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Nirolak
Mrgrgr
(08-11-2011, 11:29 AM)
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Apparently Jonathan Blow isn't especially pleased with Xbox Live Arcade.

Originally Posted by Gamasutra

Interview: Jonathan Blow - Xbox Live Arcade 'A Pain In The Ass' For Indies
by Christian Nutt

Gamasutra speaks to the iconoclastic indie developer about his feelings about digital distribution -- and he has some choice words about Microsoft's service, arguing that competitors like Steam and iOS are simpler for developers to deal with.

As part of the conversation that lead to the extensive interview feature posted earlier this week, indie developer Jonathan Blow (Braid, The Witness) also discussed his feelings about the current digital distribution landscape with Gamasutra.

Blow has estimated the budget of his upcoming game The Witness at $2 million, and he says that -- despite Braid being iconic to the Xbox Live Arcade service -- he doesn't necessarily need Microsoft to make his money back.

"There's no need to" sign a platform-exclusive contract with anyone, he says. "If the goal is to make that $2 million, not only is that kind of a safe target, but because the game's 3D and whatnot, I'm pretty sure we could make that back just off Steam and the iPad safely. Like, it's not even a gamble to say that," he told Gamasutra.

The Witness' platform plans are up in the air. According to official press materials distributed to Gamasutra, they are "To be decided. At launch, at least PC and one console. Others later."

Blow acknowledged that Microsoft is "getting a little softer in their exclusivity," a move we recently saw with Bastion, which is due on PC less than a month after it debuted on XBLA as a Summer of Arcade exclusive.

Exclusivity, then, gives him pause, but that's not the major issue with Microsoft. "I think the thing that they don't understand -- between that and the cert stuff that they do -- they just kind of make themselves a pain in the ass. For a big game, for a triple-A game that costs 60 bucks, and has a giant budget and all these people working on it, the amount extra that that pain in the ass adds is not that much," Blow said.

"But if you make an XBLA game, the amount of bullshit that adds is gigantic. It can take a third to a half of the effort required to build your game, in some cases, and I don't think that they understand that. I don't think that they understand that, at least for that size of game, they're competing very heavily with Steam and iOS for developer mindshare."


Cert -- or certification, in which a developer's game must meet certain technical requirements dictated by Microsoft before it can be released on the platform -- isn't the only problem.

"I can live a comfortable life, and just put my game on Steam without that much of a hassle, or I can have the XBLA business people dick me around and give me asshole contracts that I need to spend three months negotiating back to somewhere reasonable, that they knew," said Blow. "And then have all these arguments with them and go through this horrible cert process. It's like, at some point, the question 'Why should I do that?' arises."

However, Blow admitted, the platform does still have its appeal as a developer. "XBLA does have a big audience, and it's still probably bigger than Steam for certain kinds of games."

Even so, he pointed out, "We just had Terraria on Steam... not to mention Minecraft, which doesn't even need Steam. So even the argument that XBLA is the biggest market is starting to come into question."

He's unsure about Microsoft's potential to change the platform, however. "I don't know how much longer that that can go without something changing. I don't know. Maybe quite a long time, knowing the abilities of these companies," said Blow.

Braid was originally published on Xbox Live Arcade by Microsoft. However, he told Gamasutra that he has not spoken to publishers about The Witness since 2009, and his understanding of the situation may be outdated.

"What that means, to have Microsoft as your publisher, I think, varies a lot from year to year, because they change policies to do whatever they think is best, to steer the service. They have personnel changes and all that. So who knows what's happening?"

Source: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/3...For_Indies.php

Witness Interview: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/featur...ng_witness.php
Zeouterlimits
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(08-11-2011, 11:35 AM)
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Good quotes there, similar to what he said on the E3 bombcast. He acknowledge the benefits of cert, but felt the cost far outweighed these benefits, especially in a world where Steam & iOS have much more traction than they did at the time of Braid's development.

I think the Witness will be on XBLA, but not as a lead platform, unless MS bend (or change) their rules, which probably won't happen.

Although it would be a big win for SoA if they got the Witness with the 1 month or tiny of bit of exclusivity.
TheOddOne
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(08-11-2011, 11:39 AM)
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"As an art game company, we're trying to make things that are different from what other people do, and the surest way to make sure that you're not different from other people is to have the same goals as them. And the goal of Activision, or EA, or whatever, is like, 'Well, we're going to sell our game to the maximum number of people.' And the reason their games are the way they are is because they're doing that, and so if we adopt that as our goal, too, then our games are going to start looking a lot like their games."

Thats sounds so... pretentious.
Pyccko
Member
(08-11-2011, 11:41 AM)
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The Witness is probably the number 1 game I'm looking forward to in the foreseeable
future, and I'm starting to worry it won't be coming to PSN, cause nobody ever mentions it.
Man oh man, I really hope it does though. My computer is a trashcan and I don't have no iPad. ;_;
Opus Angelorum
Member
(08-11-2011, 11:43 AM)
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There are clearly problems with developers and the way Microsoft deal with contracts however my initial reaction to this was 'don't bite the hand that feeds you'.
Nirolak
Mrgrgr
(08-11-2011, 11:47 AM)
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Originally Posted by Opus Angelorum

There are clearly problems with developers and the way Microsoft deal with contracts however my initial reaction to this was 'don't bite the hand that feeds you'.

The crux of his argument though is that Microsoft is no longer a necessary food source.
Salacious Crumb
Junior Member
(08-11-2011, 11:48 AM)
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Originally Posted by Opus Angelorum

There are clearly problems with developers and the way Microsoft deal with contracts however my initial reaction to this was 'don't bite the hand that feeds you'.

In this instance he's biting one of many hands offering food, and he's biting it because it's trying to force feed him raw shit and piss.
WoodenLung
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(08-11-2011, 11:56 AM)
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This is interesting together with his "the witness is going to be on at least one other platform" comment. I didn't like braid too much but the dude seems cool, especially his discussion with some microsoft guys out on their bullshit on the e3 bombcast was really interesting.

Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Thats sounds so... pretentious.


Ugh I hate how that word is constantly thrown around.
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(08-11-2011, 11:56 AM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Thats sounds so... pretentious.

It's probably also accurate.
AniHawk
Cranky. Very cranky.
Rather sarcastic to boot.
(08-11-2011, 11:58 AM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Thats sounds so... pretentious.

maybe it's because everyone there is named art.
Eggman
Banned
(08-11-2011, 12:01 PM)
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Microsoft better lay off their fucking superfluously strict policy if they want XBLA to thrive more.

Originally Posted by Jintor

It's probably also accurate.

We'll see with his next project.
_Alkaline_
Member
(08-11-2011, 12:02 PM)
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Originally Posted by Jintor

It's probably also accurate.

So, what, somes games are art and some aren't? That's a laughable premise.
Zeouterlimits
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(08-11-2011, 12:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dr Eggman

Microsoft better lay off their fucking superfluously strict policy if they want XBLA to thrive more.

Eh, I think they have much bigger fish to fry. Too many games are coming out to not enough customers who are buying, and there are a few too many games that tank. Like Shuggy.
Stumpokapow
listen to the mad man
(08-11-2011, 12:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by _Alkaline_

So, what, somes games are art and some aren't? That's a laughable premise.

Some games self-identify as striving to exhibit artistic qualities, while other games self-identify as striving to exhibit toy qualities or entertainment qualities. This isn't someone judging some games as art and some not, it's someone judging his own games as trying to be art.
elongation
Junior Member
(08-11-2011, 12:10 PM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Thats sounds so... pretentious.

Art game = automatically pretentious?
Eggman
Banned
(08-11-2011, 12:11 PM)
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Originally Posted by Zeouterlimits

Eh, I think they have much bigger fish to fry. Too many games are coming out to not enough customers who are buying, and there are a few too many games that tank. Like Shuggy.

XBLA is a sole reason some people would buy an Xbox. It's one of the few fresh, aspects XBL has to offer especially with the lack of exclusives and the limited appeal of Kinect.
HotHamWater
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(08-11-2011, 12:14 PM)
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This sounds alot like what he was saying on Giant Bomb's E3 stream, and he was saying it across from two completely unapologetic MS people. Definitely worth a listen.

Anyway, I guess if he really wanted to stick it to MS he could just go iOS, PSN and Steam, can't see that happening though.
Zeouterlimits
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(08-11-2011, 12:16 PM)
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Originally Posted by Dr Eggman

XBLA is a sole reason some people would buy an Xbox. It's one of the few fresh, aspects XBL has to offer especially with the lack of exclusives and the limited appeal of Kinect.

For the hardcore, those who read magazines, listen to podcasts etc. How many games does the average CoD player buy? Or the Kinect Owner? Will Fruit Ninja Kinect sell to all these new Kinect owners? What's the installbase difference between those XBLA-lovers and XBLA-ignorant?
I'm basing this on the Gamasutra XBLA sales articles.
TheOddOne
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(08-11-2011, 12:19 PM)
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Originally Posted by elongation

Art game = automatically pretentious?

No, calling your company a art game company sounds to me a bit pretentious. Like somebody said in the comment section of Gamesutra, he is also fast to jump on anybody that doesn't think like he does.

I thought Braid was not art, it was just a platformer with a time-machanic and the music was annoying. If I would classify anything as art, I would have given it to Limbo (but that me though).
Erethian
Member
(08-11-2011, 12:30 PM)

Originally Posted by HotHamWater

This sounds alot like what he was saying on Giant Bomb's E3 stream, and he was saying it across from two completely unapologetic MS people. Definitely worth a listen.

Anyway, I guess if he really wanted to stick it to MS he could just go iOS, PSN and Steam, can't see that happening though.

Well he does say this.

"There's no need to" sign a platform-exclusive contract with anyone, he says. "If the goal is to make that $2 million, not only is that kind of a safe target, but because the game's 3D and whatnot, I'm pretty sure we could make that back just off Steam and the iPad safely. Like, it's not even a gamble to say that," he told Gamasutra.

Not to say it won't be on XBLA. But the crux of the whole article is that he feels Microsoft puts up barriers that make one at least consider whether doing an XBLA release is worth the effort.
Crunched
point your penis at me,
and have a good day
(08-11-2011, 12:39 PM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

No, calling your company a art game company sounds to me a bit pretentious. Like somebody said in the comment section of Gamesutra, he is also fast to jump on anybody that doesn't think like he does.

I thought Braid was not art, it was just a platformer with a time-machanic and the music was annoying. If I would classify anything as art, I would have given it to Limbo (but that me though).

Yeah not a fan of JBlow myself. He might be completely right and The Witness could be a great art game, but Braid at least was a shining example of trying too hard.
Sutton Dagger
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(08-11-2011, 12:39 PM)
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I really enjoyed Braid, in fact, I thought it was fantastic. I know most of NeoGAF think his game(s) or his personality, come off as pretentious, but I would rather a hint of pretentiousness than garbage FPS #159 and the dudebro mentality we see in an increasing number of games. Can't wait for his next game.
Des0lar
will learn eventually
(08-11-2011, 12:48 PM)
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Can we please skip the whole art debate please? This isn't the point of this topic.

Relic abandoned Games for Windows Live for the same reason. It's just a huge hassle and nobody except Microsoft profits from the whole "certification" process. Having to pay to patch your game (as a developer) is ridiculous. Fuck this Microsoft policy. The more people abandon Games for Windows the better.
TheOddOne
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(08-11-2011, 12:48 PM)
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Originally Posted by Sutton Dagger

I really enjoyed Braid, in fact, I thought it was fantastic. I know most of NeoGAF think his game(s) or his personality, come off as pretentious, but I would rather a hint of pretentiousness than garbage FPS #159 and the dudebro mentality we see in an increasing number of games. Can't wait for his next game.

This argument about people now liking his game means they only like FPS's and dudebro games is stupid. I disliked his game, but I liked Flower, Ilomilo, Limbo, Bastion. Those games are good, the developers don't come off as pretentious and I consider them (personally) as "art".
ghst
thanks for the laugh
(08-11-2011, 12:54 PM)
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Originally Posted by Zeouterlimits

Good quotes there, similar to what he said on the E3 bombcast. He acknowledge the benefits of cert, but felt the cost far outweighed these benefits, especially in a world where Steam & iOS have much more traction than they did at the time of Braid's development.

unless company man apologists being spurred on by the frantic ball-washing they are extended every opportunity by the show's hosts is the sort of thing that doesn't turn your stomach, you might want to keep a paper bag handy while listening to this one.
chubigans
y'all should be ashamed
(08-11-2011, 12:54 PM)
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Has there even been an XBLA release that doesn't sell massively better on Steam?

Then again, one could argue that the XBLA release gives the eventual Steam release better exposure and, as a result, better sales.

Microsoft seems to have a knack for pissing all over their best devs (Blow, Team Meat). There's some horrible management going on over there.
Gafapastismo
Banned
(08-11-2011, 12:57 PM)
I hope The Witness will come to PSN.

Braid is one of the best games of the history.
iamcool388
Member
(08-11-2011, 12:58 PM)

Originally Posted by TheOddOne

This argument about people now liking his game means they only like FPS's and dudebro games is stupid. I disliked his game, but I liked Flower, Ilomilo, Limbo, Bastion. Those games are good, the developers don't come off as pretentious and I consider them (personally) as "art".

The feeling of pain and caring in the 2nd to last level, and the euphoria I experienced at the last level of Flower are still unmatched for me. It did a much better job of evoking emotions in me than Braid. In fact, so did Limbo, as I constantly felt lonely and in peril while playing.

How does one judge which game is art and which isnt? If its based on whether or not it can generate emotion and a connection to the medium, then Flower and Limbo trump it.

All three are great games and must plays though.
PixyJunket
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(08-11-2011, 12:58 PM)
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Originally Posted by chubigans

Has there even been an XBLA release that doesn't sell massively better on Steam?

Geometry Wars?

Originally Posted by chubigans

Microsoft seems to have a knack for pissing all over their best devs (Blow, Team Meat). There's some horrible management going on over there.

Blow and Team Meat are Microsoft's best developers?

I mean, it really just sounds like MS handles XBLA contract stuff the same way they would large studio releases, which is obviously not ideal, but on the other hand, they can't just turn XBLA into a freefall iOS thing because two indie developers wanted to be coddled (after obtaining success on the platform).
Phonomezer
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(08-11-2011, 01:00 PM)
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The same XBLA that gave him a huge break and made him lots of money, I'm assuming.
Dina
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(08-11-2011, 01:01 PM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Thats sounds so... pretentious.

He's a douche.
TheOddOne
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(08-11-2011, 01:01 PM)
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Originally Posted by chubigans

Microsoft seems to have a knack for pissing all over their best devs (Blow, Team Meat). There's some horrible management going on over there.

Succes stories don't bring in the website hits.
Emitan
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(08-11-2011, 01:03 PM)
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Originally Posted by TheOddOne

Succes stories don't bring in the website hits.

They do when they're about Steam.
Kafel
Banned
(08-11-2011, 01:05 PM)
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why can't I sell my game on all platforms at the same time, get it tested by platform holders and enter in all the promotions ???

I'm an artist and can't deal with all of this you know
wutwutwut
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(08-11-2011, 01:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by Phonomezer

The same XBLA that gave him a huge break and made him lots of money, I'm assuming.

This sort of thinking is unsound. "Entity A does thing P" + "entity A is successful overall" doesn't imply that thing P is correct or was even a part of the success. The thing P needs to be analyzed separately in order to figure that out.
TheOddOne
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(08-11-2011, 01:07 PM)
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Originally Posted by Billychu

They do when they're about Steam.

My point is though, more hits will be generated when its something bad being said about said service (like Steam, PSN, WiiWare).
Stumpokapow
listen to the mad man
(08-11-2011, 01:08 PM)
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Originally Posted by Kafel

why can't I sell my game on all platforms at the same time, get it tested by platform holders and enter in all the promotions ???

I'm an artist and can't deal with all of this you know

You say this like he's being unrealistic and will be negatively impacted by expecting too good a treatment. And yet the guy is a set-for-life multi-millionaire who will make a mint on this game no matter how many or how few platforms he releases it on.
teruterubozu
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(08-11-2011, 01:08 PM)
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Bitching about distribution is the "artistic" thing to do. Gives you "Fuck the Man" cred. Required for an indie developer.
Des0lar
will learn eventually
(08-11-2011, 01:08 PM)
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Originally Posted by Phonomezer

The same XBLA that gave him a huge break and made him lots of money, I'm assuming.

So what? Of course it made him money, but there are better alternatives out there that make even more money and are not a huge legal hassle. So it very well could be that he will drop XBLA as a platform. Did you even read the OP?
wutwutwut
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(08-11-2011, 01:09 PM)
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Originally Posted by teruterubozu

Bitching about distribution is the "artistic" thing to do. Gives you "Fuck the Man" cred. Required for an indie developer.

This sort of thinking is also unsound. Attack the argument, not the person behind it.

edit: besides, he isn't even bitching about distribution in general, just the acts of one particular distributor. That makes your argument even weaker.
Dina
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(08-11-2011, 01:11 PM)
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Originally Posted by teruterubozu

Bitching about distribution is the "artistic" thing to do. Gives you "Fuck the Man" cred. Required for an indie developer.

I know right. Fuck the distributor that made Braid a success in the first place. Just let me get back to the hobo playing the banjo for the Braid 2 soundtrack. Giving back to the world, baby.


Again, fuck Blow. Fuck him with a capitalistic golden schlong.
teruterubozu
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(08-11-2011, 01:12 PM)
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Originally Posted by wutwutwut

This sort of thinking is also unsound. Attack the argument, not the person behind it.

*shrug* meh, no sympathy. "A pain in the ass"? Oh boohoo.
Stumpokapow
listen to the mad man
(08-11-2011, 01:13 PM)
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Originally Posted by teruterubozu

*shrug* meh, no sympathy. "A pain in the ass"? Oh boohoo.

He's not expecting sympathy. That's not the purpose of the interview. His entire point is that he doesn't need to work with Microsoft if he doesn't want to, so them making it hard is hurting them, not him. That's literally the exact opposite of asking for sympathy.
wutwutwut
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(08-11-2011, 01:13 PM)
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Originally Posted by teruterubozu

*shrug* meh, no sympathy. "A pain in the ass"? Oh boohoo.

Really? "Boohoo" is your response to his reasoned -- and reasonable -- criticism?
chubigans
y'all should be ashamed
(08-11-2011, 01:14 PM)
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket

Geometry Wars?

I mean a bit more recently. :p

Originally Posted by PixyJunket

Blow and Team Meat are Microsoft's best developers?

To clarify, I meant indie devs.


Originally Posted by PixyJunket

I mean, it really just sounds like MS handles XBLA contract stuff the same way they would large studio releases, which is obviously not ideal, but on the other hand, they can't just turn XBLA into a freefall iOS thing because two indie developers wanted to be coddled (after obtaining success on the platform).

Oh, I don't think XBLA should turn into an iOS style marketplace, and I don't think that's what he's saying. But look at Steam: they also have tight restrictions on what goes for sale there and what doesn't, just like XBLA. But they manage to pull off a much better service for devs than Microsoft is offering right now. That can, and probably should, change.
teruterubozu
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(08-11-2011, 01:14 PM)
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Originally Posted by wutwutwut

Really? "Boohoo" is your response to his reasoned -- and reasonable -- criticism?

Sure, why not. I'm on an internet forum, not the debate team.
Kafel
Banned
(08-11-2011, 01:14 PM)
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Originally Posted by Stumpokapow

You say this like he's being unrealistic and will be negatively impacted by expecting too good a treatment. And yet the guy is a set-for-life multi-millionaire who will make a mint on this game no matter how many or how few platforms he releases it on.

He's still an indie and complains about something that isn't really aimed at him. There's still the XBLIG service if he doesn't want to deal with the constrainsts mentioned above.

Sure he'll have other constraints but somewhat he has to enter in a box if he wants to sell his game on a closed system. MS isn't going to create the XBLBlow service for his games.
Opus Angelorum
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(08-11-2011, 01:15 PM)
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Originally Posted by Nirolak

The crux of his argument though is that Microsoft is no longer a necessary food source.

I understood that.

The Witness will be released on XBLA, which to me undervalues his stance.

I see no issue pointing out positive and negative aspects, but in this instance Jonathan comes across as bitter.
wutwutwut
Member
(08-11-2011, 01:15 PM)
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Originally Posted by teruterubozu

Sure, why not. I'm on an internet forum, not the debate team.

That's no excuse to abandon all thought and reason.
teruterubozu
Member
(08-11-2011, 01:16 PM)
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Originally Posted by wutwutwut

That's no excuse to abandon all thought and reason.

Go get it for me then.

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