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Outsourced Development?


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#1 MazingerZ

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 07:52 PM

So a comment I read struck me as interesting earlier today.  The concept that ArenaNet outsources parts of its development.  Now, these concepts are nothing new in software development and game development as a whole.  But as Aliens: Colonial Marines has shown us, improper outsourcing can lead to all sorts of issues and the usual problems that come with accepting the lowest bidder to do your work for you.

But ArenaNet is outsourcing.  Here they have a job opening for an Art Production manager and apparently asset creation is being outsource: http://www.gamasutra...ion_manager.php

Here's the LinkedIn profile of a formerly outsourced animation artist now working directly for ArenaNet: http://www.linkedin....ackman/4/63/402

So they are apparently outsourcing talent and when handled properly, there's nothing wrong with this.  Outsourcing allows you a certain level of flexibility.  You don't have to manage the employee benefits, you can drop the outsourced help much easier than firing employees.  It's not a bad move provided its managed properly.

But it comes with dangers.  You're introducing more layers of separation with management of the outsourced firm.  You've no control over the employees doing the work.  You're putting a lot of faith and trust in the company doing the outsourced work, which again, can be fine, but then you also run the risk of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Blizzard is the rare unicorn that apparently does not outsource talent.  Even EA/Bioware outsourced SWTOR work.

So the question probably becomes... has outsourcing been beneficial to the game?  It seems to be that despite ArenaNet claiming 300 employees (including the non-development staff), it might actually be more if you include the outsourced help.  Is the rate of development reflective of a company leveraging 300 employees + an outsourced staff?

Do you think staff outsourcing has any direct effect on quality of development?  Obviously, overall design work is probably being done by ArenaNet.  Outsourced work would probably largely be art and sound assets.  That being said, if ArenaNet is theoretically having the bulk of the work pushed off onto cheaper labor and have more resource directed at design and balance.

A lot of supposition and conjecture here, but the entire idea is that ArenaNet claims 300 employees not counting the outsourced staff, which means they probably have more assets on hand to get more done.  The question becomes whether the idea of more resources than what's on the company payroll is reflective of the work delivered to the player-base.
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#2 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:11 PM

I still firmly believe that the core Guild Wars issue (by that I mean GW1 AND GW2) aren't the people in the trenches, it's the people making the decisions: I am not bothered by outsources talent, I am bothered by the ideas these talents need to implement.

Edited by Baron von Scrufflebutt, 03 February 2014 - 08:37 PM.


#3 El Duderino

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:16 PM

View PostBaron von Scrufflebutt, on 03 February 2014 - 08:11 PM, said:

I still firmly believe that the core Guild Wars issue (by that I mean GW1 AND GW2) aren't the people in the trenches, it's the people making the decisions: I am not bothered by outsources talent, I am bothered by the ideas these talents needs to implement.

I think I agree with this. Despite the fact that outsourcing and low wages can spawn uninspired creations, it isn't a necessity or even something that is inherent in outsourcing. However, when the management of a game basically isn't trying to be innovative, that is all that is needed to ruin the ambitions of the people below them to create something spectacular.

I think from reading some of Oppenheimer's posts, as well as some other cues around the internet, we can assume that the management team is dysfunctional at best and would rather be "safe" with their development than truly innovative.

#4 MazingerZ

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:32 PM

View PostBaron von Scrufflebutt, on 03 February 2014 - 08:11 PM, said:

I still firmly believe that the core Guild Wars issue (by that I mean GW1 AND GW2) aren't the people in the trenches, it's the people making the decisions: I am not bothered by outsources talent, I am bothered by the ideas these talents needs to implement.

But considering that there's apparently a lot of talent being under-payed (comparatively to ArenaNet managing them as actual employees), does this affect your perception that any money given to the company is being properly spent?

Brand loyalty is an important thing,and people like to not just feel like they're getting adequate service for what they pay for, but that the company receiving their patronage is somehow expending that money wisely and in a positive way toward the betterment of the product/service.  It's half the reason chain stores tout employee upward mobility and benefits in commercials, because they don't to be seen as an entity abusing the working class.

Outsourced work carries a connotation of contracting the lowest bidder, and that can inherently carry a sense of caring more about shaving pennies than trying to deliver on quality and content.  Again, this is one of the issues that haunted Aliens: Colonial Marines... The outsourced work was very poor.

Edited by MazingerZ, 03 February 2014 - 08:34 PM.

It's okay to enjoy crap if you're willing to admit it's crap.
Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#5 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:46 PM

View PostMazingerZ, on 03 February 2014 - 08:32 PM, said:

But considering that there's apparently a lot of talent being under-payed (comparatively to ArenaNet managing them as actual employees), does this affect your perception that any money given to the company is being properly spent?

Brand loyalty is an important thing,and people like to not just feel like they're getting adequate service for what they pay for, but that the company receiving their patronage is somehow expending that money wisely and in a positive way toward the betterment of the product/service.  It's half the reason chain stores tout employee upward mobility and benefits in commercials, because they don't to be seen as an entity abusing the working class.

Outsourced work carries a connotation of contracting the lowest bidder, and that can inherently carry a sense of caring more about shaving pennies than trying to deliver on quality and content.  Again, this is one of the issues that haunted Aliens: Colonial Marines... The outsourced work was very poor.

Just to be perfectly clear, I am not disagreeing that there are issues or even trying to justify them. What I am saying though, is that I don't put the blame for the problems onto the outsourced talent (even if they are the result of their shoddy work): the blame falls onto the people that are unable to provide these talents with the needed direction, the people who don't recognize that they are being fed shoddy work or simply don't care. These problems would still persist even if the work wouldn't be/isn't outsourced.

Edited by Baron von Scrufflebutt, 03 February 2014 - 08:47 PM.


#6 Feathermoore

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:51 PM

Speculation is great and all that, but this isn't something that we even have the ability to discuss. Without knowing what is outsourced or how much is outsourced it is completely 100% conjecture to discuss this. Nothing productive can come of this.

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