Geoff (thesnakey) wrote,

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Hm, Strange Indeed...

Normally I don't post twice in a span of three days, but this caught my eye and was rather interesting to me. In the link below is a few observations I've had about the gaming industry and a few little odd things that I've noticed. Heh, anyone who has played games back way early from Sierra might want to take a look (King's Quest, etc). If it doesn't interest ya, feel free to skip it. Have a pleasant morning.

A while back, I posted a little something about animation (namely a thing about the show Kaze: Ghost Warrior) and the fact that animation is getting to the point that with the right talent and the proper devices to assist in it (even normal old home computer ones), that it can be done nowadays much easier by smaller groups of people.

The reason I'm posting this one is because it's interesting to see the same trend in the gaming industry as well while old school publishers are starting to drown under their massive workloads and corporate spending. A couple of high profile examples of this:

For anyone who has been around a computer for a long...long time, they'll remember such gems as King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and numerous other games by Sierra On-Line that were created back in the 80s and early 90s that basically consisted as some of the original adventure games released of the type. Basically, graphical text based games where you explored worlds and interacted by typing specific things, etc. They were pretty damn fun games, as most who played them would attest, and were back on the Apple IIe and Commodore 64s, played off of a single floppy disk. I mean, these games were about 200kb total and could be exchanged on a low density floppy, while having a good amount of play time and fun. It seems, though, that hard times have happened to Vivendi Universal, owners of Sierra. As of a while ago, nearly all of the staff at Sierra are getting laid off and the studio will be no more. So, basically, Sierra is toast. The article I saw it in is right here: Sierra Closes the Doors. Rather odd really, when you've basically grown up with these games. Granted, Sierra lately has sucked really, really BAD, but nonetheless, they used to be good and the fact remains that they were one of THE companies for adventure games back how long ago. Kinda strange. On another note, Dynamix, formerly owned by Sierra, was liquidated about 4 years ago in a similar way as what Vivendi did to Sierra. They made some kick ass games like Tribes and a bunch of those early adventure games as well.

Another gaming company that people have known for a hell of a long time would be Interplay. They've not exactly produced the best games lately, but were responsible for early games like Descent, some Star Trek titles, a few Dungeons and Dragons games as well (Planescape: Torment for instance, which was a pretty kick ass game I think), but most noteably, they were responsible for the Fallout series, as well as Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and so forth through their company Black Isle Studios. They're ooolllddd, around from a hell of a time ago, but started to really degrade over time. I've never played Fallout myself, but I've heard enough people talking about Fallout to consider trying it myself. It really became obvious, though, that Interplay was either smoking crack or they were in trouble when they dissolved Black Isle Studios, which was basically responsible for most of their top selling games. It bore a striking similarly to when Sierra dissolved Dynamix as well, and it seems that the same thing is happening to both of them. While Interplay is an old and well known title, it appears that they are very quickly falling down the spiral into the abyss. This article, Interplay Closed by the California Government tells that they are quite in debt and couldn't even afford to pay their rent, nevermind their workers and Worker's Compensation. So the government closed them down. They apparently opened again after being able to afford WC, but it's only a matter of time before they just collapse.

Sierra and Interplay would have been two of the first companies I would have thought of for gaming and the like in the early to mid 90s because at the time they were doing pretty decent. I mean, after Fallout and Baldur's Gate, you'd think Interplay would have a pretty big damn bank account. Apparently though, Vivendi itself is having some financial trouble and Titus, who owned Interplay's highest number of stocks, declared bankruptcy. It's kind of strange when you think of massive corporations that own companies that have literally made games for 20 years closing their doors or falling down the spiral, things tend to look pretty messed up.

Another note though would have to be the number of smaller companies, especially ones outside of North America, that seem to be making their mark. A couple of these that I would notice right away would have to be Croteam and ALTAR Interactive.

Croteam is a company based in Croatia that has made only a few games yet, namely the Serious Sam series. Basically, first person shooters, but they've basically made a hell of a start in markets despite starting from just about nothing. Shit, they even sell their games for $30 when they're brand new and just out. Started out small and ended up making a pretty big splash.

Another would be Altar Interactive, makers of a game called UFO: Aftermath. There's a pretty good chance that you've never heard of the game before and that's pretty common really. I think they just ended up releasing it into North America not too long ago, but frankly, it's pretty kick ass. Anyone who has played X-Com before would basically know this because that's what it's modelled after. Anyone who has played X-Com will be able to just look at it and be able to play it with little learning. They've made a grand total of four games (one of which is actually a freeware puzzle game), Aftermath being their fourth, and they've again done extremely well. What I was actually impressed by was the fact that they made the game, which is damn impressive, with about 26 people and some extra random helpers in less time than it's taken to do a lot of games that are less impressive looking.

Overall though, with how things in the gaming market appear to be going, it just seems like most of the big companies are starting to flounder a little while there is actually room for smaller companies to actually make a splash nowadays. Maybe it's just wishful thinking and maybe it's true, but frankly, I'd like to see some games by people who actually look at a project as their baby now instead of just tossing something out because it will make them a little extra cashflow, even though it's a buggy piece of shit or a knock off of something else.

Maybe we'll see some new teams and new companies coming up though. Never know, but I'd hope so. I think the industry could use a little fresh faces who actually care about fun.

Well, enough of that. Have a good morning.

Hoping to Work with a Small Team on a Game Eventually,
-The Snakey


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