Gamers At Work - Stories Behind the Games People Play

Discussion in 'News Comments' started by Dark Elf, Sep 16, 2012.

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  1. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    <img src="http://www.gamersatwork.org/wp-content/themes/gaw2012/images/gaw_3d_table_left.jpg" />
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    <br>So, I was approached by author Morgan Ramsay a while ago to write a piece about his new book Gamers At Work – Stories Behind the Games People Play, and here it comes. Ramsay has interviewed a number of developers and entrepreneurs in the video game industry and has thus provided us with a unique window into the business we all love and cherish. Amongst the people he has interviewed we find names such as Feargus Urquhart (of Black Isle fame, now CEO of Obsidian and currently working on Project Eternity), Christopher Weaver (Bethesda Softworks) and, of course, Tim Cain.
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    <br>His chapter in the book naturally places a lot of attention on Troika, how the company was born after disagreements between Interplay president Brian Fargo and Tim, Leonard and Jason became untenable, and discusses in some detail the difficulties the company had to endure during its brief blaze of glory. One such hassle was the constant bickering and negotiating with publishers, which is and has always been one of those sad facts developers have had to live with and Kickstarter projects are meant to alleviate.
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    <br><blockquote>"The original schedule for Temple was 18 months, which was and is unthinkable for a full-featured role-playing game. I tried to convince Atari that we needed more time. When I failed, I reduced the scope of the project and cut several classes from the design, including the druid and the bard, both of which had many specialized rules for their abilities. Atari asked for those classes to be restored, implying that the game contract depended on it, so I added them back. But very little manpower was available for design. I hoped that by picking a classic module for the base design that I would save many hours of design time, but we could have probably made a better product in that time frame by developing our own game world."</blockquote>
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    <br>Does this mean that Kickstarters are the future? I can definitely see a lot of potential with the idea, what with the publisher essentially out of the picture – the customer base, who knows what product they want, provides the funding, not some suit in an office with no knowledge about or interest in video games.
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    <br>Perhaps it might even be the solution to the problem that ultimately killed Troika?
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    <br><blockquote>"We never did get a business person. In hindsight, that was probably our biggest mistake. We would work on a game until it was finished, then we would scramble to find our next contract. We should have had someone whose full-time job was to secure funding for us, so we could concentrate on making games. Instead, we were always overworked and stressed. We did find a great lawyer specialized in legal contracts in the game industry, but that only helped after we found a deal."</blockquote>
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    <br>That Troika was a company of enthusiasts with remarkable game design talent but poor business sense has been common knowledge for years, and I am happy to see Cain speak so candidly about it. I know that Leonard Boyarsky has previously alluded to the same thing, how the Troika era was the most stressful time of this life.
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    <br>I will not reveal the entirety of the book, or Tim Cain's chapter for that matter, in this short presentation. I can promise though that if you are interested in the gaming business in general and Troika in particular, this is a book you will want to read.
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    <br><a href="http://www.gamersatwork.org/ ">Gamers at Work's homepage</a>
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    <br>Over and out.
    <br>
    <br>/Dark Elf
     
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