Below are some traditional New Year’s Resolutions re-spun for the game development workplace. After that we hear from some leading UK developers what they plan to achieve in the next 12 months.
1. Lose the flab
Make no mistake, next year is going to be tough economically, and the games industry is unlikely to be immune. By dealing with those not pulling their weight now, your studio is more likely to provide jobs for the rest come 2010.
2. Be more friendly
Social networking isn’t just a distraction from your day job. The likes of Facebook and Myspace are becoming game platforms in their own right, and they also offer new ways to promote your titles and your brand.
3. Pay less tax
It’s been a long wait for an official games development tax break in the UK, and there’s no sign of anything changing soon. Instead, make sure your studio is claiming any R&D tax credits due, and check your pensions and other benefits are structured as tax efficiently as possible, particularly in the light of the upcoming tweaks to National Insurance announced in the pre-Budget report.
4. Quit the all-nighters
Relentless Software in Brighton has responded to a grown-up games workforce by banishing crunch. The studio gets its games finished to time and budget, and employees get their life back.
5. Learn a new language
There’s probably never been more new stuff going on in games. Whether it’s adding YouTube export, building user-generated content into your next game, or learning Mandarin and setting up a team in China, fresh challenges abound.
6. Stop smoking
There’s no games development angle to this one: It’s simply the single deadliest and dumbest thing you can do to your body. If just one reader heeds this reminder, we can live with being sanctimonious.
Here are a few resolutions other game developers are making for 2009.
Lol Scragg, Cohort Studios: “2009, eh? Firstly I hope that every developer has a chance for survival given the current climate – a year without a closure would be amazing but maybe too much to hope for. Secondly, I want us to start selling games dev as a viable career opportunity much earlier on in the education process – we need to sort out our skills shortages somehow. Finally, I want to be able to sit back and watch as the industry wakes up to the fact that developers are the guys who create the product and therefore deserve better rewards!”
Colin Macdonald, Realtime Worlds: “Our resolutions are to get all the finishing touches done to our online title APB, see it through one of the biggest game launches of 2009, and contribute to finally proving to those who look down on games that it’s a formidable industry, particularly in a climate more and more traditional industries are proving they can’t handle.”
Jason Avent, Black Rock Studios: “My games industry New Year’s resolution is to campaign against everyone releasing their games at the same time before Christmas. As a developer, it’s annoying to see your game drowned in a sea of mighty Evergreen competition, and as a consumer it’s annoying that there are so many games to buy at the same time. This, too, when there are massive droughts at other times of the year.”
Darren Jobling, Eutechnyx: “I have two resolutions for 2009. The first is to save enough cash to buy just one of the cars in SuperCar Challenge. The second is to seek help for habitually pimping Eutechnyx’ games.”
Sarah Chudley, Bizarre Creations: “Bizarre’s New Year’s resolutions – apart from the usual vowing to avoid buying any more Viagra from the Internet or waking up drunk in random gutters in Liverpool – are as follows:
1. To make Activision proud of their new recruits by developing our two AAA titles for them.
2. To do what we can to promote and support the industry through education and any other means.
3. Above all, to continue being Bizarre! We’re going to work to maintain the relaxed and creative culture we’ve always had in the past, so we can come through a busy 2009 still smiling!”
John Broomhall, Independent audio director: “My New Year’s resolution is to promote and celebrate the astounding storytelling power of sound throughout all my projects and journalism. I really hope 2009 will see game audio designers taking the craft and artistry of intelligent sound design to new heights of excellence beyond movies. On the major gaming platforms, there is simply no excuse for boring, literal soundscapes and repetitive spot FX – or an ill-considered cacophony. Of course we need great technology, but for me, working in game audio 2009 should be about the power of ideas and cloudbursts of creativity! Audio mediocrity is so last year.”
David Hamilton, Digital Goldfish: "Digital Goldfish’s New Year resolution is to have a top ten paid iPhone App in the App store by the end of 2009. This exciting new market lets you bring what you feel is a good game to market, and not just what the publishers think. Long live the iPhone!"