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Coming Clean

Postby Kadayi » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:31 am

AaronLee wrote:From my appraisal of Valve (and I have a number of their games, TOB, HL2 etc) most of their content coming directly from their development house is Source engine content. Even GMOD, and CS, which were initially outside initiatives that were legitimized, had some tie to the Source or Goldsrc engine, AFAIK.


If you think GMod is controlled by Valve your appraisal is way off. Sure you can purchase it through Steam, but it's not Valve owned or Valve developed. Also Source only came into being with the development of Halflife 2, prior to that they were working with a version of IDs Quake engine they heavily modified (many features of which had never been conceived before). They're smart people at Valve I don't really think they'd be opposed to working with different code if they felt the end result was going to be worth it. If they can take a student project like Narbacular Drop and turn it into as polished and well rounded a title as Portal I really don't think there's anything to fear from them.
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Postby AaronLee » Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:48 am

If you think GMod is controlled by Valve your appraisal is way off. Sure you can purchase it through Steam, but it's not Valve owned or Valve developed. Also Source only came into being with the development of Halflife 2, prior to that they were working with a version of IDs Quake engine they heavily modified (many features of which had never been conceived before). They're smart people at Valve I don't really think they'd be opposed to working with different code if they felt the end result was going to be worth it. If they can take a student project like Narbacular Drop and turn it into as polished and well rounded a title as Portal I really don't think there's anything to fear from them.


You raise a good point. Though it's possible they'd take subversion onto their development load, it's still a lot to ask. Narbacular Drop itself was initially a senior project, not a work in progress by a standing (this could change quickly, yes) development house. It was ultimately a 'break' that got some seniors into fulltime development jobs. That itself isn't too much of a gambit, but I feel having someone from introversion join an existing development house as a seasoned programmer wouldn't necessarily bring project control. Compared to bedroom coding where your only bosses are named Eat and Sleep. But I do admit if it was anyone, it'd likely be valve.
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Postby Kadayi » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:26 pm

Certainly, there is a spectrum between starving artist and drone. History has shown, I think, that Chris is much happier towards the starving artist extreme of that spectrum than the drone end. Perhaps this is incorrect. Only Chris can really make that choice, and he has to make it for himself. So far, however, he seems to be sticking with the starving artist extreme. It is you that, quite stridently, declared that Chris should move on and get a real job.


I have to come back to this because I found it pretty amusing. Firstly this outsider mythologising that 'Art' requires some form of sufferance on the behalf of the creator, and the greater their sufferance the better the result. A rationale that would argue that Van Gogh was a greater artist than Picasso, and Phil K Dick was a greater writer than Shakespeare. We are all creators when we go to the bathroom, is a shit better for those who smell it when it's a real arse strainer for the producer, or when it neatly plops out into the bowl? It's entirely possible to be creative and not have to make life harder for ourselves in the process. Thousands of Artists in all manner of fields manage to achieve this every day. Which brings me onto the next point, choice. Neither Van Gogh or Phil K Dick elected to be starving artists. There existed no alternative opportunities to do what they did without the personal sacrifices they endured. Their works simply weren't commercially or critically appreciated at the time of their creation. They didn't choose their condition, they were merely caught within it. I don't think the same can really be said of Chris. There is nothing noble about choosing to slum it when the opportunity exists to do otherwise.

Finally should we let the past dictate the future? Is the yesterday (that exists only now in our memories) really that relevant to what happens tomorrow? Would you be prisoner in a broken marriage, simply because the first few years were good? How long do you give something before you eventually move on? One year? Two Years? Five years? If this were the first time IW were in financial straits I'd be like you all for giving it a second chance. However this isn't the first time, and mismanagement and unrealistic expectations over D+ ultimately lead to job losses, which is never ever a good thing.

Also I put it to you that despite your many protestations to the contrary, that you do care about IW. You wouldn't of amassed either the post count or the badges you've acquired on this forum if you weren't heavily invested in the enterprise (you're their number 1 fan let's be honest here). However I'd put it to you that your caring is more to do with your own personal time investment in IW now (this forum is clearly a regular part of your life) rather than actual concern for their individual well being.

You might not like what I have to say, but you have to understand that although I've been a keen follower of IW over the years, I'm not invested in maintaining the status quo out of personal nostalgia.
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Postby xander » Sat Aug 28, 2010 4:53 pm

Kadayi wrote:
Certainly, there is a spectrum between starving artist and drone. History has shown, I think, that Chris is much happier towards the starving artist extreme of that spectrum than the drone end. Perhaps this is incorrect. Only Chris can really make that choice, and he has to make it for himself. So far, however, he seems to be sticking with the starving artist extreme. It is you that, quite stridently, declared that Chris should move on and get a real job.


I have to come back to this because I found it pretty amusing. Firstly this outsider mythologising that 'Art' requires some form of sufferance on the behalf of the creator, and the greater their sufferance the better the result. A rationale that would argue that Van Gogh was a greater artist than Picasso, and Phil K Dick was a greater writer than Shakespeare. We are all creators when we go to the bathroom, is a shit better for those who smell it when it's a real arse strainer for the producer, or when it neatly plops out into the bowl? It's entirely possible to be creative and not have to make life harder for ourselves in the process. Thousands of Artists in all manner of fields manage to achieve this every day. Which brings me onto the next point, choice. Neither Van Gogh or Phil K Dick elected to be starving artists. There existed no alternative opportunities to do what they did without the personal sacrifices they endured. Their works simply weren't commercially or critically appreciated at the time of their creation. They didn't choose their condition, they were merely caught within it. I don't think the same can really be said of Chris. There is nothing noble about choosing to slum it when the opportunity exists to do otherwise.

You managed to completely misinterpret what I said. Or, perhaps, I wan't clear enough about what I meant. The spectrum is between working for a large studio, and having no creative control, and working for oneself, and having complete control. On the one end of the spectrum, you have a steady paycheck, some level of job security, and the other benefits of a regular job; but you sacrifice some level of artistic control. And, whatever you may think, it is impossible to maintain complete artistic control over a project in the context of a large studio. To leave the realm of video games, consider Stanley Kubrik or Orson Welles. They are both famous for their creativity in the realm of film, and for their control over that creativity. Yet both of them had producers that they had to work with, and make concessions to. They both had large crews of people to work with, many of whom ultimately made their own creative decisions. When you go to work for a larger studio, you lose some control. Period.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have complete control over your work, but there are risks involved. You may not get a steady paycheck, and you could be out of a job at any time. This is basically how IV (that's "V," not a "W") has operated over the past several years. There are times of plenty, and times of scarcity; but I did not mean to imply that scarcity is required for creative work to be good.

Nowhere did I imply that an artist must suffer. That was your interpretation. I find your little rant rather amusing, in that it completely ignored what I actually said.

Kadayi wrote:Finally should we let the past dictate the future? Is the yesterday (that exists only now in our memories) really that relevant to what happens tomorrow? Would you be prisoner in a broken marriage, simply because the first few years were good? How long do you give something before you eventually move on? One year? Two Years? Five years? If this were the first time IW were in financial straits I'd be like you all for giving it a second chance. However this isn't the first time, and mismanagement and unrealistic expectations over D+ ultimately lead to job losses, which is never ever a good thing.

Again, you seem to have missed my point. You came in here and said that Chris should really go work for a big studio. I agree that he probably could do so, if he wanted. However, he has shown in the past that he really doesn't want to. Of course, he could up and get a job with EA tomorrow, and if it makes him happy, great. When I refer to the past, I am simply referring to the kinds of decisions that Chris has made before.

As to the rest of IV, the core members do not seem ready to move on. They are perfectly willing to keep at it. Why should I question them? They are doing what makes them happy. It is not my place, or yours, to tell them to dissolve the company and move on. If they determine that doing so is the best possible course of action, then I am sure that they will. Until then, they are going to do what they can to make IV work.

Kadayi wrote:Also I put it to you that despite your many protestations to the contrary, that you do care about IW. You wouldn't of amassed either the post count or the badges you've acquired on this forum if you weren't heavily invested in the enterprise (you're their number 1 fan let's be honest here). However I'd put it to you that your caring is more to do with your own personal time investment in IW now (this forum is clearly a regular part of your life) rather than actual concern for their individual well being.

You mistake IV, the games company, with the community of people that have developed around their games. I consider many people on these forums to be friends. I am sure that I will continue to stay in touch with them even if IV, in its current form, ceases to exist. As much as I like the games that IV has made, it is the community here that keeps me posting.

That is not to say that I am not a fan of IV---I certainly am. But if Subversion never happens, or Chris goes to work for a large studio, it has little impact upon my life. The community will almost certainly still be here, and the old games will probably still be sold. As long as these things remain intact, I don't really care what happens to the abstract entity "Introversion Software."

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Postby Kadayi » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:07 pm

xander wrote:To leave the realm of video games, consider Stanley Kubrik or Orson Welles. They are both famous for their creativity in the realm of film, and for their control over that creativity. Yet both of them had producers that they had to work with, and make concessions to. They both had large crews of people to work with, many of whom ultimately made their own creative decisions. When you go to work for a larger studio, you lose some control. Period.


The role of a director is to direct (others). I'm fairly sure that if either Stanley or Orson were alive to day and you asked them about their work they'd be pretty happy with what they produced. Given both were famous for their perfectionism I'm kind of surprised you cite them as examples of compromise. Interacting with others is not compromise, it's called real life.

I find your little rant rather amusing, in that it completely ignored what I actually said.


Ignored what exactly? You just admitted that you hadn't expressed yourself correctly.

You came in here and said that Chris should really go work for a big studio. I agree that he probably could do so, if he wanted. However, he has shown in the past that he really doesn't want to. Of course, he could up and get a job with EA tomorrow, and if it makes him happy, great. When I refer to the past, I am simply referring to the kinds of decisions that Chris has made before.


Actually I came in here saying that they should wind IV up as an enterprise and move on to a new chapter. From a business perspective IV has pretty much failed. Chris probably has a career in game design beyond IV but I don't think that is true for the rest, and that they should let him go rather than hold him back with pipe dreams of a phoenix from the flames style recovery. After all he's the creative/coding force to the company no? Does he really need the others to be successful?
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Postby Feud » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:52 pm

Kadayi wrote:Actually I came in here saying that they should wind IV up as an enterprise and move on to a new chapter. From a business perspective IV has pretty much failed. Chris probably has a career in game design beyond IV but I don't think that is true for the rest, and that they should let him go rather than hold him back with pipe dreams of a phoenix from the flames style recovery. After all he's the creative/coding force to the company no? Does he really need the others to be successful?


I take it you've never owned a small buisness. Very, very few small buisness do not operate on "feast or famine" economics. Sure, there are mean times, but usually it's an issue of reaping as much as possible because you know there will be a famine coming. I've blasted IV before as they've been pretty reckless in the past during their feast portions, and that could be a whole conversation unto itself. But in small buisness it's expected that hard times will come, and those hard times aren't necessarily an indicator that the buisness itself is fundamentally flawed. The measure of a small buisness' success isn't whether these times come, but rather whether the company can survive till the next harvest.

Moving on:

Chris does the coding, which is the backbone of their product. Does that mean he knows how to market the product? Does that mean he knows how to iron out distribution agreements? Does that mean he knows how to handle international revenue streams and the subsequent tax obligations? Does that mean he knows how to handle legal obligations and claims associated with their licensing agreement? Even if he does know all of those things, would he even have time while still producing the product he wants to produce? Businesses are like an organism, every part playing its role. Brain, heart, lungs, etc, each working to make the company functional.

Further, asking whether he needs others to be successful while advocating that Chris join a larger company in order to be successful is a rather silly line of reasoning.

If Chris' goal is to make mountains of cash, than IV probably will never do that and he should probably look elsewhere. But if his goals are to create the games that he wants to make and to make them in a manner that are consistent with his vision of how game design should function, than it is extremely unlikely that he will ever have a better chance of achieving those goals than by being at the head of a company.
Last edited by Feud on Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby xander » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:25 pm

Kadayi wrote:The role of a director is to direct (others). I'm fairly sure that if either Stanley or Orson were alive to day and you asked them about their work they'd be pretty happy with what they produced. Given both were famous for their perfectionism I'm kind of surprised you cite them as examples of compromise. Interacting with others is not compromise, it's called real life.

The perfectionism of Kubrik and Welles is exactly why I chose them. They are two of the more powerful directors to have existed in the studio system, yet each of them was ultimately required to compromise in order to bring their vision to the screen. For example, take the Kubrik film Spartacus. It is one of Kubrik's earlier films, and isn't even really "his" film at the end of the day. He did not have as much control over it as he had over other films, in part because, while he had proven himself as a good filmmaker, it was one of his earliest studio films. Yes, he paid his dues, and became successful within the system, but he had to give up creative control in order to get there.

Even later in his career, he had to make compromises. Look at Eyes Wide Shut, for instance. The version released in the US had many Austin-Powers-like obstructions hiding genitals during the orgy scenes because the American distributors wanted an R rating, rather than NC-17 (or worse). If Kubrik were not worried about appeasing these distributors and producers, he could have released the film unedited.

On the other hand, because he worked with a major studio, he got certain benefits. A dependable budget to work with, and guaranteed distribution in the US. Had he gone the true indy route, he could have made the film exactly as he wanted it, then struggled to get it released in art house theaters. His choice was between compromise and stability, or independence and risk.

Those that work at IV, Chris in particular, have the same choice to make. The difference is that Chris is not Stanley Kubrik, and is unlikely to be able to leave IV and have such a powerful position. He might be able to go to some place like Valve and get control over his own little studio, but that does not seem to be par for the course in the games industry. It is much more likely that he would be employed as a coder, under the direction of someone else. In short, it is likely that he would have to give up a great deal of creative control for the stability of a "real" job.


Kadayi wrote:Actually I came in here saying that they should wind IV up as an enterprise and move on to a new chapter...

...by closing up shop, and getting more traditional jobs in the industry. Why not start a new chapter without disbanding the company? It seems that this is exactly what IV is attempting to do right now...

Kadayi wrote:From a business perspective IV has pretty much failed.

But they have not actually failed. They have scaled back quite a bit, but they have not declared bankruptcy. They are still making enough money to fund them through to the end of the next project. You have declared them a failure, but it looks to me like the board of IV considered folding, but decided that they had not failed, and that they had a way of continuing on. Why shouldn't they do so if they have the energy and will to do so?

Kadayi wrote:Chris probably has a career in game design beyond IV but I don't think that is true for the rest, and that they should let him go rather than hold him back with pipe dreams of a phoenix from the flames style recovery. After all he's the creative/coding force to the company no? Does he really need the others to be successful?

Ah. So Chris is the only competent person at IV, and everyone else is holding him back. Of course, Chris is too stupid to see this, so he continues to let his friends exploit him. Or, maybe, Chris enjoys working with his friends, and likes the working relationship he has with them. Or maybe Chris is not actually propping up the whole business single-handedly. Maybe it was Tom and Mark that managed to convince Valve to rerelease Defcon in order to raise money to keep IV afloat, and Chris just went along for the ride. I don't think any of us here have enough knowledge of the inner workings of IV to comment about what the board of directors should or should not be doing.

As I said earlier, these men are not beholden to us. They should continue to do what makes them happy, and what they think will bring them the kind of success they want. If this means that IV folds and Chris goes to work for Valve, great. But it is not our place to tell him that this would be his best course of action.

Finally, Feud makes an excellent point about the nature of small businesses. The drama of IV's feast and famine cycle is very public here on the forums (which I think is unique among the small businesses that I am aware of), but is in no way special in the world of small businesses.

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Postby Kadayi » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:21 pm

Feud

Actually I've been around the block in businesses (small. medium & large) enough to know how they and the world operates and more importantly how successful ones operate. You never put all your eggs in one basket financially, never borrow against future (assumed) profits, and you ship new product on a regular basis to maintain your cash flow.

To say that going from 10 people with an office to 4 working out of their bedrooms is somehow a sign of successful management because they are still in business is pretty preposterous, let alone that those doing the 'managing' are still the right men for the job. Their record is hardly stellar at this point in time is it? Simply coming clean and saying 'we fucked up (again)' is hardly recompense for the people they laid off really at the end of the day is it? Still much like Xander with his inability to acknowledge that life is about compromise and that game design isn't some sacred art, I'd say you are probably beyond listening to reason by now. Let's see how things play out over the next year or two.

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Postby ynbniar » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:56 pm

Successful businesses downsize all the time often because they've fucked up, sometimes it's the fault of others. Why are IV not allowed to soldier on with the intention of rebuilding?

Perhaps my local butcher should shut up shop and go and work for Tesco...he'll sell a lot more meat after all and do a lot more butchering. Now I hope he doesn't despite the fact his meat is more expensive because his meat's better quality, I know where it comes from, and if I ask he'll do his best to get me what I want even if it isn't his normal stock. If he goes and works for Tesco I'll be sad, my meat will be bland, and the world will be a less interesting place.
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Postby xander » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:04 pm

Kadayi wrote:Still much like Xander with his inability to acknowledge that life is about compromise and that game design isn't some sacred art, I'd say you are probably beyond listening to reason by now. Let's see how things play out over the next year or two.

That is a nice strawman that you are attacking there.

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Postby Iris » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:17 am

I guess some guys here seem to make it a point to change the tone of a purely inspirational topic into a spat contest. Boys...

Back to topic, so glad to hear that IV is still true to form that they can outlast their problems and stick it out till the end. Here's wishing you more power in the years to come! ^_^
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Postby AaronLee » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:57 am

Yes sorry :oops:

I tried to be logical and detached, but that is sort of relative on the internet. Though I may have fanned the fire.

Regardless; the world turns, Subversion lives, as does Introversion's core. God speed! Now back to lurking, or some other topic of interest. Likely the latter as it's less creepy.
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Postby elexis » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:02 am

less creepy yes, but lurking is by far more expected
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Postby Lukasek79 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Maybe it's really inapropriate but reading this i also begin to doubt if IV is right platform for Chris to deliver great games he's capable of creating.
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Postby elexis » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:16 pm

Maybe, maybe not. But he did create IV and there are very few developers out there that are willing to allow one person unlimited resources to make games, regardless of talent.
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