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A Game's Budget Determines it's Purchase?
Editorial by 
Editor
October 07, 2009, 11:39:26
 
I've actually been thinking about this for a bit, and replying to Zero in the Apathy thread made me think of something in particular... why is it that nowadays a game's budget is even a gamer's concern?

I've only seen this trend as of late last gen, but games made on a lesser budget (usually apparent in its style or graphics and such) seem to immediately get passed on... a lot. It's as though games with a lower budget, no matter what they include or how much replay they have or how tight the gameplay is, get overlooked in a heartbeat.

What really disheartens me, is when gamers themselves reply with "low budget = no buy" or write off games that don't have this "epic" look to them or hollywood-esque flair and looks like it obviously costs billions to make.

Now obviously sales are all relative and that varies depending on a myriad of factors. But what I'm talking about in general, is among the gamers on boards and such, and even in reviews. One that always disturbed me and kinda' angered me, is Disgaea 3. I sorta' already knew that if it didn't use the PS3's power in some way, it would get admonished by reviewers at large. And while it certainly didn't get horrific ratings, many attacked it for its "dated" graphics. I find myself at this half-way point with that one: I get "why" they docked it considering what the PS3 is capable of, but... does that really matter? Obviously NIS - as much run as they are starting to get, isn't a ginormous studio and probably doesn't have that big of a budget.

The ListenUp guys have discussed the bloated gaming budgets on a couple of occasions, and they made a point I honestly agree with completely: companies like Atlus (they were talking about the next Persona on PSP I think?) and NIS and such know what their audience wants, and know where to improve and not to improve, and how to make a game look great and play great within that budget. Meanwhile, many of these studios are closing or being bought out because they funnel so much money into these projects to the point that it is utterly ridiculous.

So my general question is... when did game budget become this important? Why do we, as gamers, care? Am I looking at this the wrong way?

All Thoughts Welcome. (^__^ )


EDIT yeah, as you can se I'm posting a lot right now, partially because I'm trying to get in the habit of doing so before my new job starts! (^__^ )

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Posted: 10/07/09, 11:39:26    
 
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Well, let's both throw out what we think it takes to work with 2D compared to 3D...

Doesn't really matter what I think, the guy was quite unequivocal. I'm gonna relay his exact words because it looks like there's a miscommunication here: I would think the word of someone who knows these things, who sees these budgets, would be sufficient to convince anyone.

The guy hinted they pitched the game as an HD game with 2D art "like everyone dreams about" but that was just too costly, so they have to go with 3D art.

An editor asked him: "Without necessarily getting into figures, how much more would it cost to make the game with a 2D art style?"

And he answered: "Well there are many variables, of course, but assuming we made the exact same game, with the same animation and the same levels, etc., but in a 2D hand drawn style, it would cost much, much more.

Listen to the podcast yourself if you need to. If that doesn't "convince you", well, I don't know what to say. It's not the first time I read making a game with 2D art is more expensive than taking the "2.5D" route, but it's by far the clearest, least ambiguous way I've ever heard anyone say it.


Posted by 
 on: 10/20/09, 16:26:21
"Yikes. Calm down fellas! "

Just trying to have a friendly discussion. Some don't like to play that game ;]

I'm not discrediting 2D, and some of you are apparently taking offense to what I'm saying. When I say "convince me" I'm not trying to be a jackass, I'm trying to say that I'm open to the idea of changing my tune if you can help me understand your point of view, but replies like Simba's don't exactly scream out to colour him as open-minded. I'm sorry I don't understand "common knowledge."

DynaRooki: I'll agree that it does depend. Obviously if you're comparing an HD, hand-drawn/animated 2D game (which, correct me if I'm wrong, ARE rare, not only these days, but always) to a low-def 3D side-scrolling game, I will agree that the 2D game is more difficult to pull off.

Which leads me into the example you gave, Pandareus. 2.5D was not what I was referring to when I was explaining 2D vs. 3D. I'm talking a full-blown 3D game, not a 3D sidescroller.

When you're talking about a game like Rocket Knight...and you look at the scope and that they're going to be putting it on XBLA/PSN for 10 to 15 dollars...yeah, hand drawing everything isn't the greatest idea compared to the "2.5D" route. You'd be nuts as a publisher to accept a proposed low-budget, bargain title to be hand-drawn.

This is Rocket Knight. This isn't...Mario Galaxy, Halo, Uncharted.



If you were to pick the highest-quality, hand-drawn, hand-animated, HD 2D game you can think of, and the highest-quality 3D game you can think of (I suggest Uncharted 2), and you still tell me that 2D games are more expensive and difficult to make than 3D, then we're just gonna have to agree to disagree.

And to throw in some industry thoughts, I'm sitting here at work next to our company's artist (a pretty good one); I just asked what he thought, and he agrees with me. Whatever that means to you, I don't know.


Posted by 
 on: 10/20/09, 18:07:41
If you were to pick the highest-quality, hand-drawn, hand-animated, HD 2D game you can think of, and the highest-quality 3D game you can think of (I suggest Uncharted 2), and you still tell me that 2D games are more expensive and difficult to make than 3D, then we're just gonna have to agree to disagree.

That was never the argument as far as I'm concerned. I thought it was quite clear I was arguing that games with 2D art, all other things being equal, aren't less expensive to make than games with 3D art, and here we have confirmation that not only 2D art is NOT taking the cheap route, it's actually insanely expensive.

As for the "Compare Uncharted 2 to the highest quality 2D game you can think of", it's a pretty moot point for too many reasons to list them all, one of the major ones having already been pointed out: you just don't get 2D games with blockbuster budgets today. They don't exist. Doesn't mean 2D games are cheap to make, in fact it points to the opposite: it's prohibitively expensive.

At any rate, such a discussion is pointless and would lead nowhere. Too many variables. Most people don't understand compare games like Twilight Princess and Resident Evil 4 and claim TP should look at least as good as RE4 without understanding at all what was compromised in RE4 to make it look the way it does. I don't expect anyone can debate productively while comparing the production values of WarioLand and Uncharted.

Not that anyone here ever argued WarioLand had a bigger budget than Uncharted. Looks like you just misunderstood what we were talking about.


Posted by 
 on: 10/20/09, 18:24:06
Fair enough Pandareus. Maybe I did misunderstand.

Simba: you mean, taking Uncharted 2 and making it a 2D side-scrolling platformer-shooter? If so, how would that be so insanely expensive that it's unthinkable?

Obviously it would be a different game, because it is simply impossible to recreate in 2D what you can make in 3D. There would never be the same result if you remade Uncharted 2 into a 2D game, and not because it's expensive...


Posted by 
 on: 10/20/09, 18:46:52
I can't help but think you're referring to films and Uncharted cutscenes...are we talking about two different things here?

Of course I agree that hand-drawing the movie The Incredibles is more expensive and time consuming. That's no contest. But I'm not at all talking about film...

How do you transfer that comparison to a game like Uncharted?

Think of it like Mirror's Edge. There was this little 2D flash game online that mirrored the gameplay of the main game, but in 2D. Is that the type of thing you're talking about? Because that's what I'm talking about. Transfering a natively 3D game to 2D will obviously change its gameplay, as it did for the Mirror's Edge game.

So, that said, making a 2D platformer version of Uncharted 2, like the Mirror's Edge 2D game (but better, and hand-drawn)...you still say that's expensive and impossible?

Pandareus's example comparison makes more sense to me. Comparing a "2.5D" Rocket Knight game to a hand-drawn one, that's when hand-drawn is more expensive and difficult. But making a 2D version of Uncharted 2 a la Mirror's Edge 2D...that's not more expensive or difficult.


Posted by 
 on: 10/20/09, 19:55:50
Flash cartoons is the bottom of the barrel.

Hey, I'm insulted! That is completely dependent on who's animating it and how. There's some AMAZING things that can be done with Flash!

<----- * animates/designs primarily in Flash *

I get your general point overall though.


Posted by 
 on: 10/23/09, 06:16:14
I wasn't comparing Mirror's Edge 2D to Mirror's Edge in terms of scale...I was comparing them in terms of gameplay differences. How the 3D gameplay from Mirror's Edge was made 2D. How the same would be applied to Uncharted. I was making sure we're talking about the same type of transition, which if we are, I say making Uncharted 2D while keeping the same amount of levels, enemies and things to go (assuming you can replicate some of the stuff into 2D), would not cost as much.

And...maybe Street Fighter IV is 3D because they wanted a dynamic camera that can rotate around the character? 3D is more exciting to watch, cinematically speaking, so it's not like going 3D is a bad thing. We did see a 2D Street Fighter HD as a downloadable...why would they choose HD 2D for a low-priced XBLA title, and go 3D for a big-budget title like Street Fighter IV?

Is it because it was cheaper, or because they simply wanted to because of the advantages of going 3D (apart from "it is less expensive")?

Who knows?


Posted by 
 on: 10/23/09, 18:21:35
Again, you're trying to compare the uncomparable. Street Fight II HD didn't cost much to make because first, it was made by fans, second, because it's a remake, third, they kept the number of frames of animation as the original (have 2D artists draw animation on par with SF4's animation and look at the costs skyrocket)... and I'm sure there's a fourth or fifth point I'm not even aware of.

But seriously, let it go. This discussion can't go anywhere. All we have here is the fact that all other factors being equal, using 3D is cheaper than using traditional 2D animation when making a sidescrolling game. That's what I was talking about when I made my first post, and it was in response to people who dispute this fact.


Posted by 
 on: 10/23/09, 19:51:41
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