The game is out! Please write positive reviews

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evilkinggumby
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby evilkinggumby » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:17 pm

I wasn't crazy about the cheeky remark about downvoting negative reviews, but I also caught that it was more a LOL than a "DO IT NOWWWW". Really I'd think the dev's would want honest reivews, good bad or otherwise, and not just push for nothing but great reviews that sing the heralds of their awesomeness.

Cause we learn from our mistakes, and if every review was just sunshine and kitten kisses you'd just continue on the same path, ignorant to the fact you may be doing something wrong, or in the least, less than perfect. Paise is a polished gem, criticism is a tarnished one. They both may have the same qualities and values after you take the time to uncover the truth of each, but the added effort, time and understanding it took to find the wealth in the gemstone that is criticism makes it just that much more special.

I would think the dev's would spend equal time checking out the good and bad reviews, but spend MORE time discussing and analyzing the bad reviews that try and pinpoint the faults or disappointments, to learn and grow from it. SO far I've seen Matt exhibit this, and I commend him for it. I realize it's not the easy path (the easy path being to just read the good reviews, skip the bad, and be willfully ignorant and blissful) but it is a much more rewarding one if you can survive it.

I almost want to see NeN2 parallel your journeys as game designers in a very symbolic, or metaphoric sense. Somehow I think all the headaches, trials, frustrations, gains, losses, and the final ascent into release.. only to have mixed results (or..multiple endings) would be very much in tuner with this game's style.. lol

But that's a very mild "almost". I think a sequel is possible, spiritual or otherwise, but working in very different ways.

in regards to people looking at the value of a game based on the game length vs dollar cost, that's just the world we live in. Money is tight for a lot of folk (I speak of Americans, though I am sure other countries have similar issues right now). Whereas we're doing better and the economic dip that we had for a long few years has gotten better, it's still not 100% fixed. There are still a lot of folk struggling, being frugal, and trying to make ends meet. The want or need to make sure they get the most out of every dollar to survive, feed their family, and possibly get ahead is going to transgress into what few forms of non-essential entertainment they can afford. So spending money on a game, for yourself, for your child, or a loved one, may be a BIG decision. $15 on a 2 hour game vs $15 on a 10 hour game is a significant reality for many people. I know many small families (single parents style), who really only ever are able to buy games of any type 1-2 times a year (birthdays and December holidays). Don't write these folk off as being a bummer, but consider them as part of your potential audience.

If they buy your game in good faith, they're expecting to buy a great product worth every penny. I'd imagine you would want them to feel like it was worth it. And if a lot of folk didn't feel that way, wouldn't you want to try and both understand why, AND try even harder next time? Or is it easier to just write them off and focus on the core audience that sings your praise?
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gagaplex
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby gagaplex » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:57 pm

matt wrote:Obviously there are a lot of people that just consider playtime per dollar when determining the value of a game, which is a bit of a bummer.


Well, as a player who loves games like the STALKER series, Fallout 3 or NV and Skyrim... I certainly fall into that group. I like exploration and doing my own thing in a game. That doesn't mean a shorter, more linear game can't be good or anything, but it certainly is something to be aware of.

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evilkinggumby
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby evilkinggumby » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:28 am

gagaplex wrote:
matt wrote:Obviously there are a lot of people that just consider playtime per dollar when determining the value of a game, which is a bit of a bummer.


Well, as a player who loves games like the STALKER series, Fallout 3 or NV and Skyrim... I certainly fall into that group. I like exploration and doing my own thing in a game. That doesn't mean a shorter, more linear game can't be good or anything, but it certainly is something to be aware of.


I fall between that and being frugal whenever possible because I have a mortgage and a child on the way and am self employed. Money comes and goes and it is not always easy to gauge where a few extra bucks can go.

One thing I've seen getting a resurgence among younger folk and even in gaming is this idea of exploration and discovering something untouched or unfounded. If you check out Pop Fiction they do a bit of this to discover myths and rumors about games (digging through forums, game code, playing the games, and even talking to devs, to get to the bottom of lost details and forgotten areas of a game)> You can also find this with people seeking and documenting lost spaces in the real world, like old hospitals and hotels and theme parks. The world is about as mapped and documented and we have satellite imagery of well..EVERYTHING for the past few decades on earth. So the old sense of discovery and exploration is all but gone on earth. So instead, we seek out what has been more "localized and lost" and re-discover it. Games like Fallout and NV and Skyrim and many others have that sense of this, and even games like Gone Home play into that sense of discovery and piecing together clues to tell a story of times past. I won't say there is a majority that subscribe to this, but it may be a growing populous. Or at least one that has not been catered to as of yet.

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I am of this mind as well, and it is likely one of many contributing factors that makes me somewhat disappointed in NeN's final product. Though I admit this is of no fault of yours, but rather something I prefer and appreciate. When you create an interesting, unique, fascinating world (oppressive, frightening or otherwise) there is a degree of curiosity where the player will want to explore, interact, and "discover". This is actually a sign you have created something special, as it means the player is seeking out ways to become more engaged in the game, even if the game doesn't allow it.

Now if the game never satisfies that urge, if there is really nothing past the surface level in terms of interactivity and lore, then it feels lacking/disappointing. I understand what I am talking about was the farthest from your goals with the game, your focus was very very different. But it is something to consider within your processes.

Offering ways to satisfy that urge is also what helps to add to discussion boards about the game, fanfic and artwork and even cosplay(and so grow a community/fanbase/following). A lot of communities formed for a love and appreciation for the Silent Hill games, and even Rule of Rose or Team ICO games; because they had an innate curiosity after playing the game to search, discover, and better understand the narrative and world that were created since the games were fairly ambiguous about it. We can see some of it here on your boards, where some fans have tried to speculate about what the game is about. It means there are hints of the possibilities for this to grow, but without seeds planted and scattered in enough places, it will never thrive beyond surfaced analysis. Or to speak plainly, without details discoverable through gameplay, interaction, or documentation, there is no lore building available and so the depth of the game end sup nowhere near what it initially seems to have.

Again, I know this is counter-intuitive to your goals. I just see it as an opportunity missed and so, something to consider for the sequal or upcoming projects.
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matt
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby matt » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:16 pm

I am self-employed, and Neverending Nightmares has definitely not made me rich. (If you averaged my salary over the past 6 years, it would be depressingly low given the failure of Retro/Grade)

While long games aren't my thing, I think a short focused high quality experience can be worth the same amount of money as a long game that maybe isn't as amazing for every second. I don't think that Neverending Nightmares is a bad thing in general, but I think it's not the right game for people who are looking for hours of gameplay/dollar.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

ranger_lennier
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby ranger_lennier » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:21 pm

matt wrote:Thanks for writing the review! Certainly I don't think anyone should lie and say "this is a long game", and I try to be upfront about the game length. Interestingly, there was just a post on polygon about how the reviewer likes short games. I fall into that camp as well. Obviously there are a lot of people that just consider playtime per dollar when determining the value of a game, which is a bit of a bummer.


Maybe you didn't mean it this way, but I don't think there are many players who "just" consider playtime per dollar. Many people want a long game, but they still want that time to be fun.

Of course, if they're not already, these players should also be checking out some of the PC bundles. Short of completely free games, you're not going to find more playtime per dollar than that

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matt
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby matt » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:56 pm

Fair enough. There are other considerations than just playtime per dollar. Perhaps it's just a common developer complaint. I'm definitely not the only developer who thinks $15 games don't have to be long.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby evilkinggumby » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:42 am

I checked out that article and I agree with a fair amount of what he is saying. Padding a game that is by it's conceptual nature "short" to make it longer is lame. I understand plenty of designers have done this in the past by making it require a lot of grinding, high enemy encounter rates, loads of backtracking, etc etc etc.

If you padded NeN by making the player start in Bed a and in order to finish every nightmare you had to work through all of the screns, collect an item, bring it back to that bed and then go get another item (and do this 4-5 times per nightmare) you would end up with a solid 10-15 hour game. But it would not make the game any better (if anything it'd make the game 15x worse). So yes, expanding a game to be long just to make it long because long games feel like they're worth more is a terrible philosophy. I don't think it should even be a consideration when thinking of good game design and how to make a game worth it's dollar value.

He lists a bunch of solid games as examples that are "short" and strangely I didn't really think some of them were that short. he mentioned the walking dead and i played season 1 for about 15 hours (main story plus bonus 333 days or whatever it's called). Journey took us a good 3-4 hours which yes is shorter, but it was purchased as the bundled copy with their other games (and for the three it was fairly cheap). Heck walking dead season 2 we finished in 12 hours and it felt a LOT shorter than season 1 overall. And Whereas I got season 1 for about $5 i paid full price for season 2 and I don't feel like I was screwed out of my money. I've played some of To The Moon and from what I've been told there is a good few hours of stuff in it, bu this is also a game I got cheap during it's many appearances in humble bundle. FTL is a highly replayable game (kind of like half minute hero) along with hotline miami. most rogue like games are only meant to be played for fairly short stints, but have such a random nature they are like playing a new game every time you fire it up, allowing for dozens of cumulative hours possible if you're into that.

Point being, even with a lot of the short games he listed, there are still ample reasons players themselves can extend the play on them and get a lot more hours without unecessary padding. Hundreds? no. but enough that you could feel like it was a valued investment. Now if NeN was just a single-playthrough game with no branching paths or alternate endings it would be about a 2 hour game. The mileage gamers are going to get from that is going to vary, but when I see a number of reviews criticizing the game for it's length WITH the alternate paths/endings and moving more towards a 3-4 hour experience I would assume the game left at 2 hours is generally considered "not worth the $15". Though I also agree that a lot of the criticism may be because the reviewer only thought their first playthrough was IT. Personally a number of the reviews, even positive ones, on steam cited to get the game on sale and not to spend $15 on it.

So you raised a little over $110k to make a game in a year that was about 3-4 hours of gameplay. Do you think for next projects, this is what you'll expect or strive for? Would you consider the development of the game and levels to end up being more organic (they grow based on the nature of the game, what the story and the focus of the game demands) or is it more rigid and pre-determined "e.g. "it will have 5 levels that take about 1 hour each to complete" ?
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matt
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby matt » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:43 pm

Well, I think for the next game, we'd probably shoot for 3-4 hours for a single playthrough. However, things are very organic during development. I think it's hard to pick a game length and deliver that. I've heard that one game did that by dynamically adjusting the difficulty of each set up based on how long you've been playing. That is a pretty terrible system in my opinion.

I expect that we should be able to make a similar amount of content for the next game with a similar schedule. It's hard to say for sure though. We'll have to see how development goes. I definitely don't want to just pad out the game to meet a target length.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby evilkinggumby » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:31 am

matt wrote:Well, I think for the next game, we'd probably shoot for 3-4 hours for a single playthrough. However, things are very organic during development. I think it's hard to pick a game length and deliver that.


I personally think letting a game grow organically is a lot better overall, but that is more my intuition and GUT talking than the practical, logical side of me. Like writing, some pre-planning and organisation helps to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and problems that can delay a project. That is to say " The game is going to have 3 levels and possibly up to 5 and each will take "who knows" amount of time to finish them (but hopefully similar amounts).

I'd say it is hard to pick a game length and deliver that if you shoot for the moon (i.e. you try to predict a long game that seems to really be outside your capabilities or comfort zone). A lot of kickstarter and indie dev's seem to make the mistake of shooting for far more than they are capable of and so end up delaying their projects release as they play catchup. Shooting for a modest/short/tiny game and delivering doesn't seem to be an issue, especially if it is well below your teams capabilities. This is a matter of toying with RISK, and how comfortable you are taking more of a risk when planning the project.

For Infinitap it seems you shoot for the more conservative side of risk, where you shoot for a project that is well within your capabilities (or even lower) so you can deliver on time what is initially promised, and still have some buffer for mis-steps and delays. At least that is what it seemed like for NeN. So then I have to wonder if you're growing more confident and might shoot for the moon a bit more with the next game?
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matt
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Re: The game is out! Please write positive reviews

Postby matt » Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:35 pm

I strongly disagree with your statement. Neverending Nightmares was an ambitious project, and we worked very hard to deliver on it. We worked a lot of extra hours including accepting other contract work to fund additional development. It a challenge to deliver what we did given the time and budget we had. If you are merely saying because we were only a month late whereas most other kickstarters are much later, I don't see how that's a bad thing. I have 11 years of experience and Dan has 20, so I should *hope* we know what we are doing at this point.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games


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