How to overreact

PSN Network has been down for a week. It’s not like it’s the end of the world. Sun is shining outside. Really. Sit down. Enjoy a drink. Enjoy life.

User information got to the hands of hackers. Well, that’s life 2.0. If you want have luxury gadgets that offer online services and you provide your data, then chances are at some point somebody gets them. It’s not that big deal, in Finland everybody’s street address can be asked anyway. Things happen. Calm down.

Credit card info potentially in the hands of hackers? Well, first of all… why you gave credit card info (or didn’t remove it after purchase)? Nobody forced you to do that. When shoppes store your credit card info, and when shoppes have data online, then there’s a danger that your CC info goes on the hands of hackers. I’m very aware of the fact that it’s convenient to let stores have my credit card data. I let them have the info. Yes, not the safest plan, but then I’m ready to buy few bucks in case I need to renew the card in case something bad happens.

In this case, I ordered myself a new credit card (just in case) and it arrives soon and things will be fine again in the Jussoland. And, even if somebody got my old CC info and bought something before bank closed my card, it’s the credit card company that will handle any fraud purchases. Not me. I’m saved. And now I’m double saved when new card arrives.

So… yes, PSN network has been down for a week or whatever. And yes, they probably could have informed earlier (although it should ring a bell when “service where you gave your credit card info got hacked”, even if nobody tells you anything) but… come on. Nothing really serious really happened here.

Sit down. Enjoy a pint (of alcohol free beer if you must) and enjoy sunshine.

Or like Douglas Adams would put it: Don’t Panic.

Association of Toy – I mean Game – Developers: Minecraft versus NHL ’11 (and bit of Zombie Panic too)

What’s a game? There’s (at least) one important thing that I require from something to be called a game instead of a toy (or “sandbox game”):

  • Player must be able to win (or end) the game

But now I’m getting bit into a trouble with this definition.

I’m not trying define game as is, I’m just trying to find the difference between “games” and “sandbox games/toys”. That’s why I’m leaving away things like “being in control”, and “set of rules” et cetera, and not bringing movies or other stuff here to compare. I’m now comparing two games: Minecraft and NHL ’11.

Minecraft is said to be a sandbox game since you get to do funky stuff in it, can die, and there’s tons of dirt to dig… and so on. Sandbox game would fit pretty well into that definition.

NHL ’11, now, that’s not a sandbox game, right? Playing an ice hockey game, that must be a “real game”. Wrong. There’s no ending in NHL ’11 if you think about it a bit. For example, there’s a career mode where you can level up your character for quite a long time. There’s Stanley Cup and whatnot to win. You can win matches, and can win tons of trophies and while you cannot dig your own tunnel, you can play online matches and adjust your character quite a lot.

In fact, you can win one battle (a match), but you cannot win the game. There’s no ending.

So… we could agree that one match in NHL ’11 that certainly is a game. Rules, time period and definite ending. But then what? You get another game. And another. And another. And another. All these matches can earns you points which you can spend to get better to earn better shovels I mean, players in your team.

In a very broad way of thinking (not talking about game mechanisms), NHL ’11 isn’t so different to minecraft. I’m pretty sure that you cannot win NHL ’11 (if you can, then they certainly aren’t making good effort in showing my progress). There’s no ending. You just keep on playing more and more.

This reminds me about Zombie Panic mod for half life 2. Excellent game, except of course it’s not a game since you cannot “win” the game. Sure, you can win one round but then what? You just keep going.

So, one could say that Minecraft is not a game and NHL ’11 is… but on what basis?

I guess end result is: who cares? If it’s fun, does it even matter?

Answering to a few questions about the indie press release system

I’m looking at a press service …

GamesPress makes it available to even more news outlets but for free and it is up to them to pick up on it or not,

GamesPress is fine. It’s also one (very important though) where gamerelease sends its message.

why choose your service where I myself have not even heard of half the sites it gets sent to?

You might be referring to the email list. The listed sites are picked from subscriber domains, which are sometimes blurry. For example, there are journalists who use gmail account as their main account. So, the news won’t reach gmail department, but guys who have those emails.

Also, there’s now the twitter “followers” list for @gamerelease which lists some more subscribers.

The more active subscribers there are the better.

Is there a guarantee they will pick it up? Cause as an indie the budget for this stuff is very small and you want max exposure for every cent

No.

How good stories you can create is up to you, and that is also the key factor determining whether your news is going to be picked up. Alongside with timing and other factors. For example, I sent press release about my Dead Wake game which got its way to PC Gamer since these folks had just been preparing a special “zombie coverage” in their magazine. Timing was right, news was worthy of covering and it got in.

Had I sent it a month later (or if I had not have newsworthy zombie story to tell), I think chances of coverage would have been slimmer.

All email subscribers have working email address (receivers with bounced emails are deleted from the list). RSS subscribers I don’t have control over, and now there’s more new subscribers through the game release twitter account.

does it make sense as an iOS developer to press release to your sites?

My personal opinion is that platform is irrelevant, the story is what counts.

If you feel that putting couple of hundred (or something) to promote game feels much, then I really think you shouldn’t subscribe. If on the other hand you feel that investing the money can save some of your time from hunting down press members then it might be worth considering to join.

But like I said, I feel that the story is more important than the technology.

And then some links:

TERMS & CONDITIONS: Please notice that gamerelease PR system is meant for indies promoting their own games.

If you have any other questions, throw ‘em here.

This is what I loved in localized version of Civilization 1

I’m talking about Civilization 1 (or 2). Many, many, many years ago when dinosaurs ruled the land and Civilization 1 & 2 were the best games on earth. That’s when I spent countless number of hours building my very own civilization.

And at some point I noticed something cool. I noticed a language file! There it was. Staring right at me under the game folder.

It didn’t take me long to ignite my game developer mode and off to modding I headed. I started localizing the game to Finnish. Sometimes it was slightly difficult, since the language file supported only ascii characters, and Finnish has few extra characters (Ääää and Ööö), but I did manage to avoid the blows pretty well. I Didn’t use “A” instead of “Ä”, but rather tried to use other Finnish words instead and got language file translated.

When I launched the game, and saw my version appear there… it was a great feeling.

Instead of translating your game, maybe provide players tools to make their own translations?

If I’m a rational person, then why am I “putting effort” on rolling a die?

I “know” I’m pretty rational chap and know enough math to understand that rolling more than 6 on an 8 sided has 2 out of 8 chance, but that doesn’t stop me from doing magic. Things like “those guys rolled small numbers in the last 2 throws, so there must be big number waiting for me!”

What sort of strange magic are you doing, in order to get critical hits or something? Ever stopped wondering why?

Birth of the action card mechanism

When I first started messing with the action cards, I was thinking of having cards that would feature numbers (ranging from 0-9) – bit similar as in Battlestar Galactica. I kept working on how to make sure challenges are dealt fast (to reduce playing time) I came up with the concept of “failure – success – minor failure – minor success”. These cards would determine the success or failure on encounter.

I then got rid of one card, ending with just 3 different:

In my playtesting, I first had players to hold 5 cards per player, and encounters were handled the following way:

  • Draw 2 cards
  • Show encounter
  • Each player now places 0-5 action cards (facedown) to a result pile
  • 2 random action cards are added from the deck to the result pile.
  • After each player has placed cards, shuffle the result pile and show one card: that determines success or failure.

This lead to the fact that there was no point ever using failure or problems cards, since you could use only success cards and then wait for more success cards to come.

It hit to me that by changing this mechanism, there would be more interesting decision to be made. I changed the system so that each player gains 6 cards, and must use exactly 2 per turn.

This way, 1st encounter can be somewhat easy (since you have 6 cards to choose from), second encounter bit more difficult (now you have only 4 cards to choose) and 3rd one nastiest – since you must use the 2 cards that remained in your hands.

But now you could see what the encounter has to offer, and then plan your move: will you use your success cards right away to gain resources, or perhaps use failure cards instead since the failing condition on current card isn’t that bad?