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Zuhon

Honorable game designer?

12 posts in this topic

Just a silly quick question, but can somebody compile a list or send me to a link giving information on how to be an honorable indie game designer, that people won't look down upon? I've already thought of a couple things.

 

No DRM.

Don't make deals with large companies.

Don't charge full retail price for your games.

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Check out "The Bill of Players' Rights", and "The Tao of Game Design" for some ideas, and "The No Twinkie Database" for an extensive list of common game design mistakes to avoid.  You might also enjoy some of the points raised in "Steambirds: Why indie games are good for fans" and "A Game Business Model: Learning from Touring Bands".

 

 

You might consider a simple guiding statement similar to Google's "don't be evil" -- consider from your players' perspectives whether or not they will consider a particular decision to be good or evil, and try to avoid the evil.

 

 

Honestly, players couldn't care less about whether or not you make a deal with a larger company unless it somehow negatively impacts their experience.  A better guideline might be to be careful when making deals with large companies.  Only make a deal which benefits (or at least doesn't harm) both you and your players, and which isn't evil.

 

Likewise, not all DRM is necessarily evil as long as you're not inconveniencing your players.  There's a growing trend of "DRM-free" games, and that's almost likely the way I would go as well, but ultimately if it doesn't hurt/inconvenience your genuine customers or put off potential future players some unobtrusive DRM doesn't have to be a problem.

 

 

I think Andy474 has pretty much nailed the core idea though: make a great game, and then only charge a fair and reasonable price for it.  Try to keep your costs low enough so that you can make a living whilst charging less than standard industry pricing.

 

 

Hope that's helpful! smile.png

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No DRM.

If your game is worth it, this wont matter.*

Don't make deals with large companies.

If your game is worth it, this wont matter.

Don't charge full retail price for your games.

If your game is worth it, this wont matter.



TL;DR, make a good game, priced right and you are golden.


* -- not including Draconian DRM. Don't be Ubisoft, or make a bonehead move like Diablo 3 or GameMaker and DRM isn't really all that bad. Piracy is a brutal problem and DRM exists for a reason. Just dont screw it up.
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The title is misleading.  zuhon is asking about being an "honorable" publisher, not game designer, and the term "honorable" is from an end-user point of view rather than a business point of view.  So I guess the most appropriate forum for this is the Lounge.

Edited by Tom Sloper
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Treat contributors/comrades/contractors fairly -- give them due credit and a share of profits if there are any.

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I think releasing your game on less popular platforms such as Linux or *BSD shows that you are interested in allowing as many people as possible play your game rather than just going for the biggest markets and ignoring anyone else.

 

Of course, depending on what tools you use, you may be unable to support anything other than Windows or Mac OS X however.

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Just a silly quick question, but can somebody compile a list or send me to a link giving information on how to be an honorable indie game designer, that people won't look down upon? I've already thought of a couple things.

 

No DRM.

Don't make deals with large companies.

Don't charge full retail price for your games.

 

 

DRM isn't a problem, bad DRM that forces legitimate customers to jump trough hoops to play, or worse, prevents legitimate customers from playing is a problem.

 

Charge customers what you believe they will pay for your game, be objective about the pricing.

 

Make sure your deals with other companies don't make you dependant on them or cause you to lose control over your products.

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Loads of links

 

There are some pretty cool articles there. I wish I could bookmark your post to read them later.

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I wish I could bookmark your post to read them later.

I normally just use my browser's book-marking system, but if you're looking for something built into the site you can "follow" the topic: click the "follow this topic" button in the upper right, and optionally choose how often you would like to be notified of new activity in the topic -- if you just want a bookmark you don't have to get notifications though.  Use the drop-down menu at the very top of the site (the one accessible by clicking your name when logged in) and choose the "content I follow" option to view topics you've followed. smile.png

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No DRM.

 

i've been building and selling PC games since 1988.

 

unfortunately, i'm not in the business of selling games, i'm in the business of selling key cd's.

 

if you make something cool, people WILL steal it. sad but true.

 

a lot has to do with the price, scope, and  target audience of the game, as to how likely it is to be pirated.

 

i've done games with no DRM, software registration keys, and key disks / cds.  anything half way popular with less than key disk/cd protection gets pirated.

 

CAVEMAN v1.3 fell victim to this. it had software key registration. earlier versions had key CDs. it was cracked by a guy in Europe, and posted on a warez site out of Zaire, which was hosted on servers in Russia. Couldn't figure out why sales had dropped in later versions. Turned out, I'd been cracked. Losses were so bad, i eventually had to close down Rockland and go get a regular job. I spent 2 years building CAVEMAN v1.0, and released 3 updated versions over 2 years. then i got cracked.

 

all it takes is one copy on the web, and all your work is for nothing.  big companies like MS can eat the losses associated with piracy. indies can't always afford to do that.

 

it all boils down to this question in the potential buyer's mind:

 

"how much more game do i get, and for how many dollars, than i already have now, downloaded for free?"

 

if the answer is "they get nothing more for the cost of a legit copy", they have no incentive to buy.

 

 

 

 

as for other things,

 

there's much less stigma attached to indie games than there used to be. 

 

users will judge the product on its own merits. being a big company gives you the advantage (or disadvantage) of already having a reputation with the user. so they might attract the user's attention more easily.

 

but a good game that appeals to its core audience and is WELL MARKETED will tend to succeed on its own.

 

when in doubt, treat your players as you would want to be treated if someone else had made the game, and you were the one playing it. don't be mean, don't make them wait, don't make them do dull or stupid stuff, don't frustrate them, etc.

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