Stanley’s Profitable: Galactic Cafe Shifts 100K+ Parables

By Alec Meer on October 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Not bad going for a game that that’s so very difficult to describe, eh? Galactic Cafe – aka Davey Wreden – have managed to flog over 100,000 copies of affectionate choice’n'consequence skit The Stanley Parable to date. Did he achieve this by following the rules and doing everything he was expected to, or did he choose another path, going his own way despite the nurturing wisdom of onlookers. I reckon the latter, given he put out a demo, which lots of money-hungry men in suits claim is commercial suicide despite repeated evidence to the contrary.

The demo, itself a satire and discussion of demos, helped the game both generate anticipation and extra press, he reckons. “We spent two years making The Stanley Parable. For an extra two months work, we get an entire second game’s worth of press. That seems like too good a deal to risk going without.”

But on top of that, the game’s ridden on a wave of mystery and cheer rather than grand promises. Indeed, he essentially avoided explaining what the game was in its marketing. “We released five trailers over the course of the game’s development, and not one of them contains any substantial actual footage of the game,” he explains in a post-mortem post which you should read in full. “If you make the marketing material interesting on its own, it’s irrelevant whether it ‘sells’ your game.”

Speaking of selling, that was never the priority. “Our focus was always on creating content that was on its own fun for people to experience and to be a part of, with essentially zero per cent of the design aimed at trying to get the game to sell.”

Well done Mr Wreden, anyway. Much-deserved, and I suspect we’ll be covering Stanley a whole lot more here soon – a Verdict looms, hopefully. Be sure to read Nathan’s mega-meta-Wot I Think too. I played it at the weekend, then played it again and again and again and I’m quite sure I haven’t seen all its permutations yet, so doubtless I’ll play it again and again and again still.

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45 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    tigerfort says:

    “We released five trailers over the course of the game’s development, and not one of them contains any substantial actual footage of the game,”

    Of course, quite a few big name titles have tried that approach too. But their trailers tend to be less interesting (not to mention less funny).

    • BlackAlpha says:

      That’s their issue, their trailers are run of the mill, possibly quite literally if you consider how their trailers are probably made by some PR company that uses a generic formula for their trailers. Or maybe their trailers are copied after other run of the mill trailers. Or maybe it’s because their trailers don’t tell you a damn thing about the actual game. Regardless, that generic trailer formula hasn’t changed for a long time and people are getting bored of such run of the mill trailers. So when a unique and actually interesting trailer comes along, people notice.

    • brittanysarah84 says:

      my best friend’s step-mother makes $88/hour on the laptop. She has been without work for 10 months but last month her pay was $14500 just working on the laptop for a few hours. this article ……
      http://www.jobs53.com

  2. MuscleHorse says:

    I’ve dipped into it several times now, usually leaving it after discovering a new ending. It really is a wonderful little thing: as if Chris Morris and Douglas Adams came together to lampoon first person tropes. My only concern is missing an ending/outcome.

    -Spoiler-
    My favourite moment so far was probably discovering the ‘making of’ gallery, though the narrator getting fed up and starting up Minecraft was fun too.

  3. waaaaaaaals says:

    The best bit about the demo was the gallery of successful demos with Gunpoint and Half-Life 1 : Uplink on it.

    It’s another sign that the industry people who think demos are bad, either don’t put effort into demos or are trying to sell games which are so bad that nobody in their right minds would buy if they got to try it first.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      This is the real issue, of course. Publishers don’t like to issue demos because releasing demos of games which aren’t as good as they say they are DOES hurt sales.

      If your game is entertaining and / or interesting, releasing a (good) demo will help you sell it. If your game is a mediocre manshoot or otherwise not as good as the marketing suggests then there’s every chance it will reduce your sales.

      • The Random One says:

        Yeah, this reminds me of Tom Francis talking to businesspeople about Gunpoint’s demo. Let me just quote the entire relevant bit:

        “I didn’t let anyone pay for Gunpoint until I was ready to put a free demo out, so everyone would have a way to make sure it ran OK on their system and that they liked it before giving me any money.

        I was informed by lots of people with industry experience that this is commercial idiocy: you want to hold it back so that excited fans buy without trying, then you can release the demo later to tempt those who weren’t convinced. And with some (not all), you get weird responses if you bring up non-money factors in a business conversation.

        “You’ll lose sales this way!”
        “From people who don’t really like it? I think I want to lose those sales.”
        “No, you don’t understand. You’ll have less sales.“”

    • Ericston says:

      It was uncanny to find out I had played every single one of the demo’s on that wall. Well played.

  4. Premium User Badge

    tumbleworld says:

    It’s wonderful to see such a delightfully anarchic and hilarious game doing well. Here’s to lots more eccentricity in gaming!

  5. Paul.Power says:

    The point about making a demo that captures the flavour of a game while still being new content (albeit perhaps made from recycled components) in its own right is an interesting one, and it’s got me wondering if any other games do or have done that.

    Jazz Jackrabbit 2′s demo had three new levels, including one with a not-appearing-in-the-main-game witch who turns you into a harmless frog, needing you to go find the princess to kiss you back into being a rabbit. But then, JJ2 came out back in the days when demos were still a major thing that most game companies did.

    In recent times, I can’t think of any games offhand other than The Stanley Parable that have taken this approach. Can anyone else think of any?

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      Kentucky Route Zero did something similar as well. I do agree, it’s interesting, and I’m glad to hear from a dev that he thinks it was worth it.

    • MarcP says:

      The FEAR 2 demo used bits and pieces from various levels, with slightly different events than in the final game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        FEAR 1 did this too. I always thought it was a good approach to a demo, as it is understandable that they can’t always create completely new content. It is also a good way of doing something along the lines of a film trailer in game form, piecing segments of the game together.

        It is kind of absurd that given the amount of money that goes into the marketing of AAA titles, some of that can’t be used to create a demo. Certainly going to create more publicity than teaser trailer no. 48 or throwing a massive lunch party for 20 industry insiders (unless they are scared of bad publicity, of course…)

    • povu says:

      Not a demo, but Frictional’s first gameplay trailer of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and their new game SOMA both had levels built specifically for the trailer that were not in the main game.

  6. SuicideKing says:

    I played the demo, and loved it, though it did seem to be Portal Without Portals or Guns. Or GLaDOS. Well, almost. That’s sort of a huge compliment because Portal 2 was GoTY for me back in 2011.

    Currently wondering i should get it in the next 24 hour sale or wait till Black Friday/Christmas.

    • Talon2000uk says:

      I’d say if you can afford the £7 get it now. We really need to encourage great game development like this. Its so little for such a great game, I’ve laughed more playing it in an evening than I’ve laughed playing a game since, well since I can’t remember when.

      It’s so good to see small Indy Developers producing content that puts most AAA developers and publishers to shame.

    • Premium User Badge

      wonderingmonster says:

      If you play the full version you might find that your impression is truer than you think.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    Hooray! A great game, very pleased for the developers.

  8. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    Stanley decided to comment on the article detailing the game of his life. He slowly wrote out his two word comment and clicked the “Opinion, away!” button.

    Stanley was proud to see “BUY IT” under the article of his life.

  9. Bull0 says:

    Welcome to THE WHITEBOARD ENDING!

  10. mangrove says:

    Stanley Parable contains as much gameplay as a potato, maybe less. You just go down corridors and press a button here and there, some of them don’t even do anything. You can’t even run or jump. You have to walk, and you shuffle round really slow like a leper with no feet. There are about two different endings max. All that happens in both of them is that an English man talks to you like you are an idiot. Is that why people like this? Because they enjoy being insulted in an English accent. Maybe I should start screaming insults at people in this accent so that they walk away from me less. Like for example : You are the weakest idiot, goodbye.

    I really wanted to hate this game. But I couldn’t because as I have just established it isn’t one, and because it is so small it only takes about 30 seconds to complete in it’s entirety. It is like trying to hate Hitler when all that ever existed of him was his left pinky finger.

    I give Stanley Parable my OFFICIAL STAMP OF DISAPPROVAL.

    • Bull0 says:

      “There are about two different endings max.”

      Can’t tell if serious etc

    • Perjoss says:

      “because it is so small it only takes about 30 seconds to complete in it’s entirety”

      *spoiler*

      You know, there are other endings apart from the one where you stay in Stanley’s office and just close the door :)

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        To be fair to those that don’t like it, if you aren’t onboard with the humour, this game won’t work for you. Fortunately, I like being insulted by a fellow Englishman, so I found it hilarious, but I can see others finding it obnoxious.

    • dE says:

      Hello Raphael. Nice of you to join us.

    • LionsPhil says:

      All that happens in both of them is that an English man talks to you like you are an idiot. Is that why people like this?

      QI is one of the most popular panel games the BBC has made in ages.

      So, apparently, yes.

    • jorygriffis says:

      I know it was a (preposterous) rhetorical proposition, but if I ever encountered Hitler’s left pinky finger I think I would probably freak the fuck out.

    • Turkey says:

      “It’s not really a game” and “Don’t call it a roguelike:” Two viewpoints I’m sure will win out in the future.

    • lordfrikk says:

      Let me give you a list of reasons why making a distinction whether Stanley Parable is a game really matters:

  11. engion3 says:

    I played this when it first came out as a mod, is it worth trying again? Did they add/change alot?

    • lucian says:

      Play it again, it’s quite different and of course much more complete.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I haven’t encountered the alot yet, but it’s about 60% old and 40% new material. The structure is roughly the same, and all the old branches are there in one way or another, but there’s quite a few new ones as well and the visuals are completely overhauled.

      I’ll admit I mostly bought it to basically pay for the mod I played ages ago, but it still was a worthy purchase on its own.

      • engion3 says:

        Yeah that’s kind of the approach I was going with, excited there’s new material though. Thanks for answers.

    • Grygus says:

      Definitely check out the demo. It is free and will answer all your questions without needing to trust sinister Internet people.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aninhumer says:

        Given that their question was about the specific content of the game, rather than the general feel, I rather doubt the demo would tell them anything.

    • Premium User Badge

      strangeloup says:

      From having played a great deal of the mod, the standalone release is vastly expanded in terms of content, and of course it’s had a complete, and pretty impressive, graphical overhaul — no longer is it cobbled together from stock Source resources and free textures.

      There’s a lot more voicework too, and I think the lines that were originally in the mod have been re-recorded, but I’m not 100% sure on that.

  12. Nibblet says:

    Absolutly brilliant game. Kinda short but i would still rate it 9 baby owls and a duck.

    • sirdavies says:

      You do know that the point is to play it over and over again right?

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        I must admit that I’ve found it quite short too. I have encountered maybe about 3/4 of the endings and was surprised I had seen so much when I had look to see how many I still had left to find. I’ve only played it for about 3 hours tops. I was expecting many more endings that occurred more randomly or through completely irrelevant exploration, but most paths are quite clearly marked.

        Definitely worth the money I spent though and I would recommend anyone that is interested in games as a narrative medium to check it out. Don’t think any game has made me laugh as much.

      • Wedge says:

        Yeah it’s quite short even with all the endings and seeing all the variations of whatever. You’re talking 5-15 minutes for an ending, other than THAT one… which I think most people will just watch the video for.

  13. Servicemaster says:

    2013 is the year of Existential Games. With Stanley’s Parable, Bioshock Ininitum and The Antichamber, it’s hard for me to stay grounded, psychologically speaking. And those are just the games I’ve played, I’m sure Gone Home and.. I don’t know, Payday 2 probably make you question your existence as well.

    My absolute favorite part about The Stanley Parable is it is so well aware of what it is, it yanks you into immersion. But only if you are aware of books and stories and poetry and you don’t go to movies just to see giant robots fight each other. It’s so much a story about a story that it gets off on itself. But since it’s a game, you’re getting off with it! That is, unless you’re expecting a game instead of a story.

    What other media can pull you in like this? The Stanley Parable made me laugh the hardest I have ever laughed at a game, on a number of occasions. But as I walked down the stairs, pacing round and round while the Narrator contemplated not just my existence but his as well, I actually felt nauseous. I felt terrible. I was relieved by death.

    What the shit kind of game is this? The last time I felt like this was when I read Slaughterhouse Five a few months ago. Shifting in and out of time, restarting when I want to, knowing who I am but nobody else matters nor cares…

    Perception is a fantastic construct and I’m elated to see games really, really fucking with it. The 4th wall has been destroyed, it’s now being rebuilt and a 5th wall is coming into view. I am so glad this game is selling well and I cannot wait to gift it to some friends for Christmas.

  14. fish99 says:

    Kinda off-topic, but apparently only 4% of people who played Volgarr the Viking, paid for it, according to a tweet by Crazy Viking Studios.