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Freelancing on Freelancer... and elsewhere
March 24th 2003, 21:33 CET by crash

While idly paging through the user manual for Freelancer, I came across the credits page. Looks like MS took the title of the game really seriously.

To wit: At the bottom of the page is a footnote-style legend for a series of colored dots next to names. Green is ArtSource, yellow is "Murder of Crows" (no idea), blue is VMC Consulting, and red is Volt Services Group. Checking past MS games, those dots have been there, but primarily in the QA section. Not too unusual; having a pack of temporary and experienced (one hopes) QA hit-men isn't a bad idea at all.

But for Freelancer, one of the engine coders is from Volt. So's a game programming guy. And a designer. Four more designers are from VMC. All but one of the in-game cinematics team came from VMC. The entire audio staff was courtesy of Volt. The entire test team but one, Volt. Looking at this page, and the amount of talent scattered across departments, and where they came from... it's like, damn, it's not too far of a stretch to imagine a day where an idea man with enough money can simply walk into Volt or VMC and hire an entire temporary game design team.

With the vetting process and checks and tests (and insurance and the like) that temporary services provide, in a lot of ways it may be actually better to not staff a team yourself. Sure, it'll be more expensive, but you won't have to worry about an HR department at all--let the temp services handle that. Hire what you need when you need it, knowing you're getting full value for your money, not having to worry about all the overhead...

Makes a lot of sense.

Why, then, does it give me the willies?
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#35 by Squeaky
2003-03-25 02:58:12
I have never played any of the Metal Gear games. Nor do I have any desire to...

"It is better to be considered a house cat and sit on the lap of pretty girls then to be feared as a tiger and hunted by men." --T. Takamatsu
DVDs
#36 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 02:59:26
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Fag.
#37 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 03:05:01
erictcheng@hotmail.com
If by "Metal Gear Solid sucks!" you mean, "I have no taste in games!", I agree.


I have no taste in games that are like Metal Gear Solid, which relies heavily on cinematics, a hokey story and annoying unbelievable characters with stupid codenames. That and all those Resident Evil clones.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#38 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 03:09:33
Charles
I would love to see a port/update of MGS1.  That game is awesome, and with a graphical update it would be even better.  Would be nice if they added the game play that was new in MGS2 to MGS1.

I don't think the difference from MGS1 to MGS2 would be a big deal.  What I would like to see it a total remake of the original MG in the MGS way.  I imagine a lot of people are like myself and cut their teeth on MGS and would love to play are remake of the first two 2D games.
#39 by bago
2003-03-25 03:16:50
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Contract was up last Friday. Been snowboarding and canoodling in the meantime, while starting some freelance work for a friends company.

The seeming unanimity among poets makes them look suspiciously like a herd of independent minds.
#40 by LPMiller
2003-03-25 03:32:24
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
Hall and Oates, Live by reques on A&E right now. This pleases me.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#41 by Your Friend
2003-03-25 03:48:59
Metal Gear Solid (and MGS2 even more so) is the action equivalent of Final Fantasy 7+.  Too much movie-wanna-beism, not enough game.

2000/XP is better than Win9x in every way.
#42 by Charles
2003-03-25 04:24:18
www.bluh.org
If you want to keep your story and your game completely separate, you might as well exit stage left.

I, and I'm guessing a lot of other people, like the cinematic aspect of the MGS games.  The gameplay is tops too.

Of course, this is only a minor technicality, as even when "properly elected" into office, a politician has as much chance of not having gotten there via corrupt means as Dubya has of spelling racecar backwards.  --UncleJeet
#43 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 04:35:03
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
I agree with Charles.

It's comments like these last few that really boggle my mind.  So what DO gamers want?  More story?  More action?  It seems anytime you give them one, they ask for the other.
#44 by JMCDaveL
2003-03-25 04:39:15
I thought MGS was quite fun, MGS2 was pretty boring to me, Raiden sucked and none of the characters were very interesting. It also felt like a much shorter game but it probably wasn't, too many damned cinemas. The Big Shell was just a boring locale.

--jmc
#45 by JMCDaveL
2003-03-25 04:41:28
Of course now I'm playing Xenosaga which is pretty much a string of cinemas with game parts sporadically intermixed, but thats fine since I knew what I was getting into after Xenogears. Too bad the voice acting is horrible with no way to turn captioning off (at least then I wouldn't know entire paragraphs of plot before the actors slowly sputter out the lines).

I AM A BOOZER BANZAI BANZAI

--jmc
#46 by Your Friend
2003-03-25 04:41:57
Here comes Your Friend's obvious answer:

Different gamers want different things.  We don't have a singular mind.  

Me? I prefer to get my stories from books and movies, which IMO do a much better job of narrative storytelling.  For games, I don't mind some story, but if the story smothers the game (which occurs in the newer FF games, and MGS, IMO) then forget it.  Game first, story second if you wanna hang wit' Your Friend.

The sales of FF7+ and MGS2 prove that not every gamer shares my views.

2000/XP is better than Win9x in every way.
#47 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 04:53:00
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
I guess I'll have to get a GameCube soon.  That'll give me 4 consoles in front of my monster TV (already have Dreamcast, PS2 and XBox).  *bliss*

I'm still trying to finish Grandia 2 ... then I'll be diving into .hack, followed by Xenosaga ... after that, I'm told that Dark Cloud 2 should be my next stop.

An RPG surplus ... wish this would happen more often!
#48 by Chunkstyle
2003-03-25 04:59:07
.hack is fun.  It reminds me alot of Phantasy Star Online, but the other players are more intelligent.

We are the goon squad and we're coming to town.  Beep beep.
#49 by UncleJeet
2003-03-25 05:13:05
I own every console - but, by far, the GC gets most of my time.  The Xbox gets second place, with the ps2 coming in a far third....I think I piddle around on the DC more than the ps2.  Anyway, as to story vs. gameplay - bleh.

Story IS gameplay - in a good game.  In Deus Ex, in other words.

I do like cinematics.  I love cinematics.  However, this love is only bestowed when the cinematics are actually, er, cinematic in some way.  I felt MGS2 was just way too over the top and hokey with characters and a story I didn't care much about.  However, the direction of the cinematic sequences was well done.

Take Freelancer, to stay on topic, as an example.  The gameplay and story are totally separated - but the cinematics are nice to watch (for the most part.)  Decent camera work, some nice effects here and there, and even facial expressions - which more games *really* need to do.

Opening and closing mouths are the new bobbing heads.  I don't like that.

Eat me.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#50 by Charles
2003-03-25 05:14:14
www.bluh.org
I don't know, to me, MGS surpassed pretty much any Action/drama movie I've ever seen, with a few minor exceptions (which I can deal with, since I don't tend to nitpick a good movie over a few bad parts).  Plus I like anime, which helps.  I think MGS2 went a little crazy with story, but I still liked the game overall.  The gameplay is the best stealth gameplay ever.  The awesome voice acting and presentation is just icing on the cake.  

Also, giant robots and beam weapons never hurt.

Of course, this is only a minor technicality, as even when "properly elected" into office, a politician has as much chance of not having gotten there via corrupt means as Dubya has of spelling racecar backwards.  --UncleJeet
#51 by UncleJeet
2003-03-25 05:16:20
*Please note.  I beat Charles to the obligatory Deus Ex reference.  That is all.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#52 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 06:06:25
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Life sucks.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#53 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 06:47:26
Speaking of games and story, a sequel to Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance (you know, the console version) was announced.  Coming in winter 2003, which must mean Christmas since that's the only winter left in 2003 (Oz does not count).  Hopefully they will include an ending in this one and continue the story through each act.  At least the gameplay was good.
#54 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 06:50:33
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Bitter, bitter, jaded, jaded.
#55 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 06:53:17
No I'm not.
#56 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 07:19:10
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Alcohol helps life suck less.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#57 by Charles
2003-03-25 07:23:20
www.bluh.org
Holy shit xenosaga rocked my world.

Of course, this is only a minor technicality, as even when "properly elected" into office, a politician has as much chance of not having gotten there via corrupt means as Dubya has of spelling racecar backwards.  --UncleJeet
#58 by JMCDaveL
2003-03-25 07:52:09
It can't rock your world anymore than Infogrames!

--jmc
#59 by Xero
2003-03-25 12:58:19
http://novakometa.blogspot.com/
Funk talked me into giving GalCiv another look, its actuallly pretty sweet.

Every time a computer geek actually freaking pays for something, an angel gets its wings.
#60 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 19:54:00
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Funk talked me into giving GalCiv another look, its actuallly pretty sweet.


The new one that isn't out yet?
#61 by chris
2003-03-25 20:10:21
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
#43 Warren Marshall
It's comments like these last few that really boggle my mind.  So what DO gamers want?  More story?  More action?  It seems anytime you give them one, they ask for the other.

"More Actionable Story"

I don't want more Serious Sam mindless bullshit, and I don't want more sitting in a chair watching my video game characters mope about their relationships while waiting to play the next 30 seconds of game. I want a story that unfolds around me, that I can affect or at least feel like I'm a part of.

I will continue to say this until I turn blue: TURN OFF THE FUCKING CUTSCENES. It's not that hard. Yes, it "breaks" immersion that you can run away from a scientist in Half-Life and he keeps right on talking to the wall. It doesn't matter. The game still *feels* 100x more interactive than many games that are actually MORE interactive, but don't provide realtime scripted sequences.

-chris
#62 by Funkdrunk
2003-03-25 20:10:44
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
#60 Shadarr
Funk talked me into giving GalCiv another look, its actuallly pretty sweet.


The new one that isn't out yet?



Yes, well it's out today or thursday IIRC.

He meant that he immediately skipped over articles about the game, and I told him to take another look at them.

Xero is notorious for not exactly explaining what he means, and leaving doors wide open for misinterpetation.  I keep telling him that speed isn't as important as clarity, but whatever.

Funk.

When the great lord passes, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts ~Ethiopian Proverb
#63 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 20:20:32
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
It was the "another look" that threw me.  I mean, he could conceivably have had a warez version, but I doubt he could've had one long enough to put it away and take it out again, with any meaningful amount of time in between.

I've been reading some of the GalCiv links off Penny Arcade, and it looks pretty cool.  I'm going to hold off till I hear whether it's actually fun or not, but a lot of the features they've put in make a lot of sense.  Like last night, I was playing Space Empires and I ended up having to use spies to infiltrate some planets just so I could find out where the enemy was still hiding.  I'd all but won but it took me another 15 turns or so to actually track down and wipe out every pocket of resistance.  And while I was doing it, I was thinking about the GalCiv article specifically detailing how I wouldn't have to do that.
#64 by Xero
2003-03-25 20:41:33
http://novakometa.blogspot.com/
#63 Shadarr
It was the "another look" that threw me.  I mean, he could conceivably have had a warez version, but I doubt he could've had one long enough to put it away and take it out again, with any meaningful amount of time in between.

Nah I don't warez games only books and music.


#62 Funkdrunk
Xero is notorious for not exactly explaining what he means, and leaving doors wide open for misinterpetation. I keep telling him that speed isn't as important as clarity, but whatever.

The sad thing is that's so true, my internal governor sucks.

"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow."  Chinese proverb
#65 by Neale
2003-03-25 21:16:08
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
chris:

I will continue to say this until I turn blue: TURN OFF THE FUCKING CUTSCENES.


I agree, with one exception. I believe a cutscene is acceptable at the start of a game (i.e. before the player gets control) and at the end (after the player has done everything they need to do). Ok, two exceptions.

I'm undecided about whether or not it's ok to have a (small) cutscene between levels as a kind of knuckle-cracking, getting-ready-for-the-next-bit breather. We're not using them in Eradicators though - just the start and finish, and all in-engine.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#66 by Your Friend
2003-03-25 21:36:11
Actually IMO the very beginning of the game is the worst possible place to have a cutscene.  Throw the player in the game, let him/her play an intro level and THEN do a cutscene if you must.  Don't make me sit there for 20 minutes before I ever do anything ingame.

2000/XP is better than Win9x in every way.
#67 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 21:39:36
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
As long as we're ranting, any game requiring me to read the manual can fuck off.  The game should train me as I play the first level, or include a tutorial level if you must, but NEVER require me to read the manual.

The common argument against that line of thinking is, 'What about RPGs?'.  Hey, console RPGs have been doing it for years ... I've never cracked open the manual for a Square RPG that I can remember.  They take things slow, people in the game teach you things, etc.  That's good design.

Commandos 2 is the perfect example of what NOT to do.
#68 by Creole Ned
2003-03-25 21:45:05
YF, I felt that way when I tried the Freelancer demo. Seemed to take forever just to get to the freaking ship and actually start playing.

"I don't bemoan the great paste" - LPMiller
#69 by Your Friend
2003-03-25 21:47:21
Today is happy Zelda day.

2000/XP is better than Win9x in every way.
#70 by Ergo
2003-03-25 21:48:44
#69 Your Friend
Today is happy Zelda day.

Mine is in the mail and should arrive tomorrow.

Of course, I'll stop playing it after two days.

"Folks, you can't walk into a bar holding a porcupine, set it on fire and expect to make liquorice!" --Dana Carvey as Ross Perot

DVDs
#71 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 21:54:12
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Warren,

I generally like a manual that is a reference book.  Teach me the basics with tutorials and so forth, but if I want to know how to do something or what a certain command is for, I should be able to find it in the manual quickly and easily.  It really pisses me off to look through the index for a command or dialog that I don't understand and not find an entry for it.
#72 by Neale
2003-03-25 21:55:46
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Manuals should be a nice extra. Sure, put the necessary game details in there for those people that do read the manual before playing, but at least make it interesting - have character bios, weapon specs, that kind of thing.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#73 by Trolly McTroll
2003-03-25 21:56:48
I've been playing Zelda for weeks.  It's ok.

"..and Trolly McTroll is the best name EVER. I laugh every time I see it."  - Wudi
#74 by Hugin
2003-03-25 22:01:41
lmccain@nber.org
I agree.  A good game should teach you how to play it.  Preferably with a well made progression of features in prelude or introductory levels.  (Heavily scripted tutorials go so horribly wrong too often. "Now click on the door." *click on the door* "Okay, I need you to click on the door." *click on the door multiple times*  Try to go back a step.  Can't.  Weeps.
#75 by Your Friend
2003-03-25 22:04:37

scripted tutorials go so horribly wrong too often.


Yeah I hate those.   If you need to have a scripted tutorial be sure it is skippable.  Usually they teach you nothing that someone who has played the genre before can't figure out.  So you sit there, three steps ahead of what the guy is telling you to do, except you can't move on because that would break the carefully orchestrated cinematic feel to everything.

2000/XP is better than Win9x in every way.
#76 by Neale
2003-03-25 22:04:56
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Tutorial levels need to be optional. Really.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#77 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 22:08:15
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I like the idea of skipable tutorials.  I get really tired of the first five or ten levels of an RTS campaign being an extended tutorial.  If I don't have any fucking tanks by mission three, your game is in serious jeopardy of being uninstalled.
#78 by Hugin
2003-03-25 22:11:39
lmccain@nber.org
Ah, I disagree with you there Shadarr.  I draw a distinction between a tutorial and a progressive introduction to the gameplay.  Though I'm fine with "prelude" or "introductory" missions being skippable.
#79 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 22:12:21
I like game manuals.  The first thing I do with a new game is read the manual.  Conversly tutorials be annoying.  I played GTA3 3times, I don't need to know that I have to press triangle to get in a car anymore.  Bleh.  You people are wacky.
#80 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 22:16:40
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Cheesy,

That's why the tutorial should be skipable.  I've played enough games that the only time I need to read a manual is a really deep strategy game.  If I can't figure out how to play an RTS without a manual (or even a tutorial), there's something wrong with the interface.
#81 by Dethstryk
2003-03-25 22:18:46
jemartin@tcainternet.com
#66 Your Friend
Actually IMO the very beginning of the game is the worst possible place to have a cutscene.  Throw the player in the game, let him/her play an intro level and THEN do a cutscene if you must.  Don't make me sit there for 20 minutes before I ever do anything ingame.

MGS2. Ugh.

I tried to start playing throught the game again the other night, but I can't bring myself to do it. The incredibly stupid parts of the story turn me way off this time around.

"And I'm saying without a relationship with God and those strong convictions HE put in me I wouldn't be a 42 year old who hasn't had sex with anyone today."
#82 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 22:19:28
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Metal Gear Solid still sucks!

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#83 by Trolly McTroll
2003-03-25 22:24:14
I save game manuals for my yearly camping trip.  I use them to WIPE MY ASS when I run out of toilet paper.  So far Epic makes the best butt wiping manuals.

"..and Trolly McTroll is the best name EVER. I laugh every time I see it."  - Wudi
#84 by chris
2003-03-25 22:30:23
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
#77 Shadarr
I like the idea of skipable tutorials.  I get really tired of the first five or ten levels of an RTS campaign being an extended tutorial.  If I don't have any fucking tanks by mission three, your game is in serious jeopardy of being uninstalled.

Heh, see, for me... those are the five or ten missions I actually beat legitimately. Then the cheat-codes come out so I can just steamroll through the tedious "hour and a half of building and then you lose the mission and have to start over" gameplay to see the story unfold

-chris
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