I was kinda hoping some more high profile folks would start speaking out about this, because I’ve been thinking exactly the same for some time now. Windows 8 will be bad for PC users, including gamers, but especially for indie developers. Finally they seem to be appearing.
First thing, my business evolved a little this year. Now, instead of doing freelance software development, my company does general IT support (including software dev.) So I’m now in the business of supporting clients who mostly run Windows. From what I’ve seen of Windows 8 and specifically Metro, it’s going to make life far more difficult for corporate users. I expect I’ll be fielding calls day in and day out asking where the start button has gone. A lot of people are used to Windows standardization. Ironically, it’s what MS has pushed for years in order to make life easier for the less technically inclined. Then there will be needing to do things like disabling the Metro store to prevent unauthorised purchases and downloads. All nice for me I suppose since it’s billable work, but for my clients a lot of needless expense.
But my misgivings about Windows 8 go a lot deeper.
MS appears to be moving Windows to a closed platform. The Windows/Metro store is the only way to get applications that run on the metro interface, at least until it’s jailbroken. This means that no software gets on Metro without approval from Microsoft (as is the case with Apple and IOS) and MS takes a 30% cut from all apps sold on the store.
Indie developers now have to cope with their customers getting nasty warnings about their downloaded software being possible malware. Some virus checkers actually remove the software automatically if it is not ‘popular.’ And Windows 8 apparently gives the aforementioned warnings, plus it makes it difficult to proceed anyway.
How’s that going to affect independant developers, both of games and other applications? Hurt sales much?
And if it is Microsofts long term plan to close Windows up so that you can only get software from them? I guess we’ll see when Windows 9 is released (if W8 does well that is, personally I expect it to go the way of Vista.)
Who then do we go to? Apple is following the same path with OSX.
For one thing they tend to be fairly inexpensive. An indie game usually costs less than 24USD instead of the 60+USD of big publisher AAA games. Indie game developers are free to experiment with their games. Of course they need to put food on the table, but they’re not driven by the marketing department and the need to keep shareholders happy. (Unless the spouse is considered a shareholder.)
But most of all, many indie games are fun games to play.
So yesterday when I read that Electronic Arts is releasing their own indie bundle my first thought was WTF!
Obviously some marketing droid realised that the humble indie bundles were highly successful and figured why not grab a piece of that pie.
Folks, EA is not an indie company and has no right to co-opt the term indie to push their own marketing agenda.
A lot of MMORPGs let players create trial accounts, but Machine 22 let you try out their free to play game Star Corsairs without even having to create a trial account first!
This post by indie MMORPG developer Dave Toulouse gives a bit of detail on the new tutorial mode for Star Corsairs that gets a new player up to speed without needing to come up with yet another password, or at least until you’ve decided to keep playing.
You don’t see too many indie developers that have released not just one, but two MMOs, but Machine 22 has in fact done so.
Their first MMO is called Golemizer and was released a few years ago now. Dave Toulouse, certainly a glutton for punishment it seems, has just released his second MMO, Star Corsairs.
Star Corsairs is a space based game. It has crafting, space stations, capital ships, and alien attackers. Dave’s goal for the game is partly inspired by Eve Online, and while he freely admits it cannot be Eve, he’s just one guy after all, he’s designed it to be an improvement on earlier games of that type.
I played it a few weeks ago when it was in alpha or beta, can’t quite remember, and enjoyed my time tooling around in the galaxy. If it wasn’t that I was extremely busy building an ecommerce site, I would have spent a lot more time playing it.
One of the things I like about indie game developers is that they aren’t locked into any particular model. Where the big game producers seem to take hold of a successful game concept and never vary the formula, the little guys can experiment and take risks.
There’s a lot of criticism of the MMORPG industry at the moment. Most commentators seem to consider it to be stale, and even highly anticipated releases like SWTOR have been giving out the “been there, done that” feeling. Some even consider the genre to be on the way out. Personally, I’m not in that camp, but I do think that if there is to be any hope of innovation in MMO gaming it will come from the independant game developers, not from the AAA studios.
Why don’t you head over to Star Corsairs, and help the MMO industry by supporting your local indie developer?
At least for a while. Earthrise is due shortly, and SW:TOR is due later this year I think.
Unfortunately, my business hasn’t been doing all that well lately. I lost a lucrative client, and haven’t had any successful quotes of recent. Christmas also sucks for getting new work, noone does anything until the holiday season ends, usually after Australia Day (26th Jan.) So, I find myself on the other side of the freelancer feast or famine cycle.
All which means I have to do some belt-tightening. I canceled the SOE Station Access sub earlier in the month, and that expires in the next day or so I think. It’s not a big deal because I have been so busy I haven’t spent any time in EQ2 for months. Still, it’s a bit odd not having that subscription safety net there in case I get the urge to log in.
And there are no other MMORPG subs going. The six month period for Fallen Earth expired some time ago, and I canceled Star Trek Online and Champions not long after I bought them. Mate, that would have to be a while ago now. Eve was canceled after the third or fourth attempt to get something going also early in the year.
And World of Warcraft. Aside from a minor itching to play a Worgen (I think there’s a powder for that,) I have no desire to go back into the Warcraft world.
I think the last time I was sub free for any extended period was between 2002 to 2005. I moved to the US for work and had finished up with Anarchy Online just beforehand. I did buy and subscribe to some games during that period for limited times. WoW for a bit, EQ2 until the constant lag became too much, but it was sketchy until I returned to Oz and resubbed to WoW in late 2005. And from then on, I haven’t been without a MMORPG subscription. I feel nekkid.
Still. I do have the lifetime subscription to LoTRO, even though that has now been converted into a full access to the free to play LoTRO. And, there’s DDO which I’ve enjoyed, not to mention other FTP games out there. So there is still some MMORPG goodness out there to enjoy.
And, I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist Earthrise when it comes out in the next month or so, I think. And SWTOR… well, enough said there. I’ll have to scrape my pennies together I think.
Having said all that, I’m also finding myself attracted to some of the single player and indie games that are available.
There’s no shortage of gaming fun if I need a fix.
Because of time constraints, I haven’t been spending much time in the MMOG scene lately, but when I’ve got a spare few minutes there are plenty of quick indie games that provide a distraction.
I just came across this little gem of a browser based game called …But That Was [Yesterday]. It’s a simple, almost minimalistic side scroller, but it has a wonderful quality. Getting through the entire game took me only a few minutes, but it left me feeling somewhat emotional. Rock Paper Shotgun described it as tugging at the heartstrings like bell ropes which I think is an entirely apt description.
Castle Smash is a Facebook game released by a group of indie game developers. It’s basically Angry Birds but with a Facebook flavour. But the best thing about the game is the cinematic that I’ve embedded below.