Not Invented Here

Comments on news and articles not written by GameMarx.

Nice Bundles and Scary Sales

Not a lot happening news wise in the Indie/Hobby GameDev scene, so here are a few posts you might have missed over on Gamasutra:

I see a lot of fear over Valve allowing developers more freedom, but I think if you need to “control” a market to keep it profitable, you’re already not in control. Good, bad, or ugly the model and method of selling games is changing, but worry not you do not have to change: survival is not mandatory =)

“Valve has just announced that developers will now be in charge of their own pricing on Steam. This is the beginning of PC games prices drifting downwards, with an endpoint of zero. Here’s why.” …

Read Blog: Valve has started PC games’ race to the bottom

It great to see these posts detailing the numbers behind sales and bundles. As expected, the king of the bundles is not really so humble and pays okay.

Monaco just finished up its two week run in Humble Indie Bundle 11. Here’s a quick dump of the stats, the revenue, and theories as to improving future performance.

Read Humble Bundle Insta-Post-Mortem – by Andy Schatz

No surprise here, this is pretty much what Autodesk does – buy competition and kill it. I will miss Softimage if for no other reason than, for a while, it was free to XNA Creators Club members and I modeled my first mech with it.

Autodesk announced today that it will cease updating its 3D modeling and animation utility Softimage in April. The final version, Softimage 2015, will reportedly ship around April 14. …

Read Autodesk to shut down Softimage and ship final version next month

Asheron’s Call was the second MMO I spent a lot of time with (the first was Ultima Online). I’ve actually looked at activating my account again and playing with my daughters, but the subscription price of $13/mo per account seemed a little steep for the age of the game. I have a lot of respect for Turbine and the developers behind AC for creating an MMO that wasn’t your typical Tolkienesque setting. Wi Flagged For Life!

Turbine has stated that the content update released today for Asheron’s Call will be the last. There is no plan to add more content to the game. …

Read This 15 year old MMO just received its last content update


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Dealing with Twhate, Getting Greenlit, and Porting to Unity

Okay, hopefully I won’t get too behind on these, but here is a big list o’ links to catch up for the past week of no posts!

This is a theme I repeat often, and not enough. Make games by making games. It’s that simple.

Rami Ismail usually introduces himself as “one half of Vlambeer,” the Dutch indie studio behind games such as Ridiculous Fishing and Nuclear Throne; the other half is designer Jan Willem Nijman. In a keynote address at IndieCade East 2014 today, Ismail chronicled both of their lives, from birth to

Read Vlambeer: Just making games is the key to becoming successful

Free indie developer conference content, House of Cards can wait!

Last month, Valve invited select developers to Washington for its first-ever conference. Now, anyone can watch the presentations on the web. …

Read Miss Steam Dev Days? Watch the video presentations here

This is a really great insight into what it takes, and how much it takes, to make it through Steam Greenlight. I’m not too thrilled to see buying votes (“We promised each member who voted for us … a free copy of the game”) is part of the process, but I also have to admit that the the free copies given away are no worse than low/no paying bundles and probably resulted in many more votes.

How did the developers of a hidden object game get through the Steam Greenlight process — when the service’s fans are notoriously negative about casual titles? …

Read Getting to ‘yes’ on Steam Greenlight, with a hidden-object game

I didn’t get time to write up any thoughts on the Flappy Bird saga (suck it King, I called it a saga!), but with this post there is no need. Jeff makes the point better than I could have.

We all have our little mantras we use to get through the day. After I started writing games in 1994 and went full-time in 1995, I soon came to a conclusion about the people who do what I do for a living: “These people are all crazy.”Then, as I

Read Why Indie Developers Go Insane

Some really good comments from Tim on dealing with the launch of Broken Age, particularly how the press and outsiders had an established a narrative for the state of the game and were more interested in confirming that story rather than looking at the facts. Great advice here for small studios who handle their own PR.

Double Fine founder shares lessons from Broken Age Act 1, confirms funding secured for Broken Age Act 2

Read Schafer: How to stay afloat in “a pool of Internet Twitter hate”

Looking at porting an existing game to Unity? Robert has the first post up on what it’s taking to port Dear Esther. His prior article is also worth reading for some experience in outsourcing a port, and where that can go wrong.

So I thought I’d do a follow-up to my previous post on the Dear Esther Unity port with a little more detail for those of you who are curious about exactly how I managed it and some of the tools I used: Overall, I’d estimate Dear Esther to be

Read Dear Esther Unity: How..?

I love this post from Cliff because I had also fallen into the trap of thinking in terms only of what exists now ported to virtual reality. Now I’ve got all kinds of ideas for pushing the envelope, and really want to order an Oculus Rift – I just need that whole “doesn’t work with coke bottle glasses” thing solved.

DISCLAIMER: I’m an investor in the Oculus Rift. I’m also a believer in the technology. I think it will be truly game changing, not only in games, but also in many, many other fields. I am NOT an official spokesperson for the technology and I consider many of the

Read The Reality of Virtual Reality


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Metrics, Egos, Lawyers, Algorithms and Chris Remo

Great write up on using analytics to tweak game design.

Social game developers often use analytics, but how do you capture player data for a traditional genre, the 2D platformer? This post shows how one team did it. …

Read Using player data for platformer design

This is a great insight to some of the extremes of the indie game development community. One of these days I’ll get around to writing up the “best” we saw at GameMarx (and by “best” I mean “worst”).

The Wrong Image Since starting Indie Gamer Chick on July 1, 2011, I’ve met literally thousands of people involved in indie game development. Typically, they are the coolest men and women on the planet. The type of people I would want to be friends with. Humble and grateful, eager

Read The Indie Ego

If you are not already, you should be listening to the Idle Thumbs Podcast. Probably the best game developer podcast going right now and one of the few places left that hold honest discussions of current games.

Joins new studio Campo Santo

Read Chris Remo leaves Double Fine

This is a great high level breakdown by the level designer how to craft an engaging procedurally generated level system. I swear spell check, “procedurally” is a word!

A level designer who was personally invested in hand-authored content describes exactly how her team approaches procedurally generated content in its games — step by step. …

Read Level design in a procedurally generated game

The reasons given are worth considering, but skips over the case where sometimes you just want the “standard” agreement so you can move in. In our case we needed a company split equally among three owners and LegalZoom was perfect. I think before you consider a lawyer or DIY site you should just talk with everyone involved and work out the details and goals, and only then formalize it.

LegalZoom and other online companies performing “legal-type” services for less than the average lawyer-rates may be enticing at first, but it’s a trap.

Read Why You Should Never Use LegalZoom or use DIY Online Documents – by Jonathan Sparks


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The Evil of EA, Inside Steam OS, Amazon Game Studios, and What’s in Tim’s Box?

Nice write up on using a Steam Machine as a dev kit for testing, and also how to get under the hood of Steam OS in general.

Get a Steam Machine? This post explains how to turn it into a dev machine, enabling “easy deployment of software, remote control (starting and killing of processes, grabbing screenshots), and remote debugging.” …

Read Blog: Turning your Steam Machine into a dev kit

EA’s “Rate this app” screen only takes you to Google’s Play store if you rate the game 5 stars, any less and you are redirected to an internal EA forum, keeping negative feedback internal and private. Aside from the obvious, disgusting, EA behavior this should be the kind of thing Google takes an app down for – it’s in effect manipulating review scores shown to new customers.

The Android version of EA’s Dungeon Keeper does its best to prevent users from providing negative feedback. Continue reading…

Read Dungeon Keeper stacks deck in EA’s favor when it comes to Android feedback

The pitches at the end of the video are great. Double Fine is really becoming any amazingly creative studio, well beyond just “Tim’s Studio”. I think I can say this is the only studio I would want to work for.

Double Fine Productions is opening up its annual internal two-week game jam, Amnesia Fortnight, to the public again this year through the Humble Bundle website, the studio announced today. Amnesia Fortnight, which Double Fine started doing in 2007, is a period during which everyone at the studio stops what they’re

Read You can vote on Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight 2014 games

With the Ouya struggling to gain marketshare, the SteamBox out of the price range for most, and both the PS4 and XboxOne lacking in games, is there room for another console in the market? It is amazon however, so would free “Games with Prime” get you to buy a system?

Online retailer, tablet-maker, and media streamer Amazon has extended its reach further with the purchase of Double Helix Games, best known of late for developing the reboot of Killer Instinct for the Xbox One launch. TechCrunch was the first to report the acquisition, and Amazon soon confirmed it, saying in

Read Amazon purchases Killer Instinct maker Double Helix Games


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Twitch #winning, Free-to-play… sadly also #winning

This is a good overview of the current state of Free-to-play and the opinions around existing implementations. I think one part missing from the discussion is the types of gamers who are playing mostly F2P titles. I would wager that these gamers are not the typical “serious” gamer most developers target with their games, and thus leave “casual” gamer to the conglomerate F2P wolves.

“Vampiric. The concept of a game out to make less of your time stuns me. This game, and games of its ilk, set out, set out to make your un-paid time less valuable than the time you paid for.” …

Read Blog: Free-to-play – Poisoning the well

This is impressive, also impressive is the PS4 accounts for 20% of Twitch.tv steams. Given that Let’s Plays are YouTube top content how long before someone tried to bring back G4?

Streaming service had fourth highest peak traffic share for week ending Feb. 3

Read Twitch beats Facebook, Amazon in U.S. online traffic


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Flappy Bird is proof that no one knows what the audience is looking for

Another story about Flappy Bird and its “magic” rise up the charts. I think it’s obvious – there is a share button on the score page that tweets a link to the app on the AppStore. I’m sure if you trace the tweets you’ll see how this helped the app spread like a zombie plague in Atlanta, GA. That and the fact it’s a well designed mobile game.

Everyone in the games industry is trying to figure out what “the people” want. Continue reading…

Read Flappy Bird is proof that no one knows what the audience is looking for


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Five common questions about trademark protection – by Zachary Strebeck

Sure, “ask your lawyer” is the best answer for legal advice but that’s not always in the Indie budget (you know, the budget that has the promissory note to make your PhotoShop install “legit” as soon as the sales start?). However reality is you’re going to be legal counsel for yourself along with every other role in small business and this is a good start to understanding trademark law.

Many inaccuracies and incorrect assumptions are often stated regarding trademark protection. I’ve gathered here six questions about trademark that seem to come up a lot, with (hopefully) simple answers.

Read Five common questions about trademark protection – by Zachary Strebeck


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