GWJ Conference Call

April 2nd, 2008

Following in the footsteps of Ken Levine, Bill Fraiser from Ironclad, and those wife-beating Turbine guys, I was a guest on this week’s GWJ Conference Call. This appearance is especially notable in that it’s the first time I’ve ever said cock in an interview. [1]

1. Not counting job interviews.

I like ours better.

March 23rd, 2008

A comparison of covers, discovered by an astute observer on the Petro forums. Alien Front Online for the Dreamcast, the first console title to use voice chat online, and our very own Universe at War, out on the 360 this week.

While I own a Dreamcast (and recently jumped headfirst back into it, a topic for another post), I was a latecomer to the console, and never had the chance to play AFO while the servers were still active. Just picked up a copy for super cheap on half.com, I want to see this thing in person.

afo_cover.jpg

uaw_cover.jpg

Sigh. They’re even doing the same dance.

Does it come down to trust?

March 18th, 2008

Brad Wardell, founder of Stardock, had some interesting things to say about piracy in a post he made on his blog last week:

So even though Galactic Civilizations II sold 300,000 copies making 8 digits in revenue on a budget of less than $1 million, it’s still largely off the radar. I practically have to agree to mow editors lawns to get coverage. And you should see Jeff Green’s (Games for Windows) yard. I still can’t find my hedge trimmers.

Another game that has been off the radar until recently was Sins of a Solar Empire. With a small budget, it has already sold about 200,000 copies in the first month of release. It’s the highest rated PC game of 2008 and probably the best selling 2008 PC title. Neither of these titles have CD copy protection.

While I don’t see Sins as the best-selling PC title of 2008 (leave that to the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Spore, or The Sims 3 if it’s out in time), that’s not the interesting part. Brad goes on to say that the key to a successful PC title is to find a demographic that buys games, and then to build them a game.

When you make a game for a target market, you have to look at how many people will actually buy your game combined with how much it will cost to make a game for that target market. What good is a large number of users if they’re not going to buy your game? And what good is a market where the minimal commitment to make a game for it is $10 million if the target audience isn’t likely to pay for the game?

If the target demographic for your game is full of pirates who won’t buy your game, then why support them? That’s one of the things I have a hard time understanding. It’s irrelevant how many people will play your game (if you’re in the business of selling games that is). It’s only relevant how many people are likely to buy your game.

He also says that the key to a high selling PC title is to develop a game that will play on the widest variety of hardware configurations out there, ie to support players beyond the traditional hard core frequent video card buying market. While I agree that catering to a lower spec machine is one way of increasing sales, it’s not a requirement. Relatively demanding games such as Crysis breaking into the top 10 are not an anomaly. There’s something more. Let me say at this point that I don’t have the answer, so here’s your way out if you wanted one, but I am going to ask questions and throw out a few bits that I feel correlate with the above.
Full story, after the jump »

UAW Xbox 360 gameplay.

March 5th, 2008

Someone at IGN (or SEGA, if they sent ’em the vid), takes on three hard AIs in this thirteen minute chunk of skirmish gameplay:

I love how the UI and control scheme turned out, it really is very playable and easy to remember.

Adam’s Armchair Empire interview.

February 29th, 2008

Universe at War: Earth Assault Post Mortem Q&A

“So in the end, you could look at the transition of RTS from PC to console as “dumbing down” of the genre, but really that’s completely inaccurate. The evolution of RTS from PC to console is all about re-discovering the core fun of the genre while stripping away the redundancy, over-complication, and bloat that has been attaching itself to RTS games over the years. If anything, I’m glad that console is becoming dominant for gaming because it’s going to force some evolution on a genre that has been fairly static for quite some time. We need to grow the RTS market and bring in new players, not isolate it further into eventual niche obscurity.”