Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Utah Indie Night – September 2012

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 26, 2012

Utah Indie Night was at Utah Valley University this time – another new venue!

Pizza was served, but alas, our hosts only imagined a moderately large crowd.  I’m not sure how many were actually there, but for the formal presentation we had standing room only, in spite of several extra chairs brought into the room. The pizza ran out, the chairs ran out, and people kept on coming. While that was unfortunate, it’s also AWESOME. Utah Indie Night has grown quite a bit over the years. I think our original night was something like 14 people. Or was it 9? I can’t recall. Anyway – there were people. Plenty.

The presentation was by Grayson Richie (sorry if I misspelled your name, dude), on HTML 5 games – primarily the business aspects. I really appreciated this approach, because there’s just not much time to go into a technical “how to” session, and technical stuff is often well-served by numerous websites. But distribution, the “m” word, penetration, compatability… we indies get focused on game making and tend to neglect these critical pieces of knowledge. Grayson spoke quickly, covered a lot of territory, and the information was extremely useful. While he went over time, it was pretty information-dense and I personally didn’t mind. The only real criticism that I’d make is that he was a bit of a cheerleader for HTML 5, and made some blanket statements about its suitability and market penetration without qualifying those statements or explaining his own background and why he has reason to believe these things.

As far as the rest of the evening is concerned – I showed my tech demo for Frayed Knights 2 and my engine (codenamed “Gygax”) which included the editing tools and everything else. A lot of people had not played Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon yet, which possibly means I’m an utter failure at marketing, but I loaded up the original and let them play it. It’s nice not having to make excuses for a work-in-progress, anyway.

As far as I could tell, several of the games being presented were repeats of games shown at the last indie indie night or two, but I’m sure there were several new ones. Curtis of Califer Games showed me his newest work-in-progress, now that March to the Moon is out — an educational game to teach players Japanese. Curtis was a Japanese teacher for several years, so it combines two areas of his expertise into one.

My favorite part of indie night is talking with other indies. One interesting conversation with Herb Flower (of LinkRealms) involved Kickstarter – and a little bit of mutual grousing about how people seemed to be far more willing to pay – and willing to pay much more – for a hope and promise than for an actual product. He shared an experience from early in his career (in the 1990s, I think – the Half Life 2 era) with a mentor in the games industry. This guy told him that it’s five times easier to pitch a design document than an “almost finished” game. It’s the same psychology at work.

This bugs me on several levels, primarily because I’ve seen far too many broken promises and failures to deliver.  It’s easy to sell hope. It’s a lot harder to deliver a finished, final product. Maybe it’s because I’m so jaded, but I give 1,000x or more credit to people who actually finish a simple game than to the biggest dreamer with lots of charisma but nothing to show for all his “smart talk” and big ideas.

But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway…  I feel like I missed about 2/3rds of the meeting, but that’s bound to happen with a good group (and on a night when I’m showing my own stuff). But it was – as always – a great experience to meet and chat with other indies. I think we need that. Sometimes it’s really nice to know there are other folks in the same trenches as you, even if out-of-sight most of the time.

UPDATE: Greg’s write-up, with list of more of the games that were shown, can be found here.

Filed Under: Utah Indie Game Night - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • jwmeep said,

    >and a little bit of mutual grousing about how people seemed to be far more willing to pay – and willing to pay much more – for a hope and promise than for an actual product.

    While that seems to be true, I am glad there are exceptions like FTL, which was pretty much an already working game that needed some money to finish. And I do think some on kickstarter are starting to get fatigued with pitches. I know I sure am.