Archive for category Indie Game Development
Reports are coming in that the games industry is not quite so recession resistant as previously thought. What we have been witnessing over the last 1-2 years is a nose dive in prices for downloadable games, the near disapearance of PC games from retail stores. And the re-release of lots of back catalog titles.
All of this is a good thing™
Games have been historically expensive, backwards compatability has always been a pain, and only being able to choose from the ‘top 40′ equivilent at your local store was hurting the medium as an art form.
All of this means the game has changed. Dramatically.
As someone with disposable income, there are alot of games out there for me to choose from. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got way too many unplayed games on my shelf with not enough time to play them all.
And now with the low prices seen across the board for digital distribution from the likes of Steam, Big Fish Games, The iPhone App Store, Gamers Gate, Good Old Games, PSN and XBLA – For less than a take-away meal I can buy more than an entire weekends worth of entertainment.
The flip side to this is of course – How sustainable is this model for the developers of games?
The music industry got a shake-up in the early 2000′s and I have a feeling it’s going to be the games industries turn to have to re-think business and the way it turns ideas into products. And unfortunately, unlike the games industry, we can’t earn money by playing live shows. T-Shirts maybe, but live shows? Probably not.
I think we are going to see more small studios, making smaller-budget (and by small-budget, I don’t imply low-quality at all) niche titles. (ie. like the old days.)
And with niche titles, it’s all about the unique selling point.
If I have $10-$20 to spend, and a spare weekend, I need a reason to buy your game and not someone elses.
The irony here is that it’s not price that will be my deciding factor, it will be all the irrational fuzzy aspects of my personality which will lead to me making a purchasing decision – It might be interesting story, art style, maybe promote some message I agree with, invoke my sense of nostalga or capture my interest in some other way.
In any case, your game has to be in some way special.
Developers, indies in particular, have to think what their game stands for – what does it, I dare say – mean?
Here’s a histogram of the 4,842 scores in the Attack of the Meeplings database. At first glance the data looks realitively normal – However, it’s far from it. The horizontal axis is not linear, but exponential (2^n) the data is heavily right skewed which tells us that there are some people who are just so much better at the game than most.
This graph shows us how difficult the game is and we can see where peoples limits begin to emerge – For example, there is quite a bit of drop off in the 4000-8000 area.
The median score is 949 and there are only 295 scores that are greater than 16,000.
What does this say about developing a shooter if you’re an indie game developer? – Implement difficulty levels! The people who are in the top 100 are those who really like these types of games and are really good at them. Unfortunately if you only target those people you drastically reduce your potential audience.
Your players are supposed to be having fun, remember that. Give a challenge to those who want it, but relax on people who aren’t quite as good.