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Default Spiderweb Games - Jeff Vogel Roundup

March 30th, 2009, 23:48
Three different Jeff Vogel articles today. First, RPG Codex has a lengthy interview covering a wide range of territory. A controversial answer:
6. One gripe of many Spiderweb fans is that combat doesn’t offer enough in the way of interesting tactical choices for non-spellcasters. Battle Disciplines in Avernum 5 partially addressed this. What other changes (if any) are in store for the combat system?
I get a lot of suggestions for how to add “depth” to the battle system. Most of them, frankly, aren’t very good. Stuff like, “Oh, I see the monster is using a power attack. I’d better press the Block Power Attack button. There. Done.”
It’s a turn-based game with small-scale combat. To be honest, there is only so much tactical depth you’re going to get. And, heck, please point me to an RPG that has rich and varied tactical combat, because I’d sure like to play it.
I mean, I loved Fallout 3. It’s a great game. But opening up the targeting window, selecting “Shoot Head” five times, and watching the brains fly everywhere isn’t “tactical”.
As RPGs go, I think the Avernum games have a really good variety of challenging fights and tactical situations. But if you want lots of tactical choices, single-player RPGs, any of them, are really not where you should be going. That isn’t what the genre is about. And, if I had big, epic, chesslike battles where you had to think about your battle plan until sweat poured down your face, a huge portion of my fans wouldn’t like that. At all.
Thanks, Shagnak and Elwro!
Over at RPG Vault, he has a new View From the Bottom editorial on game piracy:
So I do everything I can to keep it from getting to me. I don't like rainy days either, but there's not much point in trying to prevent them. And there aren't yet any good ways to make real money developing single-player games beyond selling licenses. Ads can generate some revenues, but nowhere near enough to keep a business afloat.
So, I am working to adjust to the new reality. People will only pay us for single-player PC games to feel good about themselves, like they are committing a virtuous act. Now that stealing them has gone from just easy to painfully trivial, how do we stay in business in the new reality?

First, be nice. Seriously! Charities need to be likeable, or nobody will give them money. The Red Cross doesn't put up ads saying "You are a jerk and we hate you. Give us money. And we're going to kick your dog." It wouldn't work.
And lastly, a new blog entry explaining why he won't be jumping on the iphone bandwagon:
There's a lesson for young developers. Make sure your game fits the way people will want to play it. PC Games = Longer sessions. iPhone Games = Ping. Zap! Done.
More information.
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March 30th, 2009, 23:48
Why does he keep taliking about his games being pirated when they have had so few pirated copies.

The Iphone part isn't true since all the rpgs that have come out on the iphone are classic rpgsand from my understanding are long games. The iphone is becoming like the psp a multiuse portable machine with good gaming capabilities. I don't have an iphone but I do have a psp and every game I play on it is a long game.

PS. I think he is thinking of the iphone as a standard cell phone which doesn't lend itself well to long games.

PPS. Other then him complaining about his games being pirated it was a decent article and I didn't know about the incident with "Gears of War".
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March 31st, 2009, 01:29
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
Why does he keep taliking about his games being pirated when they have had so few pirated copies.
How do you know there were "so few pirated copies"?
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March 31st, 2009, 02:30
I can't believe how clueless he is about the state of RPG's … he speaks as if he has a clue about ToEE based on glancing at Metacritic? I lost a heap of respect for him based on the crap he spewed in that article.

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March 31st, 2009, 13:05
All you have to do is do a little searching to find out how often his games are pirated and you won't find much. Anyone can look it up and it isn't hard to do so.

I gathered some info and with the torrents I found it roughly comes to about 15,000 downloads and that was mostly from 2 torrents that had 3 of the geneforge games in it and another that had all of the avernum games in it. There was also a torrent for geneforge 4 with about 900 downloads but nothing for geneforge 5.
Last edited by guenthar; March 31st, 2009 at 13:26.
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March 31st, 2009, 13:37
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
All you have to do is do a little searching to find out how often his games are pirated and you won't find much. Anyone can look it up and it isn't hard to do so.

I gathered some info and with the torrents I found it roughly comes to about 15,000 downloads and that was mostly from 2 torrents that had 3 of the geneforge games in it and another that had all of the avernum games in it. There was also a torrent for geneforge 4 with about 900 downloads but nothing for geneforge 5.
I'm not sure if this is alright to say (and should be deleted if it's not), but there's a keygen out there for every single of his games. The "security" is actually fairly rudimentary, though that probably doesn't make a huge difference. In any case, if you want to pirate it, you can, but I'm pretty sure his target audience, like the people here, are of the "I'll pay to support the developers!" sort, so it's really only a few lost sales in all those pirated copies.

I mean, if there was any way to track it, I'm sure the number of those pirates who finished it is tiny, tiny, tiny.
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March 31st, 2009, 13:40
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
All you have to do is do a little searching to find out how often his games are pirated and you won't find much. Anyone can look it up and it isn't hard to do so.

I gathered some info and with the torrents I found it roughly comes to about 15,000 downloads and that was mostly from 2 torrents that had 3 of the geneforge games in it and another that had all of the avernum games in it. There was also a torrent for geneforge 4 with about 900 downloads but nothing for geneforge 5.
Since he sells around 4-5000 of the games he makes, I think that is a fairly huge number. And btw, I really can find anything wrong with complaining about pirating his games (he is after all fairly modest, I think). It is after all his bread and butter.

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March 31st, 2009, 13:55
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I can't believe how clueless he is about the state of RPG's … he speaks as if he has a clue about ToEE based on glancing at Metacritic? I lost a heap of respect for him based on the crap he spewed in that article.
As far as I can see he doesn't claim to know anything about it. He says he didn't play it. He says that IF metacritic can be trusted, it MIGHT not be very good. I really can't see that is speaking as he has a clue about it.

I think the article was interesting.

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March 31st, 2009, 14:58
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I can't believe how clueless he is about the state of RPG's … he speaks as if he has a clue about ToEE based on glancing at Metacritic? I lost a heap of respect for him based on the crap he spewed in that article.
Yeah, his reasoning behind games being "too tactical" is flawed. In addition to simply writing off ToEE out of hand (due to the expert views of Metacritic) he completely missed out on the grandeur of Realms of Arkania due to finding the first turn-based battle "too long," but he claims to have liked the Gold Box games.(???) If memory serves (and when it comes to Gold Box SSI games it does), there were some excruciatingly long, turn-based battles in there.

I suspect Jeff's tastes have aged over time and, like many of the older gaming crowd, he no longer has the time/patience to sit down and enjoy a slow, lengthy CRPG. In other words, he just doesn't like RPGs anymore, which is a common result of making too many of your own.

As for the piracy thing, I do find it quite depressing that it has become so rampant lately. I mean you see people on forums saying "yeah, I pulled that down off torrent and it was OK, but I won't be buying it." That's got to hurt a developer in the heart as much as in the pocketbook.
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March 31st, 2009, 15:42
Hmm, burn me alive if you will, but I agree with him about the tactical thing.

When I start a brand new CRPG, I enjoy the minute details of the battles tremendously and even wish for more a more complex system.
However…
After the 100th conflict with random enemies I just want to kill the bastards as quickly as I can, so I can continue my quest.

A relatively easy solution would be to turn on some auto-pilot fight agains lesser enemies (Avernum 3 and FFXII has it, heh-heh), or, even better, let the lesser monsters be scared of you and just run away of sight.
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March 31st, 2009, 17:32
This was a good interview, I thought. Jeff Vogel certainly calls 'em as he sees 'em. I enjoyed his frankness.

Comparing himself to a charity seemed fairly accurate and sensible to me, sad to say. His comments about piracy seemed casual but careful (not careful enough for some, apparently). I didn't see a problem with his reference to ToEE or Metacritic either. He hedged it, after all.

As to RPG not being tactical, that's just nonsense. It's not chess, but so what? Jeff may not have thought of any of them yet, but I suspect there are plenty of better ways of doing RPG combat on the computer. This genre always was and always will be tactical.

Vogel is definitely familiar with the landscape and seems supremely confident. But there's something missing in his conversations. His tone and his slant sometimes seem hopeless as if he's already figured everything out and accepted the futility of having higher expectations.

Jeff seems comfortable offering advice to aspiring indies, and that's actually pretty cool. It's valuable advice. He's Jeff Vogel, after all. He may not be right about everything (and would sell more games if he made a point of being more positive, IMO), but his voice is a voice of his industry.

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March 31st, 2009, 22:17
I would have mentioned the keygen downloads but there was virtually none on torrents for those. The reason why I am complaining about his comments on piracy is that he is constantly doing it and every article he puts out he is complaining about it.

The article he wrote about the sales figures mentioned that the around 4000 figure for geneforge 4 was the minumum that he would consider a sucess. He also mentions that the games that he uses different outlets to sell have sold far more copies.
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March 31st, 2009, 22:35
Why would anyone need a torrent for a keygen? How big could a keygen be? They just generate a key, don't they?

Myself, I wouldn't blame a dev, especially a small one, for ever voicing concern about piracy. What harm do you see in it, guenthar?

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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March 31st, 2009, 23:21
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Why would anyone need a torrent for a keygen? How big could a keygen be?
Well, the keygen should at least be able to package your name, address, social security number, credit card numbers and online banking passwords into an attachment and send itself to some caring person .
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March 31st, 2009, 23:42
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Why would anyone need a torrent for a keygen? How big could a keygen be? They just generate a key, don't they?
Oh, under 10kb.

Still, the few glancing looks I've made, put the newer games at somewhere around a thousand each, while the older ones (meaning: 1-3) have around 6000. These are just the very lowest of estimates, though. Could be much higher, could be almost right. No idea to know.
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April 1st, 2009, 00:34
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
I would have mentioned the keygen downloads but there was virtually none on torrents for those. The reason why I am complaining about his comments on piracy is that he is constantly doing it and every article he puts out he is complaining about it.

The article he wrote about the sales figures mentioned that the around 4000 figure for geneforge 4 was the minumum that he would consider a sucess. He also mentions that the games that he uses different outlets to sell have sold far more copies.
But the point of this blog post is to say (essentially), the best way to combat piracy is to look after your customers. How is this a bad thing? I don't get why this upsets you. Do you not agree? Or do you think devs should just shut up and suck up piracy as long as they still make a living?

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April 1st, 2009, 06:54
If pretty much every article he puts out wasn't about complaining about piracy I wouldn't have a problem. Developers like the one who made world of goo aren't constantly complaing about piracy and that is one of the few instances where piracy clearly had an effect on their total sales but every few weeks a new article comes out from this guy complaining about piracy. I think taking care of your customers is a good thing and I do it in the few computer jobs I take and not harming your customers because people pirate a game isn't good. I believe you should complain about people pirating your games and try to prevent it in ways that don't harm your customers but constantly complaining over and over again and harming your customers through your means on preventing piracy don't work.

PS. There was only a small blurb about how some companies treat their customers. Most of the article was trying to generate pity for how pirates are treating them by pirating their games calling themselves and the rest of the industry a charity case.

PPS. When I create the game I have designed and release it I will be happy as long as people play it.
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April 1st, 2009, 08:47
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems we have is people sympathising with pirates or minimising what they do - this is essentially what you are doing.

Since I report Vogel's stuff in our news, here's a look at his constant whining about piracy.

1. This article. It's as much about looking after your customers but let's count it.
2. Interview at RPG Codex. Nothing on piracy.
3. Blog on the iphone. Nothing about piracy.
4. How Many Games I Sell #2. Nothing on piracy.
5. How Many Games I Sell #1. Yep, talks about piracy.
6. First blog post. Nothing about piracy.
7. Interview at Reason.com. Nothing on piracy.
8. GameBanshee interview. Nothing on piracy.
9. View From the Bottom piece at RPG Vault. Nothing on piracy.
10, View From the Bottom #9 at RPG Vault. Nothing on piracy.

Right. Two out of the last 10 pieces he has done mention piracy. One is an article on his sales (do you think it might be relevant?) and one is about how looking after your customers is the best way to go.

The bastard.

Now, get your facts straight and stop supporting pirates by whinging about something that isn't even there.

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April 1st, 2009, 11:18
OOh … you're warming up for the P&R forum, eh?

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April 1st, 2009, 12:49
The worst thing about key generators are the keys that they generate, and which are used, but IN FACT "belong" to serious, honest customers who are banned then becaiuse someone else used the generated key because of greed.

Let's face it, greed is the most prominent motivator for people wanting to play games without paying for it.

And this same kind of greed might make good bankers with millions of bonus earnings later on.

“ 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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