We now have our first limited-time only item in the store, the amazing Turkey Cannon! Available for for the paltry price of 35 coal.
It’s a fowl wind that blows turkeys your way. Feather or not you like it, the Turkey Cannon is here!
We recorded a little Mustache Mercenaries video to announce the release of the beta. Hope you enjoy.
We’ve decided to push out the update to Wednesday – we want to get some more of the kinks worked out before it goes live. Thanks very much to everyone that’s been sending in bug reports!
To tide you over, I give you this picture of our lead programmer Justin from this Halloween weekend:
Sometime near the end of the day Monday, we’ll do our first big update to Mustache Mercenaries. Here’s what we’ve got:
Now you’ll be able to see all your friends that are also playing Mustache Mercenaries on Facebook. Not incredibly exciting in and of itself, we grant you that. But! It leads directly to…
You can now duel your friends. Each duel costs you one point of Energy, and you can duel your friends once every six hours.
This is a first pass on dueling so we can get your feedback. We are planning on a bunch of additions to it after Monday, including the addition of NPC allies on one or both sides of the fight based on differences in the power level of the robots.
Lots of bug fixes and tweaks!
We’ve also done a ton of work to make tweaks and fixes. Such as:
There’s more than this, but we’re still doing stuff – we’ll have the full set in the patch notes on Monday.
We’ve just pushed a new build live that fixes some of the biggest bugs we had on the launch. Namely:
Since our team is pretty small, it is difficult with some of these fixes to be 100% sure we nailed it – if you see anything that is still borked (another technical term), please drop us a line at email@example.com. Thanks!
On the tail of our announcement of Mustache Mercenaries earlier today, Macguffin Games was featured in an article on Mass High Tech about social media companies in Boston. You can read it here on MHT’s site.
We think there’s a ton of room on Facebook (and in the wider social media world) for quirky games that appeal to people already identifying themselves as gamers. People that think all Facebook games are just like Farmville. People (like myself) that just don’t have the time to play anything for hours at a time on their XBox… but still want to play a good game.
And in the end, who DOESN’T want to have JP Morgan in a giant robot with spats on?
This post is part of a coordinated assault on the blogosphere by a number of indies – we’re all blogging today on the the theme of, “Size Doesn’t Matter”, either for or against. You can find a list of all the other posts at the bottom of this one.
Since not many indies are working in the social games space, we wanted to riff on that experience a little. We hope you enjoy.
Overall, the case can be easily made that game size doesn’t matter. Great small games have already been made – one of my favorites that pops right to mind is Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, a space exploration game where each game takes 20 minutes. We can also look at the AAA market, where games have been getting shorter for years, and people are still content to pay just as much for them. As indies, thank God for this. If the only way to succeed in finding fun was to crank out 100-hour experiences, few of us would be making games.
Something important changes, though, when you get into the social media space. If you want to make money in today’s social media (read: Facebook) market, you’ve only got a couple ways open to you. The biggest is virtual goods. But if your game is really small, how do you go about legitimately creating lots of content for it? If your game takes ten minutes total to play, good luck selling a bunch power-ups and decorative items for the experience.
The solution we see goes back to the basics of making a good game – come up with something with elegant, interesting, and simple core mechanics – and then enable your designers to create content that extends the game’s dynamics.
For those not familiar with the mechanics-dynamics-aesthetics model of game design, it posits that a game is made up of those three things. Mechanics are the rules the game operates with – like in poker, how many cards are dealt, if you can exchange some of your hand for new cards, etc. The aesthetics are the thematic and other elements that lend to the experience, but don’t directly impact the gameplay – such as what kind of poker chips you’re using, if you’re playing at a felt table, etc.
The dynamics – what I’m focused on in this post – are the gameplay considerations that arise with the framework created by the mechanics. So, again in poker, dynamics are things like a player deciding to bluff. They bluff by using mechanics in a certain way (for example, making a big bet), but the bluff itself is a result of the core rules, not a part of them.
With our unannounced Facebook game, we’re working on a small set of core mechanics that will support being extended as we add more content to the game.
So say, just hypothetically, that our new game was a steampunky mech game. It then makes a lot of sense to have interchangeable mech parts and a toolbox of different effects each attack and defense can have. The combinatorial possibilities of the parts help create many possible dynamics, just like deck building in Magic: The Gathering.
Most of this comes down to simply good game design. But in the social media space, this sort of thing becomes essential if your game is free, your team is small, and you are relying on virtual good transactions to pay the rent. If you don’t keep content in your pipeline, you can assume that revenue will dry up as well.
A small set of core mechanics means your development time to beta is shorter. The reliance on content to extend the game means your designer can contribute to the game’s bottom line on a regular basis with only light support from the rest of the team – something that you’ll all appreciate.
Please read some of the other great posts in this giant cross-blogging extravaganza:
Last month, Boston Post Mortem (our local IGDA chapter, which I help run) did a second helping of the PAX East panel, Indies Will Shoot You in the Knees – Why We Don’t Play Fair. It was moderated by Eitan Glinert, the head honcho of Fire Hose Games, and the panel consisted of Damian Isla of Moonshot Games, Ichiro Lambe of Dejobaan Games, and me.
If you want to watch it, you can find the full video of it here, courtesy of my good friend Darren Torpey.
“What is Indie” = Useless
During it, I got onto a good rant about “who is indie”. Eitan loves to get a good argument going with these panels – which is great, no one wants a snooze fest. So this time, he did a lightning round – all three panelists had to answer “yes”, “no”, or “maybe” to the question “Is such-and-such a studio indie?”
My stance, then and now, is that the question of “Who is Indie?” is utterly useless. And as a game developer, “useless” is one of the dirtiest words I can think of.
We cannot afford spending time on useless things. We have way too much to do, to create, to explore. We usually have way too little time and money. We must be ruthlessly utilitarian in pursuit of what we think is really important. Unproductive navel gazing and deciding who is not in our special club is useless.
Exactly like in film and music, there is an indie brand now – it’s a certain kind of game, a certain style of art, a certain set of people. That’s fine. But do not make the mistake of assuming that this is what you need to be as a game developer and artist. That brand will see its rise and fall, just like every other creative movement in the history of culture.
If anything isn’t indie, it’s the idea that your creative output should be forced to fit into someone else’s preconceived notions for it.
Indie is an Aspiration
To me, the indie is an aspiration. It is a desire. Indie is wanting to make your mark, creatively, to learn and grow and share something new and special with people. Indie doesn’t meant making a certain kind of game, fitting within a certain budget, or not sitting in a certain office.
I think there is a high correlation for successful people and companies not taking creative risks. This makes perfect sense to me – once you have something to lose, it’s harder to risk throwing it all away. But spending time trying to figure out if someone “is indie” makes no sense. How does that help anyone make art?
My Soapbox Manifesto
What does indie mean in video games?
Indie is the aspiration to create something new, interesting, or different. Something you as an artist find worthwhile.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if you make any money on it, or anything else.
So go make a game. Make something new, even if only to you. Learn something. Then challenge yourself to go make another.
With as swamped as I’ve been, I have done very little to promote Boston GameLoop, the game development unConference that Darius Kazemi and I run every year. Since we now have final t-shirt art to post, I figured now was a great time to rectify that – look below if you want copies of it sized for desktop backgrounds.
GameLoop is on Saturday, August 28th in Cambridge, MA. It’s a self-organizing game conference, and it goes something like this:
There are rooms for people to meet in, and a big board with a schedule grid to coordinate it all. Last year’s GameLoop was a huge success: we had about 90 attendees from about 35 companies, including local companies like Irrational Games, Harmonix, and Rockstar New England as well as developers from places like Bethesda Softworks, EA Mythic, and Vicarious Visions.
The signal-to-noise ratio at a conference like GameLoop is pretty astounding. The big thing here is that it’s just developers talking about stuff they are interested in. It’s a refreshing change of pace if you’re starting to feel like the big conferences are the same people saying the same things every year.
We’ve had sessions about procedural animation, ethics in rulesets, distributed version control, iPhone shaders, illusionary gameplay, prototyping, and many others. Some sessions are incredibly small and focused – just three really passionate people that just met, discussing a topic they care about. Other sessions can be more like standard conference lectures or roundtables. You can see the whole 2009 schedule along with some audio and notes from the sessions.
Registration for the event is $40. Via our generous sponsors Gamespy and DINO Interactive Studios, we will provide lunch, and a T-shirt – we’ll also have breakfast if we can find a sponsor for that. After the conference groups of people head to dinner to hang out.
To register, go here: http://gameloop.eventbrite.com. We accept PayPal and major credit cards, as well as cash at the door (but you still need to register).
We hope you can make it! We also hope you’ll pass the word on to other industry types that you know, maybe even send a note to your company’s internal boards or lists.
I’ve gone ahead and resized the image for some desktops – enjoy!
And please, sign up now!
Thanks to Boston tech blog BostInnovation for including us in their 4th of July article about independents and games.
Things are coming along fantastically with the new game – we’re waiting on announcing it in part to get the logo. More as soon as we have it.