GameTunnel interview on IndieGames

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by cyrus_zuo, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate the kind remarks.

    I heard today that the awards got mentioned in Play magazine this month. Need to see if I can find a copy :)
     
  2. Chris Evans

    Moderator Original Member

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    I'm not huge fan of all the "Web 2.0" trends myself, particularly the ones that rely on the distribution/exploitation of copyrighted material, but that's another discussion...

    But in moderation, I think certain Web 2.0 features can be useful. Especially since some are becoming standard and users expect them.

    I don't see how freeware and webgames can drive conversation yet regular downloadable games can't? Maybe free games might be able to drive a higher volume, but try/buy games should be able to spur conversation as well especially since the games are usually of higher quality.

    You're right that just sticking a "Comment on this Article" button doesn't automatically generate reader feedback. Readers need to be pulled in or compelled to start a discussion. For example, the news articles on GT are basically PR postings from devs so the articles end up reading like advertisements or they're very bland (I should know I've submited several articles!). I remember right before DIY kicked the bucket, the comments on their news articles were picking up. Greg did a good job of summerizing the Indie news and giving it some context. Too bad the site updates dried up soon after.

    In addition to providing excellent reviews and monthly roundups, I think GT should try to give more context to the Indie scene. Because of DIY I learned about Moonpod and realized they were respected Indie developers even though I had never played their games at the time. I learned about Mark Currie and his RTS Trash and how some of his forum members were madly in love with him. I also learned that They Came From Hollywood was basically the Indie version of Duke Nukem Forever.

    Because of the context, the games weren't just faceless creations on a download/news site anymore. For instance, I wanted to know what Moonpod was working on next. What antics would Mark Currie's forum members do next? What would Octopus Motor's latest excuse be for why they hadn't released They Came From Hollywood yet?

    I may be in the minority but I just don't subscribe to the theory that just because a few mainstream magazines post Indie reviews every once and while, that negates the entire need of a quality Indie game website.

    The Indie scene just needs a narrative. If people see and understand there's an Indie sub-culture, they'll get more invested and particpate more. I think that's one of the reasons TIGSource does well is because they're constantly educating their audience about the games and the creators behind them. Ideally you want people to visit your site not just to download games, but also to find out what's gong on the Indie scene. After all, I don't pickup an issue of PC Gamer to find out what game I need to purchase. I'm not looking for simply a Buyer's Guide. I read PC Gamer and other mags to find out about interesting upcoming games and what I should be hyped about. I read to find out review scores of those hyped games and see if there are any other gems that I should check out. If you notice magazines spend a huge portion of their content on generating hype to tell readers why they should be interested in those games. The actual reviews usually only occupy about 10% or less of the magazine. Hype sells magazines.

    I'm not saying GT should be filled with fluff pieces. But I think the downside of GT being a review-centric site is that people just come to see what's worth downloading and then they leave. Outside of the year-end awards, GT doesn't really excite readers about Indie games. There isn't even a previews section on GT anymore. Mainstream magazines/sites like PC Gamer, GameSpy, and etc may occassioinal post some Indie reviews, but they'll never dig deep into the Indie scene. They'll rarely(never?) dedicate any decent preview space for an Indie game. They won't interview any Indie developers unless they have a big publisher behind them. They rarely mention what previous games the developer worked on. Heck, a lot of times BigFish gets listed as the developer for Indie games in mainstream mags.

    So I personally think there's still space for an Indie website focused on downloadables. It's just a story needs to be told (or possibly written) about the Indie game scene. Tell me what Cliffski's next game is and if he wears boxers or briefs. And tell me what he would do if he saw a game pirate walking down a street. Get me hyped up about some upcoming Indie games.

    I don't think it's a matter of freeware/web games. I just think due to the nature of try/buy downloadables it's very easy for sites to focus on reviews and highlight completed games because, after all, they can profit directly from them with affiliate sales. This means though other important aspects such as reporting current events, special features, interviews and generating excitement take a back seat to reviews. Maybe GT just needs to find the right balance between reviews, news, and special features/previews.
     
  3. Davaris

    Original Member

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    So what we need is a TMZ for Indies. :D

    Just in case you think I'm making fun of you, I do think this is a great idea.
     
  4. jeb_

    Indie Author

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    Nice article, Russ!

    As already mentioned here, I think the problem with GT is that the news is just a list of product releases, written by the people who delivers the products. The problem with this is not bias, but that it makes GT feel hollow. It's not like you'd tell somebody, "oh, I read over at GT that X just released Y", because GT in this case is not an entity that you can relate to. Adding a comments section to these news will not help. What's to discuss about a press release?

    I read GT for its reviews and articles, and the news letter sums it up nicely for me. I would actually like more reviews. There are indie games released daily, and it would be awesome to have a daily review to read. That would require an army of reviewers though... so I guess not. :)
     
  5. Backov

    Original Member

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    I do as well - I already read a lot of indie dev blogs (the ones that are interesting anyway) and well written articles are always good. Hell, I might even contribute if one appeared. :)
     
  6. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Hey Chris, lots of great thoughts, though I don't see my numbers bearing things out. Again, there seems to be a big difference between what people think they want and what they will support. (maybe its more of a disconnect in numbers between the indie developers who dig indie and want more coverage and the actual number of indie game buyers?)

    Just for some thoughts, I've tried a variety of ways to improve the more 'community' feel of things over the years. As you mentioned, we used to do more previews, in fact I've at different times done one per month. As well, we used to do columns every other week and interviews 2x a month. All of these brought something different and interesting that I was proud of, but what they didn't bring was readers. Reviews were read 10-100x more than the most read feature article.

    The monthly round-up was another good example of this. As I'd mentioned before, the average new game in my free games download section, which is simply the reflexive affiliate program, would get as many page views in its first week as the monthly round up. So, the system auto-generating a page for this week's seek and find game would get as much traffic (and btw many times more downloads) than the monthly article that I'd slaved away to get finished.

    I don't want this to be casual vs indie, but going back to the point mentioned above, I disagree that there is interest in a full-time indie game website. At least there isn't the kind of interest that actually views pages. (there's plenty of 'oh that's a good idea interest')

    I have no angst, and I honestly believe we've tried many of the things mentioned to create narrative. For two years in a row we did interviews with every IGF finalist and talked at length about all the games in multiple articles, it was lots of work, and created amazingly interesting stuff. When I updated to the new website 2 and a half years ago I didn't even bring all of it over as it was so poorly viewed that it wasn't worth my time to do it.

    It's true that the news section is most just what the people post. I've from time to time tried to take control to make it more personable, but I haven't seen positive results that makes me think it is worth hiring someone to do it, and that is what it would take.


    Anyway, I do think there is more community around free things simply b/c if it is free it reaches to a larger audience. There are plenty of people who want to talk about and spread free. There's very little barrier for entry. Certainly that doesn't preclude GT from having more of a community feel, however, I haven't seen a way that it makes sense to date, and again...for the most part, my experience over the last 5+ years tells me that there isn't an indie sub-culture, there simply aren't enough people who are even curiously interested for there to be one. At least not for the downloadable games side. The lack of comments on indie stories on the largest game sites on the web only further convinces me of this fact. I still strongly believe that most people who have any interest in indie just want a little taste of the best of indie, and they get that from their current sources.

    Dunno...but I still am digging the 'well-deserved break' thought from your first post. Maybe I'll regroup and restrategize this summer :D .
     

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