I don’t very much enjoy playing games online. To the point where I have a game that is designed to be at least half if not mostly online (Torchlight II) but I prefer to play solo because I don’t enjoy the interaction. However, playing games with friends (mostly board games but also computer games) is one of the most enjoyable things I can think of. And I’m not the only one with that mindset (Wil Wheaton, for example) and some take it to more of an extreme and some to less.

Yesterday I watched this lecture by Jane McGonigal about making games that have meaning, purpose and impact other than escapism. And in the section about testosterone, she quoted a study that explains that biologically. It says that when we win over someone we don’t know, our testosterone spikes and we’re more likely to assert dominance – rub it in their faces. When win over someone we know, our testosterone drops and we’re more likely to be nice and comforting – trying to make them feel better about themselves.

Maybe I caught on that subconsciously but I don’t like that feeling, when I have it but mostly when it’s directed at me. I enjoy the battle of wits, I enjoy the banter, I enjoy collaboration (which is why I always prefer cooperative to competitive) and players online tend to rush things, take a lot personally and mostly not be sportsmanlike and considering. And it’s very hard to talk to them or even get someone you can talk to.

Leave A Comment, Written on July 25th, 2014 , Gaming, Humanity, Thinking Out Loud

Microsoft has been recently accused of trying to hijack another company’s private property, NoIP’s DNS service. While that is definitely not a good thing, if looked at just on its own, it is important to remember that Microsoft is, currently, one of the biggest and more active players in the fight for internet security and safety. They are running multiple operations to take down botnets and disable malware running systems all over the globe.

So, dear legal system, don’t let a company order another company to hand over property but let’s try and do accommodate the, maybe self-appointed, sheriff trying to bring order to this wild west country we call the internet even if they do need a slap on the wrist every once in a while to figure out how to actually get things done properly.

3 Comments, Written on July 15th, 2014 , IT, Less Interesting News, Practice, Thinking Out Loud

Is what this Gamasutra article called the recent trend in game development to sell “the things that usually end up on the game studio’s cutting room floor”. It’s talking about things like Early Access, selling the game while it’s being developed, and mostly about selling the “Prologue” to Metal Gear Solid V and selling access to Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight.

First of all, I don’t think it’s really surprising in this age where Publishers are mostly going the way of the dinosaurs and more developers retaking control of their creations and trying to hit the audience directly, saving money while still trying to make hiqh-quality (i.e. expensive) titles. The money has to come from somewhere.

The writer stresses the Double Fine and Metal Gear Solid V angle a lot, Double Fine selling access to their prototypes (things we usually couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t see) and Metal Gear Solid being split into (at least) two parts with the first one serving as “prologue” whose content might or might not later also appear in the full game, but I would like to point out two counter examples and say that, once again, when satisfaction is concerned, it’s all about expectations.

painting-analogy

The current customer expects that when she pays 60$ for a new game it will contain at least 10-20 hours of meaningful gameplay. Whether this is reasonable considering what we pay for movies, music, etc… is a different discussion – this is what we currently expect. In the days of the first StarCraft it was reasonable to sell a main game for 60$ and then an expansion with more missions and story for 30$. We then evolved the model of selling the main game for 60$ and tiny bundles of story/gameplay/extras for 5-15$ and lately we’ve also added alphafunding. Some of these models seem weird but, again, it’s all about expectations. And also honesty and transparency. (Here come the two examples).

  1. Decent Early Access Games/Developers – Look at Mojang, Vlambeer and all the others that decided to go the alphafunding/early access route but did it candidly. Mojang sold Minecraft from the very early (and sometimes broken versions) but they were honest about it. They said the game is in development, it might break, and you’re actually paying for the game’s development as it is being developed. The customers were promised that, they were promised that the game will be updated and improved and they won’t have to pay more despite the initial entry fee always increasing. And fucking hell, that model works for them. Vlambeer went with Steam Early Access for Nuclear Throne. They were upfront in saying that the game is in development, it will be cheaper after it’s done and there will be no sales or bundles until release. They said that this is only for those who want to support the developers during development. And they live-stream development and upload a new build every week. Which is awesome. They promised specific things and they deliver on what the customers expect from that.
  2. Stoic went a bit of a different route with The Banner Saga. They started from a Kickstarter campaign, raised funds and used those funds to start development. Roughly a year later, they released Factions, the Free-To-Play competitive version of the game featuring their beautiful art but mostly consisting of just the combat aspect of the game. They did that because they saw that development will take longer than previously expected and they wanted to put out something that people can play. But, mostly, they did that so they could get more help (than just backers) with fine tuning the combat aspect (the main game loop in The Banner Saga) and bring it to a mirror polish, thus making the final game better for everyone. But, they released it free to play. Meaning, you could play the “no-campaign” version of the game for free and if you wanted to, you could sink some money into it to fund development of the full game. They told gamers what to expect and they delivered on those promises, honestly and ethically. Then, another year later, you could buy the campaign-full, complete version of the game for a very competitive price of 25$.

Conclusion: I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to develop or sell your game. The only wrong thing is no fulfilling your customer’s expectation. Yes, sometimes those expectations are not up to you and you can roll with it or sit in the corner and cry. But, if you notice it, the only times gamers rise in uproar about how a game is sold/played/whatever is when it doesn’t fulfill expectations. I don’t know exactly how the Metal Gear Solid V thing is going to work but if Ground Zeros is selling for 30$ and The Phantom Pain will sell for 60$ and Ground Zeros won’t deliver at least half the satisfaction of The Phantom Pain and/or The Phantom Pain will actually contain some, half and especially most or all of the gameplay of Ground Zeros, you can definitely expect an uproar.

 

Leave A Comment, Written on July 14th, 2014 , Gaming, IT, Practice, Programming, Thinking Out Loud

לפני שעה שמענו את מטח הטילים מתפוצץ מעל תל אביב.

אני מכין חלה.

כי בא לי. יש לכם משהו יותר טוב לעשות?

1 Comment, Written on July 13th, 2014 , Life

אלו הממצאים ממחקר שנערך באוניברסיטת באפלו.

למען האמת, לא נורא מפתיע אותי. מה שהם מצאו הוא ששחקנים שמשחקים במשחקים אלימים, בין אם בצד “הטוב” או בצד “הרע”, כאשר סיימו לשחק, חשבו יותר על המוסריות של עצמם ושל מה שעשו. אני גם דוגמה לזה, כמו שציינתי בעבר.

אז אני נשארתי בדעתי, כאשר לי תהייה ההחלטה האם לאסור או להתיר משחקים אלימים, אני אתיר כל עוד ההשלכות המוסריות עולות לדיון לאחר מכן.

1 Comment, Written on July 3rd, 2014 , Gaming, Humanity, Thinking Out Loud

לא הרגשתי טוב השבוע. הייתי מבואס ומדוכדך ולא ראיתי איך לטפל בזה. אבל החלטנו לעשות את מסיבת חנוכת הבית ביום חמישי. אחרי כל הדחיות, הגיע הזמן.

הזמנו כמה אנשים, ארגנו קצת כיבוד ולא תכננו על יותר מאשר לדבר ואולי לשחק כמה משחקים.

ואז אנשים התחילו להגיע. חברים שלי, חברים של מעין, אחים שלי, אחות שלה.

שיחקנו קצת Fluxx, פתחנו דיונים משמעותיים על דברים פחות משמעותיים ופשוט היה מאוד כיף.

הראשון הגיע בסביבות שבע, קיפלנו את העסק קצת אחרי שתיים בלילה.

היה מאוד כיף. וכשישבנו בסלון אחרי שארזנו את כל מה שהיה צריך אריזה, מה שחשבנו זה איך אפשר לעשות את זה שוב.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 28th, 2014 , Life

אז הוא כנראה היה 5 דקות של אני יושב במרתף חשוך ובוהה בטחב כשמדי פעם נופלת עלי חתיכת תקרה.

נקווה שזה ישתפר היום בערב.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 26th, 2014 , Life

And they decided to celebrate in one hell of a cool way. Presenting, the APOD Heatmap.

2014-06-16 APOD Heatmap

This is a composite heat map of every APOD ever uploaded, covering significant portions of the night sky. Here you can see the concentrations of interesting sky features, according to the APOD editors, and if you click the link and dig a bit deeper, by clicking a red square, you’ll find the pictures taken of that region.

Now, that’s cool.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 19th, 2014 , Geekdom

It revolves around the idea that the most valuable resource any human has currently is time and that I respect that time by trying to waste as little of it as possible. So, to not make the select few who decide to watch this space decide to leave it, I try to keep my posts as short and to the point as possible and only post something when I have something important I want to say. And even when I have a lot, I try to space it out to allow the time to do other things.

Thanks for watching.

Leave A Comment, Written on June 11th, 2014 , Practice, Thinking Out Loud

What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgements on events. To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse one’s self shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither one’s self nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

– Epictitus

Leave A Comment, Written on June 9th, 2014 , Humanity, Thinking Out Loud

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