Swindle Dev: How Can Consoles Improve Ties With Indies?

Swindle Dev: How Can Consoles Improve Ties With Indies?

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Dan Marshal thinks that Microsoft and Sony need to "ape Steam," by offering no signup costs, no lengthy review processes and no fees for patching for indie devs.

Dan Marshall is the man that brought us Time Gentlemen Please and Ben There, Dan That, hilarious indie adventure games that Marshall describes as "love letters to the old LucasArts games, with an anarchic, rude, sweary sheen on top." He is currently working on procedurally-generated monkey deathmatch platformer Gun Monkeys as well as steampunk/cyberpunk game The Swindle. In an interview with Velocity Gamer, Marshal talks about his past and future games, what the future holds for indie devs, and how Microsoft and Sony can improve their relationships with the indies.

"If they want indies to come flooding, they probably just have to ape what Steam does," said Marshall, when asked what Sony and Microsoft can do to coax indie developers to make games for their upcoming next-gen consoles. "No signup costs, no lengthy review processes, no fees for patching. Basically indies have very little time or money, so shaping the service to reflect that is a good idea."

Marshall is known for selling his games at an extremely cheap price-point. Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen Please debuted on Steam for just 3 ($4.61 USD). When asked if this was some kind of financial strategy, Marshall explained that "I didn't really know what I was doing. Time Gentlemen Please was a voiceless game in a dead/dying genre, I thought anything more than 3 would be a really tough sell. It worked, in that people take a punt on it, but I definitely regret not starting the price high and being in a position to lower it over time."

The Swindle is Marshall's upcoming steampunk/cyberpunk platformer, and it's taking so long to develop that Gun Monkeys is being made in the interim. "[It's] the biggest thing I've ever worked on," he says, "It's a pure platform game experience, I've never really done anything like it. Hence why it's taking forever!"

"I think indie developers are getting better at what they do, and now it's a viable career path really talented people are taking the plunge," says Marshall. As for what the future holds for the indies, Marshall would "like to see more freedom in game worlds, stories that bend around my actions rather than leading me down a path. Let's use some processing power for something other than trendy graphics, eh?"

Source: Velocity Gamer

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I think all they want is to be given the same treatment that a AAA-game gets for the sake of fairness. Considering how Fish had to beg and pay Microsoft to not treat FEZ as a XBLA game, many of the companies are still unwilling to give an equal and fair level of exposure to those who submit their game to their service.

Except that they do have a submission fee (for greenlight) http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/. Sure it is a one time fee, But going through greenlight seems to be the go to plan for most indie devs since the valve selection process still doesn't make any sense.

Just look at how they allowed trash like Revelations 2012 in while denying other games like Unepic(which had to go through greenlight to get picked up) for no discernible reason.

Corven:
Except that they do have a submission fee (for greenlight) http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/. Sure it is a one time fee, But going through greenlight seems to be the go to plan for most indie devs since the valve selection process still doesn't make any sense.

Just look at how they allowed trash like Revelations 2012 in while denying other games like Unepic(which had to go through greenlight to get picked up) for no discernible reason.

Steam doesn't.

Greenlight is not how they pick games, and they are thinking of just removing it.

Its for garage developers, most likely 1 man teams that haven't released a single game yet.

To be fair, their are probably too many digital distribution systems for games and they need to simplify it down. Indie games that aren't console exclusive are probably best for steam. However, this is more of an issue on the PC than it is on the consoles, as at least the consoles have some logical reason for having multiple distribution systems: Origin, Uplay, and Blizzards Online system are all unnecessary and just clutter the computer in layers of unneeded management.

Hmm...If only there were some type of new, completely open console, that indie devs could publish their games on, with absolutely no hassle or strange fee's...What's that, you say? An...OUYA?

I haven't seen much of The Swindle, but from what I could gather, it seems like it would have been able to run on the OUYA. It's not too graphically intensive. Obviously if he's not using Unity it would be somewhat of a nightmare to port it over to the OUYA now. But I do question why he doesn't even mention that console as an option. It seems to be exactly what indie devs everywhere have been trying to get Sony or Microsoft to attempt for years.

Mr.Savage:
Hmm...If only there were some type of new, completely open console, that indie devs could publish their games on, with absolutely no hassle or strange fee's...What's that, you say? An...OUYA?

I haven't seen much of The Swindle, but from what I could gather, it seems like it would have been able to run on the OUYA. It's not too graphically intensive. Obviously if he's not using Unity it would be somewhat of a nightmare to port it over to the OUYA now. But I do question why he doesn't even mention that console as an option. It seems to be exactly what indie devs everywhere have been trying to get Sony or Microsoft to attempt for years.

There's quite a few problems with the Ouya, not the least of which is it's very under-powered, even by current standards, has a terrible launch lineup so far, and the early version has a badly designed controller (which they are working on)

It might still catch on, but I don't know what the market is.

Well by all accounts Sony is already making moves towards this, and I know for a fact Nintendo are already doing what he suggests: free unlimited patching, small registration fee, developers having control over pricing and sales, and apparently Nintendo's indie department are trying to offer feedback as quickly as possible.

Compared with how Valve have basically turned Greenlight into an excuse to shrug off nearly all curation responsibility, and I'd say Sony and Nintendo at this point are doing better than Valve.

Ultratwinkie:
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Steam doesn't.

Greenlight is not how they pick games, and they are thinking of just removing it.

Its for garage developers, most likely 1 man teams that haven't released a single game yet.

Except that established indie developers like Way Forward (Shovel Knight) and Renegade Kid (Mutant Mudds) were stuck in the Greenlight queue, despite having games that were already released for other platforms. Greenlight is not working for indie developers. Sorry, but it's not.

Mr.Savage:
Hmm...If only there were some type of new, completely open console, that indie devs could publish their games on, with absolutely no hassle or strange fee's...What's that, you say? An...OUYA?

I haven't seen much of The Swindle, but from what I could gather, it seems like it would have been able to run on the OUYA. It's not too graphically intensive. Obviously if he's not using Unity it would be somewhat of a nightmare to port it over to the OUYA now. But I do question why he doesn't even mention that console as an option. It seems to be exactly what indie devs everywhere have been trying to get Sony or Microsoft to attempt for years.

The Ouya has got a less than stellar reception from people looking at the pre-release backer units. The controller is borderline broken, the online service seems to be mediocre at best, and there doesn't seem to be any way to actually curate games, and stop the system being flooded by broken, amateur crap. The launch lineup so far seems to be filled with shovelware, and if they've not got a decent curation system, that's not going to get any better.

A big part of this is a no duh issue. Sony and Microsoft have ridiculous fees for putting games up on XBox live and the Sony network. Then they have further ridiculous fees for updates with the same freakin' vetting process. Does that stop indies? You bet it does. They are so hostile against independent developers it defies reason.

Alfador_VII:

Mr.Savage:
Snip

There's quite a few problems with the Ouya, not the least of which is it's very under-powered, even by current standards, has a terrible launch lineup so far, and the early version has a badly designed controller (which they are working on)

It might still catch on, but I don't know what the market is.

You could say it's under-powered, but if they were to make it with the same specs as even the PS3, the price would more than double. And then you'd have people asking "Why not just use a PC hooked up to your TV with a USB controller?". I doubt it would then be able to compete with the current gen, let alone next gen.

Some of my favorite games have, by now, terrible graphics. Considering I can still enjoy them tremendously, show that graphical power *Shouldn't* matter, though I know it does, for most.

It has more than double the power the last generation of consoles had (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube), and those systems still look great, even today.

So whilst you won't be able to do Uber-realistic graphics, they'll still look pretty darn good.

I will agree though, the launch line-up is abysmal.

What's its target audience? Developers, I'd suspect. And gamers that might already have a PS3 or 360, but won't be buying the next generation immediately (I won't for quite a while). It also works excellent for Emulation, and is completely moddable, which is nice.

I suppose, though, that if Sony or Microsoft made their consoles as open as the OUYA for developers, the OUYA would essentially be useless. However, I don't see that happening any time soon, even with Sony's step in that direction.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Mr.Savage:
Snip

The Ouya has got a less than stellar reception from people looking at the pre-release backer units. The controller is borderline broken, the online service seems to be mediocre at best, and there doesn't seem to be any way to actually curate games, and stop the system being flooded by broken, amateur crap. The launch lineup so far seems to be filled with shovelware, and if they've not got a decent curation system, that's not going to get any better.

From what I've seen of the controller so far, it didn't seem all that bad.

Wonky online service is something I'd expect for a brand new console. I suspect it will be worked on and improved somewhat quickly. If not, that would be a serious knock against it.

I agree, a system to allow or deny games on the market needs to be put in place immediately. The OUYA is being plastered with shovelware, and if that's not fixed, there's no point in having one...Except for emulation.

Baresark:
A big part of this is a no duh issue. Sony and Microsoft have ridiculous fees for putting games up on XBox live and the Sony network. Then they have further ridiculous fees for updates with the same freakin' vetting process. Does that stop indies? You bet it does. They are so hostile against independent developers it defies reason.

Actually Sony has gotten a lot better with Indies with removing the conceptual review, wavering Playstation Mobile publishing fees and...

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-05-07-sony-launches-indie-game-category-on-playstation-store
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/05/sony-waives-99-mobile-development-fee-in-play-for-indies/
http://www.joystiq.com/2013/03/25/blacklight-retribution-announced-for-ps4-first-pub-fund-game-fo/
http://www.vg247.com/2013/03/26/sony-details-major-indie-push-at-gdc-2013/
http://www.destructoid.com/sony-magic-of-small-games-indies-important-to-vita-229156.phtml
http://www.destructoid.com/sony-partners-with-unity-for-ps4-vita-cloud-and-more-249320.phtml

Still not perfect, but they're getting better.

By not taking 30% of all profits, like they feel entitled to it!

Ultratwinkie:

Corven:
Except that they do have a submission fee (for greenlight) http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/. Sure it is a one time fee, But going through greenlight seems to be the go to plan for most indie devs since the valve selection process still doesn't make any sense.

Just look at how they allowed trash like Revelations 2012 in while denying other games like Unepic(which had to go through greenlight to get picked up) for no discernible reason.

Steam doesn't.

Greenlight is not how they pick games, and they are thinking of just removing it.

Its for garage developers, most likely 1 man teams that haven't released a single game yet.

Could you please show proof of them thinking of removing greenlight? where did you hear that from? you would honestly make my day. I'm 100% serious, I'm willing to beg for the details.

Is it not hilarious that their ego's have been their downfall? treat indies like crap, they get what they deserve. Too little too late, they now have a huge uphill battle to win them back now that they are already comfortable developing pc and iphone. Consoles suck now and its all their fault.

Oh sorry for the double post ...

Zeckt:

Ultratwinkie:

Corven:
Except that they do have a submission fee (for greenlight) http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/. Sure it is a one time fee, But going through greenlight seems to be the go to plan for most indie devs since the valve selection process still doesn't make any sense.

Just look at how they allowed trash like Revelations 2012 in while denying other games like Unepic(which had to go through greenlight to get picked up) for no discernible reason.

Steam doesn't.

Greenlight is not how they pick games, and they are thinking of just removing it.

Its for garage developers, most likely 1 man teams that haven't released a single game yet.

Could you please show proof of them thinking of removing greenlight? where did you hear that from? you would honestly make my day. I'm 100% serious, I'm willing to beg for the details.

Valve isn't happy because its a bottleneck, and people don't get to see actually good games because its flooded with cow clickers and adverts for games that were never meant to be on steam.

http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/02/09/valve-gabe-newell-steam-greenlight/

Then you have trolls who try to destroy a game's chance because everything is too close to "minecraft."

 

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