Possible solutions to problems:

Possible solutions to problems:

Over the last few months through the Sumea website and other souses it's become apparent that the aussie game development industry is at its? pressure point.

This is easily seeable. Studios are growing fast and expanding in QLD. VIC is requiring more experienced and ?plug in and play? workers. And the pressure on NSW and SA is becoming ever increasing.

What we have here is an industry that could ether flourish into something larger then it already is. Or die a horrible death at the hands of economic pressure.

Ok doom and gloom aside. It's already been talked about what's wrong with the industry. [Some things I agree with. some things.. I think studios are just making excuses.]

What I want to discuss with you people is possible solutions to the issue around the current state of the industry. I want your opinions and ideas on what can be done to better the Australian Game Developers industry as a WHOLE. You?re ideas cannot centralize around the good of one sole studio.

Some simplistic ideas I?ve conjured:

Education Plus:
The current state of game development education is debatable. The teachers of these schools say they?re world class and worth the money students pay for them. Some students agree, some students think there full of shit. But hey, who am I to judge really? I?m apparently not a student.

The idea of education plus is complex. A government and development studios funded school. This School teaches things rather differently then standard practice. It throws students straight into their own game development project. The initial concept Pre-determined by a ?dummy publisher.? These students have one school year to train and pump out a game level. The incorporates places for game designers, level designers, artists and programmers.

The prerequisites for the school is totally folio and practical based. Previous education holds no merit. Keep in mind though these folios have to show usefulness. Eg: An Art student must show he knows the basics of ether Max or Maya.

The programs they need to learn are taught to them by experienced professionals. But at a more accelerated rate. The school would impose a 30-hour attendance per week for the students. And students who piss-fart around will quickly fall behind.

And the most important thing is to make the cost of this course as cheap as possible for the student. Or if in the case that it's not possible, a loan* or Hex system that ensures that all earning classes can give his course a go. [* : A loan what doesn?t require a house as collateral.]

The benefit of such an intense school type would be in creating a more realistic type of experience for the student. The teams of students must work together to achieve goals. And while teachers are there to fix little things along the way. If the whole project goes haywire then the ?dummy publisher? might withdraw from the project. And the student might have spent all that time for nothing to show for it when his own work.

It's a very hostile and harsh education system and it wouldn?t be for everyone. It also has many holes and problems with its design. But I think something in this general direction would help to create juniors that can fit into a develop studios project much faster.

Aus-game Publishing:
Not a full publisher. But more of an assistance to the Australian dev studios.

Fully funded by the government and the development studios once again. Aus-game publishing handles smaller tasks that both the bigger publishers and the dev studios don?t want to do. This organization serves as a backing, support and extra appeal for publishers to consider their projects for Australia.

Some of the things I could see Aus-game Publishing do are:

? Provide large-scale quality QA for mutable studios and projects. This also doubles as experience gathering for students doing the QA
? Localizations for a game so it can be targeted and shipped to other countries.
? Production and distribution of the games to areas and countries the main publisher of that select game isn?t targeting and providing a ?buy-online? stone.
? Negotiate more stable contracts and milestone arrangements between smaller studios and publishers.
? Handle all Student, Internship and junior applications and assess them to both advice the applicant what studios they would work well in and to provide reference and critiquing assistance to students who don?t meet the current mark of entry.

For the bigger publisher, this sub organization clears up a lot of paperwork and fuss for them. And instills them with the notion that the development studio will be doing their job with more focus. The publisher doesn?t stand to lose profit ether.

For the development studio is also clears up a lot of tasks. This in turn makes focus on the game a high priority and allows these studios to do what they intended to do in the first place.

The problems with this idea of course is that it would more then likely consume all the resources that the government would offer and probably will require full support of all studios. So if Aus-game publishing became reality studios would have to embrace it to more then likely compete. Thus it becomes every ones needed ?edge?

There very very rough ideas that have problems with them. But they?re none the less ideas. And I would love to hear from you guys on your ideas and thoughts on what we can do to make sure the Australian game industry doesn?t die out.

Grover's picture

Theres lots that can be done - it takes will, cooperation and funding however. Lets look at each on its own:

1. Will
This is missing in the Aus game industry. There is no will/need/want to try and move the industry into a more 'inclusive' industry, and the industry is behaving much more like many other traditional industries in Aus (like Car, Mining and Farming) where the the number of companies is reduced to a few large monolithic companies, making the majority of the products, and minimising the potential of startups - when was the last time you heard of a startup car company :)

Also, the industry players need to have the Will to better the industry itself. By this, I mean they need to want to make each other more profitable and not just themselves - this is horribly lacking.

By providing a grouped cohesive 'Will' the industry would be more effective at lobbying the government for investment, tech programs, incubator programs, grants, education and so on. Without a single effective lobbying group, with a determination for improving the industry the result is pretty obvious - Will.. important.

2. Cooperation.
For the Aus industry to become globally competitve (Games are in their own right a global market) we need to have a cohesive industry aimed at improving the ability for the industry to tackle and succeed in such markets.

A good example here is defense. Australia (its gov) spends millions (and billions) of dollars on defense development, but they also spend large portions on marketing, growing, and sustaining the industry as a whole. The Aus gov provide conferences, overseas business conventions, business analysis, cooperative organisations with related markets, and so on. But the industry itself works together to often achieve this.

While there are many thousands of defense products being developed for overseas customers, you will often see many products being promoted side-by-side. On top of that, often these companies leverage each others IP, and resources to get their products to fruition.

This is the sort of cooperation that puts Aus as one of the top defense product developers outside of the US. I think if the games industry here could become more cooperative, and think more in terms of longevity rather than the next contract, there would be a large number of benefits not just for themselves but for our industry as a whole.

Some of the benefits include: Becoming a relaible and valuable contracting source, Growing a mature and experience development pool of talent, building entry points for smaller companies to develop and flourish, expanding investment in Aus for digital media, and generally just adding to the possible profit opportunities for games built in Aus.

3. Funding/Financial
Without money, the Aus industry is a stone cold dead turkey. We need very large investments, because the product cycle costs are very large. But, like all industrys, if you invest well into an industry and give it the funding and momentumn it needs, you create an environment that feeds itself.

The current situation is pretty much like a kid getting allowances from his parents to go to the movies. He can afford to go to the movies, but cant really do much else. For Aus game industry, most companies in Aus get enough money to cover production of the game, but not much else. Thus making it hard to develop their own IP, and even harder to sell their IP and manufacture their IP to shelf.

Given an even small subsiduary boost in earnings more development studios here in Aus could allow for development of original IP. Consider this for a minute: If we have the majority of our companies continually developing original IP (as well as meeting their contractual obligations) there would be a continual stream of original IP coming from our studios after a short period of time. From this stream, lets assume only 10% are viable market products, and we have some way to get these to market (say gov assisted production/marketing or even a gov run publisher) even if the games sold limited amounts, we would start to have a completely Aus based product funded cycle, that could then grow, as the IP becomes more and more refined (with the contual assistance).

This is only a single idea, and its scope is dramatic (youd need billions) but the fact is, after a period of time the industry would be valuable - the publishing, the IP, the taxes on the products, the taxes for business, the employment boosts, the subsiduary side companies that would grow (digital media related - web, paper publishing etc).

But.. I am a realist too - I know full well to get these three things to occur (which I beleive is the minimum for succes - others will obviously disagree) is a very big stretch and potentially frought with risk. But any great risk, can have also great results.

Who knows.. itd be great to have a huge, well organised, well developed Aus game industry. I sadly think that its all a little too late just now though - imho the writing was on the wall about 3 yrs ago, we are now about 3 years behind the eight ball.