As with pretty much every industry at the moment, video games have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. For game development studios, many of which that work as a collective team under one roof, with the right tools and systems secured in that one location to get the job done, the prospect of self-isolation can be a difficult problem to overcome.
Interested to find out more about some of the different issues and challenges that developers are facing during this pandemic, as well as some general information about game development during self-isolation? Here’s a short list of some different ways that developers/companies are working through quarantine.
Gaming Delays and Cancellations
Of course, with things put on hold indefinitely in many different aspects, many companies are having to adapt and get their offices set up from home, and these problems can affect production schedules and deadlines. The typical office setup is secure and fully integrated with the right equipment and network infrastructure to get the job done efficiently; in working from home, not only is there an issue of protecting information/data from getting leaked and spoiled for everyone, but there is also the issue of developing on the correct hardware, as certain development tools require quite a lot of horsepower to get going.
Games industry events have also been cancelled as a result of self-isolation restrictions, much like many other mass gatherings, such as live music or sporting events. E3 won’t be taking place for the first time since 1999, and instead, gaming outlets/personalities such as IGN, Gamespot and Geoff Keighley are doing their own thing in order to allow fans to get their fix of gaming reveals/insight, as well as giving developers a platform to showcase what they’re working on remotely.
European expo Gamescom will be happening as a series of live events, rather than the monolithic trade show that it usually is in Germany. Nintendo has also announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nintendo Direct reveal event that they had planned has been cancelled, and so we are likely to hear the latest news from them either through trailers or social media posts. Microsoft and Sony are doing things in a similar fashion.
A large part of the development process involves overcoming and getting past some of the different hurdles and issues that naturally come in your way (be it technical or otherwise), and so while the Coronavirus pandemic is certainly proving to be difficult for many people working within the gaming industry, many studios face issues that they have to problem solve and overcome on a daily basis.
One example of an issue that a game studio can face is porting their releases to a wide range of different consoles, making little tweaks here and there, or sometimes fundamental changes to a game’s structure, in order to allow it to fit onto the myriad of hardware variations that exist on the market. Abstraction Games are a good example of a company that thrives in this area, offering expertise and knowledge on over 16 different gaming platforms.
An ‘Astronomical’ Showing
One inspiring development achievement that springs to mind in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (and its resulting self-isolation restrictions) is the out-of-this-world virtual performance given by Travis Scott from within global phenomenon Fortnite.
Dating from April 23-25, fans could sign into the game, and rather than fighting each other to the death in a Battle Royale scenario, they’d instead watch in awe as ‘Cactus Jack’ himself performed some of his well-known tracks (including Goosebumps and SICKO MODE), as well as some new music – in the form of THE SCOTTS with Kid Cudi. Fans could even purchase limited-time skins and customisation options in order to commemorate the event, just as they would with physical concert merchandise. The concert was a landmark event not just for Fortnite but for virtual ‘e-concerts’ and event in general, with over 12 million people tuning in to watch live while it was happening, but the development team themselves also deserve applause for their efforts from home.
The impressive psychedelic visuals and interactive elements that went alongside Scott’s chart-topping music were praised almost universally (even by those that don’t necessarily enjoy his music), and the dev team worked hard from home to get the assets and overall package finished on time. Combining this with their recent Unreal Engine 5 reveal and even the fact that they’re giving Grand Theft Auto 5 away for free to Epic Games Store users, it’s safe to say that the company are doing their bit to make lockdown and self-isolation that bit more bearable.