Friday, May 10, 2013

The More Things Change...

...the more different they feel. Ha! Gotcha!

Last week was a rude re-awakening to the world of gaming. As I often complain, my day job has kept me out of touch with gaming & gamers for years, so I asked some developers for a little help in getting reconnected. They obliged with an avalanche of websites and videos and articles. And holy crap things have changed since the days of five foot ten packs.

Alright I'm not that out of touch. I do the Steam thing like everyone else. But what surprised me was how early indie games show off their barely-alpha gameplay, and how willing online reviewers are to not only play them but treat them with kid gloves. Last past week I absorbed roughly 2,561 hours of YouTube let's play videos and I saw dozens of early, early alpha builds with temp art, no menus, sometimes even no animation. And yet even the snarky, quick-to-judge reviewers were happy to ignore crashes and broken features.

Not that this is a bad thing. Just weird. It's clear I need to toss my concept of a game's life cycle. It used to parallel my concept of a movie's life cycle (big surprise) - you tease with trailers and promo stills and making-of goodies, but the work print itself is kept under lock and key. Then the premiere comes and *boom* you dump a finished product in the audience's lap. The only people who ever see a truly unfinished version are test audiences (who put up with green screens and 'Scene Missing' cards) but that's hardly a public showing. You'd never post a test screening print online and ask 'What does everyone think?'

But now it's common to do exactly that, to the point where feedback from players can fundamentally change game mechanics. Crazy. And also kind of exciting. I think I like it.

Anyway, I'll be releasing a playable demo a lot sooner than I'd expected. Possibly a matter of weeks. Don't hold me to that though, some big jobs are coming up.

Oh, and I'm also in the process of getting my youtube channels, twitter account, facebook pages, and all that jazz set up and interconnected properly. Again I thought I could ignore this stuff for another three months but oh how wrong I was.

(Check back later for some Screenshot Saturday gameplay vids.)

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