My fifteen year old son has often expressed a desire to modify a video game he is playing. He would say "I wish I could change this or add that." When we explained how games are created through software code, he quickly realized the effort it would take to learn how to code games and to become proficient at it was more effort than he wanted to put into that direction. He will be thrilled at this new development.
From my perspective as a parent, it is good to see creativity becoming an integral component of gaming. The snippets of code are enticing - but I don't see how they will really help regarding encouraging kids to learn software programming - the instant gratification of drag and drop is much more appealing.
On the downside, I am also dreading this development when it hits the market. We often have discussions with our son about prioritizing his time and using self-control to limit his technology time, especially regarding entertainment. A lot of folks are excited about this development and it is understandable, but it also brings new challenges in teaching our children how to balance their time.
I think everyone should try their hand at designing games. I worked with Pat Lawlor for a while designing coin operated games and it was a fantastic experience. It's much harder than you think it is to make people have fun. The music, sound effects, lights, the entire orchestration and presentation, and then the really tough stuff, like the odds. You want the game to be challenging, but you don't want it to be so hard that nobody wants to play. Sometimes you'll have a great idea and find that it's terrific fun, but not something that the game should do frequently. When we did "Family Guy" we let the player get to the mini playfield right away so he could see how much fun it was, but then made it increasingly harder to use the playfield.
I don't mind that the video game SDK will be easy to manipulate the graphics, because moving the graphics around is just programming. The real challenge in designing a game is learning how to make people have fun.
"The real challenge in designing a game is learning how to make people have fun" and since "fun" means different things to different people, the challenge would be to find the fun factor that meets the widest possible audience. Some people enjoy a challenge and want it to be hard - others want it to be fairly mindless. Some people want to design their own games extensively - some just want to play. The beauty of Project Spark from what I can tell is that it makes those options available to the individual - you can design as much or as little as you want and tailor it for yourself. It looks like there are two levels of design here - the overarching game environment (with decisions on how to "make people have fun" that the programmers made) and then the player environment that allows manipulation of the game code to create unique gaming environments within the game.
This new venture is interesting. Talking from experience, playing the same game with the same features and characters becomes boring in the long last. Being able to create your own characters and moves is just the ultimate video game changer. It will be able to satisfy the gamers' and also keep track of trending movies and events by incorporating them into video games. But won't it affect the video games market especially for original video game designers?
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With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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