Sunday, June 24, 2012

The great videogame crash of 2013

It pops up every so often. It seems the shadow of the great videogame crash of 1983 still looms over the whole industry, rearing its ugly head every time someone feels something's rotten in the hellish pit that is the very same industry.

Today's a bit different. Because, much as I'd like to echo that point of view, I won't.

The great videogame crash of 2013 (or whenever you want) won't happen.

It's not upon us. It's already behind us. And no one noticed.

First, for the yung'uns, a bit of history.

In 1983 happened what many people nowadays call the videogame crash of 1983 (wow. you'd think someone would have come up with something a bit more imaginative, like, "the great videogame crash of 1984 except it happened a year before" or something. But no one did).

What basically happened is that the market was flooded with shit. Like, almost LITERALLY shit. ET the videogame, shitty ports, abundance of platforms to the point you'd have to release your shit a thousand times just to sell well enough to cut up on losses and stuff. Designers weren't credited or paid. Games - or rather, shitty products the big players wanted people to still call games - were rushed.

Confidence in such bullshit was at an all-times low. Shit was bound to happen. Shit happened.

Fast forward to 2012 A.D. Shit was bound to happen. Shit happened. But this time was different.

I'm not the only guy out here who'll tell you he's lost all trust. As a matter of fact, I've become extremely wary and cynical.

I was barely there for the great crash of '83. I was 5. I lived through it more or less unaware. But I've lived my life among videogames. NES. C64. PC. Gameboy. SNES. PS1. PS2. PS3. XBox. Saturn. SMS. Genesis. SEGA-CD. You name it. Heck, my first console goes back to before the crash. It was an actual Odyssey ripoff or something. I could tell you what it was if I saw one again, but until then, just to set shit straight: it had two joysticks with one button, no colors, a cartridge with a dozen "games" - or, to be fair, pong derivatives.

I've seen platforms come and go, I've witnessed defining moments in videogaming history, I've seen the rise and fall of publishers, developers, companies, individuals, and I'm still standing and deeply in love with the medium - fuck. With the ART.

I've witnessed the fallout after the crash. I was in the line to try out the NES in the supermarket when it came out. Fuck it, I actually finished Super Mario Bros. in said goddamn supermarket.

Now people seem to go on and on about how it's coming again. I'll tell you. As far as I'm concerned, it's come and gone. And no one gave a fuck. No one should have, either.

The times of greatness, of experimentation, of daring are long gone in the mass market.

We're pretty much at the point where any AAA game is not worthy of trust anymore. It's been years since I've been confident in any. Oblivion was the last nail in the coffin of my trust. The last mainstream game I ever preordered. 90 hours of playing later, I gave it away. I would have paid so someone would have gotten me rid of it.

I never looked back.

And I'm not the only one.

You can't expect history to repeat in the exact same ways. Time is a slippery thing. So are cause and effect, action and reaction.

Reading Sosowski today made me realize that much. There will be no great crash, because this one was the silent type.

Fact is, we don't live in the eighties anymore. People have other priorities, videogames aren't the cool new kid on the block anymore, times have changed. Games have changed. People have changed.

The one thing that hasn't changed is fluctuation.

I wouldn't buy an AAA again if you put a pistol on my temple. This market is cold as your average zombie, the ones they so much like to use and abuse in their pitiful attempts to revive interest.

They raped the art the same way they'd like to use rape as a means to revive interest in their ungodly mess.

They rush games, because there's always time to patch later.

They milk licenses because people don't give a fuck, right?

Just as TV puts out shitty show after shitty show, uninteresting reality show after uninteresting reality show.

Just as in 1981. The context has changed. The causes and effects have changed. The facts remain.

More people dive into the indie world by the day. Sites are being built every minute. Most will die, some will stand long. But none of them talk about mainstream games.

Which big, great sites about mainstream bullshit have you seen rise recently? I, for one, have not seen one. But I've seen a handful of decent indie-oriented ones.

Y'know, what happened after the crash is, someone actually took the risk, said "fuck it", and brought the art in another direction entirely.

We don't need 100+ hour-long soulless shells. I'd take any Dys4ia over a Skyrim any day of the week. Any Kairosoft casual game over Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Any Sosowski wtfisthisshit over a Syndicate reboot. Any day, any hour, any minute, any second of my life. I'm NOT the only one. The public grows. You may not feel it, not see it, you may still be striving to make a living, but it's upon us. The problem is fragmentation. But not in the same way as it was back then.

The total videogame market revenue can't even be calculated these days. AAA are already dead. They just don't know it yet (kudos to hokuto no ken on that one).

What I feel, as an end-user, a layman, a plain customer, a part-time indie helper, a translator, is this: some people are working to turn this nutrient broth into a parallel industry.

I'm not saying it's not a good thing. I'm saying it's a trap that's best avoided, if not ignored.

It's good to have Humble Indie Bundles. It's BETTER to have Indie Underdog Packs. You indie devs have ONE chance to change the game. You're doing great so far. But if you let IGF's and HIB's get in the way, you're pretty much condemned to repeat the same mistake and lead what makes you different along the same path, leading again to another crash. Except this time, it won't be beneficial. Back then, the AAA lead the indie development to its demise. Today, indie development laughs in the face of the AAA demise.

Perhaps the fall of this model is unavoidable. Perhaps garage computing is destined to be an endless failure that gives great results.

But the fact is: it wasn't viable back then. No exposure. No internet. Minimal word of mouth. No distributors.

Today you DO have a chance. You probably WON'T get HUGE sales. But you'll get some. If Steam doesn't want you, chances are it's stuck in a dead model. Find other means. Find other ways.

You know what struck me most about Sosowski's interview? It's all about indie love. One big loving family. The word can be spread. If someone gets elitist and grows too swollen a head, rule him out. You CAN do so.

I may only be a watcher, but I'm still damn proud of it all. I'm still proud of giving the underdogs a chance. Proud to give the ART a chance. As opposed to the INDUSTRY. Industries are bound to fall. Art never dies.

Thanks to Sos Sosowski for this one - read about it over there:

Love/Hate Satellite 1 - Incursion

For anyone wondering, it's totally unrelated as usual, but here goes the reason for the title of the post:

Now that this is out of the way, here we go. I'm only gonna say this one, so read carefully: the games I'll bash here, I love a lot and deeply care about. They're GREAT games. Everything I'm going to say here is either extrapolation, exaggeration or plain ill will. I am not legion, I forget a lot, but I won't forgive. It's bullshit that's "so easy to make better" from your layman's point of view (which I am, when all is said and done). And I still fucking LOVE you all, devs. ;-)

My goal is to point to various flaws, "papercuts" as Canonical would put them (okay, give me a while, I'll be puking after citing THEM). Little things that could get so much better. Simply put, it's an IMHO I'll bias as much as I can against a given game. It's something I'm not used to, and given I've been writing about games every now and then, it can only prove beneficial to me in the end (and who knows, it may be useful to some game dev out there, you never know).

First up, thus: Incursion.

Firing the game up, here comes a first screen. Lasts for, like, 2/3s. And that's TWO THIRDS of a second, not two OR three seconds. Now... Seriously guys... If I'm to tweet about your stuff, gimme a chance to. How the hell am I supposed to read it and let it sink in if the screen is gone as soon as it appears? Are you kidding me? Do I look like an idiot who can't take a "clicky to continue" shit? Isn't it, like, the kind of stuff that would let you preload all you want instead of showing me ANOTHER screen where you tell me you're preloading shit you could have preloaded on this screen?

It may not look like much, but look at it this way (and I'm spoiling here, because I've been around the game several times just to make sure it was as bad as I'm saying now): I saw what you did there. There's a sweet reminiscence of Sworcery about the game. But Sworcery gives me a chance to tweet from inside the game, and I don't have to go through endless pains to share my experience with the Twitter world. Why the heck are you barely letting me read about that hashtag?

Also, and this may be due to Ren'Py, I frankly don't know and I couldn't care less: why the heck can't I send something from within the game? It sure is a thin line to tread, and would perhaps require windowed mode, but... Hey. There's some heavy bits of fucking great writing in your demo. Gimme more. Gimme a fucking reason to tweet. Show me what you can do with 100 characters. That leaves me 40 to comment about shit, that gives me a reason to tweet to begin with. I want to read that "dev commentary tweet" and share how fucking awesome that scenery was, how I could read that bit of text all day long, how Borrego's music feels like bloody heaven here.

Heck, I even want to be able to tweet about how the game sucks at this point. It's bad for you, but it's good for me. What in blazes were you thinking here, seriously?

Game started, off to the options just because I want to...
To do WHAT exactly? Would you PLEASE let me read what the options are? I can barely work out "auto-forward time" there. What exactly were you doing, huh?

Right. Better not dawdle in the options, at least that's one thing you can do correctly (well, apart from making them readable, that is).

So. I'm an idiot, as anyone can tell, so I better click "Help" and... just... wait... What the HELL?

Look buddy, I know you got better things to do than make a help file, but this is just ridiculous. I don't want to waste a quarter waiting for my browser to start up. I want my bloody help in-game. Like, something that does not distract from the task (or, rather, the chore) at hand. That won't take forever to load. That sports the same bloody mood you're trying so hard to get me into.

Plus, it's 2012 out here. Dunno if you were aware. But either you give me a nice page, or you make use of embedded fonts, you gimme a nice background, I don't give a damn, but PLEASE do SOMETHING. Anything. It's just... empty.

Anyway. So I still started the game - you can't really say I'm not of good will after doing THAT, can you?

Well lemme tell you: it took me about 10 seconds to beat the heck out of your dumb parser.

Seriously? "Yes, nope"? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? If you want to use a parser, at LEAST use it seriously, not like you don't give a damn. You DO know players will come up with stupid shit, right? RIGHT?

Doesn't look that way to me.

SO I keep going, and then you ask me what town I come from. I DON'T GIVE  A FUCK. And I am most displeased when you don't give me a default name when I press "Enter". I mean, seriously, why do I HAVE to choose THAT? Because you have enough of that thing people call when other people come up with stuff, doesn't mean I do. What if I just want to go on with the game?

Fine then. I'm not going to argue. You want me to give a name, I'll call it "fuckdanoobston". Like that's better than anything YOU could come up with with all your smartiness and stuff.

And yet I go on with unwavering will. What the heck IS wrong with that game? The old man's been raving about rollback and stuff, there's been shit going on on my screen, like, death popping up every now and then, and I finally get a nice twilight on top of the mountain or god knows what.

Except... Wait... Could someone remind me of something? Doesn't the fucking light CHANGE at dusk? Like, stuff going all red, then dark and shit? Even more so while the big orange ball in the sky disappears?


No sun. No change. It's fucking NOON up here, guys. Not enough budget to give me a proper twilight? Meh. Just put a fucking "red color" filter all over the place, add a bloddy timer, and play with the alpha of a fucking blue/black overlay. Shit'd be much better than THIS.

You DO want me to look at the scenery. Don't deny it. THEN WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING? AGAIN.

Then I get to name the fucking mountain. And I still can't go with whatever YOU called it. Now I guess I better set shit straight.

When I want to play a game, there's always a part of me who wants to know what YOU did, WHY you did, HOW you did, WHEN you did, and whether it was with or without condoms (and I don't give a damn about the petty war "french condom" vs. "capote anglaise").

It's not just because I'm as stupid as a brick.

(I'll stray from the path I set here. I'm dead serious about this one. When I set to play a game, it IS to get sucked into its creators' (-'s) vision. I don't give a damn about naming my hero "Sir Fucksalot". Devs, gimme an option. A sane, well thought-out one. One which gives me reason to pause and think about what you did there. More on this later.)

So I'll call it "Condomountain". Stupid? Yeah, we can agree on that one.

And there I stand, stuck with a text engine that's trying to confuse me by calling me "nope" right after saying "yes", doesn't add capital letters to whatever shitty names I gave to the town, the character, the mountain and god knows what I haven't typed in yet. Seriously guys, are you actually even TRYING?

(and, jokes aside once again, I'm REALLY using and ABUSING this "nope" shit just to get the better of games. You'd be scared if you knew how often it works.)

So I keep going, even if I seriously want to close the window, smash my hard drive into the wall and pour kerosene onto my bloody computer at this point. AND SHIT KEEPS COMING!

Like, the old fool keeps blabbering nonsense, gets me into a fucking cave I wouldn't put my intimate parts into, then...


This has got to be the scariest shit I've seen in a game, ever. Like, Silent Hill can't compare. Amnesia can't compare. This is as ridiculous as a wristwatch in Ben-H... Oh wait.

Guys, if you want to bore me with a character, I can take it. But this... This is... UNSPEAKABLE!

Then I put a computer - like, a fucking 80'S COMPUTER - in my backpack, Monkey Island style, and get the fuck out because that's the end of your demo.

And I'm presented with this screen:

I can't even begin to tell what's waorng (yes, waorng, that's how waorng it actually IS).

Let's break it down so it can soak in:

* Secret? WHAT FUCKING SECRETS ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? No help. No clues. No nothings to tell me I could have been better (or, at least, less badder).
* Even if I put it out of the way, I actually SAW what you did there. I WAS there the first time around. Tell you what: I suck at English the way you suck at pointing me in the right direction. Like, "Finn the Human"? You DO know anyone who's from non-english parts of this bloody world doesn't have a clue what you're blabbering about right? Even if he READS what Finn the Human actually IS, right? Get your shit straight, pals. Gimme a clue. A cryptic one. Anywhere in your bloody game. The narrator, the computer, fuck it! Lemme click on a sheep to get a clue! "Adventure time" barely makes sense, even in context and knowing about it. And I STILL cannot figure out the new one. There's a difference between "Secret" and "Try everything you want, you won't find it".
* "Artifact found"? What? There's a way I can miss them? Like, the whole game seems to revolve around recovering artifacts and I can fuck it up? Either you get this shit out, or I'm getting the fuck out of here.

The saddest part is, that's that. You guys aren't even good enough to provide me with more material to bash you with. The chutzpah. Gods.

tl;dr: play Incursion. Now.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rigor Animis.

So I went and modified the icon pack. Again. Imagemagick just destroyed the everythings, and I added the icons I created in the meantime.

First, the good news: That's 650+ icons for all your gaming needs now: linux, dosbox, scummvm, console games, even a few browser games.

Now the bad news: Dropbox is still very limited and my calls for storage space "donations" have remained widely unanswered. So I had the choice: either I gave up or I cut on space requirements.

Hint: I'm not one to give up.

Now for ranting. Either my readers are as incredible dicks as I am, or they're all windows users and don't give a fuck. Or they're just pro-league couch potatoes. I couldn't care less. The fact is: only one person made a donation, and that's just 500Mb of storage space.

I don't care if it's a matter of having the wrong distros supported, or even "not enough" distros. That's the way it will be unless a few people deem it worthy to click on the referrer link to open a Dropbox account and expand my own. Because I still have my personal stuff to back up. And it's waited long enough. ;)

So until something happens, I have to cut back on Linux, Mac and Windows support. How? Easy enough. I'll still be using Faenza so it still fits in the set. I'm still doing Arch-specific icons for my personal use, and everyone gets a generic Linux set with the Faenza POL icon. You a Windows or Mac user? Want a distro-specific set?

Fine. If you want more, then help me help you. Easy as that. All it would take for everyone to be happy is a dozen "donators". I'm not even kidding. I've had ONE so far (and you have my thanks, MrIlyas. Drop a comment or contact me if you want a specific set, I'll send it one way or another). Call your friends and/or "donate", and you'll get whatever you want, just leave me a comment with your distro/OS or pass it along. If space is expanded, I'll upload it all ASAP. I may even go out of my way to add distros that weren't supported until now. Even if they're distros with just 3 users. All I need and want is space. I'm even going to make it easy for you. You just have to click here: and that's it.

Now for more detailed statistics.
  • 5 browser games (that's one less, Bastion has native binaries, huzzahs and stuff);
  • 169 DOSBox games for GOG lovers and more;
  • 35 console games for BSNES lovers and more;
  • 65 ScummVM games for GOG lovers and more;
  • 377 Linux games for all the penguins out there. With a few updated. Just because;
  • The xcf is still there, and unmodified. So ImageMagick nerds will have no problems modifying the set. May kill the purpose, but shows I'm not a complete dick. ;)

It's a much less impressive update. It's a drawback. But hey. I can't spend my entire life creating icons, and I can't afford a 120Tb online storage. :p

The download is still over here: clicky.

The list of games is around here: clicky.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Some tips from Aretha.

Yeah, another rant.

I've been tweeting yesterday about how I feel I'm being screwed by some indie devs. To be honest I don't think 140 characters is anywhere near enough to fully explain what I mean, and why devs like McMillen, Mojang, Gaslamp or Puppy won't see the color of my money anytime soon while I'm still unwaveringly supportive of others like David Olofson, Cube Noir, Gentleman Squid, Ido Yehieli, Nooskewl, Caravel, and many others.

See, I'm a customer. I have the monies and you want it. You have to create demand. I'm here to take advantage of the offer.

Doesn't work that way? Think. There's no rationale behind game development and sale. The demand is non-existent. I can live without games, so can you. I can live on freeware and FLOSS (and did for a looooong while). So can you.

And I'm not so obtuse or obsessed that I'll play one or two genres. I like to play Kobo Deluxe as much as The Dark Mod; DROD as much as Three Dead Zed; Botanicula as much as Project Zomboid; I could go on with examples forever (and I *do* mean forever - long enough that you'd flee long before I'm done).

Your game doesn't even have to truly stand out from the crowd. A game that's fun is a game I'll probably like. I'm still playing SuperTux to this day. Doesn't get much more cloney or bland than that. It's FUN. I'm not asking for much more. Which doesn't mean I'm going "meh" with every game, mind you.

So... Rather than just rant around trying to get Twitter to launch a word filter, I thought I might as well explain. See, devs have my trust from the start, as everyone. I'm that kind of guy. I'm also the kind of guy who'll usually smell fish very early, the kind of guy who gives his trust ONCE. You have one chance, why screw it?

So yeah, I'm the minority in the minority and all. Why should you care? Because I'm a dick, I'm vocal, and I always call things what they are: a cunt is a cunt, a pussy is a pussy, a dev who tries to piss on my leg is someone I'll go all out against. With arguments as much as fact, as often and as long as I can. And I can turn people away from you. You should know it if you've had any kind of marketing course: a satisfied customer will talk about your product to 3 people, one who isn't will talk about it to 10 people. And the people I usually hang around with like to be dicks too. We share many things, love of videogames and hate of cunts included.

First up: McMillen. Dear McMillen, screw you. Being able to turn the porting of a goddamn FLASH GAME into a MASSIVE failure must be the greatest kind of evidence of some kind of disability. I can't see any other reason why Isaac would be THAT shitty on linux: options that don't work, framerate issues, window resizing fucked up on most computers I have at my disposal to try (and I'm far from alone), you name it, and it's probably been failed.

Dear McMillen, porting is caring. If you don't care, just don't do it. I can live without, and I'll be much less bitter about it. Headcrabs never popped up on GNU/Linux desktops. They're, like, a thing that you'll only see on Steam nowadays. May be a moot point by the end of the year, but that's still ugly and proof that you didn't really care. Get Wrath of the Lamb out, and it'll be my pleasure to inform people about why they shouldn't buy it.

Then: Puppy Games: Dear sirs, with friends like you, no one needs enemies. If you aren't even able to treat your fellow devs with respect, you cannot be trusted to treat your customers with respect. Yep, I saw what you did and said on that Linux gaming forum on that particular day. And you know as well as I do that there had been an issue with Kot-In-Action and that they had been fucked big time by the indie bundle.

Oh. And by the way. I may have your game on Desura, but I'm still a customer. I still deserve updates. And I do NOT want your workarounds. I want it on Desura. Fact is, I want as many of my games as possible on Desura. Updates are YOUR fucking responsibility, not MINE. You know what? I actually own all KIA games right now. I didn't buy any of yours since the bundle. And I certainly don't intend to.

Then Mojang: Dear Notch. Rather than listen to hordes of rabid fanbois who don't have a clue about game development and include tons of things that don't even make sense when taken alone, much less when put together, in your games, next time, maybe you could... I don't know... Learn to fix bugs and have a plan you follow so your game doesn't end up being a massive mess?

Oh, and while I'm at it: Minecraft on Android for 7€? Who the fuck are you kidding? Why would I pay - and pay THAT MUCH - for a castrated clone with clumsy controls when I can either have phr00t's take on the genre at half that price or Football Manager Handheld for just one more coin?

Guess what? I hate European football. But I'd still go with Sega because I love management games. As much as I loved Minecraft before it became... Whatever ugly patchwork it is now. I gave up after you ALSO fucked up with the translations. Or maybe even before that. Doesn't really matter anymore: you lost my trust. I honestly don't think you can create consistent, rock-solid games. You may have great ideas, but a game is much more than the sum of its parts. Prove me wrong, and you may be one of the few to regain my trust. I wouldn't bet a nickel on it though.

Now Gaslamp: Guys. seriously. Do you really think I'm THAT stupid? I was so excited about Dredmor coming to Linux. Then I was even more excited when Realm of the Diggle Gods showed up on Desura. With release date "TBD". Even FOUR WHOLE MONTHS after it was out on Steam. A little file that doesn't contain any kind of DRM. Didn't need any kind of modification or further development. Perfectly compatible between all versions of your game, Steam and non-steam. Four months. So either you have some kind of disability, are complete dimwits who can't understand how to upload a zip file, or you really think I'm a complete dumbfuck. Though I'm starting to wonder, given apparently you don't tweet yourselves and have a bot that does so. Or why wouldn't you answer when a customer asks you - several times - if there's news for Desura?

Four months. FOUR FUCKING MONTHS. FOREVER, BASICALLY. Then when you finally move your arse and upload it, you try to shove it down my throat at a HIGHER price point than on Steam? Guess what: not only didn't I buy it. But I'm still ranting about it with anyone who lends me an ear. And that's a LOT of people. Some of which bought Dredmor. None of which bought RotDG. Nor will I buy any of your future games. And I know a few people who won't either.

See, I'm a Linux user. I'm a supportive Linux user. I'm a supportive Linux user who's an ex-Windows user. I'm an ex-Windows user who knows people, like most everyone. I'm an ex-Windows user who knows people who play games and buy games. And they don't care if I'm a Linux user. You treat me different, they don't. I have reason to be upset, they support that. And word can spread fast. And each and everyone of us isn't one lost sale. It' a whole fucking bunch of lost sales. If you're in a position to spit on money, good for you.

So... The point is: seriously, is respect too much to ask for? I know fully well that Linux will never be your main selling point. That it will never be what brings you the most money.


All these examples show a complete lack of respect for your customer. It's actually pretty close to segregation, apart from Mojang. And I despise that as much as I despise the endless stream of pseudo-games the AAA studios are used to developing at the moment.

But respect, unfortunately for you, is universal. And salesmen who don't respect the customer always get some kind of kick in the balls. This here, is mine. And I'll keep doing it every time someone tries to screw me. As long as I can. And I'll try to support every other indie dev I can. As long as I can.