Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Just Some Things to Make You Go “Hmmm”

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 5, 2012

The 13+ hour days at ye olde Day Job continue. It’s almost like working in the mainstream games biz again!

So here are some interesting, vaguely indie-gaming / game development related links for your entertainment and edification.

First off – the toll of piracy: When Pirates Outnumber Paying Customers 10 to 1, Online Games Die Very Quickly. Yeah, the devs should have put better security in their game from the get-go, but that’s kinda like blaming the homeowner for allowing himself to get burglarized (“he was asking for it!”) because he only had one lock on his door. And if you hate “in-game purchases” with the heat of a thousand suns, I humbly suggest that the target of your fury shouldn’t be the developers, publishers, or websites, but rather the people doing so much to limit the viability of other models. Thank you.

Succinct and practical, and I wish every game developer using procedural content would take heed: 5 Tips for Using Procedural Content in Your Games.  As a bonus, Ichiro Lamb’s article from the summer on the same topic, Procedural Content Generation: Thinking With Modules. Both cover some of the same territory – which is how procedural content is NOT a simple solution to content generation woes. It doesn’t mean you can fire your level designers.  Procedural content done right can make your game always seem fairly fresh and surprising, particularly for replayability. Done wrong, and your game can feel stale and lame before the second level.

Joost offers a very long, meaty article on indie game marketing. Stuff I should commit to memory, ‘cuz I still suck at it: The Indie Marketing Plan. Packed with ideas and details!

You know, I want more diversity in the games marketplace – which doesn’t necessarily mean making games that are more “gender neutral.” I want to see more niches being addressed. I have no problem with testosterone-heavy shoot-em-ups that assume the player is a guy. Nor do I have a problem with games geared for a decidedly female audience (I remain a fan of Hanako’s games, after all!) If it’s too heavy on the assumptions, then I may not care for it. But here’s a (sadly large) niche that I really wish marketers would quit going after, and assuming that the majority of gamers are of this category: The juvenile-minded male dickweed population. Case in point: Marketers, Start Caring About Video Games, Please. Who ARE these people???

Matt Barton goes back to his excellent book Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-playing Games and attempts to substantiate a comment made in the introduction about about how CRPGs could be the greatest learning tools ever invented. So here’s his lengthy but intriguing explanation: CRPGs as Learning Tools.

If you haven’t seen it, Soldak’s Drox Operative has been released. I’ve enjoyed every one of Soldak’s games, with two of them becoming all-time favorites of the action-RPG genre and examples I like to cite for how awesome indie RPGs can be. I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet (see above, 13+ – hour workdays and a game of my own that needs any ounce of attention I can give to it), but it look right up my alley.

Greg Squire (the guy who runs the Utah Indie Game Night) pointed this one out to me the other day: Green Throttle Games. While not exactly a competitor to the Ouya, the idea is adding hardware and software to your smart phone to turn it into a “set-top” gaming console that plugs into your TV.   The particular benefit is being able to play with friends in the living room, and to use real controllers instead of touch-screen interfaces (which are great for some kinds of games, and suck horribly for others).  As this system is already compatible with Unity and other development systems, it won’t be too hard to target this one. My advice would be for developers to target as many platforms as possible, and “let the gods of gaming sort ’em out.”

This is a weird, wild time to be a gamer and to be a game developer. One day we’ll look back on all this and reminisce about how cool it was.

Filed Under: Links & Tidbits - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I’d suggest that the idea from Green Throttle Games is far more than a competitor for the Ouya. The sales of smartphones (and similar devices) are growing each year, and also growing in their power. It’s quite conceivable that using your phone/tablet as a sort-of console could really catch on.