NBI: Talkback Challenge #2 and #3

It wasn’t until Cleeyah posted her response on being a gamer that I realized that I was late for Talkback Challenge #2. Oops.

So you all get a combination post instead!

Talkback Challenge #2 – Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?

Maaaaybe, but mostly leaning towards no.

I don’t have any massive issues with either scheme, and I really like the idea behind Kickstarter.

My main problem is that games tend to be very hard to scope properly and it’s also very hard to evaluate if a game team is capable of doing what it -says- it wants to do. There’s just a lot of in-betweens that can cause what is put down on paper to not resemble the final product at all.

I don’t like throwing money into the ether. I believe that Kickstarter is a great platform for crowdfunding what interests you, but if you ask me to give some money to you, personally, I need reassurance that I’m going to see a concrete product back in return, within a reasonable timeframe.

The way I evaluate this is simple. Is this an established company that is used to working together and has processes in place?

(No, a brand spanking new company just formed from a whole bunch of ‘pioneers’ does not count. I’ll give you some time to get your hierarchy hashed out and ego/political games in place to see if you can produce something functional despite the natural dysfunction of any company.)

How difficult do I feel the finished product will be for you to create, based on what you tell me in the Kickstarter?

If you give me vague promises, a design document that reads like marketing copy, and no prior track record, you’ll find it really hard to move me into giving you money up front. Even if you really can put out.

Pillars of Eternity was one of those that I just couldn’t bring myself to fund, despite liking Baldur’s Gate a ton. I needed to see a final product and reviews saying that it is good, before I consider putting down money for it.

But let’s say they ask for money again, to produce a sequel or some additional DLC content. Given this track record that they’ve produced one game in this vein before, I’ll find it much more reasonable to assume they can do something similar again.

Conversely, I found it much easier to contribute to the Defence Grid 2 Kickstarter (they already made Defence Grid 1 and they had a plan for additional funding if KS didn’t work out), and to a company like Reaper Miniatures that wanted a cash infusion to buy a machine for their special plastic/resin molding or whatever (all the creative work is either already done or the processes are in place, they have already produced Bones plastic minis via a Chinese company, the only major risk is shipping/transit issues.)

I might also find it easier to fund a solo person creating a tabletop RPG pdf (not yet though), since that is mostly desktop publishing. The scope of the work is not that colossal, one is only essentially paying to support the author for the time spent on the creative work. But again, said author must have a track record of having written prior PDFs that contain content I find worth paying for.

As for Early Access, meh, I just can’t fit my head around the concept of -paying- for the privilege to alpha or beta test your game.

(I might do it for free, there’s mutual benefit in that. I get a sneak peek, and you get me poking around attempting to break things with my presence.)

If it works for others, go nuts. I’m happy that these guys are helping to increase the chances that this game will see the light of day and become a finished product that I can pay for. But don’t ask -me- for money to test your game for you. Just… don’t.

Talkback Challenge #3 – What made you a gamer?

I can’t remember a time when I -wasn’t.-

Before I was old enough to hold a joystick, my mum was playing a vast variety of Parker Brothers board games with me.

We’d inherited her Cluedo and Monopoly set, painstakingly saved up for when her whole family was not that well to do, and I took a special delight in these two boxes of history, since they were editions that were no longer being sold in stores and reflected a different time and age. (He’ll always be Reverend Green to me,  not Mr Green! And Dr Black died, not Mr Boddy!)

Now that the family was a little better off, it seemed we were doing our best to sample every board game that caught our eye on the Toys R Us shelves, from A-Z.

My dad was a big enabler when it came to computers and a tech early adopter.

There was an Amiga in the house very early on, and it naturally came with little game disks that I would happily browse and pop into the computer based on the name alone.

Most were arcade games of some kind, spaceships shooting multiple bullets or little soldiers shooting guns, since that was the type of game he liked, but occasionally, and more so once he started bringing Amiga games magazines home now and then, I would find or beg for different games – Secret of Monkey Island, Dungeon Master, Zak McKraken, the works.

When the Game Boy console launched, my dad had to have one. Naturally, it was taken over by yours truly fairly early on in the process. Turns out my dad just couldn’t really stick to games, or train up his reaction time to do as well as he liked, thus getting frustrated and losing interest quite quickly. That was ok by me. Next step, finagle a Final Fantasy RPG cartridge via a birthday present or getting good grades for that semester.

My mum passed me more of a stubborn, obsessive streak, perfect for that video games addiction. (To this day, she’s not much of a computers person, but boy, can she pwn that Solitaire game. Or any other simple casual game I put on her phone or laptop.)

By the time I graduated to my dad’s PC (ie. seemed old and tech savvy enough that I wouldn’t break anything via learning DOS), I was very much a gamer.

First step after mastering DOS commands? Locate whatever games he had on that system. Which wasn’t much, he was moving out of his game phase, alas, but I did find Alley Cat, Ninja, and a couple of others.

I’d scavenge around in his greatly messy study for any more lost and forgotten game boxes – Rocky’s Boots was one of the treasures I did find (I was learning about AND, OR, NOT gates at a mindblowingly young age and I hadn’t a clue this was happening, because to me, this was a fun game to play.)

Before long, I was spending much of my pocket money on saving up for games. My dad, the great enabler, would bring the tech into the house. e.g. a Sega Genesis console, with an odd game or two. And then I’d end up drooling over more interesting looking games in the games store and bringing those back home. He picked up the arcade games, I went for RPGs or adventure games or top reviewed classics and that seemed to cover enough (especially given how long it took to beat RPGs in those days.)

Any time he upgraded his PC system, I got his cast offs. (That was probably a strategy devised to ensure I wasn’t hogging his computer all the time.)

My friends and I were playing PC games all throughout the Age of Shareware.

At some point, 3D shooters became the in-thing. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Heretic and Hexen (the latter two firm favorites, given our fantasy propensities.)

Somewhen during that era, we transitioned from merely talking on the phone while simultaneously playing games separately and began our first steps into multiplayer when again, our respective dads brought in modems.

Modems naturally meant visiting BBSes, and BBSes meant door games. Good ol’ Legend of the Red Dragon and Tradewars 2002.

I learned fairly quickly on that my friends weren’t any match for me. I blew one friend up in Hexen repeatedly, and that was the end of deathmatching for me, we had to play co-op after that.

Another classmate professed to love some version of Command and Conquer, and I was pretty gleeful to find another potential player. I guess it was a mistake to say that I hadn’t ever played the game before, but somehow managed to luck into unleashing a whole bunch of nukes onto said classmate. That was the end of that too. (I really hadn’t played C&C before either! I did play all the versions of Warcraft out at the time though! Who knew RTS principles held that true?)

The internet couldn’t come soon enough.

Alongside frequenting various first-person shooter game servers (Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, etc. where I actually found people better than me to blow me up and thus learn from,) I’d discovered that fascinating phenomenon: MUDs. Online chatroom, text adventure game and RPG all mixed into one.

I was hooked.

And it’s been all up and down hill from there.

NBI Writing Prompt: Prompt? There is no prompt. Go answer one of the Talkback Challenges instead!

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2 thoughts on “NBI: Talkback Challenge #2 and #3

  1. Izlain says:

    I find my story to be very similar to yours. I won’t get into particulars (though I’ve written on the topic before so it’s no secret) because I plan to answer the challenge myself very soon. Still, it’s cool to see how people a world away could end up on the same path.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I think looking at Early Access as buying an unfinished game is misleading. You are buying a different game and the only chance you have to play it is the snapshot between when you decide to buy it and when the next major update changes it.

    Buying Early Access effectively allows you to purchase a number of different games (or variations on the same game, depending on how much the direction and concepts change during development). Taking a specific example, Landmark in its first Alpha was an utterly different “game” to the one it is now. The only chance anyone had to play that game was then. In my opinion it was well worth the cost. I am still in two minds whether I’d rather have that version than the one we have now. I certainly played it a LOT more.

    Of course, we did used to get this experience free when MMOs used beta differently but conversely access then was at best a lottery. Now anyone can have the experience for a fixed cost. As someone who believes, through long experience, that almost all MMOs see their best iteration some time prior to launch and almost always deteriorate thereafter, Early Access seems like a win for the player and the consumer to me.

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