John Smedley talks about the game industry but is mum about his studio’s project

    
23

It has now been seven months since John Smedley shut down Pixelmage Games and took his team over to Amazon Game Studios to set up shop in San Diego. We’ve been greatly curious about what game he’s been heading — and if it is an MMO — but until recently Smed has stayed out of the spotlight to get work done.

This is why we’ve perked up to see him sit down with VentureBeat for an extended interview about his new employer and his take on the direction that the industry is heading. He has a lot of opinions on just about everything, ranging from virtual reality to Twitch integration to the rise of e-sports.

If you’re hoping that the notoriously chatty Smedley was going to reveal what game his studio is making, you’re in for disappointment. He indicates that he’s very excited about the project but is tight-lipped about specifics.

“One cool thing about the culture here is there’s a big emphasis on playing games all the time, our internal games,” Smedley said. “I get to give feedback on the playtests we have for Breakaway. That’s being done at the Irvine studio, and we have stuff going on up in Seattle, and then we have our stuff. We’re not quite ready to talk about it yet, but it’s a lot of fun to be able to start new things and go in different directions […] I can’t talk much about the games we’re making, but we’re focused on getting that community started early, getting the games in front of customers.”

Source: VentureBeat
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
odin valhalla

I’m exhausted frankly. As a long time MMO player the last decade has been very tiring, with a blitzkrieg of ideas, models, crap releases, beta’s, pre alpha’s, patch notes, CTD, bugs, load screens, Kickstarter on and on and on and on and on.

I don’t know how gamers take any of this crap seriously anymore. I’ve come full circle myself as a gamer, meaning I don’t pay attention to any of the noise until I see a game. Not an alpha, not 20 min of footage at “marketingtogetpreorders con” or any of it. Cynical? You’re dam right it is and with good reason. If this guy has amazon capital behind him, then shut up and put a game out and thus be judged by its merits.

More noise is just more noise, when you walk away from it you don’t have a new game and often players are prepaying. I don’t get it at all, I am blown away by the lack of critical thinking gamers evoke when wielding their consumption power. We drive the industry period. Best of luck to him, when’s the game coming out?

Reader
socontrariwise

I’m worried that we still have the same people getting hired and getting all excited about shooter etc. There is so much creativity out there and new approaches and those are the four he mentions – H1Z1 battle royal, PUBG, Breakaway and Destiny 2. After just failing on the market grandly with a hack’n’slash procedural game.
C’mon. You think ArcheAge and BDO are so big because of the fighting??

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

Very curious to see how Amazon’s business model and the gaming world interact:

Amazon is too old (and too publicly traded) to be truly considered a startup. But it operates like a startup. Quarterly profits are invariably small relative to Amazon’s enormous size, every once in a while it loses money, and cash is never flushed out to shareholders

and “Instead, the company’s cash flow is all pumped into new things.”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/20/15824718/amazon-whole-foods-profit-margin

Well, gaming is certainly a new thing for Amazon. And it will suck up cash like nobody’s business. Let the games begin!

Reader
Sally Bowls

I was most excited about ““computationally ridiculous games.” I am looking forward to what designing games that can just assume nigh unlimited server power is available.

I remember Raph’s SWG postmortem and servers caused a number of diminutions. E.g.: “We learned during beta that our deployment hardware was going to be less powerful than we had expected. As a result, we couldn’t compute the really nifty procedural terrain on the servers as far out as we had hoped. As a result, our range for combat fell in half or more. This actually broke everything, because the new range was smaller than the minimum optimum range for rifles and snipers. Creatures couldn’t pathfind, suddenly. In alpha testing, our AI was way smarter than it was at launch. “

Reader
Sally Bowls

GamesBeat: It feels like the tipping ecosystem is just beginning. “Hey, I’ll give you some money, and if you shout out my name, I’ll be happy.”

Smedley: I watch a lot of Twitch while I’m working. It’s my background noise. Seeing some of the economy springing up — they have the Cheer economy with Bits. Seeing people get tipped, and seeing the amazing rise of Twitch Prime — to me it shows you something. There’s an economy now that didn’t exist a few years ago. That’s what I love about our business. Completely new ideas can take hold and change everything. Look how much it’s changed in just the last three or four years. Who spends money on online ads for gaming now? It’s much more focused on finding streamers and influencers. It’s a more direct conduit to interacting with customers, which is a big deal.

Triple disclaimer: this involves money, free advice is overpriced and I am not as clever as I think I am. I can’t see how “Who spends money on online ads for gaming now?” is good for sites like this or the world for that matter. I don’t understand seeing all the tipping on streams or $1,2,5,20 to ask a question in superchat for some Game of Thrones stream. Recommendation: get with someone – probably Paetreon – to enable a Tip button. It is not feasible to do $0.25 cent credit card transactions, but tips could be aggregated to my single monthly Paetreon charge. It needs to be very simple & quick a/k/a “1-click” There are already leave-the-site complicated ways to give you money. Alas, probably do need to do the equivalent of shoutout for same, perhaps in a click to see section. Revolutionize journalism! What if future journalistic staff meetings discuss where to put the Bree Button without even knowing why it is called a Bree Button?

Traditional, Murrow-would-never-have-done-it journalists would not have risen from the Balrog of AOL. “‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

Reader
MesaSage

Like your idea. I’ve toyed around with concepts like this for a long time, but there’s never been a better time or place for it.

Reader
Strana M

“It’s much more focused on finding streamers and influencers.”

I think game companies need to be careful of this. If those people have influence to bring people to game, they also have influence to get them to leave the game or scare them from even trying it.

Reader
Anstalt

Not really much of interest in the interview beyond Amazon clearly pushing Twitch, using Smed as their mouthpiece.

Only thing I saw in the piece that looked interesting was Jeff Bezos mandating high computation in whatever game Smed is working on. I can think of a lot of advantages to making a game with much more complex / numerous computations (better AI, physics and graphics, deeper combat mechanics, collision detection etc) so will be interesting to see if using more processor power will actually lead to better gameplay.

Reader
Sally Bowls

“using Smed as their mouthpiece.” I see it more the other way around. AGS wanted Smed and the mouth was part of the package and they thought the rest outweighed it. IMO I don’t think many companies, certainly not Amazon, would voluntarily choose to have Smed as their mouthpiece.

Reader
Crowe

Boy, he sure has a purty mouth?
/shudder

Reader
Anstalt

The thing about Smed is that he is an industry veteran and an innovator. There aren’t many people in the world with his level of experience, so he is still worthwhile having on the team. Sure, he’s made a lot of shit decisions in his time but he’s still a worthwhile acquisition.

But, reading through his interview, he’s pushing twitch the whole way through, which is what Amazon want. All the answers sound canned and rehearsed, not delivered with the usual passion. Reading through his twitch statements, its hard to even pick out a reason why he’s pushing it, other than at the request of Amazon. He doesn’t mention anything about it improving the developers lives, anything about it improving gameplay or anything about it improving the players lives.

The only people it benefits are the publishers (because it’s essentially free advertising when someone streams your game) and the twitch broadcasters.

This is why I say Amazon is using him as their mouthpiece: the words are from Amazon, but they’re coming out of Smeds mouth.

semugh
Reader
semugh

pushing twitch is not a problem. Youtube desperately needs a proper competitor and twitch might be it.

Reader
Minimalistway

Nothing about Hero’s Song? i’m still waiting for the game to come back as a single-player game.

Alex Js.
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Alex Js.

Well, so far the only thing I’ve seen from Amazon’s games is “Breakaway” – a lazy, EXTREMELY simplified mix of Unreal Tournament’s “Bombing Run” mode and SWTOR’s “Huttball” and judging by the fact it was actually approved by Amazon and is still being in development – I don’t have much faith in any other Amazon’s gaming projects, including whatever “survival” garbage they’re working on now as well as their upcoming MMORPG stuff (especially with people like Smedley, who ran SoE into the ground)… Which is a shame, because they DO have HUGE hardware/network resources to support truly massive games, same goes for almost limitless $$$ supply.

deekay_000
Reader
Patreon Donor
deekay_000

everything about amazon game studio’s mmo talent hiring makes me think their mmo’s are gonna be tits up trash bags.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

New project is a F2P Openworld Sandbox Survival PVP/PVE Shooter MOBA MMO cardgame with lockboxes.

I’m calling it now!

Reader
Wanda Clamshuckr

..with permadeath.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

No cupcakes allowed!

Reader
Utakata

Cardgame? I think I’ll just stick with FreeCell instead. :(

Reader
Sorenthaz

So the perfect game for SWG fans to feel right at home?

Reader
starbuck1771

You forgot to add only available to Amazon Prime Subscribers. :P