GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 22 (Time to Clean?)

December and year 2009 is about to end soon. I will take the last week totally relaxing and forgetting everything about anything. But… there’s some things I want to do when the year ends.

First one is cleaning: I have tons of paper on my desktop. I’m going to clean & trash papers.

Secondly, I have tons of domain names. I’m going to cancel or get rid of those (or sell them – that’s an option as well).

And, I’m also going to close some open loops from the past. I have several things in my email inbox that needs to get cleaned.

You don’t know, but couple of months ago I started a “sparring” system for the Insiders. That’s a monthly thing where we check out things and try to spar & support each other – and see how to improve our projects on monthly basis. One of the participants decided to close some projects, and I’m thinking of doing the same. I have all sorts of “small things” going on (not necessarily game related) and I think cutting off those things will help year 2010 to become better.

What about you? Do you plan to do some cleaning?

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 21 (How to Get Stuff This Xmas)

A few weeks ago I approached one big game site to write about Indie games advent calendar. The site ignored me and I didn’t got covered.

It’s like when you were a kid asking your parents to give you that robot toy – but they told you “no way”. Then you starte yelling until they give up.

Almost same can be used in marketing.

I was ignored once, but that didn’t stop me emailing them again.

So I did.

And behold, there it is.

Kotaku is a nice place. Gets decent traffic.

And… one participant emailed me that he “just made a sale thanks to xmas site”. That’s cool.

Good thing I asked twice.

Merry Christmas everybody!

What’s the Next (Current) Big Thing? Social Games? Casual? Flash? Facebook? Iphone?

While I’ve been working on my zombie game (managed to nail couple of nasty upgrade issues some time ago by the way – good for me) I’ve also been watching some stuff happening elsewhere in the world. Like in the world of gaming.

I’m pretty good at making educated guesses about the stuff that people really want, since I’m more human than a programmer and have been doing this type of guesswork for quite a bit of time.

But… figuring out what some people might want does not equal to realizing what’s the next billion non-Zimbabwe dollar opportunity.

Jeff Tunnel (Garage Games) is believing that Flash is the next big thing. Jeff knows stuff. Experienced dude. Worth listening. Who knows what happens. (Also, the recent “premium content in Flash” has been pretty good thing compared to ad revenue. No link to share, but even Techcrunch was having an article on this).

Casual games – what about them? They are doing pretty well. (In fact, they keep bringing me still decent yearly pocket money thing even though I do close to nothing in that area.)

Social games (that’s a hard thing to define I’d say)… or let’s say Facebook apps might do decently. But they’ve kind of been available earlier. Who knows what Facebook and Twitter has to offer here.

What about iPhone? There’s probably opportunities there as well.

What’s your thoughts? Will downloadable PC games be here as they have been for years and year. Or will iPhone and others beat the crap out of PC gaming. What about Flash? Do we have downloadable games at all if people just go to work to play Farmville in facebook?

I know only one thing to be certain.

There’s always room for zombies.

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 19 (Surprise Gifts For You)

Here’s an interesting experiment to do. As an end result, you should get some surprise gifts. Not from me… but from you.

If you are like me, you probably have tons of folders in your harddrive (you might even have 2-3 harddrives attached in your computer – I have one from my old machine and I never use it). Now… if you are more like me, then you also have a “documents” folders there. Stuff that you’ve written.

Now… go through some of those folders and let us know what you found.

For example, I had stored all sort of gems on my computer. I had specs for SekoRope (“Lunatic RPG” could be pretty good translation.) I couldn’t find the actual game exe files, but I remember coding a random adventure game many many years ago. The idea of the game was simple. In this game there was a random story generated – just 2-3 lines of text. Each part of the text (there was like 6 or so parts) was randomized. Location, mission, item, enemy, help, reward – all were random. For example, one mission could have been “In a dirty pub, you need to find a rusty broom that is guarded by a red dragon. A drunken sailor will help you in this, and you will be rewarded with a big cart if you accomplish the mission.”

Then the player could either accept or skip the mission. If you win, you get a reward and experience. If you lose, well, then you die. In that game I also had a “Grim Reaper” as an enemy. I programmed the enemy so that it’s Power was 1 in the beginning, but whenever you died and restarted the game, the power of Grim Reaper increased. So… ater 100 deaths the Grim Reaper as an enemy would be 101.

All sort of gems lying in my machine. In this Christmas, Santa can skip my place, as all I need is time to go through all the hidden treasures in the harddrive!

What about you – can you find anything lost/forgotten from your harddrive? If you have a game, please share it with us.

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 18 (Age Limits)

Door 18 brought age limits to my mind. In video games, there’s games that require 18 years of age before you can play them.

I’m wondering if this actually is a good thing.

Is it so that after you have turned into 18, you then can play all short of shit without getting your brain messed up. Why playing Grand Theft Auto at the age of 17 would be any different from playing it at the age of 19. (Btw, I’m not suggesting that GTA would be shit. Merely an example of a K18 game in a general level.)

How can you define “what’s suitable for 18″?

That’s a bloody difficult question.

I guess we have to simply draw the line somewhere and help parents and people to draw their own lines.

Maybe I should have easier topics in this xmas calendar. Things like this.

Thoughts?

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 17 (Where to Look When Things Get Rough)

This example really works better with physical stuff. This digital version loses certain edge, but I can try anyway.

So.

Where to look when things get tough. Where to look if you need to improve something. Where to look if you want something.

Look behind Door 17.

Whenever I’ve wanted something to get better – whether it’s about my interaction with other people or whether it’s about doing better game dev – the easiest way to get forward is to do a little checkpoint with yourself. And by the way, you don’t need to wait for things to get tough…

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 16 (Defining Genres)

In a previous post, I wrote about being a king in some area. There was 2 really interesting approach in the comments. Jake mentioned being king in “match-3″ (genre) and Ronin wanted to become a king in “cyberpunk” (theme) games.

Interesting point-of-view. One comes more from a gameplay mechanism point-of-view. After all, match-3 games can have pretty much any theme. From xmas to cars to mushrooms to anything.

For cyberpunk, you have a theme – but you have to come up with the actual mechanism/genre. Adventure, RTS, match-3… whatever.

Both are valid ways to look at niches, but also tells something about how we feel about games. Some people are after a solid gameplay mechanisms or genres. Some people are after a story or certain type of world.

Which way (genre/gameplay first, or story/world first?) is a better way to find your own niche? Or do you think you should combine them? (For example, I’m working on a zombie game. If I’d want, I could continue with the zombie theme and choose another gameplay mechanism: tower defense, rts, adventure, match-3… or alternatively I could forget zombies and do more barricade games).

Which way you prefer when picking your niche? Why?

GP Xmas Calendar 2009 – Door 14 (What Cats Can Teach Us About Marketing)

Here’s a witty cat behind door 14.

That cat has figured out a thing. Conquering such a small niche that no other big dudes care to come there. It might sit bit uncomfortable, but he is the king. I think Cliff Harris has managed to get in such position. Cliff does simulation games one after another. His games use complex neural networks to build a map of causes and effects, and there’s always tons of content in his games. In fact… I think he is pretty much a king in that jungle. I don’t know if other (indie) devs have succeeded in that genre Cliff enjoys.

Another king in the somewhat bigger rpg jungle is Jeff Vogel. This dude has been making games since 1994 (it’s bloody 2009 now) and is wearing a big indie crown in those deep rpg games. I can spot more competition in this genre (talk about games from Diablo to Fallout), but Jeff has found such a niche that he can cater for his audience. And if a company is still alive after 15 years it can’t be that bad.

What have you planned for yourself? You want to become a king some day?