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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Dungeons of Dredmor - On the Folly of Giving Money Directly to Developers

Default Dungeons of Dredmor - On the Folly of Giving Money Directly to Developers

July 2nd, 2011, 06:56
It doesn't really matter to me what you use as long as it's not D2D or region locked. I don't understand the extreme "I won't use Steam at all" attitude. I personally won't buy high priced games there, but for their sales or a game as little as 5 dollars then I have no problem with them.

Since the deal with Steam is non-exclusive it really seems like a no-brainer to go with them first. Everything you said about them is true, but Rampant's got a point as well. I just hope that later on they don't pull a Steven Peeler on you and exclude your other games that (I hope to god) you will make. Seriously DoD is freaking awesome and since this is just the first game you guys have done I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

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I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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July 2nd, 2011, 08:24
David's reasoning makes perfect sense to me really.

My main problem with Steam is indeed their client based model and their pricing policy
but I never hesitate too much to buy from them if no physical copy or less intrusive outlet is available (that said I believe that King Arthur and Portal 1 was the only games I've bought from them other than HL2 that came boxed and forced you to install the steam client).

GOG also seems a very good outlet btw and one that is rapidly growing in user
mindshare (especially in the kind of user that I believe would be interested in DoD).
I am hoping that someday soon I will be able to put aside my Steam version in favor
of a GOG one…
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July 2nd, 2011, 09:41
Welcome at the Watch dbaum!

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July 2nd, 2011, 13:56
Originally Posted by JonNik View Post
GOG also seems a very good outlet btw
Which leads me to the question of what developers thing about GOG ?

As a means for distribution, that is.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 2nd, 2011, 17:28
Hmm on retrospection it seems that GOG does indeed deal mostly in old games as the title
implies.

Must have gotten the wrong impression that they were expanding their business model from the W2… Would have been nice though (seems like a perfect home for the indies to me)…
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July 2nd, 2011, 19:21
GoG, I think, is OPEN to the notion of newer things——but it depends on them actually getting approached and thing hashed out proper in terms of DRM and all else.

I really need to dig up that video one of these days.
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July 3rd, 2011, 02:33
Apart from the Witcher 2, I've never heard of GoG dealing with modern or indie games. That said, I barely pay any attention to them. I have pretty much all the old games I want and anything else I can get via other digital distribution platforms.
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July 4th, 2011, 03:16
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Anecdotal evidence (blogposts by other developers, etc.) makes me believe that getting past the Steam gatekeeper as an indie is like a rigged lotterie. You either have connections or you need a lot of luck. Even a well known indie like Positech Games only managed to sneak one game into Steam, all others were rejected. Jeff Vogel's Avadon was rejected too.
Well the one Positech game that is on steam is about 50 times more like a game you'd buy in a store than anything else he's made, or anything Vogel has made. It has nice production values and is a good if not deep game.

Most the indie stuff has awful art and often similarly awful everything else so it's no surprise they get rejected, or else it's just too simple to be taken seriously. You can't really expect a marble game to go on steam unless it's just an amazing marble game, for instance.
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July 4th, 2011, 08:09
Originally Posted by ManWhoJaped View Post
Well the one Positech game that is on steam is about 50 times more like a game you'd buy in a store than anything else he's made, or anything Vogel has made. It has nice production values and is a good if not deep game.

Most the indie stuff has awful art and often similarly awful everything else so it's no surprise they get rejected, or else it's just too simple to be taken seriously. You can't really expect a marble game to go on steam unless it's just an amazing marble game, for instance.
Yeah, that. To speak from my area of professional interest, indie games often lack consistent, holistic, and competent art direction. And UI design. And failing one of these areas means your game looks amateurish and so makes really bad first impressions. Shooting for niche markets is reasonable at that level, but I doubt that tiny niche markets are worthwhile to Valve - and you'll never break out of that niche market even with an appropriately art directed game when employing a conservative pricing strategy. (On that note, I wonder if Jeff Vogel did not prove himself wrong with his success on the iPad.)

So I think one-man-coder indie developers (which are many of the examples brought up) can ship games, but they're generally ugly. One-man-artist indie developers make beautiful games, but they never ship.

You need to get a team together that fills all the roles well enough, though in the field of small-time game development where there's so much blind enthusiasm it's hard to find people that, frankly, don't suck. Maybe they're dedicated but unskilled, maybe they're skilled but they disappear after three weeks, maybe they're skilled and want to actually be paid for what they're worth, etc.
I think Gaslamp got this far because we're too damned stubborn to give up even when we were completely miserable.

I'll have to write more on it, but almost all indie games fail and almost all that I've worked on - and been paid to work on - never ship. Oh yes, it's all built on broken dreams.
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July 4th, 2011, 08:48
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
It doesn't really matter to me what you use as long as it's not D2D or region locked. I don't understand the extreme "I won't use Steam at all" attitude. I personally won't buy high priced games there, but for their sales or a game as little as 5 dollars then I have no problem with them.
I think the pricepoint of 5$ is crazy low. What's left after Valve and CC processing has taken their cut? On top of that you probably need to pay digital sales tax, hire an accountant to handle salaries and taxes, etc.
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July 4th, 2011, 11:32
Originally Posted by dbaum View Post
Yeah, that. To speak from my area of professional interest, indie games often lack consistent, holistic, and competent art direction. And UI design.
This just strenthens me in my opinion that "techies" alone cannot do an appealing game.
It just needs storytellers, for example, and real artists, if possible, too.
I developed this opinion while thinking on NWN toolsets (and other modding tools).
My personally worst example is still the editor for Star Wars Battlefront I : You really *need* to be a technically oriented expert to be able to use it … A mid-professional 3D expert at least.

In my opinion, the more technologically advanced (and demanding, of course) modding tools are, the less likely it is that they are used by people who are *not* technological experts - and that - here I go to an absolute extreme - results in mods in the absolutely worst case to be nothing but "tech demos". Because there's just no-one there to actually tell a story.

This results in the real need for teams : tech experts, artists & storytellers alike - and - in my opinion - each one should have the same level of respect of the others. Because - imho - if one of these three aspcts fails, the others won't be able to make the product a perfect one.

The opposite to that are shooters, imho, which increasingly tell no story whatsoever, and whih are currently becoming increasingly short (maybe because they just don't have any good stories they are able o tell ?).
Modern shooters imho concentrate far too much on technical aspects - and the people buy them regardless !

This is in a way a possible explanation of the RPG aspects in the ME series to be constantly reduced : Shooter fans (and ME is seems to *be* a shooter to a larger part) just don't care about stories. They want to shoot.
Because this is the only way I can imagine why pople buy great-looking shooter gmes nowadays despite their shortness (in terms of playing time) and lack of story … The people who buy them seem to be completely content with the technical aspect of the game - and the game looking good (tht's the artistic part in it, I admit). No story needed.

And in the Age Of Ever-Increasing Development Costs, how do I reduce costs the best way ?
Throwing away anything that's complex to implement.
Like stories, for example.

And this is my opinion on the matter.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 4th, 2011, 21:41
I don't know about lack of storytellers being the problem; I think that mainstream games, these muddled action/adventure/rpg/shooter are focusing much more on storytelling than before — it's just that the storytelling is really, really bad (and the gameplay highly derivative and watered-down, of course); they're the game equivalents of Michael Bay movie. Similarly, the point of these games is to put images of badassery and action in front of the lowest common denominator of the 18-30 male target market.

It's not that these developers are technically or artistically incompetent, usually. It's that the economics of mainstream game development favours this blockbuster movie approach. Investors are not known for their creative vision, and when game design is driven by huge budgets and conservative economic goals, then of course artistic merit for its own sake is thrown out the window because it's an unknown factor.

This isn't, I think, so much a matter of hiring a good writing being expensive (have you seen how poor writers are? It'd be a snap to hire a pile of them), it's a matter of managers and investors not understanding or valuing good writing in terms of their business goals — and maybe they don't need to. These media productions may have ridiculously poor writing, but they still sell, right?


As for editors and toolkits, I think the problem is that coders with no UI design skill are making the UIs. It's a matter of a field of interaction design not being valued — it's similar to a commercial graphic designer being dismissed because "Oh yeah, I've got a nephew who knows photoshop, he can just do some drop shadows and that lens flare thing and it looks fine to me". Likewise coders and UI; because they can do it, they think it's good-enough.

(I like to complain about how Nicholas, Gaslamp's coder, once made an editor that had a row of three buttons that stretched with the size of the screen; it was ugly and terrible! But then he's not a UI designer, so he didn't mind it; His concern was the functionality of the editor.)

And on this line of thought, I don't think that the coders who make content editors often respect the fact that they should not make the users of these editors suffer, that if the use-cost of editor is low then the content-maker will be able to make content far more efficiently and of a higher quality.

Dredmor has no specialized editors so it's all rather a pain to add content, but at least it's all fairly straightforward (and I have experience with code, so I'm not totally lost).


In the end I do agree with your point: developers needs to work in teams. If you're a coder and suck at art direction, you need to find someone that can do it.

It is rare that a single developer in auteur mode knows when to (and has the option to) properly complement their own weak points with the skills of others. I think Jon Blow pulls it off, for example. (But then I think he's a coder with the heart of an artist - and he had a sweet pile of cash to fund himself, at that.)
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July 5th, 2011, 12:42
Originally Posted by dbaum View Post
it's a matter of managers and investors not understanding or valuing good writing in terms of their business goals — and maybe they don't need to.
I agree here. Accountants may be great in terms of accountancy - but they just don't have any senses for emotions.

And financial investors even more - they do calculate based on what is calculatable - and this is all things materialistic.

Things that cannot be described, or "held", in materialistic terms - like social interaction, like emotions, like storytelling ( good storytelling, yeah ), are just treated as if they wouldn't exist.

This is what I call the current "materialistic" point of view, the "Objectivism", or the "Economicalism". because in Economy, everything is described as something in erms of money value. And that would be Capitalism, in the end, imho.

And in Capitalism, especially in the so-called "Manchester Capitalism", it just doesn't cound whether people feel good when they … play a game, in this case.

All that counts is the number of units being sold. No humanity, please, because this disrupts the greed-driven materialistic business.

This is what I think. And I must emphasise that this is (or might be) a rather extreme standpoint.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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July 9th, 2011, 07:24
I'm just pleased to see people trashing Michael Bay

(I thought I was alone in this big, cheesy world)
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July 9th, 2011, 18:14
GOG.COM does have some older indie games from the shareware era. But they did insist that TW2 was an exception rather than a new rule, as it came from their sister company (or another branch of the same company, if you prefer).

Anyway, bottom line is: Indies who wish to prosper in the long term have to remember that while partnering with another company is often a great way to go, it doesn't relieve you of the responsibility of taking care of your own business and looking out for #1. While I am sure there are guys at Valve who really care about indies, bottom line is that they are looking out for their own interests. They don't care if they sell one game for $20 or 10 different games for $2 - they get the same amount of money either way. Absent anything else, indies are disposable commodities.

The indies themselves have to work at it and take responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen.
Last edited by RampantCoyote; July 9th, 2011 at 18:24.
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