Games

The emperors new games

This is a phenomenon I observed for quite a while now and I call it "The emperors new games" based on the fairy tale "The emperors new clothes" because the phenomenon is so similar.

The emperors new games are games that look new and great, but in reality they are nothing new or great, in short overhyped games.

Since I'm a game developer I observe the scene, especially the indie developer scene and see what becomes popular and what not. Those "emperors new games" make up a big percentage of all indie games, sometimes also mainstream or AAA games. The are characterized by being supposedly very innovative, intentionally funny, intentionally stupid, intentionally bad quality or intentionally badly designed and because it is all intentional bad, it somehow becomes good. Like there is one innovative idea and the implementation is all just lazy and intentionally bad and because the idea is so great it somehow becomes insanely popular. I don't name any specific games here, because then more people will hate on me than they do now already, so I just describe it as a general phenomenon.

I even had a person commenting me on Uebergame, that the quality is bad and if I had made it intentionally bad, it would have been better, since then I would not have tried to make it good. SO aiming for high quality, failing at it and only achieving mediocre quality is somehow worse, than aiming very low and achieve low. I think this explains the indie developer dilemma pretty good, since you cannot compete with AAA companies/quality you kind of have to aim intentionally for very low quality, because if the quality or art style is so much different from lets say realism, it no longer becomes comparable and you can free yourself from criticism. Of course that is what many developers seem to go for, it also has the great benefit in making production much easier and much less costly. So a win-win-situation basically, less cost, more easy to produce, less criticism, better ratings and more profit. Well it is of course not a win-win-situation, it is a great loss overall, since almost nobody is trying anything good anymore, like aiming for high quality and so the end consumer ends up with overall inferior products.

Now stage two begins and the end consumer also joins the insanity and starts brainwashing themselves into believing that those "Emperors new games" are somehow good instead of seeing them as what they are, just junk and nothing new. In fact most of those games probably would be better of, if they were made as mods for a good game, since then you would not only have the innovative idea, but also the good quality of the game it was modded, good graphics, physics, performance etc. This would be better in almost any way, at least for the end consumer,  but the producer could not make much money from it, since the game he modded does not belong to him. This is where open source would come into play, removing the disadvantages of copyright and even allowing people to make money from their mod as they could release it as a new product and sell it, at least if it is not GPL licensed, which would destroy that concept again.

This phenomenon described here is also a bad side effect of capitalism, since capitalism always needs growth and to sell new products, even if there is nothing new to make. In case there is nothing new to make there is a great solution for that, you can just pretend there is something new. Like repackage something existing in a different style and you have a new product. By making repackaged products or intentionally bad ones you can save lots of production costs and the saved money can be spend well into marketing aka brainwashing people into believing there are so magical great new games, which in reality do not exist. In the fairytale "The emperors new clothes" people were fooled into seeing the nonexistent clothes for real, because they did not want to admit, that they are too stupid to see them. In the games industry there is a similar effect, people like end consumers, reviewers, let's players etc don't want to admit, that their new innovative games don't exist and so they fool themselves into believing they exist. Of course it is just a metaphor, those pseudoinnovative games of course exist, they only don't exist on a meta level as they are just repackaged products marketed as something new or intentionally badly produced and so are missing the supposed innovation or technical progress.

In the gaming culture this all then manifests as people ironically enjoying those "Emperors new games" or enjoying that they are so bad and showing it in let's play videos or on stream. Some also enjoy not enjoying something and make an entertainment out of that. Others just like to hate on something, so they intentionally buy intentionally badly made products and then complain that they are so bad. Overall it is just a weird phenomenon to observe for me so I had to write it down as a therapy for me, since the brainwashing does not work for me I guess and I cannot see the supposed "Emperors new games". As a child I always dreamed of the technical possibilities of future games, but now where I live in the future, things are just getting worse. Instead of using the new technical possibilities to it's full potential, the trend goes to badly repackaging old stuff and only pretend it is new and innovative instead of doing something new and innovative for real. Of course this does not apply to the industry as a whole, but sadly it is a big negative trend that affects probably the larger portion of the industry.

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Uebergame 1.1.2.0 released

This update adds a mostly nonexistent Battle Royale game mode and 4 completely new large scale levels exclusively made for that game mode.

The backstory is that, since almost every multiplayer game has Battle Royale style game modes now, I thought I need that as well, or better said, people suggested that to me. I even met people who wanted to team up with me creating such game modes, two of those seemed serious with it, so we set up tasks to do and a schedule, where I would be designing the levels and the other person would do the coding.

To make the long story short, the other people all ran away, without having done anything and I of course did my part and finished the levels. Since the creation of those large scale maps took so long I wanted to release it anyway so they can at least be played without having to wait even longer for the game mode to finish, that is why the game mode is mostly nonexistent so far, except a few improvised features I quickly made to make it all work.

Other changes in this version are of course some new art assets mostly for the new levels, some fixes for the art assets, some gameplay balancing changes and a single player game mode template, for developers. The story behind the single player game mode is, that before I planend to do the Battle Royale game mode we planned to create a single player game mode, which meant someone was helping me with it and he actually did some coding, but then also ran away and was not seen again, that is why that gamemode is not in use yet and only a template as inspiration for developers.

And finally a short description of the new levels:

1. Riverside Park

A medicore sized park area, roughly 0.5 x 0.5 km in size. In the middle it is crossed by a big alley road next to a river and on the sides you can follow several footpaths through the park area. It also includes some lakes and little forests.

2. Volcav Island

Also 0.5 x 0.5 km in size, but this time it is an island with a volcano like mountain in the middle you can climb and below there is a rather large cave system you can use to walk underground from one side of the island to the next. It features dense, but small vegetation without big trees, so it only offers decent cover, if you duck behind it. It also features the recycled lighthouse from the watertown level adding a little more playable area to the rather small level.

3. Lonerock Island

This is a big island 1x1km in size. It is very high with very steep walkways, but in between there are occasional flat areas with pretty dense forests. You can climb most of the mountain peaks, which gives you a great overview and great possibilities to snipe, but you are also pretty visible and it often takes some time to climb onto there.

4. Rocky Highlands

This is probably the biggest map this update, though also 1x1 km in size, but since it is not an island, but a square area, it features a more playable terrain. The level is set in the mountains, but also feels mediterranean from the looks. In the middle there are a few little mountains and inbetween in the valleys there is a road network with little villages of up to a few buildings each, which are fully accessible.

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My experience with social media for video game marketing

I still remember all those people telling me things like "Dude you need to use social media for marketing etc it is so great and will do so much" and similar things, so I looked into it and used some methods of course and this will be a little breakdown of the results.

So these are the things I tried:

Youtube:

For trailers of things I'm working on and sometimes work in progress videos. Some videos even got a few thousands of views, others a few hundred, it sounds much, but the real effects from that were hardly noticeable. This becomes more clear, when you consider an average conversion rate of 2%, where 1000 views will just mean 20 people will click on your links and from those only a small percentage will download. This still sounds moderately good having a few hundred or thousands of views, but considering that almost all of those views were generated by me or others linking to it or embedding it, it makes the usefulness of the platform itself very questionable, since why you need a social media video platform, if all the views it generates you were generated by yourself? You could just host it yourself then. Of course there were some organicly generated views, but it was only 10% or less of the total views. So I'm not doing youtube anymore.

There were quite many youtubers doing videos about Uebergame, which is good, but the bad part is, that they had no significant subscriber base, on average maybe 20-100, one even had a few thousand, but as described above, even that is almost nothing, if you consider an average conversion rate. This is just on a sidenote, since me being on that platform had nothing to do with others making content about me, so I have no influence over that.

Moddb:

That seemed to be the platform everyone is at and it is big, so I thought thats the way to go. You post updates of your game there, articles, screenshots and videos as well and then supposedly it will generate some attention, but in reality it does not. The platform overall is pretty dead, it looks very active, but very few people are actually actively using it. Posting new media like a screenshot or video, will give you around 50 views and an article may give you hundreds or thousands if it gets promoted to the front page, which rarely happens and if so, it is very short. Considering the average 2% conversion rate again, this is still almost nothing. I'm still having it, but I'm considering quitting it, since it is one more place I have to upload and write stuff for, with hardly noticeable result.

Facebook:

A "friend" suggested this to me and posted something for me, but the result was absolutely nothing, since he was not very popular as well, so that platform is useless as well unless the person already has a lot of followers and gaining followers you can also do on your own. So totally useless for me.

Reddit:

Later I saw many people promoting their stuff on reddit and it looked to work well for them, so I tried it as well. The problem was just, that self promotion is not allowed or not welcome on most subreddits, which I only found out later after some moderator deleted my stuff. To me it seemed pretty hypocritical, since I looked what people were doing and almost every post was people self promoting their stuff, so I thought it was fine for me to do as well, sadly I did not know about their hypocritical double standards. The hypocrisy becomes even bigger, when you consider, that I advertise a 100% free product, while most others advertise commercial stuff. I saw others very succesfully cheating the system, using fake accounts and vote manipulation and all that stuff, but I did not want to go that route and prefered to keep my moral integrity instead. Overall there is a lot of censorship and manipulation going on, so as an outsider and acting legit, it is almost impossible to gain anything there, so I quit that as well.

Various open source community websites:

This seemed to be the primary place to me where I should advertise and gain attention, but damn I was the most wrong on that. On some pages I posted myself, on some others posted about me, thats how I found out about those websites. The result overall was, that all those websites have almost no visitors, so I could not notice anything from those platforms at all. Not only did I gain seemingly nothing for my efforts, I was also banned from the "biggest" open-source-"game developers"-community, which is also pretty hypocritical by them, since I'm one of their biggest contributors, if not the biggest contributor, but hypocrites do not seem to care about logic, reason or reality. Overall it is not that bad that they boycott me, since they have no visitors, they just have maybe 20 active people and since they hate me, I have nothing to lose from not being on there or not being promoted there. I'm still on some pages, just in case someone searches for open source game projects and discovers me, since if they do so, they are more likely  to be a valuable contributor, but for gaining users it is pretty much useless it seems.

Linux communities:

Similar to the open source communities, this seemed to be the way to go for me, since Linux and open source are quite related and open source often go hand in hand. Those have the same problems as the open source communities and that is, they have almost no users, which becomes a bit obvious, if you consider Linux having a market share in the gaming sector below 1%. There were some articles about me on a big Linux site, but I did not notice much visitors from there.

Wikipedia:

I added my game to a list of open source video games, thats all I can do, since I think you are not allowed to write articles about yourself or your products there. It is not good for promotion, but it seems to be better than all other methods above, since I really get some clicks from there now and then, which is far better than all the other platforms, which quickly go down to zero clicks after a short period of time an update is posted there and this even though Wikipedia is not really a social media and not really a platform for promotion.

Various forums:

Some people are spamming all kinds of forums with their stuff, but I looked through them and they either have low number of readers or if they have they often do not allow self promotion or do not welcome people who are not taking part in the community and just want to use it for promotion. Another thing that happens to me a lot is that I get censored or banned, so forums are not a good option as well except the Torque developer forum, but that one is not good for gaining new customers as well, since it is just for developers.

 

Overall conclusion:

Social media is useless for marketing, if you are not having a big following already or people with a big following promoting you. You will just waste your time and energy on that, just for that platform to screw with you and eventually censoring and deleting you. You can have accounts there as an outlet, but you should never let it be your main promotion platform, since if they delete your account, everything is gone, but if you use it, to draw customers to your platform, you keep them. Even for using it to draw customers to you it is still quite bad, since if you can draw the customers directly, it will be much better for you. Very big companies for example do not care that much about being on other platforms, they just create their own, since why should they allow the competition to screw with them and have control over their user base. The problem is, if you are small you are very dependend on being on bigger platforms to gain any attention at all, so you are kind of forced to do a very bad deal. Later I found out how successful people do marketing on social media and that is by bribing big influencers on social media to do promotion for them, which in most cases involves money, which I cannot afford, since I offer a free product. Steam gave me more customers than any other platform combined times 10, but even there things have changed drastically, since exponentially more games get released every year, leaving you with hardly any exposure, especially since algorithms have changed as well so that they are only promoting the big games.

So I'm very close to considering that social media may be totally useless, at least for me, since it seems to be made for the manipulation of people and the market and this is only possible if you have the money to do so, or people who already have influence to promote you and both cases most likely do not apply to me.

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