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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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Home » Topic: Freelancing on Freelancer... and elsewhere

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#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
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#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
#85 by LPMiller
2003-03-25 22:38:17
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
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 here I thought you'd just steal TP from Roche Diagnostics Corporation. What do you do there, anyway?

I believe I can fly......urk.
#86 by Trolly McTroll
2003-03-25 22:40:07
Troll of course.

"..and Trolly McTroll is the best name EVER. I laugh every time I see it."  - Wudi
#87 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 22:40:42
I think he trolls.  Duh.
#88 by CheesyPoof
2003-03-25 22:41:02
D'oh!
#89 by Warren Marshall
2003-03-25 22:41:04
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Does he troll?
#90 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 22:41:14
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Chris,

I generally only play until I hit the really hard missions, or the ones that force you to keep all five of your woefully outgunned infantry alive, then I quit the campaign and play skirmish for a while.

Recently I haven't been playing RTS's that much, because I'm just bored with the genre.  I find I prefer games that take a week or more to play, or else resource management games that don't focus on fighting.  RTS's all look the same to me now, and I just can't get excited about another RA clone.

I'm curious about Freelancer.  It might be fun, but it might also make me motion sick.
#91 by Dethstryk
2003-03-25 22:42:09
jemartin@tcainternet.com
#84 chris
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

I wish that didn't describe every RTS game to come out in the past years. Ugh.

"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."
#92 by chris
2003-03-25 22:46:31
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
Well, to be fair, the only RTS games I have ever played are the Warcraft II, Starcraft, and Warcraft III. The genre as a whole is totally uninteresting to me, from a gameplay perspective. I just like Blizzard's stories, characters, and cinematics.

-chris
#93 by Dethstryk
2003-03-25 22:58:07
jemartin@tcainternet.com
You don't have to play many RTS games to know how every single one of them work. The only differences are the stories, and the only good RTS stories have been put out by Blizzard.

"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."
#94 by UncleJeet
2003-03-25 23:03:53
#61 - chris:

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


#92 - chris:

"The genre as a whole is totally uninteresting to me, from a gameplay perspective. I just like Blizzard's stories, characters, and cinematics."


  Until you turn blue, eh?  So....what's your Smurf name gonna be?

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#95 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 23:09:15
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Until you turn blue, eh?  So....what's your Smurf name gonna be?


Mine's Cranky Smurf.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
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#96 by chris
2003-03-25 23:10:38
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
#94 UncleJeet
Until you turn blue, eh?  So....what's your Smurf name gonna be?


1. I was clearly talking about two different genres.
2. Blizzard's games are loaded with in-game, non-game-stopping scripted sequences. The cinematics, by contrast, are few, far-between, and only show up when a massive shift in gameplay is occurring (switching races).

Warcraft III also has its in-engine "bookend" cinematics at the beginning and end of some maps. These are tolerable, but I'd prefer to have seen them handled in some other way.

-chris
#97 by Squeaky
2003-03-25 23:11:39
...The cinematics, by contrast, are few, far-between, and only show up when a massive shift in gameplay is occurring (switching races).

Not to mention jaw droppingly gorgeous.

"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
#98 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-03-25 23:11:59
erictcheng@hotmail.com
These are tolerable, but I'd prefer to have seen them handled in some other way.


Hand puppets.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
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#99 by chris
2003-03-25 23:17:11
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
#97 Squeaky

Not to mention jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Yeh, that's another point. I'll concede this: if a team's cinematics group can put together cutscenes like Blizzard's, then by all means... use cutscenes.

However, to the best of my knowledge, the only American team that can approach Blizzard is... Blizzard.

-chris
#100 by Shadarr
2003-03-25 23:19:08
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
The original Red Alert FMV cutscenes were pretty cool.  Since then they've gotten dumb though.
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