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ghst
thanks for the laugh
(01-08-2011, 07:07 AM)
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so this interview has been kicking around a little while and i feel like it's time to push a spotlight on it. first, a little history:

outerlight are/were a small independent developer based in edinburgh, scotland. for their first title "the ship", they raised funds themselves and distributed the game through steam. in steam's relative infancy at the time, valve's attention was largely commanded by outerlight's adoption of the source engine. while publishing a title purely through steam (initially) seems second nature these days, bear in mind that circumstances were very different in 2006 - and while doing reasonably, the ship didn't leave outerlight with the resources to self fund their next project. so when ubisoft made them an offer on a publishing deal for its sequel, who were they to refuse?

the ship's multiplayer mechanics were a work of quiet genius. rather than standard deathmatch modes, you were assigned with a specific target. each character had its own distinction and you had to find your "quarry" in a crowd of other players and similarly dressed npcs. all the while an unknown adversary would be assigned to track down and kill you. with harsh penalties for unprovoked aggression, what would ensue would be a cat and mouse game of anonymous suspicion, fear and loathing.

sound familiar? it should. these mechanics served as the exact template for the multiplayer mode of assassin's creed: brotherhood. ubisoft's premiere 2010 title. a title which was much lauded for its brave and brilliant innovations in the multiplayer space.

outerlight's sequel to the ship, the game that would evolve and perfect the mechanics that they themselves originally carved out was slated for an october 2010 release. a mere month before the scheduled release of ac:b.

with this qualifying infomation, i present to you bigdownload's interview with outerlight. taken days before bloody good time's october release:

Originally Posted by BigDownload's Outerlight interview

First, Outerlight released The Ship via Steam back in 2006. In fact the game was one of the first original games to be released via Steam. How did it feel to have the game released via this relatively new service at the time?

It felt fantastic! After spending a costly and soul destroying two years chasing publishing deals and failing, we were almost at a dead end. Valve offered us a chance to use their engine and the chance to distribute the game for a greater share in our sales. This saved us around £100k in engine costs, and gave us a route to market, which despite a reduced share in royalties was still greater than any traditional publishing deal would offer.

With hindsight it gave us more than that. It gave us creative freedom, which allowed us to create such an original game, and is a rare thing in games development. This freedom also gave the team a lot of satisfaction, as we were free to develop iteratively and use fast prototyping, so we had fun playing the game every week, as it remained a playable game from the first days of development to the end. This also allowed us to be very efficient, as well as stick to a core vision of what the game was going to be (even if the team were a little confused by it at times!!), something that is very much needed when delivering an innovative game on a budget of less than 700,000 pounds

On the official Outerlight web site it was said that The Ship 2 was in development with a major publisher. Was The Ship 2 the game that is now known as Bloody Good Time and was Ubisoft the publisher?

Ubisoft were keen to distance themselves from The Ship, so officially it's not the sequel to The Ship, but it is the game we were working on, and Ubisoft is that publisher. Also, fans of The Ship will recognize the kill loop immediately, so it's hard to pretend it has nothing to do with The Ship! That said, a lot has changed, the characters, style and setting, and the gameplay has been greatly refined, especially in the nature of the game rounds, which I think has really made the game come together. And, despite the difficulties of working with a publisher, we still managed to innovate and keep the game fun. I think it's perhaps fair to say it's better in every way to The Ship, art, audio, gameplay, code, and polish. Despite everything, we had a lot of fun times making it, and playing it, and it said a lot that the team and QA enjoyed it till the end of development, when they really should have been bored of it by then!

Why did the team decide to work with a publisher for this game rather than self-publish the game via Steam as you did before?

While Steam distribution/digital distribution remains the only sane choice for developers, the flaw with it as a business model is that you need funding to develop with. We were "lucky" in that for The Ship we raised finance for the company, which we then used to fund the game when Valve & Steam gave us an alternative route to market. Unfortunately, by that time we had spent two years and 600,000 pounds on pitch materials and demos chasing publishing deals (for a deal on distribution, not even finance!), so Ship sales weren't enough to fund the next project. Despite breaking even on the project itself, we had made a loss overall, so we didn't have a great story for investors. Had digital distribution existed when we started up I think we'd be in a different position now.

What was it like working with Ubisoft on the game?

Contractually, no comment.

In general, having worked in the industry for over 12 years, I can say that the creative freedom and the efficiency of independent development is somewhat inevitably lost, and that the milestone driven nature of working with a publisher is both open to abuse by publishers due to it's basis on subjective results (try to define "good" & "fun" in a contract!), and inefficient due to the slow turnaround of feedback and the distance of the working relationship.

While I have never met a developer who has a good thing to say about a publisher, I was still hoping that it would be a lot more of a co-operative venture, taking the best of Outerlight, and the best of Ubisoft, and combining them. On a positive note, I can say they had an excellent QA team in Romania.

While people often compare the games industry to the film industry, I'd rather compare a games team with a band, trying to come up with a new hit album, the publisher being the guy that sits in the corner and suggests you try a major rather than minor key for the chorus, and maybe change the lyrics to mention lady Diana...oh, and have you thought about hot backing singers, and maybe wearing monkey suits, marketing says they are both big right now. Not ideal.

For some time the official Outerlight web site as well as the official site for The Ship have been down. Has Outerlight been dissolved?


Outerlight has all but been dissolved. The team and the office are gone, all that remains is myself working unpaid in the hope to recoup some royalties from the game. It's been a pretty brutal period, losing the team being the hardest part, as they were the biggest asset for the company, and we shared a lot of good times together. At the moment, the life line for the company is ongoing Ship sales, which have meant we can keep trading until we hopefully see some BGT royalties.

With Bloody Good Time now officially announced, what is the current status and fate of Outerlight? Will the company be revived after the game is released?

The status of Outerlight is "critically endangered". Personally, I really hope the company will be revived. I know we made some mistakes, but I also know we got a lot right, we had a very happy, and very productive team, and we produced some innovative ideas, and I know I had a lot more good ideas, which I hope will see the light of day. I'd also say that while games development is challenging, it's also very rewarding. So, if there are any savvy investors out there, please get in touch!

In retrospect do you believe that Outerlight should have self-published the game?

I guess this is the right time to talk about the two business models, publisher and independent.

The traditional publishing model is awful for developers, it's their gilded cage. It requires costly pitching, to emissaries of publishers, who return to corporate rooms & badly pitch the idea to large groups who need consensus to act, and typically take 6 months to close any deal they offer. Publishers are motivated by greed, but restrained by fear of risk, and thus seek sure deals, licenses and sequels, which makes pitching innovation almost pointless. Should you get a deal, the usual is 20 percent royalties, but after the retailer takes their share of 50 percent, you are getting 20 percent of the 50 percent left (so 10 percent of retail price). That doesn't sound too bad, until you realise that the developer is the one that actually pays for the development, the publisher has just advanced the developer their share of the royalties to pay for making the game.

So...the developer takes 10 percent of retail, after ALL costs have been repaid from that 10 percent. Assuming the game cost £2m to make, and sold for 20 pounds, the developer gets 2 pounds for every unit, once the 2 million punds is repaid, so that's 1 million copies before the developer sees their first 2 pounds, meanwhile the publisher has recouped their 2 million pound and is sitting on an extra 6 million pounds. What happens next? History shows us the developer goes bust, or gets acquired by a publisher, and the publisher maybe buys another publisher for kicks.

The self-funded, digitally distributed model should be the future, it brings 70 percent of the retail price back to the developer, which means 14 pounds for every unit sold. Assuming the game cost 2 million pounds to make (although it wouldn't, being independently developed it would be half the price, being twice as efficient!), that's a break even for the developer at 142,000 units, instead of at 1 million units. If they did get very lucky and sell 1 million units they'd make a profit of 12 million pounds, instead of 0. For an efficient team like ours, we made the game for 700,000 pounds, so our break even would be at 50,000 copies. Instead of games development being seen as a hit or miss industry, it should be seen as a break even or profit industry, there is no miss, only the chance to do better next time.

All money aside, innovation is hard. Coming up with the next big idea is hard, and it's even harder to make it into a reality. Creating a good team, keeping them happy, and keeping the project on track is hard. Developers don't need a monkey on their backs making it harder.

However, the independent route still has the key flaw of needing funding. Investors are justifiably skeptical about developers (after all, we usually go bust), and banks don't lend, despite the public bail out, so where will the development capital come from? At the moment, the main option remains a publishing deal, and while it seems like a lifeline, it's more like a shackle with a death sentence at the end.

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Outerlight's current and future status?


When all is said and done, I'm just happy it's being released. However, as Outerlight's raison d'Ítre was to make good games, now is the most nervous time for me, waiting to see what the press and gamers think of it!

Thanks to everyone, the fans, the team, the investors, Valve, and the tax man for being patient...the cheque is in the post...soon...I hope. And, I hope you enjoy the game.

(http://news.bigdownload.com/2010/10/...ut-bloody-goo/)

bloody good time was, truly, sent to die. the fact this is the first time you've heard of it, and despite its bargain basement price tag of $5/£5/400pts, you probably haven't ever considered buying it is a testament to ubisoft's efforts to promote this game. the meagre community trickled out within a week, a travesty for such a wonderfully idiosyncratic game that purifies the mechanics that were lifted for ac:b, with its biggest failing being that there simply wasn't enough of it. i'd tell you to go out and buy it to support outerlight, but the chances of them seeing a penny of your steam/xbla transaction are next to nil.

assassin's creed: brotherhood sold 1.14million copies in the US in november alone.
Last edited by ghst; 01-08-2011 at 08:05 AM.
faceless007
AAA ETHER
(01-08-2011, 07:16 AM)
I bought The Ship in 2007, the first non-Valve game on Steam I bought, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 7 or so games with real human players I got to enjoy.

They really deserved better.
Firestorm
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:24 AM)
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I actually remember the release hype on Steam for The Ship. It's really depressing when you realize how much like a record deal a publishing deal is =/
soultron
I will snowboard
into a PRISON
(01-08-2011, 07:25 AM)
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Originally Posted by faceless007

I bought The Ship in 2007, the first non-Valve game on Steam I bought, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 7 or so games with real human players I got to enjoy.

They really deserved better.

When I played it, I believe it was running on the HL1 engine (the Steam release was a redone Source version, correct?), and it was really hard to find games. Confusing as hell at first, but great once you got the hang of it. Only got to play a handful of games though.

Remembering The Ship makes me excited for games like Spy Party.
EviLore
Expansive Ellipses
(01-08-2011, 07:27 AM)
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The outcome here was really a travesty.

If there's a silver lining, it's that digital distribution is becoming more viable by the day for creative independent game designers to find success and actually benefit from that success. It's going to be such a huge counter-force to the stagnant, risk-averse AAA game development sector in the years to come.
Visualante
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:30 AM)
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I've actually seen people say "I'm not buying the Ship because Outerlight is dead and Ubisoft will keep the money". As if that is some sane argument. The game is fun. Some of the weapons feel like props but that's hopefully intentional rather than just bad.

Game was kind of sent to die, nobody on my friends list would consider getting it. The steam group I'm in ran a single game night of it where they packed out a server but they haven't ran one since. I feel that Ubisoft forced them to include modes that weren't conducive to the gameplay just to pad out the features.

edit. Just booted the game up, 14 people playing on 2 US servers. Ubisoft has kept over a dozen for EU and US regions running despite the game's failure to launch.
Last edited by Visualante; 01-08-2011 at 07:34 AM.
Sqorgar
Banned
(01-08-2011, 07:31 AM)
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Mega-publishers have destroyed the game industry. They've taken the garage band, experimental passion that used to personify the game industry and replaced it with what is essentially slave labor building heavily focus tested sequels and licensed crap, then attempting to charge the player for every little aspect, from skins and content that should've been in the game to begin with to the precious ability to actually play the game online.

I used to think that the solution to bring the game industry back to what it was would be unionizing - empowering the workers against their exploitative owners - but I'm starting to think that the best approach would be to just destroy the owners. Kill Activision, Ubisoft, and EA. Parade their heads through the streets, I say.
soultron
I will snowboard
into a PRISON
(01-08-2011, 07:31 AM)
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Originally Posted by EviLore

The outcome here was really a travesty.

If there's a silver lining, it's that digital distribution is becoming more viable by the day for creative independent game designers to find success and actually benefit from that success. It's going to be such a huge counter-force to the stagnant, risk-averse AAA game development sector in the years to come.

If DD platforms like PSN/XBLA/Steam didn't exist, I doubt we'd ever have amazing games like Lara Croft TGOL, Super Meat Boy, Limbo, etc. etc.

Scary shit, bruh.

I was discussing it with a friend the other day. When I headed off to school back in 2007, I was down on the fact that the whole "2 dudes in a garage makin' games" concept just wasn't happening anymore. However, a mere three years later, it seems we're back to that and it's really the most exciting space to find original stuff, IMO.

It just seems that choosing the right publishing partner is a very important decision in maintaining a small development stable.
Ceebs
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:32 AM)
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The way Ubi destroyed the company is one thing, but the fact they lifted their multiplayer concepts wholesale for AC:B is a huge travesty. I would be far more upset with my ideas being attributed to others than a giant corporation killing my company.
firehawk12
Subete no aware
(01-08-2011, 07:33 AM)
It seems like the last hurdle for "good looking" indie games is cheaper middleware licensing. Although I wonder if having an indie game that looks as good as a "AAA" game is even something worth considering.
The Technomancer
card-carrying scientician
(01-08-2011, 07:35 AM)
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Originally Posted by Sqorgar

Mega-publishers have destroyed the game industry. They've taken the garage band, experimental passion that used to personify the game industry and replaced it with what is essentially slave labor building heavily focus tested sequels and licensed crap, then attempting to charge the player for every little aspect, from skins and content that should've been in the game to begin with to the precious ability to actually play the game online.

I used to think that the solution to bring the game industry back to what it was would be unionizing - empowering the workers against their exploitative owners - but I'm starting to think that the best approach would be to just destroy the owners. Kill Activision, Ubisoft, and EA. Parade their heads through the streets, I say.

But that's the way things really really used to be though. I mean, the single best thing to come out of the last six years or so of gaming has been the indie scene. There have always been "shareware" developers, but widespread digital distribution is what enables projects like this to succeed now. Now that we routinely get awesome titles like World of Goo and Super Meat Boy from amazingly small teams its easy to forget what titles like Cave Story represented when they came out.

Hell, 2/3rds of the games I own on Steam are indie and low-budget titles of various types.
Haunted
(01-08-2011, 07:36 AM)
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Way to start the day. :(


A depressing story, and one that is repeated by the dozens every year. Mega publishers are killing the smart upcoming ideas in the industry and are dominating retail overwhelmingly in favour of the focus-grouped big budget blockbuster products.


DD is all that's left to keep the independent spirit alive in this industry.
Feep
Second-hand Citizen
(01-08-2011, 07:36 AM)
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Originally Posted by Sqorgar

Mega-publishers have destroyed the game industry. They've taken the garage band, experimental passion that used to personify the game industry and replaced it with what is essentially slave labor building heavily focus tested sequels and licensed crap, then attempting to charge the player for every little aspect, from skins and content that should've been in the game to begin with to the precious ability to actually play the game online.

I used to think that the solution to bring the game industry back to what it was would be unionizing - empowering the workers against their exploitative owners - but I'm starting to think that the best approach would be to just destroy the owners. Kill Activision, Ubisoft, and EA. Parade their heads through the streets, I say.

It's fine. Let them have their fun; Steam will quietly and inexorably destroy them. I'm one of those garage developers, and I'm really excited to send Steam a finished copy of my game in a few weeks' time. (crosses fingers)
SapientWolf
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:36 AM)
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Originally Posted by ghst

bloody good time was, truly, sent to die. the fact this is the first time you've heard of it, and despite its bargain basement price tag of £5/800pts, you probably haven't ever considered buying it is a testament to ubisoft's efforts to promote this game. the meagre community trickled out within a week, a travesty for such a wonderfully idiosyncratic game that purifies the mechanics that were lifted for ac:b, with its biggest failing being that there simply wasn't enough of it. i'd tell you to go out and buy it to support outerlight, but the chances of them seeing a penny of your steam/xbla transaction are next to nil.

assassin's creed: brotherhood sold 1.14million copies in the US in november alone.

I've always felt like we only got half of the story there.
Grayman
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:38 AM)
It is good that options have been developing for creative people in all mediums. It is clear that publishing is not a partnership but is a predatory relationship. As time goes on and the recent "indie expansion" matures I expect publishers to tighten their hands even more, pushing content makers harder and emphasizing their weight against competition.

sound familiar? it should. these mechanics served as the exact template for the multiplayer mode of assassin's creed: brotherhood. ubisoft's premiere 2010 title. a title which was much lauded for its brave and brilliant innovations in the multiplayer space.

so not only did ubisoft use up and bankrupt the company but they also repackaged their unique idea.
EviLore
Expansive Ellipses
(01-08-2011, 07:39 AM)
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Originally Posted by firehawk12

It seems like the last hurdle for "good looking" indie games is cheaper middleware licensing. Although I wonder if having an indie game that looks as good as a "AAA" game is even something worth considering.

UDK's percentage-based royalty system is a step in the right direction as far as middleware solutions go, though the percentage probably needs to be a bit less extreme for it to gain widespread viability for independent projects.
ghst
thanks for the laugh
(01-08-2011, 07:41 AM)
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Originally Posted by Ceebs

The way Ubi destroyed the company is one thing, but the fact they lifted their multiplayer concepts wholesale for AC:B is a huge travesty. I would be far more upset with my ideas being attributed to others than a giant corporation killing my company.

it certainly puts a machiavellian spin on the age old "giant publisher gobbles up small developer" story. i'd love to hear outerlight's candid take on it, now that both games are released.

games journalism, etc.
Hellsing321
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:42 AM)
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Brotherhood's multiplayer would have been better if they copied The Ship even more than they did. Brotherhood's mechanics are not nearly as varied or as deep as The Ship's were.
Teknopathetic
Not even moist right now.
(01-08-2011, 07:43 AM)
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"It seems like the last hurdle for "good looking" indie games is cheaper middleware licensing. Although I wonder if having an indie game that looks as good as a "AAA" game is even something worth considering."

It's no longer a hurdle. Between UDK and Unity, the middleware is out there and it's borderline free. Unity's Indie license actually is free for commercial use up until you reach a certain revenue threshold (at which point, the price for the "pro" license is really quite cheap), UDK is free to download and use noncommercially with a 99$ fee and royalties if you release it commercially.
firehawk12
Subete no aware
(01-08-2011, 07:46 AM)

Originally Posted by EviLore

UDK's percentage-based royalty system is a step in the right direction as far as middleware solutions go, though the percentage probably needs to be a bit less extreme for it to gain widespread viability.

Hrm, yeah, at least it's a start. Maybe even some kind of tiered royalty structure based on units moved might make it worth it to some "bigger" indie devs.

I think we're close to the point where game development is like filmmaking in that people don't have to reinvent the camera every time they want to start a new project. I wonder if Bloody Good Time would have been better received if it was made with AssBro tech anyway.

Originally Posted by Teknopathetic

It's no longer a hurdle. Between UDK and Unity, the middleware is out there and it's borderline free. Unity's Indie license actually is free for commercial use up until you reach a certain revenue threshold (at which point, the price for the "pro" license is really quite cheap), UDK is free to download and use noncommercially with a 99$ fee and royalties if you release it commercially.

Hopefully 2011 is the year of innovative games that appeal to the mass market without the constraints of "AAA" game design then? :lol
Ceebs
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:47 AM)
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Originally Posted by firehawk12

Hrm, yeah, at least it's a start. Maybe even some kind of tiered royalty structure based on units moved might make it worth it to some "bigger" indie devs.

I think we're close to the point where game development is like filmmaking in that people don't have to reinvent the camera every time they want to start a new project. I wonder if Bloody Good Time would have been better received if it was made with AssBro tech anyway.

BGT would have been better received if Ubi let anyone know the game actually existed.
Sqorgar
Banned
(01-08-2011, 07:47 AM)
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Originally Posted by Feep

It's fine. Let them have their fun; Steam will quietly and inexorably destroy them. I'm one of those garage developers, and I'm really excited to send Steam a finished copy of my game in a few weeks' time. (crosses fingers)

Steam isn't going to destroy them because Steam only does PC. Ubisoft seems to be doing fine despite the fact that they release their PC games months later, with crippling DRM, that you can only play half the time.

I really think Apple is doing great things here. I mean, even I have some iPhone apps that have made me about $10k-$15k last year. Apple is a harsh master, but they have done more for independent game publishing than even Steam has done.
Grayman
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:48 AM)

Originally Posted by firehawk12

It seems like the last hurdle for "good looking" indie games is cheaper middleware licensing. Although I wonder if having an indie game that looks as good as a "AAA" game is even something worth considering.

Middleware itself covered above.

Even if middleware were not feasible to purchase wouldn't the art itself be a lot more costly?
hamchan
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:49 AM)
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Was Bloody Good Time a good game?
The Technomancer
card-carrying scientician
(01-08-2011, 07:49 AM)
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Originally Posted by Sqorgar

Steam isn't going to destroy them because Steam only does PC. Ubisoft seems to be doing fine despite the fact that they release their PC games months later, with crippling DRM, that you can only play half the time.

I dunno man. Steamworks on PS3 now just means automatic updating and cross platform play for Portal 2. But knowing Valve, who knows what that could turn into?
TreIII
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:55 AM)
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Originally Posted by Sqorgar

Mega-publishers have destroyed the game industry. They've taken the garage band, experimental passion that used to personify the game industry and replaced it with what is essentially slave labor building heavily focus tested sequels and licensed crap, then attempting to charge the player for every little aspect, from skins and content that should've been in the game to begin with to the precious ability to actually play the game online.

I used to think that the solution to bring the game industry back to what it was would be unionizing - empowering the workers against their exploitative owners - but I'm starting to think that the best approach would be to just destroy the owners. Kill Activision, Ubisoft, and EA. Parade their heads through the streets, I say.

I agree with you. The industry has definitely become "too big" on both sides of the pond, and it has become the single greatest thing that has killed what used to be so great about gaming.

Feel free to put the likes of Square Enix, Bandai-Namco, Capcom and Konami right up there too, as they're just as bad. Frankly, the major thing I'm hoping for in the future is that Sony and Valve's new friendship through Portal 2 might be the start of something. Maybe Sony will stand to do more to introduce small Japanese developers to Steam, and spread the love over that way too. Steam would be just the kind of thing I could see smaller devs like Falcom benefiting from. Especially after it becomes a "viable solution" over there.
evlcookie
but ever so delicious
(01-08-2011, 07:56 AM)
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Originally Posted by hamchan

Was Bloody Good Time a good game?

No.
Rlan
Member
(01-08-2011, 07:58 AM)
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Actually it's only 400MSP, or $5 on XBLA.

I loved the Ship, and love Bloody Good Time for what I can play of it, but Ubisoft really threw it under the bus, especially considering their other upcoming titles on the XBLA (From Dust, Rayman Origins, Beyond Good & Evil, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes) which have gotten far more press and preview coverage. BGT got lumped in with Ubisoft's Voodoo Dice, which nobody knew about until its release a few months ago.

However I'd say Outerlight have a bit to blame about themselves when it comes to making money in the first place. I bought the Ship when it had a free weekend a few years ago and that was great, but it's STILL $20, after all of these sales Steam has done over the past two years that have made developers a ton of money, The Ship has never been a part of them. If you had The Ship go 80% off for a couple of days, or even be part of some kind of Indie Pack, you'd probably start seeing a lot more money coming in than you currently are.
ghst
thanks for the laugh
(01-08-2011, 08:04 AM)
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Originally Posted by hamchan

Was Bloody Good Time a good game?

the cat and mouse mechanics that went into making the ship one of the more compelling curiosities on the fpsomething menu have been honed to frantic perfection.

sadly, the oar of a publisher with their finger on the pulse of the great stupid majority is ever present. four types of weaponry lifted straight from modern brofare (in a sea of cartoony gizmos and gadgets) and a balance demolishing "deathmatch" round being the worst offenders. all very fixable discrepancies that will likely never be fixed. more's the pity.

inspite of these failings, it's still a blast to play. just eat around the mcdonalds turd nuggets in your idiosyncracy souffle.
Shalashaska161
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:04 AM)
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Damn, what a shame. I bought The Ship way back when it came out, and it was an absolutely brilliant game while it lasted. It's horrible reading what has happened to these guys. Hopefully the people involved are able land on their feet again.
SapientWolf
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:05 AM)
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Originally Posted by Ceebs

BGT would have been better received if Ubi let anyone know the game actually existed.

Maybe. You also have to account for how big of a risk it is to make an online focused indie game. Very few of them are ever able to sustain an online community.
benjipwns
the hymen is old
yet still intact
(01-08-2011, 08:06 AM)
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Originally Posted by Rlan

However I'd say Outerlight have a bit to blame about themselves when it comes to making money in the first place. I bought the Ship when it had a free weekend a few years ago and that was great, but it's STILL $20, after all of these sales Steam has done over the past two years that have made developers a ton of money, The Ship has never been a part of them. If you had The Ship go 80% off for a couple of days, or even be part of some kind of Indie Pack, you'd probably start seeing a lot more money coming in than you currently are.

Valve was their publisher, so it's odd it hasn't gone on sale more often.

I think I got it for $5 or so when the Steam sales first started. I think it's been down to that price a couple times back when Steam had a lot fewer games and has since just been forgotten about.

Originally Posted by soultron

When I played it, I believe it was running on the HL1 engine (the Steam release was a redone Source version, correct?)

It was a HL1 mod that got updated to full fledged game (ala Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, Red Orchestra, etc.) and they upgraded to Source for that.
Nemo
Will Eat Your Children
(01-08-2011, 08:07 AM)
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The Ship is an amazing game. I remember Valve promoting it pretty good too, even had a few free2play weekends back in the day.

A REAL DAMN SHAME to hear this story tho. Especially if the Brotherhood MP stuff is true and they actually got that shit from Outerlight. Haven't heard about their new game until now, might check it out later.

But hey, I'm glad independent developers are seeing what kind of assholes these big publishers are against them. If only a nice little publisher came along with these small creative DD titles to fund and the actual advancement of the industry in mind. I'm sure most developers wouldn't need more than 50.000-100.000 euros and even then those are just a few as the rest can do with much less than that and reap in the benefits later when the games goes on sale
ghst
thanks for the laugh
(01-08-2011, 08:09 AM)
ghst's Avatar

Originally Posted by Teetris

Especially if the Brotherhood MP stuff is true and they actually got that shit from Outerlight. Haven't heard about their new game until now, might check it out later.

if you're willing to entertain the coincidence, you're a less cynical person than i.
EviLore
Expansive Ellipses
(01-08-2011, 08:10 AM)
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Originally Posted by Teetris

If only a nice little publisher came along with these small creative DD titles to fund and the actual advancement of the industry in mind. I'm sure most developers wouldn't need more than 50.000-100.000 euros and even then those are just a few as the rest can do with much less than that and reap in the benefits later when the games goes on sale

Tripwire is doing this.
brain_stew
Hello friend! Have you heard the good news about Jesus PC gaming?
(01-08-2011, 08:18 AM)

Originally Posted by Feep

It's fine. Let them have their fun; Steam will quietly and inexorably destroy them. I'm one of those garage developers, and I'm really excited to send Steam a finished copy of my game in a few weeks' time. (crosses fingers)

Make sure you don't attach a high selling price to it. That seems to be one of the primary reasons for rejection.

Oh and good luck!
Nemo
Will Eat Your Children
(01-08-2011, 08:18 AM)
Nemo's Avatar

Originally Posted by ghst

if you're willing to entertain the coincidence, you're a less cynical person than i.

I haven't played Brotherhood's MP so I can't say it for sure.

Originally Posted by EviLore

Tripwire is doing this.

I just checked them out. Are they new with publishing? I can't seem to find much info. If they have serious financial backing they could do some great things!
rollingstart
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:19 AM)

Originally Posted by hamchan

Was Bloody Good Time a good game?

As much as I loved The Ship and consider it one of the best multiplayer experiences ever (up there with The Specialists, Tribes, the great Battlefield games 1942/2, and others), what I played of Bloody Good Time was disappointing. But I don't think OuterLight should have gone out like that. I can understand if there were problems with the development of the game and that's why it didn't turn out so great. I'd like to read up on all the happenings and it seems like prime material for someone to do some actual reporting on.
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(01-08-2011, 08:20 AM)
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This thread could bring more readers in with the title like "Ubisoft steals ideas for AC multiplayer from the indie studio and sends their game to die!". We wouldn't have ian ntelligent discussion here but at least more people would know about this.
brain_stew
Hello friend! Have you heard the good news about Jesus PC gaming?
(01-08-2011, 08:26 AM)

Originally Posted by Teetris

I haven't played Brotherhood's MP so I can't say it for sure.


I just checked them out. Are they new with publishing? I can't seem to find much info. If they have serious financial backing they could do some great things!

Their financial backing comes from the success they personally had on Steam.

They used the cash they made from Red Orchestra to fund Killing Floor and The Ball, the former was partly developed by Tripwire themselves but the latter was fully developed elsewhere, Tripwire provided the UE3 license and funding/publishing.
SpaceDrake
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:27 AM)
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Originally Posted by The_Technomancer

But that's the way things really really used to be though. I mean, the single best thing to come out of the last six years or so of gaming has been the indie scene. There have always been "shareware" developers, but widespread digital distribution is what enables projects like this to succeed now. Now that we routinely get awesome titles like World of Goo and Super Meat Boy from amazingly small teams its easy to forget what titles like Cave Story represented when they came out.

Pretty much. Steam (and other distribution channels) are basically changing the way the industry works; we've really seen this take off in the past year or two, with just a flood of incredibly high-quality content.

Which is why I shake my head at behavior like what's being described here. This is no longer a market where publishers CAN be predatory; the structure may linger for a few years, perhaps, but in the face of successes like Darwinia, Braid, World of Goo, Amnesia, Super Meat Boy, Monday Night Combat, Aquaria, Machinarium, Shank, the Bit.Trip series, AI War (which hit a rough patch but is doing okay now), on and on and on, why would anyone subject themselves to the tender mercies of a traditional publisher at this point? You have just as good a shot at making it on your own, so long as you can cross that initial hump of startup money (and once you're over that, success just breeds success, unless you really screw up your next title). Sure, you won't get "AAA money", but it's becoming entirely obvious that such money isn't really necessary for success (or even guarantees success, for that matter). It doesn't matter if "the stockholders demand it", this sort of behavior is going to cause the traditional publishers to implode.

And it's already starting. I'll make a confession and say that I occasionally scoff haughtily while sipping my Starbucks at Supergiant Games when they say they're "indie" (they started out with a much, much larger cash cushion than most indies do), truth be told they are quite independent, and if Bastion ends up being half as good as it looks so far it'll do stonking great and make them a ton of money... and pretty much all the staff are refugees from major publishers. If Supergiant Games ends making money for everyone involved... then what, exactly, is going to prevent others from simply quitting their jobs and going into business for themselves? Why bother with publishers when there's a way that's about as viable and allows to you be your own boss to at least some degree (or at least work directly with the guy who is the actual boss and making the actual decisions)?

Outerlight really needs to be commended for blazing the trail here (along with a few other groups like Introversion). Outerlight deserved better, and I hope they can manage to get things back together. But for Ubi, things could start getting grim. Traditional, predatory publication isn't the only game in town anymore, and if the deals traditional publishers offer remain that bad, they may soon find there are far more people willing to say it's an offer they CAN refuse.
shintoki
sparkle this bitch
(01-08-2011, 08:27 AM)
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Originally Posted by Teetris

I just checked them out. Are they new with publishing? I can't seem to find much info. If they have serious financial backing they could do some great things!

For RO2, they picked up two indies studios from the community to make to expansions to RO2. One deals with the Pacific War, another the Vietnam. They are paying both studios up front to develop the titles, and by chance if they decide to make them pay for expansions instead of free updates. The developers are entitle to normal royalties and so forth.

In general, they are a developer who has been extremely active working with the mod community(Similar to Valve)
Last edited by shintoki; 01-08-2011 at 08:31 AM.
Nemo
Will Eat Your Children
(01-08-2011, 08:34 AM)
Nemo's Avatar

Originally Posted by brain_stew

Their financial backing comes from the success they personally had on Steam.

They used the cash they made from Red Orchestra to fund Killing Floor and The Ball, the former was partly developed by Tripwire themselves but the latter was fully developed elsewhere, Tripwire provided the UE3 license and funding/publishing.

Damn, that's really brave of them. Wish them all the success

Originally Posted by SpaceDrake

Pretty much. Steam (and other distribution channels) are basically changing the way the industry works; we've really seen this take off in the past year or two, with just a flood of incredibly high-quality content.

Which is why I shake my head at behavior like what's being described here. This is no longer a market where publishers CAN be predatory; the structure may linger for a few years, perhaps, but in the face of successes like Darwinia, Braid, World of Goo, Amnesia, Super Meat Boy, Monday Night Combat, Aquaria, Machinarium, Shank, the Bit.Trip series, AI War (which hit a rough patch but is doing okay now), on and on and on, why would anyone subject themselves to the tender mercies of a traditional publisher at this point? You have just as good a shot at making it on your own, so long as you can cross that initial hump of startup money (and once you're over that, success just breeds success, unless you really screw up your next title). Sure, you won't get "AAA money", but it's becoming entirely obvious that such money isn't really necessary for success (or even guarantees success, for that matter). It doesn't matter if "the stockholders demand it", this sort of behavior is going to cause the traditional publishers to implode.

And it's already starting. I'll make a confession and say that I occasionally scoff haughtily while sipping my Starbucks at Supergiant Games when they say they're "indie" (they started out with a much, much larger cash cushion than most indies do), truth be told they are quite independent, and if Bastion ends up being half as good as it looks so far it'll do stonking great and make them a ton of money... and pretty much all the staff are refugees from major publishers. If Supergiant Games ends making money for everyone involved... then what, exactly, is going to prevent others from simply quitting their jobs and going into business for themselves? Why bother with publishers when there's a way that's about as viable and allows to you be your own boss to at least some degree (or at least work directly with the guy who is the actual boss and making the actual decisions)?

Outerlight really needs to be commended for blazing the trail here (along with a few other groups like Introversion). Outerlight deserved better, and I hope they can manage to get things back together. But for Ubi, things could start getting grim. Traditional, predatory publication isn't the only game in town anymore, and if the deals traditional publishers offer remain that bad, they may soon find there are far more people willing to say it's an offer they CAN refuse.

Yup, start up money is basically the only real problem here. If you're lucky you can find a team that is willing to work for free until the game launches and then split everything evenly. But for most people that's not an option, especially if they're making their bread from video games. Which is why regular publishers are still the best option for now. Things WILL change for the better of these companies (1-10 people teams) soon enough, of that much I'm sure, just gotta wait it out and then even start up money won't be a problem as investors will start getting wind of this and get in on it. There's loads of money to be made from these low risk, creative DD titles, it's an untapped market that's set to become huge.
Emitan
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:35 AM)
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Originally Posted by EviLore

Tripwire is doing this.

Aren't Tripwire self funded?

EDIT: They're a publisher, too?
brain_stew
Hello friend! Have you heard the good news about Jesus PC gaming?
(01-08-2011, 08:41 AM)

Originally Posted by Teetris

Damn, that's really brave of them. Wish them all the success
.

Well Killing Floor has been an even bigger success than Red orchestra was, so it definitely paid off. Not so sure how sales of The Ball went.

Its worth noting all these titles (including Red Orchestra) started off as mods.
Zzoram
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:43 AM)
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So...the developer takes 10 percent of retail, after ALL costs have been repaid from that 10 percent. Assuming the game cost £2m to make, and sold for 20 pounds, the developer gets 2 pounds for every unit, once the 2 million punds is repaid, so that's 1 million copies before the developer sees their first 2 pounds, meanwhile the publisher has recouped their 2 million pound and is sitting on an extra 6 million pounds. What happens next? History shows us the developer goes bust, or gets acquired by a publisher, and the publisher maybe buys another publisher for kicks.

The self-funded, digitally distributed model should be the future, it brings 70 percent of the retail price back to the developer, which means 14 pounds for every unit sold. Assuming the game cost 2 million pounds to make (although it wouldn't, being independently developed it would be half the price, being twice as efficient!), that's a break even for the developer at 142,000 units, instead of at 1 million units. If they did get very lucky and sell 1 million units they'd make a profit of 12 million pounds, instead of 0.

The main point of the article, and the most interesting thing in it too. Steam is the future.
dLMN8R
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:46 AM)
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Thread topic deserves to be "Outerlight: Purchased by Ubisoft, ideas stolen for AC: Brotherhood, then left to die"
subversus
I've done nothing with my life except eat and fap
(01-08-2011, 08:48 AM)
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Originally Posted by brain_stew

Well Killing Floor has been an even bigger success than Red orchestra was, so it definitely paid off. Not so sure how sales of The Ball went.

Its worth noting all these titles (including Red Orchestra) started off as mods.

I think they recouped costs.

It's a good game, I wonder why it didn't make better. Must be missing that special "something".
SpaceDrake
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:50 AM)
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Originally Posted by Teetris

Yup, start up money is basically the only real problem here. If you're lucky you can find a team that is willing to work for free until the game launches and then split everything evenly. But for most people that's not an option, especially if they're making their bread from video games. Which is why regular publishers are still the best option for now. Things WILL change for the better of these companies (1-10 people teams) soon enough, of that much I'm sure, just gotta wait it out and then even start up money won't be a problem as investors will start getting wind of this and get in on it. There's loads of money to be made from these low risk, creative DD titles, it's an untapped market that's set to become huge.

Pretty much. For those who want to look into investment (personally any kind of investment gives me hives, but your mileage will obviously vary on this), it shouldn't take too long for investors to get clued in on the fact that there are fairly ruinous amounts of money to be made here, which could potentially get even bigger with just a bit more investment.

Plus, with Sony seemingly moving to a download-only model for the PSP2, and Microsoft (slowly, haltingly) taking more steps to support indie downloads on various levels on the 360, it's beginning to look fairly grim on all fronts for traditional publishing. The model won't die overnight, but we're definitely back to a kind of late-80s situation where it definitely isn't needed for success anymore.

Originally Posted by Billychu

Aren't Tripwire self funded?

EDIT: They're a publisher, too?

As said upthread, Tripwire is a developer that became a publisher which is using a far more sane model to foster actual development and long-term profit instead of trying to appease stockholders (read: they have no stockholders).
dLMN8R
Member
(01-08-2011, 08:51 AM)
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Interesting note about Killing Floor: one of the developers (maybe the owner of the company) was on the PC Gamer Podcast last year. He claimed that Steam Concurrent numbers tend to represent roughly 1/10 of the total number of unique players on a given day.

Killing Floor easily got 5000-10000 concurrent players on a regular basis during its first few months, which suggests 50,000-100,000 unique players each day.


100,000 unique players on a given day - that suggests a whole boatload of sales!

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