Thursday, February 21, 2008

Think student games don't matter? Think again.

The Game Developers Choice Awards is an annual show where developers themselves honor the best games of the previous year (much like the Academy Awards for film).

At the GDCA, the winner for Game of the Year was Portal, beating out Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Rock Band and Super Mario Galaxy. Additionally, Portal received several other awards (Innovation and Game Design) and was tied with Bioshock for most nominations overall.

In case the implications of this are not clear, let me say it straight: A seven-person student team made a game that, in the opinion of the professional industry, is better than four other games with teams of 100+ experienced industry professionals each.

The Independent Games Festival went much the same, with four-person student project World of Goo walking away with the grand prize (along with the other two things was nominated for).

Okay, so these aren't technically "students" anymore since they all graduated last year. And yes, the people involved in these games are absolutely brilliant, and I wouldn't expect this to be achievable by just anyone. But at the same time, I think it says something that small teams lacking industry experience are capable of this kind of success. If you are working on a student project, take it seriously...


Anonymous said...

Is that really accurate to call Portal a 7-person student project? My understanding is that the original Portal was a small group project made by students at Digipen, and they were hired by Valve but it is my understanding that a full team was involved in the development of the commercially available Portal.

Unknown said...

I don't know about the Digipen, bit - but I was under a similar impression. That is, that Valve developed the Portal we all know and love (even if at an unhealthy level) *based* on a student project.

Ian Schreiber said...

Nope, Valve basically hired the 7-person Narbacular Drop team to make Portal. Three senior people were added, to assist mainly with story writing and dialogue.

If you can find information to the contrary, please post a link to let me know. I'm basing my information off of what I've heard at GDC, and what I've seen on Wikipedia.

O.G.N said...

Well, the Portal end credits lists rather more than seven names. Since no titles are given it's a bit hard to tell though. For all I know they could be the team behind the Source engine + all the beta testers.