The Ubergamer Manifesto is intended to encourage the development of and the participation in a body of knowledge and resources surrounding all aspects of game creation for the purpose of furthering the art form.
The most recent version of The Ubergamer Manifesto can always be found at http://www.BurningArt.com/meico/ubergame/manifesto.html. Additions, comments, or criticisms can be forwarded to [meico][at][armory][dot][com]. As time permits, new versions of the mainfesto will be released, updated to include contributions as well as credits for contributors.
Computer gaming is on the verge of a whole new era. Machines now have the graphics and computational power to create truly immersive worlds. Network gaming is allowing masses of people to participate in online communities around the globe. Console machines and cheap computers have become nearly as commonplace as the household television. The game industry is growing exponentially and shows no signs of abating- already surpassing the movie industry in sales. This phenominal explosion of technology and creativity is poised to become the major artform of the 21st century.
Unfortunately, we are still in the dark ages of game making - games are waiting to move to the next level as an art form. In every aspect of the game industry there are serious problems that need to be addresed before this next stage can be achieved. Most game makers trundle along with the status quo neither attacking these isssues nor pushing their boundaries.
However, there exists a class of game makers that excel beyond the status quo. Game makers that push the boundaries of game genres and redefine what games are. We know some of them by name, others, simply by their creations. Magazines, websites, and fans recognize and give them adoration. They stand out shining in the world of games. They are the Ubergamers.
It's time for game makers to join forces in places like this, to pool knowledge and exchange ideas in order to shape the realities that we want to live in. It is time that those interested in creating better games make their voices heard. It is time to start the Ubergamer Revolution.
There is a sore lack of new and innovative ideas. What is presented as new is often ill conceived and only half-baked. Too many great game ideas, fondly remembered by a few, are forgotten even though they deserve recognition or even to be resurrected and expanded on. They are unknown to many designers - they don't know what has been done already - they don't know what has worked and what hasn't. The same mistakes are made over and over again while the innovations of the past are neglected. All this is occurring while uninspired and simplistic game ideas are repeated over and over again because they are safe and easy.
Game design, once the founding base of games, has been shuffled to the side by the razzle and dazzle of pretty graphics and intense sounds. Without that base, far too often, a game that could have been great falls flat on its face - beatiful from the outside yet later exposed as having only a hollow core. Bad writing, horrible and overly simplistic storylines, and painfully stilted dialog abounds. There is a preponderance of games that have terrible game flow and poor interface design. Most games have inconsistent depths of detail and user interaction, and many games lack even decent play balancing.
A deep understanding about what games are and how that helps us to create better ones is hard to find. Knowledge about how one design decision affects another is rare. Lists of all existing genres, functional discussions about the design constraints of each, and even an awareness of how to go about creating new genres is non-existent. There are no compilations of lessons learned from the trenches, no lists of what not to do and why.
The player, the person we should be trying the most to please, is very rarely given the things they want. Without access to developers they are left powerless to influence the game creation process. They are in essence abused by the system. We know what they want by reading their emails, websites, and postings on newsgroups. The most driven of gamers will attempt to seize control by making modifications to a game. However this option only exists for a handfull of games and in most of those what the gamer can do is very limited. We know players expect a minimun level of competency from the game designers and a minimum level of concern about their experience. For example, players feel they should not have to solve a puzzle b y blindy choosing, without hints, between two identical options; one leading to success, the other to death. There is a total lack of any sort of adhered to Universal Players Bill of Rights.
Everyone seems to be copying bad fantasy art, and not creating new styles and genres for themselves. We must become more aware of the heavy cultural bias towards western world that exists, especially as the market for games becomes more and more international. We are underestimating out audience - If 20 somethings are now the bulk purchasers, why does game art still appear as if it is designed for (or by) pre-pubesent boys.
Giant titted bimbos abound, their waists too thin to support more than a few grams. Their character designs come off so bad that it appears as if the entire polygon budget was used up on making their huge perfectly spherical breasts. Even male characters are becoming more and more of muscle bound caricatures.
Humanoid aliens are so common one feels as if they've been transported to the land of Kirk's blue women and curly haired Klingons. Two arms, two legs, and a head with eyes, nose, and mouth in the usual configuration gets old. Where are the insectoids, avians, aquatic space explorers, intelligent robots, tentacled beasties, symbiotes, parasites, swarm minds, shape shifters, and amorphous blobs? The same applies to fantasy creatures; where are the griffons, the hydra, the locust swarms, the raiths, 12 armed demons, etc.
There is a huge preponderance 2D gameplay merely rendered into a 3D world. There are vast armadas of giant space cruisers, incapable of entering atmospheres, that have a strange horizontal orientation - as is space itself were a great flat plane.
Perfectly rectangular corridors and rooms are everywhere - inside castles, spaceships, alien tombs; it is as if surfaces at odd angles couldn't be rendered. Doors between rooms are strangely missing or incapable of being locked. Railings on stairs seem to not exist in the computer world (even when current technology is more than adequate).
Game artists are far to often unaware, ignorant, or simply don't apply any of the vast knowledge about creating art that already exists: color theory, graphic design principles, storyboarding, character design, architectural principles, studies of human motion and expression, and the vast body of cinematographic techniques.
Artists and programmers don't seem to speak the same language - better communication is necessary. Information on how to excel beyond the limitations and inadequacies of art pipelines and game engines is too closely guarded. Consequently many artists can't show what a given game engine is truly capable of. Conversely most artists have trouble getting programmers to add features that they know would enhance the art and the game as a whole. For example everything is still being rendered photorealistically even when it is inappropriate and multiple other options exist such as cartoon and cell rendering technologies.
The techniques for dealing with tight or absurd schedules and the people who make them are unused or unkown. Buggy games - once almost unknown - now proliferate. The production of buggy code has become accepted and inadequate debugging is becoming the modus operandi. Good programming practices are ignored - even something as simple as good commenting is often neglected. Because of the time and effort involved in learning other peoples libraries and code programmers wastefully rebuild basic algorithms and structures over and over again.
There is a lack of good tutorials on anything but the simplest of techniques, freely available cutting edge code, extensible-easy to understand frameworks, small-fast-cross platform code libraries, good design documents, and descriptions of good design processes.
There is a prevalence of religious fanaticism on design and style issues instead of good functional discussions as to the good points and bad points of one system vs. the good points and bad points of another.
Far to often compainies and even programmers become infatuated with or get locked into making proprietary code and industry hampering patents. This causes there to be a truly poor trading and dissemination of knowledge. It also causes ther to be a need for heavy-duty research before knowing the best way to approach a problem, even though hundreds of others have faced the same problem before.
Finding a job, especially your first one can be a harrowing experience... starting you own company can be even worse. Once you are working most people quickly find that the hours worked are unheard of in other industries and that there is no job security whatsoever. Finding good people to work with, contractors, good compaines to outsource to, and managing them rarely goes smoothly and tends to not be properly handled.
Knowing how to survive the world of publishers and venture capitalists is nearly a secret art. The art of the schmooze, selling yourself, and getting contracts for sequels or famous name franchises are for better or worse part of the business - so how do you do well in that kind of environment. Knowing how to deal with the legal issues and contracts involved is also sadly lacking.
It is far too easy for the Game Industry to blot out great ideas or intelligent games for the sake of dealines and perceived profits. Great games, even ones that could be smash hits, are cancelled, sell poorly, or only ever achieve cult status.
The moral and legal issues of sex and violence are only now beginning to be hammered out - and probably not the way that we'd like...
Games can be political, and as much as we don't want to admit it they do affect the real world for better or worse... But do they have the power to move a generation or to start a revolution? Do they have the power to make you feel the same emotional extremes as music or a good film? Do they have the ability to touch you intellectually and change the way you view the world like a great book? We will never know, if those who try to push the bounds are crushed by the demands of retail chains, publishers, and worst of all - self censorship.
There is an appalling need for a real sense of community, the free exchange of ideas, and public stores of knowledge and documentation.
To correct the heinous situation we have decided to start a brave new initiative, detailed herein. We are aware that the background to this manifesto is a period of dramatic change in both technology and social conditions. The environment for making games are therefore equally dynamic, and we acknowledge there will be much more debate and revision on these matters as the social, communication, and technical parameters for making games shift.
We shall make a document to point out, in general, the problems we face and encourage others to join in our cause. This manifesto is that document.
We shall create a central place to foster the game community; allow discussions in open forums, and provide the much needed resources for both experts and beginners. That place is UberGame.com.
We shall encourage the participation in and the developement of a body of knowledge and resources surrounding all aspects of game making, leading to more general and powerful game making techniques, and resulting in higher quality commercial and freeware games. Since UberGame.com can only be as good as what people are willing to put into it, we call out, now, for contributions.
The problems faced are most important. They are large but not insurmountable. Those who understand this to be so, understand the need for change, and are in accord with this sentiment, shall help fight for change.
The Ubergamers disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of existing conditions. Let the status quo tremble at the Ubergamer revolution. Game makers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have worlds to win.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever does" - Margaret Mead
This document was created by Meico with the help of Leila Marcucci and Martin Espinoza.