Monthly Archives: August 2013

Reblogging the Blog

Serendipity has been a thorn in my side for a long time now. It’s easy to use and set up, and I like it for the most part, but (among other issues) it lets spam bots through while actual people are unable to leave comments on my entries. I’ll probably be transferring the blog to new software soon, so if the blog goes down later this week or next week don’t panic. It’ll be back up soon.

Wherein My Principles Get Me Burned, As Usual

This was originally posted elsewhere a few weeks ago, but I thought it should be copied here where it’s easier for people to find.

One of the most common questions I get about Another Star (now that it’s getting noticed) is whether or not I’m going to put it up on Steam Greenlight. The easy answer is: I don’t know.

On one hand, it’s all the more publicity for the game even if it doesn’t get through.

On the other, Steam Greenlight sucks for all the reasons I’ve previously pointed out, and I hate it.

Actually, hate is a weak work.

I despise it.

I don’t feel like coughing up $100 for “publicity” when I could put that money to better things like hosting and tools and computer parts, especially now that the bigger dogs are buying their Steam lottery tickets and grabbing that much more attention from the smaller guys.

I hate what Steam has done with the service, I hate how they treat indies while patting themselves on the back and thinking they’ve done a good job, I hate how opaque the service is after they played up how “transparent” it would be, and I hate how arbitrary their ideas are of who can and cannot use the service.

I also hate the fact that Valve—the supposed champion of indies—requires you to sign an NDA (non discolsure agreement) once you’ve been greenlit. The very idea of it irks me, in part because I hate the whole concept of an NDA for something as simple as an online storefront. Yes, I know they required an NDA prior to Greenlight, but it’s not the transparency and openness they promised when they pitched this thing.

Truth be told, I’m not sure I care that Another Star has a tiny chance of getting through. I’m not sure I care that I’m losing sales by not putting the game there. Out of principle, I simply cannot stand the very idea of submitting it. I may yet give in, but the whole thing ticks me off and I’d rather just say “screw it”.

Life would be a heck of a lot easier if I wasn’t such a stupid idealist.

On closer inspection, I may actually be making the right choice.

On that same note, can you believe it’s come to the point where it’s easier to get on to a Sony console than it is on to Steam? Wow. Way to go Valve.

$100 Does Not Buy Quality

This article was written in September of last year when Steam’s Greenlight service was still new. It was posted elsewhere and is being reproduced here for easy access. Edits have been made in order to make it flow better without the external context that the original had. Note that some of the criticisms here are no longer fully valid because of the changes of time, but all-in-all I still think it’s worth a read.

When Steam’s new Greenlight feature went live, I didn’t feel like posting one of my normal long-winded rants that nobody reads anyway, so for the most part I was content to let it pass without further comment. But since everybody else keeps talking about it–and because I’m ticked off at the general state of the world–I feel I have to rage on something, so I’ll throw my two cents into the ring.

Before I go any further, I think I should begin with this: Valve is not an indie developer. Valve thinks they are an indie developer. They say they are an indie developer. But they’re not. They’re a mainstream, rather well-sized development studio that owns and operates the single most successful online game store in existence. Their general argument as to why they are an indie studio usually boils down to “well, we publish our own games”, but then by that definition EA is an indie developer but, say, Jonathon Blow is not. One could argue that they started out as an indie studio, but I’d even argue against that. Founded by a couple Microsoft millionaires with plans to sell through traditional channels, I’d say they very much a mainstream start-up studio.

Why is this important to the discussion? Because Valve has a tendency to think they understand indies and, while they certainly understand them better than the vast majority of mainstream publishers and studios, they don’t have that same indie perspective. So when they first announced Greenlight, even though I thought it was a good idea on the surface, I was highly skeptical. And, I’ll be honest, the whole $100 thing is just one issue I have with the platform, but it’s what I’m going to focus the most on today. Let’s get this rant started, shall we?

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The Joy of Marking Things Off Lists

One of my to-do lists for Another Star.

Click here to view larger version.

As I work on Another Star, I keep a notebook close buy to jot down the various things I need to remember to do. Scripts that have to be written, NPCs that have to be placed, bugs that need to be fixed, features that need to be added. They all go into the list.

And then, one-by-one, I mark them off. One-by-one list items get addressed, and bit-by-bit the game become more complete and more polished. As frustrating as it is to have a reminder setting in front of me while I work that the game is not yet finished, I really like it when I start to run out of room on the sheet of paper like this. Every time I have to turn to a clean page and begin a new list, it’s a reminder that I’m getting that much closer to completion.

(See that blurred area? That’s a planning layout of one of the dungeons. Guess you’ll have to find the hidden treasures on your own!)