Make great games. Respect your employees. Be transparent to your fans and even your competitors. Great employees will follow.
Spry Fox has been making F2P games for a couple years now and we haven't yet turned into the devil. (Though I keep checking my scalp for horns...) It is possible to do f2p and do it "right."
I have more appreciation for comments that F2P forces you to make tradeoffs in game design. This is absolutely true. And if you want to avoid this, you can absolutely keep making games that you sell for 15 bucks or whatever. Except those markets have their own tradeoffs and devils. Want to sell a game for $15? Well, there are precious few places you can do it, and that makes you a slave to those platforms and their particular requirements and challenges. If I want to distribute a f2p game, there are dozens of non-trivial distribution channels for me to choose from in the US alone, not least of which is my own website. (A very large percentage of RotMG's traffic was direct to the RotMG website, just as one tangible example.)
Want to sell a game for 99cents? Well, now you have a few more options (still nowhere near the options a simple f2p game has, but more.) And if you want to make a relatively simple game, that's fine. But if you want to make something substantially more expensive (either to develop or to maintain on an ongoing basis) that 99cents from the 10% of people who don't choose to pirate the game (even though it only cost 99 cents!!!) isn't going to get you very far. Well, unless you're Angry Birds. Good luck becoming that.
Life is all about how you tackle the tradeoffs and hard problems. This hard problem (f2p, that is) has some particularly amazing upsides if you're willing to set aside your fears and misconceptions for a moment. That's all I'm saying.
The emotional cost of creative failure is something we rarely discuss publicly. To create is to fail. To fail is to lose something critical and important and this has an immense emotional burden. That we stuff away and ignore. We live in an era of the macho mercenary creator, a machine that dreams in exchange for money. Or at least a person pretending to be a machine.
A large element of creativity involves giving birth to the future. We take the potential of a rough idea and express it in concrete plans. We invest our passion in making something out of nothing. This exercise is not cheap. We give up time with friends and family. We spend long hours meticulously investing everything we are into making the future come to life.
When a project ends, there is a deep sense of loss. All that potential is severed, those future plans eradicated. Imagine working on a degree for four years and then one morning, right before graduation you are told that the degree doesn't exist. In fact the school you attended doesn't exist. Your dreams of your own future are dead.
The world doesn't acknowledge this emotional state. It is a private, silent thing. How do you explain the future you were dreaming? So bosses, critics, press and players continue to merrily pour excrement down your throat. There is zero empathy or memory. Says the mob, "Did you produce for me today? No? Well, fuck you."
Battle-scarred creative folks have techniques for dealing with this. You can pretend that the project was an experiment and that you learned good lessons along the way. You can have a side project that you can pour your energy into. You can surround yourself with a bubble of positive voices. These help. Yet the grief remains.
And with that grief comes all sorts of emotions. Self blame, questioning of one's purpose, anger, depression. Perhaps a statement worth of ridicule, but none of this is less real even if it does only involve figments of our imagination.
The modern solution? Suck it up, sissy. Move on. I wonder if it wouldn't be more healthy if we instead talked about the reality of loss. In the end, I don't think any creative person is a robot affixed with a spout that pours out new dreams. How do human beings deal with loss?
Perhaps we need an official ritual like a wake or a funeral or period of mourning. Here's mine. I take a break. Go for long walks among the trees. Read an immense amount. Just pretending that nothing happened and working though the loss doesn't seem to work. That path only yields the small hurt dreams of a shell-shocked zombie.
With conscious time and space, it becomes possible to imagine a new future. At least that is the hope. :-)
In case you can't read it, the text from the photo reads as follows:
I am an American.
I pay taxes.
I am the guy who worked in his field for 20 years until the economy collapsed.
Then I was the guy who brought you your pizza. You know, a job? Not unemployment.
Then I got cancer.
Minimum wage and part-time insurance meant I needed Arizona's welfare, AHCCCS (Access), or I needed to gather my affairs.
Minimum wage meant I made too much money, according to Access, and I was denied Access.
Cancer solved that problem and removed my ability to work.
Despite what you've been told, the hospital will turn you away if you're broke.
Despite what you've been told, churches and private insitutions will not pay your medical expenses.
I was diagnosed April 1st, 2012 and had major surgery May 12th.
I am still recovering from radiation and chemo treatments ended in August.
I am alive because I'm unemployed.
Does any of this make sense?
I am the 99%
The current discourse regarding the latter is what triggered this post. I find the debate in congress about our military spending absolutely bizarre. Proponents for greater spending appeal to our fears and say "don't you want to protect your children? Don't you want to safeguard their future?" I think the question is very simply "Sure; how much protection is necessary?"
The US spends roughly 5x on its military as the next closest country. This would make sense if we were playing catchup, but we've actually been outspending every other country for decades now. We have a fleet of nuclear submarines and missile installations that could vaporize the entire planet dozens of times over. We have an unrivaled airforce. A sprawling intelligence apparatus Etc. Most opponents to greater military spending aren't arguing against maintaining important parts of our military, or against spending more to keep advancing ourselves technologically. They are arguing that when we're already years ahead of our competitors, spending $643B a year to pull further ahead, when we're falling behind in areas like education, maybe isn't such a great idea. We're so focused on defending our future that we've forgotten to actually invest in it.
Twenty years from now, my daughter is more likely to be mugged by an under-educated, under-supported citizen of this country than she is to be killed by a foreign agent. I want to protect her future. I just don't think we need a larger Navy to accomplish that.
Job title: we don't really do titles here. Feel free to call yourself something amusing and/or impressive.
What we're looking for:
* Senior level engineer (five to ten years of work experience, minimum.)
* Can program both the front end and back end of an original online game - by themselves or as half a team of two.
* Has worked on multiple shipped games in the past
* Very comfortable with frequent, rapid iteration (daily to weekly)
* Excited about original, free to play games
* Familiarity with Flash and Unity is a major plus but not a requirement. It's actually more important for whomever we hire to be flexible and not wedded to any given language, as we frequently find ourselves adjusting our tech to meet specific circumstances.
* You must be a self-starter who can work effectively without being closely managed or prodded. This is a company for entrepreneurs, not worker bees.
* Reliability and honesty are the two most important traits to us.
* Location is not an issue; we all work remotely. But if you live in Seattle or the Bay Area, you'll get to have lunch with us pretty regularly. :-)
About us: Spry Fox is a successful developer of online games that have collectively reached over 30m people. Our titles include Steambirds, Triple Town, Realm of the Mad God and Panda Poet. We are passionate about two things: making great original games and bringing happiness to the world.
Feel free to send inquiries to email@example.com
Although the idea is absolutely riddled with holes, relies a lot on trust and doesn't account for skill level etc. I do think there are better solutions for people croudsourcing together which rewards hard work.
If a system like this could be built that did work. You could entrepreneur a project and have it built for free by people who contribute time rather than funds to a project, but also get remunerated. A kickstarter for coders.
- MIT Sloan School of ManagementMBA
- Brandeis UniversityEnglish Lit
- Spider-Man Unlimited
- Out There
- King of Thieves
- AdVenture Capitalist
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