Free2Play Niceness Checklist

Hello dear reader. So you want to check if your F2P game is not harmful to game design, industry, or the welfare of gamers? Please answer the following questions and we will calculate your F2P game niceness factor:

  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that if you had designed the game without micro-transactions, it would be 100% identically paced, and that financial considerations have not altered any aspect of the game in favour of encouraging purchases at the expense of the enjoyment of the player?
  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that not one single person in the world has had a relationship break down, or a default on a loan, missed a payment on their mortgage or rent, or left their children without school dinner money, because they spend too much on IAP’s on your game?
  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that the success of your F2P game has not or will not ever encourage 1, 2, 5, 10, or 500 less scrupulous developers to create F2P apps that have led to one of their players relationship to break down, or a default on a loan, missed a payment on their mortgage or rent, or left their children without school dinner money, because they spend too much on IAP’s on their game?
  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that your games industry website article or interview talking about the virtues of F2P has not inspired unscrupulous types to create F2P apps that have led to one of their players relationship to break down, or a default on a loan, missed a payment on their mortgage or rent, or left their children without school dinner money, because they spend too much on IAP’s on their game?
  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that a competitive player without the funds to avoid grinds in your game via IAP, have not damaged their social life or ruined relationships from being forced to grind many hours to keep up with friends with disposable income?
  • Can you say, with absolute certainty, that every customer who downloads your game is aware of IAPs, and will be educated to the point they would block them before giving their children the game to play?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, then congratulations! Your F2P is nice! Please leave a comment explaining how in hell you managed to answer yes to all these questions, and we’ll finally have figured out this whole F2P thing.

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then congratulations. At best you may have damaged your game’s design, perhaps worse have damaged the games industry, or may have even directly or indirectly ruined a few people’s lives.

EDIT: after a very interesting discussion with Notch and Binky on twitter, Notch made the point that he could not say for certainty that Minecraft had not ruined lives due to game addiction. This is a very good point, though I would argue that F2P has a much more direct financial incentive to encourage developers to add potentially destructive elements to their game for financial gain, and that there is a clear line in the sand. He never made Minecraft with the intention of people getting dangerously addicted. If this happens it is unfortunate. The ‘whale’ revelations about where the majority of F2P profits come from mean it’s to the direct benefit, perhaps even required, that players are dangerously addicted and overspend for the F2P model to work for many games.

Even if ‘your’ F2P is fair and nice, your success will only make the platform more popular, and not everyone will stick to micro-transaction hats and costumes. The next developer with less scruples may rip an entire family apart. Is F2P a road worth going down when this is a potential net result of it, even if you believe there IS a nice way to do it?

Just because you happen to be a benevolent dictator, your successor may not be. Stop defending dictatorships as something that can work, and accept that on the whole, somewhere down the family tree, they are invariably destructive and harmful to everyone. We’re better off opting out and making do with an imperfect democracy that at least protects against this kind of thing. I’m prepared to admit there are benefits to F2P when done properly, no one can criticise Team Fortress 2, for example, but not everyone will play by your rules.

Just because you’re not personally extorting people, you’re increasingly pushing and promoting a system that can be used to extremely devastating effect, that genuinely makes the games industry, even the world, a worse place to be.

Let go of F2P, let’s go back to how it used to be. Or at least just admit it’s a more profitable way for you to do business, and stop with the disingenuous platitudes that you’re doing it for your customers. Because somewhere down the line, someone is paying for that customer’s ‘empowerment’ with hungry children and eviction notices.

Whether you are the one pulling the trigger or not, you’re the one sending out the invites to the true demons to get in on the action. Your hands are not clean, no matter how many interviews or lectures you give on how F2P can be nice. By saying ‘it is the future’ you’re breeding a generation of these people. You’re creating these people and allowing them to continue doing what they are doing.

Worse, you are often telling people it is the only viable way to do things going forward.

If you’re an advocate of F2P but also agree with gun control in the US, you might want to consider this:

“F2P doesn’t ruin people financially. People ruin people financially.”

PS: Before anyone calls me out on it, I’m aware and feel strongly that alpha-funding is becoming more and more problematic and baiting the same unscrupulous types. I’ve since stopped advocating it so much, but I’ll get to that later.

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Don’t Feed The Trolls, Try Hugging Them

A couple of years ago we had a terrible time with trolls. Some stuff happened (it’s of historical record on the internet now, so look it up, I’m not keen to dredge it up, but suffice to say we were square in the crosshairs) and as a result, for a couple of months, we, and myself particularly, were in the sights of some vicious and relentless trolling.

Trolling of the kind where death threats, or desire for fatal cancer to strike me, were a regular feature.

As a result of this, I had some emotional problems which still linger mildly today. I was very angry, perpetually so, for probably an entire year, and spent a lot of my time venting on twitter (usually about Java), occasionally saying a few things which undoubtedly made some of my twitter followers uncomfortable. As such to this day I still feel I’ve alienated a fair few people I would have called twitter friends, and even a few which I’d met and considered real friends. Things haven’t been quite the same since and I have several time quit twitter, or mass unfollowed people, because of the amount of time I spend fretting about if person X is ignoring me or hates me. In my darker moments seeing a vacuum where once was vibrant engaging chat, like my tweets fall into a black hole and replies from any followers I would consider industry peers seem very far and few between, feeling far lonelier with 4000 followers than I once did with 100.

I’ve started to come out the other side, helped greatly by Zomboid being very much out the other side of all the crap that’s befallen us, and now doing pretty well. I’ve stopped dwelling on what might have been, and am focusing purely on what is and what could one day be.

I’ve also gotten a lot better at dealing with trolls when they do still pop up, but was reminded of the whole affair by the quite appalling treatment Zoe Quinn, creator of Depression Quest received yesterday (VOTE IT UP).

Now first, I want to make clear I’m not remotely defending anything that has been said, the misogynistic filth, the death threats, the invasion of privacy, it’s quite appalling to behold and she has my greatest sympathies, because no matter how horrible I felt my treatment was, it was borne of me fucking up pretty badly with both failure to off-site backup regularly enough, as well as taking to twitter while drunk and not biting my lip when getting trolled (as much as I’d defend my right to defend myself on my own twitter feed to wishes that I’d die of cancer, of course).

Zoe’s crime was, as is sadly often the case, being born without a Y chromosome, and her treatment much worse than mine was because of it. This betrays a deep sickness within not only our industry, but society as a whole, and hopefully it will improve in time. But my focus is not on the particular nature of the trolling, or the discrimination that comes from it, but the very act and motivation of trolling in itself.

Last thing I want to do is come across like I’m taking focus off, or worse excusing her treatment, or implying sexism isn’t a massive problem in itself. Rather I just want to approach the whole general troll problem from another angle, while it’s current in my mind, and leaving the particular prejudices used to troll to one side.

But given the nature of her game, Depression Quest, highlighting issues with mental health, it reminded me of my own coping mechanism that helped me deal with the trolling much better in recent times, and the realization I made about the internet that I don’t see getting mentioned much, and that is this:

The internet brings everyone together in ways humanity is not prepared for. The ease of communication not only between different geographic locations, but also from different walks of life that perhaps wouldn’t tread the same ground otherwise, is unprecedented, is wholly unnatural.

It enables those who perhaps would not normally engage to stream their consciousness to a worldwide audience with often only their own imperfect minds as filter and censor, and like those unfortunate to suffer with depression, there are many out there with other mental illnesses that are much more destructive and offensive to other people, as well as the destructive effect to those that suffer from it and their families.

When I was first exposed to such nasty trolling, my natural reaction was to think of those responsible as evil, nasty, subhuman monsters. It’s only natural to feel this way, but I started thinking about quite how prevalent and expansive mental illness is. A quick google search points me here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/ where a couple of key points include:

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time

It’s when I thought about this, I realized I suddenly understood where this could come from.

I can’t claim to understand depression well enough to speak with authority on it, though Zoe’s game has certainly helped educate me on quite how destructive it can be to the sufferer, and their relationships with others, and further more to make it clear what I probably assumed was depression wasn’t, it’s effect being far more profound than the oft assumed ‘feeling really sad’.

But it would be foolish as to assume it’s the only behavioural/emotional problem someone can have, or that there aren’t plenty out there which could lead to the sufferer becoming extremely angry and hostile, an abundance of emotion instead of a lack of it, and this itself may lead them to become increasingly isolated, and thus breed more anger and hostility to the world and those that inhabit it.

These people are unlikely to be able to socialize, except perhaps with others that share in their misanthropy, and their anger may only have one possible outlet. Its oft said that anonymity on the internet breeds trolling, but perhaps it’s not this simple? Perhaps these people don’t have the luxury of real life relationships or human interaction to temper their behaviour or allow any other emotion than anger to rule their lives?

I was lucky that when I went through a year of being pretty much permanently angry due to my own issues stemming from the events of 2011, I had understanding friends and girlfriend around me I could vent at, and who would show me support and allow me to still find enough enjoyment in my life to keep me from falling in deeper. But even so, with this profoundly solid support system around me, I think my twitter feed betrayed my own problems, and I felt the effects of alienation from people not close enough to understand due to my behaviour on there. In short, I probably came across as a hostile asshole to a lot of people unaware of the true issues I was having.

Imagine this magnified 100 fold, where someone without any friends or family, and just an internet connection and built up irrational anger and hatred toward everyone and everything, and suddenly what would otherwise only be rationalized as monstrous, evil behavior might make a lot more sense.

“Don’t feed the trolls” is the usual advice. “Just ignore them.” but are we missing something here? Are these people totally isolated, with only other angry isolated people on the internet to converse with, slowly allowing anger and other destructive emotions overwhelm them? Is further isolation and being further ignored by the wider world really the way to solve the problem? Sadly I can’t find the source, but I read an article a while back about how in pre-internet days, sufferers of mental disorders, particularly those suffering delusions, would be more likely to seek professional help, where in modern internet times are more likely to end up in a community of other sufferers, where their delusions would be reinforced and they would become more and more detached from the world. I can’t speak for the validity of this but it makes sense.

I had a friend who, although the internet was fairly new at the time, would probably have been described as a troll, at least for a brief time. Due to his frustrations, he went through a phase of mailing well known game developers with quite hostile and nasty mails. One of these developers posted his mails on his website to mock the nasty troll. Fair enough, I suppose. My friend also sent such a mail to Peter Molyneux, and to his immense surprise, he got the most wonderfully touching and supportive reply from him the gist being ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, is there anything I can do to help?’ He was so touched by this, I remember, and Peter became somewhat of a hero to him, and also to me. Sadly my friend ended up taking his own life a few years later. Perhaps this is the common private life of the ‘troll’ that we’re so quick to condemn as evil monsters lurking around the internet? It’s easy to categorize sides as good and evil, especially when one side is lashing out with anger and venom and the other has done nothing to deserve it, but the world is rarely as straightforward as that.

What if these people, like those with depression, need help and understanding, but because the symptom of their illness is so devastatingly horrible for those it’s directed at, they are either attacked in kind, or ignored, and are given the moniker ‘trolls’ and vilified. Are we letting them down? Should we be reaching out to them and maybe asking if they are ok, or need to talk? Maybe they can be reached, and maybe we could break through and find a human inside that is just alone and angry. Perhaps the dehumanizing effect of online anonymity works both ways, and someone who is deeply broken and needs help is much easier to shrug off, label, block and forget when they are just a nameless troll. Maybe if  troll and trolled were stood in the same physical space, their pain would be as clear as day, as would the pain they had caused to their victim?

I would argue that these people must be sick, in some respect, because it is not remotely normal or rational behaviour for a well adjusted healthy person, and by allowing it to be considered normal behaviour on the internet ‘that’s just the internet for you’ is perhaps just enabling it. I’m not suggesting that the victims of their trolling shouldn’t be prioritized in our support and sympathy, but just that they should not necessarily be the sole recipients of it.

Regardless, even if in particular cases this is not the truth of the situation, I can attest that me being convinced it is so, makes it a lot easier to deal with the stuff they say. I find it doesn’t cut and damage me in the way it used to, so for this reason alone it’s helped me greatly.

And hell, if in cases they are just complete assholes, then what better way to piss them off and take away their power than to offer them nothing but love and concern in the face of having cancer wished upon you or demeaning misogynistic language being thrown at you? That’s probably more effective than ‘not feeding them’ when all is said and done.

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Stuff and things pertaining to Alpha-Funding

It’s over two years since we began selling Project Zomboid. Through it all we’ve had ups and downs, but on the whole it feels like we’ve been relatively successful. Scott from Desura cited our game as ‘their most successful’ in an interview. That surprised us a lot. We subsequently breezed through the first batch of Greenlight games. That surprised us a lot too.

We’re yet to appear on the Steam store or even Early Access, however this is our choice. Our own reluctance to ‘blow our load too early’.  Despite the ecosystem of Steam seemingly being centred around the the summer / holiday sales, we still value our first appearance on there enough to not want to risk going on before we are ready (first impressions, and that). Which may be in part silly and unnecessary (more on that later) or may turn out to be one of our smarter moves. We’ll see.

I may not know much about what life is like for an indie dev on Steam, but we’ve been through a fair bit on the outside. And to those starting their journey, this is where you will spend a fair amount of time.

So here are some things we’ve learnt along the way about the Alpha-Funding process. How it works, why it works. I’m not claiming ownership for any of the thoughts there-in. I’m just the one on the team who got bored on a day off and decided to write a blog post on it. I do however claim complete credit for any of the vague unnamed critical bashing of certain other alpha-funded devs that occurs later on.

Sandbox is KEY

It’s hard to imagine alpha-funding working in the same way for games which cannot, even tangentially, be classified as sandbox games. I know some wonderfully, wonderfully talented indie devs who develop largely narrative based games, and it always occurs to me how little I have to offer in terms of advice or opinion. Things which work really well for us are completely ineffectual or sometimes even brutally damaging to them. As previously mentioned, we walked through Greenlight, and this was largely because we had a pre-existing community that could help swing the votes in our direction. Communities like this seem a lot more difficult to foster with non-Sandbox games.

So in a nutshell, what classifies as a ‘sandbox game’? I guess the loosest possible definition is one that doesn’t have a linear narrative that constitutes 80-100% of the gameplay. You could call Skyrim a sandbox, since the amount of content and the openness of how the content can be experienced means hundreds of hours can be sunk into it.

For us indie devs, such an epic scope of game is quite out of reach, especially where production values are concerned. But a sandbox game is more commonly associated with games like FTL, Kerbal Space Program, Dwarf Fortress, our game, and of course… Minecraft. One day I’ll write a blog post without name-checking it, but its relevance cannot be ignored.

In short, the fundamental difference between sandbox games and non-sandbox games is, a sandbox game can be played for possibly hundreds and hundreds of hours. This one fact alone is what feeds into alpha-funding so well.

Why? Well as I said, fostering a community is key to your game staying in the public consciousness, and it’s easier to do this when the community is habitually playing your game, months, or even years after it first goes on sale. And for alpha-funding to work successfully, this is vital.

To pick a very recent example of a narrative driven game, Bioshock Infinite. I’ve not had the chance to play it, but I’ve heard little else but praise for it. It’s also undoubtedly sold about a squillion more copies than we likely ever will. But how much capacity does it have for creating a passionate and loyal and more vitally a persistent community around it? Players will experience the story, be moved emotionally, and will excitedly sing its praises to all that will hear. This will be like a wave rippling across the internet, and then in a month or two, it will start to dwindle and then disappear.

It will of course be immortalized and remembered, perhaps grace ‘top 10’ lists, referred to and cited, and have future resurgences at sales. And of course there will more than likely be another Bioshock game. But even so, the narrative focus of the game means it’s ‘an experience’. Or maybe ‘two or three experiences’. The game and franchise may develop a strong and vast group of supporters, but will the Bioshock forums be aflame with activity from regular members from now until Bioshock 4?

That’s not to take anything away from more traditional narrative, action, adventure genres. Just that sadly a lot of the advantages we’ve found with our game are less applicable to this style of game.

I know I picked a AAA example which may seem odd when comparing to alpha-funded indie sandbox games, but hopefully taking it to the extreme will show what a potent advantage we can have in the long term even over something so prominent and successful.

The Drip-Feed

This is a term dubbed within our team that refers to the average resting revenue from sales of the game that occurs when there has been no recent coverage of the game, no recent updates. In general no recent event whatsoever that should cause any direct spike in sales.

Generally this will hold pretty steady, or rather will drop at a very very slow rate. So much so that generally looking at a 2 month graph, it’s hardly perceptibly dropping at all.

Of course, having never sold a game using a traditional funding model (aka develop then release), and no experience on Steam, the grand-daddy of distribution services, I can only suppose based on what I’ve heard from other devs, but my understanding of traditional funding models is that most of your sales are concentrated upon release, appearance on new distribution services or bundles, and sales and other promotions. It’s these spikes that make the majority of your money, and which fund development of subsequent games.

With alpha-funding, at least pre-Steam alpha-funding, it’s a little different, and in fact almost entirely the opposite. It’s all about the money you can make when there is nothing going on, and no big youtubers or game sites are talking about your game. Since this one game is your bread and butter, potentially for years, you cannot rely upon coverage and sales spikes to fund development, pay for contractors and whatnot. You need to be able to carry on going without all this, because people aren’t going to keep talking about your game non-stop for years. There will be dark-outs, perhaps months long (especially in our case given our previous problems), where things are quiet.

This is where videos by popular youtubers are a god-send, because while they bring in a tasty spike over a few days following the video, it’s the secondary effect they have of slightly bumping up the average daily drip-feed that’s key to long term survival with alpha-funding.

Say Sips, Total Biscuit, or PewDiePie does a video of your game. You’ll get a nice spike in sales that may likely break previously held records for ‘most money made in a week’. This is lovely, and helps top the bank balance up greatly. However, for months, even years after that video has been posted–even if they never play your game again– it will mean they will pick up occasional stragglers, who just happen upon the video of your game while browsing the youtuber’s back catalogue, or clicking on a related video along the side window.

These turn into a small trickle of sales that seems to pretty much go on forever. I can’t say for absolute certainty, but I’m fairly positive Paul Soares Jr’s extremely early videos of Project Zomboid (2 years old) probably still contribute somewhat to our monthly sales of the game. It’s hard to say how much, but it’s all cumulative. You only have to look at the comments to see that a surprising amount of people are still coming across them. Add all those people, across all the news stories and videos of your game together, and they all add up.

Each time you get some major coverage, that’s another permanent and prominent footprint of your game on the internet, another door potential customers will happen upon and come knocking. Once you have 1 of these, your drip-feed will bump up a little. 2 of these, that average drip-feed will jump up a bit more. Then the third, and it will jump up more still. If you’re lucky enough to have 10, 20, 30 of these around the internet, chances are you can comfortably live for the foreseeable future with these alone.

Although the sale spikes are wonderful, and can lead to justifying buying some software or a new PC or some other thing, it’s raising this resting amount that’s vital, as you can count upon that money to keep coming in, at least for the foreseeable future.

This in turn means its less risky to start paying other people to help develop the game, as you can budget based upon the drip-feed without having to hope that ‘something happens’ to push your bank balance up enough to stay in the green.

It’s obviously not just the youtubers and games sites, and this is where the active community come in. They also keep the drip-feed creeping up, in fact are vitally important to it, since they are talking about the game on other forums, on reddit, suggesting it to their friends, constantly enthusiastically spreading the word. Oh and of course, constantly bombarding the big youtubers with requests to play your game! Smaller, less known upcoming youtubers doing entire series of your game. And of course there’s the updates. Updates are what keep the players coming back. They are what keep people talking on the forums. They (especially with auto-updaters on the various distribution services) are what remind people about your game. They are also what remind those big youtubers your game exists and may lead to follow up videos.

Again, we come back to the Sandbox. If a game can only really be experienced for 10-12 hours, and is strictly experienced in a linear fashion similar or identical for all players, then there is much less scope for updates that will bring people back to the game, beyond bug fixes. A single youtuber is likely to record just one video, or best case scenario a series of videos encompassing an entire run of the game. Likewise, a few exceptions aside (say games like Amnesia, of which watching on youtube is often more about the reaction of the player to scary bits than the game itself) there is generally not much to encourage someone to watch multiple videos of your game. Unless of course they are an existing fan of the youtuber in question.

If someone’s played your game through from start to finish, then bug fixes are unlikely to encourage them to start a new game in themselves, so updates become more about improving future players experiences rather than keeping past players coming back.

It’s much more difficult to drive up the drip-feed to a sufficient amount for it to near-guarantee you a decent enough amount of money for the team to live on, and thus it becomes more of a gamble as an alpha-funded game. Likewise, there is less to encourage people to get in early and play the game in an unfinished state, since that first playthrough is pretty much vital to the worth of the game, so playing it in an unfinished, unpolished and buggy state is less appealing to players.

So yes, basically Sandbox games and alpha-funding go hand-in-hand, and complement each other massively. Does that mean there’s no space for narrative?

Narratives in Sandbox Games

Of course not. Look at our game for example. Although not present in current builds due to a coming revamp, the emotional core that attracted the majority of our early purchasers is Kate and Bob. The pillow. Kate’s pain induced potty mouth. Bob’s cooking ineptitude. Will has plans not only to expand their story into a much longer episodic narrative adventure, but also to introduce new characters within the PZ world, each with their own unique stories.

His narrative itch is being scratched, and these stories are for the most part completely linear and tightly controlled (where branches are more like stumps, since they generally lead to your death). Just because the game is at its core a sandbox, does not mean there is no scope for tight linear narratives. It’s only ever a ‘Story’ main menu option away.

As well as this, there are other possibilities that stem from the sandbox. Emergent story-telling. With the meta-game we are introducing in the nearish future, Will not only has the opportunity to tell his own stories, but provide mini-story components that can be weaved together by the gameplay mechanics to provide an almost endless supply of rich player generated stories.

As an aside, you should totally check this panel at Rezzed out, which is very much focused on some of these same things, and also features our wonderful Will.

Darkwood, an upcoming and wonderful looking game that we’re very proud to see cites our  game as an inspiration, has a similar approach. Clearly sandbox in spirit, they still seem to be weaving a rather strong narrative thread throughout it. In many ways it’s completely the best of both worlds.

Kickstarter Fatigue

We’ve all seen it. You can smell it in the air. The Kickstarter bubble is strained to breaking point and looks set to burst, if it has not already.

Thankfully, alpha-funding seems to bypass a lot of the growing cynicism levelled at crowd-funding, since people who purchase actually get something for their money right there and then. There is also a proven history of the developer that prospective customers can look into, to make sure the game is in active development, and that the people they are paying are trust-worthy and capable. Furthermore it’s a lot more tempting to dive in if all your friends are already playing, regardless of how you may feel about it in principle.  I can only imagine the popularity of alpha-funding growing as the popularity of Kickstarter game funding begins to wane.

Ambition

This is the one fundamental  reason I love alpha-funding so much as a concept. Project Zomboid, and by this I mean our envisioned complete game, is a game that is without a doubt ridiculous to even attempt as a small indie development team. The kind that once upon a time aspiring indie devs would get laughed out of the room for suggesting they were working on.

Alpha funding changes all this, and since Alpha funding became a thing, the ambition of indie teams, and the games they tackle, have ballooned dramatically. By stretching gargantuan development times over years in which the indie dev will be continuously funded and customers have access to the game in progress instead of delaying any funding or player feedback until release, suddenly opens much more ambitious, or ‘risky’ game concepts to be practical for a small indie team. This in itself makes alpha-funding as a concept something worth fighting for until the ends of the earth.

Free Content

It’s my firm belief that if you’re an indie-dev making a traditionally funded game that isn’t a pure narrative game, and you’re doing paid DLC, then you’re doing it wrong.

In fact, I’d even go out on a limb to suggest that if you’re a AAA dev of a sandboxy game doing paid DLC you’re also doing it wrong (with the exception of Paradox, who have hit upon a wonderful compromise)

Free Content Updates is a way that you can get all the perks of alpha-funded sandbox games I describe, retrospectively, for any game suited to it.

We can see Valve share this opinion, when you look at their wonderful post-release support on most of their titles. Consider Left4Dead. Ignoring the XBox versions (which I suspect is more down to Microsoft money-grubbing than Valve) most, if not all, of their post-release DLC has been completely free. Why? Are they mad?

No. Because every time they release some free DLC, suddenly millions of Steam users are all sending a cascading tidal-wave of “XXXX is playing Left4Dead 2” messages around the entire of Steam, near simultaneously. You can imagine what kind of effect this will have.

And for those prepped with the counter argument that ‘surely everyone who would buy Left4Dead already has it’, remember that Minecraft sold 450,000 copies on Christmas Eve last year http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/121304-Minecraft-Scores-453-000-Sales-on-Christmas-Eve, long after you would assume everyone who would buy Minecraft has presumably already done so.

It also adds a ton more inherent worth to the game, and provides much more ‘value for money’ to Valve games generally. They are so much more eminently purchasable because you know that, even a year or two after release, you’ll still be getting new stuff to play with. Valve care about you, and the game. They aren’t out to try and bleed you dry with day one DLCs and whatnot. It’s good for your gamers, it’s good for your reputation, and furthermore it keeps players coming back, keeps them talking about your game, keeps them invested, and spreads the word to new customers. It’s hard to say whether more money can be made by selling DLC or not, having never sold any ourselves. But clearly this methodology works for Valve, and we know for a fact that the consequences of this approach make a huge difference with alpha-funded games.

Or if you still need to rely on post-release DLC to keep generating revenue, then why not consider an approach like Paradox?

If you look at Crusader Kings 2, Paradox have been awfully generous when it comes to their paid DLC. Look at any of their major DLC expansions to the game, and at the same time they will issue a new major free patch to the game.

The changelists for these patches are quite surprising, as the patches always contain very major features and improvements that are intrinsically relevant to the paid DLC, and practically ANY other publisher in the industry would be putting every single one of those features into the DLC and leave customers who do not purchase the DLC without.

This is wonderful of Paradox, as it mitigates the punishing of customers who do not buy the DLC with quite substantial post-release support, and gives them new things to play with that keep them coming back to the game, spawning new Lets Plays and coverage. I suspect it’s an approach that works for them financially too, but it comes across extremely nice, makes Crusader Kings 2 brilliant value for money. Furthermore I have bought all the DLC for that game, even the stuff that didn’t interest me, just because I wanted to support this. Although I have very few people reading this blog, perhaps someone will read this and then go and buy Crusader Kings 2 based on what I’ve written here. Paradox’s drip-feed has just bumped up a slight bit, and until CKIII comes out there’s another door to knock at leading to Paradox that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. It all adds up.

Compare that to Civilization 5, of which the post-release support I’ve been constantly disappointed by. I’ve given up on that game pretty much completely, and there’s plenty of DLC I don’t care enough to even read up on.

Okay, I might be speaking out of ignorance here, because perhaps, as an indie dev, the bottom line of Paid DLC vs. Free Content Updates may make Paid DLC a clear winner. Even if we didn’t have a moral obligation to give everything away for free, I’d like to think we’d shirk away from doing Paid DLC irrespective of whether it stands to make us a bit more.

Value for money is important to us, and there’s nothing that makes us feel more wonderful than someone expressing surprise at the price of the game. We could have raised the price a year ago and totally got away with it (that said, I think the time is coming soon. As well as feeling the game is worth a lot more now, we also have a responsibility to reward early purchasers by making late purchasers pay more.) but we come back to the community again. The more the community feel valued, and supported, by the developers of the game, the more they will be willing to go that extra mile to see it succeed. Again, it comes back to valuing the drip-feed over the spikes. The spikes are fair-weather friends, who come and go. The drip-feed is there forever. If you can get a huge drip-feed it will keep you going for a long long time.

Modding

I actually failed to write about this in the first draft of this post. Silly me! This is literally the most potent and important form of all post-release support. If you’re an indie team with only a couple of programmers and artists, why not hire (for free) a potential team of thousands to help expand the game in new directions? It will add more content than you could ever dream to add, will give your community an opportunity to carve out a bit of your game and plant a flag in it, further making your community feel connected to your game, and that your game’s success is their success. That one special mod could capture the public imagination and completely make your game’s success. Just look at DayZ.

I can’t come up with a single argument against significant modding support in sandbox games, beyond the cost in time and resources to add that modding support. Lua support in our game has opened up many doors for modders, but even something like a map editor will expand the game’s life and involve the community on a much more fundamental level.

Price

This is somewhat a contentious issue, and I only have to browse over the Early Access section of Steam to be a little disturbed by a few of the entries. While there is no denying that indie games are often devalued, and this frustrates me just as much, more often these days I am coming across the situation where developers are providing alpha access to their game at a higher price than it will be at retail. While people may be willing to pay this, and hey, it may turn out more profitable in the short term, it doesn’t sit well with me. We need the alpha funders. It’s not the other way around. No one should pay more for something which will undoubtedly be worse than it will be at release. This should never happen.

You can claim you’re doing it to make sure those that buy it are really interested in being alpha testers, but this still seems to me to be somewhat backward. Making people pay extra, in any circumstance, for helping you bug test AND fund a game, doesn’t sit well with me. I cannot imagine one circumstance where it seems justifiable. If people are buying an unfinished version of your game, they should pay less. End of story. Not only because it’s morally right, but also because it gives you a damn sight more leeway for bugs when your price point is low and fair. And I also wonder if these devs are pricing themselves out of the ‘impulse purchase’ zone into the bargain.

I agree that many games on Early Access are certainly brilliant, and a few in particular are even in alpha well worth the asking price. If the price is set to go up, then whatever, it’s entirely up to you what that price point is.

If it’s going down on release, however, then I’m sorry but whatever justification you think to provide, I find it somewhat distasteful and can’t help but question the motives behind it, even if they are genuine.

Infinite Well of Customers

This is the other thing we’ve learnt, and it’s somewhat remarkable. We’re not interested on going on bundles, at least any time soon, mainly because (as stated above) we are mindful of never allowing the game to be purchasable for cheaper than the people who bought our game in the early days paid for it.

However, earlier on, there was another reason. We were convinced that if a ton of people bought our game in a ‘pay what you want’ setting, we may ‘run out of potential customers’. As time has gone on (and as usual Minecraft helped illustrate this point) this point of view has become more and more ridiculous. We forget how ridiculously huge the world is. The sheer numbers out there don’t really compute in the human brain, just like trying to visualize the passage of millions of years, or travelling 10 light years is completely out of our reach. We’re only used to dealing in concepts that apply to us in evolutionary terms. Days, months, years, decades. Meters, kilometers. Ten people, a hundred people, a thousand people.

The internet is a ridiculously big place, and if Mojang hasn’t run out of people to buy Minecraft yet, then we, and you, will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever run out. No chance whatsoever. So quit worrying and don’t think of your market as some finite set of people out there that are slowly diminishing as each of them buy your (or another) game, but instead consider the fact that 99.9999999999999% of people who would buy your game still haven’t heard about it.

Oh and that, if you have an alpha-funded game intended for years of support, new customers are growing up all the time, and thus new customers are actually being created every year as they become old enough for your game to appeal to them.

So when it comes to price for alpha-funded games, why not start low? I mean pretty damn low, and increase it over time. You’re not going to ‘use up’ your potential customers on a low price point, but rather will have customers who are gleefully happy at the price you have sold them the game for, and will probably make 10x the effort to get others to buy it at the higher price point later down the line.

Downsides

Of course, it’s not all rosy. There are some definite disadvantages to alpha-funding. Some of them can be viewed as advantages though, if you try hard enough.

Prime of these is the huge potential for stress. Unlike traditional funding models, alpha-funding is predicated on the fact people are already playing a presumably unfinished and potentially slightly broken version of your game, and further that they have paid money for the privilege. A lot has been said of entitlement issues with gamers, and they are valid criticisms, but on the whole people are lovely, and the vast majority are as patient and understanding as can be expected. Still, the idea of tweeting idly that you’re playing a game, or heavens forbid are going on holiday for a week, seems laughable. While I found the commercial games industry to be rather stressful, when alpha-funding, you do feel somewhat like you’re being watched, and that you have many thousands and thousands of producers looking over your shoulder asking when your task-list will be complete. There was that moment when I discovered, for example, that since we submitted PZ to greenlight via my Steam ID, a group of PZ players on a forum were keeping tabs on and discussing how much time I was spending playing games.

Luckily it was practically nothing (2 hours in a month, I believe. More on that in a moment), but I can’t deny it made me feel somewhat violated and uneasy. My Steam profile was promptly made private.

But, if you’re anything like us, the majority pressure doesn’t come from the fans of your game, but from yourself. This is both good and bad. Since I’m full time indie now, my office is in the same house as my living-room and bedroom. While my concern when going indie was more that my living room or bedroom was in the same house as my office, and that it would be easy to shirk work and sit watching DVDs, it turned out to be the opposite. The pressure, both internal and external, keeps us at our PCs a lot. A real lot. After the recent Desura release, we’re using the opportunity to have a few days to relax. This feels monumentally weird, and is quite a rare occurrence these days.

This is obviously a positive in some respects, because it keeps us at the grindstone when we might otherwise get lazy. When myself, Binky and Mash worked on various of our own little pet projects when we first went indie, it was all too easy to get fatigued with an idea, the spark of enthusiasm gone, only for another new and fresh idea to take its place in your mind. We had real difficulty finishing anything (though I think this was more mine and Binky’s fault than Mash’s) and it has to be said having a ton of people who have already paid you money on the promise of gameplay features that do not yet exist keeps any thoughts of experimenting with new game ideas firmly out of mind.

While pressure to get updates out may be simply in-place of the financial concerns that may keep traditionally funded game developers up at night, it’s definitely something that should be considered, especially if (like myself) you are susceptible to stress or anxiety.

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Spoon One

Introducing – Spoon One.

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Here at Spoon Corp, it’s no secret that we love eating cereals, soups, stirring tea, and all other popular uses of spoons in today’s busy world.

With Spoon One, you’re going to experience a new generation of eating like you’ve never seen before. You’re going to see that in a little bit. For now though, I’m going to show you how you can take that passion for eating, and apply it new and exciting ways.

Trending

Now, like many of you, I find out about new foods from my friends. For that, we have the new trending interface.

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As you can see, Rachael, my friend, is eating Shreddies. With Spoon One, I can instantly keep track of what friends are eating, keeping me connected at all times. But it doesn’t stop there, because watch.

SPOON ONE – CALL RACHAEL

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Hey Rachael! How’s it going? Love your new look! How’s the Shreddies?

“Mnmnow’s not a mud timnn eatinmmm shmreddies nmmm”

That’s great Rachael, speak to you later!

As you can see, with Spoon One you have the opportunity to connect. To share. To have a relationship with your spoon. But it doesn’t stop there. Supposing you’re watching a movie. like Star Trek?

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Now you’re watching the movie, when you spot Kirk eating something during the Kobayashi Maru test. What is it? In the dark age of traditional spoons, you may never know. With Spoon One, it’s as simple as this.

SPOON ONE – IDENTIFY

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And as simple as that, you can shop online for apples. Perhaps read Wikipedia entries about different types of apples, shop for Apple products, all from within the same utensil, while your movie plays alongside it.

Here’s Steven Spielberg

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“Hey guys! I’m Steven Spielberg, and I love spoons! I remember the first spoon I used, back in the eighties. It was more like a shard of jagged metal than a spoon, really. It amazes me today how far spoons have come on since then. It is for this reason that I’ve partnered with Spoon Corp to create a 24 episode drama series about a man called Mr. Spoon, who flies in a rocket to the moon. It is called Spoon Man Goes To The Moon.”

But we all know why everyone is really here. What spoon lovers everywhere really want from their spoons, and what every single person who bought our previous spoon model craves for, and can assure you now that you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

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Please note – Spoon One is not water or heat resistant. Introducing Spoon One to harmful liquids and/or hot substances will invalidate your warranty.

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Top Tips for Valve to Win the Next Gen Console War

Hello Valve! After watching both the PS4 and the XBox One reveals, I have compiled this handy guide to winning the next gen console war. Just follow these simple steps and you will have assured domination of the console market.

1) Make sure the console does NOT spray acid out of a small nozzle in the front panel into the faces of any nearby children.
2) Half Life 3 Steam Box exclusive announced at reveal.
3) Make sure as many future PC titles as possible support NVidia OpenGL drivers for Linux and have full joypad support, and preferably encourage current Steam marketplace developers to go back and make as much of their back catalogue compatible as possible.
4) Put a Blu Ray player on it.
5) Mention games in the reveal announcement.

You’re welcome! Of course, you know this already, so I’ll just say congratulations!

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On Nintendo Let’sPlayGate

I thought I’d weigh in on the whole Nintendo Let’s Play ad revenue malarkey that came in the wake of Mike Bithell’s piece on Develop, since it’s something very close to my heart as I think the entire Indie Stone team attribute a large deal of our modest success on Lets Players.

First of all, I would like to say that while disappointed by Nintendo’s actions in claiming some or all the ad revenues of Lets Plays of their games, I do understand why they would do such a thing. It’s easy as an indie developer, so close to the community that plays your game and with a direct understanding of how Youtube videos of your game dramatically affect sales (since the numbers of sales we make compared to Nintendo mean any blip in a graph can be directly attributed to one video or one piece of coverage).

Nintendo, however, are a different kettle of fish. Shareholders in Nintendo CORP will not be as connected to the ecosystem of Lets Players and gamers to be able to see or care about the generally dire ramifications of killing off Lets Players. Interestingly, Notch made a series of tweets explaining Mojang’s experiences with this.

So from the sound of it, YouTube were the ones that came forward with this proposal. And it was tempting for an indie dev studio to say ‘yes please!’ and suddenly start pulling in what must be a tasty amount of additional revenue for doing nothing. Mojang said no, and massive respect to them for doing so, but if this was proposed BY Google to Nintendo, and came down to a shareholder vote, are ANY of us surprised the way the wind was blowing? I’m certainly not.

It’s hard to see whether this decision will actually be damaging to Nintendo beyond the PR fallout of the decision, given the size of the company and the amount of units of games they shift, even a top YouTuber’s influence on sales may go unnoticed. However as an indie dev it’s a completely different story. Lets Players and YouTube content creators are one of the best thing ever to happen to indie games in my opinion, and along with Minecraft’s success (which, partially, has to be attributed in my opinion to YouTubers, and in fact, despite also being a game we really wanted to work on, was one of the core decisions which led to us choosing to create and designing Project Zomboid)

Minecraft made YouTubers, and YouTubers made Minecraft. This is the ecosystem of indie games today and I honestly think a lot of big indie developers probably owe quite a lot to YouTubers to set them on the road to success. When myself and Andy were coming up with Zomboid, we took a lot of lessons from Minecraft. Not in the same way some other people chose to learn from Minecraft and make some voxel engine and block worlds. Several things were paramount in our minds that were key to Minecraft’s meteoric rise to fame:

1) The game needs to be a sandbox. A game that stands up to potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay, and doesn’t rely completely on a tight and linear narrative.

2) The game should be entertaining to watch on Lets Play videos.

3) The experience of playing the game should be different enough every time, and stand up to a single Youtuber being able to record season after season of PZ games, and for a viewer to be able to watch numerous different Youtube videos of the game by different people and not see the same thing again and again.

4) There needs to be space for creativity. For people to create stuff or have emergent unexpected events that give extra value to their videos and allow them to become viral. Think of the guy who set fire to his beautiful wooden villa when demoing how to make a fireplace in Minecraft (even though I suspect this was set up, and if so, bravo!). How wonderful that would have been for him and his channel, but I also think this contributed a lot to spreading the word of the game. It was actually the tipping point that made me purchase personally. Consider how flupping genius a move those note blocks were, and the flurry of viral videos revolving around different tunes people had built within Minecraft.

We zeroed in on the fact that Youtubers are who will make or break our game, and we should do everything we can to make Lets Plays as entertaining as possible to watch.

You could argue that PZ is to an extent built around this whole concept. This has even swayed the design of the game during development. While obviously paramount is that players themselves enjoy playing the game, this often goes hand in hand with making Lets Plays entertaining, but in the world we live now, watching a personality play a game is a form of entertainment in itself, and all games developers should factor this into their games.

I appreciate that tightly narrative driven games are a different kettle of fish, and it all becomes a bit murkier when you consider that Lets Plays could spoil these games, but we’ll get to that in a while.

So, twitter was aflame once again, and during it all I spotted this little gem. I hate to single it out, but it really got under my skin (edit I’m talking about the reply, btw, if you get Rich’s original, since WordPress seems to have selectively added the context of the embedded tweet itself):

Now, to be honest, I was rather appalled at the wording of this. Parasitic, even if talking in technicalities, is an extremely disrespectful way to frame it. I took great offense from this personally, as I view the difference between YouTube content creators and the gaming press in the same way as I view the difference between indie developers and AAA studios.

I’m a guy, sat in his home, co-making a game with friends, and selling it on the internet. I don’t work for anyone, or contract or freelance with anyone. We all just did it. It’s just something we set up and started doing, and we’re having some modest success with it. We never approached publishers or sought investment. We just did it. I’m very proud of this.

So, like us, the YouTuber’s entrepreneurial spirit led them to start pursuing a career. Not in game dev, but in creating an gaming ‘TV channel’ and hunting out obscure indie games to play, comment on and bring to people’s attention. Or perhaps bringing forth their own views on the industry, unbound by NDAs and other publisher politics, or perhaps just larking about for laughs doing silly voices. Isn’t that all wonderful? How someone in their bedroom can make enough to live comfortably, perhaps even become rich, by producing their video entertainment?

Nope:

Apparently, unless you have permission to print/post, and are a recognized commercial entity that has the ability to parley with Nintendo, then screw you. Only the established press with the clout to get permission from Nintendo should be allowed to review games, and if you’re not in a position to be able to get expressed permission and obtain materials from Nintendo, then you’re out of luck. IP law aside, which I can’t deny is a legitimate issue in this case specifically, I find this remarkably snobbish attitude.

Get some AAA publisher figure calling indie devs a bunch of parasites, bottom feeding sales from AAA games and the entire gaming community would vilify them and be disgusted by such a statement, but apparently calling Lets Players parasites isn’t such a problem, even though in many regards there are similar comparisons to be had? I didn’t see any controversy from this point of view however.

Having being privy to the behind the scenes of a Youtuber trying to make a name for himself, I’ve seen the sheer amount of work involved. The scouting out for unknown indie games to get the scoop, the communicating with indie devs to try and obtain early copies to preview on their channel, keeping up a schedule of regular posts and playing games a lot longer and more frequently, perhaps after a long day working in a restaurant or similar, than they perhaps would do if they were playing purely for their own private entertainment.

There is a lot of work involved. And that’s before considering the skill required (that far outstrips my own) in commentating over videos in an entertaining way, keeping the videos interesting and unique, developing your own style, and hell if you don’t post a video for a few days then you’re setting yourself back on the path dramatically. I was surprised quite how much hard work it really is.

It’s tough, and requires a lot of skill to do well. I have much respect for these people, and they are doing something I’m totally incapable of doing. (I’ve tried to record Lets Plays of Crusader Kings II on several occasions, and it was an unmitigated disaster each time). They bring a lot to their channels. They have to to succeed. And people can hate on PewDiePie, and for sure Total Biscuit has the ability to ruffle feathers, but they are doing something right. They’ve gained a huge audience and that wasn’t just blind luck, but a lot of work and having a unique appeal to whatever audience they attract.

So it comes down to the worth people attribute to Lets Plays, and the insinuation that the only worth these videos have is the game that’s being played is mindbogglingly offensive.

Let’s apply that to games journalism. If a games writer crafts a brilliant written, insightful and funny review of a bad game, is it not clear that that piece of writing stands up on its own and has its own worth beyond the game it’s about? Or should the site printing the review be obliged to send any ad revenues from the massive surround banner on the site to the creators of that game? Should Nintendo claim a cut of all Eurogamer ad revenues for any click thrus that happened from reviews of Nintendo products? Of course not. And not just because of agreements between Nintendo and the site in question, but morally it would be disgusting to even suggest.

So the difference is games sites have expressed permission from Nintendo to feature whatever it is on the page, and thus can claim all those ad revenues for themselves. Wonderful! you would still never have the gall to suggest that the writers on those sites weren’t bringing anything of worth to those pieces beyond the screenshots and trailers they featured. That would be horribly insulting.

Just like that above tweet must be to every Lets Player and Youtuber out there. So PewDiePie not your cup of tea? Me neither, to be honest. But I’d never claim that he brings nothing to his videos to justify every penny of ad revenues he gets. It’s not something I’m after, but it’s clearly something a lot of people are. Fair play.

And hell, if he wanted to do a Lets Play of Zomboid I’d be positively over the moon. Just as over the moon as I would be having a tape worm, because they are both parasites, are they not?

No, of course not. Disgusting to suggest as much. The only difference is this is just some guy/gal who wanted to do YouTube videos as a full time job, and accomplished that ambition and is now doing just that. I think that’s wonderful, in the exact same way as I think it’s wonderful when indie devs manage to become successful.

There’s nothing parasitic about it, and every day that goes by we hope to see a new YouTuber making videos of our game, and the thought of deincentivising them by trying to claim ad revenues, even a portion, would never cross our mind.

Let’s see how many freelance games journos would be lining up to write a preview of a new Nintendo game if told they would not be paid to do so. Sure, Lets Players obviously enjoy playing games, but these days this is a legitimate and rather wonderful potential business venture and career choice, bringing the same freedoms of expression, and the same oft elusive but tangible potential for pride, creativity, success, fame, respect from your peers as indie development does.

Those who succeed in that dream should be applauded, whether their own particular style appeals to you or not, they should not made out to be some bottom feeders with no talent that bring little to the videos, as those subscribers are largely subscribing for THEM, not for the games they play. The game is just the vehicle for their own personalities, views, gimmicks, or whatever else. Be that screaming at scary bits or railing against legitimate games industry issues.

Their channel is them, and the games are ways of experiencing them, and practically every viewer watching an ad is waiting to hear THEM, and what THEY think of the game, or how THEY will scream and jump out the chair at the invisible water monster bit, or how much THEY think WarZ is a rip off. And we need them, because without them I suspect the entire indie industry would suffer greatly. It’s symbiotic, not parasitical, and the suggestion otherwise is appalling in my opinion.

But my story will be spoilt!

So, a final word on the whole story vs. sandbox argument, which is legitimate but at the same time exaggerated.

If you have a game that relies 100% on story, and watching a Lets Play of it would completely remove any desire to play the game, then I hate to say it but there is probably something wrong with your game. There are three possible outcomes to this:

1) The viewer watches the entire video, the game appeals to them and they purchase it.

2) The viewer realizes the game appeals to them, and shuts off the video and purchases it (or plans to purchase it later) and don’t re-watch that video until they finish the game.

3) The viewer watches the entire video, they do not purchase it because they feel they have experienced everything they can from that video.

Clearly scenario 3 is the one story driven game developers fear the most.

If the game doesn’t make the viewer shut off the youtube video after 10 mins of watching, because they realize they don’t want anything further spoilt, then they aren’t that interested. I’ve watched countless Half in the Bag reviews of movies, where I’ve cut it off after a few minutes when I realized I wanted to see the movie in question. Same with Lets Plays. Additionally, if the gameplay isn’t fun enough that when knowing the story, there is no alternative entertainment to be found or anything the viewer would want to try themselves, then there’s something wrong.

Even COMPLETELY narrative driven things, as noted by Ashton Raze, co-creator of the wonderful and heavily narrative-driven game Richard & Alice, see not-insignificant sales spikes when Youtube Lets Plays of their games appear. Despite common sense suggesting otherwise.

In short, I’d be surprised to hear of ONE single indie dev who has lost out to a Lets Play, and I would be equally surprised if any AAA developer has lost out because of a Lets Play too. It’s just bloody obvious to an indie dev how beneficial they are, and with AAA games, that sales spike will probably be a lot harder to detect or source.

This all said, I don’t think Nintendo’s decision will hurt anyone apart from themselves. If anything, the more AAA publishers who follow this path, the more Lets Players will have to rely on more amicable developers, be they ever appreciative indie devs who shower them with appreciation not litigation for what they do, or publishers who are perhaps more in tune with YouTube culture and see that removing financial incentives to video their games will only lead to less exposure and less sales of their products.

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No, there isn’t a TL;DR.

  • If something can be summed up into a single sentence that gets across the entire point being made, then there would be no point in having the rest of the text in the first place. The whole reason something is ‘TL’ is because there is probably more than one easily digestible micro-point to be made, and a TL;DR runs the risk of skewing the point or not getting across the context of the points being made.
  • If you come in to tell the author of a post that something is ‘TL;DR’, the bizarre thing is you’re most often doing so as if to place blame on the author. It’s rather tragic that attention spans have grown so desperately small that people are scared or too lazy to read a few paragraphs of text. Get this: If something’s TL;DR, then that reflects badly on you, not the author, so you should consider keeping it to yourself.
  • If you’re on the internet, on blogs, forums or on reddit or wherever else, then you are old enough and live in a culture where you should be able to read properly. So that’s not an excuse.
  • Most sentient literate beings are capable of scan-reading bodies of text very quickly if in a hurry or not interested enough to read it carefully, to ‘get the jist of what is said’.
  • Giving TL;DR summaries is just enabling the tragic attention-deficient internet culture we live in, and I think people should be actively denied information if they are too lazy to make any effort to find it. This is one of many reasons why I think review scores should be banished. Why should someone too lazy to spend more than 2 seconds to find out ‘if a game is good’ get the benefit of a games journalist’s opinion, experience and insight?
  • If you ‘TL;DR’ then I couldn’t give a shit if you ‘DR’, and would sooner not be aware of your existence, so kindly refrain from posting it in the first place. The fact you found the time to post a comment just goes to show you’re not in that much of a hurry, so you’re either not interested in the subject matter, or an idiot. If you’re not interested in the subject matter, then why are you here? If you’re an idiot, then… oh wait. You’re not reading by this point, are you? Okay, well just one more for the road:

TL;DR – read the text or fuck the fuck off.

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