Played > Sold

I have a few dresses in my closet that I never wear. Every time I look at them, I feel guilty; they were not expensive dresses, and I bought them on sale, too. Yet I never wear them so those are money ill spent, wasted, and it infuriates me that I do this, when there’s people starving in the world, and when I am supposed to be wise and responsible with a resource I am working hard for. Those are money I could have used to buy… I dunno… games? 😀

According to an older report, there is a staggering amount of games that people own on Steam, but never even play once, and even more games that are played very little time.  I hope for a renewed report to see how these numbers changed when Steam added refunds, but my guess is there’s still a large number of games out there on Steam, bought but not played, and not even refunded. Kinda like my dresses – probably obtained during the sales or in bundles, a trivial expense, but still useless, a waste of money. Continue reading

Steam, or You Shall Not Pass!

Do you ever think about how hard it is for a normal person who does not have a Steam account to play a game released on Steam?

I know that for many of us, not having a Steam account is something unimaginable, but despite the platform’s impressive number of users, which passed the 125 million mark in February, there’s still some many hundreds of millions to make up the 1.2 billion people who play games, a number that made the news in 2013 (and should now be bigger).

To play a game on Steam, you have to:

1. Go to the Steam website and Install the Steam client

2. After downloading the client, make a Steam account

3. Back and forth through your e-mail and back for Steam account verification

4. Get a confusing Store front page that you are not familiar with, and which is not tailored to you because you just started.

Now, you might be lucky to know the name of the game you want to play, in which case you need to spot the smallish search bar in the upper left screen, find the game, buy it, get accustomed to how you buy stuff on Steam which adds a few extra steps, redeem your key, go to your library, and download and play that game. That is the best case scenario. Think about a person who’s new on Steam, doesn’t really know the platform, and is just browsing for a game he might enjoy. I wouldn’t want to be that person…

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Sebi and I had many attempts at making our games over the 13 years or so since we have a professional connection with the industry. The problem is that neither of us can really code or do art (though we frequently try to learn), and also that both of us have been kinda busy working, crunching, moving across half a Europe to find home and fulfil our gamedev dream. Furthermore, we both have extra passions; I like to write about gamedev, I read a lot, and Sebi is a professional photographer and has an incredible number of side passions. We also like to game some times – and always complain about the lack of time to play. And we are trying to adjust our lifestyle towards the better, so you can add gym, outdoors, roller blades, hiking and camping to the list, too. Oh, almost forgot. We also like to travel. And if I think 5 more minutes, I could probably triple the list.

So our beloved game ideas don’t get done. Maybe they will, someday, but the chance is higher that they will not. Which is why I am inaugurating this new category today, called Game Concepts, which will host every single game idea, design doc, concept art and whatever we made over all this time (that I can find or remember). Who knows… maybe somewhere, sometime, it will spark someone’s imagination. Or make us actually Do Stuff.  Continue reading


Sebi wrote this. It’s a really good read, based on many of our evening conversations, and triggered by a great talk on photography which emphasised the fact that you need 18 to 20 impressions in order for a random stranger to recognize your name as a photographer. We both listened to that talk this morning, and that’s when it hit me: 18-20 impressions are an amazing number that can validate all the (frequently very diffuse) advice giving to game developers (and photographers, and writers, since we are at it) to market themselves early. As early as when the idea of a game (book, photography) actually hits them. Continue reading

The Ibiza summer report, or how to really feed a poor kid by clicking Like

This year we spent our second holiday ever, in Ibiza. It was awesome and it got us totally excited, which is why we published an Exposure to detail our adventures and – hopefully- equip other travellers with even better info than we had (and we had plenty). The Ibiza: In & Beyond the Party report is here (click the image to go there, it’s an external link):


The Exposure report was somewhat successful in visibility – we had 416 views so far – but only 9 Enjoys, out of which one for sure is mine (and yes, I am ashamed of kissing my own butt so to say). This Enjoy number is important since Exposure, a uniquely honest and up front service for photographers, chooses to feature certain pieces based on it, and if a piece is featured, it is brought forth especially to other Exposure users, amongst which some really great photographers that Sebi has admired for years.  So Enjoying our stories helps us a lot, in two ways: professionally, since Sebi really IS a photographer and needs the… heh, exposure ;), and of course, artistically, since this tells us you like what we do and it intrinsically motivates us to do more of it.

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A Game Dev’s Guide to Working Abroad

“I won’t move for any less than 5000 Euros a month”, the programmer told me in a very convinced tone. He had a bit less than 2 years of working experience as a game developer in Romania, and he was interviewing for a job in Sweden, where your average Svensson makes about 33000 SEK a month before tax – that’s about 3600 Euro (4000 USD) for someone at least half way in his working life. This means you get about 25000 SEK in your bank account at the end of the month, which is about 2700 Euro (3000 USD). So the Romanian programmer was a bit off with his demands; suffice to say he did not get the job.

Having high demands is something admirable, but not knowing your value, or what and why you ask for, is not. Which is why I feel it’s necessary to talk a little bit about jobs in the video games industry, quite renowned for its international environment and frequent (and sometimes undesired) job mobility. We know about bankruptcies, about horrible layoffs and about game developers moving all around the globe to pursue their passion. Most of the stories that surface, though, are from the US, where it’s relatively common to move from state to state in case you find yourself without a job.

But what about Europe? And other parts of the world? And how do you go about planning your next move, literally? Most importantly, how do you know how to quantify your value, which is perceived differently from country to country, so you can ask a proper and fair salary? Continue reading

My interesting gamedev life

“Dear Laura, why the hell do you have a blog? You are a lazy bastard, very good at preaching, but rarely following what you preach.” True stuff. Let’s not do this anymore, shall we?

My life has been quite interesting lately, and I think it would be nice of me to share. I have always dreamed to be in the middle of a game development hub, and travel and meet lots of game devs, and learn, and do stuff. I am doing this now.  Continue reading

The Photoshop & digital painting challenge

At the beginning of this year, I’ve read an article called 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. And it got stuck in my mind. In particular, this bit:

…let’s pledge to do fucking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people.

Which lead to me picking up my tablet, the trial of Photoshop CC from the Adobe site, and watching tutorials, especially Ctrl+Paint’s Digital Painting 101 and Andrei Țerbea’s Beginner’s Digital Art Tutorials (which are awesome and free, because some people, like these guys, are awesome).

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2014 in review

Someone told me lists are fun, which made me think of GOTY-ing my 2014, but this was just the beginning. Here is my 2014 from several perspectives that are important to me. Continue reading

Random game production tips

This article was originally posted on Gamasutra

Here is a set of game dev tips presented in a random order, and learned “the hard way” – I hope they help!

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