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This blog is turning into a bit of a whinge

It’s 2011. That means it’s now been well over seven years since I last worked on a commercial game that I gave a rat’s arse about (and one of the many reasons I now reside in Indie-Land. See Lemmy’s blog). You might have heard of it, it was… actually there’s no point,...

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Campaign for Less Stern Videogame Characters

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Campaign for less stern videogame characters, Games | Posted on 20-10-2014


Videogame art always features angry, stern, or grumpy looking people because dark or something. I don’t know. Let’s change that, eh? So I present my Campaign for less stern videogame characters which began way way back in December last year, and then stopped because I got bored. So I’m presenting it again here and I’ll edit this post if I see a really stern videogame character which will take less than 2 minutes to badly edit.

Lords of the Fallen

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Speedball 2, HD

Rome II, Total War

Alien: Isolation

Risen 3: Titan Lords

Dreamfall Chapters

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Test of Wisdom DLC


Campaign for Less Stern Ubisoft Publicity Photos

Jade Raymond, already not stern. Alexandre Parizeau, needs desternulating…

Early Access and DLC

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Games, Rants | Posted on 20-10-2014


Before I start, I should probably preamble that I’m not talking about Zomboid here. We’ll probably never do DLC for Zomboid, but i use the word “probably” because it’s not inconceivable that way after we’ve released a 1.0 build, done a few patches and what-not, that we might do some sort of off-shoot extra entirely unrelated to our plans for the game. Probably not though, I just wouldn’t want to rule anything out. But probably not. Almost certainly not, actually. Maybe 99.9% certain that we wouldn’t. But never say never, just probably not ever. Have I made my point yet?

Anyway. Should Early Access games have DLC? I’m not talking about ‘games which were once Early Access but are now finished’ because these aren’t Early Access games anymore. No, I mean games which are still in Early Access.

I think it’s a bit of a grey area, really – and while I’m inclined to scream “God, no!”, really it comes down to the slightly squidgy nature of Early Access games and their various funding models:

  • Alpha-Funded – sales in Early Access fund the game’s development in an extremely direct way.
  • Kickstarter – Initial Kickstarter funds development, E.A. sales basically profit
  • Traditionally Funded – Developer / Publisher funds game, E.A. sales recoup investment earlier

This is extremely broad categorisation done for the sake of simplicity. Basically, I think you’re in iffy territory with DLC in the first category and half of the second. For example, with a Kickstarter project DLC may have been one of your backer rewards which would then make delivering that reward by a given date a fair priority. So doing the DLC before the game is out of Early Access makes some kind of sense. For alpha-funded Early Access games, though, I think it ought to be pretty much a flat, “no”. Your customers are buying your game, in part, to help fund its development – not to help fund some DLC they might not want or care about.

For the traditionally funded games, well, if the publisher wants to spend money developing DLC it’s kind of their call – especially given that the DLC team might be an entirely separate set of people to the main game team, and therefore funded separately. In other words, DLC development has not impacted on the main game’s development in the slightest.

The trouble is, of course, that all these varying funding methods are invisible on Steam. Unless you do a fair amount of hunting, it’s not possible to distinguish between an Early Access game funded directly from sales, and those which were once Kickstarter or publisher-backed projects which had a juicy cash injection pre-Steam.

So while DLC for Early Access games does kind of smell a bit whiffy, it’s really difficult to make a statement on how reasonable or shockingly awful spending development time on DLC while you’re in Early Access actually is.

Conclusion: Inconclusive.

On Games Industry Ignorance

Posted by CaptainBinky | Posted in Games, Rants | Posted on 11-10-2014


When I was a kid, you could pretty much ask me about any game, any developer, and I’d have had quite a lot to say on the matter. The number of games released was comparatively tiny and the number of people involved in production also comparatively tiny. On the C64, you could name a musician and any true gamer could pretty much rattle off a list of their work. Because you were so restricted by choice on these early platforms, you pretty much took anything you could get. You’d buy a game because Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, Chris Hulsbeck, et al did the music – balls to whether the game was any good.

Given this dearth of choice, you were pretty much able to convince yourself something was great even if retrospectively it was a bit shit. I spent a lot of time swooning over Dragon Breed on the C64 not because I particularly enjoyed side-scrolling shoot-em-ups, but because they did some incredibly fancypants stuff with the graphics – more sprites onscreen than seemed possible on the C64, rapidly alternating colours to produce impossible hues, giant boss characters. It was this general vibe of loving pretty much all games ever which led me to pursue a career in videogames.

But the games industry kept growing. By the time I had graduated University and was looking to get my first games industry job, the games industry was already a bit of a monster. The PlayStation 2 had just been released so despite this ballooning, games – and particularly games graphics – were starting to get a bit exciting. But chatting to co-workers, some of whom had been making games since the Spectrum days, it started to become clear quite how small a grasp anyone had on games as a whole. Nobody knew about everything, no-one even knew about most stuff. These people had encyclopaedic knowledge about everything pre-1996 or so, but after that? Impossible, there’s just too much data and time is limited.


Not to scale: Diagram on the left should be a microdot

By May of this year, more games had been released on Steam than in the whole of 2013. You can argue for tighter curation, but whether or not all these games should be on Steam it is an indication of the vast number of games being made. Add to that console games. Then add mobile / tablet games. Then Facebook games… The ridiculousness becomes staggering. Nobody can have a grasp of this behemoth any more apart from in a statistical sense.

So the point is, nobody is an authority on the games industry as a whole. Nobody represents all game developers, or all gamers. No movement can be easily pigeonholed as about X, or Y. Nobody can sample a statistically insignificant set of games and draw broad industry-wide conclusions. All anyone is representing is their own opinion regardless of how dressed up as ‘fact’ it’s presented, in the context of the tiny fraction of the games industry (or even indie industry) which they’re interested in and know anything about. There are a handful of well-known and vocal developers in an ocean of people you’ve never heard of who’s opinion is unknown. Number of followers/subscribers does not indicate righteousness, just popularity or contentiousness.

This is my ignorance: 99.9999% of the games industry and games and I’m not an authority on anything. I suspect everyone else, no matter who they are or what they’ve made, of similar general ignorance and I try to read and watch commentary and interviews with this in mind.