Sunday, December 9, 2018

Game Over for now: Part 2

Gaming journalism, in its purest form, is dead. 

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out exactly why that's the case. 

The amounts of dishonesty that run rampant throughout the gaming journalism business is so large that I don't even know where to begin at this point. I have in the past discussed gaming journalism topics concerning companies like IGN and GameInformer, but let's be honest. The heart of the problem extends well past just these kinds of companies. In today's climate, 2018 going into 2019, gaming journalism is not about getting things right and making sure stories are accurate. Instead it is about making money for your own bank account as a journalist, for the bottom line of the gaming media company you serve, and the bottom line of the game dev companies whose games you are reviewing. 

Dishonesty in gaming journalism can go both ways. Either you will give a negative review to a game that ended up being a decent game, which in this case would be an act of trying to sabotage a game before it is even released. Or you will give a positive review to a game that absolutely didn't deserve such a high rating in the first place, and after a while many gamers grow to despise the game that you as a journalist praised. 

I have to be honest with myself when I make this post because for the longest time this is what I had built this entire blog off of. Gaming journalism in its purest form. This was at least what I had intended to do. I wanted to provide my honest thoughts and opinions on developing news stories revolving around the Gaming Industry. However, as time has gone by I have grown to basically distance myself from news reporting in general. I had tried the best that I could to give blog readers what I thought they were looking for. 

There comes a point in time when all writers have to be honest with themselves. I am reaching a point in my life where I need to make a decision as to what I want to do going forward. I have made it known in the past that I want to be a part of the Game Development Industry, and quietly behind closed doors, away from this blog, I have been running my own game project with a team of aspiring game devs. Now what about my future in writing? 

I can guarantee you that my future in writing doesn't involve gaming journalism, and certainly not in the mainstream arenas of companies like an IGN or a GameInformer. 

This is one of the main reasons why I am temporarily stepping down, closing the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog and moving on to focus on parts of my life that need to be addressed. Simply put, I can't do this anymore. I can't maintain a blog like this while at the same time work on a bunch of different projects, AND finding ways to make money so that I can live every day. 

I look back at the early days of this blog and I do smile, because I know I have come a long way from the days of 2014. Another part of me shakes my head and realizes that some of the things I had mentioned about the Gaming Industry, and especially the not so good parts of it, were indeed true. 

I basically wanted to see how far I could go with a gaming blog such as the Gaming Journalist Gazette, and honestly I think I did a good job all things considered. However, the part of me that wants to shout at myself "START BEING REALISTIC!!!" has been present for a while now, and I have been thinking about my writing future realistically all throughout 2018.

I don't belong here on a blog like this one. Not for now anyway. 

I'm not going to have my integrity as a writer be compromised and destroyed by industries that want to push certain narratives just to make a quick buck. I'm not going to have the words that I type be manipulated by anyone whatsoever. I have respect for myself, and I will show that self-respect in spades. 

I would much rather be working on my own creative projects, being my own boss where I get to call the shots, and not look over my shoulder and try to please bosses that are impossible to please. This is how the world works in 2018, unfortunately, and I think it's time that many of us wake up to this harsh reality.  

I will most likely be writing one last blog entry to close out not only 2018, but the full-time active existence of the Gaming Journalist Gazette as a whole. Certainly this last post will be an emotional one, but it's definitely one that needs to be written, for the sake of not only the readers of this blog, but also my own sake.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Game Over for now: Part 1

I will be putting this blog post in bold font on purpose, for those of you wondering.

It comes with a heavy heart and a large mix of feelings that I, Steven Vitte, make this announcement. To those who have been following me on this blog since the very beginning, please know that this wasn't an easy decision to make. Over the course of time, especially this year of 2018, it has become clear what I need to do going forward.

I am announcing that temporarily (for now) the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog will be shut down and made inactive after December 31, 2018. 

To anyone reading this blog post right now, if you are stunned by this announcement, please don't be. I have come to terms with this decision and I feel comfortable doing this. This blog may be temporarily shut down, but I'm not going to flat out delete everything neither. Just don't expect any new blog posts in the foreseeable future, not until I can regroup on a personal level.

The fact of the matter is that over time I have grown to basically hate the core aspects of game development and what it has become today. I hate just how much work goes into every single component of the game dev experience and I hate the elements of narcissism, nepotism and the "hivemind mentality" that game devs, groups and companies have willingly adopted. 

I hate the corporate greed that is being shown on a daily basis by AAA caliber game developers and publishers. I hate the near impossible lists of qualifications a person needs just to get recognized by companies. I hate the lack of communication that occurs between devs and regular Joe and Jane gamers who might have an aspiration for wanting to get into the Video Game Industry. 

I especially hate the fact that if you live out in the middle of nowhere in any given country, you basically don't have a voice to express your feelings when it comes to key game dev topics. You may say that your goals in life include working in game development companies, but do you ever step back and think just how much you would be willing to sacrifice in order to make such dreams come true? If you live out in the middle of nowhere, you will be ignored. If you live in big cities in the world like New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, etc. you will have the red carpet rolled out for you depending on if you become good friends with a hot shot game dev. That's a light example of nepotism right there.

The Video Game Industry today is in a fragile state right now. You wouldn't think that if you read all the so-called great articles that are written by paid shills that hype up the next great game releases. Then you find out you wasted a large amount of money on a game that wasn't anywhere near finished, and the game dev companies turn around and say you, the consumer, were at fault for that being the case. 

The Video Game Industry as a whole needs to press the "Reset" button as soon as possible. The industry is going through way too much of the same vicious cycles that we as consumers have grown accustomed to being a part of just over a decade ago. All talks of "Console Wars" and who's better than who should be thrown out the window at this point. Who cares who's "winning" between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft? Why should that really matter? At the end of the day these 3 companies are on the exact same side of the fence, which is the opposite side of you, the gamer. 

Narcissism has ruined the industry for me, especially narcissism in those who are in positions of power. All the bullying tactics and the con artistry that go into a game dev company wanting to make every single quick buck imaginable absolutely disgusts me. All the lies and deceit that's at work when presentations are made for games that are about to be launched. There comes a point in time where actions such as these need to be stopped, and the people that support these actions need to be called out, for better or worse.

I will limit this post to a first part. In Part 2 I will discuss the "hivemind mentality" and why I feel that the very essence of gaming journalism is dead.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Freelance Writing Industry 2018: Tanked

Hello. Yes, you are still on the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog and yes, you will be given references to Game Development Industry related topics in this post. What I want you, the reader, to focus on at the moment is an issue that has become too hard for me to ignore in the year 2018. This year has been one of the most testing years of my patience from a creative standpoint, particularly in the field that I am about to discuss.

The Freelance Writing Industry in 2018 has pretty much tanked.

This bit of news strikes me at my heart because I was working as a freelance writer. I proved to the masses that I was good at what I did, writing content in various forms. I had begun my journey as a freelance writer in the Fall season of 2014, leaving behind a controversial run of typical "go to town and work inside a building where people will treat you like crap" kind of work. For years I had done well for myself, writing pieces here and there.

2018 ended up being a different kind of cat altogether. The Freelance Writing Industry in 2018 has completely fallen flat on its face, and I think the warning signs have been made obvious in recent years. If you don't believe me then maybe you should do some research on how "content mill" freelance websites go about handling their business. 

The current landscape of the Freelance Writing Industry not only feels outdated but it desperately needs a reboot of sorts. In my case it is not a matter of me not having what it takes to write good quality content. It's a matter of the industry itself and how it treats the writers that work in it. The true worth of a writer has long been lost in translation, only to hold "peanuts" kind of jobs in high regard and calling that in the best interest of freelance writers everywhere. 

This problem with finding good enough quality writing jobs that pay me sufficient amounts of money has been lingering for a long time now. I would have assumed that at some point after I build my resume up to a point where many freelance clients would look at my work and consider giving me the kind of pay that a person of my qualifications deserves. In the Freelance Writing Industry, at least today, that is simply not the case at all.

While people will go out of their way to chase the money, there are also people, and let me just say many freelance clients, that will do anything and everything to save as much money as possible, just so they won't have to pay freelancers an extra few dollars. 

I am significantly cutting back from Freelance Writing altogether. 

So with all that said, I am taking a significant step back and cutting my load of freelance writing. This will be the first time since I started this journey in Fall 2014 that I make my writing services limited. I'm not stopping from writing altogether. Again, it's not because I'm not capable of writing good content. My stance is this; until the Freelance Writing Industry can properly reboot itself and realize that it doesn't treat accomplished writers like me fairly enough, that industry will not get extra energy out of me. 

The bottom line can be summarized like this. I won't be bullied in my own arena. I won't be taken advantage of when it comes to determining how much my words in an article are worth. As a client, if you have read enough of my articles that I have posted links to on my personal website, then you should know exactly what I'm worth. If you can't reach anywhere near my preferred asking price then we can't do business together. It's just that simple. 

My hope was that all this content I would write as a freelancer in general would get noticed by those officially associated with the Video Game Industry. I had assumed that if game developers were to see how I could write general content, they would soon reach out to me and ask me if I were interested in writing game-related content for their projects. I would have gladly accepted such offers had they ever come my way. However, very few to none were given to me in these 4 years of time I have been freelance writing.

By the way, here's one recent article I wrote on the Video Game Industry and where I feel it's headed in the future. It ties in with this blog post quite nicely.

Video Game Industry: Future Crash?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

It Takes A Team

It takes a team to get stuff done.

I don't think I've typed down many sentences that were as simple as the one above.

It doesn't matter how ambitious you are as an aspiring game developer. It doesn't matter how many ideas you develop in your brain. It doesn't matter where you live nor what your current living condition is. It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend.

What matters is that you have a team surrounding you that supports your vision, willing to help you when you need it. It takes a team to realize a vision. It takes a team to take positive moves forward. It takes a team to properly determine what parts of a vision make sense. It takes a team to define the road that is up ahead for a project, no matter how big or how small it is.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not at all an advocate of the principles of nepotism. People who just happen to know other people, by way of family relations or they're just friends of people who have family that own a company. That's basically nepotism. Sometimes given the right circumstances companies manage to make this business philosophy work. Most of the time, however, things are bound to go wrong for companies that dwell in nepotism.

In this year of 2018 alone I have quickly realized just how important it truly is to have a team of aspiring game devs be there for you and to do their part in moving a vision of yours forward. I can't reveal the specifics of what I've been doing with my team (and I think it's best that I keep it a secret for now), but what I can say is that I have never felt more confident about a game project working out as much as I do with the one I'm working on right now.

As the Project Head of this game I have had my fair share of ups and downs, but through it all I can tell that I have gained such a rich learning experience. Here is what I have basically learned.

1) Never think that you can make a 100% finished game all by yourself without having any kind of help along the way.

2) Communication is key. Especially if you form a team of devs you all need to be on the same page.

3) Actually plan out in advance what you set out to do for your game. So many times have game projects failed because there was no clear vision.

4) Keep track of the progress that's being made in the project. This is much more important than you think.

5) Don't be afraid to make changes when they become absolutely necessary. Edits inevitably happen and you have to learn how to adapt with these edits.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Conditioning Aspect of Game Development

I have been very busy doing a lot of things related to my game project, and busy enough to the point where this blog, the Gaming Journalist Gazette, has had to take a step back. To be honest with those of you who still read this blog, I'm very glad that this has happened. I'm glad that I'm not filling this blog with dozens of monthly posts because this proves that I am making progress with what I want to be doing down the road.

Piggy-backing off the last blog post I wrote, which was last month, the emotional side of game development can take some sort of toll on you physically. In some cases it can get pretty severe. In my case it seemed to be that of a fatigue-related issue. My sleeping patterns were getting out of whack, and my exercise routine during some days was being hit as well. This month of July has been nothing but an adjustment period of sorts.

The last few weeks have really hit me, and more than what I initially thought. While it's normal to adjust one's sleeping patterns and schedule (people do this all the time), it has taken me a while to get used to the fact that I don't need to stick with the same routine that I've had for nearly 4 years. When I finally have to make a considerable change to core activities of my everyday life, it leaves an impact.

Proper conditioning is another part of getting through things in the game development process. You have to make sure that you stay in good condition for what you are about to take on. Your health matters at the end of the day. Protect your health, maintain it, and find ways to improve it if you can.

When scheduling things I'm rigid. Sometimes I can be too rigid. I am often too hard on myself, and that comes back to bite me. I get flustered when I don't meet my intended scheduled event, mainly being that of going to bed and sleeping. For almost 4 years I have had a thing about going to bed at 11:30 pm and getting up at 6:30 am on weekdays.

Hey, it was impressive that I kept this routine up for almost 4 years, but now it's at a point where I need to make a change. I have started to make that change.

So now I'm intending to sleep in a little more in the morning so that I'll get more Z's in my system, so to speak. I think in the long run getting this extra sleep will pay off. I've worked hard in doing my part of the game development process for my team, but there comes a time when even the Project Head has to take a step back and delegate responsibilities to others.

It's the little things like this that can develop into a big thing if it doesn't go addressed. I'm glad to have caught this issue while I still can so that I can fix it, not just for myself but for my teammates who care about me and the fun project we're all working on.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Emotional Side of Game Development

At the end of the month of May I experienced something that I thought I wouldn't have to face. Unfortunately this was something that I suppose was just around the corner because I had set myself for it in a way. For those of you who are very technical in what you do on the computer, you would understand what I'm about to describe.

When learning something new for the first time, especially if it's something like Source Control and Git for a game project, you're bound to experience many bumps in the road. In my case I was trying to "cram learn" Git over the span of a night. This took place on a Tuesday night and needless to say it didn't go over well at all. Honestly, it was a disaster. I kept screwing up typing out Git codes and I was beginning to feel the pressure as the night went on.

After nearly 2 hours straight of trying to get the Git right, I simply stopped. I broke down and I cried. 

There is an emotional side to game development that I believe doesn't get talked about often enough. You can be prepared to do all the right things and you can pick out your path as to what you're gonna do to move the project forward. Sometimes, though, certain things can't be helped. Some things are bound to go wrong in game development. We need to expect these things.

I was a wreck for days following this event. I was so emotionally drained and out of whack that I couldn't focus on even the smallest things anymore. I had to take a step back and regroup. I had to re-evaluate where I was as a creative person and how I was going to get past this Git issue. Sometimes that works out for the best. You need to take that time away from your big problem and just let things come to you naturally.

Fatigue is a real thing that occurs in game development. Fatigue is something that I have felt while working on my game project in particular. Maybe it was the time of night that I chose to take on this Git challenge, or maybe it was how much work that actually had to be done... but whatever the case was it ended up being too daunting a task for me to take on. I just couldn't do it.

I'm no stranger to putting pressure on myself. Sometimes it's really unnecessary for me to do so. I don't know why I put pressure on myself in certain situations, but it just happens that way for me. Taking a step back for a few days following my emotional meltdown did me some good. I got back my focus and eventually regained my creative juices. 

Above all else it's important for you as a person to take care of yourself. Your project, whether it's a game project or another kind of project, will always be there waiting for you. Your health is important. You don't neglect your own health. You don't put yourself through some unnecessary stuff just to figure out a code. Stress hasn't been kind to me in many ways in my life. I freely admit that. I don't deal with stress very well. In fact, stress has led me to some conflicts that I didn't foresee happening, especially in the workplace.

I am also reminded of how understanding of a game dev team I have. How much my teammates care about me and understand what I go through matters to me. I've been in dark places often in my life, and in many cases I have not had the reassurance of a teammate or friend who could pick me up and say "It's gonna be alright, Steven. You'll be just fine." Very rarely have I ever had that in my life, and if I did it ended up being half-hearted and taken away from me in an instant because that teammate/friend stopped caring about me.

It's okay to discuss business and making money in game development. It's okay to dive right in and just be a gamer. It's okay to discuss "serious gaming" issues in game development. I just wish that it will become okay to discuss the emotional side of game development and real it actually is.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finally Got C# Codes to Work!

To the surprise of no one - meaning everyone I have mentioned this fact to - I have had an amazingly difficult time handling C# programming, one of the key components to game development in Unity 3D. I have said multiple times that my brain shuts down when trying to grasp even the simplest on concepts in C# codes. It's never been a matter of me not trying. It's always been more of a thing where I can't seem to understand the core of what's being told to me when I read these codes.

It's a steep learning curve. There is no doubt about that. For me to even think about C# programming it has been daunting. It's been hard for me to muster up the courage to evaluate a single code and actually try typing it out myself in Visual Studio. The amount of work that goes into these codes to do what they do in game engines is astonishing, and it reminds those who want to get into the Gaming Industry that the title of Programmer has to be respected.

After years of not being able to get anything out of studying code, I recently went back into Visual Studio and gave some codes a try. Of course, these codes I have gotten from tutorial videos on YouTube, so it's not like I came up with these codes myself. Nonetheless I tried them out. I typed the codes out the way they were intended to, and wouldn't you know that these codes actually work?

I can't describe just how happy I was when I got my first ever code to work. This code happened to be a Moving Platform code where you can redirect a platform by simply moving around the tagged points of the platform's destinations. You can click and drag the tagged points anywhere you wish and the Moving Platform will go to those points.

I also tried two other codes that are tied with each other in some way. These two codes involve getting a low poly water plane to move as if it has waves. These codes were especially interesting since my current game project will have the low poly art style. It took some tweaking and tinkering, but I managed to get a plane to function as low poly water. With these codes I can be able to adjust the noise as to how aggressive the waves look and I can make the water plane as big as I want.

Programming is tough. Learning how to code in C# is steep. There are many programming communities out there, and the learning experience is invaluable to those who want to dive into the core technical details of game development.