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January 20, 2008


Chris Busse

Speaking of waterfall planning, I just watched a show on the rebuilding of the control tower for the Indy Motor Speedway race track.

They realized pretty early on that they couldn't get it done in 9 months (the time between the two big events at the track), and that it meant they were going to have to work through 2 of the largest events in the world. It was expected to be an 18 month project (and they hit their estimates).

Time spent in the planning/scheduling phase for this critically important 18 month project? 3-4 years. Granted this is apples and oranges, but I've seen said, and generally hold the belief that scheduling/planning software is harder than building physical buildings. And I'm still generally of that belief. But, I've been getting more learned over the years, and I'm beginning to come to the opinion that we might be WAY off in the amount of planning and pre-pro that we do. 1/3rd 1/3rd 1/3rd is the best I used to hope for, but they may not be enough. Maybe it needs to be more like 1/2 1/4 1/4.

Dave Rickey

Your quandary is why I think we will inevitably see a day when all AAA games are in some way, online subscription games. No software project of sufficient size is ever really completed, only abandoned. You reach a point of diminishing returns.

An online "game as service" business model can exist in a constant state of never being done. In an MMO, your lines *never* cross, some bugs are never fixed, some content never polished. There are bugs in EQ1 that have existed from the very first day and will probably never be fixed. The problem of "Open PK" in Ultima Online was fixed by making it irrelevant, creating an entire mirror image of the world where it couldn't happen, then tying new expansions to that ruleset. UO may be old news and small change in a post-WoW market, but it still makes more money every year than the best selling games of 1997 (it's launch year) did in that year.

There is no solution to your dilemna. As the scale of projects increases, it will simply render actual *delivery* of completely new games that can pass console certification testing effectively impossible.

5 years ago I predicted the death of the single-player PC game. That event has occurred. Once you take MMO's and Console Ports out of PC game sales, there are basically no AAA titles left for 2007. Now I'm going to make another prediction: In less than 10 years, there will be nothing like the current AAA boxed title in existence. The closest equivalent will be a digital-distribution equivalent of the GTA and sports franchises, where new packages of content for franchises are released every few months by leap-frogging development teams.


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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game