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VOL. CCCLXXXVIII TWO CENTS TORONTO. SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018. THIRTY-NINE PAGES.

Beta test, round 2

By Rick,

As you may know, we began our first round of beta testing a couple months ago, and we've made a lot of progress on Hegemony during that time. A very special thanks to Random Chaos, who has proved invaluable during this period.

We're preparing to launch round two of our beta test, and we've decided to accept more applications. If you're interested, be sure to email Jim with the following information:

* Name
* Forum display name
* System specs
* Approximately how many hours you spend gaming each week
* Your favourite genre
* Your favourite game (recent favourite and all-time favourite)
* Any games you've beta-tested before

We're expecting this round to be larger than the first round, so don't hesitate to join up!

Oh, and if you've already applied for round one and you haven't heard back from us, don't worry, we still have your information on file and you'll be considered for round two.

The Importance of Demos

By Rick,

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about a new game called Borderlands. I can’t actually say much about this game because I haven’t played it yet. Now, I can already hear you asking, “why did you bring it up if you haven’t played it?” Well, dearest voice in my head, it’s very simple: I brought it up because I haven’t played it. You see, the reason I haven’t played it is because there’s no demo.

If you take a look around our site, you’ll notice that we offer demos for all of our games. Obviously, we think demos are pretty important, so this week I thought I’d talk about why we think demos are so important, and why some publishers and developers decide to eschew the demo. Continued →

A Premortem: Lessons Learned So Far, part 3

By Rick,

Welcome to the final part in A Premortem: Lessons Learned So Far. If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, you might want to do that now.

I’m reaching the bottom of my list of lessons, so there’s not going to be much of a theme in today’s collection; instead, it’s going to be the odds-and-ends that I wanted to talk about, but couldn’t fit into the two earlier articles. Without further ado, let’s get started. Continued →

A Premortem: Lessons Learned So Far, part 2

By Rick,

Welcome to A Premortem: Lessons Learned So Far. For those of you who are just joining us, this is part 2 of a series I began writing last week where I discuss some of the lessons we think we’ve learned during the development of Hegemony, and how we’ll probably do certain things differently on the next project. Since we haven’t actually released Hegemony yet, I can’t say with utmost authority that these are all good ideas, but they seem like good ideas with the current – albeit partial – hindsight that we have today.

This week I’ll be talking mostly about the art side of things; not just how our artists will change things up, but also how our next game could benefit from better programming and planning. That brings me to the first lesson. Continued →

A Premortem: Lessons Learned So Far, part 1

By Rick,

In the game industry we have a kind of essay that we call a ‘postmortem’. This is usually an article that is written after a game is shipped where the developers examine the project with the benefit of hind-sight. This typically includes what went right, what went wrong, and the lessons learned. This way, developers can learn from each other. After all, a wise man learns from his own mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.

Of course, we haven’t finished Hegemony, so we can’t write a postmortem yet. However, this is the most ambitious project any of us have ever worked on, and we’ve already learned tonnes, so today I’m starting a two- or three-part series that I’m calling a ‘premortem’. This is the sort of stuff we discuss in the office whenever we’re daydreaming about how we’ll manage our next project. Nothing I’m about to talk about has been proven yet – we won’t know that until the game is released – but these are our lessons learned so far, as we see them today. Continued →

The Strengths and Weaknesses of an Indie

By Rick,

I’m a fan of indies. Whether it’s independent games (like us!), independent music, or independent film (warning: contains Rick’s poor acting; may be unsuitable for connoisseurs of good films) I like the kind of freedom that’s enjoyed by a team working on a low budget with nobody to answer to. Of course, it’s not all rainbows and lollipops; indie development certainly has its flaws, and there’s a number of strengths to the traditional model which are easy to envy, so this week I thought I’d talk about the strengths and weaknesses of indie development.

Before I go on, I want to be clear about what I mean when I talk about “traditional” model. In this model, you approach a publisher (or a producer, or a record label, in the case of film and music) and convince them to buy your idea. In reality, they’re not really “buying” your idea; yes, they usually take ownership of your idea, but they’re not actually giving you any money for it. What they're really giving you is just the loan that you need to bring your idea to fruition (and usually with a rather high interest rate to boot). Luckily if your idea fails, the publisher takes the fall, and you don’t have to pay back your loan. They’ll also typically handle most of the business stuff like marketing and distribution; the sort of stuff most creative types aren’t interested in. Continued →

The Importance of Digital Distribution

By Rick,

“Digital Distribution” is the technical term to describe the process of selling a digital file to somebody over the Internet, rather than bundling it in a box and shipping it to a brick-and-mortar store. Now, it’s no secret that I love digital distribution in ways that most people would consider unnatural. Sometimes it can be a sordid affair, when people don't do it right, but for the most part I’m a big fan. Let me tell you why... Continued →

Why we don't use download limits

By Rick,

Last week I wrote an article denouncing DRM – which at this point in history is about as controversial as denouncing asbestos – so this week I thought I’d talk about something which, to date, has received very little attention, but which I think is almost as important as the DRM debate. I’m talking about download limits.

This is obviously something which only applies to digital distribution. When you go to a store and buy a physical copy of a game, that disc should last you a lifetime. But when you buy a game digitally, you have to worry about what happens if your hard drive dies. If digital distribution is going to succeed, then customers need to be able to rest assured that their investment will not be lost a few years down the road.

We think that’s important, so when you buy a game from us, you can rest assured that we will never force you to buy a game when you’ve already purchased it before. Continued →

Why we don't use DRM

By Rick,

This post is about Digital Rights Management, or DRM; that annoying technology that some companies like to use to control how you're allowed to access your games, music, or movies. With video games, this usually takes one of the following forms:

* Requiring that the game disc is in your computer while you play.
* Requiring that the computer is connected to the Internet to play.
* Limiting the number of times that you are allowed to install your game on a computer.

Here at Longbow, we're all avid gamers, and we don't like DRM. If you've been following the various DRM scandals and names like StarForce or the Sony rootkit are familiar to you, then what I'm saying isn't very controversial. There have been many people – gamers and developers alike – who have already spoken out against DRM, but it remains an important issue. The market is still flush with games that are laden with DRM, so it's nice to know where a developer stands on DRM. Continued →

Beta Testing Hegemony

By Rick,

We're ramping up to start beta testing Hegemony. If you're interested in helping us with this process, please email Jim with the following information:

* Name
* Forum display name
* System specs
* Approximately how many hours you spend gaming each week
* Your favourite genre
* Your favourite game (recent favourite and all-time favourite)
* Any games you've beta-tested before

We're looking for a wide range of participants who are willing to earnestly and readily share their opinions with us. We're planning to start off with a very small number of testers, so don't worry if you don't hear from us right away because we'll be opening up the beta testing pool as we progress.

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