Author Archives: Droqen
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I cared more about a game’s story than I did its system; I wonder what it would be like if I stared at games’ fake worlds more than their real ones. Instead, the clouds are ignored: I study the winds.
Warning: a few too many words ahead.
HELLO ME DROQEN
ME MAKE GAME;
NOW, ME SELL GAME.
Money is a weird and enigmatic thing. It blurs the boundaries of value: I might part with five dollars for a pricey beverage (an extremely temporary thing – I could just as well be drinking water), but not five dollars for a game (an arguably permanent thing). I don’t like dealing in money.
I first started selling Probability 0 pre-orders at the price of $9 each, and I didn’t know what that meant. Everything I’d made up to this point had been distributed for the low, low price of TOTALLY FREE and I was okay with that. I sold a few games to sponsors, and I didn’t like playing the money dance so I tried to avoid it.
$9 is infinitely more than $0 in math terms as well as in ‘boundary to reach the game’ terms, because now you suddenly have to go through a whole weird process to send money over the internet to get my game! I don’t really like that at all!
Something I can handle is dropping to $5 from $9. People know things are worth money, but nobody agrees on the value of things. I can drop to $5 from $9 and understand this drop it to a lower caliber of spending. Those who would get it for $9 and be happy can only be happier to get that same thing for FIVE dollars, because they’re losing less MEANINGLESS NUMBER (except, well, money means a lot) for it.
1. People who would have bought it anyway are made happier by a price drop.
For every game, there are people who play it and feel ripped off. This wasn’t worth my $9. This wasn’t worth my $5. This wasn’t worth the time I spent playing it. I don’t think I can say I’m actually going to reduce the number of people who feel like they wasted their money on Probability 0 (I think it’s absolutely worth it but I’m not everyone!), but I’m hopefully going to reduce the intensity.
2. Those who calculate Probability 0’s worth as $5 – $9 will buy the game and not feel ripped off. (Whereas previous to the price drop this bracket of people would have not bought the game at all, or felt ripped off: both things I’d like to avoid.)
3. Those who calculate Probability 0’s worth at less than $5 will still either not buy the game, or feel ripped off.
Dealing with money is kind of annoying. I just want to make the maximum number of ‘good games’ and create joy through them! Is that so much to ask???
(& I can’t just get a job! That means making fewer games, or games of less quality! noooo)
I guess what I’m doing is reducing the potentially unreachable audience, and making happy part of the potentially unhappy audience. ‘Audience,’ as if I am somehow performing the act of ‘selling games’ on a stage. Good use of english, Droqen.
left: art by droqen, middle: art by inane, right: art by xion
Probability 0 was the first game I finished — and I’m about to finish it again, except in Flash instead of Python. Also, it’s going to be about a million times better with: fewer bugs, more variety, and better balance. It’s well on its way and now I’m just trying to figure out what to do about this manual I’m creating for it — the game is done, but the physical manual isn’t. Should I wait to release them together?
Fishbane 2 is another serious thing I’m working on — and, ridiculously enough, it’s also a ‘new version’ of an old game. I made Fishbane shortly after the original Probability 0. It’s been hanging out on the back burner for a while; I’m excited to get to work on it again.
BLOCK FUCKER (working title) is the most absurd game of the bunch: it’s a ROGUELIKE MATCH-3 SOKOBAN… thing. It’s not yet fully realized but this is fun little prototype I’m keeping all to myself :)
I LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
… wow, check out that blue/green background that every one of those games has. coincidence? PROBABLY NOT
It’s about time I had a brand new everything! Right? Right!
So, because I needed a brand new everything, I went and did that.
NEW WEBSITE! http://www.droqen.com/
NEW BLOG! Check it out! Right here! Look at this new layout!
OLD GAME! … Oh! Okay, that’s still old. I’m still working on Probability 0, pretty much the first real game I released (which lots of people liked! yay!). But now it’s… in flash. And it’s way more amazing. Look out for it.
This is a hideous excuse for a blog post but whatever: I worked on writing a new about page instead. So… go check that out (‘Lose Your Way’ at the top).
What a title.
I played Journey yesterday (just about all of it) and it was great; while engaged, every single part of me enjoyed it. I won’t try to thoroughly explain what about its controls I loved, but its freeness all felt like a natural extension. You never run or jump; you fly or exploit the terrain, sliding through sand: down the far sides of dunes or with the wind at your back.
It is a bundle of even more beautiful things: Continue reading
Games are rules which you follow voluntarily — or they were, before the advent of THE COMPUTERIZED GAMETECH EXPERIENCE.
Asphyx was designed to push a little at the barrier a lot of us have never really realized was there.
So give it a try. I set some rules into place: don’t breathe unless I tell you to. Of course, I don’t want you to die; if you do need to breathe, a painless keystroke sends you back to the last dry spot. It’s not my game, anymore: it’s yours. Cheat as you will — only you will have to live with that guilt for one thousand years.
A game’s Horizon is ‘where you think the game ends’, but it’s also ‘how far it seems like the game’s content will take you (and stay the same? i’m not good at defining this, apparently)’. The way I feel as I approach a so far enjoyable game’s Horizon is best described as: worried I’m going to be disappointed. This is why I love it when Horizons are broken.
OPEN SKYRIM EXAMPLE BLAB (to skip, ctrl+f “CLOSE”)
Skyrim never breaks the horizon, or at least it has never done so for me: it’s never even come close. New magic spells and new magical equipment, the most likely HORIZON BREAKERS (aside from the story — more on that later), are very often boring as hell. In almost every case I’m presented with a few numbers that I can tell are going to go up as I improve. Numbers are kind of boring. There are then the cases where I do get a genuinely new piece of equipment: however, HORIZON BREAKS are at their best when they are dramatic, as with all things, no? Skyrim — along with many games! It’s not just Skyrim, I’m just picking on it! — is a dense, slow burn through content. LIST TIME:
- Short-range flames to FIRE BOLT! — Disappointingly inefficient without spending a perk on apprentice magic (the possible mini-horizon break is muffled and left until later; it’s a horizon nudge at best, assuming the player wasn’t expecting a goddamn fireball spell eventually anyway), and too small a change: I already had archery, and probably even a fire arrow. So, you might say, what about new bows?
- Bad bow to AWESOME BOW! — Numbers? Are you trying to buy me over with numbers, Skyrim? Holds true for all sorts of mundane weaponry and equipment. Slowly increasing numbers are boring because they don’t break horizons.
- Dragons are awesome, though. (Or…) — The first dragon was not frightening, and I didn’t get to fight it. It might be the Dark Souls in me talking, but when I fought my first dragon for real, I was… disappointed. Then I fought another dragon, and then I fought a blood dragon — and by this point, dragons were just kind of things to fight. Right from the beginning of the game, the game said “Okay, cool, dragons are within the horizon. You’ll be fighting them.” And then I did. Even if the first had impressed me (it didn’t!), would the second or third be any different? In every situation, all of your enemies can be turned on the dragon anyway.
- Magical Equipment. — Numbers numbers numbers numbers numbers. So afraid to run out of content early, it doles out tiny percentages where they don’t matter. I pick up some GLASS ARMOUR OF RESTORATION and it’s better than what I have by a bit, and it increases my “restoration skill” by 22%. Of course, before this I’d already learned “better armour” and “better restoration”, so this is just a… combination of the two.
CLOSE SKYRIM EXAMPLE BLAB
Dry Voices is a game about DISCOVERY (anagram title!). I made it for Ludum Dare once. I decided that the player would keep discovering new and unexpected things and, now, I’ve finally coined the action I was attempting so long ago:
Breaking the Horizon
is when a player’s comprehension of a game is expanded so much that his or her previous understanding has been SHATTERED.
La-Mulana is a game all about breaking the horizon! Around every corner, there is something new and ridiculous: a new puzzle, a new item, a crazy new way to travel, a new thing like an area with an incredibly slippery floor (I have never experienced a more slippery floor in any game, ever) when every floor previous has provided 100% perfect control.
Regardless of the way you feel about horizon breaking, these are absolutely moments that players REMEMBER. There may be other moments, of course, but anyone who’s paying attention to what a game is as they’re playing it will remember these moments when suddenly you punch out the floor from beneath them.
It is possible to sully a game’s horizon by breaking it too much — to the point that the horizon becomes shattered and uncertain, or to the point that the player starts figuring out which horizons look particularly breakable.
BREAKING THE HORIZON is not the perfect solution to every problem, and it can’t be all you have going for a game. However, placed properly, one huge change that breaks a Horizon is far, far better and far, far memorable compared to several small changes that leave no room for doubt about the future of the game.
So fucking break it, game designers.
Also, this is seriously the messiest post I’ve ever made! “Sorry!” and/or “Deal with it!”
You know that moment in a game when you think that you can see the end? Your brain says “Hey! Look: that’s the end,” and if it’s a good game, you get a little disappointed. “No way it’ll end there,” you tell yourself. “I want more.”
Sometimes it’s just the end of a part of the game: “There’s the end of the dungeon,” or “There’s the end of that skill tree.”
It can be a little different: “Things will be like this until I see the end.” Imagine a horizon: you see desert stretching towards it, and believe (reasonably) that the desert will extend forever. Or, at least, until you die. I mean, you’re walking through a desert. “That dragon’s death is the end of the game.” “I will never explore that part of the city; I’m looking at a backdrop.”
All in all, this horizon is at the periphery of what might be progress. “Once I reach that point,” you think to yourself, “there’s no moving forward. I might backtrack; I might move to a new track and progress there; but that is the end of what I’m doing right now.”
I call this thing is called the Horizon, and not the Wall or something similarly terminal, because sometimes it isn’t an ending. It can be more.
New blog post incoming.
DISCLAIMER THIS IS A 3 AM IDEA that i just didn’t want to forget.
Someone starts the game of Fortress Watch and it begins everywhere all at once for everyone.
When you pop into the game, you are on a fortress and you can peer into the distance.
Every so often, a bunch of enemies can be spotted (on the horizon, the edge of the screen, whatever). If you spot them far enough away, you have plenty of time to see them coming.
You can run out and fight enemies, but if your fighting avatar is killed you can’t respawn as a combatant for 24 hours (maybe you can’t even be a lookout). If you want to get more complicated, your wounds might take even longer to heal up to full fighting capacity.
Waves increase over months, and there is a global high score: how long did the largest global, worldwide, fortress stay alive?
The initial idea was: you run the game and it tells you how many people are fortress watching. If you’re the last one and you try to quit it begs: NO, PLEASE! THE FORTRESS NEEDS YOUR WATCHFUL EYES! If you quit anyway, the fortress falls. All your fault. Same thing: global highscore. How long can a fortress stay alive?
Probably best to keep everything simple. Maybe I’ll make this simple version one day soon. Seems like easy practice to wrap my head around internetstuff all over again.