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The Ever-Increasing Cost Of Game Development
This sprung forth out of an idea I got while reading the "Time It Takes To Play Games Through..." thread. I think the two are pretty much related, but I didn't want to derail that thread since it was finally getting interesting. So, here is the (potential) discussion material:

As you all know, games are getting more and more detailed. This means you need more and more people working on a game to increase the detail level and keep a game at a certain size. That means you need more and more people to buy your game so you can afford to have larger development teams. More and more people are buying game consoles and games, so this isn't much of a worry -- yet.

At some point, the market will reach saturation and you will not be able to get more than X million people to buy your game. That means you won't get more than $50(X) million in return sales for your game, which means you won't be able to hire more people, which means you won't be able to make the game more detailed OR longer.

My question is: What happens then? Will the technology become easier to work with, allowing developers to make more content in less time? Will the price of the game increase, which would also decrease the number of people buying games? Will developers start using randomly generated content, which is rarely seen these days except in simple arcade games? Will developers go back to longer, simpler games? Will we be using head jacks a la The Matrix, and developers will take advantage of it by having our brains generate most or all of the content, much like when we dream?

Discuss. ((C) Shambler 2001-2004)
Eep 
over time - things have gotten easier - though at a price. take for isntance, maya6 vs maya 3 theres probably alot of advancments to make it better, but the price of it has also increased.

I do suspect over time though - the creation of such elaborate games will come down to companies throwing resources together, more often ie: what bioware is doing wtih KOTOR2, and ID giving Q4 to ravensoft (not 100% correct on the ravensoft, but im pretty sure). sometimes this can be a bad thing - where experiance is such a big factor in a successful game.

However - take for instance fans designing mods with the mindset that they will provide new material for a great game - with impacts to the HL community like CS provided and other popular mods - it may spark companys to buy those products, market them - it will save them time, money, labour, and expenses on new programs and they will beable to milk it and get more out of it then creating a fresh concept.

unfortunately if that happens fans may detest it - or fans may saturate that idea as well creating more 'fluff' in the pillow of PC games.

which ever happens - interactive experiances will stay no matter what happens. its too much apart of our life to not produce more experiances, at least i cant see of games not being around - this day in age, they are what fuel hardware development & software advancements as well as much more. 
Dicks 
Something; The Carmack mentioning that for id's next game they'd try to reuse as much of the assets they created for Doom3 as possible. (Reusing fire extinguishers, wastebaskets, computers and stuff like that.)

Something else; Would've been cool (but totally unplausable) if every asset that ever was created for games (including user made) were placed into some sort of magical asshat repository, complete with elaborate copyright, licensing and DRM thingees locking everything so noone could exploit things beyond limits reasonable. Completely unrealistic though, and impossible for everyone to agree on common formats and figuring out the satanic DRM thingees that would actually work. But wouldn't it be cool? I'd name the system InAssCVS! - The International Asset Concurrent Versioning System!

/c^_\\\ 
Oh I Just Remebered 
Isn't HL2 supposedly having a public repository of assets that users may submit their work to? I think I read something like that in one of the HL2 previews, wonder how that'd work. 
... 
actually, i think we're seeing a bit of the 'tech making it easier to make stuff' already.

the unreal3 tech demo video showed a way to make 3d looking textures or something like that... i forget how it works (if they explained it) but it had the effect of making a flat wall with the texture applied, look 3d (even when viewing from the side). so this would help speed up the level design -- mappers don't need to make a wall with individual bricks, the bricks are made automatically by the textures. 
Necros 
It's a similar technique to bump mapping called texture displacement mapping. 
No, It Wasn't That 
It was a form of simulating a 3D surface without adding any polygons like displacementmapping does. Something to do with paralaxing... (yay 2d sidescrollers ahoy!) I didn't quite get it. 
Yeah 
it was called 'virtual displacement mapping', and simluates paralax effect or somesuch. it was a pixel shader... but yeah, that's what i'm talking about. it made this rocky wall look super detailed and really cool. 
3D Texture Video 
I saw one that fit your description here but it's for Half-Life 2: http://www.planethalflife.com/half-life2/videos/

Look under the heading with SIGGRAPH videos.

I think the purpose was to reduce engine overhead by reducing polys using some pretty trick shaders or bumpmaps or something to do with the lightmap but the original model used to create the 3D texture is high poly so the complex work still needs to be done - usually with some high end modelling software.

On the thread topic, game value is obviously enhanced if user created content matches or exceeds the original game quality. Doom, Quake, Duke3D, Quake 2 and Half-Life were excellent value. It's too bad that high cost, newer games aren't seeing nearly as many user mods and that could be due to more work required as well as more powerful tools and knowledge. Also, more games on the market divides the user community since we're well past the days when Quake was the only game in town.

If you look at the number of quality SP mods for RtCW, Unreal 2, Deus-Ex, Undying and draw the trend line into Invisible War, Painkiller, Doom 3 etc. it's looking as if you can't factor user mods into the enjoyment/cost equation in deciding whether or not to buy. What's in the box is likely your only trade for the money. 
 
all the development moves to East Europe/ex-USSR/China/India.
Say 'bye-bye' to your jobs dear colleagues. 
Bling Bling 
There will be companies putting together the actual games and using licensed gfxengines, physics engines, ai libraries, speechrecognition/generation and most content will also come from third party creators or generated with software purpose built to easily create specific things with. Of course some giants will have internal departments to much of this while others will rely almost completely on outside resources. To some degree this is already happening but will escalate as time goes on. 
Yes 
wot bear said

outsource will rule this world 
Humm 
Inetersting to bring up outsourcing -- as detail becomes finer, more and more of making games becomes generic and less is conceptual... so the current trends step right into that trap. But the conceptual still requires knowing about games, which at least limits things above the sweatshop level. 
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