Gamedev conferences – the benefits of abundance

I almost wrote a bit of a rant post about how next week there are at least 4 gamedev conferences taking place, and how the increased number of these events results in a loss of quality and how we are rapidly heading towards a big fat gamedev conference bubble.

But I am wrong. Continue reading

Indies, we have a problem

I asked a question on Twitter:

Thank you, you wonderful people who answered <3 BUT MOST OF YOU ARE WRONG. Continue reading

We are making a game

It is a statement game about borders, nationalities and the freedom to travel and live where you wish.¬†This is a very important subject for us, and also one that’s currently in the spotlight, given the recent events and the visceral reactions to them. Yes, I am thinking about refugees, attacks, fear, restrictions and prejudices. I am thinking about love and death and that we are all fundamentally the same, as humans. And that, if we really are the most intelligent animals on this planet, we should at least be smart enough as to not invent silly, arbitrary rules regarding where we may go, and what we may aspire to, based on where we were born, our gender or the colour of our skin.

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If they can be friends, why can’t we?

But Project: Freedom* is not a sad, oppressive game, like, for example, Papers, Please! or even The Westport Independent. Quite the contrary.

In Project: Freedom, you are a digital nomad who wants to live life travelling, unattached to any one particular place. The entire world is open to you, but in order to travel from country to country you need to buy visas, arrange your travels, make sure you can work, keep an eye on the cost of living, and also enrich yourself by visiting worthy objectives – but with the downside that you don’t work, hence don’t earn, when you do touristy stuff.

And of course there’s a catch: your nationality. You have a nationality in game, and some degree of choosing it (expressed in an Easy, Medium, or Hard setting :D) but you can also let the game choose absolutely randomly where your digital persona gets born in this fantasy world. Continue reading

UPDATED: A list of random important things you should remember to do when you move to Sweden

This post is for Andreea. And for anyone else who moved or thinks about moving to Sweden. Its pretty random, quite naive, and not well documented list, but given the complete and utter lack of similar endeavours, I hope it does help.

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This is a list of random things to ask and check, to ensure a problem free life in Sweden. All Swedes do it, and it is so natural for them that they forget telling you about it. I was quite frustrated that no one told me, and I noticed a lot of expats as frustrated as me. But this is not a sign of bad will on behalf of the Swedes – they are just so used with these things, they think everyone in the world does it. Continue reading

The Talk

This was a long time coming, an inevitable story that I knew would happen, sooner or later. This Friday, I was invited as a speaker to the Swedish Game Awards, in Stockholm.

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My talk was called “99 reasons NOT to open a game studio and one as to why you should“. The audience was Swedish students and young people and the majority of them did dream about making a living with their games. My business purpose was to make them aware and direct them to open up their studio in our incubators, but I wanted to talk about much, much more. I wanted to make them as aware as I can that opening a game studio has¬†little to do with making games; and that, if you only dream of making games, you have other, far less stressful and risky alternatives, such as finding a job and/ or making games as a hobby.

Slides available here.

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A n00b’s guide to GDC, after the actual event

For a decade, I’ve been reading about GDC as if it was¬†fantasy SciFi: awesome stuff, happening somewhere, in a universe that simply does not exist for me. GDC is so big, so fundamental for the video games industry, that I never imagined someone as small and insignificant as me would ever get there.

I just got back from San Francisco yesterday. Continue reading

Our hidden gamedev power

First there was this. Then came this, and lastly, it was this.

Medusa1The first is a link to the Greenlight page for Medusa’s Labyrinth. This is a short game¬†done by my friends at Guru Games, who had this as a pet project for a while, were unsuccessful in raising cash or finding a publisher for it, so instead of tossing away their (wonderful, if I may!) work, they decided to give it away for free on Steam. Read the first comments, page 7. Instead of a sea of happy people who got their much desired free game, they were met with suspicion – what’s the catch?

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The sad choices of Firewatch

If you have someone you very much love in your life, how would you contemplate assisting him or her as they lose their battle with dementia?

The thought makes me so impossibly sad, I can’t even fathom it. I simply cannot, will not contemplate such a thought. Yet Firewatch -a game!- made me ponder these hard questions, and while hopefully I will never find out what I’d really do, what I’d really choose, ¬†as Henry I did choose¬†and I wonder why so many people reviewed his character as questionable.

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My take on Firewatch is that a terribly sad person comes to learn of an even sadder one. A husband flooded by shame for entrusting his wife into care* – leaving his sick wife in a hospital – tries to escape in the wilderness, where he¬†stumbles upon¬†a father who lost his loving son. A father in hiding, who left his son’s body to nature instead of reporting it, in an attempt to get lost in the wilderness, like Henry. ¬†So Henry helps Ned Goodwin and convinces sketchy, alcoholic Delilah to do so, too. If Henry isn’t a good man, I don’t know who is…

Continue reading

Dear indies, don’t miss Casual Connect

We all know that making the game is the easy part Рthe hard one is selling it, and you can only do that by building a network of people who actually know about it. The best way to establish the base of a network is to attend events; us people are social creatures and we react better when we can associate a face and, even better, a nice real life conversation, to a title we might not only buy, but also talk about, or even review, publish or finance.

But attending industry events is not cheap.

Which is why no sane indie should say pass to Casual Connect.

CC_2 Continue reading

My predictions for 2016

This year I’ve decided to uncover my crystal ball and do like everyone else is doing every January: predict that will happen in the video games industry. ¬†I’ve got a heap of experience so you can trust my predictions 100% ;). And I am obviously special, which is why I¬†am doing this in February (sic!)

Game prices will rise

Jonathan Blow wants $40 for a copy of The Witness. Despite a few protests, people seem to be OK with this price, so much so that Blow is well under way of recouping his 8 years long gamedev investment in roughly a week.

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The SALE labels are missing because EVERYTHING is discounted ūüėÄ

This is awesome! It’s great for gamers who might have a tad too many untouched games in their libraries thanks to sales, bundles and other bargains, because if you spend¬†$1 for something you never use,¬†that’s called a loss, whilst if you pay a hefty price for something that you will use a lot, thats called a good investment. And people tend to get used to good investments, so they’re willing to pay a little more for¬†quality. We can expect less and less price complains and demands for free games.

It’s obviously great for game developers, who can now¬†ask for higher prices without fear. But this comes with a condition, and that condition is quality. Quality includes courageous innovation,

If you don’t deliver the promised quality and still stick to a high price…

VR will NOT be a thing

I LOVE THE VR EXPERIENCE! I actually met GlaDOS! Dissected an alien! Even made my very first omelette thanks to VR! And yes, I can totally see myself taking a sabbatical to travel in my very own bedroom, good bye world, I am off to the moon!

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Hi, I’m Jordi

But VR is for geeks like me¬†and¬†I don’t think we are that many. Most normal people I know of who managed to try VR are hesitant, scared or sick of it – literally sick. Maybe some might still consider it, but the recent changes in price expectations sure don’t help. ¬†And this is not even VR’s first major push or innovation, so we can already safely say that there won’t be a crowd for Star Trek holodeck-like adventures. You see, in Star Trek they always went TOGETHER, whereas VR means utter and complete isolation and vulnerability. It’s a pretty big thing to ask.

♥ Finally, games from all over the world ♥

The reign of the straight white western male gamer and gamedev is over. Everyone wants to make games, and the cool thing is, nowadays, everyone finally can! Sure, some have better conditions and access to more financing than others, but¬†sometimes creativity explodes under strict boundaries. I am looking forward for games made by African, Indian, Eastern European teams. I’m so curious as¬†to what can hyper-diverse teams do!¬†I crave¬†new themes, new takes on old stories, new takes on new stories!

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And this is most definitely the change that makes me the happiest! ♥♥♥

Even more people will play games

Not everyone in the world is interested in Western themes and subjects. SteamSpy already showed how gamer tastes (and spending patterns) vary from territory to territory. But fresh new diverse game teams will open up the doors and welcome so many more gamers! And if people are willing, the rest of the business will have no choice but to provide. Regional marketing and pricing, global support for using many more¬†currencies, and overall efforts to ease up everyone’s experience to pay for their entertainment will ¬†increase our audience massively. And this also paves the way for real artsy, well targeted nice game experiences. Its such a wonderful time to be a gamer!

We are growing up

We are talking about what other industries have talked for years now: openness, diversity, seniority, global strategies, local tactics and more. We are asking why is there so¬†little diversity in¬†game development and luckily, the conversation expanded both geographically and age-wise. It’s not just the women that were missing from the game dev ranks, it’s the different cultures, and the different ages. It’s the seniority that carries on more professional demands on our processes, working conditions and quality of life. And we started to talk about this, we really did. Talking about it is the fundamental first step to fixing a problem, and we are taking this step now.

I never really thought about this seriously, but until recently, seeing myself growing old in this industry was just a silly, stupid, impossible dream. But in 2016, it’s the first time when I am hopeful I can grow old as a respected game developer.