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Company News Let's give Jeff Vogel some free publicity

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Monolith, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Monolith Cipher Patron

    Monolith
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    Tags: Jeff Vogel; Spiderweb Software

    <a href="http://www.gamebanshee.com">Gamebanshee's</a> Brother None has <a href="http://www.gamebanshee.com/interviews/spiderwebsoftware1.php">interviewed</a> Jeff Vogel, owner of <a href="http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com/">Spiderweb Software</a> and creator of a lot of indie games - among others, the <a href="http://www.gamebanshee.com/editorials/goty2007page3.php">critically acclaimed</a> Geneforge 4: Rebellion. Jeff basically gives an insight into his business model and the development of indie RPGs in general, pointing out that there's a lot of room for further indie devs and what's necessary if your dream job consists of making ugly and widely unknown games.
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    <blockquote>GB: For all other (prospective) independent game developers out there, please give some words of advice: what elements of game design should be a priority and what elements can mostly be ignored? What is the best way to find and reach a target market?
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    Jeff: I always say this: Your game has to be AWESOME. It's not enough for it to be fun. It's not enough for it to be really fun. It has to be fun enough to get people to pull out their credit card and give you the number. That's a high barrier to jump over.
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    Play games. Lots of them. Go to the casual portals like RealArcade and see what sells. See how much fun other people bring to the table. If you can, try Aegis Wing on XBox Live. It's fun, it's pretty, and it's FREE. Ask yourself: Can your game compete with FREE?
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    Try the flash games online. There are lots of them, many of them are fun, and they are FREE. Can you compete with that?
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    Then focus on making your game so fun and addictive that it can compete. Worry about everything else later.</blockquote>I'd rather pay for his games than play Aegis Wing or 99% of all flash games ever made for free. Still, his point stands. Without the eye candy bonus or a million dollar marketing campaign of large publishers an indie dev has to deliver or kiss it goodbye.
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    Discuss.
     
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  2. TheLostOne Savant

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    Never played any of Vogel's games. Not for any particular reason other than never getting around to them.

    I don't know why, but I didn't like him in that interview. I agreed with some of his philosophies in terms of focusing on gameplay vice graphics, but even that didn't sit right.

    I think its his business centric view of his games. Everything he said was about the bottom dollar. Even when talking about gameplay and fun characters he whittled it down to being able to compete with freeware.

    I understand he's doing this for a living, but grinding out games not out of inspiration or fun, but just to make enough profit is just disheartening to hear from an indie dev. I mean he actually says he hates making games.

    I'm not talking with my head in the clouds. I know games need to turn a profit. I just think turning a profit shouldn't be the main priority. Looking at games as a business model is what has ruined the majority of the gaming industry.

    Just had to get that off my chest. I usually really enjoy indie interviews but this one left a bad taste in my mouth.

    /jerry maguire
     
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  3. cardtrick Arbiter

    cardtrick
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    Yeah. I'm not a big Jeff Vogel fan. I don't like his games, I don't like his shitty production values, I don't like his attitude. I really don't have much respect for him, unlike just about every other indie dev.

    Haven't read this interview yet, though. Maybe more comments later.
     
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  4. Brother None inXile Entertainment Developer

    Brother None
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    I can't really agree with his point, either.

    I mean, you're an indie dev and yes, you do have to make the bottom line (I agree, TheLostOne, inspiration is also key, but the bottom line is the bottom line; if AoD doesn't sell VD won't be back for another game or have a second team or whatever)...

    ...but how does it then make sense to go and look at a highly competitive area, namely fun, more casual games and try to compete with what's free? Why should I look at what sells and thus actively search out a saturated market and then try to get in on it? That's exactly the opposite of what an indie dev should do, if you ask me
     
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  5. TheLostOne Savant

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    I hear you BN, and what I was trying to get across is while the bottom line matters, it can't be used as your primary motivation. Especially when dealing with something which is pretty much an art form.

    It reminds me of those shitty pulp fiction writers that crank out two books a year. Yeah, everyone needs cash, but you're wasting peoples time with menial formulaic shit. Sure the shit is passable if you're fucking bored and need something to numb your mind for a few days, but it's not any respectable kind of way to approach writing.

    Your should be thinking of making money by making something great that will be recognised for its greatness by those that can appreciate it, not what's the most efficient or the maximum value of profit:cost.

    It's just depressing to hear people think this way about making games.
     
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  6. Calis Pensionado

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    Nuts to you, we're doing it anyway.
     
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  7. Sovard Sovereign of CDS

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    Wow, what an interesting insight into Vogel. I never had a clue that he honestly doesn't like what he does. I thought he was a designophile who just couldn't get it out of his system. It's actually kind of tough to justify supporting him for all these years when he almost looks down on his fans. Even advising to other Indie developers to not take his path.

    This actually saddens me a little. I was 11 or 12 when I first bought a game of his, and I always thought of him as the champion of his cause.
     
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  8. OldSkoolKamikaze Arcane Patron

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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    This isn't the first time he's said he doesn't like his job.

    Regardless, I still like his games. I don't care about his philosophy or whatever. I just care about the final product. If Hitler himself created Arcanum, it'd still be my favorite RPG.
     
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  9. Red Russian Scholar

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    I'd say bullshit, but then I thought for awhile. He's an indie, right? So why not crap out casual games to fund bigger projects? A fun casual game made in a few months, could provide quite alot of funds over December. Capitalistic? Fuck, yeah! But that's not the issue here. He gets financial security which would make his "OH GAWD! I HATES MY JOB"-job a bit more... lovable?

    I've never made an RPG before, but I have day dreamed about making the RPG Codex Holy Grail. Which is impossible to get wrong anyways since you faggots preach it every fucking time along with me listening. But even if I REALLY wanted to, I'd definitely secure some sort of income. Casual games, no matter how degrading it may look, does provide that needed security.

    Heck, if this fucktard would pause for awhile and make something more casual and try and sell it, he'd probably get a good morale boost... or turn ape-shit on us an go capitalistic.

    Oh fuck it, Jeff. Stay with your "OH GAWD! IT HORRABLE JOB" and keep the Jeff Communist Party Factories running to pump out more of your "The Series with Text" and "The Series with Different Text" with Stalin's Red Star Stamp saying: Do it like Russia! Mass Production.
     
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  10. Bradylama Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    I said this the last time Jeff Vogel complained about making games: He should just quit.

    If he's too afraid to do something different, he should just get a real job, because making the same series of games over and over and over again isn't going to expand his customer base.
     
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  11. Claw Erudite Patron

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    Well, I don't know how much money Vogel makes with his games, but maybe he just makes too much money with a job where he isn't pushed around by an arrogant boss to consider quitting.
    I mean, if you get a "real" job, the worst that can happen is that you don't like your job but can't quit because you need the money. It's not like you just get your dream job by asking for it.
     
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  12. Rhett Butler Scholar

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    He seems to believe in his games, so who gives a fuck if he claims not to enjoy what he does? So what if he is not an altruist? Since when is that required? I have not played any of his games, but the amount of sequels he makes means that people who buy them like them enough to buy more. So the man delivers.
     
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  13. another dumbfuck Novice

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    Well, the simple solution is for us to do him a service and not buy his games. Get him out of this horrible drudgery!

    God, how depressing. I guess his lack of caring does show up in the games, though. He is a good writer, but the games are so formulaic...and it's not that good of a formula. Every other aspect of his games shows such a lacksadaisical who gives a fuck approach. Even basic annoyances from Geneforge one that should never have made it into the original release are still alive and kicking in the latest version.
     
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  14. Amasius Augur

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    I'm very surprised by the naivety of many of the comments here. Making a game isn't fun but hard work? Holy fuck, who'd have thought. Writing a book is neither but would you blame an author? Vogel has survived for so long because he delivers polished games with a lot of content and almost without bugs. He doesn't push the genre forward and evolves only very slow, but unlike many devs he doesn't dumb his games down regardless what he thinks about casual games.

    Sure - I would prefer an incredible awesome RPG every 4 years to one ore two decent ones every year, but hey - I still prefer his games to all those faceless action "RPGs".
     
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  15. another dumbfuck Novice

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    I've written a book, and I have made game mods and games. It was fun. Just because something is hard does not make it a soulsucking experience.
     
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  16. Amasius Augur

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    Certainly you have Bryce, but you are an unparalleled exception.
     
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  17. Section8 Erudite

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    I spend a good portion of my spare time creating stuff. I write, I draw, I deisgn... because I enjoy it. I used to get paid to make games, and aside from some clashes of principles, I ejnoyed that too. Yes, it's hard work, but that doesn't mean it can't also be fun.
     
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  18. obediah Erudite

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    The market for casual games is huge, Huge, HUGE, HUGE!

    A direct hit in the $20 casual game market could net more sales for one game in a few months than Spiderweb has seen since it's inception.

    The chances of eking out a poor living from old school RPGs is 1 out of every other indie rpg company over the past 20 years ( including the tens of thousands of projects that never made it out of early planning).

    If you say so.

    Good first step. You've acknowledged that first ugly truth.

    Damn. You're already contradicting your last sentence and floating back into the clouds. If you need to turn a profit, then that has to be your priority. If you set making a good game as your priority then you must be able to afford not turning a profit.
     
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  19. Jason chasing a bee

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    Vogel has always been more of a craftsman than artist and that's just fine with me. He continually puts out games that are more satisfying than the bulk of games in any given year. That's enough to get my money.

    And bryce should stop being a fag and start posting on the regular again. We don't have enough old man sac around these days.
     
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  20. Brother None inXile Entertainment Developer

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    It's also fairly saturated. We have at least one megabig EA-style corporation sitting in the dead center of it deadening all chances of real competition. Yes, that'd be PopCap.

    You really expect to be able to compete, as an indie, on a market that has a company willing to invest 700,000 USD and years of time in a casual gaming product?

    The chances of that are roughly the same as eking out a living on indie RPGs. Besides, the indie RPG market is probably healthier now than it's been before, but we'll find out more about that if AoD comes out, I s'pose.
     
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  21. fabrulana Educated Patron

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    Hitler wrote games ?! :shock: must have been on punch cards...
     
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  22. Naked Ninja Arbiter

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    I very much like Vogel. And he is at least honest.

    Thats because it is a business. Look, if you were selling cakes, and litterly 5 feet down the road someone was giving away free cake, you'd need to be not just a bit better but a whole hell of a lot better to attract customers away from them. Without customers you won't be able to afford to make more cakes. Reality sucks.

    Everyones gotta eat. I have a lot of artist friends who did their degrees in art or literature and are now doing advertising or copy for a living. Some get lucky but most have to make concessions to survive.

    Did he say hate or did he say "not enjoy". Not the same. It's a hell of a lot of work guy. I go through periods where I am disheartened and wonder why I'm bothering. Where I look at what I have done so far and go "meh". How many of you have played a single game, every night, for a solid year or two? Now imagine you aren't playing you are working. It is easy to get sick of it, no matter how cool it seemed in the start. You get burnt out. The best thing I've found it to just leave it for a week or two. Enthusiasm levels recharge and after a while I find my passion and excitement returns. Honestly, having done it for so many years, it sounds like he just needs a good long vacation. Overall I'd say game dev isn't really "fun", but it is satisfying. Fulfilling. And sometimes you have cool moments which make all the crap seem worthwhile.

    Surviving is always top priority. As you get older it gets harder. He has a wife, kids, a mortgage, all supported by his game dev. And after 10 years doing this he won't be easily able to get into mainstream dev, the industry moves SO quickly. Life has some harsh realities.


    The strategies casual games use to hook users are important for indies to understand. They don't generally have the marketing that mainstream titles do and they don't have huge names behind them (mostly). They have well honed strategies to hook players simply through a demo which is an incredibly hard thing to do, you're talking about someone first having to bother to download your title (distinguish yourself from the crowd), then in about 30 minutes convince them to bother buying it. How many mainstream games are that compelling in the first 30 minutes or so? As an indie you are now, whether you want to be or not, a salesman. You need to learn the tricks. You can't eat high principles. and if you can't make money off your title you won't make many more.

    But does your future and the future of your family depend on it?
     
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  23. denizsi Arcane

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    The lesson of this interview is, if you want to make a living making your own games, you got to remember the misery of Al Bundy and live alone. Then maybe you can enjoy your trade as well. Al wouldn't, since a shoe salesman is a shoe salesman, with or without the family. So also remember that you're lucky.
     
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  24. Hazelnut Erudite

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    What NN wrote ++

    And, Jeff probably does need a long break to recharge - I guess he must live too hand to mouth to feel comfortable doing that.
     
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  25. Section8 Erudite

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    Of course not, and that's a very deliberate choice on my behalf. I'm not criticising Jeff for what he does, I was really addressing a comment or two that implied hard work and fun were mutually exclusive.

    I think it's a bit of a shame Jeff is in the position he is. It's very admirable that he's carved out the niche he has - against the lumbering goliath that is the collective "mainstream", it's remarkable. But any form of art that must be commercial is bound to reflect more on that aspect than the artists' creative depths.

    I'm more than willing to suffer the gradual sameness of Jeff's art and sympathise with his position - because he's not really compromising on anything, he's just (understandably) not prone to wild ideas and fruity concepts. And most of all, he's eking out a living for himself and his family by doing it.

    Far more admirable than the venture capital funded powerhouse that will compromise any aspect of a game to further their chances of turning billions into billions plus a bit more. Or the deluded souls who pour their energies into said projects and eke out a living by helping soulless corporate husks make their millions.

    And vitriol aside, I'm curious to see what he delves into once Geneforge is retired.
     
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