2013 is coming … A look back and forward
I keep telling myself that I should post more on this blog and I never do. I do have stuff to say about games but often I just find someone else who said what I would have said in much better words so my post never leave the draft folder. So my first wish for 2013 is to actually use this blog to its full extent and try not to worry about “not writing it perfectly”.
First effort is to post my thoughts on the last year and the next one to come. Both my stuff and the rest of the “industry”.
2012 Game of the year
I haven’t played a lot of games in 2012 so the pool to choose from is limited. My game of the year though might be the choice of many others so I’m not completely out of touch here: FTL
My Steam clock is at 79 hours for this game so it’s 4th on my list behind Mass Effect 2 (187 hours) and Dragon Age 2 (142 hours) and CIV 5 (122 hours). Very few games get my attention and 79 hours for a game like FTL is like 300 hours playing Mass Effect 2.
Roguelikes are really not my kind of game as I hate dying, restarting, dying again, restarting … But with FTL I didn’t care. I think it’s because FTL is really easy to understand and you don’t get lost in a bazillion skills/spells/items. Each game has its own flavor and with the constant unlocks it’s not as repetitive as it may look. There’s always something new to try, new objectives to make the next game interesting.
And look at that! It’s an indie game! Nope. The fact it’s my game of the year has nothing to do with the fact it’s an indie game and that’s why it’s so great.
Mass Effect 3
Why a Mass Effect fanboy like me didn’t pick ME3 as my game of the year? Well sure there was the ending. While I’d say that I’m fine with it and even “defended” it … it still did something to me. Maybe because this is just the END (of Shepard) and I don’t have anything more to expect from a sequel (letting me try different runs like I did with ME2).
The focus shift from “crew” to “galactic war” also removed something from my enjoyment of Mass Effect. It was inevitable to have that war story but maybe there could have been a way to handle it in a more “intimate fashion”. Maybe have Shepard on a very specific and crucial mission instead of flying around the galaxy trying to get everyone together. I’m not saying my idea of ME3 would have been better but just that I didn’t feel that close of my crew and it was a huge HUGE driving factor for me in this franchise.
The last factor that “bothered” me a bit was that I still don’t see why I had to wait that long to play ME3. The whole multiplayer stuff is just wasted line of codes for my enjoyment of the Mass Effect universe. The whole let’s change things again to please the “RPG” crowd also bothered me. Oh ME3 is fun but ME2 was already fun … I didn’t get how it was made “better”. I would have been happy with the same mechanic but I guess that’s not how the “game industry” works. Maybe some think it was an improvement but having played ME2 for 187 hours they didn’t need to get so dirty in the code to actually keep me happy … My 2 cents.
I still can’t believe I spent money on this. Not that it doesn’t have its merits but that’s really not what I enjoy these days… or what I was enjoying 10 years ago. I spent way too much time on Diablo 1 back then (skipped Diablo 2) and with Diablo 3 I just feels like I should have kept my good memories from Diablo 1 instead of not finding anything that exciting about that last title.
My take on this genre is that if you really want to play such game go play Torchlight instead. Diablo 3 just seems like an arrogant older brother you feel like punching in the face while Torchlight while being similar feels like a sincere effort to give you some fun.
I know it’s purely emotive but that’s how I feel about it. I don’t see why there was so much buzz around Diablo 3 beside maybe … being the next Diablo game … meh.
Bundle this, bundle that
Yeah! Games for $1! The concept already feels old and I’m now one of the cheap bastards who will spend the minimum money on them … when I buy them.
It’s unfair to all these devs who put their heart in these games but I can barely keep up with all the new bundles being released. I just buy the games for cheap and put them in my “play when I really have nothing left to do” folder.
Yes I bought that THQ bundle. I paid $1 all to charity. Still haven’t played any of these games. Games just feel like trading cards I might forget in my closet now. Not sure what it tells about the future. Bah …
Kickstart in the nuts
Rule #1 seems to be: Be on Kickstarter. IndieGoWhat? 8BitFundwho? Rule #2 is of course: this is a marketing tool like any other. If you suck at marketing then you’ll suck at funding your project. For some reason I had something else in mind when this trend appeared but 2012 really cleared up things to me.
Forget about indie. Forget about small. You use Kickstarter to cleverly advertise your game. If you’re having difficulties with marketing just don’t bother with it. Learn how to market your games first and then look at Kickstarter. Of course if you’re located in Canada then too bad for you.
Oh right! Almost forgot that point. Kickstarter showed us that we really just want more of the same in modern times instead of something new. There. I said it. In a way when I read that adventure games are dead it really feels insulting to all these indie devs who are doing a living releasing adventure games … Who were those guys who said that … Can’t remember. Apparently some game dev idol or something …
It was fun Windows XP but your time has come
What!?!?! That’s what I said when I saw that I needed Windows Vista or 7 to play the last Call of Duty. Well add a lot of swearing to that in fact… I couldn’t wait to buy this game and it’s the first time I didn’t spend way too much money on release day to have my 10 hours of fun in a Call of Duty game.
Some might say that it’s about time I upgrade but what can I say. My Windows XP works just fine and so far was allowing me to play pretty much everything I wanted to. So sometime in 2013 I guess I’ll upgrade. Maybe even upgrade my whole machine as frankly it’s starting to feel old now. Some are excited to acquire a new machine but not me. I like stuff that already works. I deeply hate wasting time on a computer if it’s just to reinstall Chrome. As years pass by I have to lower the quality settings of the games I play but it doesn’t bother me much. 2013 feels like I won’t be able to push the deadline further though. Oh well …
Tales of Another Galaxy
Nope this game wasn’t my “breakthrough game”. It is however the game I think I was supposed to release… 8 months ago. I struggled a lot to find the exact shape of this game and whatever you might think of it for me this is the #1 issue: it took too long to release.
I had to make this game and move on to the next project but I spent almost a year on it. Of course until it is released it’s hard to tell if it’s worth to spend so much time on it or not but now that it’s done I can tell.
I’m still working on the first patch for this game so it’s not like I have thrown away these months of experience. The few buyers are not forgotten. I wish I could post something like sales numbers but so far there’s not much to tell in fact.
It is my first PC game and once again I learned a great deal from it. And #1 lesson is to never let a project take so much of my time without making significant progress.
Squad strategy game
After TAG that’s the project I’ve worked on. My idea was clear but the first results were miles away from what I thought I’d be. I’ve applied the lesson learned from TAG and put this project on ice.
The idea isn’t dead. I’ll come back to it later. But right now I need to work on something for which I’m making significant progress in a relatively short timespan. I need this. This brings me to the next point …
My first 2013 project: Bret Airborne
Remember Blimp Wars? Well the game was online for such a short time that I barely remember it myself … All I remember from it is that I spend nearly $1,500 on art for this game. Back then I had more money to spend on my “hobby” …
I decided it was time I did something with this “investment” and I came up with a simple idea. The short version of it is a Match-3 + RPG game. For once I want to avoid coming up with too many new ideas. I want to pick an existing genre, add my ideas to it and then do something nice with it. It might sound like I’m settling down for something “safe” but there’s nothing safe in game development. Now I want to spend less time trying to reinvent the wheel and just create a damn fine wheel instead. Something that will still feels like my own but with less “mind stunts”.
So far I’m enjoying the results so you can expect to hear more about that project very soon. Until then you can check this VERY EARLY ALPHA footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUkCA7F6xm8
Shutting down Golemizer
Still the most successful game I have ever released and it was my first. Nothing much to add here beside that it was time to shut it down and I’m still saddened by that.
Keeping the IP was an intelligent choice however as it’s a very fertile territory. Blimp Wars and now Bret Airborne are what you could call spin-of of Golemizer. For 2013 I’d like to keep digging in that territory. I won’t be making another sandbox MMO anytime soon but I bet you’ll see golems and Dr. Altus making a comeback in various forms.
I’m not saying that because you enjoyed Golemizer that you will enjoy these spin-off though. They will be very different games from Golemizer. It do gives me hope that the time I spent on Golemizer was maybe more than a huge learning experience.