It seems like I only update this blog when I either leave a studio or join one. That was never intentional :X But here we are, none the less...
As I'm sure you have heard from other sources, Carbine Studios had a round of layoffs on Friday, March 11. 2016. I was caught up in that round of layoffs and found myself without a job :\ This is sad, to be sure, as I was having a great deal of fun working on WildStar.
But we all know the risks when working in the video game industry, don't we. Did I know that this was going to happen? Well... considering some of the things that happened behind the curtin, yes, I figured this was coming down the pike, but I didn't think it was going to happen so quickly or cut so deeply.
Please know I have nothing but respect for Carbine Studios in general and WildStar specifically. I have a lot of fun playing WildStar and will continue playing it for as long as I can 🙂 In fact... look at that! Go to the Carbine Studios website, and there's me in the group photo (yellow circle)!!
So... the obvious question is, where am I headed next?! That's a good question - I'm really not sure. I will, however, be sure to keep everyone updated on what I'm doing 🙂
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning shuts down today (Archive link: http://archive.is/1pghI Original Notice of Shutdown: http://archive.is/iozxa). I cannot even begin to express how important Warhammer Online, and Mythic Entertainment, have been to me. This was my first job in The Industry, and my first credited title. A whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this game - It was more than just a job, it was something I helped create; I put a lot of myself into this game, and it really hurts to see it close its doors for good.
Since it's an MMO, there will be no finding of a copy of the game years down the road and playing it for old-times-sake; there will be no stumbling upon the game on Good Old Games, and buying it to play again. No - It's an MMO, and once it's gone, it's gone for good.
Looking back, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, there were things we could have done better, of course. I look back on arguments I never had, and points I was too timid to make, and wish now that I had been more forceful back then. Would we be in a different place today? Even if we had to close, could we have done it better?
I think of all those who worked on WAR, and the vast community of players, as extended family.We may have bickered and argued, but it was from a place of love. This game meant so much to me, just as it has meant a lot to so many others. I weep today for its closure.
Below is a 25 minute fan-made video, telling their own story through WAR. It is very well done, and brought me to tears more than once. I encourage any who share a personal connection with WAR to watch it.
It's taken me a few days to process this past weekend, but I think I'm now ready to take a stab at writing about my experiences.
It all started on August 1, 2012 with a Kickstarter Project. A friend of mine brought it to my attention, and when I first went to the project's page... I got very choked up. There are times in your life when, after spending a great deal of time training your subconscious to pretend a void doesn't exist, you are suddenly shocked into facing your reality. This was one of those moments, and soon a tear (or maybe two) found its way down my cheek, and I heard myself whisper, with cracking voice, "Thank you."
I backed the projected immediately.
Over the course of the year, as GaymerX gained more and more traction, some resistance from the general gaming community began to form: Why do you need your own con? To be somewhat blunt, we need our own con because the vast majority of gay gamers don't like being harassed at mainstream cons; we don't appreciate our identity being used as a emasculating slur; we're tired of being confronted, and asked the same questions by hundreds of people - most of whom don't really care about the answers, they just want an excuse to examine the "freak."
Can you imagine the pure bliss of spending the weekend with a group of people who are just like you? Where you are, finally, part of the normative group? Where you spend the time focusing on gaming, and stories about your experiences with gaming, and listening to vendors talk about stories you can relate to? Of course you can... that's *every* con for you. But not for us... this was the first time, and believe me, we loved it.
In fact, we loved it so much, one blogger's post about the event ended with a lament:
"I don’t have the right words to describe how much it meant to belong this weekend, or how hard it is going to be to go back to work tomorrow. For two days, I wasn't 'the other,' and it was wonderful; one day I hope I can feel like that all the time."
Again, that ever-present, formless feeling finally given voice. Again, tears.
Ellen McLain (GLaDOS, Portal Series) and John Patrick Lowrie (The Sniper, Team Fortress 2) lead a two-hour panel on Voice Acting - what it's all about, how they got their start, and tips on how to break into the biz regardless of where you live. They lead the panel-attendees in a Still Alive sing along, which ended quite dramatically in a marriage proposal which left the room cheering, and without a dry eye in the house.
The GAYMERS crew held a panel, hosted by The Tester Season 2 winner, Matthew Michael Brown, to show the pilot episode of their web series, and to get feedback from the attendees. It looks like it's going to be a fun show, and definitely one to keep an eye out for. Here's the web preview to give you a taste - they said the pilot episode we saw will be up Soon™
Not to leave everyone out, the Voice Acting Dynamic Duo came back during the GaymerX closing ceremonies to lead everyone in song. Ending, this time, with a standing ovation, and still much tearing up at the thought of this being the final moments of the con.
I absolutely can't wait to see what happens next year for GX2 - and I hope I can, even in some small way, help make it a success.
A few days ago I posted on Facebook that I had accepted a new job. Here is the promised update, giving some more details 🙂
Later this month, I will start working for Carbine Studios, located in beautiful Aliso Viejo, CA, as a Senior Systems Designer on WildStar. I am extremely excited about this, and am really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this new opportunity.
As an extra special added bonus, I will be reunited with Steven, so who knows, we may have more episodes of Keaven & Steven in the Morning in the near future! 😀
What happens when pirates play a game development simulator, and then go bankrupt because of piracy?
This is a mirror of the post originally posted here: http://www.greenheartgames.com/2013/04/29/what-happens-when-pirates-play-a-game-development-simulator-and-then-go-bankrupt-because-of-piracy/
When we released our very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, we did something unusual and as far as I know unique. We released a cracked version of the game ourselves, minutes after opening our Store.
I uploaded the torrent to the number one torrent sharing site, gave it a description imitating the scene and asked a few friends to help seed it.
A minute after we uploaded it, my torrent client looked like this:
Soon my upload speed was maxed out (and as of the time of writing still is) and my friends and I had connections from all over the world and for all three platforms!
How does piracy feel?
The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail… Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn’t want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. So, as players spend a few hours playing and growing their own game dev company, they will start to see the following message, styled like any other in-game message:
Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally.
If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.
Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.
Some of the responses I found online (identities obscured to protect the guilty):
Is there some way to avoid that? I mean can I research DRM or something …
And another user:
Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!
As a gamer I laughed out loud: the IRONY!!!
However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this gameand hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry. Surely, for most of these players, the 8 dollars wouldn’t hurt them but it makes a huge difference to our future!
Trying to appeal to pirates
I know that some people just don’t even think about buying games. They will immediately search for a cracked version. For this reason, when we released the game, we also published a page which targets people who search for a cracked/illegal version. Unfortunately, due to my lack in search-engine-optimization skills, that page has had no impact yet, but I hope it will convince some to buy the game in the future.
[…]if years down the track you wonder why there are no games like these anymore and all you get to play is pay-to-play and social games designed to suck money out of your pockets then the reason will stare back at you in the mirror.
I do think it’s important to try to communicate what piracy means to game developers to our consumers. I also tried to appeal to a particular forum a day earlier after someone who I gave early-access to the Store seemed to have passed on the copy to others:
We’re just a start-up and really need your support. The game is only 7.99USD, DRM free…
Clearly, my post hadn’t worked too well since on the same forum someone posted the earlier screenshot (“Why are there so many people that pirate? It ruins me!) just a bit after I made my appeal and this was followed by many others complaining about piracy.
I still hope that it made a difference to someone.
Anyway, how many really did buy and how many did pirate our game during this first day?
The awesome/depressing results
Today, one day after release, our usage stats look like this:
Genuine version: 214 users
Cracked version: at least 3104 users
To the players who played the cracked version!
I’m not mad at you. When I was younger, downloading illegal copies was practically normal but this was mostly because global game distribution was in its infancy. To be fair, there are still individuals who either can’t make a legal purchase because of payment-issues or who genuinely cannot afford the game. I don’t have a quarrel with you. To the rest who could afford the game consider this:
- Would you like to see a bigger/better sequel of Game Dev Tycoon in the future? Buy the game! Creating this game was already expensive and this was just a small game. If we ever want to make a bigger/better version we need a lot of support!
- Do you hate the trend towards social or pay-to-play free games? Buy games from independent developers! (start with ours )
- Do you hate the recent trends in the industry? Buy DRM free games.
We are not wealthy and it’s unlikely that we will be any time soon, so stop pretending like we don’t need your 8 dollars! We are just two guys working our butts off, trying to start our own game studio to create games which are fun to play.
The game is DRM free, you can use it on up to three of your computers for your own use, you get copies for Mac, Windows and Linux, you can continue your game before piracy wrecked your company and we even aim to provide you with a free Steam key once the game is on Steam. All for a mere 8 bucks.
If you just want to try the game then there’s the free DEMO:
Do we need DRM?
Whether or not to use DRM isn’t clear at all to a new start-up. The main argument against it is that all it does is to inconvenience genuine customers. Fact is that any game can be cracked, so all you do is spend time on something that in the end just annoys your real customers while only slightly delaying the inevitable. The only way to protect yourself is to create an online game. I guess that’s why so many studios focus on these types of games and it’s probably a driving force to eradicate traditional single player games.
Personally, I love single players games and hope to be able to continue down this path and if more people would buy our game, we might even be able to.
Would I do this again?
This was a unique opportunity. You need a game development simulation game to make this particular joke work. The more general idea/experiment to release a cracked version which inconveniences and counts pirates can probably work for any game and might work in the long run.
If pirates are put through more trouble than genuine customers, maybe more will buy the real game. Sadly, for AAA games it is currently the other way. Customers get the trouble with always-on requirements and intrusive DRM, while pirates can just download and enjoy. A twisted world.
To our genuine customers
Thank you for your support. Your purchase is more important to us than you might think. We hope to be able to bring you more games in the future. Also, please update to the latest version of the game by using the download link from your purchase email. Before writing this blog post I’ve fixed most of the known issues
- Greenheart Games ♥
If you want to comment on this post, please do so on our forum.
If you just want to try the game then there’s the free DEMO:
SimCity has traditionally been (mostly) a single-player game. I really like the way multi-player has been integrated into this reboot of the series, I just disagree with the decision to tether the game to their online servers when they give you the option to create a personal city region with no one else playing in it. If you’re allowing me to play a “single player” version of the game, why are you still forcing me to log into your servers (beyond a simple authentication… which I would still complain about, but at least it would prevent the 20+ minutes of waiting to play my single-player city experience).
But... fine, whateves. I do honestly feel the addition of city specialization, and resource/research sharing makes it a much more interesting place to play, when you’re playing with people you know (I doubt I’ll attempt playing in public regions). I’m even looking forward to exploring the Global Market some more 😀
All that being said, this trend to tie online game-play to a very public Name, is starting to get on my nerves. Not because of any lack of personal responsibility, but because of the marginalization of gamer households; John and I both love playing SimCity, yet in this incarnation of the game, we each have to buy separate copies of the game, even though we would use the same computer, because otherwise one of us would be online “as” the other, playing games under the other person’s name… quite publicly, with all my friends wondering why I’m playing SimCity in the middle of the day instead of working (yes, there’s an invisible mode, but that’s not the point). What if we had two or three kids, who also liked playing?
Where before, we had one copy of the game, installed on one computer, and I had a login, and John had a login, and each (hypothetical) kid had a login, and everyone could play their own games, with everyone being happy… Now, we have each person needing their own copy of the game (at $60 a pop), despite the fact we’re still all playing on the same machine. The other option is… what, the loss of that online identity completely with everyone in the household playing under a common “house” name? That’s no fun either.
I dunno… I really like SimCity, and I really like the game play of this version. I also really like the multiplayer aspects they’ve integrated from the ground up, so it’s all very natural and works very well. I just really, really wish I didn’t feel like I was being held upside down, having the change shaken from my pockets :\
Anyway.. that’s my two cents. I’m going to keep playing, because I do really like the game play, despite the crap it’s wrapped it.
What do you all think? Is the single-online-identity move simply thinly veiled avarice, or is it an honest attempt to thwart piracy? Do you think this kind of always-on game architecture, even for single player games/scenarios, is a good/appropriate move, or is it just an inevitability we will have to learn to deal with?
I've recently started playing around with the Unity3D development tool, and I really like it so far! One of the cool features it has is that it's able to build for multiple platforms, so you can cross-develop a little easier.
I have a Galaxy TAB 8.9, so I was looking into how difficult it would be to create a game for a tablet, and since Unity can build for it, I thought "Why not!"
I happened upon an indispensable application for my tablet: Unity Remote. This lets you connect your Android tablet to the Unity engine, and test your controls as you're developing without having to deploy builds constantly! ::drool::
I had huge issues trying to get it to work though :\ I found a fantastic walk through, and wanted to mirror it here, with just one extra step at the beginning which I (in my total stupidity) did, in fact, need spelled out to me ::blush::
- Make sure your device's syncing software is installed (for my TAB8.9, that was Kies)
- Install the Android SDK
- Connect your tablet with USB cable
- Make sure your tablet is in USB Debug Mode: Settings -> Developer options
- Open a command window, and go to the platform-tools directory of the SDK
- type: adb kill-server
- type: adb devices
You should see something like:
* daemon not running. starting it now on port <port number> *
* daemon started successfully *
list of devices attached
<serial number> device
- Open Unity, and set the path to the Android SDK: Edit -> Preferences
- Exit Unity
- Install the Unity Remote application on your tablet
- Launch Unity
- Hit Play
- most important -> BE AMAZED!!
You may have to stick lines 6 & 7 in a batch file and have it run every time you start your computer, or right before loading Unity ... not 100% sure on that part yet :\
==[ UPDATE ]====
It turns out, yes, you do need to restart the service every time you plug in your tablet and fire up Unity. Inconvenient, but not too much of a thorn. Just make a batchfile, then make sure to:
- Plug in Tablet
- Run Batchfile
- Fire up Unity
This is what my batchfile looks like:
@echo off echo ==[ Killing Server ]==== adb kill-server echo ==[ Restarting server and checking for connected devices ]==== adb devices pause