Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Game Biz is the Same All Over

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 23, 2014

I am happily back from Japan. I had enough time to wash my clothes and turn in an expense report, and now I’m heading off to Cedar City, Utah to spend Christmas with the in-laws. It is in months like these when my laptop becomes my primary development platform. Le sigh…

But hey, this was my first time to Japan. I got to ride a bullet train past Mt. Fuji. Here’s a snapshot from my window as I rocketed past:


And a little pic of me from the ruins of Yoshida Castle in Toyohashi (I’d heard of neither the castle nor the city until I took this trip, but hey, cool…)


We were partnered up with another company on this project. As I sat inside a little break-room at the training facility eating lunch with the representative from this other company, we got chatting about our careers. And it turns out, he’d previously worked in the video games biz as well. In his case, he’d been a 3D modeler working for Nintendo during the Nintendo 64 years.

We compared notes, and man… tales from the trenches. Different country, different culture, but our stories were remarkably similar. Brutal hours, canceled projects, and the amazingly restrictive technical limitations of the platform, and the clever hacks they did to try and make the best of those limitations. I think he told me they were restricted to 32 x 32 texture sizes, but I think that was only with full-color textures… they had to get creative with two-color textures to help hide the limitations, which may have been able to be at a larger size.

But yeah – the industry had the same chew-em-up-and-spit-em-out mentality in Japan as in the U.S.  Are / were European game companies the same? Anyway, it seemed like we enjoyed a moment of camaraderie that came with swapping tales of working in the biz.

I would like to believe that the indie revolution has helped bring a little bit of sanity to the industry in that respect, but I don’t know. Much of that mentality originated back in the old days when things were… well, a lot more indie. When you had a tiny number of people with a serious personal investment in the games (and the chance for big personal rewards on success), they’d be fully motivated to move heaven and earth to build their masterpieces. What happened was that over time, as this mentality flourished, the big companies took over. The personal investment (and personal gain) went away, but the big studios did all they could to keep the mentality alive.

So people (usually “kids” in their 20s who didn’t know any better) were still killing themselves, but this time to make someone else rich.

At least in the indie world, the ownership is (usually) back where it belongs.

Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism, Retro - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • Tesh said,

    New graduates are still killing themselves, and the industry happily takes them. Fresh meat for the mill means that labor prices can stay low. This warps a lot of things, from design to culture.

  • Anon said,

    I’ve seen Yoshida Castle on a photo before but had no idea that is *that* small!
    Or perhaps you are very large? 😉

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Well, I’m a bit larger than I would like to be… 🙂 In the past there was a lot more to it, but all that’s left standing now is that restored turret (storehouse). And the wall.

  • Cuthalion said,

    Seeing the mountain visible from that city there makes me miss my home in the northwest (WA). Hope your trip was good, interesting how things were just as bad in Japan.