Rockstar Stories – Leaving Money on the Table

Rockstar Stories – How Rockstar Games is Leaving Money on the Table

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent with an Open Storefront for Content http://jeffool.com

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent and Make Tons of Money Doing It http://jeffool.com

Rockstar hasn’t released any single player DLC for their 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V. What they have released is tons of free content for it’s multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, and offered in-game currency for real money. Apparently it’s sold gangbusters. Every time news hits about GTAO there’s always complaints “I wish they’d release single player content” or “They said they would release more heists!” (They haven’t.) So, I’d like to pitch an idea for a lot more, widely varied, single player content. Allow me to dream for a moment.

I’d like to see Rockstar open a new studio largely staffed of fresh hires to bolster their future games. People looking to get into the industry, for that first job. The kind of people who want to apply, but don’t have the experience to get the type of jobs that are actually advertised. Start them off with jobs scripting single player DLC content in Rockstar’s open world games.

You want your A team on your A job. Rockstar’s teams all have excellent content creators who create, often, very compelling and interesting quests that work on several levels, both offering fun gameplay and compelling main quests. I imagine (maybe wrongly?) that a second team, still of top level quality, is tasked with the non-essential quests, offering wonderful atmosphere and characters to fill out the greater world. For brevity’s sake only, let’s call them the B team.

But what about the minor leagues? I’m confident Rockstar can create a studio chiefly staffed of entry level developers, all tasked with learning and using the tools to put written missions into action. This farm league of content will obviously need scripts. Open that to everyone.

Create a blind submission system open to everyone, and let the studio decide what works well as a combined DLC package. Let aspiring designers write and pitch concepts at different levels, let those ideas be greenlit, conditionally greenlit with criticism, or turned down with optional criticism. From this point Rockstar can bring those designers in to flesh out points of contention or script, or do it themselves, but it’s key they cut those writers in on the profit. And while those rookie scripters should all get a salary, I can imagine some of them wanting a percentage too, but that’s their place to argue for.

The real benefit to this? Once you have teams able to work with each other, and others, to create worthwhile DLC? You have a team of people pumping out lots of small content for small fees, using existing in-game resources and existing tools. Then what do you do? You pluck the top talent of this creative team, and you partner them with big names.

I’d love to see the mix of character and crime drama author Greg Rucka, or Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven DeKnight, or maybe some inspired work from Dear White People’s Justin Simien (did you know that’s getting a Netflix series? I and @GiantSquidOverdrive called that in January, and Simien even retweeted that, four months before the announce… Ain’t he a stinker?)

Offer players a storefront for single player DLC. I’m not even asking for the ability to inject new models or sounds. Rockstar would probably demand full voice acting, but honestly so many people click through that it’s crazy. Only bother with rookie voice actors too, to help them get their chops, if you really want that.

My underlying point here is a simple one. It’s completely feasible. And with the half a billion Rockstar has made in GTA V’s online alone, it would be doable for a very tiny portion of that. Especially if you use similar tools for more than one of their future games. Then you’ve opened the floodgates to creators making money from working with, and writing for, Rockstar.

Spare paragraphs written for, but not used in, this post:

In 2015 Bethesda tried to monetize mods for its game The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, and the backlash was palpable. Not just because people were stealing mods and uploading them as their own to make money, or the concern that popular mods used as bases would demand payment, but also because the rate the mod creators were paid was shit. The modders who made the content could set their own price, but they only received 25% of that fee. The rest went to Bethesda and the store owners, Valve.

Did you know Star Trek used to have an open script policy? From 1989 to July 2001, any fan who enjoyed the show could write and submit up to two full scripts in attempt to have it bought and made into an episode. Of course the vast majority were never followed up on, they had several lawsuits thrown at them, and only handfuls were made into episodes for the various Star Trek TV shows… One might say the lawsuits are the prime case for not opening your doors to new entrants. I say the 12 year lifespan of this is exactly why it’s worthwhile. They canceled the program just a few years before they canceled the TV show that was on at the time, Star Trek: Enterprise (February 2005).

Would it change your mind if I told you one of those writers was Bryan Fuller, creator of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal? Or Ronald D. Moore, who went on to win a Peabody for his work on Battlestar Galactica? Read up on some of the people who got their foot in the door that way: https://weminoredinfilm.com/2015/06/27/6-writers-who-got-their-foot-in-hollywoods-door-thanks-to-star-treks-open-submission-policy/

Armchair Quarterback
Game Industry
Gaming's future

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Bridges to the Future

(Or: Fuck the flying car, where’s my insanely high-speed internet?)

I was listening to a Patton Oswalt album the other day, and he had a bit about how comic books/movies often have alternate timelines and how he thinks that Bush’s election in 2000 was a point of divergence, and somewhere there’s a reality where Gore is president and the twin towers still stand. I’d like to think him right, but no, the point of divergance was much earlier than that. In 1996 a Republican Congress passed, and the Democrat Bill Clinton signed, the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

This Act gave telecoms (in form of surcharges and tax write-offs) two hundred billion dollars (that’s $200,000,000,000,) in exchange for, well, nothing. I mean, nothing aside from laws that made consolidation easier for them. It was supposed to go to things like providing us with fancy-shmancy shit like video-phones that popped up calls on our TVs with a connection as fluid as the show we were watching previously. I don’t know about the World Trade Center standing, but by 2008 we should be able to buy iTouch-like handsets for a hundred bucks and freely access a government maintained nationwide whitespace wifi network to call up anyone we want, anywhere, for free. In fact, bandwidth should be so cheap that we should be able to backup our HDD with no hassle and redownload anything we’ve previously owned with little/no trouble. So, why aren’t we there yet? This is something that’s always bothered me, and on a lark, I decided to look up the Act to see if I was the only one. Y’know who else thought so? A name I’d not heard in a long time. Robert X. Cringely.

He wrote a few articles about it late last year, and if you, like me, missed it, I heartily recommend reading them and taking a moment to ponder exactly what we could do with faster pipes. … Mind boggling, isn’t it? Even aside from the obvious “better porn,” both teleconferencing and working from home would be gimmes. Streaming HD content would be so easy, cable companies wouldn’t be able to get away with ruining HD channels “just because.” They also wouldn’t be able to shape traffic with such a heavy hand. And video conferencing in your living room with friends from all over the world would be seamless, as it’s not too far from it already. Of course the kicker is, before Cringely wrote those articles, that he also wrote the solution. We really need to take the last mile away from these companies. He also talks about our nation’s lack of a broadband policy and our leaders not recognizing that the internet is fast becoming infrastructure every bit as important as roads, telephones, and power, and how that’s leaving us languishing on the world scene. He’s right on every account, and it’s scary.

But being a man, and a gamer, I like puzzles, so, I’ve got a solution:

I’m calling it either “The Power Pipeline.” My plan is designed for middle-sized growing cities, but is scalable to more urban environments as well. Everyone but the most rural American should have join the nation in becoming not only world leaders in internet connectivity and capacity. We already run pipes around the nation for various reasons, most notably power (where we also use unsightly powerlines,) so I suggest an entirely new system like sewers, many feet in diameter, going from city to city, connecting America. In each city you run them to a main facilty where smaller pipes are ran across the city, along every main road and every business district, and eventually every home as well. Require them in newer areas of town, and allow older areas to buy in. What’s in the pipes? Well, first, electricity. Use the pipes to provide energy to street lights and red lights without powerlines everywhere. Also, data lines to provide internet access and phone lines. Now, how is this different than what we currently do? We need a system that’s ideally both cost effective and will last, so it’s key to allow for upgradability. So, every so-often, at ‘server relay stations’ (or whatever you want to call them,) allow access to the tunnels so that old cables can be snaked out and new cables snaked in. As technology evolves, so can the Pipelines.

Paying for this monstrosity? Finance it in large part by prospective internet providers “buying in” on lines laid down (if they want to use these new highspeed lines,) and also with a surcharge on people’s bills who are using the service, as they’ll own the line where it enters their property (much how homeowners own phone and powerlines once they hit owner property. Cringley called it at $1500 per person, for each person ‘owning their own last mile.’ Given that was only a year ago, and the dollar’s down, it may be a bit more… But I think it’s worth it for a public works project of this magnitude. They say “Good, fast, cheap: choose two.” I choose good and cheap, but I really hope we can get a proof of concept up and running in middle America within three years of the The Power Pipeline Bill passing. Why? Well, if not, my chances for reelection are shot. Yeah, that’s right, reelection. Yes, I’m running.
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Just wait until I tell you about my idea for a ‘Water Pipeline’ to cure drought across the nation that I devised while playing Pipe Mania.


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