Playable Worlds’ lead designer: ‘We’re in the game industry because we love games’


Earlier this month, Playable Worlds’ Greg Costikyan, the lead designer for Raph Koster’s upcoming unnamed sandbox MMORPG, opened up about the way games get made. (In fact, if you’re a TTG fan, you should read the comments – our TTG folks were positively squeeing about his involvement, and he even swung by to chat.) Costikyan’s now released the second half of that blog, making his way through the interaction of artists, producers, engineers, and quality assurance experts – some of the least glorious but most important roles. He echoes comments Koster’s made in the past about game development being, well, a big ol’ mess.

“Two-thirds of game projects never launch,” he says. “For a host of possible reasons; they ran out of money, the publisher lost confidence in the project, key people left, their ambitions were too large, metrics in beta were disappointing.”

“More projects get canceled than ever see the light of day. I’ve been down that road more times than I care to count. You bought a game and were disappointed with it? It happens. It’s not because the developers were incompetent, or didn’t care. I guarantee you that everyone involved in that project believed in it, at the start at least, and are heartbroken that it didn’t come out better. But game development is messy and hard. Not everything succeeds.”

He also touches on a similar topic to one raised in our comments: the idea that devs have no scruples and will do anything for “a big sack of money.”

“Are we in it for the money? Well, sure, welcome to late-stage capitalism, money is the condition of survival,” he says. “But everyone – almost everyone anyway – on a development team could make more money doing something else. Engineers could make more money at Google or Amazon. Artists could make more money in advertising. Even designers could make more money working on productivity software or something. We like to get paid, for sure, but we’re not in the game industry for that reason. We’re in the game industry because we love games. And we want to make the best game we can.”

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