AAA games get bigger and bigger as time goes on, with each new blockbuster coming with a production budget that is sky high. This is a problem that some developers have touched on before, but now the issue has come up once again. This time the person discussing it is Uncharted 3 director Amy Hennig, delving into the AAA development process and all of the issues that come with it on the Idle Thumbs Designer Notes podcast.
She starts by talking about her time at Naughty Dog, saying “[It was] really hard. The whole time I was at Naughty Dog – ten-and-a-half years – I probably, on average, I don’t know if I ever worked less than 80 hours a week. There were exceptions where it was like, ‘Okay, let’s take a couple of days off,’ but I pretty much worked seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day.”
She goes on to discuss the process of the average AAA game development, saying “When you go to pitch a game like this, it’s like, ‘Well it better have this many hours, and you’d better have this mode, and you’d better do this.’ Or we could go, ‘You know what, we’re gonna make the best fucking six hour game you’ve ever seen. And that’s all it is. And could you please make that $40?’”
Finally, she says “We’re definitely at the point where something’s gotta give… And my hope was that different means of distribution, the fact that everything wasn’t bricks-and-mortar and in a box, it would be that. And I think in some quarters that’s true, but I think for AAA development we’re still stuck in that rut, and the ante keeps getting upped.”
It’s definitely an interesting topic, considering just about every AAA game these days needs to become a long-running franchise in order to stay afloat. While games being improved upon and made bigger and better is a great thing for consumers, you also have to wonder how far it can go until these games become too big to actually be sustainable.