The World’s Best Game Is Now 15 Years Old

Fifteen years ago my brother and I purchased the world’s best game (’95 was the one we actually had, it was like ’94 but with some small gameplay improvements – graphics were the same). We played the game all the time in head-to-head mode. At some point we played the game every day for several hours – we waited for the school to end to play the game. We didn’t play the league, but mainly the 1 versus 1. (Also our big brother joined the matches every now and then).

Even though there was certain tricks on how to score against AI, those same tricks weren’t so easy to do since there was human player whose way of playing you knew inside out. Often both of us had players stopped exactly the same time. Often we could knew where the puck will go next. We knew when a pass would come.

It was bloody addictive, but eventually (like after 3-4 years of playing or something) we slowly faded away from that game and tried the newer versions (none of the newer versions ever could match with 95 version).

Years (more than a decade) passed, until some time ago my brother hinted that there’s the emulator available for the the world’s best game. Nowadays I’m slightly less available to play games (much more time goes to making them), but occasionally I take time to play something. Now we have played NHL94 online, and it’s still the world’s best game.

It’s bit strange, but almost nothing has changed: the same old graphics and (almost) the same gameplay is just bloody addictive. What’s different that now we play it online instead of sitting next to each other.

To me, NHL94/95 has given me one of the best gaming moments in my life, and amazingly the same game (now with online multiplayer) is still easily in TOP2 of the games I enjoy (Left 4 Dead being the other game – multiplayer of course).

I guess to me the best experience comes from playing together, rather than from the actual game features.

I suppose games can be bit like a food: best served in good company.

Are You a Level Addict?

Like a week or two ago I found about this browser based zombie game Urban Dead. I joined the game, created a character (zombie of course) and then stared a screen that said where I am. There was an available action “attack barricade”, and I started clicking like 30 times or something until I run out of action points.

I thought… okay, what’s this game? I get to join and click 30-50 times some button and then I have to wait for the action points to restore. I noticed my experience points increasing and spotted that for the next skill I would need 100 points. I thought I wouldn’t never touch the game ever again.

The day after… I knew my character action points were revived, so I thought to have a quick login. I spotted that somebody had shot me in the head, so I needed to stand up (cost 10 action points out of maximum 50) I moved couple of blocks away and again started attacking some barricade. All this happened in like 3 minutes or something. Again I gained some experience points.

Again I pondered: what’s this? Why would people play this?

Some reasons:
Some days later I still came back to gain some experience. I moved around, and even attacked and bited some other human characters and I really started pondering what was the reason I still come back. According to the Wiki and forums, some people seemed to complain about the 50 action point per day limit, but I think that might be one of the reasons why people come back as often as possible. After all, since you can only have 50 points per day, if you don’t spend those you are kind of like missing an opportunity (and spending the action points – and receiving experience – takes like a few minutes so there’s really no reason not to play the game).

Third reason – and perhaps the main reason – for me was the fact that I gained experience points and noticed that when I get 100 points I will get something fun. I know that gaining levels and experience points are like the oldest trick in the design, but I kind of felt that “I’ve done and seen this ‘gain experience, gain levels’ like in zillion games, why would I be interested about this any more?”

But, it doesn’t go like this. Even though I know that gaining experience and then gaining levels is as old as a Santa Claus it doesn’t mean it should be used. I believe that this “experience point gathering” (even if it’s as stupid as “come here every day and click button 20 times”) was like 90% of the reason I logged in again and again.

Are you a level addict?
What about you guys, do you think gaining experience points is fun… or is it a dull mechanism that needs to be replaced with something else (I know some people prefer skill based experience gaining: “by using a sword your sword using skill gets better”).

Launching A Twitter Experiment To Find Out If Twitter Is Just Waste of Time… Or Could It Be Useful In Game Production

I have my twitter account where I have mainly posted automatically whenever a new blog post has been published. There seems to be loads of people using Twitter (I’ve picked some people to follow) and there’s talk about saying how “twitter isn’t waste of time” and I think it was Techcrunch who said that Twitter will replace RSS (I doubt it).

I want to find out if there’s something beneficial for using Twitter (taken into account the time spent)
Technically, Twitter is bit like a mIRC. It’s kind of like a public chat where you can pick who you will listen to. Then there’s some hash tags and replies and direct messages and that’s like the core of Twitter.

My experience with Twitter bases on like 2 hour usage so I realize that I might miss something… but on the other hand I feel I’m pretty quick learner for this sort of stuff so I make a bold move to do drastic conclusions. (I reserve the right to change my mind at the end of this experiment).

So, this is how I gonna check out if there’s anything for game producers
First, I will be using Twitter mainly via Tweetdeck. That’s a pretty sweet tool so go get it tiger. There’s others too, but this one will do fine for me.

My purpose is to find out how Twitter can be useful for game producers.

First thoughts before we go: is it a waste of time?
I’ve been spending some hours for Twitter and have some thoughts that of course are final truths – right?

Somebody argued that “Twitter is not waste of time – you are just using it wrong if it is”. I think that’s pretty rough statement and I’d say that Twitter can become a big waste of time if you (1) reply to people (soon you’ll end up replying everybody everywhere and are lost). It’s bit like “checking email” that can be troublesome.

It can also be a waste of time if you (2) follow loads of people. If you have like more than 7 guys to follow (some people seem that like five billion friends) you will be constantly flooded with messages. Okay depends on who you follow, but still… Twitter is cluttered with “went to shower to think about game”, “ate breakfast thinking about my game”, “thought about my game and went for a walk”, “gonna think about my game soon”.

Now, we could try to argue that Twitter isn’t about “somebody telling what they do”… but that’s like the thing what you get when you combine “bull” with “poo”. People are telling what they are doing. People are saying what websites they are visiting and what they are thinking and what books they are reading and what TV shows they are watching. If you can find people who don’t do that, please let me know.

So, overall I’d say that it’s pretty easy to get stuck on the “waste of time” cycle: if you Twitter about useless things (“gonna go to sleep soon”) then it wastes everybody’s time. It’s hard to say what is “useless” (because value is in the eye of the follower), but I’d think that a useful Twitter entry contains for example:

  • Links to somewhere useful resource (for example, if you’ve read a good book and link to the book)
  • Advice on specific issue

To be honest, not exactly sure if Twitter messages can have much long term value.

As for benefits, here’s couple of them:

  • Twitter can bring traffic. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you would need to use twitter, it might be enough if other people twitter about you.
    Any benefits?
  • Networking: of course you can network in relevant forums, exchange emails with interesting people. Chances are that if they care to send you twitter messages, they perhaps care to reply to your email too. Who knows. I think Twitter can be used for networking, but I’m not sure how good tool it really is for that – same thing can be done in other ways. You don’t need Twitter to network. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with this as my experiment goes on.
  • Ask for advice: you can say “anybody knows about #game #design” and this message will be seen by those who are interested about designing games (in case they happen to follow such hash tags). It might be easier to seek advice on relevant forums, but I guess this way of finding info also works. Nothing new under the sun though.

Well, those are just some benefits I could think of. So far I haven’t seen any major things that would really make Twitter a truly useful tool for game producers… but we’ll see how this goes. I’m going to be 110% open minded about this and I’m will report back on how this stuff works for me.

And here we go
Anyway, I’m gonna start a twitter experiment, so feel free to follow me on Twitter to see how I’m doing (and by “follow” I don’t mean that you’d need to “become a follower”, I mean “feel free to check that page every now and then” to see what’s going on there).

Maybe something useful comes out of this.

Selling (Portal) Games At $6.99 Seems Good… (Perhaps)

Couple of days ago I posted the poll about Big Fish Games setting their game prices lower. The poll so far is indicating “hard to say”, as you can see here:

[poll id=7]

What’s interesting that from purely affiliate point-of-view, there has been a slight increase in sales. Nothing too huge, but overall there has been a slight spike in sales for the last few days. It can be true that the sales will get worse as time goes, but for a guy who is selling other people’s games in some portal this situation seems pretty good. Of course it might suck to have game selling at lower and lower prices, but for affiliate it seems quite beneficial (Big Fish Games affiliates still get that 25%+ cut from each sale – for lifetime).

Maybe it’s just me, but for affiliates this seems good.

…and if it seems good for affiliates, then perhaps it’s good for developers too? I realize that the best price needs to be tested, but for casual audience $6.99 might be some sort sweetspot. I don’t know – I haven’t sold via portals and don’t have personal stats (besides the BFG affiliate income) to prove anything. Just pretty much simply expressing my gut feeling here.

P.S. There’s been pretty heated discussion about lowering prices at the indiegamer boards. If you haven’t checked out that thread, you might wanna take a look at there.

Mini-game #3: Very Long Castle

It’s time for my 3rd almost-weekly game. Today I took a bit of time aside (3 hours to be exact) and went along with my running game concept. (Warning: don’t break your keyboard…). It has cool music, cool art, a cool guy – and all come with a cool “surprising” twist in the end…

Download: verylongcastle.zip (1.5 megs)

HOW TO PLAY
You need to tap LEFT KEY and then RIGHT KEY, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT etc. to make the guy. The faster you tap, the faster the guy goes (don’t kill your keyboard by the way).

CREDITS
The art & music were not done by me (credits below), but it didn’t take much to mess around with the art palette. It’s pretty cool what it can do for a game to get a bit of real art, music… and to add some “witty comments” too.

ART FROM FREE PIXEL PROJECT:
Sean Howard / Squidi.net

The artwork is licensed under a Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

MUSIC:
Tim / Indiepath

Twit This Twit That

Twitter is a phenomenon that simply cannot be ignored. No matter how much one thinks “it’s waste of everybody’s time” (to some extent…) it keeps coming up. I started to wonder how many of you guys actually use Twitter?

I’m sort of a light-semi-Twitter-user (here’s my twitter account) and don’t really much put stuff in Twitter. Anyway, it seems that some people are actively using it – and saying that they benefiting from it not only as a source of inspiration & information but also in getting traffic to their sites.

I guess I have to re-think my position about Twitter.

What you guys think about it?

[poll id=8]

Every Game Is Now Only $6.99 at Big Fish Games – Good?

Big Fish Games announced that all of their games are not $6.99 each.

What you guys think of this – good or bad?

I think in a way this can be good for non-casual game developers (and of course for customers)… but of course can be troublesome for those who are (1) making casual games and (2) mainly selling their games via portals.

Don’t know where this will settle in a long run.

Your thought – good or bad?

[poll id=7]

I’m a Sucker For Pixel Art

After founding this pixel art site I’ve been like a kid in a candy store – excited about how good looking art these guys can do.

Look for example this picture (click here to see it). I don’t know who did this in the first place (“Snake” or somebody else – there seemed to be some confusion in the discussion), but I can’t but admire the effort put. I bet it took a pretty long time to get this piece done.

Just awesome.