Tag Archives: gone home

What Really Goes Into The Cost Of Games?

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Recently it seems people are increasingly becoming unsure about the pricing of independently-released games. The most recent case of this was a thread on the Steam forums for Firewatch where over the weekend one of the game’s developers stepped into the conversation when the thread starter suggested they might refund the game. The developer’s response get’s at the heart of what I think is a discrepancy between how customers see the value of a game and how developers and publishers see the value of a game.

Of course we also saw this conversation creep up when The Witness, which I haven’t played, launched at $40, but I’ve been thinking about this at least since Gone Home launched for $20. As indie developers get more experienced and the tools at their disposal get more powerful, we’re starting to enter a new stage where the perceived value behind their games is markedly increasing, but that perceived value comes from a lot of different factors involved in making games.

A lot of people seem to think of just one thing when talking about game pricing: the length and amount of entertainment in the package. I think we need to remember that when pricing games developers and publishers are also probably factoring in things like production budget, the man hours spent making the game, and sales expectations, all coming together to create a target they need to hit to break even or make a profit. I say this without any real knowledge of the business or economics or whatever, but I think there’s some common sense in looking at those factors compared to what the enc consumer sees. Continue reading

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“SOMA”: The Scale Between Walking Simulator And Adventure Game

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If you’ve read any review or impression of Frictional Games’ SOMA, you probably know how it isn’t really a horror game. People call it a straight-up adventure game where monsters show up every now and again, possibly to appease the YouTube audience Frictional sort of helped create with Anmesia: The Dark Descent. I agree with those sentiments, but I also think SOMA is just about the right mix of adventure game that I’ve been waiting for.  It also might be the best one of these “not really a game” games I’ve played so far. Continue reading

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The Steam Sale For Low-End Computers: Fall 2013 Edition

Back in August USGamer published my article about great PC games that will run on pretty much any recently-built computer, even your cheap work laptop. I kind of meant for that article to coincide with Steam sales and such, and now that we’re in the middle of another autumn sale and only weeks away from a winter sale, I’d like to make another small list. I’m posting this now instead of Monday since it’s basically the last day of the autumn sale.

Specifically I’d like to highlight some games that were released on PC after I wrote that article.

The biggest reason to get these games now is their prices of course, which for the time being makes them more worthwhile than any console versions that might exist. With a 360 pad I think it’d be pretty convenient to be able to play some of these games on your laptop or even a desktop connected to a TV. The only great reason I can see for buying some of these games outside PC is if you want a Vita version or a tablet version.

Gone Home

Gone Home is one of those indie experiments that isn’t even really a game. It’s kind of an interactive short story that uses the mechanics you may have learned in games like BioShock and Fallout 3. You search an empty house, rummaging through its rooms and drawers to discover the recent history of the family that lives in it.

That’s it. That’s the whole game, and it’s something I’ve wanted to see for a while. Recent first person games have gotten fairly good at telling stories not with cinematics but with environments for the audience to investigate in ways only possible in video games. Gone Home just repurposes that brand of storytelling towards something where you don’t have to shoot people and you can y’know, enjoy a normal story.

In terms of system requirements it says the game doesn’t support Intel HD 4000 graphics specifically on Windows 8 but I don’t know about other operating systems. Either way, 1.8 GHz and 512MB of VRAM are very low requirements that I think almost all recent computers meet.

Rayman Legends

If you haven’t already bought a console version of Rayman Legends or something, the PC version is actually about the same price as the Vita version and has extremely low system requirements. If you haven’t played it or Origins, all I can really tell you is it’s a long-lost Genesis game in HD. It’s pretty much a textbook of good 2D platforming game design. Some say it out Mario’s Super Mario.

As for differences from Origins, Legends is of course a lot more excellently-designed levels but with the added ability to manipulate objects in the environment with a little fairy helper named Murphy. On a standard controller (as opposed to a Wii U or Vita touch screen) I think Murphy controls well enough, though some may disagree. Legends also laps on a bunch of modern AAA game crap like experience points, a ton of unlockable content, and daily challenges. The difference is that there’s actual well-crafted content behind all that so it’s not as annoying as when it shows up in a shooter trying to copy Call of Duty.

If you’re not sure it’ll run on what you’ve got, download the demo.

Skullgirls

Before I saw it played live I never thought a western developer could give us an actual well-crafted 2D fighting game. Skullgirls actually feels competitive with games like BlazBlue or King of Fighters. It’s well-balanced and each of its characters feels like an extreme departure from the others in terms of design and play style.

Not confident with fighting games? Skullgirls has what is in my opinion one of the most in-depth tutorials for a fighter. It’s the only one I’ve seen that takes the time to explain fundamentals like high-low mixups and defending against those mixupus. It even tailors its tutorials towards each individual character and their combos.

The PC version of Skullgirls specifically adds improved online play with lobbies and a bunch of graphical improvements as well as a new character. According to its Steam page, Skullgirls will run on Intel HD 3000 graphics.

Spelunky

Spelunky may be another side scrolling roguelike but it’s a game that’s gotten plenty of perfect score reviews and for good reason. It’s impeccably designed to be harsh but fair in a way that kind of reminds me of Mega Man. Despite getting pounded by this game time after time I end up going back in more times than I mean to.

What really impresses me about Spelunky is how uniform it is with its rules. The way absolutely every NPC can die and pretty much every object can be used as a weapon makes the whole game feel unusually dynamic yet simple. Graphics-wise all the game page says is “3D graphics card” under the requirements, and a 2.8GHz dual-core processor isn’t much at all these days.

Honorable Mentions I Haven’t Played

The Shivah
Mutant Mudds
Long Live The Queen
Risk of Rain
Valdis Story: Abyssal City
Avadon 2: The Corruption
The Stanley Parable

BULLETS:

  • I didn’t realize GoodOldGames was also having a sale. I suggest Incoming and Riddick.
  • That Game Journalism Guide book is also half-off at the Amazon Kindle store.
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