Sunday, April 20, 2014

Podcast - Episode 1

Part of what is so fun about game development is being able to share stories and opinions with other game developers. It's only natural that when you love your vocation that you end up talking about some of it.

Enter the good man Isaac Goodin (also known as @ilgoodi on Twitter) of Clockwork Giant. There have been so many occasions where we've talked for hours about all of the trends and other things annoying us within the state of indie games and game development in general that it would be a crime NOT to record some of them.

Since this is our first crack at it, we're doing some analytics and are taking suggestions! Right now, I'll be posting a link to the episodes page (http://www.rottentater.com/podcast/) instead of posting in the blog. In the future, I want to do 'both,' but for now:

Take a listen to the first episode here!

There are a LOT of topics we went over/mentioned, including but not limited to:
Cards Against Humanity, Table-Top Deathmatch, Quality Assurance, Bug Fixing, Releases, Marketing, Steam Early Access, No Man's Sky, Aaron San Filippo, Jon Blow, Amnesia: Machine For Pigs, Planetary Annihilation, The Witness, Braid, Chapter E, Descent, Mobile Development, Day-One Sales, Pirate Bay Bundle (cc @moshboy), Super Meat Boy, Kickstarter, Minecraft, Alpha Funding, Bignik, Tim Shafer, Broken Age: Act 1, Day Z, Team Fortress 2

Let us know what you think, and let us know if there's neat stuff you want us to talk about! @rotten_tater & @ilgoodi

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Looking Back: suteF

Fetus is always around to remind me of the times that led to his creation.

A little over three years(!) have passed since I finished suteF in December of 2010. Many people consider it my most notable project, and I agree with them. I've wanted to do a post-mortem for a while, and here it is.

For the sake of brevity and at risk of being painted a pessimist, I'm only going to go over what I think I would change if I could travel back in time and assist myself. "Positives" are usually all boring and the same. Besides, what you enjoy in your gaming experience is wholly unique to your own preferences.

* If you haven't played the game yet, there are SPOILERS in this blog post. *

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Earning Your Players' Time

Developers often talk about this issue. How do I convince someone that my game is a game they should play? What makes it different or unique from all of the rest? Is it cheap enough to get more players but expensive enough that they take its contents seriously?

Those are good questions, but I have no answers for them yet. Very general "marketing" style sells feel very tacked on (though it is a necessary part). What I propose is that the concept of "earning your players' time" comes from asking these questions MUCH earlier on in the process: the making of the game itself.

I get nervous when I rely too much on my "gut feel" style of development because it may not encourage you to improve the game's Time-to-Sublime ratio. One of the best strategies to accomplishing this is putting your game in front of living, breathing people. Thinking about that ticking clock that is the player's engagement should be a high priority, especially after they've committed to your ideas by downloading and/or purchasing your game!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

About Me

"I'm a weird lady making weird games in Wisconsin; creator
of @suteF, working on The #Bulletromancer."

You could say this is the profile that I've always wanted; I've made at least one game that an insane amount of people have greatly enjoyed, I'm still working on my dream projects, and I am ... oh yeah.

I'm born male, but I've always felt I've truly been female. Beneath years of denial, fear, and incredible self-loathing, I've come to terms with the fact that I have to be who I need to be.

After starting my transition about 10 months ago, I've not only started becoming myself, but I've also been doing the best work of I've ever done as a game developer. I'm happy to wake up every day and see my coworkers who continue to respect me both as a person and a colleague. I go home at night and work on Bulletromancer, my friends and family still supporting me when I'm feeling vulnerable or ecstatic.

As someone who usually expects the worst things to happen, I was incredibly scared to even suggest that I am Transgender. I never thought people could be so supportive, kind, and understanding. Even if people don't quite understand the reasoning or even what I mean, I usually tell them this: "I'll look a little different, but I'm still going to be the same person you know, if not just a lot happier."

Your mileage may vary; if you feel this way, you may not be as fortunate as I have been and it may seem to be the most daunting thing in the world to overcome. At risk of sounding cliché (or maybe even just plain naïve), no matter how much you can or cannot contribute to your transition or even just growing personally, if you can accept yourself and be who you really are, everyone around you might not be able to help but feel the same.

Thank you to everyone for all of the kind words; the future is looking really bright, and I can't wait to continue making new, interesting games!


P.S: If you're curious, I'm still going to go by "Ted" as I don't see my name being too tied to my previously male identity. I'm starting to use feminine pronouns, though, but if you forget, I won't get angry. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Digital Distribution Problem

No one will deny that we are entering a new age of distribution of games. Players are no longer expecting that their games be confined to a disk or cartridge that can only be run by a single proprietary device. "Digital" has already swept the world of music, and we're next if it isn't already the norm. This is not a bad thing; no longer needing the capital that a physical copy of media requires has made distributing your games an effectively "costless" endeavor.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014

The Story So Far

The way I handle marketing is widely considered to be wrong, if not nonexistent; I feel a good game "sells itself," I have never emailed the press, I don't regularly write blog posts, and I've never written a press release or built one with Press Kit.

I tweet all the time, but it's usually not about things directly involving the promotion of my games, and my follower count is almost to 500. I no longer use Facebook because I don't like the way interactions on the site make me feel, but I do have a couple of pages for suteF and Bulletromancer that I don't update. My website's game page hasn't been updated since it was first built, but my GameJolt profile page is up to date yet doesn't have a few of my older titles available for download. I haven't bothered making a Greenlight page, nor have I rationalized doing a Kickstarter. I've too much pride to plaster a donation button all over my site.

I'm very knowledgeable of the current state of the industry and independent developers, but I haven't made a large effort to reach out to either group for feedback or to simply exchange ideas. I'm relatively isolated and keep in contact with only a few close developer friends.

But perhaps my greatest failure of all is the fact that I have created a great game that has been well received by the press and players, but within the last THREE YEARS I haven't capitalized on the notoriety it has given me.

The Point

I hate doing "marketing." It is probably one of the most soul-draining things of the indie world that I have ever experienced, and I know this is a very widespread issue among developers; I'd much rather spend all day making the game good than telling everyone how good it is. I'm an analogue human who would much rather speak to a single human than foster a million digital connections with them.

"Ted, that is not an excuse. If you want to be successful, you have to learn to LOVE the dirty-business-like world of begging and wrangling for attention! Games DON'T sell themselves, yo!"

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I want to be successful; I want Bulletromancer to be released with great fanfare and a ba-jillion purchases within the first eight hours of my magically-unrealistic chance of being released on Steam! But I don't want to damage my "soul" attempting to do so.

I haven't read an article that has explained ways to make marketing FUN... I know it's part of the "trick," right? Some sort of exposure therapy applied to the fear of the dark arts of marketing.

Because it's the nature of Game Development to have to "go with the flow" and that I've spent two years of personal-growth to simply live with myself, I'm no longer averse to behavioral change, nor am I "unwilling to learn."

The difficult part of learning to "love" marketing is that it's unintentionally misleading. I've written about this before, but it was more centered around the experience portion, not the marketing of it (though I did complain about advertising and hype campaigns in general). If the draw of a game is that the "joy of it" is entirely unique to each individual and their perspective, how can marketing also cater to everyone's uniqueness and perspective and NOT also influence their perception of the game?

The Resolution

"Ted, the "trick" is that you need to make folks WANT to play it! What's so misleading about that?"

Yep. I've got nothing. It's market or bust, isn't it? By the way, I haaaaate that I can't figure out a way to make a commercial game viable without needing to market it.

And it is with great reluctance that I admit I have devoted 2014 to improving my overall marketing ability, or at least figure out how I can make it more bearable, and this blog post is an obvious beginning step on the path to that goal. First step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?