luis Guimaraes
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Genius!

It truly shows what's the state of the AAA games industry.

But now, picture how things would change, how the world would react, if a handful of people suddenly developed super-human abilities...

David Serrano
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Imagine how the world would react if a handful of publishing executives suddenly developed the courage to take risks...

Kujel Selsuru
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We noticed too late that AAA games went hollywood and now nothing can save them but a complete and total burn. Wipe out everything and let a new generation rise from the ashes and maybe AAA will be reborn, maybe.

Duvelle Jones
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At times it seems like that but my concern with it, as a player of many games is this... How much is the industry willing to lose to be reset? And this point, there could be a lot of things that are simply not thought of again.

David Serrano
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@Kujel Selsuru

I agree core gaming needs to be razed and rebuilt from the ground up. But AAA games didn't go Hollywood. Because Hollywood can produce Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter AND Lincoln in any given year.

So yes, many (if not most) AAA games are now over the top, cartoonish and immature. But if AAA gaming went Hollywood, then where are the game equivalents of Lincoln, Argo, Life of Pi, etc... ? They don't exist because AAA games are now about pretense instead of substance. Publishers and developers would rather create the pretense of originality, creativity, accessibility, etc... through marketing, advertising and media manipulation than assume the risk involved in actually delivering an original, creative, accessible, etc... product.

Cedrian Lex
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Completely new. Completely new. Completely new.

This is what happens when you make games based on what the majority wants.

A W
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You know what else that last part showed. Men running with guns towards a gate in a field and then the cut changing to the same men running to the same gate but this time on a flight of stairs. Kinda shows how they may have rush to show a product unfinished in the demand of a hardware manufacture's reveal. All in the name of realism.

Alex Diaz
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Except that that is completely taken out of context, and in context the comment was about distancing themselves from a franchise they have had their name attached to for over 10 years. Hecker twisted the words to fit his own meaning, even though they were just saying the game had nothing to do with Halo and that scared them.

Joel Bitar
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Alex: I don't see how Hecker is "twisting their words", it's still a game about space-dudes first-person shooting things.
The fact that anyone claiming that any game with that central mechanic still is "completely new compared to halo" just adds to the point Hecker is seeming to make?

Alex Diaz
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Joel: He is saying is is a completely new project and it scares him. As in it has no relation to Halo. None. Marty is not claiming that the game it self is completely new, but that the series is separate from Halo because there are still people who think Destiny is a spin off, when it is infact its own universe. Just because both are sci fi doesn't mean they are related, otherwise halo is related to warhammer 40K. What you are saying is the same thing as saying that Hecker's spyparty is not new because it is in first person, has spies, and is similar to guess who. Also the game is a new subgenre of Science fiction labeled "Mythic science fiction," and it seems to be a middle ground of high and low fantasy sci fi. You should watch Bungies GDC presentation, only about 3 or 4 minutes of the whole hour had anything to do with the engine, which is super low compared to about every other developer there.

David Serrano
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@Cedrian Lex

These games have absolutely nothing to do with what the majority wants. If they did, there would be far more diversity in the market. The games are based on what publishers believe represents the lowest level of risk. Even though this means custom developing the games for, and targeting them at a small minority of the audience. In other words, they prefer the risks involved with trying to sell a large number of copies to a minority of the audience instead of the risks involved with trying to sell an equal number of copies to the majority of the audience.

Ramon Carroll
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Yes, if anyone actually watched Bungie's trailer for Destiny, they would know that the comment "completely new" was indeed taken out of context.

Merc Hoffner
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Perfect.

And minutes 2:30 to 4 are like the punchline to a long bad joke. I wish I could find a video that encapsulated how I feel about corporate management, financial workers, and anti-academic politicians as succinctly as this has about the current state of game development.

Duong Nguyen
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Is he purposly ignoring the entire indie scene and the 100's of innovative games coming out of there or the entire Free 2 Play movement sweeping in from the east? .. I guess if ur idea of the "games industry" is only the old guard giant monolith AAA games.. then yeah they are stale and overdone. Given the economic environment they are even less likely to take chances now than before.

Merc Hoffner
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What are you asking for? A satire of the ridiculousness of the indie/F2P/mobile 'revolution' too? His lack of parody critique may count for an affirmation of what you're pointing too. But then again the omission skips over the glaring holes in the 'lowend' strategy. I may have to amend my sentiments above, because I think the drive to the bottom (and below) is as broken as the drive to the bro-pixel zenith. Thanks for reminding me.

Jeremy Reaban
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And that Hotline Miami game showed that indie games can be just as mindlessly violent as AAA games.

Duong Nguyen
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I'm not asking for anything, why beat a dead horse. Violence in video games? That's been there since the beginning of video games, might as well complain about violence in movies, books, TV shows, plays, Egyptian hieroglyphs, etc.. but why ignore the other aspects of games? The evolution of play, experiences offered by games and the contemporary issues. Meh i guess if u want to rehash an old meme.. go for it.

Brice Morrison
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To me this just says he doesn't personally enjoy AAA shooters.

Lots of people do enjoy them, however. Millions of people in fact.

A W
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Well the first clip was of a D&D game so It can't just be shooters. It has to be deeper than that.

Arthur De Martino
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I wouldn't call "Not Dragon's Dogma 2" a "D&D game".

I would call it "Trying to sell a rethread as something new."

Kim Pallister
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Lots of people like burgers and fries as well. Doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for healthier, and a wider variety of, food options.

Kim Pallister
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Lots of people like burgers and fries as well. Doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for healthier, and a wider variety of, food options.

Andrew Wallace
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So what's the real complaint here? That ALL GAMES ARE THE SAME NOW, or that marketing overhypes things? The first one is just wrong, and the second one has been true in every industry for a hundred years and will never ever change.

I wish people would just stop complaining about the games other people are making and make the games they want to see.

Luis Guimaraes
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It's certainly case #2, that marketing spits out all forms of overhyped nonsense. It's about the blatant hypocrisy in these talks from AAA companies. And how they make up all those cheesy pretentions lies about their products trying to impress people.

The second clip I'm not completely sure what's exactly the joke. Details certainly matter and the talk wasn't wrong, so I guess it's about the possible lack of anything very technically groundbreaking to talk about CoD in a D.I.C.E. summit.

The whole video is about companies that want to be at stage with their games' logos on the big screen but don't really have anything to say, so they make up all kind of filling talks trying to make it seem like there's anything really awesome there. The graphics appeal wears off quickly so they can't just show 20 minutes of gameplay or else it's going to actually backfire as a hype-building move, so they have to make up all that nonsense to fit that stage time.

Robert Gill
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Right on the nose/nail/however it goes.

Michael Joseph
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I think the point here is to show that some AAA games are simply dishonest. They are dishonest in their levels of innovation and so dishonest in their marketing and perhaps they're being developed, promoted and consumed by delusional people. It's well beyond "over hyping." It's the emperor's new clothes.

Climbing through accurately depicted armored doors in a HUMV during a scripted event is supposed to be some notable feature? It's a bit funny... and it's a bit pathetic. One wonders if they believe their own words. After all, nobody actually wants to wake up each morning to make another superficial disposable entertainment product. Ok, some people actually do... but I think most don't but egos are fragile things. We want to believe that our work particularly in massive creative enterprises is worthy and so it's easy to buy into the cheerleading surrounding development of "the next great product that everyone on the team should be proud of."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcwsfns7KPQ

And people can criticize games or the industry or parts thereof AND make the games they want to see at the same time. It's not polite to suggest people be quiet.

James Margaris
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"It's certainly case #2, that marketing spits out all forms of overhyped nonsense. It's about the blatant hypocrisy in these talks from AAA companies. And how they make up all those cheesy pretentions lies about their products trying to impress people."

"I think the point here is to show that some AAA games are simply dishonest. They are dishonest in their levels of innovation and so dishonest in their marketing and perhaps they're being developed, promoted and consumed by delusional people. It's well beyond "over hyping." It's the emperor's new clothes."

Video isn't working for me - I assume it's clips taken from various pre-release Spore presentations?

Robert Tsao
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I don't think it's an issue of "all games are the same now" or even lack of innovation, which can be a dirty word at times. It's more a matter of the industry leading the way with their delusional definition of innovation and "emotional" content, and what pushing the envelope truly means in the triple-A space to them. They're coming up with new ways to use a lot of words to say the same thing over and over again, which wasn't that much to begin with.

Robert Gill
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Great video, and it really got me thinking.... (take this with a grain of salt I suppose, backlash is imminent and I browse more than I post on here. So here I go....)

I'd advocate an entire crash of the industry.

Sure, it'd be terrible.

Sure, Alfred would say how men like myself wish the world to burn.

Sure. Whatever. I wish I could make a video with half the stories that we go on. There's two extremes pulling at the industry, and AAA is only one of them. The "indie" scene has become a problem in that it's blotted to the point of anything not being published by EA, Ubisoft, or Activision is considered "indie", and a lot of the times these games are held to the same standard we would judge a AAA game with because "Oh, the little guy made it. Wow, look at this art TRUE INNOVATION EVERYONE".

Another factor is this sudden adversion to violence (particularly with shooters), and it seems to be the "hip" thing to be on. "Oh my, yet another shooter? Sickening". It's funny really. Danger Close, the studio responsible for Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and whom I had the pleasure interacting with quite a bit, made a game that did tell an emotionally engaging story while still using some of the modern shooter elements. Completely unnoticed, and shot down by nearly every gaming publication. Spec Ops: The Line would be the only game in recent memory to have that "double-take" from the industry.

That was my rant. Truthfully, if we want to change things, just step up and do it. It really is that simple. Some may fail, others may succeed. Publishers don't make the games, we do. If they see that enough people are willing to branch out, then they'll start to listen.

@Merc Hoffner
Very good point on your statement above. Can't like it enough.

Eric Ma
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These are supposedly highly paid marketing people, right? What one thing did any of them say about their GAME. Did any of them even play it?

Nick Harris
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I don't get this video. Developers aren't to blame. Publishers only fund what sells. If consumers want MW3 then innovation is squeezed out to representing the downside of a weightier HUMVEE door when the vehicle is flipped by an explosion. That is honestly all the guy had to say on stage about his current life's work. Are you going to deny him that?

The pitch for the superhero game was ludicrous though.

Adam Bishop
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"Publishers only fund what sells."

If publishers could predict what would sell well I would expect revenues in the console space to be growing, not declining.

David Serrano
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@Nick Harris

The problem is publishers aren't allowing consumers to steer the focus of development. They are allowing a sub-segment of a sub-segment of the core audience to steer development for the entire (non-sports) core market. COD games may earn a billion dollars annually, but it doesn't change the fact that the best selling COD titles have only reached a maximum of 17 percent of the active worldwide installed console base. And non best selling titles typically reach between 1 to 5 percent of the active installed base.

So publishers are attempting to generate all of their non-sports core revenues by targeting virtually all AAA games at between 2 to 10 million players. Completely ignoring the purchasing decisions and habits of between 50 to 60 million players in the existing console audience alone in the process.

Joseph Elliott
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Punk rock.

Kenneth Blaney
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I got it, but I can't feel like this flick in the ear would have been a full on punch to the face had he used "entirely new" quotes from a long time period while showing games that are only minor graphical improvements... else it just comes off a little like a jumbled mess.

Robert Swift
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The less real innovation the louder they have to shout "completely new". But empty hype is not sustainable and the 'aaa' gaming industry is feeling the consequences already.

Kim Pallister
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(copying my comment from another forum on this subject)

Something's lost in not watching it with audience reaction. There's a youtube clip of it live that's worth viewing.

The most moving thing for me was that while the audience snickered and giggled at some of the clips, Chris just stood silent, and I thought he looked sad, disappointed even. It upset me.

While awards don't necessarily correlate to sales, I hope that games like Journey kicking the ass of ALL the AAA titles at both the DICE awards and the GDC awards helps the message get through a bit. People are looking for more than just the same old junk-food games.

Matthias Meyer
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It's not the games displayed here, that are the problem. These games are great for what they do.

It's the abuse of language.

When you actually have a game that does something new and has these interesting characters you care about, it is hard to find words for it that still have a meaning.

"We now have 16 times more memory for our war porn shooter, so we can make it a lot more porn and a lot more war!"

...from a parallel universe. I don't know which one I prefer.


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