Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BRING BACK THE SECRETS?



So Sony Playsation has their very own blog. If you have not dropped by, please do so at: http://blog.us.playstation.com/

Man,I just love it.

I think it's a fantastic idea to get voices from all areas of the company speaking directly to Playstation fans. One day it's a producer, the next day it's a junior tester, and then a few days later, you're leaving comments to the head of the freaking company! That's just cool, man. And I love how even though Playstation is this very large division within this very mega corporation, the blog just feels so intimate. To me, it makes your relationship with Sony Playstation alot more cozy and personal. I'm a big, big fan and am eager to see how the new site continues to grow.

But it's got me thinking about how much access we- as game creators- should allow to the players.

Not in terms of the kind of stuff Sony is doing with the blog, or even the kinds of stuff that I do here. I'm talking about concept art and behind the scenes videos showing how the titles get made.

Now I love that stuff; loved watching the 'making of' movie stuff as a kid and I am sure lots of players today love the 'how games are made' docs that are all over the place now.

But do you think it ruins some of the magic of the final product? And if so, how much?

Think about this: You NEVER see concept art or behind the scenes footage from first party Nintendo games. You never see wire frame models of what Princess Zelda's castle looks like, or voice recording footage of the actress playing Peach. Or if you do, it's very, very rare. And it's one of the reasons- I feel- that the Mario and Zelda characters almost feel real, alive, and magical. Granted, much of this comes from the fact that they are just amazing characters who inhabit amazing games. You can't deny that part, to be sure. But I think they are on to something when it comes to how they- as a company- protect those characters and worlds; like how you never get to see the actors changing out of the Mickey costume at Disneyland. It's an illusion that pays off big for them.

So while I think direct access to players and fans is the way to go and what is so much fun about life with the internet, I am starting to wonder how much access we should be giving players when it comes to revealing how we make the games. Shouldn't some tricks stay secret? And even if they are not secrets, aren't Kratos and Sweet Tooth and even the criminals in Calling All Cars (or the seals in SOCOM or the hero from UNCHARTED) stronger characters if you only ever see them when they have thier make up on, costumes fitted, and are lit just right?

On a blog like this, I get lots of readers who want to be in the biz one day. So I can see those guys/gals wanting all the access they can get (just like I, as a wanna be filmmaker, used to love to watch how movies were made). But assuming your goal is not to work in the biz (or even if it is,put those thoughts aside for a moment), tell me this: if the end goal is a strong game and a much loved franchise, do you think it makes the product stronger or weaker to allow players even the tinniest peak behind the curtain?

David

ps. sorry I can't give any more info on those pictures I posted. I'll have some updates on that space very soon. But to answer a few of the comments:

a- those pics are from a space in Utah
b- thanks for the industry vet and his well wishes/luck wishes. I know it's a tough biz...let's hope we both get lucky, eh?


pps. I know Nintendo has given some press to Charles Martinet, the man who does the Mario voice. I see him at trade shows from time to time, doing the voices and doing the PR thing. I am not sure why Nintendo does this as it seems to fly in the face of all the other 'keep it secret' decisions that I am assuming are intentional. Maybe because it's trade shows, Nintendo doesn't feel the info gets out to the majority of the public so it doesn't affect 99% of the players. Same with the recent Zelda deconstruction that went on at GDC; I mean, most folks are not going to find information on that unless they really seek it out and that is a small % of the players. I don't know, just wondering.

Ok, gotta get some work done. Talk to ya'll later. Nice to be back blogging!

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

WELCOME BACK!! cant wait to find out what your doing next. i know it will be great.

Dan said...

Again, welcome back to reality (whatever that is) and let's have some more fun with this new game and work environment.

Danny
aume94@gmail.com

Josh said...

Nice to see you back blogging David. It's been far too long. It is nice that it seems that the masses have left your blog alone. I liked it a lot more back when it was only 10 to 20 people commenting on here. Before it became so wide spread. I hope it becomes that again.
As great as it is to voice an opinion of something or someone it just seemed that some of the people were here to hurt feelings and do nothing constructive at all.

If those pictures are truly of a possible games development company you may be running then that is very exciting. That at least is what a lot of the rumors are saying.

I too find the P.S.Blog to be very cool. I thought at first it would be three people of a lower status at Sony, but i was quickly shown different. Thats just awesome.

Hope to see some more updates from you soon. Keep up the good work Dave.

P.S. CAC is bad ass!

Josh

Rob Zepeda said...

working in game development myself, i'm torn between the issue of having something amazing and magical to present to people with the opposite; gathering massive amounts of player data that ultimately leads to the players inadvertently developing a unique game for themselves.

I think the end-user has now, at least in the web-world, now has the power to create what they want. Raph Koster has a lot to say about this subject.

Its a tough question Dave, but its important and I think there is room for both types.

Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Wreckheart said...

Good to hear from you again David.

Kasper said...

First of all; David, your new top banner is pretty cool but it messes up the blog layout (in firefox at least). Can't tell for sure if it's the banner but it happened when you added it so I guess that's the problem. Anyways please fix it if you've the time to. If you want a screenshot of what I mean then reply please (not gonna bother otherwise ;)).

I totally agree with you on the Playstation blog. It's pretty awesome, and I was actually wondering whether you would be posting on it or not ? We're seeing the guys from MotorStorm posting there and I would you that you're closer to Sony than they are ? Maybe I'm wrong on that but it doesn't matter anyways.

I still find Kratos a very strong character even after seeing "behind the scenes" from GoW1. You've got a point in what you are saying but it all depends really. E.g. you talked about Zelda being a strong character because they don't show how they made her from the ground up etc. but you have to keep in mind that there aren't any voice acting in that game which, imo, makes all of the characters in the game less believable. You don't have that problem in GoW, or Metal Gear Solid for that matter.
Actually, I don't think you ever really see Snake or Raiden in wire frame either. I'm not 100% sure on that though since it's been awhile since I last played it.

And while on the subject of MGS; is n't it pretty rare overall that you see this behind the game thing in Japan ? It seems to be a much more popular here in EU and the US ?

And lastly; you play the game, then you see the behind the game stuff so you probably won't have those wire frames in the your head while playing anyways. Of course it can be a problem if it's a game series but as I just proofed above I don't even remember weather or not I ever saw Snake or Raiden without "make-up".

Hope that comment made any sense :) Good to see you back blogging David!

--
blog @ decon.tfan.dk

Anonymous said...

good to see you back bloggin again dave! please don't leave again! really, forget those who criticize you...CONTINUE BLOGGING!

grasshopper said...

Personally I really don't think a little behind the scenes stuff hurts these days for the newer stuff, but the oldies like Mario and Zelda should be left alone. I mean you know Andy Serkis is the guy in Heavenly Sword but your not going to be thinking about it while playing. If its a game that uses professional voice actors or film stars I find it much less bothersome knowing that kind of thing in advance then if your playing a game and recognize a voice and are driven crazy because you cant remember who it is. But really its all up to the personality of the player, and if they can get through the game without having flashbacks of its creation. I kinda wanna see the stuff.

Arnaldo Licea said...

I love behind-the-scenes looks of movies and games just because I am a designer and I'm curious about how the teams deal with problems and the challenges of the title. I've learned a lot from the behind-the-scenes that few games have (the ones from God of War are awesome).

I understand your point that it kinda breaks the illusion but it depends on how its handled. But hell, some may view it, some may not...I don't know, this is a tough thing to discuss because they are good for some people that are interested in it but at the same time it does break the illusion for lots of people and it takes the wonder of "How the hell did they do that?". The only solution I can think of is to have the making-of as a separate purchase or in a book.

By the way, Studio 60 and Billy Joel rock! ....just saying.

-Arnaldo

Joel said...

hey david.

i must agree, the playstation blog is very cool.

i hope it keeps on at the great pace it has started with!


im also glad your back blogging again, and i hope you never stop again.


as for your question.. im actually torn.

i TOTALLY agree that it breaks the magic..

but at the same time, i love the stuff you showed us about calling all cars. and the god of war features were amazing.

i sort of think we are past the point of the magic at all.

everyone knows movies are filmed on green screens, and characters in videogames are made out of wireframe models.

well, at least i do anyways.

in conclusion, yes, it does take away some of the magic, but in my opinion, if its done well enough, and enough cool things are shared, during a behind-the-scenes thing.. its SOOO worth it.

i love on a god of war documentary i was watching, several of the level designers were talking about secret areas, and how they wanted to add stuff.

i just remember thinking, wow, thats so COOL! i cant believe i get to hear this!

Devin Greer said...

Nice to see you're back. I do plan on entering the "biz" some day, and that being said... I absolutely love seeing anything I can about how games are made. Sometimes, though, I think it depends on the person, for whether that could ruin the game for them. For me, I don't think it would, because I would still see the game how I'd seen it before I'd seen how it was made. I mean, it may cause me to think about that sort of stuff while playing more, but nothing that ruin the experience.

-Devin Greer

derrickgott007 said...

David, David, David....

Welcome back to the world of blogging....Here's to many great things coming in your future!! (Raises Ice cold Bud Light.. don't worry, I am of legal age.)

Derrick

Kilrahi said...

I don't think it ruins it at all. Maybe some people can't seperate the two in their mind, but I've always found it fascinating to see the creative process. Especially if it's a game you truly love, you just eat it up.

For some people, it adds to the enjoyment.

Kittonwy said...

Utah? Sony Bend?

:3

Sony Bend?

:3

Kittonwy said...

Sorry I meant Incog, Bend is in Colorado (what do you expect, I'm Canadian). Incog is in Utah right? What is Sony doing with Incog and how is Dave involved?

:3

Andrew said...

what I want to know is where in SLC is this place? If it is indeed in SLC. I live in Utah, and would love to drive by the building. I would commute to work there that's for sure. How would I get into game testing this kind of thing?

Anonymous said...

Great to see you blogging again.

timetabletwist said...

Welcome back Dave!

As far as behind the scenes features in games, I like them. They don't hurt the game for me, thye just give insight into how the game was made, which is really cool in my eyes. It doesn't hurt the character or anyhting in the game, as long as the game is good. If the game delivers, it makes behind the scenes a great insight into how a great game comes about.

The Sony blog is going great. Maybe you or others that are a part of SCEA can do a blog on there. I've been surprised by the status of thoe posting. And I was surprised how good Jack Tretton can talk when he doesn't have PR or anything like that giving him influence. Basically, he sounds extremely competant when he takes the Jaffe approach.

I love CaC. The single player with friends brings me back. Back when gaming was just plain fun.

Eric said...

New studio for you?

I agree about Nintendo...some secrets add to the mystical quality of a franchise...but revealing them makes it cooler...sometimes.

Nino Mojo said...

David,

I was at the "Zelda Deconstruction", as you call it, at GDC this year. I have to confess as a game developper it left me super hungry for more, because I almost didn't learn anything. It was just really cool to see Aonuma talking about Zelda and sharing some of the thoughts he and his team had when making the games. I also particularly appreciate how the also DO share the mistakes they've made, as the God of War 1/2 staff also does. Most companies are still too pretentious and driven by non-developper-arses who think even mentionning you made mistakes during developpement is gonna scare away both clients and share holders.

BAck to the Zelda thing at GDC: they still kept the real secrets under their cape. I still don't know if they have a particular way of coming up with the best dungeon/level design on the planet, what kind of engine they use (probably still the same, update over and over from Mario 64). As for LocoRoco, it wasn't a real postmortem. In that it:
a) disappointed me a little
b) was still a relief, because in the end, I don't think I wanna know. I want the magic to be preserved, and I want to keep seeing their level of quality as a a holy graal I'll have to find the path to myself. :)

Very nice blog you have here, it's nice to be able to drop you some comments. I can't wait for you next games.

Nino

Anonymous said...

...then isn't telling us your influences [i.e. "Watching" or "Listening" on the side of your blog there] too much of a peek behind the curtain, so to speak? Keep the mysteries to yourself if you don't want to influence our perceptions.

Kofman said...

Stop reading my RSS for a bit and so this is a delayed response, but still welcome back David.

On the topic of behind the scenes, I really have to force myself to see your point of view. Art is still beautiful and even more so under a dissecting eye.

I believe it's a service to the fans to include things like "in the making." I take pride and joy in watching GoW1 behind the scenes videos after completing the game. Than when I come back to watch those from GoW2 I can draw comparisons and in a way feel sattisfied.

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