Bwah? – Neal Stephenson’s CLANG, 39 Others Greenlit

By Nathan Grayson on November 13th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Maybe Valve should put a yellow light in front of Steam Greenlight, because it needs to slooooooooow down – for just a second or two, anyway. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for tons of games getting the go-ahead to drown in sweet, sweet Greenlight green, but this week’s batch included – among a few other questionable/forgettable picks – Neal Stephenson’s CLANG. You know, the one whose development has been mostly halted and may not ever reach completion? Admittedly, Stephenson claims it’ll get finished no matter what… somehow, but maybe Valve should’ve held off until it was in a less questionable position? Or given the slot to a more deserving game? With improvements come new complications. Guess it’s true what they say: it’s not easy bein’ green(light).

Here’s the full list of newly greenlit games:

Paradise Lost and Sokobond already had my attention, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more from the likes of 9.03m, an art game based on the ramifications of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, and Bollywood Wannabe – if only because I’ve always wanted a Bollywood game. I’m less familiar with a lot of the others, and some look rather, um, unpalatable.

Going back to CLANG, meanwhile, I find it quite odd that Valve would give it a pass in the wake of the whole Dark Matter debacle. One game nearly sinks but decides to cast off half its content to make a mad paddle for Steam’s fruitful shores, and yet Valve greenlights a game that – if, worst case scenario, funding never materializes – could pull a similar, “Welp, here’s what we’ve got” switcheroo? That seems like a terrible oversight.

Again, I’m happy that Steam’s widening the Greenlight floodgates, but that approach is clearly yielding troubles of its own. Worst of all, I’m not sure if there even is an ideal outcome for Greenlight in its current form. Valve seems pretty determined to justify its existence, though, so I wouldn’t count on it going dark any time soon.

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57 Comments »

  1. MuscleHorse says:

    I was honestly expecting the ‘It ain’t easy…’ link would lead to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvgCvT9xX7A

    I was disappointed.

  2. Beelzebud says:

    It’s a situation for Valve of being damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    When they had tight control over it everyone complained that they were shutting people out. Now some valid reasons for keeping tight control are starting to become apparent. There are more than a few questionable projects on there that shouldn’t be.

    • boats says:

      And many people, including RPS, would lament the fact that “good games” got equal exposure as the “dreadful” games. They call it a failure when games they don’t like get more votes than the ones they think should be selected. Don’t forget that this is a “humiliation cage” run by “pit lords”.

      • Viroso says:

        Yeah, and now RPS’s saying Steam should go easy. You know, behind what they have posted about Greenlight there are reasonable points, it’s just that they’ve exaggerated so much.

        Anyway, we all know greenlit doesn’t mean released so if Clang got voted in by the community but doesn’t make it, who cares right? It got greenlit at least, better than nothing.

        • desolation0 says:

          Like mentioned in the story, the danger is that it’s seemingly a clear shot from being Greenlit to being on the store. If a dev wants to take advantage of being Greenlit before their project is ready, and even after it’s been mostly cancelled, they can apparently toss almost whatever they’ve got up and call it a game. That takes away money from games that deserve it, and gives Greenlit games a worse reputation overall.

          • boats says:

            I bought Spacebase DF-9 for 25 dollars and ran out of things to do after about an hour and a half. I had seen every piece of content the game had to offer. They will continue to update it “as long as there’s interest”. What a wonderful get out of jail free card for them to have. They can pull the plug anytime and I don’t even have a game yet. I don’t see how CLANG is that far removed.

          • derbefrier says:

            i doubt being greenlit means you can just put whatever you got finished up in the store. I mean theres tons of greenlit games still unreleased. Kinda seems like a baseless assumption. Well I guess there’s early access but thats not quite the same as that kinda thing comes with the territory of the early access game.

          • Shuck says:

            @derbefrier: Well, that seems to have happened. There have been half-finished games available for purchase on Steam. Given the lack of transparency with the whole Greenlight process, it’s not clear who make the decisions as to when a game can be in the store. (It would be strange if Valve were Greenlighting games that they had no intention of letting be in the store…) In this case they’ve got a single level demo that they could, in theory, put up for sale.

        • subedii says:

          I kind of have to agree. Valve was roundly castigated, not just here, but a lot of major gaming sites for how they were “ignoring” good games and causing them to fail as a result.

          Now they’re doing exactly what those sites were so fervently decrying them for not doing previously, and they’re getting yet more flack for it. From the same places.

          As for CLANG, Greenlight isn’t a guarantee that a game will come out. It means that, IF it comes out, it likely gets a place on Steam. To be honest, I don’t have an issue with that.

      • Flappybat says:

        It’s not exactly damned if you do/don’t if Valve are just flipping between extremes. They’ve drastically decreased their QC to shove stuff through with the obvious adverse affects.

        They needed to increase manpower not lower quality.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That pretty much sums up the reality of the situation. Of course, that’s only if we ignore the fact that Valve never had any kind of effective QC to begin with.

        • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

          Since, you know, what constitutes a good game is pretty subjective, it’s actually pretty inevitable that bad games will get put on Steam via greenlight. I very sincerely doubt that valve is sabotaging their own platform just so they can go “See, we told you so!” if it gets swamped with bad games from greenlight. Furthermore, at a certain point it’s also pretty much inevitable that bad games get so many votes on greenlight that they appear on Steam; after all, that’s what greenlight is. If Valve were to just ignore what people voted for, this would be no different from the old curatorial process- the whole point of the system is that whatever gets voted to the top is for sale, and bad games will and do get voted to the top.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      As far as I know the smart standpoint has always been that Valve shouldn’t hand over control to the community. They did a bad job before – the solution wasn’t to stop looking at their upcoming-games-that-want-to-be-on-steam list and let the community do it. The solution would have been to look at that list MORE. Steam is Valves big money maker and a huge PR machine for them – it wouldn’t be that bad if they decided to invest a decent amount of money in an in-house Steam review group who look at the games that apply.

    • Lemming says:

      I think they are going in this direction because of what Gabe hinted at concerning different Steam storefronts for different developers/publishers. Eventually, it won’t come back on Valve the way it might at the moment. It would be the Interwave store , selling Dark Matter, and that store being the subject of customer ire, rather than Valve as an overall curator.

    • Baines says:

      No it isn’t a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Valve could have done better than they did, but Valve didn’t feel like putting in the work to do so.

      Valve created Greenlight because Steam was increasingly taking PR hits for its poor handling of game submissions. Greenlight was, at least by Valve’s claims, not a replacement for Steam’s submission review process, but rather a community fueled gatekeeper that would cherry pick the games that Valve would then look at.

      Greenlight’s design had some glaringly obvious flaws. Valve probably never cared. Greenlight was a damage control idea thrown out into the wild, something that would shift the blame for games not being approved to the gaming community for not rallying strongly enough behind a title.

      Greenlight goes into operation, and games are Greenlit very slowly, because the bottleneck as before is that Valve doesn’t actually want to review game submissions in the first place. (In the early days of promoting Greenlight, Valve admitted that their approach to reviews just didn’t work, and that they’d rather spend time doing other things.)

      Greenlight wasn’t really working. Valve was still hiding how the approval process worked. Games were still being stuck in submission limbo. Issues present from the start were ballooning, becoming harder to miss (or ignore). Greenlight was being treated like a sad running joke, the new bad PR lightning rod.

      So Valve has now dramatically increased the rate of game approvals. The rate has been increased so much that it is extremely unlikely that Valve is acting as anything more than a rubber stamp/hand wave to the top 40/100/whatever. Valve has mostly dodged the bad PR of Greenlight limbo, but they did it at the cost of maintaining any pretense that they are doing any kind of quality control at all. (Not that “quality control” has seemingly ever been a concern for Steam. “Known publishers” had certainly been moving some awful, broken, and even downright fraudulent games through Valve’s blind handwave process for quite a while.)

      And that has allowed new jokes about Greenlight, like CLANG being Greenlit.

      That’s why it isn’t a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. It is more like a “damned if you continue to do it badly” situation.

    • Caiman says:

      For me, there appears to be little difference. Before with tight controls you had some decent games getting in together with the odd turd, while some other decent games got neglected. Now you have some decent games getting in together with a whole pile of turds, while some other decent games get neglected. Not sure things have improved.

  3. Wulfram says:

    Maybe being greenlit’ll help it get the necessary funding

  4. RedViv says:

    Okay. Positivity. Undead Overlord is in, and I do want more leading the forces of the unliving to victory on all platforms. Just like I did yesterday in DROX OPERATIVE, which was really fun because it only happened because of the random nature of this game that is still on Greenlight and is from a developer with three games already on Steam.

    • CobraLad says:

      Be glad thad Kopatel online is on steam. There are nothing more unpredictable than russian online Minecrtaft clone that doesnt even bothers with translation (even name is russian) and probably got througth with help of that russian guys, who have Dota 2 as the sole game in their library.
      I also like how one of the most popular discussion has name in russian “Lovers of Meimkampf sucked a dick that game is on greenlight”.
      Way to get more classy stuff there, Valve.

      • Niko says:

        Don’t worry, those are just some half-literate Russian kids discussing Minecraft and Kopatel, doing a Russian thing (which usually consists of swearing at the opponent).

  5. Chalk says:

    Stephenson is friends with Gabe isn’t he?

  6. zeekthegeek says:

    Greenlit does not equal released on Steam, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It just means that they get through the initial bureaucracy faster. Even if they don’t play it (Valve should probably get a guy who tries all these games to completion no? Dark Matter proved that), they still need to actually have a game even if it’s a bad one, which Clang presently does not.

    • Ahtaps says:

      That’s the entire problem though. Being Greenlit does mean you have secured shelf space for your game, even if it is not and may not ever be released. Given that Greenlight works on a popularity vote basis, if, out of the top 40 games, 30 are months to years away from completion, while the next 40 – 75 games are ready for release, it’s a problem.

  7. strangeloup says:

    I’ve heard of NaissanceE and it looks pretty intriguing.

    Other than that, well. Not the most inspiring selection, but beyond the standard worry about indie online-only games (i.e. there will be nobody playing after a month) and a couple of entries that absolutely look like shovelware, there’s a few things that could pleasantly surprise. I’ve got an eye on Liquid Rhythm Intro and RaySupreme 3D on the software side, seems like they could be quite promising.

  8. moocow says:

    We at RPS do not know why we dislike Greenlight, we do not know what would be better than Greenlight, nor do we know what a functioning, practical system would be to deal with the exploding plethora of indie games while retaining quality control for the consumers.

    But we sure as shit can complain about it!

    • Ritashi says:

      Bwah? Of course we know what it would look like. It would look like Valve actually paying someone to review games and decide what goes in their store. In other words, it involves Valve, you know, curating their store properly. It involves paying some people, yes, but it’s not like Valve are strapped for cash, and it’s not like Steam doesn’t bring in *massive* revenue for them. They need a normalized, semi-transparent review process, which involves at least one real person who reads the basic marketing materials and plays the game in question before allowing the game through or denying it. They need to be able to explain, for each game, why they chose to deny it or allow it. Just in terms of “game was not as advertised” or “game was buggy” or just “game not up to basic standards of polish”. And if they let it through they implicitly say that it passed all their tests.

      Greenlight needs to die. It exists for no purpose other than an idiotic attempt by Valve to avoid doing any work. It’s not *easy* to find good people to design and implement a review process, but it’s still within the realm of things that Valve should be able to accomplish without difficulty.

      • karthink says:

        Valve consider letting the community decide everything a strength of theirs, and not just as it applies to store curation. Every talk Gabe Newell gives reinforces the idea of empowering the Steam community to create, share or decide content.

        I don’t care much for it either.

  9. Yachmenev says:

    Poor Valve. They’re damned if they do, and they’re damned if they don’t.

  10. DrMcCoy says:

    For me, clang is /still/ a compiler.

  11. Reapy says:

    Hey, crimsonland is in that list. Neat. Great game from back in the day. Playing risk of rain last night reminded me somewhat of it, so it is kind of funny to see it on the list. I don’t know if it would hold up now a days, but I had a ton of fun playing it way back when.

  12. trjp says:

    Just to clear-up something here – Greenlight is a system for the users of Steam to indicate which games they’d like to buy (not see – BUY) on Steam – they don’t have to be completed games to be Greenlit.

    Clang isn’t the first ‘clanger’ here – Death Inc was GL after the studio was folded IIRC?

    Reality is that I’ll be surprised if half the games which get Greenlit ever appear on Steam – there are many Greenlit games which have been so for over a year and seem nowhere closer to release (some seem to have been positively abandoned).

    I’d point you all at my lovely Greenlight stats but the database broke and I’m still patching-it-up – the basics are still there tho and the rest will be back ‘soon’

    http://www.shrewdlogarithm.com/glhome.html

    • InternetBatman says:

      This and exactly this. Greenlit does not equal released.

    • Wurstwaffel says:

      Seeing as it can take months and years to get through greenlight, developers absolutely have to get on there before they’re done.

    • Frank says:

      The “reality” of what you are, aren’t, would or wouldn’t be “surprised” at is really not something you need to “point out” to or “clear up” for us. Thanks.

  13. kalirion says:

    At least the excellent Freedom Fall finally got greenlit, but where the hell is Driftmoon??

  14. The Random One says:

    An optimistic outlook would lead me to imagine that people aggressively voted for CLANG after its announced hiatus as a show of support, and that increase caused it to get into Valve’s radar and into the green light.

    I do not have an optmistic outlook.

    My cynical naysaying outlook tells me that the Steam users voting on Greenlight are so self-centered that they have a very limited understanding of how games come into being, and somehow imagine that voting for a game on Greenlight and having it greenlit will somehow magically cause it to be made independently of its developers.

    • Grygus says:

      Except that voting on Greenlight says only that if the game were on Steam, you would buy it. It doesn’t say anything about whether you think that’s likely to ever happen, whether you want to fund it, or whether Susan Sontag is hilarious.

      • The Random One says:

        That is indeed what things are. I sustain that it is not what people think things are.

        • Baines says:

          I’d wager the majority of Greenlight “Yes” votes are cast by people who have no intention of buying the game on Steam. At the very least, the majority are by people who either have no intention or will only buy it at 75% off.

  15. Strickebobo says:

    Hooray for 9.03m! A great little experimental game that supports charity in a poignant and original way, well worth picking up. I liked it so much I wrote a full length review type thing to tell people why they should play it: http://nwapmakesjackasilentprotagonist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/aftermath-and-individual-903m-review.html

  16. frank3n says:

    I’m ok with Greenlight, alpha releases, beta releases and all that jazz – I simply pass over anything nowadays that isn’t a full release. My repertoire no longer includes wishful thinking for a game’s release, counting down the days until alpha/beta/cappa/gamma whatever – there are more than enough full releases to play, and that is how I choose to spend my time instead of wasting it by keeping tabs on games and game features that may or may never come to fruition. If anything, it results in a delightful surprise when my eyes run across the full game on Steam’s New Releases tab. And after I buy the game, I sit down and watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead, of which I refrained from watching next week’s spoiler.

    Feeding Kickstarter and alpha money to devs now seems to be the norm. It’s putting food on their tables and getting games funded and (hopefully) released. But perhaps a large banner needs to be slapped on screen above the ‘Add to Cart’ button: “WELCOME TO VEGAS, BABY!”

  17. Freud says:

    Putting our money where his mouth is.

  18. Ninja Dodo says:

    I guess they’re taking their time figuring out how to streamline the publishing (which they’ve indicated they were stress testing with these larger batches) so they can figure out discoverability before they open it up completely. Cause that’s going to be a problem later.

  19. Kiya says:

    Still no Consortium greenlight?

    :-(

  20. cog says:

    As I read the headline, I thought; “Surely this time they’ll greenlight Drox Operative”.

  21. ChromeBallz says:

    Naissancee! Nuff said.

  22. wu wei says:

    Two comments spring to mind:

    1. Crimsonland!

    2. Crimsonland?

  23. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    The question for us as a tiny 3 man indie team is whether we should spend the €90 on a lottery ticket now. With more games getting greenlit, it seems there’s a bigger chance of “winning”. But the prize seems to be going down…

    We’re almost ready to go to greenlight, but now we’re starting to get doubts. What if the whole thing will be shut down next week? This sudden change in greenlighting is just very unnerving and makes it all the less certain what we’re investing our €90 (which is quite a lot of money for us) in.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      By the looks of it, it’s never going to be shut down as such. It’s just slowly going to turn into the open store thing they’ve been talking about… I’d be surprised if they removed the fee when they open up the API. The only thing that will change is devs will be competing for attention on the store instead of on Greenlight.

  24. Turkey says:

    Some interesting stuff, but the only thing that got me excited was the shameless Rock n’ Roll Racing remake: Motor Rock.

  25. funzportz says:

    Clang occupies a niche to be sure, but as a historical fencer I am quite hopeful towards its ambitious goal of portraing sword fighting in a meaningful and semi realistic way. More meningful than treating enemies like you would popup adds. And yet not so realistic as to become the close combat equivalent of Receiver.
    Give that Stevenson coauthored the background lore (and there is a lot of it in the form of books that I found to be quite entertaining reads) we can probalby expect some decent writing for an eventual story line as well.
    And especially with its motion tracking features this title is syomething that might be good to have for valve considering their living room entertainment ambitions.

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