Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Morbid Reading For Your Day

As the years passed, I have seen a lot of Indie developers rocket past me, just because they are more talented and courageous than I am. Stupid Braid and World of Goo, getting all big and famous by earning it.

I have spent a lot of time envying Introversion, for getting success by being so damn innovative and good. Which is why this article about the grim state of their business really bummed out my day.

We all say it again and again, but it bears repeated. Indie development is a rough way to make a living. One or two missteps can cast you into the Abyss. Not long ago, I released two unpopular games and almost went under. Only the good fortune of writing one big success saved me.

I will feel bad if any currently operating Indie, even a direct competitor, goes under. Because, to quote an excellent book, "A marketplace without a competitor isn't." We compete, but we're all in this together. When one of us does well and gets people to go, "Hey, I should look for more games like that," it helps us all. Anyone who gets introduced to RPGs by Eschalon is just waiting to become my customer.

So good luck to Introvision. Survive and keep showing that Indie gaming can be more exciting than just 90s-style RPG retreads.

11 comments:

  1. When you linked to Basilisk Games as a "direct competitor" that I thought had gone under, you killed me. Thanks, Mr. Vogel. I am now dead. Freaking me out, making me think that Basilisk is gone and that Book II, the video gaming highlight of 2009, will never come.

    (It's going to come, right?)

    (And what I meant was "the highlight of 2009 now that Geneforge 5 is out, of course.)

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  2. I had no idea of the financial and project troubles at Introversion. I've always enjoyed their games, Uplink, Darwinia, and Defcon have all had heavy rotation on my play schedule. I picked up Multiwinia but due to an external shoulder based parasite (e.g. baby) I've not had any time to play any games at all.

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  3. @Lord Bob: The wording there was a little vague, but it seems like I was implying that Basilisk went under. Obviously and happily, this is not the case.

    I'll reword.

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  4. Your90s style RPGs still rock the indie gaming world. Now just port Exile over to the iphone and make millions... Or at least the 10 dollars I'd dish out. Or I've heard they may make a section for 20 dollar titles. So I pledge my 20.

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  5. lol, so true about Eschalon leading to sales of your games. I finished it, then straight after bought Avernum 5 :-) Hope to meet you some day in Seattle (I work for BFG in Vancouver at the moment).

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  6. Being a share-ware developer is unpredictable work. Sometimes, you become heroes, wealthy as Croseus and famous beyond words. And, sometimes your gnawed bones are left to dry out in some shadowy, forgotten hole.

    Alas, if only life came with a game over dialog that allowed the options "Quit", "Restart" and "Restore" !

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  7. You mean "Abort, Retry, Fail?"

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  8. The thing about "competitors" is that when it comes to single-player RPGs, it's not really an either/or. Firstly there are so few good games available that you buy all the ones you can find.

    Secondly the more decent RPGs available, the more publicity it gives to the genre as a whole. One good RPG gives someone an appetite for another. And single player, story-based RPGs tend to be less replayable/shorter, since there's a limit to how long the story can go. Even the big boys like Fable II and Elder Scrolls can add more scenarios, but it sputters out by the end, and you want a new, full game.

    Now for open-ended MMORPGs it may be a different matter. There, because you establish an ongoing character and "living" friends (ie not NPCs), and because you may have to invest in a monthly fee, you may well find yourself sticking to fewer titles, possibly only one.

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