Jun 202013
 

Twitter was set ablaze this morning as Mike, of Penny-Arcade fame, said some pretty inflammatory things.  He started lashing back at criticism sarcastically and getting defensive, and digging himself deeper in trouble (as he self-admitted in this post to PA’s blog).

Don't read the Comments

It’s a sarcastic pouty face

To be frank, I’m not too surprised at all of this.  Mike has a certain personality that shines through (in his blog posts, PATV, and Twitter) and this kind of drama has happened a few times before.  He apparently has a statue in his office that reads “don’t engage,” much like I have a blue wristband that says “don’t read the comments.”  I wear the wristband for some very good reasons that I’m not too proud of.  Just as Mike ignored his statue, I ignored my wristband.

I spoke up against being a jerk to other people, as I sometimes don’t have the energy to do.

And then came the calls to boycott Penny-Arcade’s fan-oriented game expo, PAX, and I had to take pause.  I have a booth at PAX.  I will be contributing money to the organization, and some of that money trickles up and directly (or indirectly) lends support to Mike and his inflammatory remarks. As was stated to me via twitter, and seems to be the common sentiment out there right now:

“I hate to guilt you on this, but you really [...] have to accept that you’re supporting this guy, or no booth.”

Argh. I don’t want to be that guy that’s seemingly lending support to insensitive words, hate, or anything that makes any marginalized group uncomfortable.  I don’t want people to look at me and say “that guy, he’s one of them.”  Maybe that’s my insecurity talking, but I like to think that I stand for a better future, and therefore can’t be a part of this PAX thing.

On the other hand, PAX is very progressive and … Well, frankly, amazing.  The people organizing PAX, from the paid higher-ups (which doesn’t include Mike, directly!) down to the volunteer legion known as the Enforcers, are all outwardly and openly accepting of all sorts of people, sensitive to issues like these, and have even gone so far as to have a very good anti-harassment policy (and is one of the only conventions to outright ban “booth-babes”).  They respond quickly to complaints at the convention.  They enforce these values, it isn’t just lip-service.

Capture

A family playing MLY at our booth @ PAX Prime.

Beyond just policies, PAX is also inexpensive ($30, vs. GDC’s $2,100) and accessible.  The love exuded by the enforcers is amazing.  The enforcer-donated board-game-library was the direct birth-parent of SteamBirds and the reason I’m even here writing to you now.  The expo-floor enforcers assigned to my Monster Loves You! booths go out of their way to make sure everything runs smoothly for me.  Some of my best memories were made on the expo floor (picture, left).  It’s all roses over there, any angle I can cut it.  And yes, I even have nice memories talking to Mike personally (though I have spoken more in-depth with Jerry and the rest of the PA staff).

I’m proud to say I support PAX, and while nothing is perfect in life, they are one of the few organizations out there striving to make things better.  In contrast, I didn’t buy a GDC ticket this past year and refused to support them.  Likewise, I don’t think I’ll ever want to attend E3.

I don’t think it’s fair to demonize a large, entirely positive organization because one guy associated with their top-brass says stupid things sometimes.  I think, given all the positives and negatives, PAX is one of the few conventions (not the only!) that we should be supporting.

That’s easy for you to say, you cisgendered white privileged male,” I can hear some of you saying. Well, yeah, I’m white. I’ve been pretty privileged in life, I’ll grudgingly accept.  I can’t help that, and maybe I’m wrong to speak up on this issue at all, but I don’t know if I’d go with the cisgendered label.  Without going into too much detail:  You don’t know me!

And you know what? You probably don’t know all the people you’re chummy with in the gaming industry.  Making assumptions on who is what (especially in this age of fluidity in sexuality) is presumptuous at best.

I am particularly sensitive about the more personal aspects of my sexuality, and the implied slurs and insults that go against that in day-to-day life.  The fact that I can escape that and be with my similarly-minded friends at expos such as PAX makes me very happy.  I can trust that if my (or my friends’) comfort is violated at the venue, it’ll be taken care of.  The culture of fear and hatred that is openly spread at places like E3 is actively discouraged and villainized at places like PAX.

We need more places like this.

And if PAX is broken, I’m willing to do what I can to change it for the better, from the inside.

Sep 072012
 

Earlier this week, BitFlip Games made a blog post saying that their PAX booth cost them $12K. Afterwards, they edited in a preface that says PAX is still one of the cheapest conferences, and they meant it as positive praise for the conferfence… but the rest of the article doesn’t read like that. Choice lines like this:

That’s a hell of a lot of money for a 3 person, self funded team to spend. And that’s just one 3 day show.

Don’t exactly scream confidence and thankfulness. So I wanted to share my story and my costs, as a shoestring Indie Developer.

TL;DR: Your indie game booth will only cost $1,760 at PAX.  That’s less than 15% of the $12K figure being tossed about in headlines these days!

RELATIVE COSTS

Before I jump right into this, I have a pet-peeve.  When I quote costs and expenses, I leave out things that are wildly variable and circumstantial when speaking to the public (obviously I still budget for it privately). When detailing how much it costs my studio to run every day, I don’t tabulate the cost of buying high end sushi for my team every day for lunch, nor do I count driving 3 hours to work in the morning in my hummer. When going to conferences I don’t tell people about my first class flights, five star hotels, and day-to-day “spending money” for trinkets and jewelry. The reason for this should be clear: You don’t have to pay for them, and citing them as intrinsic costs might scare away developers that would have walked to the convention and slept in the hostel (with their free breakfast!) every day.

It’s fine if you want to report back your total receipts and separately mention all these extra expenses, to give people a baseline. But don’t assume what sort of lifestyle your peers have, and for god’s sake stop moaning about not making a profit when the CEO of your one-man company pulls in a $120K salary every year. It’s not fair to say that flights WILL COST YOU $3,000 when you live in Antarctica, if a good chunk of your audience lives next door to the conference center.

I’m not saying BitFlip did all this wild exaggeration (they definitely did not!). They did inflate the budget with things like airfare and hotels, plus day to day incidentals.  BitFlip did put a nice breakdown at the bottom of their article, but the headlines that spun out of this were screaming “$12K!” and that’s the only story that made it out to the blogosphere. So let’s break this down a bit more fairly and clearly:

FIRST UP: THE MEGABOOTH

The Indie MegaBooth is your friend. Entry is open to just about anyone, and it nets you huge discounts in terms of collaborative purchasing power and donations from larger organizations. Here’s a great interview with Kelly, the MegaBooth organizer. I am so serious when I say I COULD NOT GO TO PAX if it were not for the hard work of Kelly organizing and setting up sponsors, donations, and dispensing helpful information out to all the participants.

Here’s a list of all the items I received, without any effort on my part, entirely thanks to the MegaBooth organizers:

  • $1,600: a 10×10 foot booth
  • $160: MegaBooth shared costs. This covered banners, a projector for our trailers, etc.
  • FREE: 4 exhibitor badges
  • FREE: 3 three-day badges (thanks to PAX and my enforcer!)
  • FREE: Carpet color upgrade (thanks, PAX!)
  • FREE: Backdrop color upgrade (thanks, PAX!)
  • FREE: 48″ TV (thanks, Intel!)
  • FREE: 8′ Stand for the TV (thanks, Intel!)
  • FREE: 2 keyboards, 2 mice, 2 headsets, and 2 xbox controllers (thanks, Mad Catz!) [They EVEN LET US KEEP THESE!]
  • FREE: 32″ Monitor (thanks, Intel!)
  • FREE: High end laptop to display a game on (thanks, Intel!) [Also had the option for a big gaming rig]
  • FREE: upgrade from 250W to 500W of power, just enough to power all of the above (thanks, PAX!)
  • FREE: All the cables, power bars, extension cords, and A/V hookups I needed. (Thanks, PAX/Intel!)
  • FREE: A table, two chairs, and a garbage can (standard booth package, included in price)
  • FREE: Booth help for wrangling crowds, running for water, food, etc (Huge thanks to the Enforcers and to the MegaBooth volunteers!)
  • FREE: Trailer editing, website presence, press releases, and marketing efforts for the megabooth in general.

Seriously, all I did to get all of this was sign a single form that said how many square feet I wanted. Everything else was organized by megabooth staff with no input or organization or logistics needed on my behalf.

That right there is some pretty sweet kit for only $1,760. A standard booth at PAX usually runs around $2500 if you want a 10×10 space on the floor, and that doesn’t really include anything. For much less a price, I pretty much had a fully functional booth, with logistics, delivery, cleanup, and even setup/tear-down of big things (like the TV and the Stand) handled by Intel and the Enforcers. No sweat off my brow.

I could have just showed up with a thumbstick with my game and had a great booth, just like that. $1,760 is your bare minimum. This is what it costs to have a decent booth at PAX. YOU CAN STOP READING NOW.

EXTRA PROFESSIONALISM POINTS

A while back I bought a Radial Games stand-up floor banner, that stands about 3 feet wide and 8 feet tall. It cost me about $300 and will be re-usable for years. I also purchased a more expensive Monster Loves You banner for $400; it is a cartridge-load banner and I can swap it out for other games at much reduced expense in the future.  I also had a huge box of previously-purchased business cards, and I splurged for $100 worth of the fancy carpet padding, so my feet wouldn’t get sore standing at the booth all day.

The booth next door to mine (Dejobaan!) printed up a few 8×5 adverts for the game, which I taped to the side of the television. Let’s say the tape, scissors, paper, and ink all amounted to less than $5 and pretend it never happened (there was more than one booth using the supplies, and we hardly used all of it anyway).

None of these things were required, and all but the carpet will be distributed costs over every event I go to. But just for kicks, let’s throw in our luxury expenses:

  • $300: Radial Games banner (reusable)
  • $400: Monster Loves You banner (reusable for other games)
  • $50: A thousand business cards (I only handed out about a hundred, but what the heck, let’s pay for it all today)
  • $100: Carpet underlay

That brings our total up to $2,610.

PLUSHIES

I further decorated my booth with a dozen very large hand-made plush monsters, each made locally by a nice lady out of her home. These cost $300 to purchase, but I sold half of them marked-up the last day of the show. I ended up coming home with 4 monsters and breaking even.

  • FREE: A dozen large plushies for booth decoration.

TRAVEL EXPENSES

Again, I hate when people include travel in their costs, so ignore this bit. But for full disclosure, I’ll just put this here.

I live pretty close to the convention (Victoria, BC), so this wasn’t so bad. It is still a completely different country and I had to bring my passport and all that. Pricey it was not.

  • $100: Return trip tickets on the ferry.
  • $30: Taxi fare.

I probably spent more money on the duty-free liquor on the trip home.

Total is now $2,740.

LODGING AND FOOD

Normally I stay at the hostel for about $20/night, but I decided to splurge and split a hotel room with a friend.

There was a ton of parties, vendors, and publishers/distributors willing to wine-and-dine you. Finding a free bite to eat was easy, but for the sake of argument let’s say $60/day.

  • $400: Hotel lodging for four days (3 for the conference, and an extra for setup the night before)
  • $240: Food.

The hotel threw in free wi-fi (normally it would be $20-40/day), probably because they knew the volume would collapse the system in the evenings and it’d be a tech-support nightmare. I did spend $40 on a roaming cellphone plan, but it didn’t end up working and I got a refund when I got back home.

Total is now $3,380.

BOOTH HELP

Colin and Sarah Northway were showing off Incredipede off to the side of my booth, and needed some tickets to get into the show. I traded them Exhibitor passes for a bunch of labour at the booth, and I gotta say I couldn’t have done it without them! They paid for their own travel and lodging expenses.

A fellow indie developer, Graham of Velvety Couch Games likewise missed out on buying tickets, and offered his services in exchange for an Exhibitor pass. I had a few spares, so no problem! If I thought Colin and Sarah were great helps, Graham was an amazing trooper, sticking it out on the show floor for hours when I could only stand to hide behind my banners.

Remember, these exhibitor badges came with the booth for free.

  • FREE: 3 booth helpers.

This is on top of the food/water runners and generic all-booth volunteers that the MegaBooth provided, and the specific-to-my-booth enforcer that did a ton of work and help (particularly during tear-down and set-up) that was provided by PAX.

And these aren’t “special case” or “only available to me” booth helpers. Asking around the show floor and on Twitter, I have dozens of people volunteering to show off my booth in exchange for Exhibitor badges next year. All you have to do is ask! Remember that Exhibitor badges get to get in early, stay late, and skip all the lines. They’re solid gold!

Of course, I was able to sell my extra free three-day passes and ended up making a bit of money back there, but I won’t cover that here.

TIME INVESTMENT

Monster Loves You, the game itself, is something that has been bouncing around in my head since 2009. Dejobaan and Radial Games started work on it 3 or 4 months before PAX, working sporadically and part time.  I’d estimate it took us 3 weeks of full-time work during that period.

Organizing the booth was pretty much done the day before. Remember that almost all the logistics, planning, sponsorships, and equipment was organized by Kelly of the Indie Megabooth, and I seriously just signed a few forms.

But to be honest, I was still stressing about things, and being unsure how things might pan out. Turns out my fears were unfounded, and things went *way* smoother than I thought they would. Let’s be fair and say it took a week of work out of my system, all in stress-tokens.

That’s a total of 4 weeks of work to make the game and get the booth running.

GRAND TOTALS

Allright, that sums up all my trip receipts.

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A DECENT INDIE BOOTH AT PAX: $1,760

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A BIT MORE PROFESSIONAL BOOTH: $2,610

Just add your travel, lodging, and food expenses (if necessary) and you’re done. For me, that came out to a grand total of $3,380. I will grant you it can be cheaper than that, or more expensive depending on your location and dietary requirements (eg: if you can’t survive on free beer alone).

That’s a far cry from the twelve-thousand-dollar headlines making their way across the blogosphere recently. And a much shorter time investment.

EDIT: I’m not bashing BitFlip here, though they did cross one of my pet-peeves. They still detailed all their expenses! What bugs me most is the media response, generating headlines and articles saying “$12K for a booth!” without going into these details.

EDIT 2: I forgot the $160 megabooth shared costs. Adjusted all numbers to match.

EDIT 3: There is obviously no guarantee about what sponsorships and free stuff might become available at the next megabooth (or even if there will be a megabooth!), so these costs and savings could change drastically if the worst were to occur. But I very much think that things will only get *cheaper and better* here on out.

More Media!

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Jul 192012
 

Hey everyone! I mentioned this on today’s DevVlog, but I thought I’d crosspost over here.

I’m now involved in a few more media outlets:

  • GameDev Radio – I’ve actually been co-hosting this for ages (it’s Devin Becker’s gig, now), and we had a few months of downtime, but it’s BACK! Check us out. We’re trying to make weekly episodes, but as we churn through the backlog we’ll be posting 4 in the next two weeks.
  • LevelUp Radio – This is a local show here in Victoria, BC – we’ll touch on larger community trends, but try to focus on the indie scene in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Hello World – A podcasts on my general musings of the indie game making community. :)

I put these both in the sidebar along with my DevVlogs, for easy access.

Cheers!

 

Jul 172012
 

The logo for my Victoria, BC game-developer-meetup-group was getting old. We had been using a member-submitted piece of work that was free, and definitely did the job, but I think it was time to get serious about our representation.

I thought I’d take you through the whole logo-design process, and show you how the logo evolved over time!

Logo #1

Back in the beginning, when the group was called “VDev” (for Victoria Developers), we were a much smaller, less focused bunch. We mostly enjoyed beers and hoped for the day when the group would finally grow.

As we had no talent on board, and we were kind of shaky on just about everything, this is the best I could come up with:

It’s a photo I took at a meetup, showing some game-maths I was trying to figure out and the all-important beer. In higher resolutions, it’s a pretty good photo, but it’s no logo. I think it captures me, personally, but not particularly the group. Well, maybe it does? Regardless, it sat atop our Meetup.com page for around a year.

Logo #2

After a year of growing the group, it became time to nail down our goals and direction.  We decided to change the name from “The VDevs” to the current name, “LevelUp”, that we had been using informally. The inference here was: If you’re attending, you’re “Levelling Up” your game development career. I liked it, and it rolls off the tongue nicely.

Our group had a hundred-or-so members, and in there was some talent. I put out a call for something – anything! To grace our front page.  We had a few volunteers, and this is what we went with:

I thought the logo was eye-catching and cute. I was happy with it, and it’s more … Unpolished, less professional feel. I think it jived with our group’s personality at the time, and all the way up until TODAY we have been using this logo.

LOGO #3

But this week I’ve been planning out OrcaJam III. We’re collecting quite a few high-tiered sponsors and making it a pretty big event now. LevelUp is being approached by media and reached out to by recruiters. We’re thinking about taking the whole LevelUp group to local events, and even represent at things like Chamber of Commerce meetings. I thought it was about time we stepped things up a notch, and get us a more professional image.

I was mulling the concept over in my head when I stumbled across a tweet by Alec Holowka. He was showing off the logo for his new game, and it looked fantastic! And it turns out it was designed by none other than my good friend, Sara (@twobitart)! (And this is where I should mention that Twitter is good for finding work!)

I knew Sara worked fast and would be able to do a good job representing us, so we sat down earlier today and set out on making this new logo. Here’s a few of the drafts she came up with after an hour or so:

Just rough sketches; concepts. I loved the “xp bar” concept (middle, right) that sorta looked like a sword at the same time. I also liked the two concepts at the top, showing the “swoop” of the dude jumping up.

I thought the whole “8bit” pixelized look is a bit overdone, so after some thought I asked Sara to go in the direction of the center-right swooping guy. I liked the hand-crafted, hand-sketched look; but the logo still looked dynamic and exciting.

Sara got back to me with a few other examples an hour later, and after a few iterations I had a few more images on my hands:

 

Sara was trying to stick to the “professional” roots of my original request, and made up a lot of suggestions using more straight lines and a cleaned-up look. Again, these are all very drafty/sketchy and produced very quickly, but I immediately fell in love with the hand-drawn “swoop” of the word “UP” (again!). We did a batch of iterations and ended up with the end product, presented here in a more compact form:

Look at that work of beauty. I was surprised that I’d like the removal of the jumping dude, but keeping the swoop in. As soon as I saw it, I exclaimed it was “Baller” and said “ship it!”

All in all, the process was about 5 hours long, which included some breaks and things. Couldn’t be happier with the product. It looks great on the front page of our LevelUp meetup page, and I even mocked up some TShirts and offered them to the group.

So awesome. I feel so happy right now, I just had to type this up.  Sara is always looking for work!

Jun 082012
 

It’s TIME!

Jam O’Clock is today – 2 hours from this post, to be clear. Let’s get some Q&A out of the way, but first, I’ll drop a few links to IndieGames.com that published some of my thoughts on the whole subject. In particular, I really like Mike Kasprzack’s re-working of my phrase:

“Any question in game dev can be answered in an hour, but it takes practice to ask the right questions.” – MK

So, those questions!

  • WHAT?! Jam O’Clock is a 1 hour game jam! Make a game in an hour!
  • WHEN?! 2 hours from now! 1PM PST, which is 4PM EST, 9PM London Time, 8AM in Auckland.
  • THEME?! Totally optional, but the theme is “DEVOUR.”
  • SETUP?! You are totally allowed to setup your dev environment, use packages, libraries, art assets, particle systems, etc… The point here is to demonstrate a core gameplay example.
  • IRC?!Join the AfterNet IRC channel #JamOClock
  • TWITTER?! Let’s soak up the #JamOClock hashtag!
  • WHEN DONE?! Upload your game here, if you like!

I’ll be live-streaming the event on my Twitch.TV account. See you there!

May 242012
 

I value freedom and control, and that’s probably one of the reasons I am an Indie developer. That’s also why I like shipping my game on platforms that allow me to set my own pricing standards, as opposed to having them dictated to me.

To that end, a bunch of us developers decided to band together and do a mega sale. IceBurgers is 50% off this week, along with TONS of other games!

Check out the BecauseWeMay website here!

(And you can add your own game to the mix!)

(I came up with the name! :D)

May 232012
 

I’ve been doing a lot of live-streaming on Twitch.tv, doing various 5- and 15-minute game-making challenges recently. There’s a nice bunch of people that hang out and take part in the chat room, and they mentioned it would be cool if we all got together and jammed at the same time.

Well… Let’s DO JUST THAT!

FRIDAY, JUNE 8th: The first ever JAM O’CLOCK is being held globally! It’s happening at 1pm PST (4pm EST, 9PM London, 8AM Auckland), and we’ll all get together and make a game for exactly 1 HOUR (Hence the name! See, I’m clever!).

That’s Friday, June 8th, from 1pm->2pm PST. Just set aside one hour in your day! That’s all!

I’ll be doing a LiveStream of my 1-hour game on my Twitch.tv account, and we’ll have an official IRC channel up and running too: irc.afternet.org, #JamOClock. (PS: I’m at that IRC channel right now! It’s my normal hangout spot!)

The fine fellows over at Ludum Dare are donating the abuse of their website for our cause, and allowing us to submit any games we choose through their interface. When the time comes, this is the link we’ll use.

I’ll send out some more updates as the date gets closer, and if it’s a success I’ll make it a regular thing (maybe with it’s own website, even!). SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS!

DevVlog HIDDEN!

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May 182012
 

Oh man, having an entire wall of video posts on the front page of my blog was way too intimidating.  I decided to shuffle all my daily DevVlogs over to their own category, and made a prominent link to them in my sidebar there.

Don’t worry, if you’re subscribed to the RSS feed you’ll still get daily notifications. For everyone else, the latest video is just a click away!

(While I was at it, I updated my wordpress, removed a few plugins that weren’t being used, and all that glorious maintenance stuff)

Mar 012012
 

IceBurgers went from “pending review” to “approved for sale” two days ago!

So why don’t you own it yet?

  • Apple decided that now would be a good time to make me prove I really have a company. All I have to do is fax them my articles of incorporation.
  • Who uses fax machines?!?
  • My lawyer’s office holds all that paperwork for safe-keeping, so I have to pay a huge fee to get that information liberated and into Apple’s hands.
  • My lawyer’s office address doesn’t match my business address so Apple has grounds to reject the fax even when they do receive it.
  • Apple also wants my tax information. For an American, you just log into the interface, tick off a checkbox, and hit the “I accept” button. As a Canadian, I need to fill out a form and snail-mail it to them.
  • This form must be sent after the fax is approved.
  • I’m moving, so by the time my fax gets approved and my snail-mail form gets delivered, my address will have changed, giving Apple cause to reject the snail-mail form.
  • I’m leaving for GDC tomorrow.
  • Did I mention I’m moving?

It’s been a stressful week, to say the least.

Why can’t they just let me sell the friggin’ game, and not release the money until these hoops are jumped through?

All my marketing is screwed up now: My teaser trailer is now going to be a full month too early; the t-shirts and stickers I ordered for GDC will largely go to waste. Apple is costing me money with their stinginess.

And the worst part is: You can arguably say all of this is my own damn fault, so, hooray. :C

Feb 232012
 

So we’re all on the same page here, I want to assign some reading. Here’s two recent articles:

Sensitive Opinions

A lot of what Jenn has to say is spot-on; a lot of the games submitted to the IGF are, indeed, pretty crappy or just absolutely broken.  And overall this is drama, and it’s kind of annoying to see it cropping up year after year. However, Jenn targets her ire at Rotting Cartridge in what I think is an unfair manner, and uses some straw-man arguments as well (RC’s game didn’t appear to crash on install, for example).

At the same time, I agree with what Rotting Cartridge has to say: everyone deserves a fair shake. If you paid the entry fee, you deserve to at least get some eyeballs on your game. I also partially disagree with their passionate post; at least they got some amount of play from the IGF judges.

I have no idea how to judge this particular case; I don’t know the game in question, I don’t know if I trust the game’s metric sources, and I don’t know if the bit of judging they did get was indeed fair. Reading those two articles, though, will give you the opinions of the two camps: Either you think the IGF “does the best it can,” or you have been “personally slighted” by the IGF.

Some praise for the IGF

Before I go on, I want to mention that I have the utmost respect for the IGF in general, and Brandon Boyer (and Simon Carless’s) contributions to the whole thing, and how everyone – developers, judges, organizers – wants to make it better. I don’t think anyone should say the IGF is a bad thing.

I would hate to live in a world where the IGF did not exist. I’m proud to have been a part of the IGF, and I continue to submit games for judgement there.

But the IGF is not perfect

I have my own story about the IGF judgement process that I’ve tried to hash out semi-publicly before (mostly on Twitter). It was over a year ago, and I’m over it now, but here’s the super-short version:

  • I submitted SteamBirds: Survival to the IGF last year, before it was launched to the public
  • The game contained input-recording (replay) functionality to aid in my playtesting pre-release.
  • The game would not run if it could not connect to the replay storing functionality
  • Exactly 1 person played the game for approximately 30 seconds. I am not convinced it was a judge (could have been a test-open or something; it’s hard to even get to gameplay within 30s)

After learning of this, Brandon Boyer was very pro-active at getting to the bottom of this. I think everyone agreed this was not the way the IGF is supposed to work. Unfortunately, judging had already ended, and my contribution to the gaming world would not get it’s “fair shake.”

In the end, it turned out a few other judges did play the game – they already owned it on their iPad and decided to play that version, instead of playing the version submitted for judgement. Of course, it never crossed the judges minds that the submitted version was in fact a sequel to the mobile editions they owned. For that I got heart-felt apologies, which I guess is better than nothing.

After telling this story a few times, I happen to know several other game developers that are recording similar metrics or replays in this year’s IGF games, to ensure they also get a fair shake.

So, yes, the IGF isn’t perfect. There are some problems.  As Team2bit says on twitter, “I never expect perfection for $95″ – but maybe we can improve things a bit.

The solution?

Let’s talk about the issues. Let’s figure out what’s wrong, and let’s work on solutions. I don’t think the appropriate response to legitimate complaints is to “STFU and deal”, as Jenn Frank implies.  Boycotting the IGF is probably an over-reaction too. The knee-jerk response to someone getting frustrated shouldn’t be “try making your own festival then.”

Me discussing my problems with the IGF organizers (hopefully) turned into new policies or procedures that will prevent the problem  from happening to other developers.

Ignoring the issues will not make the IGF better.

Talking about them will.