In Philosophy… II

 

Update posts too few and too far apart, brain and and hands jammed in a creation position… and and I’m out of coffee. Oh and it’s finally snowing outside. Definitely calls for a bit of philosophy… and a hammer. And more coffee.

But more on that later. First things first: status report. Construction of the actual game world has begun \o/. We finally migrated to our production scene structure, that is final enough to begin using as a creation tool. The animation system and related gameplay stuff is proceeding nicely, or as we like to say “slowly but uncertainly.” :D The game’s puzzles involve a lot of physics and tweaking them is tedious work as we have to and want to experiment. Work continues fiercely on all fronts and the end of the year is closing fast.

Which brings us nicely to the topic at hand; The Art of Progress Updates.

We’ve been developing Reset for a little over a year now so I think this is a good time for a little in-progress-retrospective. When we started this project we had a pretty good idea of the workload ahead of us, or at least we knew the major components at play. We knew that we had most of the necessary skills to carry out our plan. One thing we knew that we didn’t know exactly was the production time frame. We accepted the vagueness of the production schedule because we had a vision we weren’t ready to short sell very lightly. And after all this is game development :)

Turns out our progress is pretty close to what our experience has taught us and no unexpected development snags have come across [not counting the burst water pipe in our office ceiling (which almost destroyed our computers) and made us move the office to an even smaller brick walled room for a couple of months. Oh and one born baby! :) Except it was expected, so I guess it doesn’t count.] So we’re actually in a very good shape!

One thing that has totally caught us by surprise was the incredibly positive reception to the stuff we’ve shown from the development. Now this is a good thing. Knowing that there are like-minded people out there makes us push even harder (if that’s possible.) But in relation to this article, as the reception is something we weren’t prepared for, it turns out this is also a bit of a problem for us. The actual problem isn’t that the reception has been positive or negative. The problem is that we weren’t prepared. We were so caught up in our vision that we didn’t think too much of the actual reception. I must point out again that in our case the problem isn’t a really negative one, but still something that we want to tackle. :) And this topic is actually a fundamental one in relation to indie game development.

The two biggest symptoms of not having a proper road map or experience concerning progress updates have been the sporadic update frequency and becoming unsure and scared of what to share. When we started we knew that we needed to allocate our time in the actual production. We didn’t want to spend time listing completed tasks which we thought would be boring for anyone following. We had a vague idea of only posting something meaningful and that is what we’ve tried to do. One thing we did know from the get go was that we want to find all the like-minded people out there and share our splinters from our hearts and minds in the form of Reset.

Now looking back it seems that our brains are still so programmed in the corporate way of doing things that our actions have not totally met our desire to more open. And we want to and have to work on that. So this is me doing exactly that. And here comes the hammer, whack! If something doesn’t work write about it with a hammer. Great, now I’m missing half of my keyboard. :D

Things that we still believe to be true:

  1. Most of our time is to be spent on production.
  2. Sharing the progress meaningfully.

Things that go under the hammer: Definition of meaningful progress updates.

We still feel that posting updates should be meaningful, instead of posting everything since there is too much noise in the world as it is. In our case we need to drastically lower the threshold of posting stuff since the only way to see what is a good amount and a good form for us is by posting.

I mentioned above about the topic being a fundamental one. What I’m talking about here is of course marketing. I hate to use the word because to me it has a very negative tone. I feel that if something needs to be “marketed” purposefully to me, there is something wrong with it. In my head it directly connects to words like “greed” and “bulls#¤t”.  And here is the fundamental part, how to get people to know what your doing without labeling it “marketing”. I guess our heads still being a bit stuck in the corporate world is one of the reasons our “marketing” is coughing.

I’ve wondered for a long time what is the magic behind “viral marketing” or some form of “guerrilla marketing” utilizing social media, the form of communication which we and a lot of indie gaming companies embrace. Let’s call it “project communication” if you will. I’ve been wondering why a lot of small groups seem to be thriving using it and big companies seem to be stumbling. I find it interesting since the main mechanic is utilizing social media, which is available to everybody, big and small. Just a while ago, having stared at it the whole time, I understood what “project communication” really means.

When a big company engages their audience, there is always the company barrier between them and the audience. The gate keeping, the marketing. So even when a big company is present in social media, the contact is still through the gate keeper, and it is a one way street. When a small group engages their audience it is direct. This difference is self-explanatory to the point that it is extremely banal. But herein lies the magic. The signal is very clear. Like myself, there is a thirst for no-bs direct contact with people. Thus “project communication” is inherently only possible for those creators who are directly in contact with their audiences. Otherwise it is just “marketing”, being it any type of media. This is probably very clear to many people but it is funny how the human mind sometimes has a hard time recognizing an object when looking at it from different angles. And following this enlightenment we specifically need to shrug off the corporate frame of mind.

Engage.

P.S Someone come up with a better name for “project communication”, it’s hideous. :)

 

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  • Comments (45)
    • Sean Davis Nelson
    • November 30th, 2012 3:22pm

    Thank you for all the hard work! Sending support from Austin, Texas.

    • MOM4Evr
    • November 30th, 2012 3:48pm

    Ooookay?

    I’m getting quite a bit more confused with each update here. I don’t want to come across as negative, because I’m sure your game is fine and is coming along nicely. But each and every blog post makes me a tiny bit less interested, and a lot of fundamental questions are left unanswered. Firstly, we have a very pretty video with what is claimed to be the ingame engine. If indeed there is this high of vertex count in an unoptimized, initial engine skeleton, what kind of extremely high-end PC specs are being used? I don’t want to diss anything if this is indeed legit, because if it’s legit, it’s wonderful. But I’m forced to pause and question when all we get is a few paragraphs every few months going on and on about not knowing what to tell us, and using a lot of fancy wording to tell us nothing. This isn’t a thesis paper; come out and actually say what you want to say. If you’re not going to tell us anything, fine. Just know that there will be nagging suspicion in the backs of our minds that we dismiss in hopes that you’re not just screwing us over. If you choose to tell us anything, great. I’ll stop being such a naysayer and throw in my wholehearted support, as well.

    Sorry if this comes across as an overly negative opinion. I really like this concept, but I can’t shake the feeling I’m getting from these blog posts.

    • Hey MOM4Evr! Your reply underlines the whole point of the post, which is essentially “stop being over protective and scared to share, and start sharing” Your reply isn’t negative, we feel exactly the same. That’s why we needed to get this out our system so we can get on with the show :)

    • Dejay Clayton
    • November 30th, 2012 4:24pm

    Okay guys, so one thing to recognize is that at this point, you have an audience that primarily consists of people that can be categorized into one or more of the following:

    1. People who are excited by Reset because of aspects of the game.

    2. People who are excited by Reset because of the technology.

    3. People who are excited by Reset because how it is being developed (as an indie endeavor).

    In my case, I happen to be all three. For example, I can tell you that I found out about Reset through a post on the development blog of Almost Human, the indie team that created Legend of Grimrock. Why was I reading the development blog of Almost Human? Because I loved the game, the technology, and the way that the development team went about solving the problem of creating something that would fulfill peoples’ dreams.

    We want to be similarly inspired by Reset, and their creators. So feel free to even share small but interesting aspects of the indie development process. I loved following along with the Almost Human team, reading about how they setup their offices, used LuaJIT to dynamically tweak the gameplay experience in real-time, and divided up the tasks between their four team members. It was interesting and made me feel like I was sitting in their offices, which is a vicarious thrill because I would much rather be sitting in their offices than do what I do during the day presently ;)

    So don’t save the updates for strictly large affairs. Feel free to ping us every two or three weeks with an off-the-wall observations, neat trick or tool you’ve found to save a few minutes of development time, or even the joys and frustrations of trying to execute your vision. We’ll be reading every word! :)

    • Now this is exactly my point! It’s taken us a bit of time to really, really grasp the power of being able to talk to people directly and vice versa. And what it means action wise is that we doing updates in smaller affairs as well :)

        • T.B.I.U.
        • December 6th, 2012 7:57pm

        Well, I believe if you guys really want open a direct canal to talk with people (and viceversa), perhaps its time to talk with all of us as a friends. When, how and why you share your thoughts, deeds, feelings with your friends? Thats the key: an open frankly, sincere, honest and intimate talk with the other person(s). The real power its be able to transmit a meaningful message, a sincere human feeling so the people will able to sympathize with you guys. How to do that? As I wrote before, in the same way we talk with our friends. And what things you talk with your friends? Put the same things, with some few exceptions of course, and you’ll get it. Maybe that also will be the key to success in your incoming KS or Indiegogo proyect (or whatever). Cheers pals!!!

        • Exactly my point, exactly. That was reason for this post, share our thoughts openly, like we do with our friends. :)

    • Dejay Clayton
    • November 30th, 2012 4:26pm

    And remember, we are presently your biggest advocates! I bought three copies of Legend of Grimrock instead of one, because I was thrilled to share it with friends.

    • Jemlee
    • November 30th, 2012 4:37pm

    Dejay Clayton said pretty much everything I was going to say, but nevertheless, great to hear from you guys again, long time no see!

    • Nicolas
    • November 30th, 2012 6:03pm

    Hi guys.

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    First things first, I share some of your opinion about marketing, buzzing, viral and “liking” stuff. But still, the questionning about “project communication” is perfectly legit.
    Trying to balance the information to the essential is a vey good philosophy, but you still have to give visibility to the players.
    It’s different from marketing of larger companies, beceause marketing has direct impact on sales and is almost a question of finding de ratio from marketing budget over expected income. The case of indy games is very different : it’s more a question of having a chance to reach the community. And the community, if your game match they needs, wants to be reached. Finding those guys is both a question of survival for you, and expectation from the community who wants to enjoy indy games. It’s no business, it’s biological symbiose. people are looking for atlernatives games and you (may) have something for them. Given this, “communication” is a sinequanon part of the project. About the balance of given information… my feeling is that your tones and articles are very good, so keep on doing it this way, sparinlgy, with honesty.

    So don’t feel ashamed, and give us some concept, art, philosophy preview so can get over-excited !

    I can’t resist to add that i’m in a position with a lot of similarities to yours at very ealrier stage, and therefor, you’re a true inspiration to me and my crew.
    I even had a kid a few weeks ago ;)

    Keep up the good work, and just follow your feelings, you’re doing it the right way.
    Excuse my poor english… that’s why sometimes my wording could seems a little weird :)

    • Hey. Very well summarized. And the main point is exactly that biological symbiosis, which is something big companies cannot do. And having realized that, I wanted to say it out loud. Again because big companies cannot do that.

      What project are you working on btw?

      Oh and congrats on the newbie! :)

    • Zarsky
    • November 30th, 2012 6:19pm

    You guys are a big inspiration for me, as I’m also striving to become a game developer and create something I’d really want to play, and of course hope others will too.

    I can very well relate to the “project communication” part, as we (also 2 people) have had the same problem with what to share, how frequently and through which media.
    We’ve at least realized that if you create something unique, quality content, there will be an audience as long as you know how to present the content, and in the right space.

    If it was up to me, I’d rather just work on the game and do no marketing at all, but that probably wouldn’t be such a good idea.

    May the work progress by you & mukavaa talven alkua! :)

    • Yes it’s not an easy task. And the basis of it is in fact exactly what you said, if you create something that is interesting, people will be interested.

    • Lorenz
    • November 30th, 2012 6:36pm

    How about “project fluffiness“? ;) (In German, we’d say „Projekt Flausch“, which is hipster speak for improving communication and relations by making things, well, fluffy). And to follow suit: Thanks, you’re awesome, sending support from Karlsruhe, Germany.

    • ratone
    • December 5th, 2012 5:32am

    So, this is a post about the fact that there isn’t any update posts? Quite odd eh?

    Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that all of this is a hoax. A cool pre-rendered trailer and that’s it. The fact that all we’re getting are photos of computers with UIs at the distance and maybe a sketch here and there is proof enough of it.

    But I don’t blame you guys. I mean, if Sony did it with Killzone, why a Indie developer can’t, eh? :)

    • ratone
    • December 5th, 2012 5:49am

    And honestly, it was good to see another video from Alpo. Always thought he deserved to win the EON comp. years ago.

  1. I am really looking forward to seeing more videos and screenshots of the game and also the music!! I listen to that song all the time! I would love it if you guys were on Google+!!

    • Thanks, hmm G+ is starting to look like a good channel also.

      • Yeah you can make a Google+ Page it’s free advertising :P Also it’s a better place to post news, videos, pix for lots of people to see.

    • BenyBen
    • December 7th, 2012 5:44pm

    Marketing isn’t an evil thing. I’ve played a bunch of AWESOME games that failed to hit big *because* they didn’t market their games (Psychonauts is one of those). if you guys are making a product you believe in, then don’t be afraid to try and market it.

    The initial video you made was awesome, and *this* is what gathered so much of the “i’m-throwing-money-at-my-screen-and-nothing-is-happening” kind of support from me.

    The last posts that you made were all way too technical for me and lost my interest quickly (I’m sure it fascinating for someone who understands that stuff). Yet I keep coming back here in the hopes of seeing something else like your first video.

    You can also make a “developer’s blog” type thing if you want to continue sharing the techie stuff :)

    • Hey, good points. Actually this is the the developer blog :) More “I’m-throwing-money” inducing stuff on the way :)

    • Ryan
    • December 8th, 2012 7:38pm

    I’m really looking forward to see what you guys put out. Hope you guys get oodles of money!

    • Yog
    • December 10th, 2012 12:55pm

    Is Praxis Engine going to be Open-Source ?

    • We’re weighing different options for the release, the upcoming crowdfunding campaign will affect our approach. So we’ll see.

    • Sean
    • December 15th, 2012 1:51pm

    Hi! I have just recently started following your development of Reset and I just wanted to wish you luck. :D

    • Jochem
    • December 17th, 2012 1:17am

    So, do you think you’d be able to show gameplay before 31 December this year (as you said a few posts back, if I recall correctly)? :)

    That’d be amazing!

    • riot
    • December 19th, 2012 4:28pm

    amazing!

    • Arthur
    • December 20th, 2012 6:56am

    What you guys are doing here, is simply amazing. I have heard about the game about 20 minutes ago, and i’m already in love with the work you guys are doing. I’m just astonished that just 2 bro’s are capable of such an amazing job. I’ll be buying this shit as son as it goes out!

    KEEP THE MOTHERF*CKING GREAT WORK!

    • Uncompetative
    • December 21st, 2012 1:25pm

    Please do one thing for me… DON’T SET A RELEASE DATE.

    I’ve seen this so many times with AAA titles slipping, or being canned just as their potential consumers are anticipating its launch. Enough of this teasing. Movies don’t do it. The worst that happens is that a Cinema release gets put out on DVD. I don’t think I can think of sitting through a single Movie Trailer for a Movie that didn’t eventually come out, whereas this happens all the time with games.

    At least wait until you are well into the final phase of QA / testing. By all means talk about work in production on your fascinating blog, but please restrain from speculative release dates. Thank you and good luck with your endeavours.

    • Thanks for the input. We’ve refrained from setting a date for that very reason :) All we’ve said that it is going to be this year :) We’ll set a release date when we can stand behind it.

  2. you use udk ? unreal 3 engine

      • Mikko Kallinen
      • December 29th, 2012 11:07pm

      Nope, we use in-house tech we call Praxis.

    • Simon
    • January 24th, 2013 9:31pm

    I like that you have 10,000 Days lying on your desk.

  3. you are so awesome when you learn all it

    • Lopes
    • October 5th, 2013 10:32am

    also got the suport from at least one guy in Brazil :D

  4. The only problem comes when you have thousands of friends, how do you share information with all of them? I think as your audience grows, it’ll become more difficult. But more power to you guys. The screenshots look freaking magnificent, and I’m intrigued by the style even if it just eventuates to a super pretty box pushing puzzle game ala ye-olde sokoban, though I do hope it’s more than that.

    Not sure if you’ve come up with a different name for project communication, maybe just communication is all that is needed. :)

  5. thanks for your sharing

  6. Although she is not too active speech but clear voice, rich knowledge and outstanding looks help her impress when aired. With effort, your effort, she gradually improve ourselves and preserve the public’s affection.