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How Close Can Indies Get To AAA Games?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Assembler-Maze, May 1, 2017.

  1. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    AAA game development typically starts in the tens of millions of dollars. AAA will require you either rent the studio or you hire an entire team capable of understanding how to get the most mileage out of the suit and software. The latter will cost hundreds of thousands per year.

    If you're willing to live with "good enough for indie developers" then you can just buy the suit and screw around with it.
     
  2. neoshaman

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    Though teh argument is more about apearing AAA (scope and quality) than being AAA (as in budget)

    @stolen assets
    Meh I'll avoid all polemique and just say getting half the way (ie without some enemy) is already impressive, I don't feel like arguing moving the goal post, these kind of discussion do need "pure proof of concept" to cover all criticism. For me it doesn't invalidate the line, just blur it. I mean teh whole attempt is still sub optimal in term of production, specialization is still key, but I don't think it's impossible.

    ANYWAY I'm surprise the many visual shortcoming ARE NOT what's pick up, I can see a lot, I expected people to pick up more on them, which basically validate my assessment that profane people judge thing holistically, if you can create the impression of quality, mistake get blurs into the sum. And this game have heavy used of distracting elements like fancy but easy to do effect and fast pace.

    This is was I was looking for, because to me it does not look AAA in the slightest. :D

    SO I get that validate to myself. I'm taking note!
     
  3. unit_dev123

    unit_dev123

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    Correct see video I post, but we talk about the boy who people claim he make 'AAA' game. Again this is all opinion
     
  4. neoshaman

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    Bro I worked in one of them ;)
     
  5. unit_dev123

    unit_dev123

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    Oh I am sorry for mistake! Hope it was good experience. I am just trying this out with my friend (see signature)
     
  6. unit_dev123

    unit_dev123

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    Yes it is true you can make something appear AAA see my cypherpunk game and forest game.

    It is only a single level, with used assets and a bit of visual tweaking. It is very different from actual AAA game which is why i didn't particularly like the video and it sensationalist claims.
     
  7. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Neither game remotely looks AAA.
     
  8. unit_dev123

    unit_dev123

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    Correct and neither does bright memory. Just fancy smoke and mirrors.
     
  9. neoshaman

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    AAA is still smoke and mirror too, you are saying nothing.

    The feel of AAA is really about the volume of "superficial artistic polish" that's hard to get in small production, that is animation, acting performance, artistic direction, scope of details, etc ... The mass of asset or it's rendering technique really isn't the thing that separate AAA with smaller budget, it's the quality match to the volume.
     
  10. unit_dev123

    unit_dev123

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    I think this is true mam. But it also the sheer volume of unique content and quality that separates AAA from a scene that looks AAA.

    The game 'Bright memory' seems also to be a segway into nvidia's new raytracing tech and maybe pushing reallusion's software.



    Am not denying it looks useful, but still separation from one boy and AAA studio is huge i feel.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  11. neoshaman

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    Nah that's just the xbox version, the game was in production long before that, and it's available on steam, and look different, like early gen AAA.

    A full but concise arguments on AAA instead of jab exchange on a forum would also mean to be fully acquainted on how AAA games are made, I feel like I would have to make a whole essay and I would rather made the game.

    The crux of it is that a lot of AAA is also about "iterations" to get that artistic polish, ie you pay a 40$/h artist to go through hundreds of hi quality sketch to nail a single character, then pay another 40$/h to make a hi poly model in 3 month you will revise 10 times, which is 2.5 man years on a single characters, all of that to achieve a vision, which may be received badly and be schloky in the end because the vision was bad. That's why it's expensive, achieving vision is hard and slow. It make sense to have an army of artist to get more done in the same time. In some way it's a lot of waste.

    If there was a way to achieve hi quality vision with less time, ie cut iterations, you would probably cut dev time in 5, some people attempt it, you get the soulless cash grab or sometimes a project get rebooted half way to deadline (mass effect andromeda) and you get a wonky vision (the game is way more competent that people would let you know, but that's the difference between a wonky vision and having time to figure out what the hell you dev). That's also why AAA are dominated by franchise, a lot of iteration is already done, you have fewer parameter to manage.

    Even by cutting time by 5, it would still be out of scope for an indie, and less efficient, why make a hi fidelity game in a long time, when you could distribute risk over multiple smaller games during that same time. Indie have established that small game can be wildly, if not as popular as big games, if you strike that gold mine, and having multiple attempt is a better way to strike it, or even a lesser silver mine is more worth it.

    SO why AAA by a single indie? LIke I said it's an exercise in constraints, it's a production challenge, it's asking to assess all resources available to hit a target, and to innovate to make the best of little. And that's beneficial whatever the scales of production you are doing, it can hint at hidden opportunities.

    Remember, ET the atari games, was made in 6 month, in assembly and happen to be an horrible mess to play because time was way too compress. Nowaday game are way easier to make, easy enough to have people pushing the limit of what can be done producing them.

    Back in the day, doing a game in 3 days was considered foolish and stupid, then LUDUM DARE happen, and it's now a common and accepted, many successful game where made during a ludum. And the limit are still being pushed in production toward this challenge.

    It's now a spectacle in itself.

    I'm just advocating for the other spectrum of the challenge, ie "scale".

    Playlist of people doing 50 games in 1 days
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  12. unit_dev123

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    That's really cool, I really enjoy listening to stories from ppl who work in AAA studios. I have lots to learn for sure. Thank you for sharing.
     
  13. kburkhart84

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    Dude, that suit is only $2500!!!!! That really nice if its as good as it seems. Sure, you still have to learn how to use it, but I could see how it could save some humanoid animation time like crazy.
     
  14. angrypenguin

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    This I definitely agree with, and it's one of the reasons I think that perfectionism is bad. Most tasks see diminishing returns as time investment increases, and it's important to realise that your eye, as both expert and creator, will pick up on issues that your audience isn't going to notice. And while you're working on those issues you may be taking time away from other stuff that they're far more likely to notice.
     
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  15. unit_dev123

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    Is not just bad it catastrophic because it distracts. You should work on mechanic first and worry about polish later.
     
  16. MDADigital

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    Unravel One and Two are pretty AAA in their gfx apartment atleast. Its a smallish swedish indie studio

     
  17. Ryiah

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    In my experience when a company creates an abnormally high quality game for a studio of their size and funding it typically means that they aren't just your average studio. Coldwood Interactive, the developer of Unravel, was formed by six former employees of a company that started in 1994. Already we're pointed towards the idea they're very experienced.

    In 2011 they were acquired by Stillfront Group which is another Swedish game developer with hundreds of employees and a revenue that is at least a hundred times greater than that of Coldwood Interactive. At some point after their buyout a major project was closed and facing closure by the bigger company they came up with Unravel.

    Unravel is being published by Electronic Arts. A feat that most indie developers will likely never accomplish.

    Wikipedia entry mentioning a revenue of $1.33 million USD per year
    https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coldwood_Interactive

    Article mentioning a revenue of $133 million USD per year
    https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-04-18-stillfront-group-doubled-profits-in-2018
     
  18. MDADigital

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    In Sweden those are public numbers, you can look up any company. They made 11 MSEK

    Which is roughly 1.1 MUSD

    https://www.allabolag.se/5566416532/coldwood-interactive-ab

    Stillfront group AB is not exactly indie sized, but they also do let coldwood pretty much do what they want, they are not tightly regulated by the owner group.

    Stillfront rocketed their revenue last year I wonder what they did

    https://www.allabolag.se/5567213078/stillfront-group-ab-publ
     
  19. EternalAmbiguity

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    It's probably been covered in the last 16 pages that we've participated in (a long time ago), but I think the first question for all of this is: what is AAA? We can't say "this indie approaches AAA" if we don't have a definition for AAA.

    AC Odyssey, Call of Duty [whatever the latest is], Fallout 4, Need for Speed Payback, Gears of War 5, The Last of Us, Breath of the Wild (add more if you wish).

    1. Are these all AAA games?
    2. What definition for AAA encapsulates them?
     
  20. angrypenguin

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    They're all minor iterations on established formulas, with a high emphasis on presentation.
     
  21. EternalAmbiguity

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    Do you think this is true for AC Odyssey? What about BOTW? (edit) Fallout 4?
     
  22. Murgilod

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    Odyssey? Absolutely. The AC games are like 90% presentation. BotW is kinda an outlier because Nintendo is never really chasing that specific market.
     
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  23. neginfinity

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    I'd say Fallout 4 is not an AAA.

    A good example of AAA is Red Dead Redemption 2. Resident Evil remaks would definitely fall under AAA.

    Huge budget and focus on presentation and level of detail. Gameplay might have lower priority as a result.
     
  24. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    BotW probably did cost a lot, being inhouse and 5+ years of development. Just because the hardware isn't RTX, it doesn't mean it isn't AAA technically (highest budget for the highest anticipated return).

    As for visual quality, it maxes out what a switch can do. All those optimisations and work on every little touch, often taking more work to do because you need to do custom stuff, well I would call BotW an AAA title, sure.

    No small team is going to do that, at that quality, ever. They'd burn out long before, and AI assisted development would be soulless.
     
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  25. EternalAmbiguity

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    It sounds like I don't understand the general definition for presentation. I picked that game out specifically because I saw some chatter about it having a noticeable drop-off in presentation, in terms of sheer visual quality and in things like gameplay animations and cinematic elements, in comparison to previous games.

    What do you mean when you say "presentation?"

    Okay. Fallout 4 has two of those three. It sounds like "focus on presentation" is the definition many are using here, though it's kind of begging the question.
     
  26. angrypenguin

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    Caring about what things look or sound like as much as or more than what they do and how they work. How good they are at that, and/or whether it's to a particular individual's taste is a different matter.

    For instance, Fallout 4 certainly has its rough edges, but broadly speaking there's still been a lot of effort put into the visuals. Contrast that against, say, the settlement building functionality. They made a big deal of it, but it ultimately ended up being mostly cosmetic and relatively poorly designed, and only shoehorned into the main quest line. Mechanically, however, they could have made fairly deep mechanics around the concept of rebuilding a settlement, defending it, politics with other settlements, resource management...
     
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  27. neoshaman

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    In my opinion, while BOTW could be considered AAA, in the context of the discussion it's not. It wouldn't make sense for the challenge, as indie can already do that, BOTW took 5 years, just for polish, not for visual.

    AAA therefore is a target of the impossible production value, ie lush cinematic visual and scope of details (we all know they gameplay days). Now you have a challenge.

    I use to say you couldn't have gta level of scope with unchartred 4 level of character polish, red dead killed that DEAD in the water :eek: Obviously we don't need to reach that level to register as AAA as proven by Bright Memory.

    You forgot all those AAA port such as DOOM, wolfeinstein and the Witcher 3, small fries obviously

    That's not how art works, most great art is composition, most details is assisted already (substance, houdini, mere intern, noise, filter, brush, genre templates, rules of art, etc...). ONLY BAD ARTISTS BLAME THE TOOLS :mad: ubi soft is really going all in in pcg and ai assisted dev, like yesterday, they got beaten artistically by horizon, another pcg assisted world ... BOTW use copy paste at all level, the interview and talks tell how (on the advise of Monolith xenoblade x team member) choosed just a few model they could repeat and compose into new thing. Turns out the world don't feel repetitive because composition is bigger than the part.

    Anyway many people find AAA soulless already, the goal is to match exactly that :p
    Since gameplay and soul are independent of that anyway, you could have both.

    THE (my) GOAL IS TO ENCOURAGE WAY TO WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER, no cookie just for efforts
     
  28. EternalAmbiguity

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    The only problem with "as much or more than" is that there's no floor. Where's the cutoff? Ori and the Blind Forest? Nier Automata? I've never played Ori but the visuals pop in every screenshot, and it's pretty widely accepted that Nier: A's gameplay is weak (not that the visuals are anything to write home about, though). Do these count as "indies" (obviously not for the latter, but A/AA perhaps) approaching AAA games?

    If I make a crappy 2D platformer or survival sim or minecraft clone but give it great visuals, what separates it from AAA?
     
  29. neginfinity

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    Nier is made on shoestring budget, and not an AAA. Ori likely isn't one either.

    If you want an example of approaching AAA level, that would be for example Ni No Kuni. However here we're running into a question whether AAA stands for High Quality and Attentiont to Detail (Persona 4, Ni No Kuni..., Tales Of series) or wasteful overspending on visuals.
     
  30. angrypenguin

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    Your examples were all high budget titles. I don't feel like debating a dollar value.
     
  31. EternalAmbiguity

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    If "made on a shoestring budget" is a disqualifier, then no indies are ever going to approach AAA.

    Clearly different people mean something different when they say "AAA." Without a common definition (or without accepting a common definition for the sake of argument), can the thread question really be answered?
     
  32. angrypenguin

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    "Approaching" means "getting similar results", not "did it the same way". So-called "AAA" studios all have pretty hefty budgets.
     
  33. EternalAmbiguity

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    A dollar amount hadn't crossed my mind. I'm thinking more of scope. The scope of any game I initially mentioned is much larger than my "indie" (not really) examples, with the possible exception of Call of Duty (I know about some of the games but have never played one).
     
  34. neginfinity

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    "It is made on shoestring budget and it shows".

    And likely no indies are ever going to approach AAA, aside from circumstances like AI emergence.

    For example, bright memory at a glance look high budget. But, for example, in GTA 5 when your character starts running in beach flip flops, the flip-flops actually flip flop, wrinkle pattern on characters back changes with movement, and over time character starts sweating, which shows on clothes, then stops and pants. This sort of pointless attention to detail signifies AAA to me.

    Another good example is Red Dead Redemption 2. They recreated authentic sale catalogue with great detail down to paper texture, wasted a lot of effort on costumes, implemented procedural horse pooping and made horse balls shrink in cold weather. I wish I was kidding, they really did that. All of that to make a very mediocre online mode and overlook multiple issues in the game.

    This is also an AAA to me.

    And here's an example of an AAA-level bug.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/reddeadred..._guess_his_lumbago_meant_he_couldnt_stand_up/
    An npc steps into fire and dies during cutscene.
     
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  35. librelifen

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    The topic is quite old, so I’ll say briefly, I’m sure that indie can be compared with AAA, but to do this you need to spend a lot of years and resources for indie developers.
     
  36. BrandyStarbrite

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    Bright Memory? I heard alot of people, talk about that game.
    And wow! That chinese boy made that game? Sick!:D
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
  37. PretzelTail101

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    Right now I am making a AAA demo using UE4 and Quixel assets. Since Epic has bought Quixel you are able to use those assets for free with Unreal. Also, I have noticed Unreal Engines collision system is light years ahead. For a AAA game, I wouldn't really recommend Unity at all. Even though Unity has caught up in the graphical comparison, Unreal Engine was built for AAA titles, while Unity was built for everything. Also, lots of features are built into Unreal that don't even exist in Unity unless you are willing to spend $100.

    Good Luck! ;)
     
  38. MDADigital

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    This attentional to detail in last Half Life Alyx update is what AAA is :p



    Could I make that shader and physics, probably. Would I? Maybe. Than scale that level of detail out to eveything, its hard for a small indie studio todo that.

    Though dont get me wrong, indies can still shine, our VR mechanics are actually more refined than Alyx.
     
  39. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    It's not cost effective to waste time on detail like that if you don't have the marketing budget to reach an audience that can pay for it. Needless perfectionism over minute details like that is probably going to harm indies more than anything.
     
  40. neginfinity

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    Why do I get the feeling that this is a screen-space effect.

    Notice that there isn't really a preservation of volume there.
     
  41. MDADigital

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    Its stereoscopic and looks good in VR. Though yeah, its not perfect so they cut corners to save on performance.
     
  42. MDADigital

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    When he holds up the vodka bottle and the light from the window flows through it i get the same wow feeling I got in Crysis when you pointed the laser sight at those plastic bottles if you remembered. :D Little details
     
  43. neginfinity

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    If it is stereoscopic, doesn't mean it is not screen space.

    Remember screen space metaparticle fluids? Those are very likely to work in VR.

    Looking at the video, the fluid doesn't splash around properly. It behaves like some sort of fast jello, and only maintains wobbly mostly horizontal plane within the bottle which wobbles around the center of the bottle based to physics.
     
  44. MDADigital

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    Even if they onyl had real fluid sim for the items in hand (maximum 2 at a time) it would probably steal too much resources so they choosed a more perfomant one. Understandable, still looks very good
     
  45. neoshaman

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    The old technique of not showing details you can't do, and overemphasize details that have good return.

    For example in order to give an impression of polygon budget increase generally, just put a few round object that are easily occluded visually, and the player will feel as if the world is more detailed than it is. It's been used in dead space 2, Mario games do that all the time too.

    I feel this bottle is that kind of detailed, it's easily done relative to other stuff, but increase perception of physicality and details. The game isn't build around liquid physics too, so it's sparse. Ie smart utilization of details.

    It doesn't matter if you are AAA or indie, games or movies, big budget or low budget .... that's a trick that exist everywhere in art in general.
     
  46. Murgilod

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  47. MDADigital

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  48. neoshaman

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    surveillance
     
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