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Looks aren't everything. Are they?


AnthonyVolpe
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I'm seeing a real glaring and annoying inconsistency here in the videogame world.

 

EXHIBIT A: THE MUSIC WORLD

From both a critical and mass appeal standpoint, most people would agree that the White Stripes are a better musical act than Britney Spears. Britney gets million-dollar producers to come in and make her sound like a million bucks, hires Madonna to do a guest appearance, uses $1,000 VST plug-ins on her voice to help her hit the notes, gets million dollar advertising budgets, and still winds up sucking all manner of ass compared to a divorced couple who record a demo in a hotel room using only a guitar and a busted-ass drum kit the woman can hardly play.

 

EXHIBIT B: THE FILM WORLD

Kevin Costner spends $150,000,000 on Waterworld. Despite its lavish makeup, special effects, and set design, it's a critical and commercial bomb. Meanwhile two wiseasses with Super 8 cams make The Blair Witch Project, make lots of money, and get (mostly) favorable reviews. Replace Blair Witch with any number of indie flicks... Pi, American Movie, Clerks... You get my point. Great movies can be made with shoestring budgets.

 

EXHIBIT C: TELEVISION

Despite the money most TV shows make, there's not a lot of money that goes into the technical aspect of it. Cheap-ass sets which are reused, lighting, and some cameras. The only major expense are salaries (COUGHFRIENDSCOUGH). But it's possible to make classic television without needing the special effects found in Farscape or the Star Trek spinoffs. As long as the filming looks remotely professional and the acting is OK, the critics and public won't notice.

 

Okay. Let's apply all of the above logic to our final example and see where it gets us.

 

EXHIBIT D: THE VIDEOGAME WORLD

I've created a 2D videogame called ________ which is even more addictive than Tetris. I let all my friends play it and they're hooked. My GOD are they hooked. Rubik's Cube hooked. Kerbangers hooked. Beta test ________ online and all my testers are hooked.

 

So apply the logic of the film, television, and music worlds to ________. By all rights it should be a critical smash and sell like gangbusters. Right?

 

WROOOOOOOOOONG

 

The game gets downloaded a few thousands times. Only 10 people buy it. Three other people say it sucks and ask me where my morals are that I'm charging $10 for it. One other guy complains that it's a pathetic 2D program that isn't worth his time when he could be playing a used copy of Unreal Tournament 2004 for $15 that he got on eBay.

 

Suffice it to say, as addictive as the game is, ________ would be a waste of time and video-card horsepower on the PS2, Gamecube, or XBox, even on a demo disc that comes with Gaming Week. And even if I did hire some developer house in Croatia to make it a 3D game and give it particle effects out the asshole and dress it up to the nines, Jeff Gerstmann would still give it a 2.3 out of 10 and question why Microsoft would DARE EVEN THINK of offering such a game when they should be hurrying up with Halo 2.

 

A good TV show is a good TV show regardless of its budget. A good movie is a good movie regardless of its budget or lack of big-name actors. Good music is good music no matter how it's made.

 

However, in 2004, this logic does NOT apply to a good videogame unless it pushes the capabilities of the system it's on, never goes below 60fps, offers at least 15 hours of gameplay, was created by a dev house with at least 25 people (preferrably 50+), and is online compatible.

 

AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?????????????????????????????

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Originally posted by AnthonyVolpe@Apr 13 2004, 04:49 AM

AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?????????????????????????????

Yes - its called 'hiding your bitterness' ;) (sorry)

 

As much as Britney or Potter rule their markets with ad budgets, so to EA in the game world, sorry. If you want further, less close to home examples, take Looking Glass. Never knowingly releasing a less than raved-about game, and yet no-one bothered to buy them.

 

On the other hand, its not insurmountable. Popcap's success is largely word-of-mouth, although I'd still argue that its off the back of a second-rate Puzzle Bobble clone. Counterstrike's success is down to hard-graft and hitting the zeitgeist-ometer too.

 

And, to be fair, even the likes of DMA had some pretty damn brilliant games to back up the successes of Lemmings and GTA. It often seems like fluke that the world takes to one game and not another, but there you go. The masses do seem to be very against playing 2D games on a console capable of 3D, though.

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The masses do seem to be very against playing 2D games on a console capable of 3D, though.

 

Morons :P.

 

People would rather be entertained with visuals than content a lot of the time. I love Looking Glass to death, but a lot of their games were not easy to get into. They weren't uber-complex, but they did require a little investment of your brain, something a lot of people don't care to make (others just didn't like their games, which is fine ;)).

 

Of course I'm the wrong person to talk about this because I'll still play text adventures :green:. No game, if done well enough, is going to be "too ugly" for me to play it.

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The game gets downloaded a few thousands times. Only 10 people buy it.

 

So that's say, 3000 downloads? 10/3000 = a conversion rate of 0.003%. That is low if the game's as good as you say. How have you marketed it? Where have you marketed it? Is your website "designed" to sell the game or just to encourage downloads?

 

Finishing a game is the "easy" part these days (and that's not easy...), the hard part is marketing & selling it well in a crowded marketplace. I presume you've read & followed the Dexterity advice? Read the forums there?

 

Popcap's success is largely word-of-mouth

 

Popcap were slowly sinking until they changed their strategy to focus & got a big deal with MSN (I believe) that got them a LOT of eyeballs. They've capitalised on that in a big way, and yeah, they know exactly what they're doing with their games, optimising them to sell in every way they can.

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I think it has more to do with how the game industry works than how a game looks. The film and music industries each promote creativity and pay for artistic expression. The game industry is 100% controlled by publishers and marketing types. Talent in the game industry is much less free to create than in the music or film industry. That results in stiffling creativity.

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Talent in the game industry is much less free to create than in the music or film industry. That results in stiffling creativity.

 

That is why newer game concepts are few & far between, & that the clones have taken over. How much do you want to bet that we'll see a bunch of "stealthy" games (especially multiplayer) in the next couple of years?

 

To my personal beliefs,looks aren't everything. I was having a blast playing Sinistar the other day,even though it is 20 years old, & still as hard as ever. If the game is fun to play, then I'll play it.

 

Why do you think so many people still play chess,checkers, & Yahtzee? :)

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Originally posted by dogbert@Apr 13 2004, 07:22 AM

So that's say, 3000 downloads? 10/3000 = a conversion rate of 0.003%. That is low if the game's as good as you say. How have you marketed it? Where have you marketed it? Is your website "designed" to sell the game or just to encourage downloads?

 

Finishing a game is the "easy" part these days (and that's not easy...), the hard part is marketing & selling it well in a crowded marketplace. I presume you've read & followed the Dexterity advice? Read the forums there?

One game I made got downloaded 11,000 times and only sold 13 copies. It was a moon lander game with 6 levels costing $6.99. I'm not heartbroken over it because I know what was wrong with it: it was too hard, too limited, and could have been optimized to run better on slower machines.

 

I'm confident that I can make better games but even if I did, I'm not sure how well they'll sell. eSellerate told me that a 3% conversion is good, so if 1,000 people download a game I made and it sells 30 copies, I should be thrilled. A 0.18% coversion is disheartening even thought I now know what I can do to make the game better.

 

Not sure what you mean by "Dexterity" advice/forums. Feel free to point me in the right direction. I'll take all the help I can get.

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Yeah looks pretty much mean alot in gaming. Games are supposed to be state of the art, look the best they can, sound the best they can and basically up the wow factor to 11. I often buy games just to be dazzled at their technical aspects (like Ninja Gaiden or Dragon's Lair just because it was 1080i). I still enjoy the old classics, but truthfully, if say, Sinistar came out TODAY as a brand new game, would you still be as fond of it? Or Defender, or Joust or any other number of classic games that probably wouldn't cut it if they debuted in the here and now.

 

Except puzzle games. They seem to be immune from this syndrome. Tetris could probably hit new tomorrow and it would take the world by storm. Bejeweled did it, and its simple enough. Simple easy time wasters like mindsweeper will always be appreciated. Trying to do an epic with NES style graphics and pass it off on the XBox, will not.

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One other guy complains that it's a pathetic 2D program that isn't worth his time when he could be playing a used copy of Unreal Tournament 2004 for $15 that he got on eBay.

 

This guy isn't your targetted market, or shouldn't be. You are competing against the likes of UT for money, just like every game out there, and you shouldn't forget that - it's important to remember that for every dollar your customers need to spend on your game, there's a whole bunch of competing entertainment from films to commercial games to beer!

 

A 0.18% coversion is disheartening even thought I now know what I can do to make the game better.

 

I didn't mean to dishearten you with cold brutal figures, and I'm sorry if it came over that way... The shareware market is brutal and harder to break through to profit than people imagine. With conversions rates so low for most games out there, there's really two approaches you can take - market your game better & get it into as many people's hands as you can, or aim for a niche market & target that small-ish number of people as hard as you can to increase your conversion rate. Essentially small fish in a big pond vs big fish in a small pond.

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Disheartened but certainly not giving up. The games I make are simple and I'm aiming far lower. I'm a hobbyist first and foremost but I think I know a good idea when I see one. Most games I make aren't straight remakes of games like Asteroids or Pac-Man. If I'm gonna do something derivative like that, I'm gonna throw as many additions and curveballs into the mix as I can to make it unique - and hopefully likeable.

 

I won't be heartbroken if a game doesn't sell if it took less than a week to program. The original version of Io Lander was done in TWO DAYS. It wasn't until I saw what was out there and what was selling that I decided to add 5 levels, spruce up the graphics, and add fuel tankers, Yetis, electrified gates, lava pits and gun turrets (and all of asudden realized I had to PROGRAM ALL THAT CRAP for a few more weeks!!!!). ;)

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