Posts Tagged ‘e3’


Dear Indie Game Developers…

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.

Steam Greenlight

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.

Thank you.


Dear Game Developers…

E3 - Electronic Entertainment ExpoSince E3 starts tomorrow, I thought now would be a good time to post a couple of helpful notes to the people crafting the wondrous nuggets of entertainment we so enjoy.

Dear Game Developers…

…’Depth of Field’ can create impressive and sometimes even quite realistic effects but the way you guys are overusing it, it makes everything look like bad Tilt-Shift photography where I’m playing the game in toy-town.

…why does every forgotten deity, evil genius or subterranean monster have a lair that features miles and miles of twisty tunnels/corridors/tombs full of traps and thugs to get to the area for the final encounter but the way back to the surface from that area is just down a short passage round the back?

…your up/down does not match my up/down. Get with the 90s and offer an invert-Y option for your game.

…no, foot-high impassable hedges blocking off the edge of maps are no less annoying or acceptable than the invisible walls they are meant to replace. If my character is supposed to have the physical skills of a circus acrobat during the rest of the game, such silly obstacles look all the more ridiculous. Worst still are foot-high impassable obstacles that the player has to run around. All characters who can’t clamber up tiny ledges, needing to use ramps, steps or excessively circuitous routes should be shot.

…I know you’re really pleased with all the shader effects you’ve crammed into the game but please, calm down. Not everything needs to look like it’s made of wet vinyl.

…unless your game is specifically all about stealth, please don’t tack an unskippable stealth section on to your third-person shoot-em-up. Likewise, if it isn’t a platform game, don’t force players to wrestle with your shoddy controls and unhelpful camera angles trying to pull off feats that’d make bloody Mario jealous.

…a pitch-black gaming environment isn’t scary. Spawning enemies right behind the player isn’t scary. Repeating the same tired shock tactics for an entire game isn’t scary. They’re all just lazy. Please try a little bit harder.

…if you’re going to cut costs employing drama school drop-outs for the voice-overs in your cut-scenes, don’t forget a subtitles option for those of us who’ll have trouble understanding the accents they’re busy murdering.

…not every much beloved classic game series needs to be turned into a first-person shoot-em-up. Just saying.

…can you stop with the ‘we realise now that our last game in the series was absolute shite, but the next one will fix (insert your particular concerns here) and be fucking amazing!’ type of promises. I know every slack-jawed idiot out there falls for this lie every time so there’s no real reason for you to stop producing sub-par games and then whipping out this line but please, just give it a rest.

Thank you.


The Sims 3 E3 trailer

The Sims 3 at E3So E3 is upon us again with it’s usual glut of high hopes and crushing disappointments. Maybe I’m just bitter that the best I can manage is watching the various game site feeds showing the announcements and key notes by industry giants instead of being there in person, but it does seem we build E3 up to be some amazing font of new information and sneak peeks. Instead, it’s usually a lot of worthless posturing, statistics massaging and information that we’ve had for weeks.

As much is true of this new trailer for The Sims 3 that EA pimped during their little showcase. Still a long way off (2009 – I guess they’ve got a couple of expansions they want to wring from the stone that is The Sims 2), it’s claim-to-fame is the boast that The Sims 3 opens the doors for your little ‘digital you’ and allows them to explore their surroundings. Given your Sim’s need to ‘go bathroom’ every 14.7 seconds, hopefully the surroundings are full of W.Cs or, at the very least, that the very first store you encounter on your journey sells adult diapers.

I’m still looking at The Sims 3 with some suspicion, though. The open-world feature is basically just taking the training wheels off of the earlier outings – removing the loading screens and allowing you to explore other ‘lots’. Sure, linking them all together into one streamed world would be nice but does it merit a ‘3’? The fact they’re not plugging any other features at this point also makes me worry that they’re simply going to drip-feed them to the public when they inevitably reset the expansions counter back to zero upon launch.

Probably being cynical but after showing their hand twice now, I’d be a fool to expect EA intends anything else – especially when we’ve already proved we’re ready to snap it up and ask for seconds (or even thirds). The new trailer can be found on the official The Sims 3 site.