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Unfamiliarity killed the cat

What is it with this player versus boss genre?

I get it, gaming is in a rat race of simplification and everything pre-gratification is expendable. Imagine Metroid Prime without all the exploration and only the boss battles… Yeah, it’s not as good is it BUT that reduction is where we’re headed.

Just look at Absolver, a game where the bulk of the world is empty beyond players a) wanting to gank you or b) wanting to team up to easy-mode a boss. And more often than not, b) is followed by a) anyway.

It’s empty. Yet players flocked to it because who doesn’t want to learn kung fu.

The problem for Absolver is not that it’s difficult, but the player behavior and fighting system have a learning curve.

Therefore the initial flock thinned, and ultimately the game is spiraling downwards in terms of popularity. The same was true for the Ubisoft game For Honor.

When players can’t be the winner via familiar actions they get turned off.

This is why players don’t get turned off by the challenge in Hotline Miami, Cup Head and Dark Souls.  Familiarity.

What we know is that Death by Game Show, which was challenging, failed to get traction despite having short levels, instant replay value, and countless rewards. It had the ingredients but was unfamiliar to players and despite the market demanding “unique” or “innovative” products, consumers no longer connect when something is unfamiliar.

This is, without doubt, the fall off from mobile gaming culture.  Everything must be obvious and gratifying.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

The illusion of sales

All present and future game developers know this.

Consumers wait for sales.

Unless you are a big swinging… pendulum of a developer, or have a well marketed… media darling of a… sleeping with Gabe Newell kind of game, you’ll be sucking on the sales nipple from launch to living in your parent’s basement.

This is not a slight. Needs must.

It’s a consumer driven market and every Tom, Dick and Harry have lined up to shuffle craptastic shizzola onto every App store because “look Ma’ I’z got a job, so I canz liv in da basement.”

/Sarcasm

Anyway, to the point.

These sales you’ll be hoping to live off are not actual sales. They are “calls-to-action” done by platforms to draw in consumers who have been trained to expect massive reductions and free sh*t.

So here’s a reality check.

The price your game is at, during a sale is the true reflection of product value on the market. So, as every other mother flicker is putting the peddle down to F2P even your $0.99 price point is looked at with the “hmmm, should I buy a can of diabetes OR a 20-hour single player game” hesitation.

/Metaphor.

The platforms are the guards, and games are the inmates. The guards dictate when you can get a conjugal visit and because only so many inmates can have bang bang at once, you’ll have to wait your turn.

What this means is that you either stick at full price RRP and hope for the best or succumb to the guards and fragrantly wave the %OFF flag in an inmates circle jerk.

The irony here is that the circle jerk will get you a better return. Sleeping with Gabe Newell ain’t sounding so bad now, is it?

So, as a developer, you’ll likely be hoping the handful of major sales during the year can make up for the vast majority of the time your little sweetheart is stuck at full price.

/The punchline.

Consumers know the only time to buy is when your game is on sale, or in a bundle, or F2P. It sucks right?

The only exception, you are the big swinging… orangutan on a rope tire and can make gaming media dance so you get the exposure needed.

So go sleep with Gabe Newell quick.

We should have, as right now we’re stuck doing the inmate circle jerk.

It’s probably why they say the games industry is a messy business.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

Warning to rookie journalists

Some rookie journalist for an unknown site reached out to me the other day asking about Oointah. It was 100% phishing, but still, they found us. I was excited.

Initially.

I asked him to get back to me with some real meaty questions about game development, Steam, and all the other usual confrontational “stuff” Jim Sterling goes after (or goes after him as the case may be).

I didn’t think there would be much value in doing a shallow, surface only interview. If the questions were uninteresting, there would be no interest in Death by Game Show or Oointah. It needed balls for people to read obviously.

So with carte blanche to ask anything this is what the journalist comes back to me with…

When is the expected release date?
What is mobile gaming changing for game developers?
What is the expected price?
What platforms will it be coming out on?

What the f***!

Carte blanche. Carte blanche on the questions!!!!

My excitement was gone.

Expected release…  January 2016!  It’s been out for years.  Nice research fella.

I did want to write back slamming the lack of originality or inventiveness. Suffice to say, I didn’t and won’t. It’s bad enough I’m doing this.

My frustration comes because I know curiosity lives on Steam. I’ve had great conversations about the gaming industry with players on the platform covering everything from Early Access to Greenlight, to market saturation and mobile ports.

Why couldn’t they be journalists with interesting questions and opinions?

And here’s my point. If any journalist, big or small want to ask any REAL questions reach out to us.

Peace, as the hipsters say.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

Why are we forced to cut words to fit character limits?

We always try to reply to constructive reviews on Steam for Death by Game Show.  We find people’s feedback invaluable.

As we bundled the game last week for the first time we’ve found a host of new reviews.  Many negative sadly saying the game is too hard, too simple, too chaotic, too boring and too much text but not enough explanation.  You can imagine our heads are a little like a pinball bouncing about with the contradictions.

Yet, I focused on one review and started to write a reply. I wanted it to be a sincere response explaining why the game is chaotic and why many people who like it seem to stop playing between 1.5 and 4 hours into the game.

Several paragraphs in and it was a succinct but explanation full response to an angered and frustrated player.

I had explained that the chaos of the game is representative of how the lead character sees’s the world, full of noise and only when thinking (aka stopping time) and strategizing can they succeed. I also admitted the game gets much harder and varied after 1.5 hours. Sadly, some people get frustrated and stop playing due to the difficulty curve.

Yet each time I tried to submit I was told by Steam’s platform it had too many characters.

I shortened. Nope. Shortened again. Nope. By the end, it was a husk taking only the key points without any sentiment. Somehow my sincerity was reduced to a wedge of text that sounded more like an excuse rather than what I wanted to say. Why are these systems in place?

The only logic could be that they’re trying to cut down what people say to each other online. Turning our wonderful languages into a series of short catch phrases and abbreviations. What’s next, no words – just emoji’s?

If language allowed the human race to evolve, what does the loss of language represent? No doubt, less expensive reading glasses.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork…

Another week and another tree chopped, pulped and pressed to process the last seven days worth of paperwork at Oointah Games.

It’s heartbreaking when your game doesn’t perform but the artwork has charm and characters have enough life in them to live on in numerous spin-offs going forwards.  Hence the paperwork.

The big question is “where does that leave Death by Game Show?”  It’s already destined for bundles and numerous sales leading into the end of 2017 but is there anything more interesting in its future?

“Yes”, I say wholeheartedly.  In the background, we have a cunning plan to make Death by Game Show simpler, more casual friendly and far more accessible.  With limited bandwidth, we’re aiming to launch the first update around August.

Yet it’s the end of year update which will prove a potential game changer but our plans for that are super top secret.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

 

It’s time to stretch out our rod

Last week we spoke about casting our rod in all directions trying to get momentum. So what other directions, beyond bundles and sales have we been casting? Well…

We have previously disclosed one avenue which included a mobile spin-off. As of now, we have two spin-offs muahahaha that use our loveable droids and tub of goo lead character U.H.Wutt.

Our second spin-off is an F2P mobile game which is a throwback to the classic era ye-olde button mashing Olympic games. The principle is simple, the quicker you mashed, the quicker you ran.

We’re obviously changing this up for mobile. With a focus on how to bring the retro mash-tastic gameplay to competitive mobile multiplayer.

The concept combines the above with futuristic crazy Olympic events and a progression system that advances your robotic athletes even when you’re offline.

If you have an opinion, thought or idea let us know? Otherwise check back in the future for more updates on this new Death by Game Show spin-off.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

Steam, huh, yeah, What is it good for…

Absolutely nothing. Say it again, y’all.

I know that is harsh, but it’s crystal clear the uniqueness of Steam is largely smoke and mirrors.

The illusion of millions of gamers having huge libraries of games might make you believe the consumer market is strong but outside of mega sales, bundle activations and key giveaways, Steam is a graveyard of hopes drowning in a flood of desperation and panic.

Ignore what Steam says and know that you are more likely to inspire its audience with games like Genital Jousting than Death by Game Show. Shock value + simplicity = success. Don’t try to add layers of complexity or progression, don’t try to add depth or hours upon hours of content. Don’t even come to market with a finished product.

This isn’t a slight on Genital Jousting, it’s a mini-postmortem on Death by Game Show and Steam. Death by Game Show was all about what Steam said it was in September 2014 and what gamers demanded back then.

In 16 months Steam changed dramatically. We’ve all seen the flood of content it released. An insane 60% of Steam’s content has been released since July 2014. With the growing library of content, the audience no longer needed games which had hours of game time as there were hundreds of thousands of new titles at low to no cost to cover any and all voids. Gamers were spoilt for choice and like mobile gaming, spending time in any game unless immediately gratifying was pointless. So each new wave of games became more and more gimmicky to stand out and quick to please.

The same methods and ideas delivered on mobile have become commonplace in Steam games. In September 2014, the Steam community would have been in an uproar with mobile games on Steam. Now, it’s normal.

By the time Death by Game Show came out the idea of having to learn controls rather than it adhering to familiarity was a bridge too far for most reviewers. The number of times we heard “no jump?” even though the lead character is a 300lbs tub of goo is bamboozling. Running, moving the cursor and clicking was too much work and let’s not get started on attention. Too many clicks to win = overwhelming gameplay.  Although majors get away with it as gamers are more willing to invest in the more popular or mainstream titles.

So at some point between starting development and launching Death by Game Show the market swung. Steam is now a hybrid of mobile ideals and PC visuals. Indie has been fragmented between the two extremes, probably forever lost to simplification and obviousness.  Unless itch.io can once again put indie in the light.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.

Pre-emptive Good Intentions

In a previous blog I spoke about a looming update that would reduce the difficulty, and then went onto explaining how. That explanation, albeit with good intentions was pre-emptive.

Don’t grab those pitchforks yet as there is still a patch coming. It will include 15+ changes, mostly minor but they should accumulate to a big improvement in making Death by Game Show more accessible for a broader audience.

So, when will it come? We wanted December 2016, failed. We are hoping for the end of January 2017 at this point but the reality is, it will probably be the end of February where we can launch it with another sale and marketing push.

We’ll keep you posted on developments but hope there will be no further delays.

Please follow us on Twitter, YouTube or add the game to your wishlist if it interests you. Also please check out our Steam Group for Death by Game Show.