Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. Yup, been busy with my final edit on the graphic novel and revising Eden in prep for the audiobook (here’s hoping Audible.com says “yes”). Lots of great stuff happening!
So, the topic at hand: indie game development - is it similar to self-publishing a novel?
I never thought so, until now.
What changed? Very simply – there is a game under development right now that sounds like it is being made just for me. An endless adventuring sandbox devoid of 3d/realtime junkiness. A turn-based mashing of MMOG/CCG/RPG/TRPG.
Yep, that’s a whole ton of acronyms to describe the type of gameplay I’ve come to love in my older years.
I prefer “classic” turn-based RPG’s & Tactical-RPG’s like Poof of Radiance/Final Fantasy 1/Final Fantasy Tactics/Ogre Battle 64/Rogue-likes - but there are parts of them that I don’t enjoy. Character development is typically somewhat bland (except for the TRPG’s). Single-player only. Combat sometimes becomes tedious/bland. However, adding two elements of other games I love changes the whole equation: multiplayer and card-pulling randomness/deck tactics.
There have been some good online Collectible Card Games (CCG’s) as well – tops is the CCG in Free Realms. However, that’s all it really was. Sure, there were a few intro quests to gain cards, but it didn’t last. It soon became necessary to buy online booster packs and the game turned into straight-up duels and tourneys. Not bad (for a while) for those of us who like CCG’s, but it loses its steam when there’s nothing else to do besides duel.
Add some “adventuring” to the duels/card collection and we’re heading towards that pure awesomeness again!
The game? You want the name? Well, it’s not out yet but there are actually two in the works. Minecraft “Scrolls” (Bethesda lawsuit pending) and Card Hunter from Blue Manchu. Card Hunter is very much on my radar and their leader (John Chey) had some interesting things to say in his last interview. His words really struck home and forced my pen to this blog.
“I really don’t know how I would sell this game to an investor or a publisher.” – John Chey, Blue Manchu
If you don’t know who John Chey is, well that’s not important. Suffice to say – he’s a big name, semi-granddaddy developer to many games all of us computer dorks have played (or at least heard of). He has worked on huge titles and has plenty of street cred. Instead of staying put where he was, he decided to strike out on his own so he could (presumably) make the games he wanted to make. Now, of course, he sold his share of the company he co-owned so he had the bank/contacts in place to launch his own endeavors. Some might argue that this is the only way to do it.
Well, I disagree.
There have been some great indie games from no-names as well as industry vets. Minecraft certainly came out of nowhere – almost 2 million copies in 2 years from a 1-man show “hobbyist”. If these guys (Markus, John, others) decided to either stay with their studio job or shy away from self-developing their games – where would we be? Same place we were back in the beginning of the computer gaming age (of which I have been a consumer from the start) – go see what’s on the shelf at Eastern Coin or Babbage’s.
Gosh, I cannot play games like Mass Effect, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Doom, Madden NFL 2kx, Gran Turismo (yes, I may have misspelled that and no, I’m not going to look it up) or The Sims for the rest of my life. While those games (and their many clones) are just fine, I have a deep, gnarled love for board games, CCG’s and tactical RPG’s. Fuck, tomorrow we’re all getting together for the Battlestar Galactica board game (in person, yes people still do that). I still contend Ogre Battle 64 for the N64 is the best game ever made (and I played it while recovering from surgery just last year). And I continually play the best damn CCG ever made (Jyhad).
However, never have I played all of these things together, mashed into one online game I can play with my friends. John Chey seems to think such a game would never exist in the world of big studios/budgets/expectations:
“My belief is that there is certainly room in the market, and an ability to reach groups of people that probably would have been hard to reach before, when you had to put things on the shelves and get distributors on-side. It’s just so much easier to reach people now that you don’t have to go for the biggest market possible. There is obviously no way that Card Hunter is ever going to compete with the big MMOs in terms of its audience, but it doesn’t have to.” – John Chey, Blue Manchu
So, thanks to an indie’s desire to see it happen – I’ll soon be able to play my dream game. Such a thing would never have been possible if everything I could purchase went through the “profitability filter” of some major game studio.
And so too: novels.
Why should we consumers of fiction be told what is acceptable and not acceptable for us to read? What if I’m into a certain type of book that hasn’t really been done to my tastes yet? Should I keep reading “what’s out there,” never fully satisfied? Why does someone else have the authority to “gate” my entertainment?
There’s so much disdain for self-published authors out there and I just don’t get it. I mean, if you’re into Elf Dragqueen/Centaur Stud paranormal romance, it’s a good thing you were born in this century! Chances are, someone’s writing something that nails a bullseye in your heart – the only difficult part is finding these things. Well, as long as the content keeps coming, at least we have a shot. Card Hunter might let me down like so many things I have banked my dreams upon in the past (*cough* Starwars ep. 1-3 *cough*). However, I’m glad it’s going to be available. There’s always the chance it hits that perfect string, just like the very few games I’ve been playing for the past 15-20 years.
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