Game Appreciation Packages

Can we let players pay money for watching a game?

This subject has been on my mind for a while already, and in light of the recent discussion of the actual value of Let’s Plays for linear games, it’s a good time to talk about it.

I enjoy watching Let’s Plays. Sometimes just because they are entertaining. Sometimes because I just can’t play some games due to my ADD. Either way, I end up experiencing a lot of interesting games that I’m not going to play myself. In many cases I don’t want to spend money on the full game. At the same time, I feel like I got value from the game via the Let’s Play and I’d like to show my appreciation to the developer. Sadly, it’s usually impossible. There’s no way to leave a tip on the game and most games don’t have any type of merch. Buying the game for someone else as a gift also doesn’t feel quite right. And waiting for the game to go on sale just so you can virtually tip the developer requires you to wait, keep your eyes open, and to want to do it right now.

My proposed solution would be to introduce something that, for the lack of better word, I’ll call game appreciation packs. Such a pack would include some sort of value in itself, maybe a track from the soundtrack, wallpapers or even just a nice thank you note.

The important part would be this: If the player ever decided that they actually want to play the game, the value of the appreciation pack (or some part of it) would be subtracted from the price of the game. While buying the pack you would also have an easy way to opt-in for notifications of when the game goes on sale.

By having an actual value associated with the pack, more people would be willing to spend some money supporting developers. That solution would also remove the friction from the process of tipping developers, and it would create an opportunity to turn these players into (fully) paying customers.

Would it work? Do we have an infrastructure to do this? What are your thoughts about it?

Whenever I Feel Bad I Drink A Lot Of Coke

Ramblings about the current state of things

I don’t know what’s the takeaway from this post but I feel like I should be more open about what’s going on. It’s personal. Here, you’ve been warned.

Let this photo speak for itself.

It’s tough. So far my only escape is work and I end up working over 100 hours a week.

It’s the opposite of anything I recommend to anybody. It’s not sustainable.

But I’m stuck.

I’m broken.

I’ve been there before.

I vaguely know what I need to do to fix myself. But I need a few months off to do it. And in a sense I don’t have to work on Little Alchemy 2 right now. But I should finish it and for many reasons ’now’ is the only option. I don’t feel bad because of what this project demands from me. I just feel bad and I can’t react because of this project. I need challenges but all I have is tasks. And I can’t tackle new challenges because I have to finish my tasks.

Currently I don’t see any other way than to push through. My only hope is that breaks like A MAZE. in two weeks will be enough.

I’m not OK, but it’ll be OK.

Going Indie

The dream of sustainability

I wrote about it before but I think it’s worth repeating. This time it’s in the context of this post on Gamasutra: Let's get real about the financial expectations of 'going indie'.

I’m an independent developer, all of my income comes from my games, majority of it from Little Alchemy. Right now I’m able to support myself and a small team with this money. But I’m 5 years in and it wasn’t the case for a lot of this time.

Before I was able to make a living as an independent developer I worked full-time making shitty facebook apps and patched my income freelancing as web developer. All of that while still living with my parents. Within the first 2 years, games earned me as much as $50 in donations.

Even when Little Alchemy started to make money I kept my full-time job for another 6 months because I wasn’t sure about the future. I decided to quit only because I had a safety net. I knew that with my experience I could find a job as a web developer.

  • Out of 5 years working on my games I spent half of this time working full-time.
  • It took me 3 years before I was able to pay someone to work with me.
  • When I quit I had no money but I had a solid backup plan.
  • Cost of living here is relatively low which made the transition easier.
  • I’m lucky as hell that it all started to be profitable at all.
  • I’m, moderately successful, independent developer and I still struggle and I often feel insecure.

If you’re considering going indie, please don’t jump in without a plan. Remember it will turn you into an entrepreneur. You’ll have to run a business and you still don’t have the product that you’re going to sell. The type of products that you’re working on aren’t particularly profitable and you’ll have to compete in a crowded market.

Use that knowledge to put things into perspective.

Three Years Of Working On My Own

Learn from my mistakes

Here’s the list of things I find important when you’re working on your own, especially if you're just starting. It took me over 3 years and a serious depression to learn some of these. I hope you'll do better than me.

Choose to rest

It was probably the most important lesson I had to learn. Your body has limits. No really! You have to recharge batteries, if you don’t do it your body will force you to.

More time spent working doesn’t always make you more productive. By making a conscious decision of taking a break you're choosing to turn procrastination into something useful.

Your body will give you signals, learn to understand them. If needed split your work hours (you’re the boss!) take longer breaks and in the long run never cut on sleep.

Social life

Meet people. You’re working alone or in a small team and you used to see more people more often. Even if you’re an introvert contact with people is important to maintain your mental health.

Feed your brain

You can’t expect to be creative if you’re doing the same thing over and over. Your brain needs fuel to work correctly. Do new things, find new places, meet new people. You’re working on your own, you’re no longer forced to do things - you have to put effort into that.

Write things down

Write down your thought process, things you need to do, anything that would otherwise sit in your head. It will help you make sure that you understand what you’re doing and let you catch holes in your logic early. It will also help you free up your mind - you don’t have to care about trying to remember that cool thing because you have it safe on paper.

Finish tasks

Split your to-do lists into smaller tasks. Of course you’re going to avoid certain tasks if you don’t have an idea where to start. Every day take your time to plan what you need to do and then split those tasks into smaller ones.

If you feel like you’re stuck maybe it’s a good time to go through your list again.

You’ll waste way less time thinking what’s next. and crossing many items from the list feels nice and productive.

Make to-done lists

Usually, on your to-do list, you’ll have more than it’s possible to finish within a day. And on top of that you often have to do other unexpected things.

Add things that you did to your to-do list and cross them. Even after you finished them. You’ll feel better, more productive and at the end of the day you’ll see what you did and why it was impossible to tackle the whole list. In the long run you can use it as a tool to learn how to scope better.

Don’t fear to change your decisions

You gain knowledge with time. Use it.

Find what works for you

You are unique. You’ll need time to understand what works for you.

Seek advice but never blindly assume that it’s correct for you. In that case ‘good’ is always relative so don’t worry if something clearly doesn’t work for you. Look further instead. Tweak things, work on your habits. Productivity is a skill you can learn with time.

Bonus round

Use f.lux.

OmmWriter is pretty cool too.

Buy noise cancelling headphones if you can afford them.

Be nice to people.

Repetitive strain injury isn’t fun at all.

Anxiety attacks suck and I still have no idea what to do with them.

People are important.

We all have no idea where we’re going, that’s the only way to explore.