Back in my home town…

…recently I’ve come back to the town I grew up in.

My family still lives there. Or at least, a part of it.

When I was a teen I always went out for a walk and stumbled upon someone who was actually throwing a party. It was crazy. I could just walk out any time I wanted and there was something to do at least.

Not now. I know it’s easter time, but hey. There’s nothing to do in my home town. Shops got closed. Cafeterias are closed. Bars are nonexistent. Cinema doesn’t operate. Maybe I could meet someone, stumble upon a friend on street? Lol nope. Nobody to be seen anywhere. Just like a ghost town.

Actually, my home town would be perfect for zombie-themed easter european larp. Actually it sorta feels like it, as the most common people – rarely seen – are dirty drunkards.

From a game design perspective, if I were to gamify my town, it would be a survival experiance for sure, similar to “lost in blue” games (kind of). The goal of the game would be to earn money to buy a ticket out of this town. It’d be one of the most depressing and boring experiances known to man.

Or I could spice it up a bit with excitement, and make it an FPA game, just like an antichamber, but in greyish reality of eastern europe – where the space is arranged in an non-euclidean way, so you always do get lost in the post-soviet reality.

Or I could make a play on one of zelda mechanics- the classic exchange chain-but instead of exchanging stuff, you’d exchange alcohol to the point where you get a ticket out of town.

Thinking all about that made me realize-I subconsciously don’t really want to be in my home town.

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast <3

The year is 2006. I’m playing the newly released Outrun 2006 C2C on PS2. I did read about that game in a magazine, and realized that, after playing some Outrun on my GBA (it was on Sega Arcade Classic cartridge, along with Super Hang-On, Space Harrier, and After Burner) I want to play the “second” game.

The year is 2016. I now own a cheap Windows tablet that is always charged up and has a Bluetooth controller wrapped around it. And the only program on that tablet? Outrun 2006 C2C.

If you’ll gonna get that game right anyway I need to tell you first: It’s nowhere to be seen now. You cannot just buy this game as a download online. It’s not that easy. Sega’s deal with Ferrari has run out, that’s why you’d need an used copy of the game to play it. And it almost have been always like that: for instance, it turned out, that Outrun C2C had a PS3/X360 version. It was taken down a month before I bought a PS3.

Also, If even you’re gonna play that game, you won’t fell what I feel about it. Most of you will get bored, cause the gameplay is not like a high-action burnout/nfs game, and those liking passive games won’t like it cause it requires some of your attention.

But those who will, are in for a treat.

This game somehow is still playable after all those hours I did spend playing it. And it is not uncovering any new cards, there is no “new, refreshing” content introduced to the game whatsoever. Bah, the options there are so limited that it’s almost pathethic-the cars cannot be customized, pimped, or riced in any way possible.  There is no track editor. There’s basically no content looking from regular player point of view-just some skins and music tracks.

The music in this game is bad. I’d say It’s very bad, If I’d listen to it without the game, it’d make no sense. But just because of how the game is designed, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. One of the game modes, for instance, makes you avoid UFO abduction and dribbling a giant beach ball in order to impress a chick. It’s just bonkers on its own level. And I still find myself happily drifting along the seaside humming one of those music tracks.

And I didn’t know why. Nostalgia? Yeah, but how can I be nostalgic about such game?

And then I realized something. As now I’m also making games, I try also to keep looking how players react to whatever I make. Some of them won’t even play my games, cause they don’t have any usable devices for that purpose (we live in Post-PC era, remember? Noone has really usable gaming PC nowadays-or putting it more specifically, not in the real reachable achievable audience; also the PC installation process is tedious, comparing to easy one-click android installs).

While a barrier of starting any game you make is still there (because some games take too long to install to properly keep most humans interested), there’s also the “chillax” barrier. What’s that? That is the very same thing that atari did notice while developing atari mindlink. What was that? At one point in history,  atari tried to make a mind controller for its games… But failed because players needed to focus on the game too much, resulting in brain over-usage.

And you know, we need to define here a few things:  gaming is entertainment. Entertainment is there to make you relax. Overusing something to it’s maximum is called putting stress on something. Yep. Stress.

That barrier is, simply put, “I won’t play that game cause I need to relax, and that game was like full of stress”.

And so, It came to me: Outrun 2006 C2C is the perfect brain-idle game (at least for me). It’s not overly complicated. It doesn’t want you to get too tense, while remaining not boring. It just takes your soul to the land of relaxation and pleasantness. It doesn’t want to move your guts in any way, doesn’t want to stir up thoughts in your brain, doesn’t want to enhance your consciousness.

That’s why, If I was to leave any mark to this game, it’d be 10/10. It outgrew itself on me in so many ways, that it’s almost impossible to give it a lower mark.

What GradeAUnderA complaining about video games shows me…

So there are a few Youtubers I frequently watch-one of them being GradeAUnderA, who is a brillant guy shouting out his opinions about things. While this doesn’t sound like a new thing-nor an enojoyable one, he’s got a really nice voice and seems eloquent to a deegree where I just like hearing him out on things. Really, if you haven’t, go watch his works, you’ll gonna have a good time.

One of his videos I like.

But, while I like most of what he has to say, there is that one video that I’d like to talk about, that showed me some things need an explanation.

I feel there are some things here that need explaining.

So what is here to explaing? Why the video games industry goes so much into the “visual aspect” and not the “fun aspect”, cause it seems that mr Grade just didn’t get. And I’ll try to make it clear for anyone, with my little bit of game developing experiance I have.

First off, the comparasion of game graphics to how food smells is a bit innacurate. A more accurate comparasion,in my opinion, would be dating a woman basing on her looks. Why? Imagine an ugly woman and a neat-looking woman. You’d probably approach the prettier woman first, then maybe, if that woman is not ok, you’d try your best with the uglier one. The first aspect that did matter wasn’t how good she is or how could you spend your time with her. That’s how human brain works-it’s like a bee flying to the prettier image-and that’s pretty much why gaming industry has this infinite “looks race” of the best looking game so much-people will aproach your prettier game first.

Why does it matter that they approach you game first, and not the other? You see, those people are your customers. Every customer has a wallet-and those are finite in cash amounts. And you know, making games is business. That guy could spend his hard earned money on your game, but he won’t mostly-he’s gonna spend it on the game that looks nicer to him-which doesn’t give the developer money-which in turn makes him go out of making games. That’s why half a year before the game is released, it’s all around the media, like interwebz, to show that the title exists and you’d might wanna spend your cash on it, or pre-order it. That’s how the developer is sure to get the money they require to operate.

What could be done to make people care about a game that plays and doesn’t look ? Maybe the thing is a playable demo. Non-devs think that “just release a demo” is a quickie, like giving someone a sip of a coffee. Well, that’s a lot more complicated. Making a demo isn’t like “just take  some of what you have and cut the rest”. If you want a good demonstration of your game, you have to prepare a release of the demo. That means debugging, building, cutting… a good demo could take even more than 2 weeks of work. 2 weeks! That time could have gone to polishing the main game.

So, It may seem that this whole “business” thing is some kind of evil monster that eats people and loots villages. Nope. That’s just like a hard RPG/strategy game, where one must try to get to live day by day-making games take a lot of effort, experiance, and gathered coins… I mean, money. And while some would like games to be a “charity” thing, that also *does* happen! There are countless games online to be played that are free (look at some of my games, they are not finished, I don’t see that they’re complete yet, I’d love to get some input on them, and I don’t require you to pay me), but people will complain that “this ain’t what they did mean” because they wanted the AAA market to be a charity/free type of market.

Ok, now it’s time to tell, why the hell there are so many AAA games released that are not finished, and have “day one patches”? Shouldn’t it be like, if they have so much money, they should be able to release a game without bugs, right? Again, it’s more complicated than that. First, Time equals money for the developer. They most likely don’t have the money on hands to spend, they get it from some kind of an investor, who would like to see the return for the game ASAP. That’s why the devs release the game when it at least, seems ready, and then when they recive additional funding, they fix the game.

Now, what has that whole bragging about AAA gaming to do with GradeA’s rant? It’s because to oppose that graphics in game matters, he has shown so called indie games. Indie games are titles made without a publisher or giant budget. They mostly aren’t made by a crowd of people-for instance, recent Witcher game took hundreds of people to complete, while minecraft was for months a one-man operation (with huge screwups, like the DDOS that Notch had to deal with-it was so bad that notch made the game free up until he fixes the DDOS damage). So, why big studios don’t work in small teams of people to deliver games? They do that(sometimes, for experimental work). But you’d also like to have to deliver something on a much bigger scale. Why? If you take risks with much bigger products, the return can get much bigger. It’s very similar to how Hollywood operates with movies vs how indies record they stuff for youtube – it’s the same medium, but much different scale: a big movie, with all-around marketing, that requires a lot of people to complete and hypes a lot of people, renders a lot more revenue than simple banner ads on youtube.

And you know what’s funny about that revenue thing? It’s not sure. It’s a huge risk. It’s basically a gamble. That’s why to not take extreme risks while building giant products, most gaming companies play it safe-a sequel to popular game is some sure money. A game similar to the other popular game, that plays mostly the same, is more safe than releasing a very experimental work (and that’s why we have so much same-ish FPS these days, sports games, car racers…).

So… I hope I made you, reader, a person who understands now better what’s going on inside games industry.

So, I’ve heard you liek makin gamez.

Hi there, interwebz stranger!

The name is Duobix, or more oficialy Mr.Rockgovsky. The story I’m gonna tell you works in mysteriously absurd ways. But never mind that.

Some time ago I decided that I want to make games. I was maybe sixteen then. I wanted to make a living out of it. I had made some mods for different games prior to that decision, most for games I don’t exactly remember now (but I’m sure I gotta revisit some of them sometime).

The dream of making games was there, but I couldn’t just put it out loud to people. Somehow, when talking to adults, or to other teens, it seemed like I could have been joking.

But the year was 2008. That year may seem like nothing to most of you. To me that date is the birthdate of indie gaming as an actual thing, when people started to belive that a small group of people could create a very good game. It was probably the first time ever that game developers weren’t some people nobody knew, they were there, you could talk to them. And that’s because things like twitter and tig were there. It was all great.

And my idea was, that if some people could do that, so could I. But I was pretty much clueless. How do I get things on screen? How do I make it all work? How do I make a good game?

Answering those question takes years. And it took me years to be able to make a fully playable game. By writing my experiances, I hope I’ll help someone else with their dreams, not only those dreaming of making games, but also those with their own, very personal nightly visions.

To test myself-how good I am at the moment-I often visit/take part in events called game jams. And on this blog, I’ll be covering my experiances from them, and also my experiance from beyond the gamejams-as if what has happened to some of my games.