The date is set. We’re now committed to launch on April 5, or embarrass ourselves forever. Here’s the announcement trailer:
Allow me to anticipate your questions:
I’m forgetful. Why can’t I pre-order the game now?
Pre-ordering is good for huge AAA outfits where sales are driven by marketing, but they’re actually really bad for indies. Steam seems to give you space on the front page based on your initial surge of sales. If your first day or so of sales are high, then Steam concludes you’re a winner and you get to stay on the front page. But if your day-1 sales are smeared all over the preceding month, then Steam looks at your tiny day 1 sales, pegs you for a loser, and replaces it with Five Nights at Freddie’s #127.
Go good sales = better sales and bad sales = worse sales. You can see how that reinforces the need for a big push on day 1.
That sounds scary. So how does Steam determine which games get listed on the front page and which ones vanish into obscurity?
It’s a secret. By which I mean we don’t know either. It’s possible nobody knows. Maybe your time on the front page is just a random number. Maybe it’s controlled by a monkey hammering on two buttons labeled “Hit” and “Dud”, and nobody can remember exactly what either button does and they’re too embarrassed to ask the monkey if he remembers. Maybe Gabe Newell plays your game before launch, and if he nails a really sweet high score on the leaderboards then he hides your game so nobody else will buy it and threaten his score.
I hate having all this money. How much am I allowed to give you in exchange for Good Robot?
At launch, the game will go for $9.99 AMERICA BUX. Actually, there might be a launch-day sale on top of that, but I don’t know the discount or timeframe. (Although 10% off seems to be customary.)
We don’t plan to change different prices in different regions, so any fluctuations are the fault of Steam / local regulations.
I don’t like Steam. Will it be on GoG?
We tried. They declined. This is heartbreaking, since GoG is my #1 super-favorite platform. Our plan is to become the best selling indie game in history so that they come crawling back and beg us to be on their platform.
Addendum: It would really help this plan along if each and every one of you bought 10,000 copies of the game. Thanks!
Will Good Robot be available on the Windows 10 Store?
You just failed the Voight-Kampff test. Robot.
I am a Linux user. Can I play?
This was always one of my goals, but as we leave the realm of the ideal and draw inexorably closer to the cruel reality of launch day, it looks like it’s not going to happen. At least, not at launch.
We have a Linux build that works. It’s a good bit slower than it should be, but still acceptable on a modern system. This isn’t a technology problem. It’s a practical one. Arvind released Unrest on Linux, and discovered that:
- A majority of your technical support problems and headaches will come from Linux people. There are hundreds of distros, your game might work on some but not others, and you can’t test them all.
- If your game doesn’t play well with some popular Linux distro, then you can get lots of negative feedback on the store. “They claim this game works on Linux but I’m running the latest release candidate of Persimmon LinuxAn offshoot of Mungo Linux, which is an offshoot of Ubuntu circa 2010, mixed with bits of FreeBSD and E/OS, and which includes bits of the now-GPL DOOM source code. with AMD’s drivers from 2012, and this game doesn’t work and they said they couldn’t solve my package manager problems for me.”
Yes, maybe that guy is being unreasonable. But if you’ve ever read reviews on Steam you already know that “unreasonable” doesn’t mean “unusual”. More importantly, his negative review will drag our rating down, which will hurt sales on the PC side.
- Linux sales are such a tiny faction of a percent of sales that it’s just not worth the expense and risk of #1 and #2. Linux can end up being less than %1 of sales, but it can account for a much larger portion of your technical support load.
I really want to encourage gaming on alternate platforms as a way to defend against Windows hegemony, and as a way to hopefully keep Steam hegemony from getting much worse.
It would be easier to do the right thing if we knew the game was going to be successful. If the game sells well and is reviewed well then a couple of bad reviews and the odd lost sale are no big deal and we’ll be in a position to do a Linux release. But what we don’t want is a situation where we’re providing time-sucking technical support for the Linux build of a dud game.
You make me sad and confused with your operating system talk. Can you cheer me up?
We could have another go at that trailer. That was kind of cute:
 An offshoot of Mungo Linux, which is an offshoot of Ubuntu circa 2010, mixed with bits of FreeBSD and E/OS, and which includes bits of the now-GPL DOOM source code.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
DM of the Rings
Both a celebration and an evisceration of tabletop roleplaying games, by twisting the Lord of the Rings films into a D&D game.
The game was a dud, and I'm convinced a big part of that is due to the way the game leaned into its story. Its terrible, cringe-inducing story.
Shamus Plays LOTRO
As someone who loves Tolkein lore and despises silly MMO quests, this game left me deeply conflicted.
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.