Monthly Archives: May 2011

Hmm, I’m watching an ad while waiting to watch an another ad

I was thinking of writing how NHL ’12 cool features again feel like a patch (and that I’ll buy it anyway) but instead I’m writing about ads.

I was about to watch a trailer of a game. Trailer, that’s an ad.

But before they show me the ad (trailer), they are showing me ad of some movie (and the ad is very trailer like).

That’s somewhat strange.

The 2 worst phrases I said after witnessing the Minecraft and Terraria success

First Minecraft “cloned” and (greatly) polished Infiniminer, and developer “got lucky and got rich” (so I heard people saying, this isn’t my opinion).

Then many people said “why I didn’t think of that” or “I could have done that!” (I know I did, although I did try focus on “what was it in this project that made it successful? What can I learn” rather than just focus on “how gameplay works”).

Then some months passes. Developers of Terraria took Minecraft ideas, added their own ones (aka polished to create a different gameplay experience) and now the game has generated over 2 million sales already.

And again people are saying “how they got lucky because of Steam” and “I could have done that!”, or saying “why they didn’t think that” (or some people: “I was thinking that, but was too busy” – this time this phrase came closest to my mind. Again I try to explore this phenomenon and see what I can learn).

Now somebody will most likely take Terraria ideas (Notch, Minecraft creator, is already taking notes on what to steal), use some different gameplay mechanism, and becomes a millionaire.

And then again people are saying “I could have done that!”

What were you thinking when you heard about Minecraft success, and then later about Terraria success?

What are you thinking now?

My thoughts are: “These games are amazing indie development project. I now focus on my card game & polish it so that it becomes the game I dreamt about few years ago. Only by creating fun games I get experience to create fun games. Donuts are the fruits of labor. What can I learn from these?”

Why I like my Playstation 3

The Playstation network (and/or PS Store) has been down for something like 2 million years now, making some games still unplayable, but I don’t care.

Here’s why:

  • PS3 is a blu-ray player: I don’t want additional bluray player and Xbox. I want to have as few devices in my living room as possible.
  • There was one day when I had no 3D player, but it changed in one night. For free. Last year, Sony decided that they want to give me a 3D player and made software update which made my PS3 to magically allow playing of 3D stuff. That is like awesome customer service, me likes very much.
  • My bro has PS3: we can share our games & play online too. That wouldn’t happen if one of us got Xbox or something else.
  • My PS3 has bluetooth: headset, controllers. This is amazingly great feature since I don’t want any hassle. Heck, I can go to kitchen and keep talking or controlling my precious thingy.
  • Xbox services got hacked last time about month ago and apparently in year 2007 there was a hack which kept service doors closed.

The point is, that I like my PS3 device and I’m not letting other people decide my actions on this.

If one day I’d want to switch console, here’s some reasons why I might consider getting Xbox 360:

  • Kinect & possible Kinect indie game development (just think about the possibilities of creating a game where you must move like a zombie… slowly and unsteadily…)
  • Xbox development possibilities: Microsoft has a solid foundation for making games for Xbox console, Playstation has close to zero opportunities for Joe Indie to try do PS development.

When making decisions, sometimes I like to think where I’m heading rather than what I’m running away from.

The last ring of invisibility was cast into a volcano, remember?

Remember when Sony denied that nothing happened and that all was fine. And remember when then their network got down and 100 million dudes account info was stolen.

Well, first I must say that I don’t really care if 100 million or 7 billion or whatever amount was stolen, what I care about whether my stuff was stolen (pirates could argue that it wasn’t stealing, since data was copied and now exists in several places).

Anyway.

Let’s be honest, you too care only about your stuff and I care about my stuff. Otherwise we’d not be blogging and ranting here but planting seeds in poorer countries helping kids to get food.

Now, I do care about my account. I did renew my credit card, but other than that it’s not so important to me if 100 million users lost their stuff. Of course it feels bad, but you and me don’t really care. What we do care on the other hand is ranting about Sony.

And there’s one thing that I dislike in their actions. Blatant lying.

For example, earlier they said that “now your stuff is safe” and “hey, we are back online now!” And few hours pass and some dude finds out that there’s an URL exploit that you can use to change anyone’s password if you just know their email and birthdate (which were stolen in the first attack).

I don’t know what security company they hired, but if it takes them 1 month to “secure things” and few hours for hackers to exploit the system, then something tells me that rather than blaming “criminal activity” Sony should like hire some of these folks who hacked them. After all, those hackers seem to be in pretty good figuring out how Sony’s network systems are working.

But nah, instead they say that “all is fine, here have a cookie (2 games – choose from list of about 5 games from this decade – for free)”.

This situation is bit different, but attitude is bit same when Steve Jobs said that there’s “no antennagate” and “here, have a cookie (this free cover fixes the antennagate, which doesn’t exist)”. It just makes my programmer mind to get division by zero error.

That’s why I have mixed feelings. First of all: I think Sony PS3 is a superior gaming machine, and me and my bro just love it. The Apple products iPod touch and iPad are great devices.

What I don’t like is that if leaders don’t admit that they did shitty things, but rather that they try to praise their systems and stuff. I know your systems are great already – hey, that’s why I keep buying them – but I would want to see bit more respectful attitude.

Back to Sony case.

I got email or read press release by Sony where it was stated “we thank you for your patience and understand how much you want to continue using Sony products” and continuing “it took a long time, but we were quicker to fix things than anyone else would have”.

To be honest, I don’t like you sending me email saying what I want to do.

I also don’t care if you handled this thing faster than anyone would have been, especially since earlier I read some rumours that you were warned about this hack and did nothing to prevent it.

Invisible rings worked pretty fine when there was just one Sauron’s eye watching us, but now we have Twitter and Facebook and everything. News travel faster than ever in the history of mankind. Trying to hide the truth just doesn’t work.

If some indie would find out that anything like this is happening in their system, they would probably run naked – figuratively speaking – around the issue, being 100% transparent about the issue.

If Sony folks would have just said “Sorry folks. We made error. Here’s how we try make things right”, then I’d have much higher respect on the people behind the products.

Oh well, the good news are that there’s chances that I get Dead Nation for free. (At least it was in the cookie list in US region). When do I get my cookie?

Lesson from keyboard shopping

Always test the keyboard before purchasing. I had my precious Logitech WhoKnowsWhatBasicModelThisIs (and I think I’ve bought 2-3 of these same exact models in the past, just color has changed, and cost is like 20 euros or so) and it’s bit worn so I thought to purchase a new set.

I always test keyboards before purchase, but not this time. I tried to find the same exact model, but it wasn’t available so I checked another Logitech keyboard model. I looked at the box and thought that “this looks pretty similar, I just take this one” alas it wasn’t. The keys were closer to each other and positioned “wrong”. And by wrong I mean: not 100% same way as in my earlier keyboard. Typing was way too different and made me curse my purchase.

After 27 seconds of serious testing I concluded that I switch back to old keyboard, and here I am, typing happily.

Next time, I’ll test the keyboard.

Here’s how your dungeon master is fooling you

I’m looking a dungeon crawler board game a bit and one thing that strike to me about “being the dungeon master” (in board games, and I guess in pen & paper RPGs as well) is that the dungeon master sometimes plays for totally different victory conditions.

When I was hosting Hero Quest sessions, it was my goal to “kill the heroes” (something like that said in the rulebook I think) but actually, I think I never played according to meet that goal. My goal was different.

My goal was to [i]provide a challenging (where players felt they could get killed), but something that players can barely beat[/i]. When I could provide such gaming experience, I knew I did a great job.

Dungeon master (or storyteller) is there to kill the chaps if they do really stupid stuff, but biggest factor was in noticing every player’s playing style (some folks preferred combat, some wanted puzzles/exploring, some liked to negotiate) and meet those challenges.

Funny that when computer “balances the game”, it’s sometimes considered cheating or stupid (and players start exploiting the AI – such as playing worse to get past really difficult zones)… but when human person (the dungeon master) does balancing, it’s perfectly okay.

Or do you really think that your own dungeon master never secretly helped your heroes, thinking: “oh shit, heroes are badly wounded already and there’s that ogre behind the corner… maybe I make it a dead ogre instead and let them get the treasure now.

Post mortem of year 2010 (yeh, I know it’s May now)

It’s May 10th.

Close to 40% of this year is finished.

I think this quite accurately reflects what happened last year (became a daddy meant I needed to re-think everything and especially how I spend my time). It also reflects that list of my goals for year 2010 was pretty short.

I rate these:
- Dead Wake: 3 out of 5 stars (decent).
- Daddy project: 6 out of 5 stars (memory overflow error aka greatness!)

Dead Wake was my biggest financial investment in gaming (in a decade I’ve been involved in this stuff) and it didn’t turn out so good as I planned, although there’s elements in the game I’m truly happy about (building barricades, one-liners, bi-monthly releases, PC Gamer coverage, time I managed to arrange in development, gathering mailing list, earlier community, plans for Dead Wake 2).

Daddy project (I now have wonderful 1 year old girl) on the other hand has been amazing. It has been by far the most time & energy consuming project I’ve ever been involved, but seeing how the path finding, rewards system, casual play, controls and everything come together… easily makes it feel that the more effort I give, the more I get.

Last year and kid also changed my attitude on new year resolutions. Instead of coming up things that “I will do”, I made a big list of what “I won’t do”. So far that list is been working pretty well and in a way while I have had less time to do gaming project, I’ve been more productive with the time I have been able to use.

This years goal: get Infected card game out (both physical and digital versions).

Here’s list of some useful skills for indie game developers

Here’s my list, in no any specific order:
- patience
- people skills
- organizating skills
- negotiation
- passion
- programming
- ability to understand importance of details
- ability to see the big picture
- networking
- storytelling
- marketing
- english
- open mind
- ability to listen
- continous improvement
- troll killer
- doesn’t gives rat’s arse bottom attitude, sometimes
- transparency
- realizing that making an overnight success takes at least 11 years
- ability to see what works
- did I mention passion?
- respect for different people
- habit of thanking people
- math & physics knowledge is a plus: it helps in many areas
- realizing that nobody will steal your game idea, no matter how hard you try (we simply don’t ever fully see what you do, before you’ve finished)
- determination to finis things
- more determination to polish after finish (it was a fortunate typo in the sentence above this one)
- understanding that graphics most likely isn’t the thing you can compete with
- focus
- vision

And many, many more.

What would you add on this list?

Here’s a pretty sweet tool for sharing gaming team stuff

I’m using Dropbox for many things, and it works pretty wonders for shared collaboration if you have a small team. Especially good for artists + coders combination since others can instantly run the stuff coders do, and artists have nice way to put their stuff. (Of course keep in mind that no 3rd party system cannot be relied on, you must have your own backups and you must think twice for which purposes you want to use it)

Anyways.

It works on several platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile)

And it works when offline.

And it’s free: 2GB free space right away.

And one gets more free space when you invite other folks, so… get Dropbox (and help get me precious +250 MB more free space if you join through this link and install it on your machine, which would be greatly appreciated thanks you very much)

P.S. In fact, if you join through my link, you might get extra +250MB space as well. (At least one guy just reported receiving this). Pretty sweet!