The Sunday Papers


Sundays. Sundays are for dreaming of another world. Or perhaps Another World, depending on what sort of dreams you have. It is also for skimming across a week of internet links and wondering how all this could happen – why doesn’t everyone just sit down and have a rest? Eh? It makes little sense to me.

  • I wanted to link to this post by Jeff Vogel (which I got to from this follow up), but actually it’s worth checking out a lot of the stuff on his blog. Vogel makes turn-based RPGs in a fairly traditional way, and makes a living from that, and as such his insights on what it means to be indie have a depth that other, less experienced indies perhaps do not: “The 10000 Hour Rule is about crushing dreams. It’s about understanding that there are limits to what you can do in the all-too-short period of time we spend on this Earth. It’s about giving people who have achieved mastery the respect they deserve. It’s about, before taking on a new task, honestly evaluating whether we can afford to give what it takes to complete it. And it’s about forgiving yourself for not being able to play the guitar like Hendrix.”
  • Gamasutra’s Where Are They Now? Tracking The Trajectories Of Classic Developers is quite an interesting read, especially if you are an old man of games like me.
  • Dinofarm Games on Why Sales Aren’t Good For Most Indies: “If you strain your memory and try to look back beyond the mists of time and into the long forgotten eons of 5 or 6 years ago, you’d remember that the price for a desktop indie game used to be about $15-20. A cheap “casual” game would cost you maybe $10, and at these prices if you’d sell a couple of thousand copies you’d have (hopefully) covered your meager development costs & could afford to work on your next game. Of course not everything was giggles and ponycorns, but people understood that price point to be the expected, normal price of an indie game. That is, however, no longer the case.”
  • Brilliantly, Gnome’s Lair has taken time out to catalogue all the various classic games mag collections that can be found online.
  • This is one of the best write-ups of Saints Row The Third I have read: “They’re up against Mexican Wrestler gangsters and computer geek gangsters, and the military declares martial law and invades the city with high-tech weaponry that the Saints get to steal and use in their own arsenal. In this messed-up cartoony nihilistic game universe, being a murderous psychopath becomes the only logical choice to make, but you’re a NICE murderous psychopath who’s loyal to your mates.”
  • In case someone hadn’t already sold it to you, the appeal of the grindiness of console sword ’em up Dark Souls is explained here.
  • Could Duke Nukem have been saved?
  • Digital Foundry’s Skyrim timelapse is very pretty, but goes on about six minutes too long…
  • VG247 spots that someone “remade” the GTAV trailer in GTAIV. I am not sure whether to be impressed or to suggest that this person find other uses for their time?
  • Speaking of Skrim, here’s a fully annotated map.
  • This post on mainstream media coverage of games is astute, depressing: “Coverage of the game industry as business news will inevitably include sales data, and it’s certainly newsworthy that the COD franchise generates big revenue numbers. But Montaigne’s conversation with Harold Goldberg (G4TV) wasn’t a business report. The segment focused on “this season’s hot video games…” and Goldberg’s remarks were limited to 20-second blurbs – on COD: “It’s almost a lifestyle for certain people”; on Skyward Sword: “…at once sweet, adventuresome, heartwarming, and a little scary; on Skyrim: “It’s much more than slaying dragons; it’s building up your character…” Goldberg does the best he can, but the segment is yet another consumer-focused “game buying guide” story that doesn’t say much about the games themselves.” Which is a problem, of course, when a section on books or movies would always try to say something about their topic, however shallow an analysis that might be.
  • Splash Damage not that it’s ten years since Return To Castle Wolfenstein.
  • Amazing bike-wheel animations.
  • Printrbot looks awesome. I am getting one.
  • I am pretty sure everyone in the world has seen Warriors Of Goja by now, but if not. They know what to do.

Music this week is Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s summvs, particularly this track. But the whole album is good. (And on Spotify!)

110 Comments

  1. enricllagostera says:

    I also get quite worried about this “forever on sales” thing. It seems that filtering only gets stronger, i.e. 3 or 4 places filter what everybody sees and the others never get any attention.

    • jalf says:

      He seems to be getting his argument mixed up a bit though. What he actually *describes* as being bad for indies is Steam, and the barriers of entry they impose, or more generally, the fact that not every game can be featured on the relatively few outlets that people pay attention to (humble bundles, Steam, iOS app store).

      But that has nothing to do with the price point, or with being on sale. Cheaper games are only bad if they mean people spend less money on games overall. If people spend the same amount of money, then it’ll automatically be spread out across more games, and that can only be good for most indies.

      As for the first point, he’s right, of course, but I’m not sure I agree with his implication that this has gotten worse than it used to be. A few years ago, indie games had *nowhere* to turn to, even if they won the lottery. A few years ago, *no* indie games came on Steam, and the humble bundle wasn’t yet a thing.

      So now we have two new outlets, which feature a handful of select indie games, which seems a lot better than having zero outlets.

      It’s always been hard for indie games to get attention, that’s not news. It sucks, but indie developers really really shouldn’t be surprised at it. I believe Introversion chronicled in some detail the trouble they had to go to to spread the news of their first games. And for most indie developers, that situation hasn’t changed at all. They still have to work extremely hard just to get their game noticed. And the existence of Steam or the Humble Bundle hasn’t really changed that fact.

      I think he’d be surprised at how much hard work it’s taken the “lucky” few to get on Steam. I highly doubt that some Valve executive just said “hey, this game you sent us that no one’s heard of? That looks cool, can we sell it for you please?”

      I highly suspect that the usual route to Steam goes via already being a known game/developer. Which means that you still have to do all the hard work of spreading the word of your game.

    • Jacques says:

      It’s probably also worth considering how and if at all specialised Indie distribution services will help Indie devs.

      I’m talking about services like Indiecity that are just started to get going.

    • RobF says:

      I twittered a stream of consciousness about this yesterday but generally:

      1) The bundling, on Steaming and iOS price reductionorisation hasn’t harmed me in any way whatsoever.

      I am not on Steam. I have never been in a bundle (unless you count me bundling all my games up but that’s not what’s meant in the article, I’m sure) and have no presence on iOS. I do fine.

      2) In my experience, when given the option of price, most people who pay me pay $10 or above even with games that are pretty much end of life by now.

      So the idea that people won’t pay more than app store prices is not and has not been my experience at all. Of course, people paying app store prices on the app store is an entirely different thing… you’ve got a choice over that one though, right?

      3) There’s more indies making more money across more channels than ever before

      When I started making games the idea of selling stuff like I make was mental think. Stuck between graphicscard-o-geddon and the rise of casual portals, I’d have been insane to try and charge for small arcade like games and actually be able to get away with it and be able to make more games because of it.

      That’s not the case now. Not at all. I have no more or less competition than I ever had (as in, aside from everything else vying for peoples attention, obviously) but I’ve got more places to attract attention to my work, more outlets to make money from my work and an ecosystem that enables me and lots of people like me to make a big noise with no money.

      I’m not seeing the disaster scenario here but I suspect that a lot of people want the race to the bottom argument to be a truism because then, well, you don’t have to look at anything else, right?

      I know I’m a data point of 1 and that’s not something to build an entire case around but certainly, in my case, the rise of Steam and the rise of bundles has done nothing but benefit me as someone who isn’t in bundles and isn’t on Steam. Despite people claiming there’s no direct sales, people still buy direct. Despite claims that people won’t value and pay accordingly for indie games, people constantly and consistently do. I’ve had nothing but wonderful support and I appreciate that and I’m thankful for it.

      On a day I announced I was -giving- my games away for a day, people paid for them.

      I have a hard time thinking I’m special, y’know?

    • googoogjoob says:

      link to dinofarmgames.com

      robert boyd has already said everything that i wanted to say, only more credibly

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I’m finding myself in agreement with Jalf and RobF here.

      The author of the article keeps talking about the earlier days when indie games were all priced at $15 and $20, but the thing is, few people ever actually bought the freaking things except the very hardcore that were into that very specific title or genre.

      The indie market 5-7 years ago was almost non-existent in comparison to today. I can only speak personally as a gamer, not a developer. But frankly I’ve been spending FAR more money on indie games in the past few years than I have ever previously. And it’s not because they’re “On Steam” or the indie bundle (crikey, I think I only ever found one indie bundle that ever interested me).

      It’s because most indie games are an extremely unknown quantity to me, and if I’m going to experiment, I first need a pricepoint where experimentation doesn’t feel like a significant loss should I dislike the game.

      I pre-ordered World of Goo, I pre-ordered Frozen Synapse. I bought Gemini Rue as soon as it launched (It didn’t matter to me that none of these were on Steam) Why? Because they were games that looked as if they were well implemented, and they really appealed to what I was looking for. Heck, if some indie dev were to try and make a low budget spiritual sequel to SWAT 4 I’d probably off on it like a shot. But if it’s a game I’m uncertain on, then frankly, sod that, I’m not actually interested in paying $20 on a game just to “find out” if it’s good and that I like it. There is plenty of other stuff I could be spending my money on.

      That’s the key problem, it’s always the presumption of inherent loss. It’s almost like the piracy argument all over again where instead of “copies pirated” it’s “copies sold at this lower pricepoint”. The “loss” to indie developers for having that price set as standard cannot possibly be quantified in such a linear manner.

      Again, this is only something I can speak personally and anecdotally on, but the indie market as it currently exists seems FAR more healthy now than it ever has at that point 5-7 years ago where I was going to GameTunnel.com just to see if there were any good indie releases out. More often than not, I would be simply unwilling to buy most stuff even highly rated there, because I’d learned the hard way that highly lauded were more often than not simply “well done for an indie game”, and the actual game wasn’t really all that good compared to what else I could be spending my money on.

      I mean I bought Aztaka as part of an indie bundle. Hated it. But I’m OK with that because frankly, I got other games out of it that made the overall bundle worthwhile. But if I had bought it separately and at full price? You had better BELIEVE that right now I’d be buying even fewer indie games. It’s my money, and there are a ridiculous number of games I could be spending it on. Paying full price on an iffy game isn’t what most people are willing to do, and THAT’s where Steam sales come in for me.

      It can be easy to lament that I’m not buying them full price. Frankly, for me as a consumer, it’s either that, or I spend far less on indie games in general. There is no other way for me to look at it.

      EDIT: And yeah, Zeboyd’s comment pretty much nails everything I was thinking. The indie market all those years ago was non-existent compared to today.

      Otherwise, I still remember those days of 100 different “Breakout” clones clogging up indie sites. That wasn’t the awesome time people might want to remember it as.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      When you can get Batman: Arkham City for 50% off a couple DAYS after it came out there is definitely a stronger and stronger incentive to wait for sales. Gabe says this doesn’t hurt day-one sales, but I think that’s becoming less and less the case over time.

      With indies this is especially dangerous because they need all the sales they can get at the higher price. Why even buy an indie game for anything more than $5 now? You KNOW it will be $5 or less on Steam in no time, so unless it’s a game you’re really dying for, which let’s face it would be rare for an indie game and more in the realm of blockbusters, you will wait.

      I do think Steam filtering out the nonsense in the indie market is good. The wealth of crap Gamersgate has is amazing, but still crap. That said Steam need to build a marketplace where these games are valued, not filler in a weekend or holiday sale.

    • RobF says:

      @stingingvelvet

      “so unless it’s a game you’re really dying for, which let’s face it would be rare for an indie game and more in the realm of blockbusters”

      Nah, I think you’re sort of mistaking your own tastes there for everyone’s. Which is dandy that it’s rare for you but it’s a pretty regular occurrence for me and yeah, I’m sure it’s not as much a norm as “I preordered Elder Orcs:Snow Harder” but it’s normal enough (and increasingly so) to sustain folks.

      I shot off to the App Store in moments to get English Country Tune, every Minter release I buy in minutes of release (I remember sitting there at 10 waiting for Space Giraffe to come out and getting giddy over it). A game is a game is a game.

      So the reason I’d buy on the day are the same I’d buy anything on the day, because I want it on the day and to play it as soon as possible. Sometimes with the indie stuff, you’ll also get a “because I really like this person too, so I’ll buy to support their work instabuy style” but the former is always the main reason.

      Not everyone has the same mentality as you or the same mentality as me and we’re lucky enough to be able to put out games (and to buy games) in a way that caters well to both and all sorts inbetween too.

    • Just Endless says:

      “I mean I bought Aztaka as part of an indie bundle. Hated it. But I’m OK with that because frankly, I got other games out of it that made the overall bundle worthwhile. But if I had bought it separately and at full price? You had better BELIEVE that right now I’d be buying even fewer indie games.”

      You hit this right on the head for me. If I went back and checked what percentage of the last 10 bundles’ games I enjoyed, It’d likely be 15-25%. Largely, Indie Games aren’t for me; and there are many genres (top down shooters) that I really pretty much never will care about. But that absolute top tier, the “Braid”s and “Limbo”s and “Bastion”s and “Sanctum”s and “Binding of Isaac”s and “VVVVVV”s and “Atom Zombie Smasher”s? They are now some of my favorite video games. And I at least call myself someone who cares about indie games now, because of those games, and because of the low entry point that first convinced me to play these games.

      I have obscenely high standards for games, this much is true, and the Indie bundles and Steam sales help facilitate that. But were they not here, I wouldn’t follow this market at all, and I’d have missed out on some great games. From my perspective, it’s pretty win-win.

    • subedii says:

      @ StingingViolet:

      The relevant question to ask is: Is this a game that I would buy right now, if I didn’t think it was going on sale later?

      And the answer for me at least, is almost always no. I mean there have been quite a few Humble Indie bundles released now over, but I’ve only ever really gotten in one of them, the first one. And that’s because every other bundle I’ve already HAD everything I wanted from it, and / or nothing else in it interested me.

      I really wanted a game like Gemini Rue because it really appealed to me, so I picked it up straight away (and this was a game that virtually nobody had heard of, very little hype in general, I just heard about it by accident). I was pretty ambivalent Plain Sight, so I didn’t. But when I saw it on sale for ultra cheap, I didn’t just pick it up, I picked up the four-pack and gifted it out to my friends, since hey, only £5 and maybe they’ll play with me.

      Likewise, the more and more I see of Overgrowth, the more interested I become in pre-ordering it. The more I saw of Back to the Future, the more “meh” I was on it because it didn’t really seem like my kind of game (I didn’t think much of Sam & Max so). But who knows, if it goes on sale, maybe I’ll do the same thing that I did with Plain Sight. Of course, maybe I won’t, something else might catch my eye instead that I was wondering about.

      The point isn’t that they’re getting less of my money, the point is that they probably wouldn’t have gotten any of it at all if I had to pay full price.

    • Archonsod says:

      “With indies this is especially dangerous because they need all the sales they can get at the higher price.”

      No they don’t. It’s simple maths, if you sell five thousand games at $1 a shot, you’ve made considerably more money than selling one thousand games at $2 a shot.

      “Why even buy an indie game for anything more than $5 now? You KNOW it will be $5 or less on Steam in no time, so unless it’s a game you’re really dying for, which let’s face it would be rare for an indie game and more in the realm of blockbusters, you will wait.”

      No. See, the mistake you’re making there is that I don’t owe indie developers a living. When it comes to buying something I don’t distinguish between an indie developer or any other developer. Hell, in 90% of cases I probably couldn’t say who wrote the game till I see the credits anyway. To me, the only thing that matters is how much I think I’ll enjoy the game. So y’know, if indies are having problems with convincing me to buy the game for more than $5 it’s nothing to do with the fact it’s going to be on sale and everything to do with the game not being worth, in my opinion, $5.

      Which is kinda the problem. I’ve yet to hear any indie dev claim that they’re taking less sales in general since Steam/Bundles et al, indeed quite the opposite in many cases, which suggests that those bundle buyers are in fact additional sales beyond what they would normally be expecting anyway. So when developers do start complaining about this I’m inclined to believe the issue is their expectations rather than the market. Sounds harsh, but I think a few too many devs are quick to jump on outside factors as a cause rather than accept their game is either of limited appeal or simply not very good. Which is problematic, because the correct response in that situation is to either adjust your expectations or design accordingly; keep making the same mistake and you will go under, that’s how the free market is supposed to work.

    • alundra says:

      @StingingVelvet

      If you take a careful look, not all AAA games enter in such sales so soon, in fact, some of them take up to a year to enter a 33% off sale or something.

      Then all the duds do enter a sale very soon, I’m saying Arkham City was a dud, too soon to know, but for a pretty big PC tech review site it was very obvious that they intended to release the game around the thanksgiving sales.

      Point in case is, it must have been that *something was not working right* for them to 50% discount their game only a couple of days after release (I mean, even Rage got a 33%) and with the thanksgiving sales in mind, maybe the pre orders where not that massive, and who can blame gamers for not wanting to pre order a cake with a multi drm icing.

    • Shuck says:

      @ StingingVelvet: I know what you’re saying, as thanks to Steam sales, I now feel like anything over $5 is a significant sum for a game. But the thing is, I actually spend more money in a year on $3 Steam sales than I was on $40 games previously. (Though I suspect the psychological tricks that are encouraging me to spend more money only work as long as there still are $40 games.)
      An interesting side effect is that I’m far more willing to buy games that I know aren’t “great” (and even willing to buy games that are bad overall), because I’m interesting in experiencing one particular feature of the game that sounded new or interesting. So indie games that didn’t have the time/budget to fully develop their features are benefitting, whereas the AAA games that I might have once been willing to pay $40 dollars for are losing out. (I wouldn’t dare to assume that this dynamic is true with every other buyer, but I suspect that I’m not alone in this, either.)

    • bwion says:

      There really do seem to be two arguments being mixed here, one about price, and one about promotion. I don’t have a lot to say about the price thing that hasn’t already been said; in summary, the lower the price, the more likely it is that my casual interest will be converted into a sale. If I really really want your game right now, I’m happy to pay a premium for it. If I’m on the fence about your game, a lower price will sweeten the deal. But I’m not going to purposely pay a higher price out of some imagined duty to Support Indie Games, any more than I expect the folks who made Dungeons of Dredmor to give me a free ride to work out of some imagined duty to Support Indie Customers.

      The promotion argument is one with which I sympathize a bit more, but I think the wrong parties are being blamed. I can only buy your game if I hear about it, and obviously getting front-page billing on Steam during a sale or being featured in a bundle (Humble or otherwise) are ways I might hear about it. They’re not the only ways, they’re probably not even the best ways.

      Frankly, seeing an ad for a game on Steam might get my attention, but a positive writeup about that game here is much more likely to make me part with my money, whether the asking price is $5 or $50. Likewise the various gaming-friendly forums out there. Having someone whose opinion I respect saying “I like this game and here’s why” is the surest way to earn a sale from me, at least if what’s described therein sounds like something I’ll enjoy. And I don’t see anyone making the claim that RPS, for example, is bad for indie games because they can’t possibly write about every single game out there.

    • Vinraith says:

      The current model is sustained by people buying games they never play. Sooner or later they’re going to notice.

      At that point one of two things has to happen. Either all games become sufficiently short and disposable that the current “buy 40 new games every time there’s a sale” thing continues to work (which is basically the death of PC gaming, as far as I’m concerned, but also deeply unlikely as most of these devs don’t have an interest in making crap like that) or people stop buying and start actually playing the stuff they’ve bought, in which case the market crashes.

      Personally, I’ll stick to paying high prices to support the devs I care about, hope others do as well, and hope those devs survive the crash.

    • Enikuo says:

      I think it’s interesting that the writer asks for a contribution to their Kickstarter campaign at the end of that blog entry. I’m pretty sure that indie developers of yesteryear didn’t benefit from these alternate ways of funding their development. I don’t say that to be snarky, it just kinda jumped out at me as a perfect illustration of how easy it is to discount the positive changes that actually help indies. The price point has changed, for now, but so has a lot of other stuff.

      I also think it sounds a little hipster to start calling the popular indies “super indies.” I always thought the point of indie was that it was created independently. I didn’t think popularity, mass appeal, and commercial success would suddenly exclude them from the indie club proper.

    • qrter says:

      Vinraith, you seem to assume people will be bothered by the idea of buying games they might not want to play. I think people already full well know this, and don’t really care, and will happily keep on buying their games in bulk.

      I just don’t see why this should bother anyone.

    • Vinraith says:

      @qrter

      Well, clearly we’ll see. My money’s on the bubble bursting, but frankly I’d prefer you were right.

    • cptgone says:

      @ Vinraith:
      whether the bubble will burst depends on supply and demand.
      there’s an incredible number of games out there. on the other hand, there’s a growing number of customers worldwide.

      i think we’re rapidly approaching the end of infinite economic growth. if that means people won’t have money left to spend on games, the bubble will indeed burst.

    • InternetBatman says:

      So I wrote a huge post about this and erased it. I buy significantly more indie games now then I used to, as do many people. Steam’s barriers to entry are good for me because there are many bad indie games; I would rather miss a good game than buy a bad one and its easier to buy good games on Steam. The article is sticking to an unrealistic pricing schema where there was less competition. Now there is more and better competition.

      Finally, and most importantly, the lower price model is probably more equitable than the higher one. More developers get similar amounts of money rather than one developer getting a disproportionate amount if people spend the same amount of money on indie games per year. The author is championing an unfair distribution model that may have helped them in the past, but left many game creators behind.

      Also, low price games on Steam and in bundles will be the last of their worries in three years, when a large amount of quality games designed to be f2p hit the market.

    • RobF says:

      I don’t think we’ll see an end to discounting of this sort any time soon, Vin. What I suspect will happen is that things will evolve further and likely settle into a more respectable rhythm.

      At the moment it’s very much OOH A THING THAT MAKES MONEY and you know what people are like there, so it’s hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer MONEY!

      Much as what happened in the 8 bit days, there’s only a finite amount of totally must buy games for most people (when compilations were coming thick and fast) and we’re already heading to bundle-o-geddon in that regard so I suspect that’ll be the first to evolve. I don’t think it’ll go away but as Indie Royale is finding out, you can’t just hammer these things out on that regular a basis and even Humble seems to be branching out into being a launch platform and a payment provider also. So that’ll change pretty soon I think.

      As for deep discounting, again, the same. It’s also a bit crazy right now but things will settle down again – maybe it will come from sale fatigue or maybe it’ll come from developers not being happy with how things are heading (really, if it gets a problem then like with the portals before all this, people will walk or get squeezed out leaving nothing to replace them).

      It’s pretty good right now though because it’s bringing more people in to buy games who wouldn’t normally (and whilst I care if people play my stuff or not I can just about if I squint understand people not being bothered as long as it goes kerching) and that’ll benefit everyone and yeah, I suspect we’ll see lower prices as a result (how lower? nobody knows) but all this stuff, it’s pretty similar to how people were calling it during the casual boom and look at us all now, eh? Stronger than ever.

      It’ll be fine!

  2. NathanH says:

    I wish whenever there was a Something Else that people wanted to compare video games with, they’d stop automatically going to books and movies and instead choose something that video games are actually like :-(

    It is a bit of a concern to me how much power a few distributors have over indie games. If you’re not on something like Steam you’re not going to get the exposure that makes a big sale worth it, but if you charge a proper price then I’m probably not going to buy it. We don’t have enough time for everything we want, so we’re going to buy the cheapest things we want, mostly.

    • Lorc says:

      It’s the same problem that “can games be art” arguments inevitably run into. Games are not like books or film or television or sculpture or theatre. They’re something new and different but it’s not immediately obvious why. Their cultural status is still in flux compared to those other, more venerable media and there are no good comparisons.

      On the other hand, sometimes people have to clutch at straws because straws are the only thing you have. I tried to describe blogs to my father once. I said that they’re like a diary, but also like a magazine or a newsletter or a discussion forum but they’re also a layout style and a hundred other things. And naturally he decided that they were silly and useless because we already have all those other things, right? But they ARE something new and they have very quickly found their own space in (online) culture.

      And games are still in the middle of that process. I think that eventually we’ll be talking meaningful about games in terms of games. But until you have that … confidence I suppose. The confidence that your audience has internalised what games are, what they mean and what they can be. Until that is a stable part of general culture you’re stuck using awkward comparisons.

    • NathanH says:

      I suppose it is unstandable to try to make such comparisons since books and films are generally regarded to have “cultural value” in a way that things like board games, gamebooks, Dungeons & Dragons etc do not. So if you want to be respected and taken seriously then it’s attractive to try to paint video games in that light.

      Understandable, but I think it’s quite wrong. It’s the easy way out. Fundamentally, most video games are, like most other games, about play and make-believe, and we should have the courage to stand up for that. This blog is written by intelligent and discerning people who have the ability to make the case that play and make-believe have cultural and social value, and that video games are an extremely good medium for this.

    • simonh says:

      Good idea, let’s compare video game publishing to books and indie films!

      An author typically gets 5-10% of the price of the book. From what I’ve gathered, Steam takes around a 50% cut for indie titles, that’s a comparatively incredible deal.

      Most indie filmmakers make huge losses on their movies, just breaking even and covering the cost of the production is the goal for most. If you’re able to pay the actors and crew, you’ve really made it.

      I’d say indie developers have it pretty good.

    • Tams80 says:

      Films and television are just a series of pictures… =D

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Even most developers now-a-days seem to think of games as movies: the interactive version.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      NathanH:” Fundamentally, most video games are, like most other games, about play and make-believe, and we should have the courage to stand up for that.”

      Hear, hear. I hate reading these large verbose blog posts talking about games not living up to their potential. How, if we all tried a little harder we could be accepted by the mainstream artistic culture, but generally it’s only by pretty much ignoring what separates games from everything else. Interactivity obviously. It’s like these people became ashamed of games as they got older and are desperate to establish it’s legitimacy and impress people they think are their peers.

    • Enikuo says:

      @NathanH – I think you make an excellent point that games are about play and make-believe. I always get hung up on discussions around games as a story-telling medium and your point helps provide some clarity.

  3. Matt says:

    Sunday is also for playing English Country Tune.

  4. Colonel J says:

    That piece on the shallowness of game reviewing & commentary in the mainstream media is depressingly true in the UK too. Do any of the UK newspapers have any decent coverage of gaming in print these days? The Guardian Online is OK but that’s about it. I got excited when Jim and Keiron got some longer more discursive reviews published in the Guardian Technology section (RIP) a few years ago but that only lasted for a couple of weeks if memory serves.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, it died pretty fast. On the whole editors of those sorts of publications don’t get games, and so we’re probably still a decade away from informed mainstream coverage appearing anywhere with any consistency.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’m not really sure what urge needs to be satisfied here. I think that it might be one of those urges that leaves you feeling dirty and unfulfilled if it is properly pandered to. Oh videogames, you are so big and important, look at all the important literary themes you discuss in Modern Warfare 5 and Elder Scrolls 4: Furry cat land.

    • Apples says:

      To be fair, Skyrim has some fairly interesting themes in it – almost everyone has expressed that they initially wanted to side with the Stormcloaks (against a suppressive imperialist regime) but were repelled by their nationalistic racism, leaving the player feeling conflicted. That’s much better than the “YOU’RE GOOD, THEY’RE EVIL” plot that most fantasy games have, but of course that is diminished by the main plot not revolving around it. I don’t think it matters that the game has cat people in it per se, any more than Animal Farm having talking animals makes it automatically a stupid kiddy book.

    • NathanH says:

      Hmm, there’s an interesting idea. I haven’t played it yet, but I’ll work on the assumption that Skyrim doesn’t really have anything too insightful to say re: separatists versus unionists. But it does seem that it creates something insightful to say about the views of its players re: separatists versus unionists. that is, our default position is that the separatists are probably right and the unionists are probably evil, but then we have this horrible realization that the separatists are, y’know, probably rather unpleasant people themselves.

      Now that sort of thing would be worth discussion in mainstream press. It’s a side of RPGs I hadn’t really thought about before: they’re unlikely to give astute social commentary but they might generate it none the less.

    • sinister agent says:

      I must say, I’ve been impressed with Skyim’s themes, and I’m actively avoiding the main story, and have been since the intro finished. It’s a credit to the writers and world designers that the context and ideas of the big civil war seep through into everyday life and conversation for the average NPCs. I’ve already got myself rather conflicted about how I feel about the war, and I’m not even interested in taking part in it. I am sympathetic to the Nords, but if they rebel, what happens to the rest of the empire? Hundreds of thousands killed and chaos across the land. All that peace and trade and cosmopolitan society ruined. And that’s if it goes well, which seems unlikely – the Nords can’t even build a town without massive, glaring holes in its defensive structures.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a magnificent towering work of storytelling or anything, but it’s well done and quietly thought-provoking. Quite a lot of games fall into similar territory, I’ve found – they’re relatively lightweight, but it doesn’t take much consideration to make them interesting.

    • Delusibeta says:

      To go back to the topic that sparked the original post, I’ll have to recommend the games section on Metro’s website, which is quite good (if slow to update). Unfortunately, I don’t think it has any relevance to the games reviews inside the paper.

    • Ushao says:

      I actually had a rather somber moment in Skyrim yesterday. Heading to a quest location I ran into the wandering bard and decided to have him play me a tune. While I was standing there listening to him sing about the glory of the Dragonborn some Imperial soldiers passed by behind him with a very ragged looking Stormcloak prisoner between them. I have to say that really changed the mood quickly.

    • Archonsod says:

      “I’ll work on the assumption that Skyrim doesn’t really have anything too insightful to say re: separatists versus unionists. But it does seem that it creates something insightful to say about the views of its players re: separatists versus unionists. that is, our default position is that the separatists are probably right and the unionists are probably evil, but then we have this horrible realization that the separatists are, y’know, probably rather unpleasant people themselves.”

      The opening ten minutes of the game involve the unionists attempting to execute the player and the player’s subsequent escape, which I suspect has a lot more to do with the sympathies towards the separatists than any default position ;)

    • NathanH says:

      Oh well, there goes another “good idea” :-P

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’m just interested, would you take a job for the Guardian if they offered?

  5. Rich says:

    “the price for a desktop indie game used to be about $15-20”
    …which was why I never risked buying them.

    Unlike pretty much everyone else on Earth, I didn’t find World of Goo that entertaining. If I’d spent $15-20 (or the equivalent in Her Majesty’s Pounds), I would have been pretty disappointed.

    Machinarium and SpaceChem on the other hand are fantastic. I wouldn’t have minded paying more for those than I actually did.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’m the same. It’s kinda the problem I think the argument misses; I’d have no intention of buying a simple arcade style game like World of Goo in the first place, whether it’s $15, $5 or free.
      On the other hand, I paid more than £30 for Dominions III. Never had a problem paying full price for any of Jeff Vogel’s RPGs either, or Mount & Blade, Arcen’s stuff or some of Cliffski’s more interesting games.

  6. Flameberge says:

    As a “sim” gamer, what that Gamasutra article made me think is that I’d really like to know what Geoff Crammond is up to these days. He disappeared after Grand Prix 4, amidst rumours he was working on a new Stunt Car Racer. Anyone have any clues?

    • Baboonanza says:

      I work with his son (who is also in the games industry). Apparently he’s retired and has just finished re-writing the whole of Grand Prix 4 to run on modern PCs. The original was written entirely in assembler so this has been a pretty big task.

      Unfortunately there is no way he can currently release it for obvious licensing reasons.

  7. Jacques says:

    There’s a site I just stumbled across last week, but it needs to be linked to.

    http://www.deadendthrills

    Looking at games from a photographic point of view, in a bid to showcase game art. Some beautiful screenshots there.

  8. linea says:

    Hullo Jim and fellow RPS readers.

    My first post here: been reading for quite a while though..

    It’s not really game-related but since the last few music-related things on the Sunday Papers have been up the same kind of street, and it’s on Spotify, I thought some of y’all might appreciate this playlist wot I made (well, am still making) for working to of stuff along the vague Tim Hecker/Alva Noto/Synth type of road.

  9. Nighthood says:

    I could watch that Warriors of Goja video on loop all day.

    Partly because what they’re doing is so impressive, partly because that music is so catchy, and partly for the woman’s facial expressions.

    • Alien Rope Burn says:

      It’s a pretty darn good magic show.

      Granted, it’s all physics tricks, but it’s rare to see them all in performance, rapid-fire like that. The woman’s reactions are doubly amusing when you know how most of it is done, as most of it is pretty harmless.

  10. Decimae says:

    I found that the 10 000 hour rule is not a rule, but a definition, and it’s a the definition is trivial, since non-trivial field is not further specified. So there’s mostly one definition(of non-trivial fields) which isn’t used furthermore.

  11. Apples says:

    Call me a killjoy, but the writeup of Saints Row celebrates everything I hated about it. It’s become a pale imitation of Tarantino films and comic books, comedy ‘stylish’ violence but without much artistry behind it. I don’t want to play as a likable nerdy underdog ‘good’ gang, I want to play as the same horrible sociopath as in the second game. Any nuance is gone, since now you’re always doing the right thing in a superficially violent way; there is no collateral damage like the Feed Dogs guy, everyone you hurt deserves it and you leave people who don’t (like Matt) alone – even the ‘good guys’ STAG are prepared to hurt civilians so are fair game. Bafflingly, even though the Boss is now supposed to be a nicer guy, he doesn’t seem to give a toss about basically his closest friend dying, so it’s not even consistent.

    SR2 was a game where you brutally and inventively murdered your rivals throughout a coherent plot, and they did the same to you. SR3 is a game where you biff-pow your way through some comic book supervillains who never actually threaten you in a disjointed story that leaves out the actually important bits (the funeral especially). And I think the pop-culture stuff is really, really out of place (I don’t know who Burt Reynolds is and I don’t know anything about wrestling, so none of that stuff did anything for me). If that’s fun, I hate fun.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I don’t know who Burt Reynolds is

      …he’s a famous and prolific actor. :|

    • Premium User Badge

      mickiscoole says:

      That article outlines everything I love about the third game and why I think its so much better than the second, except in much better words than I would ever use.

      That said, it wasn’t perfect, and you can tell where they cut stuff and didn’t bother to patch over the hole.
      (But it was damn near perfect)

  12. Text_Fish says:

    *Skyrim

  13. Balm says:

    but you’re a NICE murderous psychopath who’s loyal to your mates
    No, i’m not – Shaundi deserved to die.

    • Hanban says:

      I am gonna convince myself that what you just wrote is a lie, so that the case isn’t that you just blatantly wrote a spoiler there.

  14. JackShandy says:

    “The other thing about a game like this and SKYRIM is the way it lets you play through the fights the way you want or need, resulting in an experience uniquely your own.”

    So glad to hear this about Saints Row 3, I wish a review had mentioned it earlier. I remember buying the best pimped-out car Just Cause 2 had to offer and driving it to a mission – then “MISSION START” flashes up and the car disappears. I have to use this car that they’ve specifically designated me. With rules like that, what is the point of buying anything? What’s the point of the open world, period?

    • RobF says:

      There’s a couple of missions where you’re tied to what the game wants you to be tied to but they’re -generally- one’s where you’re stuck in a chopper anyway. Most of the time, you order something before you go on a mission, you keep that and you can use it. Also, anything else that happens to be around at the time. Or -anyone-.

      “Oh, someone’s dropped a giant laser hammer. OH WELL”

  15. Jockie says:

    Regarding the Dark Souls article, I think Mr Keogh is playing the game wrong if he’s grinding the same areas over and over again. The thing is, you rarely ever need to have better stats or items to beat the next boss, you only ever need to have more skill – he is right about the importance of the player (rather than the character) levelling up of course.

    HIs point about time in Dark Souls falls down in a couple of places too, he talks about how the world is always as it has been and is always the same, but there are several characters that move around the world and progress, going from one place to another – I see it more as a neverending cycle than a static unchanging world.

    But anyway, I think he’s playing the game wrong if he’s grinding constantly, I managed to complete it without ever really grinding in the traditional sense. It’s sort of ironic considering the article of his I was expecting in today’s Sunday paper was his riposte to John’s MW3 review, claiming that John is playing the game wrong.

    • Dominic White says:

      Any perceived need to grind has been reduced to absolutely negligible levels as of the latest patch, too. They flat doubled XP gain across the board, humanity drops are much more common, you can recover humanity when on a corpse run, and in co-op each assistant player gets a flat 50% share, while the host player gets 100%, rather than splitting the XP between the players.

      And with more humanity, you get more item drops, so repeating stuff for loot isn’t needed, either. I tried restarting the game, and within 90 minutes I had died 0 times, co-opped through a boss, levelled up enough to wield a zweihander one-handed, and even killed a PvP invader.

    • Oozo says:

      Yeah, that latest patch was pretty baffling. It radically changes the balance, and, since the game is all about that balance, it drastically changes the way the game is played.
      I am not sure yet what to make of it – I mean, in a way, I haven’t seriously played any other game since October, and on the one hand, I don’t mind being able to progress faster. On the other hand, though, it feels… odd. Off. Even wrong, in a way. If even your marketing is all about the challenge, lowering it in such a way is… as I said, surprising. (And re-upping the challenge won’t be easy now, either, I guess.)

      Can somebody think of another game that did such a game-changing patch before?

    • Delusibeta says:

      low ball: TF2.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I too never ground in Dark Souls. Well, maybe just a little, but I was busy experimenting with weapon upgrades. It’s far from necessary, though. Player skill and knowledge can overcome virtually anything. Just look at the guy who speedran the game in under 90 minutes. He knew the game like the back of his hand of course, but much of the difficulty of Dark Souls comes from having to explore unfamiliar areas filled with deadly foes. Quick reactions, a bit of smarts and a healthy dose of caution will keep you alive almost all of the time. Though that first mimic was a cheap shot.

      I’ve not played since the patch came out, but I did like most of the changes. Fixed a few broken things, retweaked gear, made it so that elemental weapons weren’t the be all and end all of the game any more. The double souls/experience thing is baffling, though. Maybe they introduced it so that people who’d already beaten the game wouldn’t miss out on levels due to dying less (and therefore killing less enemies). Straight up doubling it seems like overkill, though, even if that’s the thinking behind the change.

    • Heisenberg says:

      The Dark Souls article was ok, but i agree that he is playing “wrong”, even though I’m not sure its fair to say that something is wrong when he is clearly enjoying it. Its written by someone who hasnt gotten very far yet though.

      I dont think he has got very much further then finishing just undead burg and undead parish at the time of writing this, so his game could drastically change once he works through all his defiencys.(or fully upgrades pyro ;-) ).

      There is a hellova lot more reasons as to why this game is such an amazing experience, but one of the things he mentions about how you are levelling yourself rather then just your character is very true.(also upgrading equipment is more important then your soul level).

      Since i have played dark souls my ENTIRE viewpoint of what makes a game good has been re-adjusted. Games i would have normally enjoyed, pre-dark souls, i am totally dismissing.
      My main toon is on his fourth run through the game (ng+++)….(its been a looooong time since ive done that sort of thing in a video game).

      Ive not played since the latest patch so i’m waiting to hear more about its before i apply it, but i knew they were going to making some big changes. Stuff like nerfing the overpowered pyro is definately needed, as is the TWoP spell and fog ring (for PvP fairnesss), and increasing humanity drops and the rare twinkling shard drops also needed (which will reduce the need to grind or use the snuggly glitch). I also hear that a merchant will be selling twinkling titanite and seeing as that is the most neccessary thing needed to be able to upgrade the best armour i’m looking forward to playing again.

      Patch or no patch, because of its beautifully designed and wonderfully complex persistent world its pretty much one of the best games ive played.

      edit.
      just to add something regarding the grinding element of the game, i will say that the game is designed with deliberate areas specifically for grinding purposes. (The forest covenant area for souls, the depths bonfire corridor for shards and rats for humanity,the very early game dragon-ladder-bonfire souls run, and etc etc).

    • Dominic White says:

      The XP boost in Dark Souls makes sense, when you look at what a lot of players were doing to progress – they’d find a couple of spots with high-XP enemies and just grind all day long. Bosses often would only give you enough XP to level up once or twice, and many enemies would give a flat-out pittance.

      The game is still hard as it ever was. You just have to repeat a lot less. It’s not like all the changes made it easier – most of the ‘best’ spells and enchanted items got nerfed hard.

    • Premium User Badge

      pertusaria says:

      @Oozo: A MUD I used to play a lot had gone from using three weapon types (blunt, sharp and pierce, I think) to having a fully-fledged weapons system with daggers, short swords, long swords, axes etc., each with its own skill needing to be bought separately with XP (or repeated practice) and with different base stats (Int, Wis, Con etc.) going into how good you were with them.

      Granted it’s a free game being developed by volunteers, where this stuff happens more often, but I think it’s at least as game-changing.

      From what I’ve read of Dark Souls, I’d have to agree with you – if I were playing it I don’t think I’d like it to get easier.

  16. Red_Avatar says:

    The 10.000 rule is waaaay too simplistic to be true. He pretty much discounts the need for talent which is a joke. Talent is what helps you improve, what makes you recognise your own faults. I know people who call themselves graphic designers and have done that job for years and yet they’ll think their horrible designs are good because they can’t distinguish between their own taste and a general taste of what looks good and what doesn’t.

    Heck, sports show that Vogel is wrong: different people need different amounts of time to get really good. Some practice three times as much as others and never get anywhere near as good – because of mental and physical limitations. Limitations that govern everything we want to learn.

    With programming, you need to have a mind that can think logically, for example. 10.000 hours won’t do you any good if you’re incapable of analysing any action into a series of smaller actions. Like with math, there will be a wall you’ll hit way before the 10.000 hours are reached where you can’t improve any longer.

    Really, this rule should just have been changed to “if you want to be good at something that takes practice, practice” because that’s just how ridiculously simple reality is.

    • sinister agent says:

      The 10.000 rule is waaaay too simplistic to be true. He pretty much discounts the need for talent which is a joke. Talent is what helps you improve, what makes you recognise your own faults. I know people who call themselves graphic designers and have done that job for years and yet they’ll think their horrible designs are good because they can’t distinguish between their own taste and a general taste of what looks good and what doesn’t.

      No he didn’t. Not exactly. He opened up by discussing taste, which is more significant that “talent”, because it’s taste that grants to the ability to discern what’s not good enough, and therefore try to improve. Taste covers what talent grants you and more, so it’s a much more significant factor.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Taste is part of talent – that was part of what I said. Taste is what makes what you make GOOD so in that respect, taste and talent go together.

      Besides that, his point is still very meager – like I said, the only point he has left, is that you need to practice for those things that require practice. The number he sticks on it is laughably simplistic – a typical black & white attitude of people who try to reduce the world to prime numbers when it’s simply not possible to do this. Really, some things require more time to master than others – he neatly divides it into the childish “trivial and non-trivial” categories but that’s not how it works.

      No, reality is that too many people these days waste too much time trying to push the whole of our complex life into some ridiculously simplistic rule and this is a great example of that. It should just be called simple advice: even if you recognise what makes something good, it will take time and practice to let you make something that you’re happy with. No nonsensical number tacked onto it. See? Not hard and more realistic.

    • choconutjoe says:

      @Red_Avatar:
      You’re arguing against a slightly absurd interpretation of what the guy said. I don’t think Jeff Vogel or anyone else has proposed that ‘the 10,000 hour law’ is some kind of absolute mathematical law. It’s just a rule of thumb. The number is just there to add some sense of perspective to just how hard it really is to become good at something. As Jeff points out, you can just as easily call it the ’10 year law’ or the ‘million words law’. All you’ve managed to do is restate the same thing in less elegant and memorable terms.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      And then yet still it hardly warrants an entire article to state the obvious which was my other point – this is pretty logical after all. Needing time to improve your skills and knowledge is like the most basic thing ever – it’s what we’re taught as 4 year olds. If you’re at a certain age and you give up because you don’t magically immediately achieve the skills and experience to make stuff that everyone likes, then you never really understood how it worked in the first place because I thought everyone knew this.

      I wasn’t happy at all with my first stuff that I designed from a critical point of view yet I knew that I should be happy with what I had made considering the limits of my experience – and that’s a big difference. I guess it’s impatience from, for example, people who expect to play a masterpiece on a guitar after only having been playing for a few months … but it remains a pretty “duh what did you expect” article to me.

    • datom says:

      Okay, first of all, the 10000 hours ‘concept’ is not Vogel’s; it’s a fairly well researched hypothesis (although hypothesis is a strong word).

      Second of all, sports is exactly what shows the 10000 hours concept to have a broad basis in truth. It is impossible to be a professional sportsman in a popular lucrative sport without practicing a ludicrous amount.

      Equally, not all practice is useful practice. It needs to be practice at a ‘difficult’ skill, outside the zone of comfort (Beckham’s keepy-uppys, Roberto Carlos’ constant practicing of bending the ball). Moreover, practice is most efficient when you get the best coaching, and the kids that get the best coaching tend to a) have started practising early and b) have certain physical traits (be big, be strong). I understand that Karl Malone may be a better fit as a professional basketball player than Ichiro Suzuki, but that just means that Marlone gets put in the basketball team and Suzuki in the baseball team, thus helping them find their specialism.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      the only point he has left, is that you need to practice for those things that require practice.

      No. The point is that to get really good at something, you need years of consistent, full-time practice. And that you need to push on through that and keep making stuff. Make a ton of stuff. Ten thousand hours, give or take. Years.

      I don’t think that’s at all obvious for something like, say, public speaking or game development. Everybody knows it’s nearly impossible to be at the same level as professional athletes or musicians. But for other skills? For creative work? Not so obvious.

    • Archonsod says:

      “He pretty much discounts the need for talent which is a joke”

      Not really. As a general rule, if you can train a monkey to do it talent is evidently not that important. I’ve yet to find a field of human endeavour you can’t train a monkey to do, given sufficient time and bananas.

  17. Lewie Procter says:

    The Dinofarm piece is bobbins.

    I’ve not seen a single indie developer go out of business because of “market forces”. There’s more opportunity to sell games to people, and way more people interested in indie gaming than ever before.

    You have to have interesting games, and be able to market yourself effectively, but I can see indies doing that all over the place.

    There’s plenty of competition, but that’s a good thing.

    • Delusibeta says:

      The only people I’ve heard complaing about the Humble Indie Bundles was the Steel Storm developers, by virtue of them entering Bundle 3 with three days left to go (or something ridiculous like that) and as a result no-one actually paying for their game. It’s a dumb move on the part of the developer.

    • pakoito says:

      My opinion is around reddit but yes, the guy is sort of a iOS developer diva, which is like being the “queen of the prom” speaking about how to collect taxes.

    • Shuck says:

      I think what he’s saying has validity in the iOS market, where price depression means that it’s almost impossible to price a game high enough to make money if it isn’t from an established franchise. Which is why free-to-play dominates that market (which necessitates very particular types of game designs in order to be successful). The fear has been that the price-depression seen there would spread to the PC market, but the fact that PC versions of iOS games are sold for many times more indicates that hasn’t really happened, or at least not to the degree feared.

    • alundra says:

      @Delusibeta
      wtf are you talking about?? you got it all backwards, they had been trying to enter a hib for a while and the hib owners shafted the steel storm developers by entering their game in hib 3., as a bonus and a couple of days before the end,

      then they raped them even more by not giving them a penny.

      get your facts straight before spreading more lies.

    • Archonsod says:

      “(which necessitates very particular types of game designs in order to be successful).”

      I always thought it simply meant devs had a free, limited version and a premium pay for version with additional features / less nagware.

      Which sounds exactly like shareware to me. This is a good thing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sleepymatt says:

      Alundra, get your facts right yourself. The Steel Storm developer posted in reply to that article, saying they were paid a fixed fee for the late entry of about 0.5% of the total paid for HIB3. A quick check of wiki tells me that is $11000. I can’t imagine turning down 11 grand, though sure, things might have been handled better.

      The rest of his post there complains about lack of exposure from the HIB, despite it resulting in a post on RPS specifically about them getting added, an email to anyone that bought a HIB in the past and no doubt other gaming sites posting about it. Finally he complains that HIB wouldn’t give him the email addresses of the buyers of the game, as if that was a surprise – surely he had determined their terms before entering an agreement with them? His point about not being able to contact buyers regarding updates etc is moot – if someone enjoys your game they are likely to visit your website themselves. Or you could build in a web-feed into the game menu like Frozen Synapse has. Personally it sounds like he thought he was going to make a fortune, and was pissed off because he only made half the average programmers annual salary in three days instead.

    • alundra says:

      @Sleepymatt

      my “facts” come straight from the developer statement about what happened:

      We decided to enter HIB2 with Steel Storm Episode 1 as a free bonus (we asked for no compensation whatsoever) and got rejected by HIB3 guys. Then I personally asked them to check out Steel Storm: Burning Retribution and gauge if it’s up to their standards and if it can make it into HIB3. I heard nothing back. It was their last minute decision to include Steel Storm: Burning Retribution into HIB3. I don’t know exactly why, but they made that decision. We were offered a tiny-tiny fraction of what HIB3 made, a very small (compare to the profits of HIB3) fixed amount of money. We were tracking their sales and HIB3 sales were going down. When Steel Storm was released as a bonus, their sales jumped up significantly. Despite that, we did not get any bonus, and by any bonus I mean even a dollar or anything of that nature, something symbolic. Basically, we were told that the publicity we will be getting will pay on it’s own. We were told our sales will sky rocket just because we were in the HIB3. None of that happened. Sales dropped sharply after HIB3. We did get a lot of users who redeemed their copy of Steel Storm on Steam and Desura. So we are hoping to get our current user base, which we gained with HIB3, interested in our upcoming games. So only time will tell if HIB3 was awesome deal or not. Maybe, maybe not. If it works out as a long term investment, it will be awesome indeed. If not, I will never ever participate in such capacity (as a bonus item for a small fixed payout) in the future HIB bundles. We all do have bills to pay and families to feed, don’t we?

      link to gamingonlinux.info

      where is the HIB official statement about this?? even if they paid them 11k, it does not change the fact that the hib folk shafted the steel storm developers, and it’s far from Delusibeta’s backwards statement that was a –>It’s a dumb move on the part of the developer.<–

      to which you in turn make it sound like if the SS people should be thankful that the hib refused their game in the first place but then used it at the last minute to boost their sales, and paid them a "fixed fiee" of 11000, how fucked up is that line of thought?? taking in account that if the hib folk would've been straight with in their dealings and they had included it from the begining of the bundle, who knows how much the developers could've made?

      I got my facts straight, the hib treated the SS developers worse than a whore, got a free raid and in the end throwed some money on their faces. There is no excuse for that.

    • Shuck says:

      @Archonsod: That’s converting players of a freeware/demo version (which is ad-supported) into buyers who are actually paying $0.99 for the game. That’s one model (which may not be enough to really support the developer), but the really successful iOS games don’t derive their success from sales. They follow the conventional “free-to-play,” dynamics, in which either the game meters the amount of gameplay possible at a given time, which can be increased with real money, or it’s a player-versus-player multiplayer game which is driven by players spending money to defeat opponents. To be successful, iOS games need to be fundamentally designed around the idea that players should be constantly spending small sums of money. Even “Angry Birds,” which is seemingly driven by (350+ million) sales, felt it necessary to have a “spend $1 to get past this level” button. I suspect the vast majority of their income comes from that button.
      All of which is to say: if you want to be a successful iOS (or “social-“) game developer, you don’t start with designing systems for what you think will be a great, entertaining game, you start with systems that implement a monetization strategy and build around that.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I definitely agree with you on that one. Eventually there might be too much competition and market forces will drive people out, but I don’t think that’ll be the fault of the distributors.

      Also this is a little harsh, but a lot of indie games are basically upper tier free flash games. They shouldn’t be surprised when the shmup, puzzler, or platformer they make has trouble selling. There are many fantastic games in the same genre for free.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sleepymatt says:

      @Alundra

      I was going off the developer’s direct reply to the blog linked in this news round-up (quoted below), so don’t attempt to “1-up” me with your source.

      I would suggest you read your actual first post again before claiming it to be factually accurate. I stick by my guns that your “not giving them a penny” is extremely misleading – even your own interview quote confirms that they were paid the agreed fixed fee, as you now seem to acknowledge. I never said they should have been thankful for it, I was pointing out that the fee was agreed and they could have turned it down if they felt it wasn’t fair – nobody forced them to sign the contract after all.

      Your quote states that they did not receive a bonus payment based on increased HIB sales – however, when they agreed to the terms of the contract accepting a fixed fee, was there anything in that contract agreeing a bonus based on increased HIB sales? The developers have not said so, and I would wager not, as otherwise they have a cast-iron case of breach of contract. Yes, it would be nice if HIB decided to give them a performance bonus even though (by my assumption) they were not contractually obliged to do so, but the worst you could say is that HIB were not very generous with their initial fixed fee.

      I feel sorry for the developers that they didn’t get a better offer, and no doubt they could have made a fortune if they were included from the start on a percentage, but that wasn’t the offer they accepted. You cannot say HIB “raped” them as you claim, or that they did not pay them a penny, that is simply untrue.

      The quote you give also lends credence to my point regarding increased exposure from HIB3 (which the post I am quoting says never happened), actually commenting that their current large user base is in fact a result of HIB3.

      I might come off as uncaring which is not true, but like during the recent Project Zomboid discussion, if indie devs are going to go in to business I think it is up to them to be very aware of how business works. The last line quoted below comes across as unbelievably naive – the HIB website states the percentage they are making from it very clearly for all to see. I would love nothing more than for good games developers to be successful, but they have to accept that being “indie” does not mean they can forego being good businessmen and women also if they want to make a living at it.

      —————————-
      motorsep
      11/27/2011 – 5:30 am | Permalink

      I agree 100% with the author! Steel Storm: Burning Retribution participated in the HIB3, we were promised super sales due to the bundle, huge marketing and the most important thing – the user base. We were paid fixed sum, ~0.5% from what HIB3 made. As I suspected, we got no extra sales (sales dipped everywhere because “thanks” to HIB our game’s market got saturated), virtually no extra helpful marketing and the worst thing ever – there is no way we have been able to reach people who got our game through HIB3. According to HIB people, those customers are their’s and unless it benefits HIB, they will not move a finger to reach those people and let them know about new stuff we have for the users. It sucks. I do not believe in all these charity bundles. The organizers make money using some one else’s product.

    • alundra says:

      @Sleepymatt

      Contrary to what some may think, I’m not an intransigent person, you are right and I was out of line when I said they didn’t get “a penny”, and indeed they were treated very harshly, something very far from delusibeta appreciation that the developers were complaining for nothing more than a dumb move on their part.

      I’m glad we reached an agreement.
      Peace out.

    • Urthman says:

      It could also just be the case that Steel Storm is not a very good game.

      I got it with the Humble Bundle. I really like that style of game, but I didn’t enjoy Steel Storm.

  18. AlwaysRight says:

    Album of the week:

    Sepalcure – Sepalcure

    • DiamondDog says:

      It’s a good ‘un.

      This track from the Hotflush compilation released earlier in the year is still a joy:

    • AlwaysRight says:

      Theres even a cheeky ambient track at the end just for Jim:

    • meatshit says:

      That Skyrim time lapse video with the mus\explore\day 1-3 tracks from the soundtrack should have doubled as the music link. I discovered it a couple days ago and have been listening to it on repeat ever since.

  19. Ostymandias says:

    alva noto is probably my favourite musician and artist right now. from summvs, I really like naono. noto is at his best, I feel, when he has plenty of time to fully and thoroughly explore the themes he wants.

    I can wholly recommend his latest solo endeavour, univrs (link to open.spotify.com). It is a much harsher, rhythmic and heavier ordeal than summvs, but not at all without subtleties – it is alva noto, after all.

    /noto fanboy rant

  20. Casimir's Blake says:

    “Splash damage note that it has been ten years since the last fun, interesting and vaguely decent FPS.”

    Fixed.

  21. pakoito says:

    That article about Dark Souls and grinding…I’m quite surprised how few people know and have played Monster Hunter. It is the same, maybe better, with another thematic. The problem probably is that it’s mostly available on Wii and PSP, I guess, but had they ported MHFrontier, the 360 one I wonder what would have happened.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Jim’s taking over the Sunday Papers is the best thing that happened to my music collection this past year.

  23. Fumarole says:

    Warriors of Gojo: because there aren’t enough ways to die naturally.

  24. DigitalSignalX says:

    GTA 5 in 4 vid got yanked, here’s a re-up by someone else:

  25. DigitalSignalX says:

    I’m pretty sure some of those roads in the game banshee Skyrim map are completely made up “flat places that are easy to walk” not actual roads!

  26. Shuck says:

    “Tracking The Trajectories Of Classic Developers” was interesting, and I’d really like to see a larger survey of what’s happened to developers who have been in the industry for 20 or more years. I know a number of people in that position (and who worked on hit games) who have quit the industry altogether; the burn-out rate seems fairly consistent over time. As for everyone going into Facebook/casual games – the article implies that everyone is doing it because the work is more familiar for those who started development in the early days of the industry. That’s true, but the other part of the answer is the nature of the industry right now. You want to put together a “AAA” dev studio right now? Tough, you cant – you aren’t going to be able to get the money to do so.

  27. phenom_x8 says:

    And another great pieces from VG247

    About recent success of single player game :

    link to vg247.com

    I think about ME 3 after read it and ask for myself : do it actually needs Mutiplayer component?
    WTH are you thinking, Bioware!!

    And then about Ubisoft recent attempts to troll with us, pirates (sorry, pc gamer, I means) :

    link to vg247.com

    I guess they have quite hit the nail in some point there.

    The last thing I’m gonna ask : where’s your piece, Jim??

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      The second article was complete poop. Yes, there’s a new market emerging, but that doesn’t mean it’ll drive out the older one.

  28. HardenedMetapod says:

    Wow, ten years since RtCW. Blows my mind. I was just talking about wanting to play this all yesterday too. I need to pick it up during the Steam sale. Now if only I had money..

  29. Dan Lowe says:

    Futurismic had a piece earlier this month about Demon Souls (one of two PS3 games I own along with LittleBigPlanet2) and the significance of death in video games. I mention it because it’s a blog that doesn’t often talk about video games and with authors approaching the subjects from outside. And because it links to John Walker’s A Death is for Life, Not Just for Quickload.

    It makes me want to start playing games on normal difficulty and if I die, unless there’s a narrative tool that accommodates death, to stop playing, as if I wouldn’t have succeeded anyway in that position and thus do not deserve to see what happens next.

  30. spindaden says:

    Tracking The Trajectories Of Classic Developers

    I was expecting a graph :(

  31. Agnol117 says:

    The Dinofarm article reminds me of why I’m baffled at the concept of “indie game developer” as a job. I mean, yeah, they deserve compensation for the products that they create as much as anyone, but to do it with the intent that you’re going to make a living on it is a pretty foolish idea.

  32. Spiny says:

    Sir, I’ll see your Ryuichi Sakamoto and raise you a Yukihiro Takahasji: spotify:album:3pr9WmzZeGGYBlVSlfxm6B