Last year for E3, I made a post with a few guidelines I would have liked game developers to keep in mind while practising their craft. Naturally, nothing changed but I think I’ve found a new audience to plead to.
A few days ago, Valve launched Steam Greenlight, a customer facing round-table where game developers (typically small companies and indie set-ups) get to present their digital babies and
a raving horde of juvenile imbeciles Steam customers either rip the living shit out of them or fawn like drooling nincompoops critique and provide feedback in the hopes of uncovering potential hits and grooming them to take their place in the Steam store itself. It is, of course, a colossal travesty of ignorance and fanboy excess an exciting process to witness! So…
Dear Indie Game Developers…
…not every RPG game has to have blue text boxes and a white font. We get it, it’s ‘retro’! It’s like Final Fantasy! But you’re also drowning in a sea of similar clones who all had the same bright idea.
…you’re not a huge developer with hundreds of employees churning out mountains of quality assets and hours of content for a triple-A game. Stop pricing your slightly-better-than-shareware like it was the next Fallout or Call of Duty.
…I know ‘Hunt for the Ember Lodestone: The Challenges of the Fire-Scorched Demon Mistress from El-quor-Marankta Seven‘ sounds impressive, but unless this is the latest long-awaited part in a hugely successful series of games, maybe you should lay off the subtitles and pick something a bit more snappy/memorable.
…yes, Minecraft was very successful, yes, it wasn’t a wholly original game and yes, Notch has more money than he knows what to do with now. But, no, not every game has to be a multi-player adventure sandbox world-building survival-based voxel game. Basically, if you find yourself appending ‘-craft’ to the title of your game, you’re a joke.
…and while we’re at it, no Slender clones, no Super Meat Boy clones, no Terraria clones and no Day-Z clones.
…just because every major game these days seems to have a near-endless trail of DLC in its wake, like an incontinent goldfish, doesn’t mean you should. Your original content barely qualifies for DLC status alone so why do you think you can piecemeal it even further? You’re offering a game that doesn’t have the backing of hundreds of artist/coders/designers/musicians behind it – you should be offering more, not less (for more money).
…stop using the ‘retro‘ tag as an excuse for producing terrible graphics, ear-grating music and one-dimensional gameplay. We know you’re not really paying homage to anything – you just suck. That goes for ‘old-school‘, ‘classic‘ and ‘nostalgia trip‘ too. You’re not fooling anyone.
…your pretentious experimental art/thought journey ‘game’ might have gone down great guns at Indiefest 2004 but please don’t get too upset if it doesn’t appeal to the knuckle-draggers just coming down from a 8-hour L4D2, CoD, TF2 stint.
…enough with the silhouette artwork already. Yes, Limbo did well and looked great but they used it for atmosphere. You’re just a lazy bastard who can’t be bothered to spring for proper graphics.
…maybe your droning, nasally voice isn’t really suited for promoting the game in your trailer. You’d probably do fine for YouTube unpacking clips, rants about how Blizzard screwed you over in the last patch and narrating your clan’s new CoD kill-fest but for your game, just stick to gameplay clips and music. It’s for the best.
…while we’re on the subject, you and your friends aren’t voice-actors. The professionals get paid for a reason.
…six players at the same time doesn’t make your game an MMO project.
…just because whatever engine you’ve licensed can do a screen full of glows, motion blur, bloom effects and depth of field, it doesn’t mean you have to go crazy using them all. Calm down. And no amount of post processing will cover up terrible graphics, anyway.
…spell-checker. Use it.
…let me guess, your game is all about zombies, right? Yeah, well, so is 95% of the other games on Greenlight. The rest are hidden object games or dating sims.
…you might have done well with your sub-Facebook game on the iPhone/Android or whatever but people might be expecting a little more meat on the bones of their PC games.
…people will figure out you’re nothing but hot air if all you’ve got to show are renders of art assets. Maybe wait until you’ve actually written some code before trying desperately to stoke the hype train up to speed?
…engines. Nobody cares you used the Unreal/Cryengine/Unity engine for you game as long as it’s good. You don’t get a special badge for mentioning it.
…engines. Nobody wants to play a game you churned out after ten minutes with some tatty game-maker. You might think you can get away with not mentioning it but we all know.