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The Playstation 4 hasn't had a single good new Arcade Racer in 5 years - why? **Criterion founder Alex Ward responds on page 2!**


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@Dinobot I understand your sentiments, but I feel it's quite a reductionist view. Should a game 'have an audience' before the team even begins?

I prefer to see it instead as a game that that team wanted to bring to the world. They did, it's out there, it exists. Some may view it 'as a failure' but I'm from the view that no game can ever be a failure really. Many many great things always come from that. It might have been someone's first game.

 

If anyone deserved to be let go, I'd start with the people in Codemasters management team - the folks who paid for it and then didn't deliver their part of the bargain. In a games company, you need games to release to survive, so sacking the people who create artwork, develop vehicle handling and make the thing run on console hardware - seems to be like those people need to be nurtured, developed and looked after in order for the wider company to continue.

 

@mushashi I'd never heard of him. 

 

@Dinobot I lost touch with Stuart years ago. I always liked him personally. But I know he would not know about the early beginning of the game, when it was known as 'project jupiter.' 

 

@cavalcade Thanks for those comments. I just want you to be aware that thanking me is great, but games are made be teams of people who come together/get thrown together/ get forced together to do something. A LOT of people worked on the games I was Creative Director for. I like to think all of them made a contribution. It's one of my bugbears of the industry that I don't think enough people have any understanding of how games are made and the differences between a game made by a cast of thousands around the world by Ubisoft and a game made by say, seven people in a beautiful office in Petersfield, for example. When I see threads like 'oh I wish there was another Wipeout - please Sony!' - it's more a comment about how 'Sony make Wipeout' - rather than the smart developers up in the North East who created and put those games together. It's people, not companies, that make games.

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I'm not into driving games and never really have been. I'm terrible at them, and don't even drive IRL.

But seeing Alex's passion for the genre and hearing his stories have been fantastic and I hope that DD does amazing sales. I'm really, really rooting for you guys.

May DD do so well that you can finally buy those yachts (or supercars) you deserve. 

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21 hours ago, CrashedAlex said:

@Dinobot I understand your sentiments, but I feel it's quite a reductionist view. Should a game 'have an audience' before the team even begins?

I prefer to see it instead as a game that that team wanted to bring to the world. They did, it's out there, it exists. Some may view it 'as a failure' but I'm from the view that no game can ever be a failure really. Many many great things always come from that. It might have been someone's first game.

 

If anyone deserved to be let go, I'd start with the people in Codemasters management team - the folks who paid for it and then didn't deliver their part of the bargain. In a games company, you need games to release to survive, so sacking the people who create artwork, develop vehicle handling and make the thing run on console hardware - seems to be like those people need to be nurtured, developed and looked after in order for the wider company to continue.

 

These comments go hand in hand - although I do believe if you're working with both fine margins and higher level builds then you need to have some rationale behind any game you make. Even if it's "I'm making it for this reason, for these people" - it doesn't have to be drilled right down to precise demographics.

A crude example - should 'Back of the Knee Puncher Online' (BKPO) really been pitched as the next generation of back of the knee hitting combat - because a team of people want to do it? No, because it's a rubbish idea (or is it?!).

 

Lauding games as art, expression, and games to be games is fine - you're still working with people's jobs, lives, etc. If you have people buy into your idea (either up or down) you need some realisation about what the consequences may be.

 

However, as you note, this totally loops back to those who greenlit the project, and also, did not cancel it if they didn't believe it was going to do well.

That Codies bought in a new team to make it, and then jettisoned them pretty quickly - well it's probably a Codies thing to do! Maybe they haven't changed in the last 10 years :lol:

 

I've been in the middle of this at various companies, argued against management reasoning for wanting to make a game. Or insisting it should be cancelled because it's throwing silly money after bad. Those games were failures because they were made without heart, vision, and care.

 

The broader picture here is about failures and learnings, and I'm sure that will be the most important part of Onrush for the team. In their cases I hope they entirely strip out any hubris and front up - ignore the management level - and look at what they did that meant the project wasn't as successful as they would have liked.

 

That can be a liberating experience and it will form their future projects. Everyone takes missteps it is about how you turn that to your advantage. Personally and professionally.

 

There was another thread on here recently that mentioned people who've had a failure - do they disappear? Usually not - because you always get more chances. Which is fair and correct. Those who HAVE burned their bridges or shown a succession of failure, that does happen to.

Still, coming full circle, often those who are in higher management do not learn fully because they have general success elsewhere. They'll carry on, jettison staff, and probably be fine themselves. Which is a really crappy way of doing things because bringing staff on and seeing them grow is a wonderful experience. Not only personally rewarding - one day those guys might be hiring you or helping you out too.

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@Dinobot "I've been in the middle of this at various companies, argued against management reasoning for wanting to make a game. Or insisting it should be cancelled because it's throwing silly money after bad. Those games were failures because they were made without heart, vision, and care."

 

This sounds like as if you simply did not have any true POWER to be able to influence your work. If you're working in a Publisher Studio, power and influence is only really held by a small number of people. That is ultimately where the buck stops.

 

In earlier parts of my career, I fully accepted the responsibility that my job and those of my team were on the line if our work failed to be both critically and commercially successful. That's the feeling that wakes you up in the middle of the night, every single night of your life. (not joking here, every single night.) And that's what the Publisher expects. They want hits, they want sales, they want success, they want 'to win E3', they want to win Awards - bc the more they can make the developers do their jobs for them, the easier it is for them. And to some extent, I can understand that approach I really can. (Although I must say, as a British person, the concept of "winning" an exhibition show always came across as quite alien. I think back and reckon that only a few catering companies and breweries really 'won an ECTS show.")

 

For a lot of people, that's something that they will rarely get to experience in their lives. Now, there are both positives and negatives to living this way. Power comes with a price to pay. But I went into every single project willing to bet my life on it. Hence I would fight for my Studio, project and team in every single battle, and win every single time. I can count on one hand the number of people I've actually met in my 25 year career that I'd actually listen to when it came to hearing 'feedback' about a unfinished game. It's odd that often those with the most power over software development are so very far removed from it. And again, I have also experienced where that can be a true positive as well.

 

 

 

 

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Just now, CrashedAlex said:

@Dinobot "I've been in the middle of this at various companies, argued against management reasoning for wanting to make a game. Or insisting it should be cancelled because it's throwing silly money after bad. Those games were failures because they were made without heart, vision, and care."

 

This sounds like as if you simply did not have any true POWER to be able to influence your work. If you're working in a Publisher Studio, power and influence is only really held by a small number of people. That is ultimately where the buck stops.

 

@CrashedAlex Indeed I was in that position. So I changed that. Because I realised when I have some directional say things generally go pretty well. Mostly because I trust the team, invest in the people, and allow expression without reprimand. I've been in enough places where the opposite is true, and it drags people down.

 

Which, considering they wanted to get into the industry so passionately, can be soul crushing. It can affect lives.

 

I'm seeing a lot more games, and tech, companies now really understand how important their staff are. They have a desire to build the right atmosphere and support structures for them.

There's still a long, long way to go - many of the older school CEO's and managers are either slow to change or are happy going ahead they way they always have. In time they'll be replaced, and I hope we can all do a bit better by everyone.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So after all the talk here, I figured I had to re-buy this and play it again over the weekend:

 

IMG_20190117_232043.thumb.jpg.660139d007aac0ea2c0a18a302ab113a.jpg

 

It was like putting on an old shirt - the game has certainly aged, but the high framerate still makes it well playable.

 

I did however had some issues with nialing drifting - reckon this was one of the earlier games to put an emphasis on it (in terms of making it a scoring and boost charging mechanic). The cars sort of snap into a drift at a slightly overly ambitious angle.

 

More importantly,  I was surprised to find the first Championship race takes 8 minutes! Loved it really, especially as it starts on a highway letting you transition from weaving through traffic into driving on the wrong side of the road :)

Race 2 was as amazing as I remembered, with the lovely Sunday drive tune transitioning into more dramatic chase music.

And race 3 of the first series was actually pretty relentless, as there's so much crossing traffic on junctions creating inescapable traps - only barely finished second!

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