Thoughts about developer burnout and some genre musing
John Carmack’s recent interview with MobileIndustry.biz has sparked my old robautomated thinking unit to consider the appeal of the mobile game industry to veteran developers (I know, it felt funny writing it, too). Check it out.
Following the recent release of id’s DOOM RPG, Carmack announced his interest yesterday in developing a genre-swapped mobile version of the multiplayer pc classic Quake 3 Arena. MobileIndustry.biz suggests in the interview that Carmack’s newfound interest in mobile gaming (beyond making oodles of money) stems from a disdain in taking 4 to 5 years to complete a pc game, and a hunger to “return to the era when you could turn around a project in under six months.”
For his part, Carmack cited the ease of developing Java applications as one of the things that got him interested, as well as the “evolutionary benefits you get with short development cycles.” Carmack indicates in the interview that the quality of mobile games can increase at a much higher rate than in other sections of the industry because of their short development times, claiming that “doing two evolutionary cycles in less than a year is a huge win!”
Whether or not developers like Carmack taking on mobile projects becomes a full-time thing remains to be seen, but it’s definitely something worth looking forward to. Having A-list developers like Hideo Kojima and Shigeru Miyamoto work on little 3-month projects as downtime before their next major release would be a great boon for the industry. This is especially true if it comes in a form similar to what Carmack is doing: taking proven classics and remixing them to better suit the needs of the mobile format. While I would much rather play DOOM on my iPod than DOOM RPG, the idea of a multiplayer Quake 3 sporting a new genre is very intriguing; just think of the cool Metal Gear minigames Kojima could do for mobile phones.
Regardless, the mobile game industry needs some new genre lifeblood, even if it’s only console genres that have yet to make an appearance on the mobile scene. I’m sure we are all tired of bowling, sudoku, and card games on our phones. Which is probably why Scott Sharkey at 1up seems pretty excited about The Shroud, a Harvest Moon influenced farm-rpg. While mobile rpgs are all the rage in Japan, they are few and far between here, so it’s good to see something that’s potentially better suited to the confines of the mobile environment popping up in North America. Who knows? Maybe 2K6 won’t be so bad for mobile gaming after all.