Editorials

Greenlight Spotlight: Thinning the Crop

So I think Steam’s Greenlight program is a pretty amazing idea as far as providing another way for indie developers to get themselves noticed. I plan to use this blog to post some game concepts I see that I think are worth seeing completed. All that being said, however, you’re definitely mobbed with a lot of pitches, and Sturgeon’s Law is in full effect. While Steam encourages you to upvote the games you’d like to see, the fact that you have to upvote or downvote a game to get it out of the queue (there’s no “I don’t care one way or the other, just get out of my face” option), means that you quickly start making rules to eliminate games just so you can pare things down to a manageable level (there’s over 600 games in Greenlight as of yesterday night). This isn’t entirely fair to the games in question; you’re making a snap decision about it’s value based on general pitch and some concept art most of the time, because most of these games are in alpha (if that). Keeping that in mind, here’s some of the traits I’ve been using to quickly decide that a game is worth a downvote just to get it out of the way:

 

  1. Ridiculous sexual objectification right up front: My opinion is, any game studio that thinks the best way to sell a game concept to me is to shove some cleavage right in my face is not worth my time. For one, it’s insulting to my intelligence, and to compound that, it has nothing to do with the gameplay. You have maybe a page of text and a half a dozen images worth of information to use to convince me that your game is interesting; dropping breasts all over the place and going on about being “uncensored,” “off-color,” or “edgy” tells me you’re going for superficiality over anything resembling compelling gameplay. Especially if you’re another Bejewelled-style puzzle game.
  2. Talking about how much mainstream games suck, either directly or through implication: This is unprofessional, to say the least. It also sounds incredibly pretentious. And to cap it off, it still doesn’t tell me anything about the game you are making. “No fantasy cliches” and “not another game where you’re the hero out to save the world,” are negative statements; they tell me what you aren’t going to do, but do nothing to sell me on what you actually plan to do. Also watch out for phrases like “old school” and “not dumbed down.”
  3. “Hardcore.” I grew up playing NES and SNES games. I got plenty of Fake Difficulty then and I don’t need more of it now. Telling me about how your game is going to be too difficult for “casual gamers” and that you’re trying to get back to the “old school” (there’s that phrase again) difficulties is telling me that you plan on selling me frustration. No. I play games to have fun and to have a thought provoking experience, not to spend a couple hours trying to get past a boss with a cheap one hit kill attack that requires luck to dodge.

Lest this post seem overly-negative, let me say that I have spotted some very interesting games on Greenlight that I plan to talk about over the next few weeks. However, there is a lot of crap to sort through first. I’d be interested to hear what kind of “deal breakers” other people are using to sort through the list, and perhaps some phrases or key words that grab your attention and influence you to upvote a game you might have overlooked.

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