Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 04, 2016, 04:27:54 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day  (Read 23410 times)

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Here's an interesting article about something that happened this past weekend. It seems like a simple and pretty good concept: Organize and film a game jam to give folks a view into the ups and downs of indie game development. If you don't know what a game jam is, it could perhaps be summed up as an event in which game developers gather (often in one physical location, but not necessarily) and design and create a game in a short period of time (usually between 24-48 hours (a weekend) to 7 days (a full week)), often based on a theme or idea. They're mostly a non-competitive, fun, coding challenge almost like DonationCoder's own NANY, except done over a week(end). It's a great outlet for creativity and experimentation, and the short time limit liberates you from worrying about it being an utter failure or total crap. And many game jam games have been further developed into full fledged indie titles that are relatively popular.

Personally I found the first several paragraphs of the article hard to follow, as if the author was trying too hard to wax poetic and write prose rather than trying to describe what happened. But once he starts describing the events that took place, it becomes an interesting read about how one person when given too much power, can ruin things for all involved.

That natal idea, and one of the themes central to all 11 developers agreeing to travel to Los Angeles for the shoot, was the production and filming of a game jam for a televised audience (or at least a YouTube audience) with the intent to document the ups and downs of actually developing a game – hopefully sharing that experience with a viewership likely ranging into the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. More importantly, it would be an opportunity for the group to share the closely-knit spirit of togetherness unique to indie development, presented through the lens of popular YouTube personalities with massive, mostly younger built-in viewerships. A slam dunk, you might say, created in earnest to shine a kind of light into the often misrepresented world of creating… or at least, that's what everyone thought.

At some point GAME_JAM outgrew itself, attracting the attention of major sponsors as well as a couple of our "high creative" production executives from the adjacent office down the street, and over the next four or five months the show began phasing into something less documentary and more docu-tainment. A sort of competition, held between four teams of "Jammers" (the developers), and "Gamers" (the YouTubers), as they battled it out to see who could come up with the best game combining both development and entertainment skillsets. Plus to see who could win a healthy array of branded prizes, generously procured by said sponsors and totally un-vetted by anyone who actually understands game development. At some point which remains unclear, the show wholly dipped into a scripted reality slant and became less about making a game and more about creating drama for sake of the audience, less than one day out of the four blocked off for shooting available to sit down and jam. The rest of the program, as it turned out, was filled with arts and crafts, physical challenges, and competitive gaming – once again, totally unrelated to game development. But that wasn't communicated to anyone, and through Polaris' local contacts the developers were signed up and flown out to Culver City, where they awaited their first hurdle in Maker's legal department.

It's a pretty good story about how standing up to and being united in the face of what essentially equates to bullying can really change the outcome. That is to say, from my perspective, I think that a lot of the developers here have a bitter taste in their mouth from the experience, and yes it's true that the game jam was cancelled, but it could have been a lot worse if it had continued on the path it was going down. The event may have been a failure, but I see this as a general success in doing the right thing in the face of adversity.

Read the article here: http://indiestatik.c...-expensive-game-jam/

And it's also worth reading about the experience as described by three of the developers who attended:

Robin: http://soundselfgame.com/?p=302
Adriel: http://msminotaur.com/blog/?p=187
Zoe: http://www.beesgo.biz/reality.html (She was contractually obligated not to write about the specifics, so it's a little less directly related)


mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,406
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Very interesting read  :Thmbsup:

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Another article on the topic, this time giving general advice about legal contracts:

I am not a lawyer. Never claimed to be, never wanted to be either. I am a game developer that has assisted independent developers with hundreds of contracts and negotiations, and I try to advise developers that are less versed in legalese.

Like everything in the indie scene, some people know more about certain subjects than others and we try and share and broadcast that knowledge as much as we can. A lot of the more business-savvy developers help out with reading contracts. I just happened to know everybody involved in this story, so they came to me. As you read more legalese, and deal with more companies of varying sizes, you start to recognize certain patterns, phrases and tones in contracts.

In the restaurant, five minutes of my life are spent in disbelief: the contract is awful.

He summed it up thusly:

signherelol.pngHow The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day


TaoPhoenix

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2011
  • **
  • Posts: 4,550
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
That's a pity, because I don't know how it could have been stopped once the Big Media train started rolling out of the station.

My best layman's intro to game jams is Ludum Dare. Sure, a lot of the resulting games aren't my thing, but I (vaguely!) recall a couple here and there were worth a fun afternoon of silly true-indie gaming fun. (And I keep trying to invent concepts for jam-games! The Throw-Spiders-Out is my best one, but my satirical runner up is "how hard can you make it for the user to install their program?" based on that other thread, via several times before.)

This is where my memory begins to get fuzzy so don't quote me, but I think I recall a few quote snippets out of Ludum Dare interviews that would have nailed the original spirit. They went roughly "So we had this idea and this idea and this idea and it was an awesome concept. But then of our team, the Graphics guy got stuck making the renderer behave, the Gameplay guy got his part to work and we didn't like actually playing it, and the admin girl almost ripped her hair out trying to hold the micro chores together." A little honest yet soft film editing and that could have worked. (Plus, a few "victory" scenes of another team who just hit the sweet spot and started cruising.)

I notice they say this thing tanked on *day one*. Ten hours isn't a lot of time for anyone to realize something is out of control. This isn't a five week project. So maybe someone even smelled the rat, but more rats appear in the two hours it takes you to kill the first one...


Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
I notice they say this thing tanked on *day one*. Ten hours isn't a lot of time for anyone to realize something is out of control. This isn't a five week project. So maybe someone even smelled the rat, but more rats appear in the two hours it takes you to kill the first one...

I don't think it takes much time at all to recognize when someone is as obviously wrong as this Matti fellow was. And when you only have four days for a project from start to finish, ten hours is actually a fairly significant chunk of that time.

And on the topic of game jam documentaries done right, this one looks to be good:

http://supergamejam.com/



40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
I just finished reading through all the links. To my eyes this fiasco seemed to bring out some of the worst in almost everyone involved. And while I find myself more in support of the game devs than the show management, there seemed to be a good deal of 'speechifying' and posturing going down on all sides.

Reminds me very much of some of the shriller campus political battles that went on when I was in college. Once those situations went sour people usually stopped trying to make things work and started trying to "prove a point" or "send a strong message" instead. It seldom improved things once dialog was abandoned in the interests of "punishing" somebody.

Sad state of affairs.

So it goes.

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
To my eyes this fiasco seemed to bring out some of the worst in almost everyone involved.

Why is that? I felt that for the most part, the developers were pretty good about placing the blame almost entirely on the one person whose actions were pretty reprehensible, and (for the most part) specifically say that everyone else was pretty great and they would be willing to work with them again in the future.

It seemed pretty reasonable and levelheaded to me. But maybe you caught something that I missed. I'd love to hear your perspective explained in further detail.


40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
To me, it seemed the devs had won their battle - and had the show people groveling - but then consciously decided to let the whole thing go down in flames to hammer home their point. That seemed excessive to me. But I wasn't there, so it's easy to say, and possibly misses something major that pushed them to make that decision.  The accounts seem to be somewhat reluctant to get too specific, so the reactions seemed to be a tad extreme (to me) based on what the blogs were willing to say.

I'm not sure what the participants expected. But knowing how reality TV programming operates, and some of the terms in the contract offered, I find it a little hard to believe these devs (who are not stupid by any stretch) were that completely blindsided by how this thing was supposed to work. If they called it off after reading that first contract, I'd say it was understandable. But the second revised contract wasn't much better, and the presence of a "misrepresentation" clause and gag order agreement should have been more than enough warning to roll up their mats and go home.

But that's probably my take having seen and been through enough nonsense like this that I can sense something about to go off the rails from a mile away. Maybe, if I were still their age, it wouldn't seem so obvious to me.
 :tellme:

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Thanks for expounding. I appreciate it. And for what it's worth, I think you've got a valid viewpoint. It's hard to know exactly what happened and how to appropriately judge the situation.


wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,405
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
They've had a few of these before on Humble Bundle (specifically remember the Mojang one) and they seemed to come out well.

Stoic Joker

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,294
    • View Profile
    • www.StoicJoker.com
    • Donate to Member
To me, it seemed the devs had won their battle - and had the show people groveling - but then consciously decided to let the whole thing go down in flames to hammer home their point. That seemed excessive to me.

So a group of people prone to and known for taking pride in their work, decide not to allow it and themselves to become a reality TV circus mockery. I'd say they didn't go far enough. But then again I get furious every time I see yet another pablemic swill of nonsense being foisted on the public in the name of reality TV. I dare say that this idiotic trend of frenzied emotional masturbation has damaged the human race by stilting its emotional development to the point that it will send ripples through generations for the next 300 years.

I think that if the production company responsible had gone bankrupt overnight it would be a fair measure and effective warning to other Reality TV types. That there really are some things in life that just do not need to be liberally seasoned with over the top bullshit drama. So stop treating the population like a bunch of high school level affirmation whores that need constant reassurance - usually by the belittlement of others - to feel O.K..

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
To me, it seemed the devs had won their battle - and had the show people groveling - but then consciously decided to let the whole thing go down in flames to hammer home their point. That seemed excessive to me.

So a group of people prone to and known for taking pride in their work, decide not to allow it and themselves to become a reality TV circus mockery. I'd say they didn't go far enough. But then again I get furious every time I see yet another pablemic swill of nonsense being foisted on the public in the name of reality TV. I dare say that this idiotic trend of frenzied emotional masturbation has damaged the human race by stilting its emotional development to the point that it will send ripples through generations for the next 300 years.

I think that if the production company responsible had gone bankrupt overnight it would be a fair measure and effective warning to other Reality TV types. That there really are some things in life that just do not need to be liberally seasoned with over the top bullshit drama. So stop treating the population like a bunch of high school level affirmation whores that need constant reassurance - usually by the belittlement of others - to feel O.K..

I'll agree. But only up to a point.

"In for a penny, in for a pound" as the saying goes. :-\

If you're gonna get into bed with this branch of the "entertainment" industry (and I use the term loosely) thinking that things are going to be different for you because you're: (a) smarter, (b) cooler, (c) nicer, or (d) 'well-respected' in your field - then you're either unbelievably full of yourself - or a lot more naive than I'd have credited anyone being if they ever watched television...

Reality TV is a blight which deserves to die an ignoble death. Hopefully before somebody really does get killed on one of these shows. (Add I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before somebody will.) But until that happens (and maybe not even then) these shows are here to stay. Because the sad truth is that the human appetite for mean kicks is still very much in evidence anywhere you look in our present society. We have our 'shock' comics who's act consists of wall to wall insults, cheap shots, and pointless snark. You have shows like An Idiot Abroad that revel in putting someone into situations ripe with opportunities for physical injury and personal humiliation. You have other shows that consist of nothing more than putting emotionally unstable and incompatible people into close proximity with each other - and then introducing a small irritant to get the ball rolling. Whoever came up with that "concept" probably spent half his childhood standing over anthills with a magnifying glass.

As one TV producer I know explained to me, the industry itself is "content neutral." It's all about eyeballs and 'likes' these days. As he put it (close as I remember), "We don't care what gets broadcast as long as people want and actually do watch it. My industry makes no judgements. Sure, we all prefer to televise good shows. But we'd be just as willing to televise a wall with paint drying on it if it will net us 100,000 regular viewers each week."

So yeah...TV producers probably do deserve whatever they get. >:D

But...

From what I'm reading, the devs also came in with an agenda. They certainly didn't need the money or the prizes. Or the fame since they're rather well known in their industry from what I can tell. They met the idiot in charge. They saw the bullshit contract. Some of them even agreed to non-disparagement clauses and ridiculous "sponsorship" rules.

Why?

To bring the mechanics of game development to a wider audience? There's better venues and shows to do that with. (And FWIW, no matter which art form you pursue, the vast majority of your adoring fans don't care at all how you do your voodoo. They just want your finished product. They applaud and pay you for the two-hour shows you put on. Not the years it took to learn how to play - or the hundreds of hours of practice and rehearsal that led up to it.)

Is it the old "I wanna be a rock star too!" syndrome? Heaven help 'em if they're being lured by that siren....

Seriously...why were they doing this garbage at all?

I don't object to them walking. I would have done the same. Although I wouldn't have needed a 'hot button' issue, like they seemed to need, to justify bailing out. The unbelievable level of discourtesy shown them from minute one would have been more than sufficient for me.*

So to sit back there blogging away like they they're all just sooo surprised and offended about what happened? I dunno...sounds more like some spin and damage control to my ears. They shouldn't have gotten involved at all and now they're trying to distance themselves as much as possible from it.

Maybe I have a lot more respect for these devs than they had for themselves when they let themselves get sucked into this deal.
 ;)


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*  I guess the whole "issue justification" bit is more a generational thing. Especially now that we're no longer allowed to feel angry about anything - only offended by it.



« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 02:26:07 PM by 40hz »

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 7,713
    • View Profile
    • The Blog of Deozaan
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
If you're gonna get into bed with this branch of the "entertainment" industry (and I use the term loosely) thinking that things are going to be different for you because you're: (a) smarter, (b) cooler, (c) nicer, or (d) 'well-respected' in your field - then you're either unbelievably full of yourself - or a lot more naive than I'd have credited anyone being if they ever watched television...

[...]

Seriously...why were they doing this garbage at all?

Maybe you're forgetting this part?

That natal idea, and one of the themes central to all 11 developers agreeing to travel to Los Angeles for the shoot, was the production and filming of a game jam for a televised audience (or at least a YouTube audience) with the intent to document the ups and downs of actually developing a game – hopefully sharing that experience with a viewership likely ranging into the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. More importantly, it would be an opportunity for the group to share the closely-knit spirit of togetherness unique to indie development, presented through the lens of popular YouTube personalities with massive, mostly younger built-in viewerships. A slam dunk, you might say, created in earnest to shine a kind of light into the often misrepresented world of creating… or at least, that's what everyone thought.

That is, it was originally proposed to the developers as a documentary. That's what they agreed to show up for. It wasn't until they actually arrived (or were already pretty invested in it or already agreed to do it) that it changed into the reality TV abomination that it was. Sure, at that point they still could have walked away before signing anything, but most of these people are still relatively young, inexperienced people who were probably somewhat confused and unsure what to do at that point. Just trying to figure out what to make of it all, and if it could be salvaged. And perhaps some of them felt obligated or pressured into it after making a verbal agreement, even though technically at that point they weren't contractually/legally obligated to go through with it.

Just some thought for food. Or something. (c:


superboyac

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,070
  • Is your software in my list?
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
 :o
Damn 40, you just blew my mind....again!

Well, I just scrapped half my cartoon ideas (they weren't good anyway).  But now I have better ideas.

Stoic Joker

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,294
    • View Profile
    • www.StoicJoker.com
    • Donate to Member
That natal idea, and one of the themes central to all 11 developers agreeing to travel to Los Angeles for the shoot, was the production and filming of a game jam for a televised audience (or at least a YouTube audience) with the intent to document the ups and downs of actually developing a game – hopefully sharing that experience with a viewership likely ranging into the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. More importantly, it would be an opportunity for the group to share the closely-knit spirit of togetherness unique to indie development, presented through the lens of popular YouTube personalities with massive, mostly younger built-in viewerships. A slam dunk, you might say, created in earnest to shine a kind of light into the often misrepresented world of creating… or at least, that's what everyone thought.

That is, it was originally proposed to the developers as a documentary. That's what they agreed to show up for. It wasn't until they actually arrived (or were already pretty invested in it or already agreed to do it) that it changed into the reality TV abomination that it was. Sure, at that point they still could have walked away before signing anything, but most of these people are still relatively young, inexperienced people who were probably somewhat confused and unsure what to do at that point. Just trying to figure out what to make of it all, and if it could be salvaged. And perhaps some of them felt obligated or pressured into it after making a verbal agreement, even though technically at that point they weren't contractually/legally obligated to go through with it.

 :Thmbsup: As a life lesson, I think this is called the 'Yes it can actually happen to me' factor. Which in fairness probably does fall under 40's use of the word naïve ... but that doesn't quite entirely convey the whole consumed by the machine reality of what happens in the real world's reality. I'm thinking old school carnival midway level pressure here...nobody get's to leave unless they're flat broke.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Sure, at that point they still could have walked away before signing anything, but most of these people are still relatively young, inexperienced people who were probably somewhat confused and unsure what to do at that point. Just trying to figure out what to make of it all, and if it could be salvaged. And perhaps some of them felt obligated or pressured into it after making a verbal agreement, even though technically at that point they weren't contractually/legally obligated to go through with it.

As a life lesson, I think this is called the 'Yes it can actually happen to me' factor. Which in fairness probably does fall under 40's use of the word naïve ... but that doesn't quite entirely convey the whole consumed by the machine reality of what happens in the real world's reality.


I'm sure that's likely a good part of how it played out. And I'm probably being unfairly harsh on them because of it. :-[

Oh well...what's done is done. All that matters now is what happens going forward. Onward! :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 05:49:44 PM by 40hz »

crabby3

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2012
  • **
  • Posts: 1,002
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
As one TV producer I know explained to me, the industry itself is "content neutral." It's all about eyeballs and 'likes' these days.

Phew... what a relief.  I figured TV producers actually thought their stuff was good entertainment.


As he put it (close as I remember), "We don't care what gets broadcast as long as people want and actually do watch it.

How do they know what people want or watch?


My industry makes no judgements. Sure, we all prefer to televise good shows. But we'd be just as willing to televise a wall with paint drying on it if it will net us 100,000 regular viewers each week."

This would be a good show but only if they use wrinkle paint.   :P

rxantos

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 116
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
So basically they tried to screw up developers that where doing things for fun, and then wondered why they didn't participate?

I wouldn't want to play any game made by an idiot that signed that contract. Neither would I want to meet the idiot that made the contract.