spidweb writes: The latest Humble Bundle has gone live, with five new games for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Android. It consists of Zen Bound 2, Avadon: The Black Fortress, Canabalt, and Cogs, with Swords & Soldiers thrown in for anyone who pays at least the average. As always, the games are pay-what-you-want and DRM-free, and this is the initial Linux and Android release for many of them. Of course, as is the tradition with Humble Bundles, other games are likely to be added on later. Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "A small Indie game developer writes about deciding to submit to price pressure and lower of the cost of his many titles. The article discusses the many factors that go into pricing a game and gives advice on how you should price your game/product/app in the various markets where it appears. From the article, "There are two sorts of prices you can pay for a game: An amount that is so small you don't care, and an amount high enough that you do. Our newest game is $20 on our site and $10 on Steam. That's a big difference, but, in a very real sense, they have the same price: an amount of money that actually feels like spending money."" Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "An indie game developer has been writing a series of articles on the intricacies of providing tech support as a small business. The series concludes with an annotated version his standard tech support checklist, which promises to solve the bulk of weird or unexplained problems. From the article, "Most problems will be caused by incompatible software, hard drive corruptions, wonky graphics cards, or free-floating evil spirit manifestations. Sadly, as the hardware industry seeks out ways to cut corners and make computers ever cheaper, these sorts of afflictions only grow more common."" Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "A small indie game developer has begun a series of articles about how a tiny company with limited resources can give quality tech support. The articles will also contain many tips to help users get their broken stuff running on their own. From the article, "Supporting a game is hard. You will get complaints from people with the most amazing jury-rigged computers: motley assemblies of shoddy parts, duct tape, components bought at the cheapest possible price, and video cards found at the bottom of boxes of cereal. Machines that should, if there was any justice in the world, evaporate into a cloud of flame and self-disgust the moment they are turned on."" Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "An indie game developer writes about his experiences fighting software piracy. He eventually learned that the best option was to do as little as possible. From the article: "One of the most common questions fledgling developers ask me is how they should protect their games from pirates. My answer is, generally, 'The minimum amount you can get away with.' That is because I have learned never to forget the following guideline... Whenever you find yourself starting a sentence with, "I don't want people to pirate my game, so I am going to..." you are very close to making a big mistake."" Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: One full-time Indie developer write about why he never goes to online forums discussing his work and why he advises other creators to do the same. It's possible to learn valuable things, but the time and the stress just don't justify the effort. From the article, "Forums contain a cacophony of people telling you to do diametrically opposite things, very loudly, often for bad reasons. There will be plenty of good ideas, but picking them out from the bad ones is unreliable and a lot of work. If you try to make too many people happy at once, you will drive yourself mad. You have to be very, very careful who you let into your head." Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: An Indie developer considers the possibility that setting a fixed price for games is obsolete. The huge success of the Humble Indie Bundle suggests that some small developers might be able to make more money abandoning prices entirely. From the article, "Suppose you're writing a cheap, impulse buy, casual game and you had the chance to make it donation-ware. Should you? Quite probably! You need to charge a small amount anyway to work as an impulse buy. And, if you ask for donations, some people will give you more money. Maybe they love Indie developers, or they feel the higher price is fair, or they just hate having money. Either way, it's freely given, so grab it while you can!" The article also suggests some situations where doing this might be horrible business suicide. Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: One Indie developer has written a nuanced article on how software piracy affects him, approaching the issue from the opposite direction. He lists the ways in which the widespread piracy of PC games helps him. From the article, "You don't get everything you want in this world. You can get piles of cool stuff for free. Or you can be an honorable, ethical being. You don't get both. Most of the time. Because, when I'm being honest with myself, which happens sometimes, I have to admit that piracy is not an absolute evil. That I do get things out of it, even when I'm the one being ripped off." The article also tries to find a middle ground between the Piracy-Is-Always-Bad and Piracy-Is-Just-Fine sides of the argument that might enable single-player PC games to continue to exist. Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: Much virtual ink has been spilled over Ubisoft's new, harsh DRM system for Assassin's Creed 2. You must have a constant internet connection, and, if your connection breaks, the game exits. While this has angered many (and justifiably so), most writers on the topic have made an error. They think that this system, like all DRM systems in the past, will be easily broken. This article explains why, as dreadful as the system is, it does have a chance of holding hackers off long enough for the game to make its money. As such, it is, if nothing else, a fascinating experiment. From the article, "Assassin's Creed 2 is different in a key way. Remember, all of its code for saving and loading games (a significant feature, I'm sure you would agree) is tied into logging into a distant server and sending data back and forth. This vital and complex bit of code has been written from the ground up to require having the saved games live on a machine far away, with said machine being programmed to accept, save, and return the game data. This is a far more difficult problem for a hacker to circumvent." Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: The founder of Spiderweb Software is celebrating fifteen years of being business by beginning a series of articles with advice for starting a small, Indie software business. (Or any small business, really.) The first topics covered are picking a product to make, choosing your tools, and getting enough sleep. From the article, "When you're running your business, your job is to pry the credit card out of peoples' wallets. Again and again. Look real hard at your idea. Hunt the web and figure out how cheap the games you'll be competing with are. When you are sure you want to write a game (or graphics editor or genealogy program or random number generator or whatever) that can get people to hand out their credit card numbers, only then may you proceed." Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: Gaming blog The Bottom Feeder has an article on game difficulty. The big idea: Unless the player specifically asks for a game to be hard, it should always be really easy. The instinct to punish a player is almost always a bad one. From the article, "If your game is actually fun, killing the player won't make it more fun. But nothing sucks all of the fun out of a good game faster than repeated failure. I can almost hear the heads of hardcore gamers imploding with impotent nerdrage. But seriously. If you have a problem with this, I think you're getting a lot of your fun from making other people have less fun." Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "The online backlash against DRM has gotten a bit excessive, especially since the purpose of DRM is entirely admirable: To stop thieves and free riders and to help creators actually get paid for their work. The blog The Bottom Feeder calls attention to XBox Live, a place where strong DRM is helping to encourage quality games at low prices which make money for their developers. From the article: "If I could snap my fingers and give myself the same absolute control over the games I make that XBox Live has over theirs (in return for lower prices), I would. The freedom of the current system is nice, but it comes at too high a cost. Honest people need to pay extra to subsidize thieves. The unfairness is just this side of intolerable, and it's only getting worse. DRM is fair if, for what the corporations take, we get something in return."" Link to Original Source
spidweb writes: "Music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero went from New Big Thing to Fad to Glut in a remarkably short amount of time. But, even if they hadn't started cranking out the games as fast as they could, The Bottom Feeder blog explains why the genre is doomed to a far humbler position in the game industry. If it still exists at all. From the article: "It takes a lot of resources to make these bulky instruments (especially drums), pack them up, ship them over the sea, get them to you, and, from there, dump them in landfills. A lot of plastic and oil in our new oil-short, global-warming reality. And, if this recession should have taught us anything, it's that we're going too much in debt buying too much useless crap from the Chinese. Something has got to go. And I think shoddy plastic Fisher Price drum kits will be first in line."
spidweb writes: "There is a huge chasm between the rough, quivering lump of code you just wrote and a solid product you can distribute to actual people. To make your game/mod/level/adventure publicly available without melting someone's computer, you will need good volunteer testers. Jeff Vogel, at his blog The Bottom Feeder, gives advice for finding testers, sorting the helpful from the crazy, instructing them, interacting with them, and rewarding them for their efforts.
spidweb writes: "Everyone knows games like World of Warcraft are addictive. But what are the exact qualities that make it so? Are there specific elements of the design that can be pulled out, distilled, and used at will to give a game druglike properties? And is it wrong to do so? A new article at IGN RPG Vault attempts to isolates the exact qualities that go into making an addiction-based design. From the article, "If a game uses rewards of any sort to entice you to experience highly repetitive content, you should see what it's trying to do and which of your buttons it's trying to press. If you don't mind, that's cool, but you should understand it."