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Letters To The Editor: Production Companies, Strange Agencies

Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our
October 23, 2006
Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might have missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter. This time it was Stephen Ford's 'What's Wrong with the Games Industry (And How to Make It Right)' feature that drew the majority of the responses. On Ford's suggestion that a greater role for production companies might solve some of the industry's problems, Ilari Kuittinen counters: "If a tiny fraction of the whole game development process can operate seemingly more efficiently, it does not guarantee that the cost of the whole process can be lowered as well. "Hollywood model" has been referenced many times as an ideal model how our industry should work and this article seems to at least have been influenced by this kind of thinking. Is the movie production model really cost effective as the star driven model is raising the cost? Could this happen with the production company model as well? At least Hollywood movies seems always boast about how many tens of millions the movie production has cost to make. Would it be less if the studios would have again the integrated solution of the 1940´s, when everybody from actors to screen writers and production people were on the studio´s payroll? Anyone can speculate what the answer is, but I would guess that cost of the today´s movie production is higher, because of the current system of making movies even when taking into account of the cost of the downtime. Obviously, cost is only one aspect of the whole equation and it does not take into account of any value preferences whether the current system is better, more creative, etc." Similarly, Josiah Colborn adds: "Hire contractors on-site for time VS Hire contractors off-site for material. Why is this the ultimate solution? "A development company spends $5,000 dollars and more per month per desk in wages, rent and other costs." Wages, rent and other costs. Don't be fooled, Wages is the biggest contributor of that group by far. Yes, even with Stephen's new presented model, you still have to pay your professional developers real money, even if it's per-material rather than per-hour. The new contractor solution means very little in terms of real money, unless you're not paying your contractors what they're worth. Rent and "other expenses" are paltry in relationship to wages. Worth the price of teamwork and camaraderie? You be the judge." On a different note, Strange Agency's Jo Clay responds to earlier letters on the vague description of the company's mechanized game analyzation given in their own feature 'Tomb Raider And The Genre Of Stealth' with a longer breakdown from the company's homepage: "Strange Analyst creates these activity profiles through the use of three separate, but interconnecting, tools: 1 - Harvester identifies the text within an online game review, published by websites such as GameSpot and IGN, and written by professional games journalists. 2 - Lexical Analysis counts number of phrases that signify particular activity groups, 49 in total, then calculates their level of importance (LOI) in the game. 3 - Strange Analyst converts LOI counts into an activity profile graph, allowing users to compare each gameplay activity profile with over 10,500 other game titles. The client tool is downloadable from the Internet and accesses our 40 gigabyte database of game information through web services." For more reactions to be read and responded to, including a an open question on profit percentages to developers under the digital distribution model, visit our letters page.

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