Sponsored By

Column: 'Blogged Out: 'Fiscal Arcade'

In his latest 'Blogged Out' column, veteran UK writer Jim Rossignol takes a look at the world of developer blogging, including some XBLA numbers, the value of 3D, and other popular topics.

Jim Rossignol, Blogger

October 6, 2006

4 Min Read

Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: indie Xbox cash-flow and a man of words. Fiscal Arcade Author Doug Walsh has been taking a look at the numbers behind Xbox Live Arcade. Here’s some of what he’s come up with (some of this was corrected by readers in the comments section): “Here's the data for a few of the Live Arcade games I have downloaded. - Frogger ($5 US) - 115,998 users = $580,000 in sales. - Bejeweled 2 ($10 US) - 115,466 users = $1,150,000 in sales. - Geometry Wars Evolved ($10 US) - 204,640 users = $2,046,000 in sales. - Uno ($10 US) - 180,703 users = $1,807,000 in sales. - Galaga ($5 US) - 43,560 users = $218,000 in sales. - Street Fighter II ($10 US) - 17,914 users = $180,000 in sales. ”I haven't purchased Street Fighter II yet (and probably will not) but I include it because it only became available less than 48 hours ago. This is a game that has been around in various forms for over a decade. It's been available in arcades, in emulation, and on multiple game consoles. Nearly everyone who has ever played a video game at one point or another has had a copy of this game in their collection. And yet, despite it all, it still nets close to $200k in sales in under two days on Xbox Live Arcade. That's pretty amazing if you ask me.” Meanwhile favoured Blogged Out blogger Jeff Tunnell points out that ‘hits’ on XBLA certainly wouldn’t please the game publishers with their returns, even if it looks like big money to indie developers. Nevertheless, Jeff goes on to say: “I no longer have public shareholders to please. As the co-founder of a small independent game technology provider that makes a few games, I am extremely happy with our returns from XBLA360, and I also know that we are not done yet. Marble Blast Ultra continues to sell extremely well, the conversion rates are astronomical, and MS continues to sell XB360’s at an accelerating rate. We may yet hit the old 5X return that I used to be held to!” Process Intensity Here’s one that’s always worth reading: Jurie Horneman’s blog is thriving with commentary on the issues that are currently percolating through game blogs, from the very old debates such as graphics relation to gameplay… “Personally, if I were to make a game, it would probably have 3D graphics with a 2D camera. Why? Process intensity. The computer knows something about what it's displaying, so it can manipulate it. With a 3D model of a soldier, I can re-use animations, I can change the colours of clothes, swap out pieces of clothing and accessories (weapons, typically), I can construct random soldiers out of individual bits. (Spore is a good example of what you can do if you take this to extremes.) This is hard to do in 2D.” To issues that have bounced back and forth between other blogs, such as improving game production practices. “Naturally, I have an opinion on all this. I am not sure if I am going to say something Jamie and Jason didn't say or imply, but... wait, why am I defending my right to state the obvious? This is a blog! “First of all, the power of producers to change how things are done is limited. I find that a company's culture is the strongest force affecting how a game is made, and company culture (a fascinating subject) has enormous inertia. Making games is all knowledge work, it is all about thinking, and changing how you think is hard. Changing how 30 or more people think is even harder. “Another way of looking at this is that everyone is responsible for game production methods to some degree. Should a producer force a programming team to use particular programming techniques or methodologies? Can they?” And finally, on polishing games before release: “Some people seem constitutionally incapable of judging the abstract. They will always reject clunky placeholder art, and will always be comforted by something that looks shippable, even if the former has rock-solid gameplay and the latter is deeply flawed under the hood. Often, the people who have the power to cancel your project or stop funding are of this kind. It doesn't necessarily mean they're stupid.” The fact that aesthetic and presentation issues are often at the forefront of a check-signatory’s mind is a routine and yet major issue for developers. The idea that appearance alone can cause intractable problems in the progress of projects seems absurd, and yet it has to be dealt with as a matter of course. I recall one ex-Flight Sim developer telling me a tale of how his game was saved the night before the big meeting with publishers simply because a programmer managed to get a cinematic camera technique (useless to the actual players) working in the hours before the demo. Everything was broken, but WooOooosh! Yeah, that’s the stuff. [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

About the Author(s)

Jim Rossignol


Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like