While we can argue all we want about the merits of each console, while we can discuss the complexities of the games, and while we can never agree on what direction gaming should go in, there is always one constant: The Developer. They are the one constant hero in this world we call gaming.
Header image is of the Planetary Annihilation Team at Uber Entertainment.
Game Developers are complex companies that combine the talents of a very diverse range of individuals:
- You have the computer scientists behind the scenes that invent the complex data structures that make up the tool kits for the game engine.
- You have the visual artists that work tirelessly to try to inject entire worlds into the game.
- You have level designers that mesh psychology and architecture to create worlds that we'll be interested in again and again.
- You have the storytellers that tirelessly try to build a story that both makes sense within the game and is unique in its own right.
- You have the creative minds behind the whole thing that nitpick and push the game to its conclusion.
- And many, many important roles.
With so many moving parts and so many personalities to keep track of, it is a miracle that anything gets done in the industry. Video games are likely one of the most complicated visual arts to ever be conceived by man.
In spite of this, developers have repeatedly proven to us that they can go the extra mile and not only make us a game, they make us a game that we love. If you're reading this, you love a game series. You do. Somewhere out there is your favorite franchise. Whatever that franchise was, it required some creative individuals taking a chance and inventing an idea that had the very real chance of failing miserably. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but they did it. Better yet, you loved it.
Despite the volatile industry that the developers exist in, they continue to impress us by coming out with new titles that push the limits of gaming. They might be AAA studios like Guerrilla Games, smaller studios like old-school Raven Software, a successful independent studio like Bohemia Interactive, or a tiny one-man indie company like Shining Rock Software. While not always successful, we can all agree that when these developers have put their mind to something, the results have been spectacular.
We all remember our first time jogging through the dark hallways of the Pillar of Autumn without a weapon. A first person shooter that took a chance by not giving you a weapon. Granted, you were extremely unlikely to die on the first level, but that sort of design decision is bold. Such a small change can completely alter your outlook on a game.
Some of us fondly recall the bold storytelling of Ace Combat, a series that rarely focused on its gameplay (at least in the PS2 era on) and instead tried to sell you on its story.
Others of us will fondly remember that one time in World of Warcraft when we finally got to level 60, proving that we were one of the best.
Listing out game after game would get very tiresome indeed, but, even now, it is easy to forget that the game that we love was built by people just like us. The developers sat there perfecting their designs and algorithms for hours on end to ensure that we were entertained to our fullest.
As a casual writer and programmer, I can certainly tell you that both writing and coding a game would be no small feat. Add in the fact that teams of hundreds of people will work on these games over their lifetime and suddenly it is difficult to not be impressed with the fact that it all just managed to come together.
Game developers might not always take chances, but they certainly try their hardest to make even the worst situation come out all right. This Last-Gen Heroes/Zeroes article series has been all about celebrating the best and the worst of video games, but none of it would be possible without the tireless devotion of the game developers.
To all the game developers out there right now making one of our next favorite games, you guys make this industry worth it.
To all the game developers that helped build the gaming world to what it is today but didn't make it this far, I salute you. You helped build an unprecedented industry that won't be forgotten for ages.
You guys (and girls!) are my heroes.
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