Commoditizing game production

Building realistic worlds

As the power of next generation systems increases so does the complexity and realism they can portray.

For some time now consumers have been unhappy with the rising prices of computer games whilst publishers are citing spiraling production costs as the excuse for sticking with “tried and tested” formulas and franchises.

Nintendo has been able to ride the wave somewhat by being more experimental on game play and cutting costs on realism.

Middle ware already exists for graphics, networking, sound, physics, AI and scripting – indeed engines such as Unreal and Steam bundle all these things you need into one of you own but you’re still left to deliver the content itself single-handedly.

Every object – be it building, car, character even lamp-post and trash can – needs a 3D model, appropriate textures, sounds for impact and detailed lists of how it should move and behave with regards to the physics.

Commoditizing elements of digital content

What must arise is an industry providing elements of digital content.

For real-life license objects such as cars it may well be the manufacturer providing high poly 3D models of the cars from their own CAD systems, audio samples from the engine and perhaps shaders from the companies supplying their paints.

Actors agents might commission and license approved 3D body and face models with textures. Specific motion captured movements and audio dialog sold separately*

Other content might be provided by their real-world counterparts too. Houses provided by real-world architects and populated with furniture from designer brands.

These real-world objects can provide a whole new level of realism to the games they occupy whilst at the same time providing a more subtle form of advertising – the product placement.

Add an inquire” option that lets you point at the nice bookcase you blew to pieces and get some product details up from the manufacturer. Maybe it’s in your price range, maybe not… or maybe it’s a design being considered with a note thanking you for your interest…

Once the cost of building digital worlds has dropped then production houses can be more experimental. If not, the door is open for the indie developer to compete on the same playing field.

If these savings can also be passed onto the consumer maybe they can afford more than one game and will be happy to try new genre’s too…


1 responses

  1. Avatar for Keeran

    Interesting - do you think there's room for a site acting as a market for these commodities?

    Keeran August 14, 2006