Tag Archives: gaming

What is Machinima and why do I need to know about it?

If not for Machinima, you might be unaware that gamers are terrified of zombies and Return of the Jedi, when you really think about it, has a lot of plot holes.

At this point, most of you are probably wondering: What is Machinima?

An online programming company boasting a fanatical following among young males and a staggering 149 million unique users, last month Machinima’s videos were viewed 1.3 billion times (that’s billion, with a “b”). Across YouTube and other online destinations, Machinima claims a total of 101 million subscribers. To put those numbers in perspective, the CBS TV network has about 350,000 subscribers on YouTube and in six years has earned about 1.2 billion views for its online content (compared to 1.3 billion last month for Machinima).

Machinima (pronounced mah-SHIN-eh-mah) is one of a handful of players building massive media companies off Web programming.

**The upper case use of the word refers to the media company. The lower case refers to the genre, defined as the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation.**

How big is machinima, and Machinima? “As a genre, I’d say that 90 percent of gamers know what it is,” says Tom Akel, executive producer of MTV Geek.“As a company, maybe every college kid playing Madden and Tiger Woods golf doesn’t know them, but most millennial male gamers do.”

 

ViaMachinima! Adventures of a Digital Content Company

 

 

An example of machinima:

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A documentary on the next big thing in gaming – Independent developers of 2-3 people

Great things are continuing to come out of Kickstarter, especially their huge jump in funding and million dollar projects.

Here is another one: Indie Game: The Movie

A behind the scenes look at the tiny, passionate teams of imaginative programmers and level designers who spend years and thousands of dollars slaving away towards realizing lifelong dreams of sharing their creative vision.

The documentary follows two different game developers building games for the X-Box Live Arcade. One is called Super Meat Boy, the other is called Fez.

Now these aren’t the thousands strong teams that bring us games like Call of Duty or Fallout 3, these are young dudes who have a passion for gaming. Both teams consist of 2-3 people doing all the coding, designing, business end stuff, organizing, beta testing and distributing of their work.

The Super Meat Boy guys (Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes) are the upstarts, bright-eyed young men bound and determined to wow the world with their concept

The makers of Fez are more the rock stars (Phil Fish) who made a big splash at a gaming con when they announced the game. They won awards, garnered huge praise from the gaming press and then disappeared.

They also give us a brief history of indie gaming, underlining the huge boom thanks to X-Box Live Arcade, tablets and smart phones.

via Ain’t It Cool News

 

It’s a brilliant movie and well worth watching. It will be at SXSW 2012 and several screenings around the country. There is also an option for an HBO fiction series.

Twitter: @IndieGameMovie

Facebook: IndieGameTheMovie

How to get a job in gaming

Since I have a little background in gaming folks are always asking me, “How do I get in?”

Which is usually followed by, “Is it worth it?”

First of all, it is. Definitely.

It’s all that you think it is and more. The best part being that all your colleagues are huge fans so it’s like one big gaming fest.

The worst part is working long, and I mean long days. I’m talking about seven days a week for months, no days off. Hours are such that you sleep in the office.

Which is like saying you’re forcing a dolphin to swim. I’ve seen colleagues working 18 days in a row, sick with the flu, on no sleep, and gleeful with joy.

Of course, there are companies with content farms that expect code monkeys, but they don’t dominate the industry.

So if you love gaming, you really love it, then go for it.

Okay, here is the harsh reality: you will start at the bottom. Until you have shipped your first title then you’re out.

Remember, the gaming industry is larger than Hollywood and acts a lot like it. Each game is a project with its own producers, directors, writers, coders, artists, etc.

When forming a new project companies will only hire existing talent, i.e. folks with previous titles shipped (popular resume buzzword). After that they will promote from within. Like moving up assistants to leads and pulling from other departments to be replace those assistants.

Rarely do they bring in talent from other industries. This is because, like the movie business, one flop can ruin the whole company. To make a game it requires all up front capital investment, sometimes tens of millions of dollars. All in the hopes that after they’ve spent this money the game will actually sell (and sell well enough to recover costs). Sometimes if they are lucky the game will go nuclear and then they will actually see profits.

You can see why most companies are hesitant to hire even the most talented coder/writer/artist who has no gaming experience. There is very little room for error.

For this reason I think that, to get in, it’s not who you know but what you have done. If you can’t say you’ve shipped at least one title then you’re out, and reasonably so. Shipping a game is tougher than you think it is.

Most overcome this problem by becoming a bug tester. Which is possibly the most fun and cool low paying job you can find. Companies are always hiring for them, especially around releases. This easily gets you in the door, but you may have to move to where the jobs are and this technically doesn’t count as credit for shipping a title.

The good news is that most bug testers are there for fun and so talent is quickly promoted to lead/manager. From there its just a matter of biding your time, learning the ropes, networking with folks on the project, and proving yourself.

It’s a clear path into the industry but it usually turns most people off. I mean moving a to a new city to become a game tester getting paid slightly above minimum wage!

Sounds ridiculous but like the movie industry where actors are waiters, it does work. In my time I helped four people get promoted from the customer service department right into the game. Within weeks thousands of players were touching what they created.

One was an artist, two were coders, and another was a story writer. Each one was incredibly talented but with no previous game experience. So, they took a job getting paid nothing and bided their time. All the while relentlessly in honing their skills and portfolios. As openings came up they applied and eventually got selected for one.

It didn’t take them long (most under 2 years) but they did get over the problem of how to get in. So, if you love games and are willing to do whatever to get in then here is your roadmap.