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Opinion Why do we need so many devs? Valheim Was Made By 5 People And Sold Nearly 7 Million Copies

Optimus Lime

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You should listen to him

He got a character to move in UE4 using pre-made assets

He knows what he's talking about
Are you sure? He's assured me that the truths that he has spoken in his original post are so real, uncompromising, and backed up by personal experience that it's actually ME who is simply too dumb to comprehend them with my tiny lizard pea brain.

I hope you're not suggesting that he's some moron bullshitting on the internet, that would break my heart.
 
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Omeggos

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ItsTheNew

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Great! Then, perhaps you can explain why you never said anything about Valheim in your original post beyond the title, and you can tell us where you're getting your assertions regarding 'mouthbreathers' in gamedev from. Which studios have you worked for? Genuinely interested to know.
I think it's pretty self explanatory.
You should listen to him

He got a character to move in UE4 using pre-made assets

He knows what he's talking about
It illustrates that the barrier to entry to create games has lowered, and hit games with small teams LIKE Valheim show that not all big publisher games need that many devs.
I don't remember saying all games need to be survival streamer bait nonsense with 5 people on the team, careful with the kneejerk.
11 epic employees took the core and assets of a game made by 90+ devs over the course of multiple years and made a new mode out of it in 7 weeks, you mean
Thank you for illustrating my point - small team took premade tools, assests and flipped a flop of a multiplayer game into something huge.
 
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Thank you for illustrating my point - small team took premade tools, assests and flipped a flop of a multiplayer game into something huge.

So EA, Sony, Microsoft and other AAA publishers should go buy pre-made assets and make games that way? Is that your argument?

Even i can only handle so much derp in one day my friend
 
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CamHostage

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He sounds like the clients I have who expect a single engineer to make Amazon and Netflix in a day

Which actually does happen sometimes (kind of), where lightning strikes one person to create an instant miracle ... but then, that person needs a shitload of team engineers and producers/PMs and accountants and lawyers and all those people to actually make that spark stay ablaze as a long-burning fire. Ideas come easy, but execution and stability and expansion, that's endless work.

The first couple 'hackdays' you go through at a new job, (where brand new creations get built in one irregular sprint, sometimes with genius and bewildering results,) you wonder why departments aren't always just doing hackdays every single day instead of the regular shit that takes weeks and months and tons of people to produce. But then you realize that most of those ideas had been brewing for a while, and also that it took the 10,000 hours of practice to come up with the masterpiece. And also you work with a hacked-out project, and it looks great on the surface, maybe it's super functional for what it's supposed to do, but expanding on it or having somebody else learn how to use/maintain it in a handoff, that's not so easy because there's not much documentation and nobody else collaborated on it and it wasn't built to scale.

Inside a big company, you feel like the whole thing moves in such slow motion that you sometimes can't tell if it's going anywhere.

In a tiny company, you're having to get out and push so hard against every little obstacle in your path that you wonder every time if you'll be able to ever get moving again and if you will find the energy to actually get where you're going*.

Success is never easy or guaranteed. There's no one formula for success. Gotta just keep moving towards it with whatever method works best for that project.

(*And BTW, this thread keeps listing a lot of the little-big success stories and saying, "See? They did it, why can't everybody?", but for the vast, vast, vast majority of tiny companies, they unfortunately will fail to get there or will find no rewards when they arrive.)
 
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Rhazer Fusion

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One of the problems is, gamers are MUCH more demanding now and basically demand perfection from games now. They want perfect voice acting, writing, pacing, compelling stories, 100 plus hours of length, huge vast open worlds that are endless, amazing graphics, epic soundtracks, tons of updates, character development, exceptional gameplay and controls, etc.

As technology and gaming gets more complicated and advanced, the staff will probably continue to grow as time goes on. Sure, small teams can still create great games with smaller budgets, but people seem to equate length, size and even huge budgets with quality and companies want to pursue that direction to appeal to the gamers who want that which is a large portion.
 
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Hawks Eclipse

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Which actually does happen sometimes (kind of), where lightning strikes one person to create an instant miracle ... but then, that person needs a shitload of team engineers and producers/PMs and accountants and lawyers and all those people to actually make that spark stay ablaze as a long-burning fire. Ideas come easy, but execution and stability and expansion, that's endless work.
Great comment, the bolded in particular describes Fortnite BR to a T.
 
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Kumomeme

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it is not because the game is low budget. it is not because low budget+AAA. it will be wrong to said all those big budget blockbuster AAA game is not having same result too.

the things is we not often get stuff like Valhem pretty often. Angry Bird, Flappy Bird, Plant vs Zombie is some of other example. this kind of game, the idea is what we might refer as something once in a life time stroke. or golden stroke whatever phrase suitable. those who get the moment end up very fortunate.
 

ACESHIGH

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No he isn’t making a good point at all. Neither are you. Have you seen the budget of a lot of these old games? It’s funny watching people bash expensive games made today, and praise older games that cost millions and had large staffs for the time.

most resources in game development go to making new assets. You can have all the money in the world, but money isn’t going to pre-viz and visual development by itself. It’s not going to create 3D models, rig them, and animate them frame by frame by a deadline. Programming, sound, network testing, just to name a few. A large project requires people.

A lot of indie games are made by essentially outsourcing a lot of that asset creation by using recycled code and modifying pre-made content you buy off a store. That’s fine, nothing wrong with that, but most publisher franchises have higher standards.
There is a expectation when you play a game like ghosts of Tsushima for example, the assets were hand crafted for that game. Not downloaded off the unity store, ran through blender and call it a day.

OP comes off as childish and misinformed. He sounds like the clients I have who expect a single engineer to make Amazon and Netflix in a day


At the end of the day we are only customers. We just care about the end product. The only thing we can do is to decide if we want to spend our money in a game or not. Why there's this gatekeeping mentality on game forums where we have to understand and tolerate devs and publishers and we have to insights about game development to have an opinion?

AAA games take a long time to be put together and for the most part are uninspired as ever. Your average AAA release takes an extra 3 to 6 months to be patched up after release, even more on PC at times. Huge, bloated, unoptimized, bugged games. There has to be an alternative. A more sustainable business model where AAA publishers don't always have to shoot for the stars. The risks are huge and that leads to bland and derivative games.
 
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Sander Cohen

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It certainly makes a mockery of big names like, for example, Square Enix who needed 10 years, 100s of devs and millions of dollars to finally put out their flagship franchise and barely reach that number. Basically, with this, you’re looking at Nintendo who uses bare minimum of resources, human and financial to release their games with absolute maximum effect in terms of sales. Animal Crossing looks like 10 people made it on ancient hardware, yet it sold 30M copies. While with Sony, you feel like they are using the most expensive route in terms of technology and assets to achieve something that works financially for them…and sometimes they fail.

For example, look at monstrosity that is RDR2 development team, it’s like a small city. It shows in the game, yes, but it’s kind of chilling.

And what IntentionalPun IntentionalPun said, you’ll have 100s of same sized devs who released their game that month but went completely unnoticed. You won’t read stories about them in the papers, that’s for sure. Just like in any other business or life generally, for every success story there is 100 of them that are not but they will never get mentioned anywhere.
 

tsumake

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People like high production values in their games. The generation of those assets probably demand a large workforce. If that’s what they want…

I believe Ninja Theory commented that there is no longer room for AA development anymore, which is what posters here may be alluding to. That is also why NT made Hellblade - to try to buck that trend.

Game developers wanted to be like Hollywood. I’d say mission accomplished.
 

IntentionalPun

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Valheim had also fuck all updates for a long time.
Honestly this is one of the issues with these small devs.. the game was in development for ages, had an alpha in 2018.. not released until 2021.. and the trajectory of updates is going to be just as slow unless they ramp up their team, which takes time, and doesn't always guarantee success.

It's really fucking cool how many opportunities gaming has provided these small passion projects though.
 
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Spukc

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Honestly this is one of the issues with these small devs.. the game was in development for ages, had an alpha in 2018.. not released until 2021.. and the trajectory of updates is going to be just as slow unless they ramp up their team, which takes time, and doesn't always guarantee success.

It's really fucking cool how many opportunities gaming has provided these small passion projects though.
Word i enjoyed valheim way more then assass. Valhalla

that and

loop hero
 
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Yselacrey00

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People demand experiences like Uncharted, RE Village, Final Fantasy and GTA. Do you think those games will ship within a reasonable timeframe with only a handful of people working on it? Or do you want every game to be indie like? Workforce increased for a reason, not because they're all dumb fucks who can't write code.
RE Village? Seriously? A game that looks exactly like RE VII and last about 10! Hours?

That's a really bad example to make your point.
 

skit_data

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There is only one answer to this

-Sales and profit aren’t everything, a loyal customer base that appreciates commitment to high quality and risk taking is priceless
 

ShadowLag

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Back in the early days of 3D gaming, developers would have to create everything from scratch including all of their game development tools and the 3D engine. For example, the Half-Life 2 team consisted of 82 people and that included a brand new game engine and breakthrough physics technology.

Nowadays, your run of the mill triple A game has a staff of 300 plus people and they take years and years to come out with their iterative sequel. If most game developers can just use unreal engine, what's the real need for all those game developers complaining, unionizing, and shitting on their consumer base?
Honestly we could probably avoid $70 games by publishers taking a good hard look at their workforce and getting rid of the mouthbreathers who can barely write lines of code, bankrupting the company.

From what I can gather: at some point, the mainstream gaming landscape was consumed by the obsession of "being like hollywood". In addition, the industry and its profits grew exponentially in a very short amount of time, thus attracting way more corporate money leeches like Bobby K whose sole purpose in life is to hire 1000 employees to rush out yearly products, earn record profit, them dump 800 of those employees that started earning too much and repeat the cycle... which also lead to the rise of "I just work on this game because it's a job, I don't actually give a shit about games". Many, many corporate game dev jobs are now filled by people who only want a pay check and bounce around with no real passion. And even if some of them do have passion, they're not allowed to make a difference due to shitty "maximum profit, minimum effort" corporate policies and massive ego driven high school dev team dramas.

I think slightly more than indie, somewhere around or below AA is the real hotness. A team of 20-30 passionate people making a Zelda style game in UE4/5 or Unity that isn't trying to target cutting edge graphics is more than doable, and probably really damn fun. Not every rock needs a unique 8K normal map, not every character needs 8,000 skin shaders and the most realistic subsurface scattering applied to their ear lobes, and not every enemy needs 17 different idle animation cycles with perfect IK and Dolby Atmos spatial audio applied to their footsteps that change based on the type of shoes they're wearing... and not every character needs to be voiced and mocapped by Troy Baker doing 11.5 hours of cutscenes.

People who deeply understand and love games and know how to prioritize the right things can accomplish anything, and can crank out tons of content in the areas that matter.
 
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Swoopsail

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I don't know, but having a giant dev team without a publisher certainly hasn't worked for Star Citizen; that is unless you think it is still going to get released in 5+ years. Some companies know how to work super well with a massive dev team and support (ie - Rockstar) and other companies don't seem to benefit at all. I guess it depends on your corporate structure, leadership, and organization. I have zero expertise in gaming development though; I just play the damn things :D

Edit: Just want to emphasize that I consider Rockstar successful with a large team via results. I guess I've heard rumor they have had a lot of social problems behind the scenes, but I personally have never looked into it on my own.
 
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Yeah... Why have so many people working hard to play stuff like this:



If this is way more popular:


seth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers
Or to take the same example from a more sensible perspective.... Mozart's symphonies are products of.... well... Mozart's singular genius. Bieber's song had an additional 4 songwriters credited after Bieber himself, to come up with that modern day AAA musical piece of shit.
 

jigglet

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Cause games like this aren't sustainable. If you have a business that is in the business of pumping out smash hits non-stop, you can't do it with only 7 guys per team.

If these guys can produce another Valheim level hit every 3-5 years for the next 20 years I'll eat my words but I doubt it.
 

Men_in_Boxes

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Or to take the same example from a more sensible perspective.... Mozart's symphonies are products of.... well... Mozart's singular genius. Bieber's song had an additional 4 songwriters credited after Bieber himself, to come up with that modern day AAA musical piece of shit.

Preach.
 

Bernd Lauert

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We need so many devs because generally speaking, visuals sell games, and visuals need a lot of manpower to be produced.

Are visuals absolutely necessary to sell games? We have dozens of examples on PC and Nintendo that say no. But PS and Xbox fans are different I guess.
 

luffie

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I somewhat agree with op, but op's framing might be bad.

While i agree that gaming does not necessarily need a 300-500 man team, the problem with those large teams are mostly bureaucracy, things needing another department/executives for approval. Bureaucracy aren't necessarily bad and is pretty much required on big teams, although i believe a lot of it can be trimmed.

But game up to a certain scope just cannot be done by a 5-20 man team. Without a decent sized team, we will never get games like Divinity 2 or Witcher 3, even if the teams are very focused.

A lot of assets are not as reusable as you think, it still tend to get modified when ported to another game. I think the main issue with amling big games are "focus" rather than the size of the team.
 
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DeaDPooL_jlp

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This is such a bad analogy, on the same level of "I made a sandwich this morning all by myself, why do we need Jimmy John's?".
 

Krizalidx11

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Minecraft was made and run by 2 guys initially then they hired 2 more people until MS bought it for 1 billion $
 

megreotsugua

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There's room for indie games and blockbuster games. If all the industry would go indie production then gamers will decrease in population as not everyone is into indie type of games.

Just compare the spider-man games when they used to be AA production by Activision and when the game was handled by Sony and given it a AAA production value. The game's value increased by several notches and the commercial reception was through the roof. The sales probably increased by 10X.
 

Klayzer

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There's room for indie games and blockbuster games. If all the industry would go indie production then gamers will decrease in population as not everyone is into indie type of games.

Just compare the spider-man games when they used to be AA production by Activision and when the game was handled by Sony and given it a AAA production value. The game's value increased by several notches and the commercial reception was through the roof. The sales probably increased by 10X.
The most sensible post in this overly dramatic topic.
 

VN1X

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Back in the early days of 3D gaming, developers would have to create everything from scratch including all of their game development tools and the 3D engine. For example, the Half-Life 2 team consisted of 82 people and that included a brand new game engine and breakthrough physics technology.

Nowadays, your run of the mill triple A game has a staff of 300 plus people and they take years and years to come out with their iterative sequel. If most game developers can just use unreal engine, what's the real need for all those game developers complaining, unionizing, and shitting on their consumer base?
Honestly we could probably avoid $70 games by publishers taking a good hard look at their workforce and getting rid of the mouthbreathers who can barely write lines of code, bankrupting the company.
 

LazyParrot

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If most game developers can just use unreal engine, what's the real need for all those game developers complaining, unionizing, and shitting on their consumer base?
Honestly we could probably avoid $70 games by publishers taking a good hard look at their workforce and getting rid of the mouthbreathers who can barely write lines of code, bankrupting the company.
Game development isn't just coding. You have absolutely no idea how much work and time asset creation in particular now takes compared to ~20 years ago. The days where all you needed to make a fully animated, game ready AAA-quality 3D character model were a copy of 3ds Max R3 and Photoshop are long gone.
 

Kamill

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Back in the early days of 3D gaming, developers would have to create everything from scratch including all of their game development tools and the 3D engine. For example, the Half-Life 2 team consisted of 82 people and that included a brand new game engine and breakthrough physics technology.

Nowadays, your run of the mill triple A game has a staff of 300 plus people and they take years and years to come out with their iterative sequel. If most game developers can just use unreal engine, what's the real need for all those game developers complaining, unionizing, and shitting on their consumer base?
Honestly we could probably avoid $70 games by publishers taking a good hard look at their workforce and getting rid of the mouthbreathers who can barely write lines of code, bankrupting the company.
I doubt that 5 devs can do something like gta 5 or tlou2
 

Razvedka

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This isn't the first time I've seen this opinion expressed. A noted game developer who's been around for years- I forget his name- remarked that current game development is absurd for this reason. After a certain point, more people just means more work. More developers, more managers, more directors, more money, more "committee" decision making.

Like the OP, he noted how back in the day they didn't even have access to basic stuff, like textures. So he walked around with a camera taking photos of stuff.

Man do you guys remember his name or the website this was on? I'm spacing it.
 
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CamHostage

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This isn't the first time I've seen this opinion expressed. A noted game developer who's been around for years- I forget his name- remarked that current game development is absurd for this reason. After a certain point, more people just means more work. More developers, more managers, more directors, more money, more "committee" decision making...

Man do you guys remember his name or the website this was on? I'm spacing it.

I don't have the link, but the quote you're referring to here, if I remember it correctly, I believe it comes from every bitter veteran game designer who ever left a company. Dotcom.

Joking, sort of, but it's an age-old story. It can be miserable being in a big machine, and it's liberating when skilled designers/craftsmen are able to redefine their work environment by starting from scratch with independence. But there's a reason why a lot of these little indies also often start working with publishers a bit into their business run (sometimes even the companies that the vets left,) and why it's rare for a small studio with some success to stay small. The grass is always greener on the other side...
 

StevieWhite

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Bottom line: Not everyone that makes a game is as technically skilled as other people that make games. Some people can do it with a smaller crew, some can't. Some projects will always need more; some projects can get away with less.

As a consumer, it's really not worth your time to think about it too much - the end product is what matters.
 
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synchronicity

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Creativity is often compromised/homogenized rather than enhanced with bigger developers.

Having said that, I'm happy that gaming is so popular that there is room for so much creative expression - from all genres and budgets.
 

oagboghi2

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At the end of the day we are only customers. We just care about the end product. The only thing we can do is to decide if we want to spend our money in a game or not. Why there's this gatekeeping mentality on game forums where we have to understand and tolerate devs and publishers and we have to insights about game development to have an opinion?

AAA games take a long time to be put together and for the most part are uninspired as ever. Your average AAA release takes an extra 3 to 6 months to be patched up after release, even more on PC at times. Huge, bloated, unoptimized, bugged games. There has to be an alternative. A more sustainable business model where AAA publishers don't always have to shoot for the stars. The risks are huge and that leads to bland and derivative games.
Because if you understand and have insight into the industry, you can understand what are you asking for.

There are plenty of majorr games that have the OP approach. Re-use assets with a skeleton crew. It’s called Madden, NBA2K, NHL2K, etc etc

if you want a AAA production game, you can’t do that approach.
 
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