The serious business of making games

It really depends on what you are building and how much co-dev and outsourcing you are doing. A core team of 80-100 working for a few years could very easily be AAA. You could also have a much, much larger team internally. AAA to me really indicates expected asset quality and scope of the game, not necessarily budget/size of team.

I always thought AAA described how much money they planned to charge for the game, not how much effort went into it. :P

Most probably they were 100 devs in the studio… and another 100-150 from outsourcing companies.

Oh, I can understand why companies might take a deal where they get up front money easily enough. And taking a loss to gain market share is a time-honored game at this point. I’m just not convinced it’s a particularly more viable business model in the long run than the one that already exists.

I heard on the radio this morning that the actor’s union approved the strike on video game acting in games. They were mentioning motion captured actors not wanting to be replaced by AI and other tech.

Now, for movies and TV, I’m all for that, it’s always been an actor’s medium. But for games that seems weird, because it seems like such a recent development that games even started using real actors to motion capture animations, and that too for triple-A games basically. I’m trying to think back to how recent this is. Did any games in the PS2/Xbox/Dreamcast era use actor motion capture? Maybe for the Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra games?

I don’t see what the union’s leverage here is. Can’t game devs just use overseas actors and ignore the actor’s union?

Generated mocap replacements are obviously more convienient for developers. If we can produce something which has quality that matches up to real mocap we should be able to replace it.

Motion capture has been used at least since the PS2 era, although back then a lot less because the tech for getting the captured animation into a game-usable state was really painful.

I haven’t been following but I’m curious what criteria they think they can use to protect motion capture. That data is almost never used verbatim in games, it typically has to be edited, sometimes a lot. It’s not like voice acting where regardless of what FX you put on it, the lines are what they are. You can’t move around some bones and end up with a different line. But you can do that and end up with a significantly different animation and being able to do so is pretty important.

Why does timing matter?

The top tier of digital performance involves the voice actors themselves doing the motion capture and facial capture performance in a single, integrated performance. It’s not super common yet, and may never be typical, but it’s how you get world class results. The actor is a vital piece of the final result.

If the publishers want to have big name actors (even just big name voice actors like a Nolan North) in their games, they have to sign an agreement with SAG to use SAG actors.

Sometimes motion capture is just motion capture, but in a lot of contexts these days, it’s voice and facial capture as well. See my comment above.

And in films, an editing cut can end up with a line of dialogue being matched up with a shot where it was never even spoken, modifying the performance. It’s not that different, it’s just that the tools in digital are more powerful. You can account for clean-up, editing, and modification in the agreements.

Heh, you can definitely do this with VO these days, and it’s usually not noticeable provided the line is short and you’ve got a good sample set. Not even with AI or anything, just talented people and powerful tools.

Right sure, if you are capturing someone’s voice and facial movements that could work very well, and should be protected from simulation / generative reproduction.

But there’s a lot of other scenarios that are less about inserting a specific performance into the game. With improvements in technology I don’t see the same need for actors there.

And even with voice/facial movements, there will be a desire to generate it for more generic interactions. I think that’s fine as long as it’s not trying to imitate the style of specific actor.

I don’t think those would be areas where a studio would hire a SAG actor for the motion capture.

ADDENDUM: I should clarify–I don’t think that’s a role for SAG actors. As in, I don’t think SAG-AFTRA would be looking to protect the people who do that work. (In my experience, it’s usually done by developers themselves, like animators or designers.)

Sure, maybe I’ve misunderstood what the issue is about. This is helpful, thanks.

Yeah, that is exactly what the union’s leverage is. If you use non union actors, you don’t get to ever use union ones. And the big names are all union actors.

For mo-cap though, at least when I was in college that wasn’t all union work. There was/is a games studio in town that often would visit local colleges to get students in acting classes to do mocap work.

Though, I wonder if that was more of an “internship” thing that is exempted. Or “background” work. Could have also been mocap training for the people in the studio, or just to get generic motions.

I don’t know. “Mo-cap” has been going on forever. The original prince of persia was rotoscoping a Jordan Mechner’s younger brother doing the stunts, a sort of early motion capture.

PlayStation Chief Jim Ryan retiring

https://sonyinteractive.com/en/press-releases/2023/new-management-structure-of-sony-interactive-entertainment-2/

Creative Assembly’s extraction shooter, Hyenas, which was scheduled to be a full-priced release, was just canned by Sega after six years of development. They ran a beta less than a week ago, so it’s very sudden.

Its amazing that this surprises absolutely no-one, except apparantly Sega.

It looked so bad.

People have tried 0-grav FPS shooters before, and they are all failed.

The art style went for a ‘look we are so quirky/deranged!’ style that I don’t think it has any mainstream appeal

Trying to make it in a market that already has lots of similar stuff, and where most of those games are trying to monopolize players time, always a difficult thing. And I assume it was PVP only, making it even harder.

I imagine the game was mostly a “me too” one, and it should’ve been ready years ago to have a good shot.

Hoo boy.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-09-28/epic-games-is-cutting-about-900-jobs-or-16-of-staff

Epic Games Inc. is laying off about 900 employees, or 16% of its workforce, according to a person familiar with the matter.

They’re also raising the price of the Fortnite V-Bucks.

https://www.fortnite.com/news/upcoming-fortnite-pricing-alignment-in-czech-republic-denmark-eurozone-countries-united-states-and-more-in-october-2023