Don't make open source games too 'professional'

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Midnight_Carnival
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Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Midnight_Carnival » May 12th, 2015, 8:17 am

What does "professional" mean to you?
Easy, consult a dictionary: You'll find (various) entries which say something along the lines of it being an adjective and deriving from "profession" - what people for money...
So a "professional" game would be what? a game that people make money out of? a game that is of the level that people would pay money for it (even if they don't)?

There isn't a problem there - even the silly little pygames I've worked on have been things I've wanted to get to the level where somebody says "Hey! I'd pay money for that!". Making a game "professional" means higher standards, it means a more dedicated approach from contributors, it means a more mature dialogue arising when development and maintainance are discussed - no problem.

So why am I [censored]?
I am not against higher standards, I'm sure as hell not against dedication and mature dialogue (... well, as long as it's not absolutely required 100% of the time 'or you can just go somewhere else' - yeah, why not pretend we're all growed up while we're talking).
What I'm against is the stifling of originality and creativity.
The problem with making things "professional" is that it becomes about 'the bottom line' - money. Now we can and have seen many things 'selling out' - that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about 'saleability' becoming important.

If you look up the word "amateur", you'll find (various) entries which say something along the lines of it not being for money, or if it is, not being what you earn the money you feed your family (and pay your debts) with. If you look up the etymology, you'll find that it derives from the Latin word Amo - "I love" - armature means something you do "for love".
Would you pay money for something someone did “for love”? You'd either not pay money, walk away and laugh, or you'd offer to pay every cent you own and have the guy who did it say no.
A different level of standards is implied by saying that something was done because the people who made it were passionate about what they made.
Consistency? Well, we hope so, but probably not.
'Saleability'? Again, it will either be very easy or impossible to sell. You can't predict which.

You see, I don't know much about how business works, but I know this: if you invest money into selling a product, you'd better be sure it will sell. If it doesn't, you've wasted the money and you won't eat tonight.
If you're going to bring out a new flavour (just and example) and the options are: 1) something people might love or might hate and 2) something which people are likely to eat (even if they don't enjoy it), business sense says go with 2. Maybe, once you're a global monopoly type bloodsucker company you can try 1 every now and then for fun, but if you want to eat, pick 2!
How do you know what people will probably eat (even if they don't enjoy it)? Well, that's easy, look at what they already eat!
So, how do you know what will sell? Easy, look at what already sells!
Find a commercially successful product and copy it, obviously you don't want to go with one which already 'has the market cornered', a variation on something people love will do just fine. Some paint, a different name, a few subtle tweaks and you've got a 'new' product!

The problem comes when someone on your development team comes up with new, wild, 'out there' suggestions.
Your accountants, who run your business for you (they have as much creativity as a vending machine), snatch the new proposal out of your hands, they Google it and say “you can't do this, nobody else is doing it, we can't be sure it will sell” and since they make 'business sense', you obey.
Somebody else comes up with a wild, 'out there' idea, something which might sell or might not sell, they risk everything on it and they make a fortune – they are “a genius” - “a visionary” - “ahead of their time”. You could never do that, could you?

Yes, you could, in fact you do it twenty seven times before breakfast every morning, but you never put your crazy 'out there' plans into action because you're AFRAID that people might hate it and it might not sell, better to go with the safe route, better to listen to your accountant-overlords, you're AFRAID of what people might think of you for trying something nobody else has tried, for taking a risk and investing in a dream and you're legitimately AFRAID that if you sell your house and car to try and make this happen, you will end up sleeping under a bridge, known as “that crazy guy who 'had it all and threw it away because of some stupid obsession'.

I'm not a business man, I'm sure as hell not an accountant – I know that going the boring 'clone and paint job' route makes more 'business sense' but I don't recommend it. I also know that making a game of your own and letting people play it doesn't have to be a business though. I know that it can just be because you want to make something you love.
I think that if you do make a game, unless you are making a commercial “mc-game” which you think will feed your family and pay off your debts, that there should be no reason why you should find a commercially successful formula and follow it, letting your creativity show only in the small cosmetic changes you make in order to make it easier to sell and to avoid copy protection.
I think that if you are making your own game for love, you should let the love shine thorough and you should go with the crazy, go with the silly, go with the amateur option.
If you want to make money, go and sweep floors, go and pack shelves, go and dig holes in the dirt every day until your back aches and you hate your life, leave that spirit of “oh crap, I hate this but I got to do it or I'll die” out of the games you make and take chances – nobody cares if it 'might sell or might leave you bankrupt', we just want to play games which aren't clones for a change.
According to the ancients, the netherworld was a dreary place where there was no hope and no relief – only the greatest warriors could have a pleasant afterlife, them and the bards. If you make games and release them open source you're probably not an Achilles, but you just might be this age's equivalent of Homer. Don't throw that away because “it might not sell”.

-That's all I have to say (minus a few pointed comments directed at people who didn't' understand, didn't' read and don't care but want to post something because they think it will make them look cool :annoyed: )
-thank you.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by iceiceice » May 12th, 2015, 9:17 pm

So I'm not sure if this is really directed at wesnoth itself, or at open source game devs generally, or at particular open source game devs. Here's my reaction.

I think focusing on the word "professional" lends to overbroad discussion and misunderstanding.

To me "professional" does not equate with "primarily oriented towards making money". In different contexts it can refer to:
  • The idea of "professionalism".
    • Taking pride in the quality of one's work, and being accountable for the quality of one's work.
    • A long term (often life long?) commitment to work in some field, as distinguished from an amateur or a dabbler.
    • Conscientious of reputation, because of the professional's commitment to their field. Contrast with "fly-by-night snake-oil-salesman".
    • Conducting oneself in an appropriate manner. "Flaming people on the internet is 'unprofessional'." See above.
  • The "professional class" of people -- this idea is real but also has a lot of social and cultural baggage, in my opinion.
    • A professional is not merely paid for their work, they are presumed to be an expert in some sense.
    • A professional often has a formal education.
    • Professionals may be expected to dress in a certain way in some contexts.
    • Professionals are 'skilled labor'. They generally aren't unionized, (but this is a generalization), in contrast to unskilled labor.
    • Professionals are 'more desirable citizens'. If you want to immigrate to a country, and can give evidence that you are a professional, you are more likely to succeed.
    • The term professional has important meaning in demographics / sociology. For instance terms like "Young urban professional" / "yuppie".
In my opinion, if people
  • Do good work
  • Take responsibility for it
  • Don't act like jerks
that is good for open-source games. The rest of it is unnecessary baggage.

I think that's probably a little bit orthogonal to your post, which I would summarize as "you should take risks and take chances".

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Midnight_Carnival » May 14th, 2015, 11:23 am

1) the title of theis thread was originally "Please don't make your next open source game too 'professional'" but that was too long (like a lot of my posts) - so no, it's not directed at Wesnoth, but was meant for people developing other games.

2) I'd rather you sumarised my post as something along the lines of "don't use criteria which are inapropriate and neglect things which could be helpful or filtered out as needed" - but you should take risks and chances is good enough, especially when you are doing something for love and not for money.

3) thank you for reading my post and getting back to me in a mature way - I didn't expect that since so many people on the internet won't read more than 50 words and think posting a link to a website which shows cute cats with supposedly witty captions is insightful.
I respect your difference of opinion as to whether 'professional' standards are good or bad things in the context, I think we'd probably both agree that there are cases where they can be good and cases where they are inapropriate.

"In my opinion, if people

Do good work
Take responsibility for it
Don't act like jerks

that is good for open-source games." Is something I'd agree on, but I'd add that you should make room for the uncertain because brilliance won't come in if you've slammed the door in its face.
Thank you.

PS:
Spoiler:
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Nikita_Sadkov » December 10th, 2015, 7:29 am

"Professional" is someone who can do the work, unskilled majority cannot do. John Carmack is professional, because nobody before Carmack managed to roll out a commercially viable 3d engine. Being non-jerk is a paid profession all of itself, called "diplomacy". And when people are underpaid and crunched to the deadline, they act like jerks. So give them a tip for the DLC of being nice to the clients.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Midnight_Carnival » December 11th, 2015, 9:32 am

Umm-hmm~?
well, I've been active on the board game designer's forum for some time and there is something I keep running into:
people getting so hung up on creating something 'trully original' that they throw away perfecly good games. You see, there I kind of understand, many there still think that they are going to pull that Monopoly guy's move and design something on their kitchen table which becomes an overnight success and earns them millions and peopel are still palying it in 50 years time.

This is why I become dismayed when I find the same sort of vapid cosmetic preoccupation featuring so heavilly in open source games. "it must be 'original', it must be a brand name in itself" - I'm censoring out my initial response which involves a claw hammer which has been left in the freezer overnight since I don't think anyone would apreciate that level of sexually explicit violence on this forum, but really, is being 'original' so very important?!

Consider commercially successful games: in real terms, what is the actual difference between Double Dragon and Streets of Rage series? both had sort of cult followings in the day.
I've seen open source games which proudly advertised themselves as "a shameless rip off of ..." and I've downloaded and played them, some I consider to be better than the originals. But no, you've got to have an original theme, an orignal backstory, original characters, original artwork, original music, original sound effects or nobody would even consider downloading your open source game.

Making a brand name out of something which should just be soemthing you download and play for fun, or if you're really, really ambitious and skilled, you download the soruce code and fiddle around with for a bit - well to me that's just a waste of time and effort.

Make it fun to play, make it interesting, try not to get sued.
Try to start with a good idea (your own or someone elses) instead of what you think is a cool splash screen you threw together.
get that right and nobody will give a crap how "professional" your game is.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by johndh » December 11th, 2015, 1:09 pm

I think a big reason why open source and indie developers strive for originality is because that's where they can excel. In terms of art assets, code base, features, etc., one person or a small indie team working in their spare time CANNOT beat a huge dedicated team with a staff of dozens and a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. If a group of three friends get together and decide they want to make a Battlefield clone, it's going to look worse, have less content, have fewer features, have less testing, be less optimized, and take years longer to produce. I've been playing a lot of "Avernum: Escape From The Pit" lately, and it's glaring how short it falls of the standards set by games like Baldur's Gate, despite being thirteen years more recent. I think this is why we see so many indie games embracing a retro aesthetic -- it requires less skill and less time than keeping up with the cutting edge. The big company shareholders won't gamble with their millions, so they churn out a lot of bland, boring, generic crap that makes sure to tick all of the boxes on the "what's hot this year" list, so we get another Madden, another Call of Duty, lather, rinse, repeat until you vomit. Instead, indie devs have to come up with something new and interesting. They have to be more clever and creative, or tap into something that the big companies won't touch. Look at Minecraft. When it came out, it didn't tick any of those boxes, but it ticked a lot of boxes that the big devs didn't know people wanted. Avernum makes up for its shortcomings with an expansive storyline, a developed setting, branching plotlines, etc., because those are things that Spiderweb Software can do, even if they can't bring the artwork up to industry standards.

You can apply a lot of this to video games, music, film, or any other form of commercial entertainment. Ever notice how popular music picks trends from the underground scene several years behind? Record labels had to give punk, hip hop, and dubstep time to prove their profitability before they ripped out their substance and turned them into gimmicks to push sales. In the wake of games like Minecraft, you see the big devs trying to get in on the action with more open world exploration, base building, crafting, etc., now that they see that those features are profitable.
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: longwinded nonsense

Post by Kestenvarn » December 11th, 2015, 4:58 pm

OP condemnation of a common term stems from ignorance, resulting in short-sighted and misleading message. No points are awarded due to lack of brevity.

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Re: longwinded nonsense

Post by johndh » December 11th, 2015, 9:25 pm

Kestenvarn wrote:OP condemnation of a common term stems from ignorance, resulting in short-sighted and misleading message. No points are awarded due to lack of brevity.
I couldn't resist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQCU36pkH7c
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Nikita_Sadkov » December 13th, 2015, 10:11 am

Midnight_Carnival wrote:I find the same sort of vapid cosmetic preoccupation featuring so heavilly in open source games. "it must be 'original', it must be a brand name in itself" - I'm censoring out my initial response which involves a claw hammer which has been left in the freezer overnight since I don't think anyone would apreciate that level of sexually explicit violence on this forum, but really, is being 'original' so very important?!
Actually, most open source games are just clones of commercially successful games. For example, Wesnoth copies Master of Monsters Disciples of Gaia. :eng:

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Pentarctagon » December 13th, 2015, 11:05 am

Midnight_Carnival wrote:but really, is being 'original' so very important?!
I think the problem is that 'originality' and 'differentiation' are not the same thing, but people tend to use them as if they are the same thing. The point isn't, or at least shouldn't be, to be original; it should be to make your game or software stand out. What does it do better? What additional features does it have? Why would I want to use this over X?

If you don't have a good answer to that question, then why bother? What's the point? Something just as good already exists.
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take one down, patch it around
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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Midnight_Carnival » December 15th, 2015, 2:46 pm

Kestenvarn wrote:OP condemnation of a common term stems from ignorance, resulting in short-sighted and misleading message. No points are awarded due to lack of brevity.
Nobody condemned any term at any point, it is suggested the prejudice, belligerence or intoxicating substances could have resuted in the perception of a milseading message.
Pentarctagon wrote:
Midnight_Carnival wrote:but really, is being 'original' so very important?!
I think the problem is that 'originality' and 'differentiation' are not the same thing, but people tend to use them as if they are the same thing. The point isn't, or at least shouldn't be, to be original; it should be to make your game or software stand out. What does it do better? What additional features does it have? Why would I want to use this over X?

If you don't have a good answer to that question, then why bother? What's the point? Something just as good already exists.
I actually agree with what you are saying and was at no point advocating that everybody go out and make clones of everything or (more likely) inferior copies. I find the sort of "originality" people are looking for annoying since it often comes across as a cheap trick or gimmick meant to "sell the game" - which I find a sad waste of energy in open source projects.
I LOVE true originality which I see in well written plots, completely different, "inspired", interface and well made artistic graphics or sound (as opposed to ones which can be measured in numbers and require you to buy a better computer just to play the game). As I see it, true originality come when people have a trully original idea and follow through making a work of art, NOT when people throw crap into the pot to flavor their spongy pre-packaged tv dinner in the hope that they can sell it for millions or become famous for making it.
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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Re: Don't make open source games too 'professional'

Post by Midnight_Carnival » December 23rd, 2015, 9:22 am

Do you want to know what in my opinion was one of the most trully original games created in recent years?
Flappy Bird. Before it there had been nothing like it, aftewards there were millions of games like it all over, too many of them. It was so simple and so addictive yet it had very little in common with anything which came before it.
Only problem is it is <carnal knowledge, excrement, having carnal knowledge of one's parent, having congress with excrement> annoying and the guy who made it ened up hating it, someone assalted him for inflicting Flappy Bird on us and there has been at least 1 murder which arose because someone was playing Flappy Bird.

Love it? no, I think it's crap but it's original that is for sure.
trying to tack "originality" onto something pointless and stupid in the hope of making a few cents or worse, in the hope of looking like someone hoping to make a few cents, is not going to impress anyone. I'm not saying stop trying, I'm just saying let your games sell themselves.

And for those of you working on Wesnoth or huge fans of the game who take what I'm saying as a personal attack - don't. Of all the the things I've complained about regarding Wesnoth (not that many actually), claiming that the game was "original" was never one. Complaining that an effort to make games more "professional" often results in creativity and true originality being stifled for aesthetic/styalistic reasons and becasue of the egos of the people working on such games may be taken as an indirect complaint about Wesnoth. I am however very pleased that with this game, if you don't like the way the game works or the way the game looks or sounds, it has been made fairly easy for you to change it yourself and many who would be complaining about aesthetic/styalistic details should in fact be complaining about their own laziness. :hmm:
...apparenly we can't go with it or something.

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