Ventures of an ex indie game developer

Peace, Love and Pricing

The Americans finally got their much-needed health care plan. Good for Obama and good for them; and of course the richest nation can afford insurance for 8 million kids otherwise left without. A lot of the opposing right-wing egocentrics label all acts of solidarity "socialism" (or worse!); just lucky the the NRA was unable to gun down the straw man this time. I've always said there is no future for good ol' US of A as long as it's overcrowded with ignorant people (49 % voted for Bush), but maybe there's still hope... perhaps if NRA did like a great right-wing leader of the passed and turned the gun on themselves.

Speaking about pricks, have you heard of Eskil Steenberg? Nah, he’s no prick, but mayhap somewhat overconfident and overzealous just as myself, but with 10x more time on his hands. And perhaps with a pinch of Linus Torvalds-attitude. He is, like me, making a game on his own. His game is going to be a near-MMOG. Almost. If I got it right, he said something like 200 people per shard and with possibility to migrate. I saw the game in way pre-alpha a few years back, and read some about it then, but just saw that tomorrow it’s released to the public after a month of beta testing. The game itself looks a bit like something my son would paint in watercolors; pretty intriguing stuff. And he’s gone pretty wild on especially the procedurally generated content and AI. Discussing cons of procedural debuggability on his blog he states:

“This approach however has one major drawback, it is incredibly hard to debug. Let me give you an example: If the AI finds a power source reasonably close to a settlement they will try to direct the power back to their settlement. First they have to find a path to pipe the power and then the AI need to send out characters to build it. It sounds very simple but a huge amount of things can fail, what if there is no path? what if the characters cant get to the path, what if they get killed on the way? What if someone pipes to power in a different direction? What if someone builds something blocking the path? Each of these possible failures may have a low probability, but together they will mean that the AI will almost always fail unless you build it very robustly. Debugging this becomes a nightmare because if something fails its very hard to know exactly why (there is so many reasons) and even worse its suppose to be able to fail, so when you see it fail you don't know if it does what it should or if its a bug.”

All interesting stuff, but one thing that really caught my eye was his pricing. He charged €3/month for participating in the beta! Also, he is going to charge €10/month for the release version. Due to the publicity he is probably going to attract quite a few people, even though the pricing isn’t for everyone. I’m inspired! Perhaps I should try to charge some more than I first thought. Distribution and costs are surely easier if I only sell 1/5 of the volume (at 5x the price). But I’m still not sure I want my first product to be really damn good, because it might mean investing too much effort. Still, a prick just game me some courage. Nah...

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Gothenburg, Sweden