Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 3, 2019

How my own game became bloated…

I have started a new category at this website: Game Development.

“Why do we need another category?” cries the readers.

This is a ‘container’ to put all my experiences with game development.

Anyway, I made a demo for my game. I gave it to the game tester. And a surprising thing I learned about my demo was that it took TWO HOURS to play through. TWO HOURS!!!! My idea for the demo was to be 30 minutes. How the hell did it become two hours??? And this is from me who knew where to go and what to do. It would take my tester longer to go through it.

This arises the question: how did my game become bloated?

I am not alone. Looking at the sea of games out there, they are all bloated. So this is a common factor. Let us re-ask the question:

Why did my game become bloated but other games in the past did not become bloated?

In the past, games were almost too small. When the Legend of Zelda was done, they discovered they miscalculated the storage space. They only used HALF of what they could! “Then we will make a Second Quest,” said The Miyamoto. And it was made so.

In the PAST, games were not long. Yet, if my experience proves anything, they become bloated fat cows without trying today.

Check out the above image. This is from ‘Making of Super Mario Brothers 3’ article written in Nintendo Power back in the day. You are seeing them make the GREATEST of ALL MARIO GAMES. What should jump out at you is just how… non-digital everything is. The sprites are on the graph paper. The other computers they are using are OLD, OLD, OLD.

Look how it all had to be done!

All these original documents… incredible.

“This was very nice, Master Malstrom,” the reader says in a petulant voice. “But is there a point to this?”

I will not say it was ‘HARDER’ to make a game back then. If that were the case, we’d have much better games today (which we do not). What we can agree on is that game development was DIFFERENT back in the day. No one makes games like the above anymore. No one.

Today, nearly everything is done digitally. There would be not graph papers full of sprites. Everything would be done on the computer. And to speed up process, today, everyone has little ‘kits’ and software programs that aid them in the art, music, and level design.

“So what does any of this have to do with your game being bloated?”

Let me use an analogy to express my point. You have two people. One person is quiet, formulates his thoughts, and then speaks. The other person is loud, runs his mouth, and doesn’t shut up. The content coming from the quiet person is much more interesting than the content coming from the ‘loud one’ is. The quiet person is making his words go through a ‘gestation’ process.

The quiet person is not so by personality. It is because he has a speech impediment. Yet, that speech impediment creates a ‘gestation’ process within his words. He thinks before he talks because it is harder for him to talk.

Now, a big difference between modern game development and early game development is that it is so much easier to ‘make shit’ with current tools. All the pages of graph papers you see above, along with the poor Nintendo employees sitting around vicious 1980s technology, may have been inadvertently creating a ‘gestation’ period for the content. The reason why the content of earlier games was so concentrated and bold may be due to how hard it was to create content in the first place.

If you look at newspapers of the past, they are much better written than the ‘online papers’ of today. Why? It was much harder to put out the printed word than today. This forced a ‘gestation process’ which online papers do not have.

What have I learned of this process from game development? It is to CHOP, CHOP, CHOP everything, and put my content through a ‘gestation process’ instead of doing a ‘stream of consciousness’ type bullshit. In other words, develop the content OUTSIDE the computer.

You would think with the costs of games skyrocketing that games would be getting shorter, but they get LONGER. Why? It think it is the rapid flooding of all these ‘content generators’. You can even procedurally create infinite amount of levels for a game, yet no one wants to experience such infinite train of crappiness.

It is also revealing that for those who did online gaming before Windows 95, they noticed a massive change when online gaming connected through Windows 95 type apps. Before, their fellow gamers were intelligent, polite, and trustworthy. Then, they became kids, morons, and the movie, Idiocracy. As online gaming became more ‘mainstream’, the lower in IQ it became. It took some IQ to originally online game back in the early 1990s or 1980s.

The classic PC games also had manuals hundreds of pages thick because the average IQ of PC gamers were way higher than the 100 social norm. The cost and know how to put together a computer, let alone get the game working on the computer, took uncommon brainpower. As the gamer population became much larger, more IQ norm, the cerebral games became niche and the hundred page manuals vanished because “they were too intimidating”.

In the same way, this is happening with game developers. As the tools and processes for game development get ‘better’ and ‘more accessible’, the general IQ for the game developer keeps dropping. Not only do the games escape a ‘gestation’ process, they escape the ‘built in IQ test’ for game developers that was required in computer programming or technical art.

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