Developer delusions

I saw this post by Alex Norton, developer of the indie game Malevolence: The Sword of Akhranox.

I’d like to say that I laughed my ass off, but my reaction was more akin to drowning myself in booze.

I’m not trying to be spiteful or anything like that, but Norton is a pretty good example of a game dev that doesn’t realize his part in the cycle. In that way he is a very normal indie developer. Incidentally, this kind of developers are basically the reason I tend to avoid indie games like a plague.

I’m happy for Norton to realize that being a developer means that you’ll get a lot negative feedback and times will be hard. However, getting that real world is a bitch place to live in doesn’t amount realizing that we, the customers, are his bosses next to his actual boss in a company. He gives an example of this.

But one day the producer (who is computer illiterate and whose only gaming experience is with Bejewelled) would pop by and say “You know, my 10 year old niece is really into ponies right now. Change the game to be about ponies”. Because he is the money behind the masterpiece, I would now be forced to abandon all of my work and create ponies and handbags all day every day.

And doing ponies and handbags would be his job. At situations like this you should open a discussion with your boss about this sort of change, if possible. He might be computer illiterate and doesn’t know a lot about games, but he is clearly a businessman who sees that ponies are selling, and wishes to strike there where customers are. As a workforce it’s your job to do your damn job. And make sure it’s the best damn ponies and handbag artwork for the game as possible.

The fact that I was trying to do something new with my game was evidently a horrible crime to many people and I would get utterly horrible comments ranging from put-downs to persanal abuse that would get them arrested if said in person… 

There’s nothing wrong in doing something new as long as it sells. Space Engine is a procedural universe simulator. In that sense, procedural world is not new at this point. I don’t know if Malevolence was in development before Space Engine or vice versa, and I don’t care. Yes, there will be people who will always be against what you do unless it’s for the common good of everyone. [And even then, someone is sure to find a reason to oppose it.I’m sure his idea of open doors development was really good and tickled his inside artist, but we all know that open development is never a good idea. Mega Man Legends 3 suffered from too much transparency, to which I’m putting part of the blame why it was cancelled, and open doors development attracts more spiteful audience than you’d normally get. After all, he had an idea and wanted to go with it. Why ask what the audience would like to see?

 It doesn’t matter if other people like your game. What matters is whether YOU like your game. If you love it, other people are bound to as well. Just look at how much hate has been poured upon Minecraft over the years, but Mojang have sold millions and millions of copies regardless, and you can tell that they’re super proud of their creation!

Oh for God’s sake. No, it doesn’t matter if you like the game or not. What matters if your customers like it. Minecraft sold because it was an endless sandbox and building game that was missing. It was a simple idea that works because it hits the need of doing something in humans. Just saying that I like my chair design doesn’t mean that other people are bound to like it. No, most likely majority of them will dislike it, until I change the design so that people will like it. Naturally, if you’re not satisfied with your product, you’ll feel all kinds of worse feelings. Nobody wishes to do work with a project they don’t like, but that’s life. You also have an option of quitting, remember that. I’ve worked with projects that I never liked to begin with. They’re just stops between projects that I find more meaningful.

If you want to succeed, you’ll likely have to sell out. Just how MUCH you sell out is up to you.

I’m sorry, but this is just bullshit. If you want to succeed, you need to create product that your audience and customer base will want and preferably hitting the Blue Ocean. If your morals and ideas are against making the best possible product for the customers, then you’re an idiot.

I have no personal opinion on Norton and I had never before heard of him before I stumbled upon his post. This is not criticism just for him, but all these developers with similar mindsets.

What they call selling out is serving your customers and being successful. This is a side product of doing your damn job. This game is a trophy game. I’ve got no interest in it, nor will I give it any further look.


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