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FreeFall 3050 AD - Notes
By Tony Takoushi

‘What’s the point of spending 2 years of your life cloning somebody else’s ideas, artwork and FX? ’

I looked around at ALL the current gaming platforms and asked myself when was the last time I played something that made me leave a machine with a h-u-g-e grin of pure pleasure on my face…

Do I want best in genre?
YES, I buy them and there is always a demand for best of genre.

BUT you don’t need to have 6 ‘best in genre’ (if you ever see that many, that good!).

I set up TAKS to do slick, commercially viable, world-class games on any platform.
This is something I have believed in passionately since I started playing video games in 1979.

State of the industry
I have seen a lot of changes since 1979.
In the mid-nineties producers /‘game enthusiasts’ decided which titles were commissioned.
Those titles were rarely well conceived or executed.

Now it has swung back the other way and marketing decides and leads with sequels and licences.

They’re not wrong, it’s a proven formula, BUT its one that loses its potency over time and stifles long-term growth of the industry as gaming stagnates and interest wanes.

Look at DC and PS2...I have bought EVERY game system from day one, for the last 21 years, until DC and now PS2...

Why the change after 21 years?

No killer discernible difference...I want new gameplaying experiences and you don’t get that from rehashing old titles with better technology.

Look at Japan and the installed base of PS2 and the fall away of software purchased on a new system...where are the new, slick, commercially viable, experiences we should be offering game players and the mass market?

They’re watching DVD movies but they appear not to be buying the games.

Better technology does not make better games…People make better games

All too often I have seen studios where projects only happen if some of the stronger characters in the studio teams like, or want, to do an idea, regardless of its merits or otherwise.

The mix cuts both ways, there can be poor management as well as poor staff.

One of the things that constantly amazes, is that projects are started with half baked ideas that are clearly not defined and an attitude of ‘we will wing it’, this can work but exceptionally so.

You need some form of skeleton to hang the concept and gameplay on, simply prototyping for 3, 6 or 9 months is not enough.
You need some form of design document and an experienced ‘some body’ who calls the bottom line on the design.

I was witness to such working in a studio and it was blindingly clear a particular project would not work and the head of studio was inadequately experienced to judge the projects viability.
It turns out the project ran for around a year and they probably had to write off around $350,000.

Where do designers come from?
There is no real training, a good gameplay ‘nose’ coupled with enthusiasm, vision and creativity are the best attributes.
Yet projects are lead by individuals who may have some or none of the above and studios spend millions developing games with nobody who actually/instinctively KNOWS what makes a good game and how to hit gameplay cords in production of titles.

Suicide wish
TAKS will only do original product.
‘original’ meaning games with cameras and mechanic not seen in any game on any format.

A crazy statement given that publishers are running scared and losing millions with the transition to PS2/Dreamcast/Dolphin/X-box.

The odds are heavily against TAKS succeeding, regardless of the quality of titles generally, currently publishers lack the vision to give original products a try.

Perhaps the irony is that today, more than ever, they NEED original product to establish new franchises and revitalise the marketplace as well as producing the many mediocre licences/sequels cluttering up shelves.

TAKS is now working on a genre defining driving game (being prototyped on PC, which we may take to X-Box if anyone at Microsoft wants some real added value for their platform beyond eye candy) for next generation platforms.

It has wild, exhilarating cameras and gameplay not seen in any driving game on any format for the last 21 years.

Everyone who has seen the prototype and design doc has looked at me grinning and commented that there has never been a driving game like it before.

Gamers will love it and the general public will notice something very different.

Let’s hope the publishers do too…

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