Profit, Film vs. Games and a progress report

I have three thing I would like to talk about today: Profit, Film vs. Games and a progress report.

Profit
There was an article claiming that roughly 4% of games make money that I saw linked from Bluesnews. That doesn’t sound like very good odds! I’m still interested in pursuing this someday and I have a great respect for people that are giving this industry a go on their own. A friend of mine is giving the indie thing a go and he just crossed a threshold that would scare me: he is spending money (not just time) on his game and hiring an artist! He has a great blog over at Streaming Colour and I really do think he will be in the 4% so join me in wishing him luck.

Note to self: With a 4% chance at making money, you better be making something you love!

Film vs. Games
Streaming colour linked to a blog with a link to an article about making games that touch people. The quote pulled out was this:

“Perhaps the problem is that we so deeply rely on reference points like film, which require stories progressing over time, when we could be referring to things like sculpture or painting, which require no timescale and people find just as moving.”\

Personally I have found arguments about these kinds of things are of the “everyone is right” variety. My take on it is that a game designers intent for a game can be broken into two categories: Immersion based and mechanic based.

Immersion based design – These are games where there is explicity a story or an experience that the designer wants to take the player through and they work very much like a movie where you have to think of how the audience will react to your film/game and you have to use all your creative tools to guide the player to do what you want them to. I think that Valve is on the forefront of studying players and guiding them through this.
Mechanic based design – Give the users a fun game experience and let them create the story around the experience. I think this is the method that most “games that could be board games” fall into. The focus of the designer is on a great set of rules and you can leave the “story of play” to the player. Puzzle games I think fall into this category.
To me the block buster games are the ones that sort of combine the two. This broad categorization is enough for me to pull the elements out of games that are explicitly there for immersion vs. what is there for the actual game mechanics. If you don’t follow or don’t agree with my division, please let me know and I will post some more concrete examples, otherwise I have to get back to work!

Progress
So I was hoping to have my game exposed to lua through tolua++ by tomorrow night. I have had some major progress by getting lua integrated into my game. I am reading configuration variables and calling an update function in my main loop now. Next steps are to figure out how to use tolua++ the most effectively for the time I have. I ran into a snag with this.
tolua++ requires a cleaned up .pkg file that contains a stripped version of what you want to expose to lua. Since I’m all about the biggest bang for the buck with the least effort, I think that I am going to expose things on an as needed basis in my pkg files so I’m going to let tolua++ sit while I refactor my main loop. Path of least resistance.

I also found a very cool feature with Popcap that you can pass -record on the commandline, play your game then run it again with -play and it plays the experience back. I may use lua to toss in a screenshot toggle so I can make a video of the play and post it as a gif! I’ll let you know how that goes.

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3 Responses to Profit, Film vs. Games and a progress report

  1. Owen says:

    Hey, thanks for the shout-out. 😉 Believe me, spending real money on the game (and not just my own time) *is* terrifying…but it’s also really exciting.

  2. Pingback: Visible Progress that I’m not proud of… « I, Game Maker

  3. Pingback: Art and Audio contracting looks easier than code and design « I, Game Maker

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