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-   -   What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike? (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=50559)

DakaSha December 19th, 2014 07:17 AM

What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I'm not trying to be an ***, but I really can not see why I would purchase a roguelike for this amount. I'm not saying they all need to be free.. but $40?

What makes this game so much better than ADoM, Tome2/4, Dwarf Fortress, Any of the angband variants, etc?

ibol December 19th, 2014 09:25 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I will respond. (With a lot of words, apparently.)
Also please keep in mind I'm not trying to be an @$$ either, just talking.

Approaching Infinity is a game, first and foremost.
Regardless of its genre. It is a deep, long, detailed game that is a lot of fun.

It is very well supported. My comments on this forum are a testament to that. That support will continue. Every (reasonable) request I have ever gotten from a player has been considered (though not necessarily implemented).

I have heard this comment about *roguelikes* before, and I have a few things to say on that subject as well:

Roguelikes have been coming into the spotlight quite a lot over the past few years. The genre is evolving. It is also becoming more watered down. So, while there are actually quite a lot of commercial roguelikes on steam and such for $10-$15 , they're not true roguelikes; they are 'lites' or 'like-likes'. AI is RL, to its core. I come from roguelikes, not the recent wave of popularity.

Does any other genre of pc game have a built in price limit? RTS, FPS, 4X ?
Why then should roguelikes, the genre that we love so much, whose core principles are argued over heatedly from fierce believers on every side?
Why a built in price limit?

One key design principle is "ease of use". That does not mean it's an easy game, it means that you can learn to play it in 10 minutes. There are not 75 different esoteric commands. The challenge lies in the choices, not in trying to figure out what to do, or how to do it.

Personally, my game-buying budget is limited. I buy a few games every year, and that's it. But I play the hell out of those games. For me, replay value is king. And AI delivers that like crazy.

I strongly recommend you play the demo. Then consider that I have had reports from people in sector 350, still finding challenge and strange new things.

Bob

Cyberis December 19th, 2014 12:51 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I'm going to second all of Ibol's points here. I was thrown off at first because AI has a sort of retrographics feel (which is completely in line with the roguelike genre). I suppose we are so used to Hollywood grade graphics (in both movies and games) that we've forgotten that story matters, as does execution and gameplay mechanics.

I downloaded the demo and after my first 15 hours with it, I bought the game back in early November before there was a release date. Really the depth, attention to detail and replayability of the DEMO would have been enough to shell out 10 or 15 bucks.

Imagine what the full game is like! I'm just beginning playing through that now, on 3 machines simultaneously, just to see as much variety early on so I can make good choices to get up through the sectors in good shape. So, am I getting 40 bucks worth from a game I want to play 3 of at the same time? Yes!

boatrigm December 19th, 2014 02:38 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I had the same problem with $40. I played the demo a lot. This game has so much attention to details it's just great to play. It really feels like a living universe. I have spent more than $40 for multiple games on Steam and GOG and I'm actually playing AI much more. Best of all you can play for short periods of time if needed which is great. I don't always have an hour or more at a given time to sit down and just play a game. This game is great.

Replay of this game is great. No two games are the same. Well worth the $40 price tag IMHO. Just play the demo awhile and it will grow on you. It did me!

-Mike

DakaSha December 19th, 2014 09:34 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ibol (Post 827527)
I have heard this comment about *roguelikes* before, and I have a few things to say on that subject as well:

Roguelikes have been coming into the spotlight quite a lot over the past few years. The genre is evolving. It is also becoming more watered down. So, while there are actually quite a lot of commercial roguelikes on steam and such for $10-$15 , they're not true roguelikes; they are 'lites' or 'like-likes'. AI is RL, to its core. I come from roguelikes, not the recent wave of popularity.

I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I come form this new generation of roguelite players. I'm incredibly well versed in both the old, the new, and even roguelike development.

Quote:

Does any other genre of pc game have a built in price limit? RTS, FPS, 4X ?
Why then should roguelikes, the genre that we love so much, whose core principles are argued over heatedly from fierce believers on every side?
Why a built in price limit?
It's not about a price limit per se. It's about the genre already being host to a myriad of amazing titles that are not only cheap but free. I don't actually 'believe' in free games and would be more than willing to pay even for the ascii titles out there, but the point is that games that are (very likely) just as'deep' go for much less, or are even free. Seeing that shrapnel overcharges for virtually every game, I'm guessing that the $40 price tag is more due to them than the actual game designer, but that doesn't change my decision making as a consumer. Again, my original question is what makes this game stand out so much that it deserves my $40, when I can just as easily go and download something else for free, that is (up this point) seemingly on par, if not better.

Quote:

One key design principle is "ease of use". That does not mean it's an easy game, it means that you can learn to play it in 10 minutes. There are not 75 different esoteric commands. The challenge lies in the choices, not in trying to figure out what to do, or how to do it.
Nothing new, and unimportant (to me of course only) in any case.

I'll try the demo. Maybe the game really is worth it.



edit:
Quote:

Gruff instigator says: "Hey, you! Wanna fight?"
:re:

Cyberis December 19th, 2014 11:08 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
DakaSha
Are you a member of The Church of the SubGenius?:crazy:

Quote:

'Raol the knight shall now be known as the prophet of Bob'
Sorry I think stuff like thats funny

DakaSha December 19th, 2014 11:46 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I have no idea what you are talking about

Cyberis December 20th, 2014 02:06 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Yeah, that's a bit of weird nerdology. It was "prophet of bob" that made me wonder. The link given will provide some context. This Wikipedia entry would provide more. Its sort of an irreligious site. I don't recommend it, I just don't usually see the phrase "prophet of bob" in other contexts. It's really OT so enough said.

DakaSha December 20th, 2014 03:13 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
My sig is just a reference to the Dominions franchise, and being able to name your pretender god whatever you want.

Also based on my (given limited) time on the demo, this game is definitely not anywhere close to worth $40 (in my world), but meh. I haven't tried it much. Not sure I will though.

ibol December 22nd, 2014 05:53 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
DakaSha,
You might not be back for a while, but I must respond to this:
Quote:

"I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I come form this new generation of roguelite players. I'm incredibly well versed in both the old, the new, and even roguelike development."
If you read what I wrote, you will see that I never said you were part of it. The only group I put you in was the one of rogue-like-lovers, which I am also a part of.

garion333 December 23rd, 2014 03:15 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
There's an interesting question here (and forgive me for playing devil's advocate a bit):

Why are commercial roguelikes so cheap, comparatively?

There are plenty of rogue-like-likes (or procedural death labyrinths) and they're all around the $10-$20 range. Why is that?

That's an incredibly complex question and one that probably has no answer. Steam and bundles are clearly a huge part of that discussion, as is the fact that roguelikes have been free for the most part. Why?

That said, the question Daka had is: Why is Approaching Infinity $40 while something like Tome is $7?

And I don't think you answered that directly, Bob. Or at least your answers weren't quite what he wanted to hear.

Quote:

Does any other genre of pc game have a built in price limit? RTS, FPS, 4X ?
Why then should roguelikes, the genre that we love so much, whose core principles are argued over heatedly from fierce believers on every side?
Why a built in price limit?
Because the market shows that people generally aren't willing to pay $40 when they can play many other roguelikes for nothing or next to nothing.

Quote:

One key design principle is "ease of use". That does not mean it's an easy game, it means that you can learn to play it in 10 minutes. There are not 75 different esoteric commands.
And I'm more than happy to pay for that. Believe me. But I backed on KS and got a $40 game for a lot less than that, so I don't know how I would feel about forking over $40.

Shrapnel plays the long tail game. They expect a modest amount of sales that continue over the long term. I can see that happening here, but I can also see the flip side of the coin. You went and made a roguelike and priced it at $40. This topic is something I fully expected to come up and I'm sure you did too, especially after effectively pricing the game at $10 on the Kickstarter.

It's super interesting to me because Matrix has finally begun to give in and put their games on Steam, joining in on the merry little holiday sales extravaganzas. Has that worked for them? Has it brought on the support nightmares they were trying to avoid? Don't know.

DakaSha December 24th, 2014 03:53 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ibol (Post 827584)
DakaSha,
You might not be back for a while, but I must respond to this:
Quote:

"I'm not sure what gave you the impression that I come form this new generation of roguelite players. I'm incredibly well versed in both the old, the new, and even roguelike development."
If you read what I wrote, you will see that I never said you were part of it. The only group I put you in was the one of rogue-like-lovers, which I am also a part of.

Ah ok, I misunderstood then.

Tim Brooks December 24th, 2014 08:04 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by garion333 (Post 827601)
It's super interesting to me because Matrix has finally begun to give in and put their games on Steam, joining in on the merry little holiday sales extravaganzas. Has that worked for them? Has it brought on the support nightmares they were trying to avoid? Don't know.

You know, we tried Steam with several titles that were priced $25.00 and below. We sold more copies on our website than Steam sold, unless the game was put in a bundle (4 or 5 games for $5.00 or so). Steam is nothing but an impulse buy site and the games need to be priced as such. They don't advertise individual titles, and the don't offer support. We learned pretty quickly their answer to support was "here is your money back." Some people wanted the game to work and not their money back and came to us for support. But you can't support games that sell for $1.00.

I wonder if Matrix is having different results...

garion333 December 24th, 2014 10:35 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Jeff Vogel, he of Spiderweb Software, has spent most of 2014 writing about the state of games, games pricing and the indie bubble bursting. A number of his blog posts are germane to this discussion and while they may not apply directly to Approaching Infinity I think they're all good reads.

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/...ld-people.html

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/...s-popping.html

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/...d-pain-of.html

http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2014/...-computer.html

Edit: Some other good articles -

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/LarsD...ows_spikes.php

http://thecastledoctrine.net/seedBlo...=1&show_date=1

garion333 December 24th, 2014 10:52 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Brooks (Post 827616)
Quote:

Originally Posted by garion333 (Post 827601)
It's super interesting to me because Matrix has finally begun to give in and put their games on Steam, joining in on the merry little holiday sales extravaganzas. Has that worked for them? Has it brought on the support nightmares they were trying to avoid? Don't know.

You know, we tried Steam with several titles that were priced $25.00 and below. We sold more copies on our website than Steam sold, unless the game was put in a bundle (4 or 5 games for $5.00 or so). Steam is nothing but an impulse buy site and the games need to be priced as such. They don't advertise individual titles, and the don't offer support. We learned pretty quickly their answer to support was "here is your money back." Some people wanted the game to work and not their money back and came to us for support. But you can't support games that sell for $1.00.

I wonder if Matrix is having different results...

I don't understand how you can claim Steam is "nothing but an impulse buy site". That's like saying "Target is nothing but an impulse buy site" and I simply can't agree with that. Sure, a metric ton of sales of games priced under $10 probably come through Steam sales extravaganzas, but I find it hard to believe that all game sales are "impulse" buys.

Also, they don't sell many bundles, those generally come from Humble Bundle and the other sites of that ilk. I would definitely agree that bundle sites are generally impulse purchasing. There you have a game or two people are interested in and only have to pay $4 to get, but come with all these other games too. It's the enticement of pay what you want coupled with the quantity of games you get. Quality matters to a much less extent. However, quality still matters because bundles with more sought after games make more money. (That statement is one I don't have data for outside of anecdotal data.) Humble Bundle compared to a site like Bundle Stars tends to have higher quality bundles.

As far as support, yeah, you're on your own. That's what I meant when I reference Matrix's fears.

Anyway, I think you'll find Jason Rohrer's post (linked in previous post, the Castle Doctrine blog) to be in line with your thinking. I'm not the type to think Steam is the end all be all to PC gaming, but the question still begs to be answered: Why is Approaching Infinity $40 while something like Tome is $7?

Cyberis December 24th, 2014 12:23 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I agree with garrion333, humble is the site that mostly bundles (though they now have a store site as well) but I also don't usually buy things on Steam at the full price since I know that it will be marked down at least %50 during a holiday sale. OTOH, I really like the fact that I could order a physical disk with a manual. I almost did an unboxing video myself (and would have if IBOL had not done one) just because it was really nice to have physical product with a manual.

Tim Brooks December 25th, 2014 06:21 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by garion333 (Post 827619)
I don't understand how you can claim Steam is "nothing but an impulse buy site". That's like saying "Target is nothing but an impulse buy site" and I simply can't agree with that. Sure, a metric ton of sales of games priced under $10 probably come through Steam sales extravaganzas, but I find it hard to believe that all game sales are "impulse" buys.

If you say so. I was just passing along our experience with steam. If the only way our games sold was to get the price down to impulse buying prices, then that was our experience. Steam does not do anything to promote the games but sales (and in our case bundles). There are other ways to promote games.

Quote:

Originally Posted by garion333 (Post 827619)
Anyway, I think you'll find Jason Rohrer's post (linked in previous post, the Castle Doctrine blog) to be in line with your thinking.

Exactly. He even shows evidence that his game had to go on sale for under $10.00 to sell. I would consider that an impulse buying price. Not many people will spend $15 or $20 on impulse.

Quote:

Originally Posted by garion333 (Post 827619)
...but the question still begs to be answered: Why is Approaching Infinity $40 while something like Tome is $7?

It is called value added. You get a forum where you can come and talk about pricing or even how cool the game is. You get 18 hour a day support (with the exception of certain holidays). You can order a physical product online or even walk into you local game shop and buy a copy (and if your local game shop doesn't have it ask them to get it!). You get regular upgrades, both bug fixes and enhancements. All these things cost money. You can't do it for $7.00.

And finally you support independent game development. If you want Ibology to release more games, then support them through Approaching Infinity. Games that sell for $7.00 will keep independent gaming in the hobby category.

My last thought. Each gamer has to decide what gaming is worth to them. There obviously is a market for $7.00 just like there is a market for $40.00 games. Some will never spend $40.00 on a game, but we have found that our audience rarely buys a $7.00 game.

MassEject December 26th, 2014 11:00 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I donated via Kickstarter for this game, well worth the price of admission. Is it worth 40 dollars? I would say, Hell Yes! Maybe it's a matter of persona taste, but I feel like Approaching Infinity is everything Mass Effect 1, should have been. For me it's all about game play, depth, and open-ended player agency. Approaching Infinity has all this, in spades. This is one of the finest indie titles I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Hell, this game fires most Triple A games.

Excellent work, in general. I would have easily paid 40 dollars for this game had I not thrown in on its Kickstarter.

David E. Gervais December 27th, 2014 06:56 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I'm a roguelike fan, no question about it, and there are hundreds if not thousands of roguelike games that use free graphics that I made available to the public. Many of these games are even 'sold commercially' weather it be for $0.99 on the app store or higher for retail. The value of a game is in it's gameplay and how we get entertainment value from it. There is no 'Set Rule' that governs how much a game should be sold for. We the consumer are the one that decides weather a game is worth the money spent or not. If someone asked me 10 years ago if I was willing to pay $2000 for a great game would I? my answer would have been "No Way! No game is worth that much!!" guess what?, I've spent over $2000 for the pleasure of playing one game, and several hundred dollars for others. they are called MMORPG's.. care to guess the names?

The value of a game for me, is not so much how much out of pocket I am for the game,.. but how much enjoyment I can get out of the game, and My experience from roguelikes to mmorpg's, has always been that I get as much enjoyment out of a game as I am willing it put into the game.

When I see a programmer like Bob, who has lots of great ideas and a passion to make those ideas come to life. It inspires me, and I thank him for allowing me to exercise some of my own creativity as an artist. $40 is not allot when you look at the value you get from it. Not only are you getting a fun game with lots of depth, you are investing in the future of a man well deserving of a place in the game development industry.

But all this ranting aside, to answer the topic of this post.. " What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?" We do, the people that buy it and spend hours of enjoyment playing the game. Nobody is forced to buy the game, at whatever price. The choice to buy or not is entirely up to you.

Nuf Said, Cheers!

DakaSha December 28th, 2014 08:34 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I haven't actually gotten a single answer as to what makes this title worth the 40 bucks in comparison to other titles that cost nothing/next to nothing, unless you count the interface thing which isn't even valid.

Just a bunch of to-be-expected fanboysim and arguments to support devs by spending more (though not an actual comparative REASON to spend more).

The bulk of fanboy bs here could just as well be applied to some minesweeper clone. "I got x hours of enjoyment out of it, so it's worth 40 bucks even though there is a free version that comes with windows."

Horrible. Will not buy for this price, and I'm suspecting I am not the only one.

ibol December 28th, 2014 10:54 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I greatly appreciate all the positive things that have been said in this thread, and I respect the intelligent discourse too, even if some of it is not what I'd like to hear ;)

But I would ask that no more 'arguing' , 'name-calling' , etc take place. I have seen people whose initial reaction is similar to DakaSha's, and two weeks later , they buy the game, and tell me how great it is. Obviously, this is not true in every case.

I've made my point, so I'll stop talking. But it's hard to do.

MassEject December 29th, 2014 07:35 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DakaSha (Post 827649)
I haven't actually gotten a single answer as to what makes this title worth the 40 bucks in comparison to other titles that cost nothing/next to nothing, unless you count the interface thing which isn't even valid.

Just a bunch of to-be-expected fanboysim and arguments to support devs by spending more (though not an actual comparative REASON to spend more).

The bulk of fanboy bs here could just as well be applied to some minesweeper clone. "I got x hours of enjoyment out of it, so it's worth 40 bucks even though there is a free version that comes with windows."

Horrible. Will not buy for this price, and I'm suspecting I am not the only one.

Geeze, then don't ****ing buy it then. You seem to be keen on pissing in the well. It's a fun game, it's worth 40 bucks. I'm a grown *** man, not a "fanboy".

Cyberis December 30th, 2014 12:12 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
+1: Grown up.

Tarkh April 8th, 2015 09:02 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Sorry, couldn't take my hands off necroposting...
I never ever understood such kind of people that come and start to ask: "Why should I buy this, why should I like that?"... Buddy, you owe nothing to no one. You are FREE. Absolutely cosmically FREE. And the one and only question of human existence is what do you do with your freedom?
Money is worthless. Love is priceless. There are things (not necessarily games) made with love, and there are things that aren't.
Playing Approacing Infinity I can feel the love that was put into it. And it's not about only love. I feel skill, I feel fantasy, I feel style. I do believe in a world that game creates. It's a quite a rare thing now in gaming, especially for person of my age. When you grow older, you insensibly lose the ability of a child - to believe and to wonder. It's an inevitable process. There are fewer and fewer miracles in modern adult person's life. But I'm ready to pay twice or thrice more than forty crumpled green paper pieces for a little miracle.

PvK April 8th, 2015 05:36 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Here's why I just bought Approaching Infinity for $40:

It looks like something I will enjoy a lot. People write about the good times they have had playing it, and I'm confident I will have similar good times. In particular, it's a type of game I want to play. I like managing a ship and its crew, trying to keep it and them alive, gathering stuff, and having different adventures in an ongoing context. I like permadeath designs over savescum designs. It looks very fun and creative and like a nice independent effort. I want to support that, too, by paying for it.

Yes it costs more than many other games I could get, and other free Roguelikes, but that's not going to keep me from playing this game. This game actually has almost zero competition on features that I want. There are a few somewhat similar games, but nothing quite like it, so I have to either buy it or abstain. I choose to buy and play it. It's not about "oh this is priced higher than other games, so I will buy other games instead."

If I _do_ choose to think about price comparison, I think about today's $46 lunch-with-woman, which was nice, and also not an either-or comparison, but it puts it in perspective. If I can spend $46 on a 45-minute lunch, I can spend $40 on a game that I'll may end up spending 45 hours or more enjoying. Not that price determines what I do like that, but even if it did, it would be very cheap entertainment by that measure.

On the other hand, I also agree with someone on another thread who wrote that Shrapnel might sell many more than 4x the copies, if they charged $10 per download, because so many people do have these kind of hangups about buying games, and people who aren't sure this game is what they want, would try it.

Kazeto April 9th, 2015 06:01 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Here's why I didn't buy Approaching Infinity for 40$: I got it from KickStarter and the tier I chose was below that one.

Would I have paid 40$ for it otherwise? I don't know, that's a hard question because outside of KickStarter things and bundles I generally don't buy many games (something like 1, maybe 2, per year). So maybe yes, maybe not.

Can the price appear steep to some? Yes, it can. There are people in the countries where they earn something like 400$ a month or less and though that is enough for them because of the currency that is being used in their country, it gets worse when it comes to buying stuff online.

But in the end, “each to their own”. I've seen games sell for 70$ and I've seen games not sell for 1$ (and obviously I've also seen the opposite in both cases, too). Though considering the amount of time one can spend on a game belonging to that particular genre, 40$ is potentially money well-spent when it comes to this game.

plugger April 14th, 2015 11:20 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Hi,

Regardless of peoples view of the game, good bad or indifferent (I like it and appreciate the amount of work that has gone into it), the price point is completely out of whack with the rest of gaming market.

From a potential customers point of view it's a game with minimalist graphics and one that looks tinnie tinny on a standard 23 or 24" monitor. Doesn't matter how good the game play is (and I personally think it's very good), 99% of potential customers are going to bounce of the game, even after playing the demo, at the current price point.

You can argue till the cows come home that it's a game that deserves it's $40 USD price point but that isn't going to change the hard reality that, in the current game market, it's an anomaly.

I'm certainly no expert on these matters, and this is purely my opinion, but I strongly suspect that if you halved the price, or more, you'd end up with more money in your pocket due to a higher volume of sales.

This is a game that sells on word of mouth. It's a tough recommendation to make to a friend, though, when it's a game with no screen resolution adjustments beyond 'tiny', has limited activation DRM and costs way, way more than just about every other near equivalent game.

I've mentioned it, in very positive terms, to 3 friends. I couldn't get traction with any of them for the reasons mentioned.

As things stand you'll get a steady trickle of customers 'cause it is, at the end of the day, a very good game, but it'll only ever be a trickle 'cause of the 99% of potential customers that bounce off at first contact.

There are so many new games coming out all the time that once somebody bounces off they are unlikely to come back even if you do drop the price. Once you lose 'em, they're gone.

The arguments put forward to favour the current price appear to be the need to have it that high to provide support and the replayability.

I can't answer the support issue but an observation would be that every other game that sells for less still has to provide support of some form and they all manage one way or another.

The replayability argument is a good one but it only works after you've been sold on the idea of the game. It's a non-argument for a potential customer as what game out there doesn't promote itself as having 'unlimited replayability'?

I'd love to see the game succeed and get a wider audience. I'm not the oracle in any of these matters and if you've got advice from the experts that contradicts my stated opinions I'd ignore me and go with those that know what they are doing.

Cheers,
Plugger

Rich April 25th, 2015 12:24 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
I was just coming over to check the steel panthers forum. Saw the ad in the corner of the main page and thought i'd check it out. Never played a rogue game before. Looked at different ones at gog and they didn't interest me.

It's been a while since I paid $40 for a game but I don't mind if it's a really good one. Like both steel panthers.

So I read the promos and liked how the game works. I'm playing the demo and so far I think it's fine. I'm impressed by the dev with his commitment. And his humor that I understand is planted in the game.

Mostly I like the random setup for replayability, the ease of play in the ui, the depth and a few other things. It looks like a game that will stand the test of time. I'll play the demo some more but it looks like I'll probably end up getting it. Some games are worth $40 and I don't mind paying for those. I boutht the steel panther games some years ago and still play them.

Ixltixl April 30th, 2015 03:02 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Hello,

I stumbled upon Approaching Infinity a few days ago and tried the demo. I wanted to give my opinion on this whole matter and why I think putting this particular game up for 40$ is bad idea. It's quite a long read.

First of all, from what I can see, you (Shrapnel Games) mostly publish hardcore wargames. Overpricing those is something I can understand, as this is a very niche genre and the people playing games like this are probably fine paying this much, as there isn't really a market for it. It's probably not even overpricing considering how much coding work must go into it. I also understand, why you have trouble getting games like this to sell on Steam. If the average gamer sees screenshots from a game like this, he will immediately think “with graphics like this, it's never worth more than 5 bucks” or simply “turn-based wargame, meh.”

But that's pretty much where my understanding ends. Why don't you even bother to put the release date on the store page? To find that out, I need to go to the forums and look for the first review.
When I checked your game “Bronze”, I honestly thought this was released in 2000 due to the spec-requirements and graphics, but it's actually from 2010. This also applies to AI, anybody stumbling upon its storepage will think, this game was made in the early 90s . You might say, graphics aren't important and you would be correct, but first impressions are and one that is “They are charging 40$ for a 20 year old game??” is not good. You might also say, anybody interested will do a search for it, again true, but that's still no reason to hide the release date. Besides, anybody searching for AI will also find the Kickstarter, discover you could get it for 10$ there and scoff at the fact he is now supposed to pay four times as much.
You also seem to never reduce prices, Bronze is 5 years old and costs 30$, Scallywag turns 8 this year and is also still 30$. I doubt there is any support, upgrade or bugfix around for those games, considering the last posts on their respective forums were 3-4 years ago. So, where is the value, which supposedly justifies this high price for these games?
By the way, why do you count something as simple as a forum as added value? Or how about the possibility of a physical product? That's not added value to me, I don't care about getting a box and a CD, why should I have to pay for it? The digital version should simply be cheaper than the boxed version.
While we are on the topic of added value. Am I seeing this right, that unless I pay 4$ extra I can only download my purchases for 10 days? And even then it's limited to two years. On top of that, I have to deal with limited activation drm (doesn't matter, that I can just write an e-mail to get another activation, it's unnecessary hassle). Compare that to gog, I can download games how often I want, regardless of when I bought them, I can even still download games I purchased, but have been removed from gog in the meantime and it's all drm-free.
And supporting indie-devs? They will probably make more money by selling it cheaper, because significantly more people buy it. Increasing the price in the name of supporting the dev is oxymoronic. You could also add a donation option. Look at the success of FTL or Grimrock. Neither game was very expensive but a huge hit. The former even providing a bigcontent update for free last year. Look at Spiderweb Software, they move along nicely by asking a reasonable price for their new games and continously reduce prices on their older ones.

Now, after establishing how I don't think your “added value” justifies the pricepoint at all and that your main forte are hardcore wargames, let's get on with the main point. AI (as well as Bronze and Scallywag) are not hardcore wargames. Seriously, you cannot apply your business strategy to games, which may appeal to a wider market.
This should be fairly obvious actually. The most prolific forums here are those of the most well known games: Dominions and Space Empires. The developers of each of those games left you. My two example games Bronze and Scallywag appear to be complete flops, considering there was barely any forum activity at all. I think AI will suffer a similar fate, it got a bit of press from RPS a few weeks ago and then it will disappear quietly into the night, despite it having the potential of becoming the next ToME (100k steam owners) or even FTL (2 million steam owners). At this pricepoint most people will look at it and say “it looks cool, but 40$ for that? Never.” You could buy Pillars of Eternity for this or maybe FTL and ToME and still have 20$ left. Whereas at 8-10$ the potential audience increases massively. This whole problem is compounded by the fact, that you COULD buy AI for 10$ in the Kickstarter. Asking for four times the money is just ridiculous. This fact alone will cause people to never buy it at 40$, even if the reason was simply missing the Kickstarter or being unable to support it and rightly so, as that markup is simply incomprehensible.

All that assumes people actually FIND the game. Considering, you do pretty much no marketing and PR at all (at least, I've never heared of any of your games before). Again in the wargame space, this is fine, as the clientele for games like this know where to look or will find you, when searching. There is no need to do any PR there, but this doesn't apply to games of other genres.

You have to look at the market here. Where do people go, if they want a wargame from somebody else? Probably Matrix or Slitherine, both of which follow the same high price strategy as you. You are competitive in this particular genre. You may also notice, that both employ a different pricing strategy for games of other genres, e.g. Qvadriga costs 20$, Warhammer Armageddon 5$, Sovreignty is 25$. They know, these games appeal to a bigger audience than the wargamer crowd and they need to be sold for less to be successful.
Where do people go, if they want an alternative to Approaching Infinity? FTL costs 10$, Starsector and VoidExpanse cost 15$. There is also Prospector, which is free. You certainly are not competitive in this genre.
Let's not get into how AI is different from those games, what matters is, that you can buy all three for the same price as AI and guess what most consumers will decide? They'd rather buy 3 games than one or buy one and have 30$ left to spend on something else.
Don't be fooled by some people defending the price point. People can and will justify paying anything for anything, I'm sure you'll find somebody defending their 60$ purchase of a digital monocle in EVE as a good deal, heck there are people willing to spend thousands on f2p-p2w browsergames and I'm sure, they have a justification for that as well. But what really matters is the market and I highly doubt AIs sales numbers have even broken the 4-digit mark so far, whereas I'm fairly certain, that with a bit of youtube exposure and a reasonable price point on Steam, it would have cracked 10000 sales by now.
AI should cost 8-12$, 15$ the absolute maximum; anything above simply is not reasonable given the market situation as well the Kickstarter pricing problem AI has.

Voidhawk June 22nd, 2015 12:55 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
This is a game I hadn't heard of until recently when someone on one of the forums I frequent mentioned it while we were discussing another indie game that bears a similarly minimalist aesthetic alongside a hefty price tag. Understand that I have been an avid gamer for over 25 years, and by "avid," I mean that I'm the sort of gamer that keeps certain things on his radar religiously. Granted, with the recent golden age of indie, keeping up with everything that interests me has been considerably more difficult; but for something that's about as custom-tailored for my gaming preferences as a game can possibly be, the fact that AI not only slid completely under my radar, but has managed to hover there for nearly half a year with me none the wiser... Well, it concerns me. I thought I might be slipping. And so I consulted the infinite knowledge of Google.

Turns out Google doesn't know much either. There's a bit about the Kickstarter. A place to buy it. A couple of months-old early look editorials. Couple of positive reviews on a couple of obscure gaming sites. RPS touched on it back in February. Not a great deal of info out there. Well. Okay.

Onward to Youtube, then! Let's filter by upload date! Let's see... 5 months ago. 6 months ago. 8 months ago. Wait, what? Has the publisher issued takedown orders on all the LP's? Was the IP sold to Nintendo? It's 2015, where are the LP's for this newly hatched indie roguelike game? Punishing roguelikes are all the rage with the youngsters these days, what gives?

My initial conclusion: This game must suck, and it must suck so bad that it's not even amusing enough for adolescents to make fun of how much it sucks. Because if it was at least amusingly awful, I could rest assured that there would be dozens of annoying videos online to show me precisely how awful it was. Ah, but there's a demo! Just like the days of yore! Ye Olde Trye Before Ye Buy! Let's give that a shot!

Less than an hour in: Fantastic! Instantly familiar yet unique. Shades of Prospector, yet entirely its own experience. Compulsively playable. Quite possibly a game that will someday be spoken of in the same reverent tones as NetHack and ADoM. Instant purchase for me. Forty bucks? Ouch. That's unusual.

Hold. DRM. DRM? Limited activations. Certainly nothing as heinous as TAGES upon closer inspection, but a bit too reminiscent for my liking nonetheless. Limited downloads? Hm.

And here I am, stuck fast right at the end of Hm.

The fact of the matter is, this isn't just about the price point, and it's not just about the comparatively tame DRM, and it's not just about lack of a competitive digital consumer solution. It's about this whole series of barriers between you and potential customers. None are insurmountable by the most determined roguelike fan, but it's likely that most everyone else will just spend their 40 bucks elsewhere.

Am I going to buy it? I'm not sure. Probably, but it's not in my budget this month. I've had nothing but love for Shrapnel since day one, and I'll always be a fan and supporter of my favorite hometown publisher. I hope you guys will humor me. Tough love, no hate.

First and foremost, the DRM has to go. Regardless of how non-intrusive and harmless it may in fact be, it is an unnecessary potential burden upon customers and the mere presence of it fosters bad will. Whether or not it's warranted is of no consequence. It has given this title bad buzz, and considering the dearth of positive buzz surrounding AI, this is a Very Bad Thing. I am not an anti-DRM zealot. There are pros and cons when it comes to DRM, I'm not here to debate that, and I will not respond to either side of the argument on these forums. I am simply stating my stance based upon my own feelings and the observations I've made as they relate to this particular title.

Consider implementing solutions that devalue the pirated product. Valve has built an empire doing exactly this, as I'm sure you're aware. In the indie realm, Factorio's auto-updater is a fine example of being able to offer your honest customers just a little bit more than the thieves can easily obtain. Pirates really, really hate that. Hit them where it hurts: The content. If they love your game, they will buy it for the support. If they don't, they'll just find something else to steal. And if they don't love it, we don't want them playing anyway, do we?

Most of all, rely on building a fanbase that wants to pay you for your hard work. This should be especially easy to pull off considering the genre, as most of us who share the roguelike passion are... well... pretty darn passionate. At least as passionate as all you crotchety old grognards. ;)

Toady still gets a nice dinner from me now and again, just because, and Ascending a seventh Tourist is still high up on my bucket list.

Please consider alternate avenues of distribution for this amazing game. Keep the boxed editions priced firm at $40 USD and promote them as the limited CE. The people who buy these are your fans and your loyal Shrapnel family. Lease your DRM-free executable on an established digital distribution platform at a price point of $14.99, with a 10% discount for the first week. Get your game into the hands of the players and let them take the promotional reigns from there.

I strongly feel that people are not covering this game in the media because average gamers (those that are even aware of its existence) are not taking it seriously at the current price point. The roguelike iron is hot right now, and there is absolutely no other good reason why a fully realized indie effort like AI isn't generating plenty of live streams, LP's, and editorial pieces.

Sorry for the wall o' text. If I didn't care, I really wouldn't have bothered.

pzgndr July 4th, 2015 03:49 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
FWIW, I found the AI demo here at Shrapnel, played it, and bought the game when it came out. I've had hours of gameplay and feel I've gotten my money's worth. Looking forward to the next update!

DamienPS July 7th, 2015 03:38 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pzgndr (Post 830725)
FWIW, I found the AI demo here at Shrapnel, played it, and bought the game when it came out. I've had hours of gameplay and feel I've gotten my money's worth. Looking forward to the next update!

That's what I did except that I joined the Beta process as well.

DomMatt July 13th, 2015 07:08 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Voidhawk (Post 830516)
I strongly feel that people are not covering this game in the media because average gamers (those that are even aware of its existence) are not taking it seriously at the current price point. The roguelike iron is hot right now, and there is absolutely no other good reason why a fully realized indie effort like AI isn't generating plenty of live streams, LP's, and editorial pieces.

Sorry for the wall o' text. If I didn't care, I really wouldn't have bothered.

Don,

Thanks for this very thoughtful post, it very closely matches my feelings about AI. I care about the game too, but the combination of barriers you mention (especially limited activation DRM) are exactly what have prevented me from making a purchase. I am not anti-DRM, but I am totally against limited activation (yes, I HAVE been burned by it in the past; based on my computer usage history I would use up three activations within a couple of years).

It is frustrating that there seems to be a disconnect between the perceived attitudes of the developers (limited activation is innocuous, it is not meant to impact legitimate buyers at all) and the attitudes of some consumers like me (limited activation has prevented me from enjoying something I paid for, it prevents me from playing when and where I want, and it is awful to think that something intended to prevent piracy is hurtful to honest supporters).

I know I am not saying anything new in this post, I am just adding "+1" more lash to the dead horse in case the developer is considering options for expanding into a larger market.

-Matt

ibol July 14th, 2015 10:28 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
Hi, Matt,
I am the developer, and I do appreciate and understand many of the (IMO) legitimate concerns that have been thoughtfully expressed here.

Quote:

I know I am not saying anything new in this post, I am just adding "+1" more lash to the dead horse in case the developer is considering options for expanding into a larger market.
That being said, I really really really really want to reach a larger market, but, as I've said elsewhere (like my own dead horse), pricing is not up to me at all.

BUT: I have personally said that no one who buys the game and loves it will go without the ability to play it. Meaning, we can squeeze in a few more installs, especially when you are talking about a period of YEARS...

Voidhawk July 15th, 2015 02:22 AM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
On a more positive note, launching AI with a traditional niche publisher like Shrapnel instead of a mainstream digital service may end up being the right move over the long haul. In addition to the general coolness of getting a box and printed documentation to go along with his game, Mr. Saunders is now officially "published," a status that tends to open many doors for new developers.

His other project, XenoBloom, has garnered enough interest from Steam users to achieve Greenlit status. This plants a proverbial flag for him on that map as well. It will be interesting to see if XenoBloom generates interest in AI, as many Steam gamers are likely to investigate new indie devs that produce interesting games.

As far as Shrapnel's price point: I'll just say that I'm still working at the company responsible for the production of the physical documentation for Dominions 3. I have in front of me the very first 292-page spiral bound manual that rolled off our production line. I know it was the very first because I assembled it myself, with my own two hands. I had read the manual cover-to-cover before the game even came out. :)

As someone who has been doing this work for over a decade now, I can promise you that small run digital print production is NOT cheap. The big publishers who still deal in on-shelf product employ offset printers and mass produce to keep production costs down. A small publisher like Shrapnel with a relatively limited customer base does not have that luxury.

So while I understand the necessity of pricing on that level, I'm still disappointed that there isn't a more economical and purely digital option for people who just don't want the boxed product.

And the DRM. Grumble grumble. :smirk:

dari July 15th, 2015 02:40 PM

Re: What makes this game worth $40 more than any other roguelike?
 
just calculate $cost per hour of entertainment with a computer game and compare with other entertainment options...or even some other pc games
the only few titles that got even near to AI in this regard (for me) are Bad Company 2 , Master of Orion2, Oblivion, and the ol' Jagged Alliance titles


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