Bits & bytes for May 11th 2024

Reading about GDC and other trade shows that happened over the last few weeks, it's a bit harrowing to hear two odd narratives clash within the industry. The first is the obvious sore-thumb topic of the industry crawling along, notably resulting in layoffs and downsizing in portfolios for large studios.

Beloved brands are being shuttered, talent is being scattered and the audience is a bit jaded. Indies do well when they find a niche or become a meme, but it's not reliable. And the big names in the industry are being crushed with slow numbers and frankly a bit of tiredness from the audience, who are both willing to buy a million copies of EA FC and COD every year, but not buy anything that's similar -- even if it's conceivably better.

That then groks with the even stranger global narrative of AI coming into the industry. Which is really strange since, even when I was a kid, AI was a hot topic in the industry. I even wrote about it recently. It meant that things were getting smarter, like how an enemy traversed a map to attack you, or how other drivers on the track acted around your space to defend or attack a position. But somehow we've gotten lost in the AI mania and GDC had talks about, among other things, having AI write NPC dialogue in real time (pending internet connection).

Then the cost of this is the sand that gets kicked up. Does the industry continue laying off engineers, writers and artists in lieu of AI, which in-turn is expensive and winds up driving the cost of games upwards even more, in a cash-strapped world with an even tighter audience unwilling to invest so much into a risky new title? The industry needs to get real with itself. And I wonder if part of this is driven by a lack of audience participation in the industry itself. Not having e3 or something similar means all of this happens in a really obtuse bubble. No one is giving real talk or feedback to an industry filled with newcomers who think Halo can be re-created anew.

In a very separate issue, my very under-utilised Panic Playdate seems to be on the fritz. Trying to play any game seems to have it crash about 2mins into any playtime. All hardware tests pass and resetting does nothing. I've logged a ticket to no avail (yet). A shame because I really want to dig deep on it as I spot so many indies publishing for it, including open source games, which is such a wonderful second-order impact of the device! Notwithstanding my adoration for Teenage Engineering hardware.


What I've been playing this week:

  • Minishoot adventures
  • Hades II