Arcen Games

Other => Off Topic => Exodus Of The Machine => Topic started by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 10:36:55 AM

Title: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 10:36:55 AM
http://christophermpark.blogspot.com/2013/03/exodus-of-machine-teaser-1.html

Exodus Of The Machine is a new strategic journey game by Arcen Games, set in the universe of the cult classic AI War: Fleet Command.  Lead a team trapped on a hostile planet and desperately pursuing a threat which could destroy humanity outright.

Vicious predators, clashing armies, and political intrigue stand in your way.  None can stand before your modern weapons, but where do you use your limited ammunition?  Do you resort to diplomacy, or native weapons?  Will you fall to disease or run out of food stores?  Can you get to the end in time?

Exodus combines Arcen's love of all things strategic within a framework reminiscent of our old favorite Oregon Trail.



This is a title we've been quietly working on.  It's "coming soon," which is a vague way of saying that it will be in 2013 but that we don't want to commit to a date yet.  We wanted to share a bit with you about what we're working on, but right now the above is all we're comfortable revealing.  We'll have something a bit more meaty for you next time!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 28, 2013, 10:52:53 AM
So this is AI War+Oregon Trail? Sounds amazing. Looking forward to hearing more.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Mick on March 28, 2013, 10:55:01 AM
You have died of dysentery... and robots.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 11:23:51 AM
You have died of dysentery... and robots.
We may have to use that in promotional materials.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 11:24:13 AM
You have died of dysentery... and robots.

That is awesome.  I am making a case to the staff to use that as the tagline for the game, now.  :D

EDIT: Ninja'd by Keith!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Mick on March 28, 2013, 11:26:17 AM
Glad I could help.  :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 11:27:36 AM
I literally laugh out loud every time I read that. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: TechSY730 on March 28, 2013, 11:45:14 AM
Hang on, in the universe of AI War!


This has my interest.


So, is this sort of the more "personal", down to earth (well, planet) side of the conflict, while the "legendary General" or whatever you play as AI War manages the large scale flight going on overhead in space?

This is a really cool idea!

Will there be continuity shout-outs/references from AI War for observant players of AI War to pickup?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 11:52:37 AM
It's set in the same universe, not in the same timeframe.  Close, though.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 11:53:00 AM
Will there be continuity shout-outs/references from AI War for observant players of AI War to pickup?
You could say that.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 12:05:24 PM
Is it planned for Heavy cat to do the art on this one too? What sort of art-style is planned for it?

The description has a bit of an FTL vibe going for it as well.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 12:13:40 PM
Is it planned for Heavy cat to do the art on this one too?
HCS did the art in the teaser image (except the logo which is temporary pending another design, where the spherical thing is adapted from the HCS piece and the text and stylization is from Chris).

And HCS is the main source of art for the whole thing, yes.

Quote
What sort of art-style is planned for it?
Note the character's art style in the teaser.

Quote
The description has a bit of an FTL vibe going for it as well.
A bit, though this is ground-based rather than space-based and is completely turn-based rather than having encounters play out in pausable-realtime.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 28, 2013, 12:17:37 PM

And HCS is the main source of art for the whole thing, yes.


Considering that's the only thing I consider bad, the game is off to a great start.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 12:30:34 PM

And HCS is the main source of art for the whole thing, yes.


Considering that's the only thing I consider bad, the game is off to a great start.
Well, don't judge the studio by Valley2.  They were given some pretty tough requirements there.  And SH was intentionally retro; good if you like that kind of thing but I'm guessing you don't.

Anyway, what do you think of the teaser image above?  Specifically, do you like the character's art?  Do you like the background art?

If you don't like either, then this game is probably not going to work for you, but honestly I don't know what would that's at-all within our reach.

I'm not saying that bitterly or whatever, but I figure we should be clear with each other on this :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 28, 2013, 12:40:20 PM
I sign in to the forums today to see two new game announcements. Do you like, ever NOT make games? :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: onyhow on March 28, 2013, 12:41:05 PM
I just noticed that the game was namedropped in the interview with IndieGames.com back in mid-March...

Ah well...sounds interesting! Hope it does explore more on AI War universe...
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 12:42:38 PM
Do you like, ever NOT make games? :P

Acutally, I can safely say that since I was 9 years old, there have only been around 5 years of my life that I wasn't actively making games or working on mods or level packs for other games.  Basically mid-2003 through the end of 2007, and maybe a combined year and a half there in the mid-90s.

I like making games. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 28, 2013, 12:43:11 PM
Well, don't judge the studio by Valley2.  They were given some pretty tough requirements there.  And SH was intentionally retro; good if you like that kind of thing but I'm guessing you don't.

Anyway, what do you think of the teaser image above?  Specifically, do you like the character's art?  Do you like the background art?

If you don't like either, then this game is probably not going to work for you, but honestly I don't know what would that's at-all within our reach.

I'm not saying that bitterly or whatever, but I figure we should be clear with each other on this :)

I don't put much stock into teaser images, honestly. The teaser pics from Vally 2 were quite different then the finished product.

To reinforce this is my opinion that the style is good. It's just the animation was terrible.

In fact, I would consider the art overall from Vally 2 to be good...except the object you see most often. The player. When I saw the character in the first alpha I literally thought "This must be the alpha, with the slideshow animation" I would have never have guessed that was the finished product.


So to conclude, the teaser looks promising, but I've seen similar promise before so I remai skeptical. Please try to devote more time to make the thing(s) you see the most look good, and it'll be fine.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 12:43:45 PM
I just noticed that the game was namedropped in the interview with IndieGames.com back in mid-March...

There and also in an earlier podcast with Game Wisdom, yeah.  And they've been on our "upcoming releases" sidebar thing on the main site since shortly after the Game Wisdom mention, too. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 12:50:05 PM
I don't put much stock into teaser images, honestly. The teaser pics from Vally 2 were quite different then the finished product.
Fair enough.

The character in the teaser is the asset being used for that character in-game (except the white outline, which was added for this shot to help with contrast).  So it should be more informative than the usual teaser stuff is.

The background was intended as an in-game cutscene shot but will probably be used for the title screen instead as a different style is going to be used for the in-game cutscenes (artist availability changed midstream).  So you may retain your skepticism for those until we have something clearly in-game for you ;)


I agree on the player animation in Valley2.  If I understand Chris correctly we'd have done things very differently (fewer characters, more frames per character) if we'd known then what we know now.

Because we know now, we're mostly avoiding the need for animation of humans in Exodus.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 12:54:22 PM
Plus with the style of game this is, the animation of humans really isn't needed terribly much anyhow.  It's just apples and oranges between something along the lines of Oregon Trail versus an action platformer.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Billick on March 28, 2013, 01:46:30 PM
As much as I liked the Valley games, I'm glad to see Arcen making another strategy game.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 28, 2013, 04:54:55 PM
Ooooh
I bet it takes place after the AI gets beat up so that the humans can finally live on not a space station for the first time in quite a while. I could absolutely be extremely wrong here.
Also, Exodus of the Machine actually sounds kinda like an AI War expansion name, or an album title for a hard rock band.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 05:29:08 PM
I could absolutely be extremely wrong here.
You totally could.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Greywolf22 on March 28, 2013, 06:00:47 PM
Are you guys going to be running an Alpha for this for folks to participate in?  I'm always excited to get my hands on another Arcen title  :D
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 06:04:09 PM
Are you guys going to be running an Alpha for this for folks to participate in?  I'm always excited to get my hands on another Arcen title  :D
As we need testers we'll probably be doing the normal approach, yes :)  But don't worry: we'll let folks know when that time comes.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 28, 2013, 06:47:59 PM
Well, the thing in the background of that picture looks like a crashed Command Station. Also:

Quote
None can stand before your modern weapons, but where do you use your limited ammunition?  Do you resort to diplomacy, or native weapons?

This part is intriguing to me. It implies that there's an existing civilization on the planet which is probably not human, since all the humans were either wiped out, part of military force the player controls or contained within a nebula. Unless there's a sub-faction which split off and settled their own planet, and thus were not involved in the civil war which became the AI War, all branches of humanity are accounted for in those factions.

If they are humans who split off onto their own planet prior to the civil war, though, they must be capable of space flight and thus must have advanced weaponry. Although "native" does not necessarily mean spears and bows--they could still have space-age weapons, but the weapons that the AI War humans have are even more advanced, as the civil war led to a sort of arms race, quickening the development of new military hardware.

Or it could just be aliens. That would probably be the easier explanation.  :P I'm just wildly speculating based off of very little evidence at this point.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 28, 2013, 06:51:50 PM
*Hear hear*! Let's toast to another awesome game by Arcen.

I am literally so excited I can't wait.

I'm glad to see that you guys are returning to your strategy roots. I think that's where you really shine :D

Excited to hear more about both games :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:02:26 PM
Or it could just be aliens. That would probably be the easier explanation.  :P I'm just wildly speculating based off of very little evidence at this point.

Or it could be something which, surprisingly, nobody has suggested yet. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:05:29 PM
I'm glad to see that you guys are returning to your strategy roots. I think that's where you really shine :D

Excited to hear more about both games :P

I really appreciate it. :)  Yeah, as much as I don't want to be "just a strategy game developer," that certainly is our wheelhouse.  I really love working on all manner of games, but my hunger for working on strategy titles has really grown back over the last two years.  Sometime after these two I really want to get into some truer turn-based tactics or roguelike stuff, though.  That seems like it would also be something we'd excel at, even though we've never made one before; it plays to the same sort of strengths as a strategy game.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself but suffice it to say we're all really excited, too. :)

And AI War is not dead!  We plan another expansion to that later this year.  Neither of these other games step on the toes of it, since each is such a different experience.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 28, 2013, 07:12:38 PM
Or it could just be aliens. That would probably be the easier explanation.  :P I'm just wildly speculating based off of very little evidence at this point.

Or it could be something which, surprisingly, nobody has suggested yet. :)

Not Humans, not Aliens, so that leaves...The AI? But that doesn't make any sense.

I'll just wait for the Alpha/Beta, I'm so excited.

Quote
And AI War is not dead!  We plan another expansion to that later this year.

 :D

Wow, you guys are being so productive. AVWW2, Shattered Haven shortly after, Now Skyward Collapse and Exodus, with an AI War expansion this year? So many opportunities to throw money at you guys :V

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:16:48 PM
And hopefully, another two games or expansions on top of all that.  We're in top gear these days -- huge code assets behind us, more great game ideas than we can use in another three years at this rate, and a much-expanded team.  When you consider I'm not having to spend half my time on art, for instance, that makes a big difference.  And easily half of our programming time on Valley 1 was engine programming; even on Valley 2, there was a ton of that.  Now that's all done, and we're reaping the fruits of our past labors.  In the main, it all comes down to design and content and new art, etc, rather than so much new technical expansion at every step of the way.  It's like starting with the Unreal 3 engine rather than starting a new FPS game from a blank sheet of paper -- still a ton of work, but not in the same league, heh.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 07:19:51 PM
If they are humans who split off onto their own planet prior to the civil war, though, they must be capable of space flight and thus must have advanced weaponry.
Out of curiosity, have you read much mil-sci-fi?

I'm wondering if it's just the bits I happen to have read, but I've found that the "musts" in that quote there to be rather not the case :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 07:21:01 PM
And hopefully, another two games or expansions on top of all that.... blah blah blah other stuff I'm not quoting.

I eagerly await my AVWW2 play-as-demonica prequel or kick-Elder's-rear sequel in expansion form. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:21:34 PM
Hahahaha. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 28, 2013, 07:22:02 PM
If they are humans who split off onto their own planet prior to the civil war, though, they must be capable of space flight and thus must have advanced weaponry.
Out of curiosity, have you read much mil-sci-fi?

I'm wondering if it's just the bits I happen to have read, but I've found that the "musts" in that quote there to be rather not the case :)

Generally no. I've read some Sci-fi like the Ender's game saga but other than that, I generally read non-fiction.

Although, upon further reflection, Ender's game alone disproves my theory. So yeah. Forget about that.  ::)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 07:23:07 PM
Although, upon further reflection, Ender's game alone disproves my theory. So yeah. Forget about that.  ::)
I thought it was an interesting conjecture :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 28, 2013, 07:23:23 PM
Hey speaking of AI War, you guys have done some fantastic engine optimizations to your newer titles (especially when hosting multiplayer, netcoding, and such), and it would be amazing to see those ported to AI War in the next expansion.

I mentioned this in another thread as well, but AI War begins to lag, even on the best computers (mine is rated 7.7 out of 7.9 on Microsoft's Performance Scale), when less than 1,000 units are on the same planet. From what I understand this is pure processing power because each unit is trying to make its own decisions and with so many units doing that, it completely bogs down the system.

While I understand the intention for this design mechanic, what 1 fighter does, is really not that much different than what 50 fighters do; it won't make that much impact on the game if they all just made their decisions together, instead of trying to do it individually. So what I'm saying is that I feel like we could redesign some of the game mechanics and port some of the engine improvements you guys have made over the years, and bring AI War's performance to a whole new level for the next expansion.

I'm really proud of your guy's work so far, I can't wait to see what else you have in store.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 07:25:40 PM
While I understand the intention for this design mechanic, what 1 fighter does, is really not that much different than what 50 fighters do; it won't make that much impact on the game if they all just made their decisions together, instead of trying to do it individually.
The cap scale option is available to you :)  Or are you already on ultra-low caps?

As far as engine optimizations, most of the ones that are really relevant to AIW are already included in it.  We'd like to get it (and our new stuff) onto a newer version of Unity but there's still some issues with that and I'm not sure if it'd really solve the problems you get with O(n^2) processing times.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 28, 2013, 07:30:41 PM
Yeah, well I'll probably just shut up now because I really don't know what causes the AI War processing bog-downs.  I just feel like you guys could, in your greater knowledge, probably reduce that to something more handleable by most modern machines in the future. (I do play on low caps btw)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:34:16 PM
Hey speaking of AI War, you guys have done some fantastic engine optimizations to your newer titles (especially when hosting multiplayer, netcoding, and such), and it would be amazing to see those ported to AI War in the next expansion.

Oh, goodness -- AI War's multiplayer is by far the best we have in many respects.  It's a strategy game multiplayer model, though, so it's not suitable for action games.  Our action game multiplayer is actually substantially less evolved, although it works in many ways.  Still, AI War really couldn't work any other way in multiplayer than it does now.  It's blindingly efficient, to be honest -- no other strategy game has to contend with 1/10th of the data a big AI War game does.  Most don't contend with 1/100th, even.

I mentioned this in another thread as well, but AI War begins to lag, even on the best computers (mine is rated 7.7 out of 7.9 on Microsoft's Performance Scale), when less than 1,000 units are on the same planet. From what I understand this is pure processing power because each unit is trying to make its own decisions and with so many units doing that, it completely bogs down the system.

While I understand the intention for this design mechanic, what 1 fighter does, is really not that much different than what 50 fighters do; it won't make that much impact on the game if they all just made their decisions together, instead of trying to do it individually.

Actually, it would utterly break the entire game in terms of the AI that you love.  The AI is based around essentially flocking mechanics, and if you try to direct a flock as a whole it's no longer a flock.  And all the personality just vanishes.  We've been plugging away at efficiency improvements for years on AI War, and it's easily our most-tuned game ever.  It just has an incredible amount of computations per second to run (millions or hundreds of millions, depending).  None of our other games have remotely the same requirements, nor does any other strategy game I've ever seen.  But each year we've made some strides in AI War's internal efficiency.

So what I'm saying is that I feel like we could redesign some of the game mechanics and port some of the engine improvements you guys have made over the years, and bring AI War's performance to a whole new level for the next expansion.

Well, basically to get what you're after, we'd have to make it not AI War anymore.  That's really not something I ever want to do.  Computers are getting faster all the time anyhow, not that that's really an excuse.  But we have many options where you can play with smaller unit counts or a lower granularity of unit movements and so forth if you want to essentially have an AI War style of game with better performance on existing machines.  Those sorts of things have all been done and there's nothing else that we can really think of to do at this time.

Trying to split short-term targeting data onto its own thread is something we've considered, but it's so much data to transfer back and forth that that quickly becomes untenable.  We know this because we do have a secondary thread for the AI's higher-functions (all the really hard-crunching math, versus stuff that boils down closer to instinct).  And we have to significantly throttle the data transfer to that thread, or else bad things happen.  If we throttled the more instinctual level of data in that fashion, you'd see ships flying past each other without taking shots, or not noticing in a timely fashion when something bad happens or when they should take an immediate action, etc.

Basically, the design parameters that make AI War what it is are extremely constraining when it comes to things of that nature, and while I won't claim we've exhausted every last possibility, we've implemented or eliminated everything we have ever thought of.  I don't want to make AI War not AI War anymore (boy THAT would go over well), so our focus is to improve on what it is (which I think is great, for the record), and then to not ever do anything with those sort of hands-tying constraints again if we can help it. ;)

I'm really proud of your guy's work so far, I can't wait to see what else you have in store.

Thanks for that!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 07:34:36 PM
Yeah, well I'll probably just shut up now because I really don't know what causes the AI War processing bog-downs.  I just feel like you guys could, in your greater knowledge, probably reduce that to something more handleable by most modern machines in the future. (I do play on low caps btw)
It varies but if you have a lot of photon lance stuff that's the slowest performance wise.  Which is why we only give it to a few unit types and those all have low caps.  But if you have a huge FS fleet it can cause bog down because of that.

Other than that it's largely related to situations where you and the enemy both have a lot of ships on the planet, so the targeting checks get pretty involved (those are aggregated, much like you suggest, but it still has a cost).


I do wish Unity let us do line-by-line cpu profiling.  That's the #1 thing I miss from the pre-Unity days, and it was the most effective tool I had for optimizing AIW (thankfully I really used it thoroughly before the switch to Unity, but stuff that's been added since then has not had the benefit of that tool).
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:39:26 PM
While I understand the intention for this design mechanic, what 1 fighter does, is really not that much different than what 50 fighters do; it won't make that much impact on the game if they all just made their decisions together, instead of trying to do it individually.
The cap scale option is available to you :)  Or are you already on ultra-low caps?

As far as engine optimizations, most of the ones that are really relevant to AIW are already included in it.  We'd like to get it (and our new stuff) onto a newer version of Unity but there's still some issues with that and I'm not sure if it'd really solve the problems you get with O(n^2) processing times.

For the record, with the latest version of Unity there are some things that we could improve performance-wise on the graphical side.  That would help with certain things, to be sure, but when it's a big battle that's like 1-5% of the total costs and slowdowns from all the data we have.  As you said, it's the O(n^2) CPU processing on the unit calculations themselves that is the big thing.

I think that the newer versions of Unity do allow for more direct profiling, though I think that's mostly on the memory side of things.  Still, if they ever allow third-party CPU profiling that is better than what they have now, that would be one way to at least locate hotspots, as you note.

Oh, by the way -- just as a general note, when we did version 4.0 we did a lot of design shifts that were in favor of the CPU.  The smaller numbers of individual AI ships per planets, the barracks and carriers, the giant command posts instead of all those turrets, etc.  All those things helped immensely with the load the 3.x and prior versions had.  The game has really evolved a ton over time, but I just don't see where we'd take it next in terms of performance at the moment.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 28, 2013, 07:41:22 PM
Oh okay. It was just a flaw in my perception then. You guys have done all you can and I'm happy with that. AI War just holds a special place in my heart and I wanted to make sure it gets the love it deserves <3
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:44:51 PM
Oh yeah, we have both have a special place in our hearts for it, too. :)  And something may occur to us further, sure.  But I felt like it was worth explaining some of what we've learned over the months and months of man-hours we've sunk into improving performance on the game over the last four years, heh. :)  Not trying to bludgeon you with the info though!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 28, 2013, 07:54:26 PM
No I'm glad you guys explained it to me. I'm so lost when it comes to this stuff, it's nice to know what's actually going on behind the scenes.

My dad's the computer programmer, I chose a health profession. Unfortunately that makes me pretty illiterate when it comes to most of this stuff :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 07:57:09 PM
My dad's an electrical engineer, and I feel the same way about his work!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Misery on March 28, 2013, 09:11:21 PM
Well, this was unexpected.  Two new boards for two games.... well, ok, considering how fast you guys develop, maybe "unexpected" is the wrong word here.   I swear, you guys must not even have an actual OFFICE, you just have this little time distortion that you sit in that allows you to churn out games at 50x the usual rate.

I'll certainly hop into the alpha/beta/whatever when it shows, as the concepts for this one sound really interesting.    As for the other game, I keep getting this idea of a turn-based game where your enemies are all evil Tetris pieces falling from the sky.


I eagerly await my AVWW2 play-as-demonica prequel

Make this.   It'd be hilarious.  Like a strategic, tactical version of Rampage.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 09:31:06 PM
Well, this was unexpected.  Two new boards for two games.... well, ok, considering how fast you guys develop, maybe "unexpected" is the wrong word here.   I swear, you guys must not even have an actual OFFICE, you just have this little time distortion that you sit in that allows you to churn out games at 50x the usual rate.

I think they must be cyborgs or something, it's like they don't realize weekends are for not work! Or that it's okay to not put in 12 hour days sometimes ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: tigersfan on March 28, 2013, 09:31:28 PM
I swear, you guys must not even have an actual OFFICE,

I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but, we actually don't. We all work virtually. :)

In fact, I've only met Chris in person a handful of times, and we don't live that far from each other.

To be frank, that's part of the reason we can get so much done... We can use that time we aren't driving to the office to work. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 09:33:59 PM
I swear, you guys must not even have an actual OFFICE,

I'm not sure if you're aware of this or not, but, we actually don't. We all work virtually. :)

In fact, I've only met Chris in person a handful of times, and we don't live that far from each other.

Yep, and Josh and I have both met Erik precisely once, and Keith never in person.  Also Zack and Blue never in person.  And Phil.  I've seen Pablo every so often over the years, but I think Josh has met him once in person.

And as for 12 hour days... yeah, that's not too uncommon.  Essentially Arcen's income could very comfortably support three people, but not so much 6+ quite yet, so we're struggling a bit as we grow to that level.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 09:37:24 PM
As for not meeting... heh, don't you all live in the same city even?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 09:42:22 PM
Not even the same state in most cases. :)  We don't have an aversion to each other!  Erik is in California, Zack and Keith in different parts of Georgia, Phil is in Montreal, Blue is in Texas, Lars is in Washington State.  Pablo and Josh both live in the Raleigh area same as me (that's North Carolina), and they are close to each other but 45 minutes away from where I live.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 09:47:13 PM
Ahh, I see! I thought you all lived in NC.

Good to still see that there's a good southern representation though ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 09:50:15 PM
Good to still see that there's a good southern representation though ;)
Yessir.

As for 12 hour days, that's what getting to work half days means, right?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 09:56:07 PM
Yep, in a company sense I don't think much about the fact that most of us are southern, and in fact it wasn't something I set about to do when hiring (I hired people based on merit and compatibility with company philosphy, generally before I knew where they lived at all).  So it's just kind of funny how that worked out!  But some of the folks have lived in 3+ states, like Zack and Blue.  And Josh is really more of a northerner.  Zack's a southerner by origin despite the fact that he wandered, and I think that Erik and Blue are both more midwesterners despite the fact that he's currently in CA and she's in TX. 

For me, I've never lived anywhere but NC, and never intend to.  But I love to travel. :)

I guess we're an interesting example of the progressive south, in the end, eh?  Knowing our company some folks might find it strange that we're so southerner-heavy, but as a southerner I don't find that odd at all.  :D
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 28, 2013, 10:20:42 PM
Hey, I'm a southerner (currently transplanted in the north), I don't find it weird!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Misery on March 28, 2013, 10:38:16 PM

To be frank, that's part of the reason we can get so much done... We can use that time we aren't driving to the office to work. :)


Considering the traffic (and idiot drivers) in many areas..... yeah, makes sense to me.    Probably alot less frustration too.... none of the "scream swearwords at other drivers" bit that is so traditional these days.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 28, 2013, 10:45:12 PM
So how do you guys communicate? Skype, E-mail? The organization as a whole seems very efficient for people who work from such vastly different locations.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 10:52:50 PM
Email mainly.  Skype sometimes.  Though I think it varies depending on who you're talking about.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 10:57:02 PM
Probably 90% of our communication is email. And then pairs of us do Skype as needed, very occasionally three. The reason all of this works is that everyone on staff is really self-motivated and can get gray amounts of work done with no supervision, leading to situations where we comminicate on the salient points to coordinate, and then do our own thing. I wind up having he most email discussions and Skype calls by far, naturally, but it's not too overbearing even for me. Most of the time. ;)

Fun fact: Keith and I have a "standard thread #x" gmail chain that we up around every 100 emails in the chain. We are now on #49. This email chain is maybe two thirds (at most) of just our email communication directly between us without other staff involvement. That's 4900 emails in three years, not counting group discussions or specific-meaty-topic discussions with their own threads.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 10:58:56 PM
Blue and I Skype about every day or every other day at the moment, yeah. Josh and I do every couple of days at the moment, but often it's every morning. For Zack and I it was weekly for a while. Pablo and I can go months, same with Erik, and these days it's been a few months for you and I, too, Keith. It just depends on what is going on with everyone.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 11:00:22 PM
Triple post! Typos brought to you by iPhone.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 28, 2013, 11:11:51 PM
Actually that naming convention is misleading because if we go past 100 gmail just starts a new conversation and if we don't specifically change the number it just stays the same.  We're currently 24 emails into our third "#49", for example.  A quick text-grab, regex, and spreadsheet-sum later gives me a total of 5787.

That convention started June 21st, 2011.  This (http://www.convertunits.com/dates/from/Jun+21,+2011/to/Mar+28,+2013) tells me that's 646 days.

So, on average, 9 emails a day, only counting the "standard" threads.  But the actual density varies a lot from day to day.

I'm also the jerk who points out the inconvenient statistical things in the group conversations, in case that wasn't clear.  Someone else handles the more convenient statistical things.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 28, 2013, 11:17:32 PM
Yeah, I knew it was under shooting it by a fair bit for those reasons, but couldn't be bothered to be quite that precise. ;) Anyhow, fun stats there. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 29, 2013, 12:41:01 AM
Wow. That's an impressive number.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Histidine on March 29, 2013, 01:00:50 AM
This game is love at first sight.

Teaser woman looks very classic anime-ish. This may or may not be a good thing, I guess we'll have to wait and see  :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aklyon on March 29, 2013, 01:12:56 AM
AI War universe, Oregon Trail mentions, and finding out that a good portion of Arcen is far closer to me than I'd expected.

THis is an awesome thing so far already. :D

Also, looking at the teaser woman reminds me of Advance Wars characters, though theres probably a better comparison I'm not thinking of right now.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: zharmad on March 29, 2013, 05:18:34 AM
Since dysentery and robots have been mentioned in the same sentence, is there any chance of adding von-Neumann pathogens into the list of dangers? That catastrophic loss of fluid happens to be caused by self-replicating nanomachines.... inside you. :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: tigersfan on March 29, 2013, 07:11:01 AM
...And Josh is really more of a northerner.

According to my girlfriend (who is native to NC), I'll never be anything but a "Yankee". :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Faulty Logic on March 29, 2013, 12:03:22 PM
Absolutely critical question concerning this game: will it have warheads?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 12:04:30 PM
Absolutely critical question concerning this game: will it have warheads?
Define "warheads".
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Faulty Logic on March 29, 2013, 12:08:41 PM
Quote
Define "warheads".
One-time use objects that explode for massive damage.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 12:14:16 PM
Quote
Define "warheads".
One-time use objects that explode for massive damage.
Yep, that's there.  Bear in mind that the setting and gameplay are very different than AIW, and you probably won't get any of these for a while (possibly not the first playthrough at all), but they're in the design.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Faulty Logic on March 29, 2013, 12:25:38 PM
Quote
Yep, that's there.
Excellent.

Quote
Bear in mind that the setting and gameplay are very different than AIW
Good. If it were similar, I would almost certainly just play AIWar instead.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 12:28:27 PM
Good. If it were similar, I would almost certainly just play AIWar instead.
Yea.  The gameplay itself is fairly similar to oregon trail, though it has diverged in several respects.  Needless to say, the experience of playing it is radically different than playing AIW.  The main commonalities between Exodus and AIW are the universe setting and the fact that I mean for you to lose a lot.

Well, there's also the single-use explosive devices, which I suppose is all that matters.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 12:31:24 PM
I'm sure you are already aware of this, but despite love of previous games, I hope you continue of making this game following the arcen trend of being its own thing.

To say another way, the games I play are not considered to be "like" another game, but the game itself is used to compared by other things.

To make it oversimplified...

I haven't tried Tidalius [sic] because it seems Bejeweled like. I do play AI War, which I have heard others call "X" AI War ish.

Make sure this game is the latter, and not the former, and you'll be good. I like Oregan trail, but I just passed up a game that, while unique, felt too much like Oregan trail which I've tired of. I want new games, not rehashes.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 12:40:13 PM
I want new games, not rehashes.
Sure, that's fine.  This is pretty different from OT, that's just the first game that came to mind as I finished reading the March Upcountry series and thought of pursuing some kind of similar story/gameplay.  The game design and story design have moved on a lot since then.

Did you actually try Tidalis?  I've played Bejeweled.  Tidalis is very different than that.  Tidalis is far more cerebral and has far more profound variety, though perhaps I didn't play bejeweled long enough to see it shine (no pun intended).

In other words: if you're going to not try a game because it appears from the store page or wahtever to be a rehash rather than a "new game", then we may not be able to get past that.  Coming up with a screenshot and/or trailer which tells such a fine-grained message (like, but not too like, or whatever) past all the usual miscommunication-inducing filters between us and the consumer is actually far more difficult than making a good game in the first place.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 12:43:58 PM
If you're going to pick a game to compare Tidalis to, I really would not pick Bejeweled at all as near the top, to be honest.  It's a lot more like Panel de Pon than anything else, but even that's a pretty poor substitute.  It's about as similar to that as AI War is to Sins of a Solar Empire.  From screenshots it's hard to tell the difference, but the meat is incredibly different.  Really the same is true of all our games, and that's not something we intend to change anytime soon!  I would utterly be depressed if I was just cloning someone else's game outright with a few tweaks.  Ethics aside, it would be incredibly dull. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 12:48:41 PM

In other words: if you're going to not try a game because it appears from the store page or wahtever to be a rehash rather than a "new game", then we may not be able to get past that.  Coming up with a screenshot and/or trailer which tells such a fine-grained message (like, but not too like, or whatever) past all the usual miscommunication-inducing filters between us and the consumer is actually far more difficult than making a good game in the first place.

Fair enough, but it is a point I've brought up for months now:

In a world where many people have maybe an hour a day to play games, let alone buy them, trailers and first impressions are everything.

I mean, I'm among the absolute top fans of you, in that I've posted here so much for so long, but I simply don't have the time to try demos unless from a 30 second glance the game interests me.

I'm not trying to sound rude, but this is a hard reality. From a 30 second glance, Shattered Heaven didn't interest me, so I've never tried it, so it is has fallen among the literally thousands of other games out there that I don't have time to try.

I'm sure I'm coming across mean, but I'm just to provide a more accurate picture. For someone who has never bought an arcen game before, your text introduction, and maybe your trailer video, makes your game. Period. And from your intro that you've given here, I get the vibe "Oregan trail. Bored of the game type, Pass." Full stop.

I'm trying to help you all figure out how to market this best. You can ignore it if you want. But you should make sure as you frame this game outside your forum you make it unique, and not following another game.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 12:50:39 PM
If you're going to pick a game to compare Tidalis to, I really would not pick Bejeweled at all as near the top, to be honest.  It's a lot more like Panel de Pon than anything else, but even that's a pretty poor substitute.  It's about as similar to that as AI War is to Sins of a Solar Empire.  From screenshots it's hard to tell the difference, but the meat is incredibly different.  Really the same is true of all our games, and that's not something we intend to change anytime soon!  I would utterly be depressed if I was just cloning someone else's game outright with a few tweaks.  Ethics aside, it would be incredibly dull. ;)

As I said, see above.
I spend maybe 20 minutes per month looking for games. Meaning I spend on average 2 minutes looking at games to examine them.

I'm not saying your games are bad, I'm saying market HARD your DIFFERENCES to entice your people. I love you guys, but your intros make me yawn.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 12:55:05 PM
Typically we do try very hard to market the differences, but I suppose you're right that it's not always at the forefront of what we're thinking about.  Often we're just trying to get across the "what the heck is this!?" message any way we can.  But yeah, as Keith said the marketing stuff is easily just as hard as making the games in the first place, we've found.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:04:07 PM
The main reason why I'm almost begging you to try to keep marketing in mind is that you do it well. The fact I'm doing it so early is so I hope on some level you think "we need something that will really, really stand out in our trailers to make 90% of the viewers not think of Oregan trail"

The fact you tell me Tidalis is different from Bejeweled just reinforces this. It is not enough to just BE different, you have to explain HOW it is different CONCISELY.

Appearance IS reality on so many levels. Time is precious, and in the digital sales age, you have just one marketing glance often to sell your pitch. Which is why, in part, you have to beg for spreading the word for SH so much. It just lacks that "hook" to get people to try it for the first time.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 01:07:47 PM
In a world where many people have maybe an hour a day to play games, let alone buy them, trailers and first impressions are everything.

(...)

I'm sure I'm coming across mean, but I'm just to provide a more accurate picture.
I know you well enough to know you're not being mean, and the feedback is appreciated.

But I should also be clear: we do try very hard to make a good first impression with the trailer and screenshots and game-description, etc.  One member of our team (Erik) is basically devoted to PR, including that.  He brings in Kevin, a specialist, to do the trailers.

We also try very hard to make original games.  I don't think it's unreasonable to say that we've succeeded in that.

And we try very hard to market the fact that they are original.  We are not blind to the need for that, rest assured.  Though we also cannot be blind to the need to give people some kind of context of "well, what kind of game is it?", and some kind of association with known quantity helps there.  AIW is an RTS, for example.  (Though in a lot of ways it's not, and in some ways it's more like something else)

If all that isn't enough to get through the message that "this is an original game" before our potential customer's time limit of answering that question is exhausted... well, frankly, we're done.  In that hypothetical scenario we've done the best we can at specifically addressing the issue, and it's not enough.

My guess as to why we're still in business despite that: most of the potential customer group is an easier sell than you ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 01:10:43 PM
Yep, we'll mull on it for sure.  One big stumbling block for Tidalis, Valley 2, and Shattered Haven was that we did not start the marketing early enough.  AI War and Valley 1 did that really right, and the results were much better.  Reviewers had a chance to explain what it was in advance of the Steam release, and that gave customers confidence as well as more info.  We were able to read their explanations to inform our own marketing message, etc.  With Exodus and Skyward Collapse we are taking that approach again, so hopefully that will help in the same way.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:14:19 PM


My guess as to why we're still in business despite that: most of the potential customer group is an easier sell than you ;)

I guess it would help to explain how I even came on these forums (via AI Wars).

I saw AI Wars on sale. I thought "What is this? I don't know [red flag right here]"

I then went to some indie review site via googling reviews. The gist was "A strategy game where you strategicly take worlds to defeat the AI. The hook is that you have to take some worlds to beat the AI, but not too many otherwise you will lose from overwhelming force." So I then bought the game.

Notice two keywords there: "Red flag" and "Hook".

It was a red flag in that I had to rely on someone else to get the gist and hook of the game. But the "hook" was that as a rts I could not just take all the territory, which is unique.

If it wasn't for that one random reviewer, I would not have bought AI War, nor AVWW 1.

I'm just trying to give some perceptive, since I know your latest games haven't quite met the sales expectations that you wanted. You need that HOOK, badly, to want further examination.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:18:16 PM
Yep, we'll mull on it for sure.  One big stumbling block for Tidalis, Valley 2, and Shattered Haven was that we did not start the marketing early enough.  AI War and Valley 1 did that really right, and the results were much better.  Reviewers had a chance to explain what it was in advance of the Steam release, and that gave customers confidence as well as more info.  We were able to read their explanations to inform our own marketing message, etc.  With Exodus and Skyward Collapse we are taking that approach again, so hopefully that will help in the same way.

[Gives the OK hand signal]

That sounds about right. For very many people, when you see a game you are interested in, the next step is [typing in favorite search engine] "X review". This review is meant to give both a different perspective of the game, and perhaps a bit more nuanced approach. If I look up a new game, and find no reviews or perspectives, I'm quite tempted to simply pass on the game since so many do give perspectives. The only exception,. to this general rule or free games  but that is a different pile of worms altogether and not really relevant to arcen.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 01:18:34 PM
That's actually an incredibly useful point: we do tend to bury the hook in the trailers.  Come to think of it, looking back at all my time working on perfecting queries for literary agents, that's one of the big sins of something like this.  And while the trailers and so forth are really good, we're bad at identifying and communicating the hook through the trailer and through the original marketing text.

I think that's definitely an area that we need to really focus on, yeah.  I can think of a couple of potential hooks to focus on for Exodus, and for Skyward Collapse I've had a really obvious hook in mind from the start with it.  SC should probably be our most obviously-unique game we've ever created, in a lot of senses.  Just from a surface glance I mean, not that it is actually more unique than our other titles under the hood (some of those are just as much out there).
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 01:19:59 PM
I'm just trying to give some perceptive, since I know your latest games haven't quite met the sales expectations that you wanted. You need that HOOK, badly, to want further examination.
Sure, we understand that, and we're doing the best we can, and we try to learn from previous experience so we can do better (on that point among others).  If it's not enough, it's not enough.   

There's no magic wand we can wave to get through all the layers of miscommunication to someone who's only going to give us 30 seconds (if that).  We've learned that with both potential customers (who have no obligation to put a decent effort into understanding the game) and with reviewers (who do have such an obligation but often do not bother to honor it).

But I think we're doing alright overall.  And if Chris thinks we can do better on exposing the hooks, all the better ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:25:22 PM
That's actually an incredibly useful point: we do tend to bury the hook in the trailers.  Come to think of it, looking back at all my time working on perfecting queries for literary agents, that's one of the big sins of something like this.  And while the trailers and so forth are really good, we're bad at identifying and communicating the hook through the trailer and through the original marketing text.

I think that's definitely an area that we need to really focus on, yeah.  I can think of a couple of potential hooks to focus on for Exodus, and for Skyward Collapse I've had a really obvious hook in mind from the start with it.  SC should probably be our most obviously-unique game we've ever created, in a lot of senses.  Just from a surface glance I mean, not that it is actually more unique than our other titles under the hood (some of those are just as much out there).

Just hearing that makes me happy :)


Your trailers are nice, but I desperately want a hook. Not even a strong enough  hook to buy it outright, but a hook to make me want to learn more.

Your games are good enough that once you get to the step of wanting to learn more you are set, but that first step of investigation, of why one should give this game some extra time to read reviews / try the demo, is somewhat lacking. That first step, that first hook, that first impression, that is what I'm asking you to examine.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 01:27:06 PM
Quote
Your trailers are nice, but I desperately want a hook. Not even a strong enough  hook to buy it outright, but a hook to make me want to learn more.
When trailer/game-store-page-copy time comes along, I'll be sure to come after you for feedback on the first couple sledgehammers it should hit the viewers with ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: tigersfan on March 29, 2013, 01:28:05 PM
That's actually an incredibly useful point: we do tend to bury the hook in the trailers.  Come to think of it, looking back at all my time working on perfecting queries for literary agents, that's one of the big sins of something like this.  And while the trailers and so forth are really good, we're bad at identifying and communicating the hook through the trailer and through the original marketing text.

I think that's definitely an area that we need to really focus on, yeah.  I can think of a couple of potential hooks to focus on for Exodus, and for Skyward Collapse I've had a really obvious hook in mind from the start with it.  SC should probably be our most obviously-unique game we've ever created, in a lot of senses.  Just from a surface glance I mean, not that it is actually more unique than our other titles under the hood (some of those are just as much out there).

Actually Chris, I've been thinking a good bit about the hook in Skyward Collapse too. Let's make sure we discuss that on our next call.

chemical_art - Thanks for your feedback about this. I think you raise some good points.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:40:15 PM
Quote
Your trailers are nice, but I desperately want a hook. Not even a strong enough  hook to buy it outright, but a hook to make me want to learn more.
When trailer/game-store-page-copy time comes along, I'll be sure to come after you for feedback on the first couple sledgehammers it should hit the viewers with ;)

Yay!

I warn you, I give vague and even sometimes contradictory statements of my wants! ;)

On the other hand, this is normal behavior, so maybe I can be your "normal" guinea pig?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 01:43:43 PM
*Shrug*

I'm not sure I would want players to buy my game that are either too busy or too lazy to try the demo. Judging a movie by its cover is a pretty foolish thing to do. From the way you make it sound Chemical_Art, you watch the trailer and if not interested, just never look at it again.

I can't imagine making my movie choices based on something like this. Most of the time, the quality of the trailer has NOTHING to do with the quality of the movie. In many cases, it has the OPPOSITE effect. In other words, if a movie is bad, the producers spend a ton of money on the trailer in order to sell it because it lacks actual content.

The same goes with games. The Call of Duty Series may have the best commericals and trailers of all the FPS games, but I certainly wouldn't call them the best by far. There's all kinds of games that look amazing based on the trailer, but just play like crap. If a game even looks VAGUELY interesting to me, I will try the demo. Games that don't HAVE demos are typically the ones I'll avoid, because I'm wary of shelling out $30+ for something I may not even like. This happened recently with Star Drive, which had an amazing trailer and webpage, but is actually extremely crappy in my opinion, and had no demo.

So in other words, if you (the customer) won't even take an hour to try a demo for a game that looks interesting to you, that's not Arcen's fault. Nor should Arcen pander to players with such a short attention span. It's the same reason it bothers me when people add a tl;dr section at the bottom of their posts:  Learn to read, or gtfo.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 01:49:46 PM
In a perfect world, sure, Wingflier.  The problem is the glut of information that we have.  I go through movies mostly the same way he does games, I think.  I look at reviews and recommendations, skimming just a bit of each, and if it seems uninteresting move on.  My time is limited, and it's not like I'm going without movies -- right next to the ones I skipped are others that DID do an effective job catching my attention, and I watch those.

I think the message here is that you want to be the one that gets noticed out of the sea of potentials, not the one that just fades into the background.  It's not about lazy consumers, it's about consumers trying to parse an overflowing firehose of information.  When a few things stand out of that firehose, most other things get forgotten.  And if I have (say) 20 hours of gaming time in a month, spending an hour on each of a lot of demos that I'm unsure about is unlikely.  I actually don't really play demos anymore, either.  I just don't have the time.

Not to say you're wrong, and back when there were fewer games being made that was absolutely the way to go about it.  When AI War came out on Steam, it had startlingly little competition from other indies on there.  Not so with our latest stuff.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 01:49:55 PM
I'm not sure I would want players to buy my game that are either too busy or too lazy to try the demo. Judging a movie by its cover is a pretty foolish thing to do.

(...)

So in other words, if you (the customer) won't even take an hour to try a demo for a game that looks interesting to you, that's not Arcen's fault. Nor should Arcen pander to players with such a short attention span. It's the same reason it bothers me when people add a tl;dr section at the bottom of their posts:  Learn to read, or gtfo.
I would be less harsh, but that's basically my own internal take as well.  It's not our responsibility to get through to people who aren't going to at least meet us half way.

But a key realization here is: if we want to succeed, we have to go beyond our responsibilities and meet people where they're willing to come.

That doesn't mean we have to try to reach everyone, but we can't just stand on our dignity/rights/whatever and depend on the remaining audience to support us.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 01:51:36 PM
I think there are two different perspectives, though:

Producer: Hey!  You can't even give me the time of day!?  What kind of human are you!  Where's the respect?

Consumer: Oh, god!  There are 10,000 producers all saying that to me!

;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 01:54:55 PM
I think there are two different perspectives, though:

Producer: Hey!  You can't even give me the time of day!?  What kind of human are you!  Where's the respect?

Consumer: Oh, god!  There are 10,000 producers all saying that to me!

;)
True.

I don't think the same goes for reviewers (whose opinion should have weight proportional to the amount of effort they actually put into reviewing the game), but as I said earlier a consumer has no obligation to give us the time of day.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 01:56:20 PM
Chris says it well.

When there are dozens, if not a hundred, producers wanting my attention every month, the result is that with my limited game reviewing time is spread very, very thin. I simply don't have the time to look in depth for every game that has the possibility of being interesting. I have to filter, period.

On some hidden level I think "I'M the one giving money, you should come to me and get my attention." Almost all other markets outside games do this, so why should games be the exception?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 02:00:07 PM
I guess I just don't feel overly divided on my attention. In terms of games coming out in the Space/Sci-Fi RTS or FPS genre (probably my target category), there may be 15-20 per year, and that's if I'm lucky.  You can just slash 50% of those off instantly because they are vaporware or get terrible reviews.  The other 10 games you should find time to try within 365 days.

Maybe my tastes just don't branch out as far as some other's, but at least for the games I tend to go for, I have plenty of time to try all the ones I'm interested in.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 02:02:38 PM
On some hidden level I think "I'M the one giving money, you should come to me and get my attention." Almost all other markets outside games do this, so why should games be the exception?
It depends: is what you're looking for in a game easy to communicate quickly?  If so, you're fine.  If you want something that just can't be articulated quickly because it's complex, nuanced, etc, then you're not going to find it if the amount of time you allow each game is under the minimum amount of time that such a message can reasonably be communicated in.

There we get into something of a game like: what can we (the producer) show right at the beginning of the trailer to buy us a few "bonus-seconds" with the consumer so we have enough time to explain why this is cool before they just close the window.

I honestly don't enjoy trying to solve that problem, it's far harder and far less interesting than programming or game design, but I'll do what I can.

Not all game ideas have to be hard to get the hooks in for, thankfully, but if it was only possible to make the game ideas that had readily shown hooks that'd be a tragedy to the industry (both producers and consumers).
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on March 29, 2013, 02:23:24 PM
It's worth mentioning that not all customer groups are created equal and some customers have a greater attention spans than others. Some developers don't have to care as much about marketing as others do because of the customers they cater to.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 02:23:55 PM
It depends: is what you're looking for in a game easy to communicate quickly?  If so, you're fine.  If you want something that just can't be articulated quickly because it's complex, nuanced, etc, then you're not going to find it if the amount of time you allow each game is under the minimum amount of time that such a message can reasonably be communicated in.

There we get into something of a game like: what can we (the producer) show right at the beginning of the trailer to buy us a few "bonus-seconds" with the consumer so we have enough time to explain why this is cool before they just close the window.



I figured my brevity in my my post would cause problems.

What I meant was that the publishers have, if this was law, a preponderance of evidence, meaning the publishers have to do go further then consumers go. For me this is just an evolution of business. Buy my car, I advertise to you why it is nice. Watch my movie, I'll tell you why its nice. For these two examples I have maybe a dozen (tops) producers shouting at me. For games, I have more like 4 dozen. The result is I have a higher subconscious filter due to time constraints.

Games don't have to go for hooks, but on the other hand, game's hooks don't have to be integrated into the game. For AI Wars my hook is pretty key, but not the be all: FS doesn't worry about the hook.

You don't have to use a hook, as long as you are OK that your game sales will suffer tremendously from not having one.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 02:25:36 PM
It's worth mentioning that not all customer groups are created equal and some customers have a greater attention spans than others. Some developers don't have to care as much about marketing as others do because of the customers they cater to.

Yep, as long as for budgeting you are OK with the lesser sales. That is where things a finicky. Nothing wrong with making a game where one out of a million gamers would want to buy it...just don't expect a million gamers to buy it ;)

EDIT: I am NOT arguing is adding/removing a core game mechanic to appeal for me people, but what I am saying is that for more appeal emphasizing (even expanding) the "hook" of a game will cause a lot more sales.

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 02:27:50 PM
Right, evaluating the probable risk and probable reward when selecting a project to execute is very important.  Something doesn't have to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if it only takes one guy 2 months to make.  We're aiming a bit higher than that here, but we're also very conscious of keeping costs down so this thing doesn't have to shoot the moon to be a success.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 02:30:25 PM
Right, evaluating the probable risk and probable reward when selecting a project to execute is very important.  Something doesn't have to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if it only takes one guy 2 months to make.  We're aiming a bit higher than that here, but we're also very conscious of keeping costs down so this thing doesn't have to shoot the moon to be a success.

Yeah, but I feel like I'm already going off track.

The core issue which I mean is differenation your game from other games. This needs to be clear and immediate at a glance. The game as a whole doesn't need to be different, but the trailer / intro needs to emphasis greatly the differences so as to attract the audience.

Just like if you were writing a paper, you would have your intro make a bold assertion to make it interesting.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 02:39:00 PM
Quote
The core issue which I mean is differenation your game from other games. This needs to be clear and immediate at a glance. The game as a whole doesn't need to be different, but the trailer / intro needs to emphasis greatly the differences so as to attract the audience.

Just like if you were writing a paper, you would have your intro make a bold assertion to make it interesting.

The latter point is actually stronger: it needs to be interesting, and it needs to be interesting immediately.

If it's not interesting, it doesn't matter how original it is.

Of course, if it's not original, that tends to do bad things to how interesting it is perceived to be.  Conversely, appearing obviously original helps that initial "is it interesting" moment.  But it isn't decisive either way.

Anyway, part of the interest here will be that it's original (I'm not aware of very many turn-based mil-sci-fi games where you have to get your party across a planet quickly without running out of food, getting killed by native threats, etc), and that will be one of those early hooks we want to get into the viewer/reader.  There may or may not be stronger hooks that need to go first, I'm not sure yet.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 02:47:23 PM
I'm not aware of very many turn-based mil-sci-fi games where you have to get your party across a planet quickly without running out of food, getting killed by native threats, etc), and that will be one of those early hooks we want to get into the viewer/reader.  There may or may not be stronger hooks that need to go first, I'm not sure yet.

The issue of marketing is that opinions vary wildly.

I can think of plenty of games where "turn-based <time period> games where you have to get your party across a <location> quickly without running out of <timed threat>, getting killed by <location> threats, etc)

The issue is how you do so. Which is why RTS's can have the same premise while being so different. Again, not trying to beat you down, I'm just saying your concept isn't that original, so the presentation and perhaps a unique mechanic will make it cool. When you appeal to previous fans, those vary fans pick up upon similar games, so that itself is a double edged sword.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 03:02:43 PM
I can think of plenty of games where "turn-based <time period> games where you have to get your party across a <location> quickly without running out of <timed threat>, getting killed by <location> threats, etc)
Which examples are you thinking of?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 03:10:15 PM
I can think of plenty of games where "turn-based <time period> games where you have to get your party across a <location> quickly without running out of <timed threat>, getting killed by <location> threats, etc)
Which examples are you thinking of?


In FTL, you in a turn based space game try to get your party (of crew) across a galaxy without running out of fuel (and outrunning the rebels), or getting killed by the pirates, aliens, or rebels.

That is just one example. The genre is very broad. I know there are plenty of different examples of flavors of it, but the genre is crowded.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 03:17:42 PM
In FTL, you in a turn based space game try to get your party (of crew) across a galaxy without running out of fuel (and outrunning the rebels), or getting killed by the pirates, aliens, or rebels.
I understand that FTL is described as a turn-based game, but is it really?  All the encounters play out in real time unless they're just multiple-choice questions.

FTL is very reminiscent of Oregon Trail, though, so there is likely to be some overlap, yea.

Do you have other examples?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 03:22:23 PM
I agree that that premise is not that unique, and I think it's a matter of the execution that really matters.  And I don't mean that as a slam against you, Keith, I mean it in the same way that I think the Shattered Haven premise is not that unique, but it's execution is really unusual.  In other words, neither game is "high concept," and few games are.  You can't sell me on it in a sentence based on the premise.

But you can intrigue the heck out of me with two sentences, if they're the right sentences that show me what IS unique about the game. :)  I think that's what chemical_art was getting at. And then clarify broader premise much later.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on March 29, 2013, 03:51:48 PM
I can think of plenty of games where "turn-based <time period> games where you have to get your party across a <location> quickly without running out of <timed threat>, getting killed by <location> threats, etc)
Which examples are you thinking of?


In FTL, you in a turn based space game try to get your party (of crew) across a galaxy without running out of fuel (and outrunning the rebels), or getting killed by the pirates, aliens, or rebels.

That is just one example. The genre is very broad. I know there are plenty of different examples of flavors of it, but the genre is crowded.

FTL isn't a turn-based game though. It's way more pausable action than "turn-based".
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 03:54:57 PM


FTL isn't a turn-based game though. It's way more pausable action than "turn-based".

The overworld is completely much turn based, and it is arguably more turn based then even oregan trail, since during the action bits (with the emphasis of shields needing to be overwhelmed) you can both pause and it is in your advantage to do so.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 03:57:07 PM
Exodus is purely turn-based unlike either of those games, just as a point of clarification.  Not that that's really salient to the points you were making, but I thought I'd point that out.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 04:05:20 PM


But you can intrigue the heck out of me with two sentences, if they're the right sentences that show me what IS unique about the game. :)  I think that's what chemical_art was getting at. And then clarify broader premise much later.

Exactly.

Intrigue is a great word. Give two sentences to make me intrigued and look deeper. Vague, unspecific statements are a turn off. Very specific things are a turn on. To use FTL saying "with unique choices and bonuses, no game will ever be the same" is a turn off, but saying unique races for each playthrough, which allow dramatically different missions and new equipment" intrigues me more. For AI War, saying "This game has its own unique progression" is a turn off, saying "balance the reward of more options with the risk of increased ai aggression" is more of a turn on. Saying "balance the need of aquiring weapons to defeat the ai, while not taking too much and rousing the ai aggression" is better still.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 04:14:33 PM
My idea for the first tiny bit of the trailer would be:

Start with "You have died of dysentery... and robots" as a great opening line for the trailer (and then we leave it at that as far as Oregon Trail references).  Then people are looking at it through the OT lens immediately, and we can commence with the unique things.

The second block of text could be something along the lines of "Plan For The Long Haul: Every expenditure of ammunition, fuel, food, or health is permanent in your campaign."

With accompanying visuals and pacing and all that to support both things, and then moving into other things that are unique and interesting.  And for that second line, that may or may not get pushed further back in the trailer depending on if we come up with something that is even better than it.  But I think that's a pretty cool second hook, and the first hook that makes people think of OT is something that is clearly already working wonders to make people excited.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Vyndicu on March 29, 2013, 04:17:14 PM
Hmm interesting I was reading what you talked about performance, page 3, and how ship are flying off when something is shooting at them.

I notice this behavior a LOT with neinzul hybrid and shields. Perhaps I could make a video demonstrate it. If you want to.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 04:19:38 PM
Hmm interesting I was reading what you talked about performance, page 3, and how ship are flying off when something is shooting at them.

I notice this behavior a LOT with neinzul hybrid and shields. Perhaps I could make a video demonstrate it. If you want to.

That can still happen because of the throttling that we have to do.  The more ships there are on a planet, the more throttling we have to do to keep it to tens of millions calculations instead of hundreds.  Usually this sort of thing doesn't happen, but if it's happening with those guys in particular, maybe there's something up with them.  Probably a savegame would be more useful to Keith.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 04:32:13 PM
My idea for the first tiny bit of the trailer would be:

Start with "You have died of dysentery... and robots" as a great opening line for the trailer (and then we leave it at that as far as Oregon Trail references).  Then people are looking at it through the OT lens immediately, and we can commence with the unique things.

The second block of text could be something along the lines of "Plan For The Long Haul: Every expenditure of ammunition, fuel, food, or health is permanent in your campaign."

With accompanying visuals and pacing and all that to support both things, and then moving into other things that are unique and interesting.  And for that second line, that may or may not get pushed further back in the trailer depending on if we come up with something that is even better than it.  But I think that's a pretty cool second hook, and the first hook that makes people think of OT is something that is clearly already working wonders to make people excited.

It's going to be hard, because opinions are going to very wildly.

For me, you would first setup the setting, and then the "hook" and from there explain and give shout outs.

If you give a shout out first, you polarize to those who get the reference. If you give the setting and hook afterward, you are then trying to appeal to those who like the shoutout. If you give a shout out first, that shoutout will be on the viewers mind the rest of the trailer, and will be viewed with the OT lens for better or worst.

If you give the setting and hook first,  then the setting and hook get the full attention of the viewer.  Nothing wrong then from fleshing out and giving various shout outs.

In my opinion, the second approach will give better results then the first: You will get more sales by telling the hook before bringing up previous games rather then bringing up previous games first. It helps distinguish your game. To put another way: The first point you bring will be remembered most, so make that your game, not another one.

<Just to clarify my biases, I love FTL aside from the forced saves [which can be circumvented.] I do NOT like Oregan trail.>

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Vyndicu on March 29, 2013, 04:34:18 PM
Hmm I can do better I think. Video to show the behavior in action and a save game. The reason why I am using a video to show it because the execution can be pretty tricky to pull of but it can be done. I have something to do this afternoon, I am a video game programmer too on Unity, so I might do it tomorrow.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 04:36:24 PM
Our main fear with this game is that it will be perceived as a certain genre that it is not, that is negatively received.  In the same way that Tidalis is perceived as a match 3 game.  To have that perception is going to be the kiss of death, so very quickly we have to establish broadly what kind of game this really is.  And that's why I feel so strongly that the original OT reference should be first. 

To me the setting and so forth are irrelevant to explain, to be honest, as that will be conveyed via the visuals simultaneous with the rest of what is going on.  It's clearly sci-fi on a planet, etc.  And even the visual of the crashed ship is pretty clear in a non-subtle way.

But I do agree with you very much on getting the hook(s) in there as soon as possible.  Normally I would even go so far as to definitely put that first, but in this case we want to quickly establish broad genre because the risk of mistaken identity is reasonably high.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 29, 2013, 04:42:13 PM
The most important thing for this game is the ability to name the people in your party. That way you can show all your buddies what kind of gruesome fates they met with screenshots.

Also wow this is totally out of nowhere! The concept does sound like a lot of fun and I really love the March series. Most exciting for me personally is getting a ground level view of the action in AI War. AI War has the potential for some really rich story telling with its fun and interesting factions. I know I'm really hoping that the Neinzul play a role in the game for instance. I'd love to see more them close up.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 04:45:05 PM
Our main fear with this game is that it will be perceived as a certain genre that it is not, that is negatively received.  In the same way that Tidalis is perceived as a match 3 game.  To have that perception is going to be the kiss of death, so very quickly we have to establish broadly what kind of game this really is.  And that's why I feel so strongly that the original OT reference should be first. 

To me the setting and so forth are irrelevant to explain, to be honest, as that will be conveyed via the visuals simultaneous with the rest of what is going on.  It's clearly sci-fi on a planet, etc.  And even the visual of the crashed ship is pretty clear in a non-subtle way.

But I do agree with you very much on getting the hook(s) in there as soon as possible.  Normally I would even go so far as to definitely put that first, but in this case we want to quickly establish broad genre because the risk of mistaken identity is reasonably high.

I see, but from what I understand you are already lumping yourselves into so tightly to a specific single game game.

If you think you'll get more sales by putting yourselves into OT's shadow rather then trying to highlight your own game, that is fine. Because in effect that is what you are.

Any time I see a game trying, from the very start, being like another game, that is a pass. This includes trailers.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 04:48:27 PM
Just as an example of the genre being crowded from under OT's shadow, I give this which hasn't even been released for 2 weeks:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/233740/


On some level I find it silly for arcen to try to make an unique game, then so quickly brand it as another game.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 04:51:27 PM
Well, you're only one person, and we're not just marketing it to you (as you've noted).  The bulk of people seem to have some degree of fond memories of OT, and there have been few games that have done anything remotely close to it in the intervening 20+ years.  A few parodies and so forth aside.

And unlike the parodies, we're not trying to just ape OT and add a few twists.  This is legitimately very different, but starting from the starting point of "you know oregon trail?  This is vaguely like that..." is about as helpful as we can get.  Human beings are big associative machines when it comes to our brains.  When we encounter something new we want to know "what it's like that we already understand," and then we just have to keep track of the differences. 

By likening this to OT from the start, we get that likening part out of the way immediately, and then move into the differences.  That's my intent, anyhow.  When it comes to how people would otherwise perform the likening, they would simply form that opinion based on the visuals alone, which would lead them to erroneous conclusions depending on what sorts of games they've played in the past.  In the same way that you jump to "match 3" with Tidalis even though it's nothing of the sort.  We really have to nip that in the bud before that first impression can be made.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 04:52:17 PM
The most important thing for this game is the ability to name the people in your party.
Sorry, the characters in the game have defined backstories and personalities and whatnot.  I mean, I guess I could let you change their names, but it seems a little strange ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 04:53:31 PM
Our main fear with this game is that it will be perceived as a certain genre that it is not, that is negatively received.  In the same way that Tidalis is perceived as a match 3 game.  To have that perception is going to be the kiss of death, so very quickly we have to establish broadly what kind of game this really is.  And that's why I feel so strongly that the original OT reference should be first. 

To me the setting and so forth are irrelevant to explain, to be honest, as that will be conveyed via the visuals simultaneous with the rest of what is going on.  It's clearly sci-fi on a planet, etc.  And even the visual of the crashed ship is pretty clear in a non-subtle way.

But I do agree with you very much on getting the hook(s) in there as soon as possible.  Normally I would even go so far as to definitely put that first, but in this case we want to quickly establish broad genre because the risk of mistaken identity is reasonably high.

Sorry, on phone, edits are wonky.

To bring up very similar genre games that play very different, I bring up the 90's RTS genre: Total Annhilation, Command and Conquer, and Starcraft.

None of these games compared themselves to each other, rather they strived in both practice and in advertising to be their own. None of them (as far as I know) said "we have X, so we are better". They just were. They highlighted what they did, and the player very quickly figured out what they were.

I know you are worrying about wrong preceptions, but giving a OT shoutout as your first thing will give the perception you are doing like that zombie did thing, you are almost modding it into a sci-fi setting. I know you are doing that, so why muddle the issue?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 04:54:22 PM
Just as an example of the genre being crowded from under OT's shadow, I give this which hasn't even been released for 2 weeks:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/233740/

I'm aware of that game, and it's the main one I was referring to in my last post (which came after this post of yours).  However, it's the main OT-like game I've ever seen since OT.  I'm sure there were others, but they did not make it high on the radar to my knowledge.

On some level I find it silly for arcen to try to make an unique game, then so quickly brand it as another game.

You're not thinking fourth dimensionally! ;)  Okay, just kidding.

What I mean is, the first impression that the player has is going to come from somewhere, right?  It's either going to be what we say, or what they see.  And the first thing they see is going to make them think of the wrong genre.  Not a genre that is overly liked.  Not remotely the genre the game is.  So we want to blunt that impression by likening the game to the vaguest thing that is close to it, and then go from there.  We have to perform that first likening for players because otherwise they will do so themselves.  If we do it, at least we get to control what it is compared to, versus if players do it that's not the case.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 05:00:14 PM
To bring up very similar genre games that play very different, I bring up the 90's RTS genre: Total Annhilation, Command and Conquer, and Starcraft.

None of these games compared themselves to each other, rather they strived in both practice and in advertising to be their own. None of them (as far as I know) said "we have X, so we are better". They just were. They highlighted what they did, and the player very quickly figured out what they were.

Yes, but all of these games looked like RTS games.  If they had looked like... say, a Kart Racer, then that would have been problematic.  They would have had to establish "this is an RTS!" pretty fast.  This is the sort of problem that Exodus is going to have.  It looks like a certain other genre that is not strategic or tactical at all.  There is a very good reason for that, and in fact I love how it looks, but first impressions by players not familiar with it need to have a frame of reference.

All three games you mention look like the genre they demonstrably were, so that was an easy sell.  Just show footage and people go "oh, an RTS" and you just then launch into what makes them unique from other RTSes.  The copy didn't have to specifically try to establish the genre, which doesn't really exist, in the first place.  When Dune 2 came out, for instance, there were no RTS games.  So it had to try to explain just what the heck it was.  This is the situation Arcen repeatedly finds itself in, except with AI War and Tidalis I guess.

I know you are worrying about wrong preceptions, but giving a OT shoutout as your first thing will give the perception you are doing like that zombie did thing, you are almost modding it into a sci-fi setting. I know you are doing that, so why muddle the issue?

People thinking that this is a mod of OT is preferable to what they will think of via the visuals alone, is what I mean.  Having people think that Tidalis is like Panel de Pon would have been much preferable to them thinking it was another match 3 clone, for instance.  But the visuals made them think the latter, even though the former was vastly closer to the mark (though still woefully incorrect).

Put another way, if we just showed a short bit of raw footage of the game, people would never guess the genre.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:01:25 PM
Well, you're only one person, and we're not just marketing it to you (as you've noted).  The bulk of people seem to have some degree of fond memories of OT, and there have been few games that have done anything remotely close to it in the intervening 20+ years.  A few parodies and so forth aside.

And unlike the parodies, we're not trying to just ape OT and add a few twists.  This is legitimately very different, but starting from the starting point of "you know oregon trail?  This is vaguely like that..." is about as helpful as we can get.  Human beings are big associative machines when it comes to our brains.  When we encounter something new we want to know "what it's like that we already understand," and then we just have to keep track of the differences. 

By likening this to OT from the start, we get that likening part out of the way immediately, and then move into the differences.  That's my intent, anyhow.  When it comes to how people would otherwise perform the likening, they would simply form that opinion based on the visuals alone, which would lead them to erroneous conclusions depending on what sorts of games they've played in the past.  In the same way that you jump to "match 3" with Tidalis even though it's nothing of the sort.  We really have to nip that in the bud before that first impression can be made.

AI War didn't have to compare itself to any strategy game, yet it did fine. FTL didn't either, yet it did fine.

As a counterpoint, I give this trailer:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/212680/

FTL didn't compare itself to another game: It jumped right into the game, and the genre explained itself. It did fine. I've bashed one mechanic of it hard, but I still enjoyed it.

I'm hoping your fear of Tidalis doesn't burn you too hard. The goal is intrigue. If you setup too hard it is like another game, you lose some intrigue because the player has already done it before.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:02:23 PM
Put another way, if we just showed a short bit of raw footage of the game, people would never guess the genre.
Perhaps this is the problem ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:04:56 PM
Put another way, if we just showed a short bit of raw footage of the game, people would never guess the genre.
Perhaps this is the problem ;)

On some level it is.

I literally open my mouth, shut it, then scrunched my eyes at what I'm reading it.

It looks strategic, but plays like OT? ...

...

...

My head hurts. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. I do know you've already identified yourself this will be hard to get the right impression, for better or worst.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:05:42 PM
My head hurts.
My work is done here :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 05:09:12 PM
To be fair chemical_art, trailers were done VERY differently back in the day: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4Z6Rmbtk1k
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrCPffbYDZw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGAqJzWfOEs

Of the three games you mention, these show little or no gameplay. I'm sorry but that sh*t would not fly in today's game market, nobody would buy those games.

And yes, FTL got away with marketing itself without mentioning another game BUT, as far as I'm concerned, it's so completely unlike any other game (I've heard of at least), that it would have done itself an injustice to compare itself to another game.

Another TBS that came out recently was XCom: Enemy Unknown. It was made by a different developer, and is a completely different game than the original (only moderate similarities), yet it sold itself as a sequel to those and did fantastically.  Fallout 3 had almost NOTHING in common with Fallout 1 and 2.  Fallout 1 and 2 were top-down TBS games, Fallout 3 was a sandbox FPS/RPG game.

To say that alluding to old, nostalgic games that people loved does not help sales is insanity, especially if those games are part of the structure which you're basing yours on. I would personally be pretty upset with Arcen if they did made an Oregon Trail-like game, and didn't somehow include that in their trailer. That would seem like a huge rip-off to me.

I agree with you. I don't particularly have fond memories of Oregon Trail, I always thought it was kind of a stupid game. But I remember as a kid that EVERYONE ELSE did, and that's what's important. Hell I know people who didn't like MARIO. Should Nintendo stop making sequels because there's a few outspoken people who never liked it?

So what I'm saying is that I don't think it's a mistake to mention old, nostalgic games as your marketing ploy. Yes, it needs to be games that people actually liked, but I think you've got a huge potential playerbase for Oregon Trail "sequels".
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 05:11:26 PM
It doesn't look strategic, or play like OT, or look like a tactics game.  It looks more like a certain generally-disliked game genre that you would not see on Steam in the main.  The graphics are great -- I think so, at least -- so it's not that.  It's just how we have to present the information.  In some ways its similar to how OT presents the info, but it's even more similar to how a more recent (much maligned) genre does.

In other words, this game doesn't look like any of the genres that it actually is.  And yeah that's kind of the problem, but that can't be changed (it wasn't my idea in the first place, but even if it had been I think the current way of doing it brilliant and the right way to go).

I'm probably killing enthusiasm for the game here, with all these admonishments.  I'm just saying it's a really unusual blend (isn't it always?) and people who are uninformed will jump to wrong conclusions without a nudge.  That's really the TLDR.

Tidalis didn't even get 30 seconds to make its case, because people would see the first screenshot and think "oh match 3" and click away.  Who wants that, right?  I think the same will be true here if we're not careful.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:12:58 PM
Quote
I don't particularly have fond memories of Oregon Trail, I always thought it was kind of a stupid game. But I remember as a kid that EVERYONE ELSE did
I'm not sure people so much enjoyed Oregon Trail as they enjoy telling jokes about how painful it was.

I played a few games of it while designing this and had some pretty serious RNG-rage (I'm doing awesome and I'm 90% of the way to the end and YAY a wagon fire just wiped out my huge food stockpile) and "this hunting minigame is total bs"-rage ;)

I'm not emulating that.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: mrhanman on March 29, 2013, 05:14:22 PM
Put another way, if we just showed a short bit of raw footage of the game, people would never guess the genre.

I think this statement needs a test.  Just show us the footage, and let us try to guess the genre!  ;D

I wonder if the Skyward Collapse forum is jealous of this one...  :-\
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:16:59 PM
I think the same will be true here if we're not careful.
True that.

You have to decide how you want to reveal it.

Giving a shout it is great. But if you give it first, you are giving the impression it takes the largest share of inspiration, if not downright modding it. It is not easy to shake off that feeling after the fact. If you lead with your "thing", you give the impression it is more unique, a blend of ideas or new ones.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Penumbra on March 29, 2013, 05:19:19 PM
It doesn't look strategic, or play like OT, or look like a tactics game.  It looks more like a certain generally-disliked game genre that you would not see on Steam in the main. 


This should be your tag line. So intriguing! A non-strategic, non-tactics game that doesn't play like OT, but is like a strategic and tactical OT.... O_o

Does it look like.... a dating sim? A spread sheet? An origami simulator?

Wait, I know!

- The gameplay will be a mix of Tetris, Jenga and Hungry, Hungry Hippo.

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:22:29 PM
I'm not sure people so much enjoyed Oregon Trail as they enjoy telling jokes about how painful it was.

I played a few games of it while designing this and had some pretty serious RNG-rage (I'm doing awesome and I'm 90% of the way to the end and YAY a wagon fire just wiped out my huge food stockpile) and "this hunting minigame is total bs"-rage ;)

I'm not emulating that.

Also keep in mind the game is almost 30 years old. There are plenty of people who have no idea what it is aside from the jokes, if not more so. Since so many of those jokes are of RNG antics...the perception may not be so rosy.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:24:11 PM
It doesn't look strategic, or play like OT, or look like a tactics game.  It looks more like a certain generally-disliked game genre that you would not see on Steam in the main. 


This should be your tag line. So intriguing! A non-strategic, non-tactics game that doesn't play like OT, but is like a strategic and tactical OT.... O_o


You are right! This is what I mean. If at the end of a paragraph you think "I want to know more now!" Then mission accomplished, trailer successful. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 05:27:07 PM
It's like an OT that doesn't give you dysentery! Except when you deserve it...which is always...
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:28:24 PM
Quote
It's like an OT that doesn't give you dysentery! Except when you deserve it...which is always...
Yea, we'll probably give you a medic roll.  To be nice.

You didn't run out of medkits already, right?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 05:29:39 PM
OKAY I'VE GOT IT:

It's like Oregon Trail, but with nukes.  Dysentery Nukes. Make your enemies feel their bowels your pain.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 05:30:10 PM
Well, we'll do the best we can on initial reveals of more info, and then seek more info for later materials from folks once they are in the know as well. For now we'll bear all the suggestions in mind and deal with the challenge of presenting it effectively as we can. Keith, you're free to say more but I don't want to step on your toes by revealing even the genre it would be mistaken as.

By the by though: we're still polishing things like the GUI visuals and don't want to show any of that until its something that could be (and may actually be) final quality. We are on something like major revision 32 of the GUI at this point. Not function, mostly, but just making the visuals more and more intricate and interesting.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:31:44 PM
It's like Oregon Trail, but with nukes. 
There's something to that.

Quote
Dysentery Nukes.
But not to that. Ew.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:33:02 PM
OKAY I'VE GOT IT:

It's like Oregon Trail, but with nukes.  Dysentery Nukes. Make your enemies feel their bowels your pain.

I lost my coffee...

[where are my forum buttons? I want to laugh]


I'm going to break the grain and wonder if somehow this is pre the civil war in ai wars.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:34:38 PM
I'm going to break the grain and wonder if somehow this is pre the civil war in ai wars.
Not pre-civil-war.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:35:42 PM
...Roguelike...

except it has already been hinted at it will be best suited to arcen in the future...

hmmm
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 29, 2013, 05:36:37 PM
I was just kidding about the naming your characters thing, It's not a super important thing to me at all. Although I have had some fun online with people streaming Super Amazing Wagon Adventure and naming the wagoneers after different people in the chat and so on has been pretty funny stuff. There's like zero story to that game though, it's just an old school arcade send up of Oregon Trail with a ton of hilarious video game hyperbole. But yeah, it's something that people tend to enjoy in the various Let's Plays and streaming sessions that all the hip kids are doing these days. :P

The mention of character backstory and history and the art style leads me to believe that you are worried the perception will be that this is a visual novel. So yeah, you want to highlight the strategic and planning aspects to avoid that situation if that's the case.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 05:37:53 PM

The mention of character backstory and history and the art style leads me to believe that you are worried the perception will be that this is a visual novel. So yeah, you want to highlight the strategic and planning aspects to avoid that situation if that's the case.


Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhotot.

That makes sense.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:41:06 PM
...Roguelike...
In the sense that consequences for actions are permanent, yes, and it's turn based, but there's no top-down-2d-grid like every roguelike I'm familiar with would have.  Nor does it have the usual Tolkien and/or D&D-like tropes I normally associate with roguelikes.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: mrhanman on March 29, 2013, 05:51:33 PM
It looks like a genre that isn't well received on steam, but isn't.  Hmm.

It's software to balance your budget!  With roguelike elements!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 05:52:39 PM
It's software to balance your budget!  With roguelike elements!
I'm pretty sure budgeting is inherently roguelike.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Billick on March 29, 2013, 05:54:39 PM
I'm now incredibly curious what genre this looks like (but isn't). 
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 29, 2013, 05:57:05 PM
Sci Fi roguelikes do exist. Just recently Kerberos just put out a roguelike set in their Sword of the Stars game setting and I've been hearing good things about it. And when I saw what Sword of the Stars: The Pit was, I instantly wished that it was an Arcen game set in the AI War universe.

The fact that you guys are taking AI War and expanding the universe with a new game with totally different gameplay is just as exciting to me though. And it's something I'd honestly love to see you do more with that particular setting. Sequel after sequel to a series is definitely old hat, but taking a setting and using it to explore new angles is something that doesn't happen a lot.

edit: I'm also super intrigued by the diplomacy you guys say will be in the game. Just out of curiosity, has any of you played Depths of Peril? I thought the diplomacy side of that game was pretty cool stuff and would enjoy something organic like that. I love how you can influence the entire power struggle in Depths of Peril with subtle shifts of support and some skulduggery.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 06:05:21 PM
Yep, money is going into VN being the culprit.

Just look at the first page art.

A richly detailed backround, combined with a character with very different art. Could you not imagine a the 1/3 of the screen being a differen shade where text could be? Classic VN.

Keith not saying a word after Chris saying "don't reveal it!" when he talks about all the other potential ideas...

hmmm....
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 29, 2013, 06:09:45 PM
Heh, Arcen forumers favorite game; tickle as much info out of Keith and Chris as possible on new projects. :D
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Coppermantis on March 29, 2013, 07:01:13 PM
The VN theory sounds very plausible. I can't see it looking like a Match 3 or other such "casual" game, and standard genres like RPG, RTS and FPS have less or no fear of being poorly received based on genre.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 07:29:10 PM
Heh, Arcen forumers favorite game; tickle as much info out of Keith and Chris as possible on new projects. :D
It's not particularly difficult to do when they're just as excited about the games as we are.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 08:30:35 PM
As for my silence, part of it is that I was out of the house at dinner.

But yes, VN is what we were concerned about.

I went with this idea for a new project, knowing that the approach to the graphics (going for beautiful handdrawn backdrops and anime characters) was VN-ish, though the gameplay was totally different. About 3-4 weeks after that was informed that VNs basically don't sell at all.  I might have chosen differently had I known that ;)  But here we are, and the game idea itself is quite compelling to many people.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 29, 2013, 08:31:03 PM
Dysentery Nukes.

I might make that a CaH card...
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 08:42:07 PM
And for the record, I think that parts of the interface are the only thing that are VN-like.  But even the general tone of the interface, and the fact that there are all these stats and combat-themed icons, is not VN-like at all.  Also it isn't dripping with dialogue, and it has no romance or "sexy anime." I think the Smugglers series is a good example of something that isn't a VN, but sort of looks like one.  It's really nothing like this game, either, but still.  What we have is an immediate-first-impression problem, not a remotely-what-this-is problem.

Perhaps now my thoughts about showing no interface and the thing "You have died of dysentery... and robots" now makes more sense.  Then show the game and show the text about the real hooks.  It hopefully helps to overcome that first (incorrect) knee-jerk reaction.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 08:44:43 PM
Actually I don't think the main gameplay GUI looks VN at all, at least no VN I've played (and that's a number of them).  It's the storyboard cutscenes with dialogue that make me think VN.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 08:47:26 PM
Well, I can think of a few VNs that have an interface kind of like this, but most of those are half-RPG or more.  It's certainly not the super common route, anyhow.

And technically the storyboard cutscenes are are not that different from the ones in Shattered Haven, except the art style is more VN-like because of the anime characters.  And the fact that you're doing some layering and slight quasi-animations in the storyboards, whereas SH just flips between them.

But unlike a VN, the majority of this is not cutscenes in the first place, so it's not like that has to be over-represented at all in the screenshots or video.  Show a bit of that, and then mostly show the main gameplay GUI and stuff happening there, for instance.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 08:48:32 PM
Actually I don't think the main gameplay GUI looks VN at all, at least no VN I've played (and that's a number of them).  It's the storyboard cutscenes with dialogue that make me think VN.

While I haven't seen the game, anything involving GUI aside from cutscenes is not very VA, so you might not want to give up on gameplay just yet.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 08:50:28 PM
After Tidalis we are mainly very, very paranoid.

Also, some people (reviewers included) somehow saw the grid in Shattered Haven and thought it was a turn-based tactics game.  Despite the guys running around in realtime in all the videos.  Umm... what?

Hence our paranoia. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 29, 2013, 08:51:36 PM
As for my silence, part of it is that I was out of the house at dinner.

But yes, VN is what we were concerned about.

I went with this idea for a new project, knowing that the approach to the graphics (going for beautiful handdrawn backdrops and anime characters) was VN-ish, though the gameplay was totally different. About 3-4 weeks after that was informed that VNs basically don't sell at all.  I might have chosen differently had I known that ;)  But here we are, and the game idea itself is quite compelling to many people.

As long as you can get across that this is a strategic game with a rich storytelling presentation you can probably ditch a lot of any perceived stigma. And while that genre may be maligned, it's more for the questionable subject matter that's often in them. Stuff like Analogue: A Hate Story seems like it's slowly turning this perception around too. There's certainly quite a few people on my Steam friends list who own it and have played it anyway. So it seems to me that there is a developing audience for this kind of presentation, people who enjoy a game that tells a story, especially if there's branches and multiple outcomes possible. If there's compelling gameplay even better, like The King of Dragon Pass.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 08:54:45 PM
After Tidalis we are mainly very, very paranoid.

Also, some people (reviewers included) somehow saw the grid in Shattered Haven and thought it was a turn-based tactics game.  Despite the guys running around in realtime in all the videos.  Umm... what?

Hence our paranoia. ;)
They might be trying to pin down that arcen style and just haven't figured it out yet.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 08:58:59 PM
That's true.  I recall hearing that the sales numbers for Analogue: A Hate Story were really good, but I don't know specifically what they were.  I'm not sure if that was just an outlier, or if that's the example of what a particular kind of subject matter gets you, or what.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 08:59:54 PM
Actually I thought A:AHS sold very poorly, but who knows? :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 09:01:00 PM
Ok, it got panned in the reviews (that I'm aware of) : http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/analogue-a-hate-story

But that doesn't necessarily equate to low sales.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 29, 2013, 09:01:08 PM
Actually I thought A:AHS sold very poorly, but who knows? :)

Comparatively to other games perhaps, but for a visual novel, it was, I think, one of the top selling ones ever.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 09:03:09 PM
Actually I thought A:AHS sold very poorly, but who knows? :)

Comparatively to other games perhaps, but for a visual novel, it was, I think, one of the top selling ones ever.

That's what I heard, also.

And since when is 62 being panned for an indie game?  That's on the lower end of good.  Most indie games that aren't rockstar titles top out in the low 80s from what I've seen.  Hitting the 50s (like Valley 1) is getting panned.  Anyway, even Metacritic calls a 62 "mixed reception," which looks right to me.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 09:04:18 PM
Just going on the reactions I'm used to seeing for scores < 70, really.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 09:09:37 PM
Okie dokie. :)

I can't really argue with that, but what I've seen is not a correlation to "this game is so bad" at that level of review aggregate, and thus not a depression of sales from that alone.  Still, maybe it's considered more of a bargain buy or a guilty pleasure or whatever, heh.

Interesting fact: remember, in 2009 with a metascore of 82, AI War was the 40th-best reviewed PC game of that year, including AAA and indie games.  I know I've said that like a million times, but look at it from the opposite way this time: there were only I think about 5 indie games that scored higher than AI War that year on the PC, all of them smash hits.  So every other game that was on metacritic was either 81 or lower.  The density of indie games getting big reviews has changed a lot since 2009, but still.  There's a pretty low ceiling here for most indie games, because they don't have AAA visuals.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 09:13:13 PM
I actually looked at Metacritic seriously once in my life, and was so shocked to see that score-- not as if AI War didn't deserve to be on the top 100, just that it was to begin with. I'm generally used to seeing indie games kind of get dismissed, or just "Well it was cool and interesting, I'm going back to Saints Row," you know?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 29, 2013, 09:16:42 PM
I actually looked at Metacritic seriously once in my life

Metacritic is terrible and harms the industry imo. I'd be happy if no reviewers ever gave scores to game ever.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 09:21:38 PM
Yea, I think metacritic is awful too.  But it has immense influence.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 09:24:44 PM
Yeah, I don't like it either. Hence, the "only once" bit of that. I look at metacritic for fun, rather than as an actual assessment of what is good or not. it's like watching zero punctuation without the comedy. Even then, I don't actually go out of my way to visit the place.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 29, 2013, 09:26:33 PM
Thirded.  As a player and a developer.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 09:39:46 PM
I view metacritic as a necessary evil. Ignore its existence at your own peril.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Winge on March 29, 2013, 09:40:18 PM
I admit, I used the metacritic scores that showed up on Steam.  That will probably change after today...AI War as an 80?  Really?  I have played AI War more than any other Steam game I have...if I can believe the "Hours Played" on Steam, I have played AI War over 3 times as long as the next runner-up... :o

Edit:  That said, I typically pay more attention to user scores than critic scores.  Which is kind of sad, if you think about it:  I pay more attention to 'amateurs' than people who are payed to write reviews  :-X
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 29, 2013, 09:42:29 PM
I view metacritic as a necessary evil. Ignore its existence at your own peril.
Oh definitely.  We're extremely serious about doing whatever we can to have good metascores.

Regrettably there's less than you'd think because so many of the reviewers that like our stuff aren't factored in to metascores, but there it is.


And if I'm looking at a steam daily deal, and I see a 50/100 or whatever, I pass it up unless something really grabbed me (if it's a strategy or JRPG or some-other-specific-genres game I take a closer look... but not by much)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 09:48:55 PM
@Winge, look at the Diablo 3 user scores and you will know why you shouldn't look at them. It's not that they're necessarily amateurish, but they can just be troll 0-rated reviews to bring down the average.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 29, 2013, 09:55:43 PM
@Winge, look at the Diablo 3 user scores and you will know why you shouldn't look at them. It's not that they're necessarily amateurish, but they can just be troll 0-rated reviews to bring down the average.

Well, as a counterpoint, look at those high dev scores.

It requires some reading between the lines. The disparity in scores should make you think "No one score matters, I need to find some underlining contention"
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Histidine on March 29, 2013, 09:57:25 PM
The image is no longer online, but I once saw a graph a friend made of Metacritic scores for PC games (x-axis = score, y-axis = number of games). Most of it was a roughly symmetrical bell curve running from 60 to 100... except for a spike at 96-98 which equaled the height of the peak at 80. Same story for Xbox360, except the 97 spike was twice the height of the 80 peak.

And now you know why review scores are of extremely questionable value.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 10:58:21 PM
All that really tells me, chemical, is that reviews really don't mean anything at all. Generally I rely on TB's videos or on demos for my opinion on games. I often find that reviews just upset me more than anything.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 11:07:59 PM
@Winge, look at the Diablo 3 user scores and you will know why you shouldn't look at them. It's not that they're necessarily amateurish, but they can just be troll 0-rated reviews to bring down the average.
Or maybe Diablo 3 just sucked on release?  I mean not being able to play for 2 days was a pretty big downer after like 10 years of waiting. Not to mention all the bugs and issues it had for the first few months. And the fact that it FORCED you to play online in a single-player RPG. What Blizzard did is practically unforgivable, they deserved every negative user review they got.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 11:12:29 PM
Oh it absolutely deserves negative reviews, and I am the last person to go approving of Diablo 3. That being said, it doesn't deserve grades of flat-out 0. There are worse games in the world than something mediocre that had horrible DRM problems. I'd be the guy giving it a 4 or a 5 and saying "Well I mean, the game is okay when you CAN play it." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the 0 ratings are a bit out of line.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 29, 2013, 11:22:49 PM
Oh it absolutely deserves negative reviews, and I am the last person to go approving of Diablo 3. That being said, it doesn't deserve grades of flat-out 0. There are worse games in the world than something mediocre that had horrible DRM problems. I'd be the guy giving it a 4 or a 5 and saying "Well I mean, the game is okay when you CAN play it." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the 0 ratings are a bit out of line.
Personally I disagree, but that's just because I think you have to put the company's means and reputation into consideration when making a review.

If a small indie company like Arcen Games tried to make an RPG, which forced you to play online...well, let's be honest, nobody would even buy that game. That's the entire point, it's only Blizzard's reputation that lets them get away with that crap in the first place. So if they're going to use their reputation to make games that spit in the customer's face and that nobody would buy otherwise, they better be DAMN GOOD GAMES, and they better WORK PROPERLY RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. Otherwise, you're liable to start a customer shitstorm of Hurricane Katrina proportions, and one that, I'm afraid to say, you rightly deserve.  Let's be completely honest, Blizzard is not hurting for the money.  There was no reason that intrusive DRM even needed to be there other than they're greedy bastages. They got exactly what they deserved. In fact, if anything I think they got off lightly. If those professional reviewers had even an ounce of integrity, they would have given the game a zero too.

Should I mention that the real-money auction house worked correctly right out of the box? Seems like they got the things that were important to them right.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 29, 2013, 11:54:27 PM
Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. I like to look at the game and only the game when deciding anything about it. If there were any preference based on background, or any judgments made based on the background of the developer, the review is just not as good as it could be. It really is about the game, and not necessarily the company. Again, looking at it that way, it's a mediocre game that didn't work on launch and has completely unnecessary DRM and auction house systems that detract from what the game encourages by design. It certainly gets a failing grade... but it functions. It's a game you can play. It's a game that some few people actually enjoy.

...actually, this is what makes reviews more useless. We're defining separate meanings for what '0' means. The numbers don't really mean anything, because 10 can range from 'pretty great' to 'perfect in every way'. Likewise, my hypothetical definition of 0 is a game that is a complete failure in every respect... meaning that you can't even call it mediocre. It cannot be played, it does not have a story, or gameplay, or controls that work, or any other critical part of a game. All aspects of it are broken beyond belief. There are no redeeming qualities. Diablo 3 does have redeeming qualities. It's a game that I actually can wish was better, because there was something there. It's just that it was fundamentally flawed out the gate with the DRM and AHs and stuff.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aklyon on March 30, 2013, 12:15:24 AM
This has been interesting to read, sorta. But I'm going to agree with chemical_art here:

My head hurts.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Vyndicu on March 30, 2013, 01:23:17 AM
I don't really like the idea of metacritic because it is not a necessary good thing all around. It might be useful as a tool to gauge if something is better than just meh ok.

I heard that some of my favorite video games in my opinion, had some of their "bonus" payment to their respectively game studio reduced because they didn't made "80" metacritic or something crazy.

http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/15/obsidian-missed-fallout-new-vegas-metacritic-bonus-by-one-point/

Another good analog might be when I read the newspaper for the movie I want to watch the day before I actually go the the movie theater which is not all that often even more rare for an opening day view. I would often disagree with the newspaper reviewer opinion usually in a comical fashion. "You care if it had *insert silly thing* or not?" So I treat metacritic as an aggreation of many reviewer opinion as opposite to if I will like it or not because it is greater than "80".
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Winge on March 30, 2013, 07:59:29 AM
Oh it absolutely deserves negative reviews, and I am the last person to go approving of Diablo 3. That being said, it doesn't deserve grades of flat-out 0. There are worse games in the world than something mediocre that had horrible DRM problems. I'd be the guy giving it a 4 or a 5 and saying "Well I mean, the game is okay when you CAN play it." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the 0 ratings are a bit out of line.
Personally I disagree, but that's just because I think you have to put the company's means and reputation into consideration when making a review.

If a small indie company like Arcen Games tried to make an RPG, which forced you to play online...well, let's be honest, nobody would even buy that game. That's the entire point, it's only Blizzard's reputation that lets them get away with that crap in the first place. So if they're going to use their reputation to make games that spit in the customer's face and that nobody would buy otherwise, they better be DAMN GOOD GAMES, and they better WORK PROPERLY RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. Otherwise, you're liable to start a customer shitstorm of Hurricane Katrina proportions, and one that, I'm afraid to say, you rightly deserve.  Let's be completely honest, Blizzard is not hurting for the money.  There was no reason that intrusive DRM even needed to be there other than they're greedy bastages. They got exactly what they deserved. In fact, if anything I think they got off lightly. If those professional reviewers had even an ounce of integrity, they would have given the game a zero too.

Should I mention that the real-money auction house worked correctly right out of the box? Seems like they got the things that were important to them right.

^ This.  I wouldn't have given D3 a 0, but I would definitely rate well below the reviewer's score.  I got it right at the beginning because I really enjoyed the open beta (my 'demo', if you will).  However, it basically has no endgame.  Unlike D2, there was no long-term goal, no perfect build to reach (or, if there was, there wasn't anything special about the items for it...just +stats).  I stopped playing even before they patched in the 'paragon levels.'  I'm pretty sure my friends stopped playing it too.

IMO, a review needs to take into account the type of game (to try and rule out the "oh, I really hate RTS games" review), gameplay, replay value, the cost of the game to the user (a $10 game should be reviewed differently than a $60 game...use release prices, since that's when the most reviews come up).  As such, I would probably give D3 a 50--it's fun the first time through, but it lacks a lot compared to D2, I have little desire to replay it, and it was $60 at release.  By comparison, I would probably rate AVWW2 at least 85 (possibly higher, to account for the fact that metroidvania really isn't my style).  The basic gameplay is fun, there's a good variety of enemies to face (especially for a $15 game), and the strategy portion will keep me coming back for more.  And I would just about have to give AI War a 100...I've played it for over 400 hours, and I still come back for more FUN!

I think the problem, as Chris or Keith has alluded to in the past, is that reviewers spend very little time playing the games they review.  For the first 2 hours, D3 seems great, AVWW2 seems OK, and you're still trying to figure out the units do in AI War.  40 hours later, things start to shift.  AVWW2 starts showing it's replay value, D3 starts to feel grindy, and you're still trying to figure out how to keep the AI from ROFLstomping you in AI War (technically, that never changes; it just gets more fun as time goes on  ;)).  I think that's part of the necessary evil of reviewing--there is only so much time to review the games, which means replay value and depth get covered up by graphics, initial reaction, and sometimes music.  And that is why I tend to look at player reviews...typically players play games longer before they put up the review.  It's still not perfect, as LaughingThesaurus indicated, but I can usually tell which ones are trolls by what they write in the review.

My 2.72 cents.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on March 30, 2013, 08:57:30 AM
Speaking of local newspaper movie reviews, I remember that when Casino Royale came out -- which personally I think was brilliant in just about every way for that kind of movie, and the pinnacle of its genre -- the local reviewer felt very different.

He started out his review by saying, paraphrased "well, I hate very James Bond movie." And ended with "yeah, and this one is pretty terrible too." I'm not sure who that review was supposed to be useful to. Other people who already hate the series? I think they know to stay clear already.

The bigger problem was that this was a movie that he had no interest in, but that he couldn't avoid doing a review for if he wanted to stay relevant. He's supposed to be an authority on every movie, ever, right?

It's the same thing with game reviewers. Making them review tons of stuff they have no interest in leads to these 30-minute reviews that then pan a game. I'm not saying that only the deepest genre enthusiasts should do reviews either -- some people love every last James Bond movie, and around half of them are pretty terrible by most objective standards. But at least a general interest in the vague genre is a good idea.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 30, 2013, 09:16:22 AM
Speaking of local newspaper movie reviews, I remember that when Casino Royale came out -- which personally I think was brilliant in just about every way for that kind of movie, and the pinnacle of its genre -- the local reviewer felt very different.

He started out his review by saying, paraphrased "well, I hate very James Bond movie." And ended with "yeah, and this one is pretty terrible too." I'm not sure who that review was supposed to be useful to. Other people who already hate the series? I think they know to stay clear already.

The bigger problem was that this was a movie that he had no interest in, but that he couldn't avoid doing a review for if he wanted to stay relevant. He's supposed to be an authority on every movie, ever, right?

It's the same thing with game reviewers. Making them review tons of stuff they have no interest in leads to these 30-minute reviews that then pan a game. I'm not saying that only the deepest genre enthusiasts should do reviews either -- some people love every last James Bond movie, and around half of them are pretty terrible by most objective standards. But at least a general interest in the vague genre is a good idea.
I definitely think you're on to something there Chris.

You have to rate a movie based on what it's TRYING to be, and the same can be said for video games.  You wouldn't downrate a comedy because it wasn't scary enough right?

I disagree with LaughingThesaraus that we can just rate things in a vacuum, because that's simply not how the human mind works. We operate completely on relativism, experience, and comparisons.

The new Star Wars movies (prequels) might have actually been decent Sci-Fi flicks on their own merits, but compared to the originals, they were garbage.  Peter Jackson's The Hobbit may be a decent epic fantasy movie, but compared to his LOTR Trilogy Masterpiece, it was barely stomachable (in my opinion).

You may see a beautiful woman alone in a room, and admire her beauty. Then another woman comes in who is so much more beautiful than her, that it makes the first woman look ugly in comparison.

Beauty is about expectations and relativity, nothing can or SHOULD be rated in a vacuum.  Having said that, your expectations should be realistic. If that reviewer doesn't like cheesy James Bond action movies, then I don't know why he would even choose to rate it? If a game reviewer doesn't like RTS games, then why is he rating AI War? You may laugh but these things happen all the time.

Personally my favorite genre of movie is horror. Not grotesque, bloody, pointless gore (which I think should be made into its own genre), but the kind of horror movie that fills you with suspense and mystery. The best horror movies don't even have a single cheap scare in them, but rely on your imagination to do all the work for you. I recognize that I'm heavily biased in this way. I have enjoyed horror movies that received terrible reviews, simply because I have a good imagination and I'm very partial to the genre.

On the other hand, I hate comedies. Movies like The Hangover and American Pie are so extremely non-funny to me that I would rather spend my time listening to a symphony orchestra composed of screeching violins. So obviously, if I were a reviewer, I wouldn't rate those types of movies, simply because well, I'm pretty cynical of all of them. I think the last comedy movie I saw that actually made me laugh, hard, was Mrs. Doubtfire; and that was made in the mid 90s. They just don't make comedy movies like that anymore. Now it's all about sex, partying, and stupidity.

Casino Royale certainly was a good movie, but if I had to choose one to epitomize the pinnacle of that genre of action movie, I think I would have chosen Mission Impossible 3 instead. Ironically, the 4th one that just came out recently was pretty disappointing to me. This in spite of the fact that it received glowing reviews.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: cupogoodness on March 30, 2013, 09:16:45 AM
So this was way back now in this thread, but I'm actually from the Pacific Northwest originally (though my blood has thinned in the balmy LA sun these past six years). Many believe I glow in the dark, if you'd like to take a stab at where I'm more regionally located.

Thanks for all the feedback about the game so far. It's all being considered for the marketing effort, and once we have some tighter copy to share, we'll post it to get feedback and make any edits needed. As always, feel free to post any feedback for marketing here on the forums (Anywhere's just fine, but here's a specifically good spot: http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,8346.0.html ), or message me directly.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Misery on March 30, 2013, 11:10:59 AM


I think the problem, as Chris or Keith has alluded to in the past, is that reviewers spend very little time playing the games they review.  For the first 2 hours, D3 seems great, AVWW2 seems OK, and you're still trying to figure out the units do in AI War.  40 hours later, things start to shift.  AVWW2 starts showing it's replay value, D3 starts to feel grindy, and you're still trying to figure out how to keep the AI from ROFLstomping you in AI War (technically, that never changes; it just gets more fun as time goes on  ;)).  I think that's part of the necessary evil of reviewing--there is only so much time to review the games, which means replay value and depth get covered up by graphics, initial reaction, and sometimes music.  And that is why I tend to look at player reviews...typically players play games longer before they put up the review.  It's still not perfect, as LaughingThesaurus indicated, but I can usually tell which ones are trolls by what they write in the review.



Aye, this.   I dont like professional reviewers much for these exact reasons.   That was one thing I was wondering about with AVWW2, was.... what are the reviewers going to think about it?   The game really does have a slow-ish start to it... your early turns arent going to involve many survivors, you wont have many tiles to work with, you wont have as much resource management and building and positioning to do, and heck, for the earliest turns, Demonaica isnt even OUT yet.   When the game gets to the later turns though.... things get loopy, and INTERESTING.   Suddenly I've got like 18 survivors, which often still seems like NOT ENOUGH to handle everything that's going on, Demonaica is running around stomping things while occaisionally farting out a pile of evil space bats or throwing freaking snowstorms at me, while his castle constantly opens up to reveal horrible crocodile hordes or other things, and he's got warp points he can use, and I've got all these buildings to manage, I've got to make MORE buildings, I have to decide where and when to make those buildings, I have to find some way around all of those horrible Deep Gates, and my decisions on where to purify next get more and more difficult.   And that's just the start!   It's a perfect example of a game that REALLY doesnt go along well with the "play for 2 hours and then write a full review" idea.  I think the only way to REALLY review a game like that.... or most of Arcen's current stuff.... is to play entirely through it MULTIPLE TIMES, and THEN do it.

Buuuuuuut, that's not how it works, is it....

I forgot where I was going with that.



On the note of being compared to other games/genres.... I really dont think that references to Oregon Trail are at all a bad idea.  I do indeed think that getting the "what is this game reminiscent of, even if only in terms of concepts" part out of the way quickly can be very important when it comes to grabbing attention.   FTL is a good example of that.  I bought the game, and loved it, but THE thing that drew me to it's pages in the first place was that it was "like a Roguelike".   That caught my attention, and then I went to the page, and saw what it REALLY is (granted, it actually IS alot like a Roguelike), and bought from there.  But if it hadnt had that little "roguelike" blurb (wherever I heard about it), I probably wouldnt have had a look at it at all.   Catching the customer's eye is important.   The deeper descriptions of the game can come AFTER that, as can differentiating it from that reference.


.....and I forgot what else I was going to say.   Gee, I'm on a roll here.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 11:11:29 AM
On the reviews thing I think there's a way of approaching them, that many people already use, that I think actually works:

1) Read a bunch of reviewers, pick out the ones who appear to at least be competent and actually play the games they review.
2) Read a bunch of their back stuff and follow them for a while, and pick out the ones whose tastes best match yours (and, if possible, match your reasons for those tastes).
3) Then, actually consider their opinion on future games as having a bearing on whether you would like those games.

And in many ways there's already a separate category of journalistic activity ("review" might be too strong a word) for spotting the games that are objectively-bad due to critical bugs or crippling DRM or whatever.  That's already useful for me, but once it gets into subjective evaluation I need to have at least some common ground with the reviewer's interests (and the reviewer needs to actually put effort into the reviews) for it to be worth my time reading the review.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on March 30, 2013, 11:36:37 AM
It's worth mentioning that not all customer groups are created equal and some customers have a greater attention spans than others. Some developers don't have to care as much about marketing as others do because of the customers they cater to.

Yep, as long as for budgeting you are OK with the lesser sales. That is where things a finicky. Nothing wrong with making a game where one out of a million gamers would want to buy it...just don't expect a million gamers to buy it ;)

That's definitely true, but more what I'm getting at is that it also matters who you are making games for and what they are like.

While it is true that more marketing can mean better sales, you also have to ask yourself what sort of person you are making your game for and what sort of marketing and how much would work for them.

For example, would the sort of person who would like Exodus of The Machine find the line "You have died of dysentery... and robots" very cheesy and over the top to the point of sounding unappealing? Maybe.

I guess at some point you also have to wonder whether you are making a game for people who would appreciate your work in the first place or if you should switch genre/audience, but of course that comes far earlier in the process than what we're talking about here.



Some indie devs don't have to worry much about marketing and sell just fine because they've chosen to dig themselves in and specialize in a certain game or type of game that they've found a very willing audience for, so they don't have to re-market themselves as much every time they make a new game because their intended audience already knows about them.

Of course, if Arcen Games did that they'd be working nothing but AI War and its sequels, successors, and spiritual successors forever, and I get the impression Chris's sanity would be mostly gone by the time Arcen got to its tenth birthday.  :P
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 11:38:46 AM
Chris's sanity
That ship done sailed ;)

Along with the rest of ours.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Mánagarmr on March 30, 2013, 11:41:25 AM
Metacritic is terrible. You can't just slap a score on a game and leave it at that. I despise scored reviews. If I want to know how good a game is, I'll READ a review or watch a gameplay video. Preferrably a couple of them. I can't judge wether a game is good or not from a simply 0-100 score. It's ridiculus.

Not to mention Metacritic is horrendously biased. They have a "weighing" list for different review sites, measuring how much their reviews will affect the metascore. It's just a cluster**** of terrible, and I wish it'd disappear. It's not helpful in any way to the business, it's 100% harmful. I can't see there being anything beneficial about it. Is there?

(mod edit: not that I don't agree, but we try to avoid that character sequence around here)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 11:46:16 AM
I think scored evaluations (not sure if I'd call them reviews) can be appropriate when considering just the questions of "does this game run reasonably smoothly?", etc.  You could think of it as a collection of numeric scores for: "bugginess", "DRM", "system requirements", etc.

But as far as trying to numerically score "is this game fun?" ... well, yea, that's gonna be tough.  It'd be tough even if the reviewer was brilliant and spent 20 hours reviewing every game.  Given the actual average level of competence and maybe half an hour that gets put in in many cases, it's just a disaster waiting to happen.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 30, 2013, 12:03:18 PM
Score reviews from big names are suspicious.

I can't think of many other industries where critics are so dependent on their work from the very thing they examine.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 30, 2013, 01:24:36 PM
Oh no, I know what Diablo 3 was trying to do and it did a terrible job of being that. That still doesn't mean it needs a grade of zero. Until I actually had to look for loot, I had fun with the game. By the time I got to act 2, my options were "go to the auction house or grind" and I gave up on the game right then. But, I was still able to actually have fun with the game. It was still a game.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 30, 2013, 01:27:25 PM
But you see, if the main fun of a game is bashing monsters to get better loot, and you yourself acknowledge it is built in you have to grind ridiculous amounts of time or buy stuff to acquire said loot (not very fun)to bash those monsters, for a game that is a failing grade.

Games shouldn't ever be work.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 01:29:45 PM
Games shouldn't ever be work.
Oddly, there is a substantial gaming audience that seems to disagree, given the immense popularity of certain games/genres.

That said, I don't ever want to make a game that is work, in that sense.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 30, 2013, 01:35:03 PM
One man's work is another's play?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 01:37:32 PM
One man's work is another's play?
And vice versa, sometimes.

Enjoying work isn't a bad thing, where it gets weird is when the "work" is a purely virtual activity that doesn't accomplish anything a series of database commands (that take one millionth as long to create and execute) would.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 30, 2013, 01:46:49 PM
But you see, if the main fun of a game is bashing monsters to get better loot, and you yourself acknowledge it is built in you have to grind ridiculous amounts of time or buy stuff to acquire said loot (not very fun)to bash those monsters, for a game that is a failing grade.

Games shouldn't ever be work.
This is absolutely a big part of why it should get a failing grade, which I'd peg as around 1-4 or so. 0 is like, E.T.
Also, bashing the monsters is actually pretty fun. Blizzard kinda nailed that in a way that, as long as you are actually doing decent damage, it's actually pretty fun to send them flying with tendrils of electricity stretching between their limbs and the ground.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 30, 2013, 02:15:35 PM
One man's work is another's play?
And vice versa, sometimes.

Enjoying work isn't a bad thing, where it gets weird is when the "work" is a purely virtual activity that doesn't accomplish anything a series of database commands (that take one millionth as long to create and execute) would.

Yep. I've been spending a lot of time with DCS Black Shark 2, a high fidelity simulation of a fairly unique Soviet era attack helicopter. Most of my friends think I'm insane when they find out just how much study and practice it takes to become combat effective. To them this sort of thing is the furthest thing from a game or an enjoyable experience, but when I uncage my Shkval on an OpFor tank and strike it down from 6km away and then slip away behind terrain features while contacting a FOB for more targeting data, I'm getting something I can't get anywhere else. But my friends think I'm insane.

Of course I think they are crazy with how they drop sixty bucks day one on the Tomb Raiders and Bioshock Infinites.

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 02:26:31 PM
(...) I'm getting something I can't get anywhere else.
That's a lot of what I'm going for in game design.  I don't have anything against people who are totally happy filling their gaming hours with Tomb Raider or BF3 or whatever.  But they don't need me ;)  AIW, on the other hand, scratches itches that pretty much nothing else does.  I dunno if we'll ever do a flight sim like you describe, but that general "serve a need that's not being served" idea is important to me.

But it's a pain to market ;)  So it's not all I'm trying to do, either.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: KingIsaacLinksr on March 30, 2013, 04:09:19 PM
All this discussion reminds me of is why I prefer to complete the games I review and not use a rating score. I also detest scoring reviews because it never gives a good impression of the game. Don't get me started on how effed up Metacritic is either..:
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on March 30, 2013, 05:08:45 PM
(...) I'm getting something I can't get anywhere else.
That's a lot of what I'm going for in game design.  I don't have anything against people who are totally happy filling their gaming hours with Tomb Raider or BF3 or whatever.  But they don't need me ;)  AIW, on the other hand, scratches itches that pretty much nothing else does.  I dunno if we'll ever do a flight sim like you describe, but that general "serve a need that's not being served" idea is important to me.

But it's a pain to market ;)  So it's not all I'm trying to do, either.

Yeah, Arcen's approach to design is a big deal to me. I love what you guys are doing and your dedication to supporting your games. I'm not a big puzzle gamer but if I get that itch Tidalis is my fix. The Valley games are the kind of wild eyed blue sky development that I loved about the table top gaming scene of the eighties, with Valley 2 being really successful in pulling off its design. Shattered Haven is a lot of fun too with it's thoughtful and puzzley combat and progression. And AI War is the best RTS ever made in my opinion, and also one of the best asymmetric scenarios I've ever encountered which is a special button for me. You guys are definitely giving me stuff I can't get anywhere else.  :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 05:12:00 PM
You guys are definitely giving me stuff I can't get anywhere else.  :)
Glad to hear it :)

And I think Exodus will do that too.  Whether or not we can market it effectively is actually going to be a harder problem than making the game itself, but in any event I think it will be a very uncommon (and possibly genuinely unique, but I don't know every game ever made) kind of gameplay that will appeal to a lot of folks.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on March 30, 2013, 06:54:42 PM
And I think Exodus will do that too.  Whether or not we can market it effectively is actually going to be a harder problem than making the game itself, but in any event I think it will be a very uncommon (and possibly genuinely unique, but I don't know every game ever made) kind of gameplay that will appeal to a lot of folks.

Tossing my hat into the ring…successes and mistakes from previous trailers:

* Your first trailer should not have any inventory menu screens or complicated interface mechanics.
* The best AI War trailer I saw showed a gigantic battle.
* The worst trailer I saw was for Shattered Haven. It was dramatic phrases in giant letters with no real inclination on what the game was.
* Valley trailers improved over time, eventually showing the games action sequences and less stylized animation.
* You know how people who laugh at their own joke are kind of... yeah? It's the same way with showcasing your art. It's nice when you create something beautiful, but you are showing us a game, not an art show. The art should communicate the game, not the other way around.
* That being said, I wasn't one of the ones complaining about the art for any of the titles. This time around, I hope that you don't cater to people complaining about graphics. It kind of appeared to your core audience that you were offended by the whole thing, tried to fix it yourselves, and then hired an art team after that to please a bunch of people who are probably better off playing call of duty and don't know anything about more intellectual titles.  Not that Valley was that intellectual, but it certainly had more complex elements than the usual adventure title. These folks were never going to buy it to begin with.
* Your strength is in creating titles that are complex enough for gamers to chew on for some time. Why don't you sell that as part of your marketing? Not to come at people and say, "smart people play our games (and if you don't play them, you must be simple)," but to convey that challenge, creativity, and discovery are rewarded. A great example would be  Paradox. There's two things we know about paradox: they are terrible about bugs, they are amazing about complex gameplay. You should market your positive qualities as a studio.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 07:35:00 PM
* Your first trailer should not have any inventory menu screens or complicated interface mechanics.
Spreadsheet Simulator 2013!

Quote
* The best AI War trailer I saw showed a gigantic battle.
In the Ancient Shadows one, or another?

Combat is usually good trailer material, yea.  For Exodus I'm not sure, as it will probably look like old-style JRPG combat (Dragon Warrior, or more recently Cthulu Saves The World, etc).  The interesting part comes in that any damage you take or ammo you spend... well, that's spent.  You can heal the damage (or at least some of it) using medkits (particularly if you have a good medic skill) but those are very finite too.  Though there is some normal healing over days of rest.  The ammo for the modern weapons is completely irreplaceable, though, so you have to choose when to go melee or use native ranged weapons to conserve.  And if there's some 4 story tall animal (or hostile offworlders in powered armor) coming at you, you don't want to be stuck with longbows.

Anyway, that's just one case where what's actually going on is (imo) pretty interesting, but how on earth do you trailer that?

Quote
* The worst trailer I saw was for Shattered Haven. It was dramatic phrases in giant letters with no real inclination on what the game was.
Yea, we really went overboard on the story focus there.

Quote
* Valley trailers improved over time, eventually showing the games action sequences and less stylized animation.
Yea, with Valley2 it does seem that people are getting some of the "what this game does that you can't get anywhere else" from the trailer.  At least, ongoing sales have been better than I would have expected were the trailer not accomplishing that.

Quote
* You know how people who laugh at their own joke are kind of... yeah? It's the same way with showcasing your art. It's nice when you create something beautiful, but you are showing us a game, not an art show. The art should communicate the game, not the other way around.
Yea, we'll want to have enough in there so that people will have a clear idea of what style & quality of art to expect in the game (not just the cutscenes, but the gameplay itself), because I think that's one of the good things about the game... but if what the consumer want is a pretty looking game, there are better places they can go than us.  We're getting better on that, imo, but it's not our focus.
 
Quote
* That being said, I wasn't one of the ones complaining about the art for any of the titles. This time around, I hope that you don't cater to people complaining about graphics. It kind of appeared to your core audience that you were offended by the whole thing, tried to fix it yourselves, and then hired an art team after that to please a bunch of people who are probably better off playing call of duty and don't know anything about more intellectual titles.  Not that Valley was that intellectual, but it certainly had more complex elements than the usual adventure title. These folks were never going to buy it to begin with.
The frustrating part is when it appears that no matter what we do, tons of people (and more than a few reviewers) will use the art in our games (and, by extension, the games themselves) as the conversational equivalent of restroom tissue.  While accepting basically zero responsibility to be accurate, fair, rational, etc.  When you realize as the producer of something that significant parts of the audience would derive more personal satisfaction from gloating over your failure than enjoying your success... that's not a pleasant thing, even without particularly high expectations going into it.

But that's probably not a solvable problem, nor a problem we absolutely have to solve.  So we're trying to not let it take up a disproportionate amount of our thought processes.

In the case of Exodus, I picked the art style because it's what I personally like.  I like anime a lot.  All the way back through my earliest favorite games.  Frankly, very little of the art in any of our other games is a major draw to me, except perhaps the AIW icons which kind of have grown on me.  Whether it was wise to pick a style for these reasons... well, we'll see.

We're also trying to avoid "getting in the way" of the art by requiring lots of animation or scaling or parallaxing or tiling or whatever.  This way we can afford to produce it at a higher quality because it's not having to do as many different things or work in so many different contexts.

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* Your strength is in creating titles that are complex enough for gamers to chew on for some time. Why don't you sell that as part of your marketing? Not to come at people and say, "smart people play our games (and if you don't play them, you must be simple)," but to convey that challenge, creativity, and discovery are rewarded. A great example would be  Paradox. There's two things we know about paradox: they are terrible about bugs, they are amazing about complex gameplay. You should market your positive qualities as a studio.
We certainly do want to lead with the hook.  Specifically for the game in question but also for us in general where it's applicable.

The big challenge I'm trying to wrestle with right now as far as the marketing is this: there's a lot of concepts in this game (including the largely Arcen-wide ones you mention) that, if we could somehow laser-beam them into the neural matrix of everyone who came to the game's store page, the game would probably do remarkably well.  But how do you concisely and compellingly communicate "Every round of offworld ammunition fired, every wound sustained, every medkit or power-pack used, every reputation-change from a choice, every bit of food gathered or eaten, every day spent... every consequence is permanent to your survival and your catching up to the Core before it's too late"?  I mean, I imagine that sentence is neat to some people, but if we tried to lead a trailer with it (verbatim, I mean)... well, I don't think that would work out very well.  So what do we say?  We're tossing around ideas internally, but feedback from you (and the rest of the folks here) is certainly welcome.  Though of course that will be easier when you can play the actual game.

And more generally the same problem exists when trying to communicate that we make thought-provoking games that reward creativity, discovery, etc.  Communicating that-we-do-that concisely and compellingly and (as you mention) non-condescendingly is actually in some ways more difficult than actually doing it ;)  Suggestions welcome.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Nonsense Syllable on March 30, 2013, 08:53:37 PM
"An in-depth turn-based strategy where every decision counts."

That's probably a little too dry (even a bit cliche). The point I really want to make is that you don't want to overload that initial statement. Obviously you want your 'hook', but don't forget you will have the rest of the trailer to unpack exactly what that opening line means. It's hard to give suggestions without having played the game...

Not sure if the 'robots and dysentery' line is still being considered, but I would argue that it is not a strong line. It's funny, definitely, but only to those familiar with Oregon Trail, which a lot of people randomly browsing Steam/etc. won't be. Not only will they not get the joke, but it will fail its intended purpose of informing the viewer of the game's genre ("So this is the next Trauma Centre, right?").

Last, I'd actually argue that having some complex interface stuff in the trailer is not such a bad thing. Of course you do not want to alienate anyone, but you also want to make sure the game reaches its intended audience (people who appreciate strategy and complexity, who aren't afraid of some hardcore menufication).
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 30, 2013, 09:19:36 PM
"An in-depth turn-based strategy where every decision counts."

That's probably a little too dry (even a bit cliche).

Yeah, very cliche. Could be said for most games on some level in broad terms.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 09:25:55 PM
"An in-depth turn-based strategy where every decision counts."

That's probably a little too dry (even a bit cliche). The point I really want to make is that you don't want to overload that initial statement.
True, and thanks for the suggestion.  We don't want it to be long, and this is about the right length. 

But we also have to avoid the cliche: isn't the quoted line a claim that a great many games make?  Granted, the "turn-based" part of the claim is rarer nowadays, but doesn't every strategy game claim that every decision counts?  Generally, every decision does count somehow in a strategy game.  We're trying to emphasize that it really can come down to the wire, and every round left in your offworld weapon's clip may make a difference at a critical moment, or that last energy bomb could get you past that last encounter... if you still have it.  Or that each choice can contribute to your reputation, which can make the difference between a particular enigmatic figure stepping in to save your rear-end at a crucial moment, or trying to crush you instead.

If you saw a game claim it was an in-depth strategy game where every decision counted, would you keep listening?  Would you even suspect it could mean the above?  Or would you think "well, yea, every strategy game has to claim that"?

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Obviously you want your 'hook', but don't forget you will have the rest of the trailer to unpack exactly what that opening line means.
Part of the problem is that we don't have the rest of the trailer unless that hook really grabs them.  The hook doesn't have to pack all that info in, but it has to pique their interest, get past that initial shell of anti-cliche defense and so on.

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It's hard to give suggestions without having played the game...
Fair enough ;)

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Not sure if the 'robots and dysentery' line is still being considered, but I would argue that it is not a strong line. It's funny, definitely, but only to those familiar with Oregon Trail, which a lot of people randomly browsing Steam/etc. won't be. Not only will they not get the joke, but it will fail its intended purpose of informing the viewer of the game's genre ("So this is the next Trauma Centre, right?").
That's a good point.  I think it's worth having in there somewhere toward the end (it is an awesome line) as a nod to one of the inspirations, but I think it is important to not primarily define this game in terms of another.  If we have to do that, I think we're fighting from a weak position and should change something so that's no longer true.

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Last, I'd actually argue that having some complex interface stuff in the trailer is not such a bad thing. Of course you do not want to alienate anyone, but you also want to make sure the game reaches its intended audience (people who appreciate strategy and complexity, who aren't afraid of some hardcore menufication).
That's what I'd think, but I'm not sure it would work.  Further-down-the-list screenshots showing the interfaces would good, I think.  I get alarmed when I see a strategy game whose store page refuses to give any visual evidence of what its interface looks like.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 30, 2013, 09:34:31 PM
\We're trying to emphasize that it really can come down to the wire, and every round left in your offworld weapon's clip may make a difference at a critical moment, or that last energy bomb could get you past that last encounter... if you still have it.  Or that each choice can contribute to your reputation, which can make the difference between a particular enigmatic figure stepping in to save your rear-end at a crucial moment, or trying to crush you instead.


See, but that's confusing too. That sounds very, very roguelike in just how routine intense situations occur.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 30, 2013, 10:00:15 PM
I just thought of a perfect tagline for your company:

"Arcen games, simple enough for a scrub, complex enough for an elitist!"


LOL

Oh right, laughing at your own jokes.  I'll just shut up now.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 30, 2013, 10:02:55 PM
\We're trying to emphasize that it really can come down to the wire, and every round left in your offworld weapon's clip may make a difference at a critical moment, or that last energy bomb could get you past that last encounter... if you still have it.  Or that each choice can contribute to your reputation, which can make the difference between a particular enigmatic figure stepping in to save your rear-end at a crucial moment, or trying to crush you instead.


See, but that's confusing too. That sounds very, very roguelike in just how routine intense situations occur.
Well, it's not "routine" in the sense that there won't be a ton of encounters where you need every advantage.  In one early encounter with some , for example, if you pass a difficult scout roll you can choose to initiate combat from long range.  If you use modern weapons at long range against the melee-only creatures in question... well, you're not taking any damage.  That's not a particularly intense situation.  But was it a wise use of irreplaceable ammo?

On the other hand you can choose to evade.  If you fail the stealth roll you're caught in melee range, but if you pass your stealth roll you're done with the encounter with absolutely no items or healthlost (unless you expended a one-use cloaking device to boost your stealth skill for the roll).  But nothing gained, either.  Stealthing too much puts a lot of points towards "weak" on the "strong/weak" reputation axis.  Being thought of as weak isn't going to kill you but it does close down some encounter options with some folks later on.  And if you kill the animals instead of stealthing you can salvage some meat for food (particularly if you pass a medic roll, representing knowing how to tell what meat is safe and what isn't).

(incidentally I'm considering providing some other incentive for stealthing, as it sounds like a bit of a raw deal right now)

Or if you fail your initial scout roll you don't get that long-range choice and you have to fight the animals.  How short-ranged the combat starts is up to how badly you fail the scout roll.

Anyway, that's actually not a very intense situation, relatively speaking ;)


All that said, yes, there's a very roguelike "feel" in that you've got very limited resources that are not really renewable, and if you run out of something critical you're probably going to lose the run.  But it's not roguelike in that there's no 2d top down grid, nor is there really a lot of freedom of movement (you're following a trail; there are some branching decisions but overall your destination is naturally determined by the thing you're chasing).  So it would be misleading to call this a roguelike.

So... much... to... communicate... *head explodes*
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Histidine on March 30, 2013, 10:20:42 PM
Personally I  thought "you have died of dysentery... and robots" was funny without ever having played Oregon Trail, though I knew enough of the game to get the reference. But it feels more "funny" than "explains game."

For me, the high point of the AS trailer was at 0:50 - 1:02 with the words "one last chance to rebuild," "one last chance to survive," "one last chance to fight" fading into just "rebuild," "survive," "fight."

Right then, here are my taglines: "Every bullet - every bandage - every word matters." and "Your tools are the means; survival is the end."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 30, 2013, 10:28:36 PM
Then at the end add, "And if all else fails, nuke the bastards. At least you'll take them with you."

No, I'm serious. If I saw a trailer that said that, I'd buy the game instantly.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 30, 2013, 11:34:25 PM
* Your first trailer should not have any inventory menu screens or complicated interface mechanics.
Spreadsheet Simulator 2013!

Works for Crusader Kings trailers.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 31, 2013, 12:01:09 AM
* Your first trailer should not have any inventory menu screens or complicated interface mechanics.
Spreadsheet Simulator 2013!

Works for Crusader Kings trailers.

...Have you not seen Crusader Kings trailers? They (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpAYY3BvviE) are (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cle3Vxjl5Vc) really (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvO50GYniiI) quite (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCQRIl9McAU) hilarious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kX5ggw5AIU), and don't show off the spreadsheet simulator side of it.

Incidentally, apparently somebody actually made an rpg in excel, saw an article about it this past week. I guess spreadsheets are wanting to branch out into video game simulators.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: mrhanman on March 31, 2013, 12:16:08 AM
I thought trailers were supposed to be 80% CGI cinematic, 15% logos/credits, and 5% gameplay.  This seems to be the formula, anyway.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on March 31, 2013, 12:17:13 AM
I thought trailers were supposed to be 80% CGI cinematic, 15% logos/credits, and 5% gameplay.  This seems to be the formula, anyway.

If you can afford to put more money into a trailer than arcen probably puts into its games, sure. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 31, 2013, 12:39:29 AM
If you can afford enough money, you'll have only CGI.

In my experience actually, the CGI-to-gameplay ratio is roughly equivalent to how proud the developer is of the game. If the game sucks, you look up a trailer and screenshots, you probably won't see any gameplay in it at all. If it's really great, you'll see a whole lot of gameplay. This really is more of triple-A sort of trailers though. Can't say I've watched Arcen's trailers and had them influence my decision. The game's descriptions or demos sold me on the game.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on March 31, 2013, 12:57:51 AM
In my experience actually, the CGI-to-gameplay ratio is roughly equivalent to how proud the developer is of the game. If the game sucks, you look up a trailer and screenshots, you probably won't see any gameplay in it at all. If it's really great, you'll see a whole lot of gameplay.

There is also proportionately more dubstep.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on March 31, 2013, 01:34:07 AM
Then at the end add, "And if all else fails, nuke the bastards. At least you'll take them with you."
Depending on the circumstances, that might not be failure at all.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Wingflier on March 31, 2013, 01:37:27 AM
Then at the end add, "And if all else fails, nuke the bastards. At least you'll take them with you."
Depending on the circumstances, that might not be failure at all.
Well, at least from a player satisfaction standpoint it wouldn't be :D
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: LaughingThesaurus on March 31, 2013, 02:52:03 PM
Then at the end add, "And if all else fails, nuke the bastards. At least you'll take them with you."
Depending on the circumstances, that might not be failure at all.
Well, at least from a player satisfaction standpoint it wouldn't be :D
If your name is Faulty Logic, it would be very satisfying.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on March 31, 2013, 03:35:25 PM


...Have you not seen Crusader Kings trailers? They (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpAYY3BvviE) are (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cle3Vxjl5Vc) really (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvO50GYniiI) quite (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCQRIl9McAU) hilarious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kX5ggw5AIU), and don't show off the spreadsheet simulator side of it.

Incidentally, apparently somebody actually made an rpg in excel, saw an article about it this past week. I guess spreadsheets are wanting to branch out into video game simulators.


Actually, that does bring up an idea:

Pre game release, make several interlocking videos with each other. The goal is to try to make them entertaining, but touch upon various gameplay assets. Drop in tidbits of the spreadsheets throughout the video, so they act as easter eggs for those looking more in depth.

The goal is you both generate interest, and give an avenue to explain all the different stuff that is going on. Odds are at least some of your game reviewers will see at least one of these videos, and potential buyers can see them too.


Then, as your last video before release, make your trailer proper.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Nonsense Syllable on April 01, 2013, 08:16:11 AM
"An in-depth turn-based strategy where every decision counts."

That's probably a little too dry (even a bit cliche). The point I really want to make is that you don't want to overload that initial statement.
True, and thanks for the suggestion.  We don't want it to be long, and this is about the right length. 

But we also have to avoid the cliche: isn't the quoted line a claim that a great many games make?  Granted, the "turn-based" part of the claim is rarer nowadays, but doesn't every strategy game claim that every decision counts?  Generally, every decision does count somehow in a strategy game.  We're trying to emphasize that it really can come down to the wire, and every round left in your offworld weapon's clip may make a difference at a critical moment, or that last energy bomb could get you past that last encounter... if you still have it.  Or that each choice can contribute to your reputation, which can make the difference between a particular enigmatic figure stepping in to save your rear-end at a crucial moment, or trying to crush you instead.

If you saw a game claim it was an in-depth strategy game where every decision counted, would you keep listening?  Would you even suspect it could mean the above?  Or would you think "well, yea, every strategy game has to claim that"?
Sure. The quote was never intended as a serious suggestion, I just wanted to make the point that the opening line doesn't have to describe every nuance of the game, (although obviously the more quickly and concisely you can get across your hook the better). If I saw the trailer open with this quote it wouldn't immediately get me excited for the game, but it does tell me that this is a genre I'm interested in, which at the very least is more than I would infer from the game's Visual Novel stylings.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 01, 2013, 12:28:25 PM
Right then, here are my taglines: "Every bullet - every bandage - every word matters." and "Your tools are the means; survival is the end."
"Every bullet - every bandage - every word matters." is actually better than any suggestion I've heard publicly or privately yet.  Not quite there but it's a step in the right direction, thanks :)

"Your tools are the means; survival is the end." - hmm it took me a moment to understand the sentence, and then after that I realized it was a play off "means to an end".  Anyway, the overall structure avoids cliche (despite playing off a cliche), but assuming an average audience caffeine:consciousness ratio not significantly better than mine (which may be a pessimistic assumption) we probably need to be clearer than that :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on April 01, 2013, 02:07:59 PM
What are the aspects you want to push the most? So far I have the impression of a high stakes adventure with implications of personality driven diplomacy and conflict and a significant amount of pressure (timed? or perhaps something like AIW's AI Progress?) and resource intensive strategy.

That's a whooooole lot of stuff to try and nail in a tagline or two.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 01, 2013, 02:17:31 PM
What are the aspects you want to push the most?
That every decision matters towards how well you do :)  The rest is just fleshing out what kinds of decisions and consequences we mean.  Normally said fleshing out could wait until the bulk of the trailer or whatever, but I think we need at least some of it up front because otherwise "every decision matters" just blends into the background of every other game that's ever claimed that.

As far as the pressure: every day of travel (in the OT sense) is a turn, and you've got a finite number of turns to reach the end.  The game doesn't tell you how long you have (because the characters would not know), just that you need to be efficient with time.

How many turns you come in "under par" counts towards your score (and some other stuff, but I'm holding onto that info for now), as does the difficulty level, how many people are left alive (and in what condition), leftover equipment, whether certain events happened, etc.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Teal_Blue on April 01, 2013, 04:51:05 PM
But how do you concisely and compellingly communicate "Every round of offworld ammunition fired, every wound sustained, every medkit or power-pack used, every reputation-change from a choice, every bit of food gathered or eaten, every day spent... every consequence is permanent to your survival and your catching up to the Core before it's too late"?  I mean, I imagine that sentence is neat to some people, but if we tried to lead a trailer with it (verbatim, I mean)... well, I don't think that would work out very well.  So what do we say?  We're tossing around ideas internally, but feedback from you (and the rest of the folks here) is certainly welcome.  Though of course that will be easier when you can play the actual game.

And more generally the same problem exists when trying to communicate that we make thought-provoking games that reward creativity, discovery, etc.  Communicating that-we-do-that concisely and compellingly and (as you mention) non-condescendingly is actually in some ways more difficult than actually doing it ;)  Suggestions welcome.


This is just a thought, but what if you had a video of gameplay, that shows a bit of the story, perhaps the ship crashing, or just the picture of the crashed ship, then goes into gameplay, for say a minute to a minute and a half? Or even two minutes to two and a half? But the main critical requirement is NOT to have any text, no explanation, no this is what this MEANS... sort of text or voice-over or anything. JUST the gameplay and perhaps of course Pablo's music.  :)

This way you are not leading your audience, you are letting your audience take a look at the game and either lead or leave it themselves. I mean, maybe its rather passive marketing, but at least you don't have people dumping saying, what does this mean?

All of this is only my opinion of course, and i agree with what you said earlier, about people seeming sometimes to be happier to see people fail. I don't understand people sometimes, or maybe its just the internet mindset, or the anonymous mindset. Or the modern mindset. Too much hate out there in the world lately. Scary stuff. Anyway, i think your Exodus title looks very interesting, i like the style, am looking forward to seeing how it plays.  :)

-Teal


Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Echo35 on April 01, 2013, 06:46:54 PM
This is just a thought, but what if you had a video of gameplay, that shows a bit of the story, perhaps the ship crashing, or just the picture of the crashed ship, then goes into gameplay, for say a minute to a minute and a half? Or even two minutes to two and a half? But the main critical requirement is NOT to have any text, no explanation, no this is what this MEANS... sort of text or voice-over or anything. JUST the gameplay and perhaps of course Pablo's music.  :)

You can certainly draw a survival and resistance fighting back kind of theme from no dialogue or test at all. Just lots of creative imagery :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Nanashi on April 02, 2013, 02:59:00 AM
I really don't mind HCS much. I wouldn't say they do memorable or noteworthy art, but they do it competently and quickly (Okay, so I quite dislike the player sprites in Valley 2, but that's irrelevant personal taste), which is probably far more important to game development.

I'm conflicted a bit about the continuity - Although I love strategy games, I still have yet to try AI War because it looks like micromanagement tower-defense-hell on an accelerating-to-unmanageable basis. My style of playing has always been to micromanage a handful of elite units and carve a path of near-unstoppable destruction rather than to micro-macromanage an entire world and fight 30 wars at once. Is there a sort of quick guide to AI war lore? Or maybe that won't be important.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on April 02, 2013, 04:06:28 AM
The lore in AI War is definitely in the background more than anything else in the game. The last two expansions have had more lore stuff in them though.

As far as micromanagement goes, AI War is really only as micro heavy as you make it. I know it doesn't look that way but managing your fleets, planetary defenses and economy is the easy part. The hard part of AI War is learning how to filter the information at your disposal to see what's relevant to your planning and how to act on this information. The interface has any tool you could want to access and filter information. You can even pause the game at any time to soak up the details and make informed decisions. In many ways AI War is an information war, or at least it is the way I play it. I try to hide as much of my capability as possible, scouting for enemy infrastructure and force composition. You don't really have to worry about managing unit abilities or watching cooldown timers. Most of the game I usually have only two or three fleets with at least one of them being a purely defensive force.

And if all you really care about is the lore stuff you can always look at the AI War wiki. If you enjoy RTS at all though I think you should spend some time with the game. It's unique and once you get over the initial hump of learning the game's conventions I think you'll find a tactical and strategic wealth that is in a league of its own.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: tigersfan on April 02, 2013, 07:24:00 AM
Not to get too far off topic... but... Nanashi, AI War has a pretty good demo. Give it a shot and see if the game fits for you.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 02, 2013, 12:49:41 PM
I really don't mind HCS much. I wouldn't say they do memorable or noteworthy art, but they do it competently and quickly (Okay, so I quite dislike the player sprites in Valley 2, but that's irrelevant personal taste), which is probably far more important to game development.
My tastes are similar to yours on that particular point, at least.  Though they were better than the AVWW1 player sprites.

Anyway, it's hard to evaluate an art studio on one game, because so much of it is coming through the "lens" of the game studio's requirements and whatever chipper-shredder of manipulations (both during development and at runtime) is involved in getting it into the game.  With this project we're trying pretty hard to not get between you and the quality of the art.  Can't do that with every game idea, but it's worth a shot.

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Although I love strategy games, I still have yet to try AI War because it looks like micromanagement tower-defense-hell on an accelerating-to-unmanageable basis.
I... (looks speechless for a moment) ... I'm trying to be polite here, but honestly I'm not sure what game you could be talking about :) 

(the rest of this post is on AIW, not on Exodus, in case some bystander could be confused on that point)

There is some micro in AIW, and as you're learning the game things will take longer (in player wall-clock-time) than they will later, but overall the game is far lower on micro than any other RTS-like game I'm aware of (though I don't have a lot of time to try tons of other games).

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My style of playing has always been to micromanage a handful of elite units and carve a path of near-unstoppable destruction rather than to micro-macromanage an entire world and fight 30 wars at once.
For initial learning I suggest leaning mainly on the fleet ships (little guys) but then you could try a starship-heavy game (starships are much larger individual units) and just use the fleet ships for support (on low enough difficulty you can probably get by with just the starships on offense and use fleet ships for defense).  Even if you have a fleet with 1000 units, though, remember this is a strategy game rather than a tactics game.  The tactical portion is important but unless you're playing really high difficulty you don't have to micro much at all to simply achieve local superiority (casualties can be high, but you can learn to control that).

For more of the elite-unit experience you can later try the Champions (basically immortal hero units)  in the Ancient Shadows expansion or the Fallen Spire campaign of the Light of the Spire expansion.  Or the Golems in the The Zenith Remnant expansion, though you'll want to support those due to their irreplaceable nature.

Defense is mostly a matter of setting up the turrets and other fixed stuff, and optionally setting some mobile units to FRD, and only paying attention when an attack is going after you that you think has a serious chance of cracking something.  You can have rebuilder units and engineers on FRD that will automatically rebuild and repair any damaged/destroyed fixed defenses, and a local space dock to replenish any lost mobile units.  And you can set a control on the planet to have the command station automatically build more rebuilders/engineers up to your specified quantity on that planet (or just all planets you own) in case they die too.  And a control that automatically puts them into FRD when they're built.  Nowadays the rebuilders can even rebuild a destroyed command station (that's what makes the planet yours) once its disruption timer is up.

I could go on for quite a while, but suffice it to say the thing is designed to avoid unnecessary micro for the most part :)  It can take a while to learn, but there's a number of tutorials and if you have any trouble there's a forum of generally-pleasant people, many who actively enjoy helping other people learn the game and figure out strategic problems.

Anyway, like Josh, I encourage you to give the demo a try.

Quote
Is there a sort of quick guide to AI war lore? Or maybe that won't be important.
Exodus's storyline comes before the AI War, and honestly there isn't much lore in AIW (though there is a chunk in the Fallen Spire campaign of LotS, and basically Exodus is explaining a lot of what led to certain pieces of that narrative, among other things).  I think you'll enjoy Exodus more if you've played AIW, but it's just a bonus to the experience rather than the core of it.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 02, 2013, 06:53:45 PM
"One sack of tools and your wits. Is that enough?"

Subliminal attack on masculinity unintended.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 02, 2013, 06:55:10 PM
I'm conflicted a bit about the continuity - Although I love strategy games, I still have yet to try AI War because it looks like micromanagement tower-defense-hell on an accelerating-to-unmanageable basis.

No. Very much macro management. It originally incorporated a lot of tower defense mechanics, but there's plenty of giant space battles to go around.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 02, 2013, 07:48:24 PM
"One sack of tools and your wits. Is that enough?"

That's an awesome line!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on April 02, 2013, 07:56:56 PM
"One sack of tools and your wits. Is that enough?"

Subliminal attack on masculinity unintended.

Can we play as Felix the cat?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 02, 2013, 08:53:21 PM
It can take a while to learn, but there's a number of tutorials and if you have any trouble there's a forum of generally-pleasant people, many who actively enjoy helping other people learn the game and figure out strategic problems.

Yes. Go on and pick up the title. You'll be glad you did. Then join us in the AI forums as we dissect one of the best strategy titles out there.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 02, 2013, 08:55:13 PM
"One sack of tools and your wits. Is that enough?"

Subliminal attack on masculinity unintended.

Can we play as Felix the cat?

That would be one sack, a tool, and your bits, which is an entirely separate title. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 03, 2013, 11:03:07 AM
Will there be a planet-naming contest for this one too?

I WANT MAH FREE GAME TO HELP DEVELOP AN AWESOME GAME
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 03, 2013, 11:40:32 AM
On the topic of taglines, perhaps we could play on the AI War one?

You know:

"You are outgunned. You are massively outnumbered. You must win." These are your orders.

This was the clincher for me that got me hooked on the goodness that is ArcenGames.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 11:46:07 AM
"Supplies are low.  You are stranded.  You must make it to the core in time."

"Supplies are low.  You are stranded on a distant planet.  You must stop the AI in time."

Something like that could be super strong, that's true!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 03, 2013, 12:04:16 PM
Hmm, doesn't quite capture the sense of desparate impossibility that the AI War tagline did (and that I found so compelling). But it's a good start.

EDIT: Oh! Oh! I think I got it. Something nice and snappy, like: "You are stranded. You are underequipped. You must save the galaxy."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Vyndicu on April 03, 2013, 12:31:55 PM
I have a simple cliche but get the point across pretty well.

"Hostile Jungle Environment, Human Stranded, and AI on a Warpath: Who will win in the end?"
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 12:33:42 PM
"You are stranded. Low on everything. You must save humanity."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 12:53:22 PM
"You are stranded. Low on everything. You must save humanity."
I don't really think of it as saving humanity so much as stopping the antagonist from getting away so it can destroy said humanity... but I guess that's kind of what it means.

"You are stranded. Low on everything. Humanity is in danger."

"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  Humanity's fate in your hands."  (I thought I was doing pretty well and then aaaaarggggh cliche-poisoning!)


Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 12:57:27 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  You must save humanity."

It's not quite accurate in a super-literal sense on that last point, as you say, but it has punch and is the spirit of what is going on.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on April 03, 2013, 12:59:41 PM
If you go with the stranded, supplies are low, etc route for a tagline. Might be worthwhile to casualize it, heh. SNAFU to use the military term, though don't necessarily need to use that term specifically!

Stranded. Low supplies. Mutant locals ready to rip off your face. Just another normal day in wherever/for whoever/etc.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 01:00:14 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  You must save humanity."

It's not quite accurate in a super-literal sense on that last point, as you say, but it has punch and is the spirit of what is going on.
Yea, it's not a problem in terms of accuracy.  Just wondering if there's a way we can say it that doesn't sound so cliche.

Though I guess the idea is cliche, when one comes down to it.  But it's more of a "chase something that's not particularly evil but is incredibly dangerous and you have no idea what it will do if given the opportunity" than the usual evil-overlord sorts of save-humanity situations.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 01:02:02 PM
The idea has been done before, but no more so than something like "spy saves the {x}."  That description is broad enough to describe some very bad and generic movies, to some really excellent ones.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on April 03, 2013, 01:25:21 PM
Your team is stranded. Your mission is critical. Your leadership is your only chance. Will your supplies last? Will your team? Do you have what it takes to see this through?

This is where I think the focus should go on the tagline, even if what I've come up with my be cliche or terrible on it's own.

This puts the focus on the player, and hopefully gets across the point that not only is the player responsible for this super critical mission but also responsible for its execution and the lives under their command. When you talk about the Prince Roger series one of the things I really hope you are trying to capture from it is the sense of responsibility that Roger grew to feel towards his guard troops balanced with the absolute necessity to spend their lives to achieve the larger objective at hand. Big missions to save the everything are standard, especially in gaming, so we need to focus on what makes this one different, and unless I've been reading this wrong thematically, I think that's where you'll find it. Not many games put a face on the guys you send to their deaths, and rarely are these troops your most limited and valuable resource, and in Roger's case, his closest friends and companions.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 01:28:31 PM
Responsibility is a big theme for the main character, yes.  The situation isn't a Prince-Roger-analogue, but I suppose that much is echoed.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Hearteater on April 03, 2013, 02:35:16 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  You weren't even supposed to be here today!"
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 02:51:13 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And a core in the wild that must be destroyed before it destroys humanity."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 02:55:25 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And a core in the wild that must be destroyed before it destroys humanity."
Well, before it gets totally away and we don't know what it will do because it could hit us at any time ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 03:02:48 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And an AI core on the loose that must be destroyed before it escapes."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 03:09:34 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And an AI core on the loose that must be destroyed before it escapes."
Or recaptured.  But yea, pretty close now :)

Now how to apply textual compaction.  Which is as uncomfortable as it sounds.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 03:11:02 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And an escaped AI core that must be hunted."

"Stranded.  Supplies critically low.  And an escaped AI core that must be destroyed."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Underfot on April 03, 2013, 03:31:31 PM
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Hearteater on April 03, 2013, 04:06:21 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Hunt.  Kill.  Or It Will Destroy Us All."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 04:09:38 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critical.  Hunt the AI Core or it will destroy us all."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:10:47 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies critical.  Hunt the AI that could destroy us all."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Hearteater on April 03, 2013, 04:12:57 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Hunt it, before it hunts you."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:15:44 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Hunt the harbinger of our destruction."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 04:26:15 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Hunt the harbinger of our destruction."

Nice!  And that makes it more clear what time period we're talking about, too.  This is my favorite now.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Hearteater on April 03, 2013, 04:28:56 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  The Harbinger Draws Near."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:33:09 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  The Harbinger Draws Near."
Well, more it draws away.  You're chasing the thing the whole game.

"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Hunt humanity's most dangerous creation, before it escapes."

Not the strongest, I know, just trying to see if something closer to accurate also leads to something stronger.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 04:36:59 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  A desperate chase after humanity's most dangerous creation."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:39:13 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Chase humanity's most dangerous creation."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:39:31 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Chasing humanity's most dangerous creation."
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 04:40:35 PM
Btw I'm going to be rewriting the opening dialogue a lot now.  This mood totally changes things ;)  But it's much more appropriate.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 03, 2013, 05:08:33 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Chasing humanity's most dangerous creation."

Niiiice. :)

Btw I'm going to be rewriting the opening dialogue a lot now.  This mood totally changes things ;)  But it's much more appropriate.

Yeah, makes sense, heh. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on April 03, 2013, 05:29:12 PM
By the way, the harbinger of destruction tagline made me think of mass effect pretty much instantly. One of the main "Reapers" (aka Lovecraftian AI) is named Harbinger. Heh.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 06:03:09 PM
By the way, the harbinger of destruction tagline made me think of mass effect pretty much instantly. One of the main "Reapers" (aka Lovecraftian AI) is named Harbinger. Heh.
Yes, that exact association came to my mind too.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on April 03, 2013, 06:18:11 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Chasing humanity's most dangerous creation."

I love it. Sooooo when do we get to learn more about this game?  ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 06:18:42 PM
"Stranded.  Supplies Critical.  Chasing humanity's most dangerous creation."

I love it. Sooooo when do we get to learn more about this game?  ;)
You just did.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on April 03, 2013, 11:06:27 PM
So not before the civil war, but before the ai war. Most dangerous creation?

Seems too obvious the threat...
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 11:13:53 PM
So not before the civil war, but before the ai war. Most dangerous creation?

Seems too obvious the threat...
Well, you've seen exos, you know I'm not a very subtle person.

Though the actual situation in Exodus is probably more subtle than you may be guessing.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Histidine on April 03, 2013, 11:22:22 PM
So not before the civil war, but before the ai war. Most dangerous creation?
Player characters doomed to failure?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: madcow on April 03, 2013, 11:37:15 PM
Spoiler, you're actually the AI hunting down "the most dangerous game".

The title refers to your own journey, or exodus if you will.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 03, 2013, 11:44:51 PM
Spoiler, you're actually the AI hunting down "the most dangerous game".

The title refers to your own journey, or exodus if you will.
Playing as the core did actually occur to me at one point, but it just wouldn't work ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on April 04, 2013, 12:15:26 AM
Playing as the core did actually occur to me at one point, but it just wouldn't work ;)

If the AI Wars universe (guess it'll need a new name soon?) lives long enough, it'll go through its dark and edgy phase, then we can?

Please?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 04, 2013, 12:37:29 AM
Playing as the core did actually occur to me at one point, but it just wouldn't work ;)

If the AI Wars universe (guess it'll need a new name soon?) lives long enough, it'll go through its dark and edgy phase, then we can?

Please?
That would probably depend on who was writing at the time.  I do dark, but I have limits (running jokes of player annihilation notwithstanding).

We'll see how Exodus does, as far as further exploration of the story arc and thus the character in question.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: chemical_art on April 04, 2013, 01:00:15 AM
Warhammer 40k corrupted me.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 04, 2013, 04:08:14 AM
I really like the you-are-doomed sense of AI War. It gives you the sense that the odds you've come up against are so frikkin' huge that the only thing you can do is make dark jokes. It's a good fit for the difficulty. And makes you feel really awesome when you deliver the AI's comeuppance against all odds.

And how 'bout an alliterative tagline: "Stranded. Starving. Saving Humanity."

And just to clarify, somewhere along the way, you'll be giving out free copies of this game, right? :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: RCIX on April 04, 2013, 07:51:03 AM
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Am i the only other one that likes this more? =p
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyprene on April 04, 2013, 12:33:08 PM
Quote
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Am i the only other one that likes this more? =p

I'm not sold on the first part of it.  (Your circumstance impossible reads kind of odd to me.)  The second part, however, is very, very cool.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 04, 2013, 01:14:37 PM
Warhammer 40k corrupted me.
I really enjoy WH40k, in a sort of "whoa this is so messed up but that guy in the armor is a total badass" sense.  And it's certainly influenced me and my writing.  But it comes from, and projects, a worldview radically alien to my own.  I could no more write stuff like that than an Inquisitor could write like a Tyrranid.

Well, maybe not that far off.

Anyway, I have a much easier time writing something more in the vein of David Weber or E.E. Smith, though I have my differences with them too.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 04, 2013, 01:28:45 PM
Quote
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Am i the only other one that likes this more? =p

I'm not sold on the first part of it.  (Your circumstance impossible reads kind of odd to me.)  The second part, however, is very, very cool.

None of that is actually part of the story, though.  The team is plenty tested, the circumstance isn't (so far as they know) impossible, despite being very difficult.  The enemy is quite well known, and was never invincible. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: MouldyK on April 04, 2013, 02:02:52 PM
Quote
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Am i the only other one that likes this more? =p

I'm not sold on the first part of it.  (Your circumstance impossible reads kind of odd to me.)  The second part, however, is very, very cool.

None of that is actually part of the story, though.  The team is plenty tested, the circumstance isn't (so far as they know) impossible, despite being very difficult.  The enemy is quite well known, and was never invincible. ;)


Yes, but "You have been tested, your circumstance is possible, you know your enemy, they are still vincible" does not have that kinda catch to it. ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 04, 2013, 02:11:26 PM
Quote
"Your team is untested, your circumstance impossible.  Your enemy is unknowable, but no longer invincible."
Am i the only other one that likes this more? =p

I'm not sold on the first part of it.  (Your circumstance impossible reads kind of odd to me.)  The second part, however, is very, very cool.

None of that is actually part of the story, though.  The team is plenty tested, the circumstance isn't (so far as they know) impossible, despite being very difficult.  The enemy is quite well known, and was never invincible. ;)


Yes, but "You have been tested, your circumstance is possible, you know your enemy, they are still vincible" does not have that kinda catch to it. ;)
Which is why we changed the subject of the line ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 04, 2013, 02:22:28 PM
Right, generally lying in marketing materials is frowned upon. ;)  So we focus on things that are true AND exciting, rather than exciting but not quite true. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: MouldyK on April 04, 2013, 02:27:50 PM
Right, generally lying in marketing materials is frowned upon. ;)  So we focus on things that are true AND exciting, rather than exciting but not quite true. :)

So shouldn't most of your game trailers start out with "We've found a new way of making you hate random number generators..."?

It might not be exciting to people, but it's true with AI War, Valley 1 and Valley 2.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 04, 2013, 02:30:43 PM
Right, generally lying in marketing materials is frowned upon. ;)  So we focus on things that are true AND exciting, rather than exciting but not quite true. :)

So shouldn't most of your game trailers start out with "We've found a new way of making you hate random number generators..."?

It might not be exciting to people, but it's true with AI War, Valley 1 and Valley 2.
Well, right, that's basically exactly what we're saying, but we're also trying to make it exciting and also communicate something about the particular way we're about to make you hate the RNG :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyprene on April 04, 2013, 04:35:38 PM
After the introduction of those Counter wave turrets, the AI may as well be invincible.  I haven't been back to the game since getting wiped by one of those things a few months back.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 04, 2013, 04:38:05 PM
After the introduction of those Counter wave turrets, the AI may as well be invincible.  I haven't been back to the game since getting wiped by one of those things a few months back.
You mean Counterattack Guard Posts?  Those were added a fairly long time ago, iirc.  They were recently nerfed a bit, for what it's worth ;)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 05, 2013, 12:46:19 PM
I know you've said it doesn't make for a good looking trailer, but have you considered selling the gameplay more straight?

Maybe it won't make for an exciting trailer, but at least the audience will know what the game is and that might be a more important first thing to do than anything else. Looking ugly and having to be long winded and verbose to explain how the game plays might be better if it means getting far enough away from everything else that the game actually stands out.

To be honest I think if Shattered Haven was presented as a "adventure maze-puzzle game on steroids" in advertising and if the story was left for when people actually played the game then more people would have understood it better, as that would have shook off the "cheap zombie game" image early.

Not to mention, if you're going to sell the theme and setting then that pool has already been pissed in so to speak. Just search through Greenlight for a while.

Maybe you shouldn't try to be too concise at first and just get the point out so your audience knows what the game is even if you have to talk more, then after that start selling the theme and setting.
I kind of feel like Shattered Haven and didn't do enough of the former and because of that didn't do well with the latter because the audience was still scratching their heads.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 05, 2013, 12:52:58 PM
I don't really think we're trying to sell story here, but the overall mission of what you're doing.  This gets reinforced with video of gameplay in the background, of course.  But describing the gameplay in words to go with it is... well, pretty much what we're doing.  I agree that Shattered Haven's trailer was focused all wrong, but that's not really at all what we're trying to do here.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 05, 2013, 02:18:20 PM
That's good, the dramatic one-liners probably gave the wrong impression.

It might be odd, but I still think that this is the best trailer you've put out (minus the review quotes):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr_oSOSTfbA

Maybe it's not as exciting as your later ones for AI War and other games and it was text heavy as heck, but it really got the point across. I thought it really pushed to separate the game from its peers right away and I thought that worked really well, even if it had to be very up-front and verbose to do it.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 05, 2013, 02:51:36 PM
Thanks, I really liked that one too. :)
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Oralordos on April 05, 2013, 03:59:09 PM
Wow. I never saw that one before. I agree, that is your best trailer to date.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Panopticon on April 05, 2013, 04:41:45 PM
That trailer is pretty sweet. It's the one that sold me on AI War. And it really was the just kind of sit down and explain myself tone that did it for me. I don't know if that's appropriate for most games and companies. I think it just may be a fit for Arcen though. Most of the time I spend talking about your games is trying to explain just how BIG they are to people, that something as simple looking as Tidalis is actually far more than what it seems to be on the surface. After pushing the demo on a few people they admitted to me that Tidalis really was as deep, varied, flexible and feature packed as I was saying. A few of them even bought the game. Every single one of them said, "But the trailers and screens made it look like a Match 3."

I expect I'll get the same experience from people with Shattered Haven. I've gifted out a few copies and a few friends bought it on my recommendation. Once they get done with their Tomb Raiders and Bioshock Infinites I expect I'll be having some similar conversations about Shattered Haven.

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 05, 2013, 06:14:50 PM
That's good, the dramatic one-liners probably gave the wrong impression.

It might be odd, but I still think that this is the best trailer you've put out (minus the review quotes):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr_oSOSTfbA

One of the best, if not the best, I agree.

Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Cyborg on April 05, 2013, 06:16:03 PM
I don't really think we're trying to sell story here, but the overall mission of what you're doing.  This gets reinforced with video of gameplay in the background, of course.  But describing the gameplay in words to go with it is... well, pretty much what we're doing.  I agree that Shattered Haven's trailer was focused all wrong, but that's not really at all what we're trying to do here.

Why would you say that and use the AI War universe if the lore isn't part of what we're getting? Did you miss the excitement of your AI War fans to learn more about what happened?
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 05, 2013, 06:19:02 PM
I can't say for sure, but I think what he meant, Cyborg, is that we aren't trying to sell story in the trailer.  Not as the primary thing, or it looks like a VN and sales go bye-bye.

But I picked the setting specifically because so many of you would be excited about it.  And I wanted to tell more of it, too.

The audience viewing the trailer is mostly people who've never played AIW, though.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 05, 2013, 06:40:55 PM
Absolutely, I didn't mean to imply the story has no point or interest. But I think that he primary motivator for getting a game like this would need to be gameplay, and then the story is an awesome bonus. Basically what Keith said. But agreed, that's in no way a value judgement on the story itself or its importance!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 05, 2013, 07:42:08 PM
...which brings us back to the original AI War tagline. It does both, really: by telling us how screwed we are, it gives us a sense of the unique gameplay elements (e.g. odds heavily heavily heavily stacked against you) and at the same time, gives some insight into the lore. If we could get a tagline which is both lore- and gameplay-significant, then we've pretty much hit the sweet spot. So if the tagline is essentially a paraphrase of "you are screwed", then if we work that whole element of the players being screwed (um, not in that sense) into both the lore and gameplay, then we'd have killed two birds with one stone, and pretty much sold the thing to people with a love of impossible odds (e.g. me). And given ArcenGames' track record, I'd say this shouldn't be too hard ;).
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Kahuna on April 20, 2013, 03:15:47 AM
So is this going to be something like FTL? Get from point A to point B.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Aquohn on April 20, 2013, 04:13:20 AM
So, what's the progress on this one? I'd expected it to be worked on first since the teaser was released first.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on April 20, 2013, 07:02:53 AM
Both are simultaneously being worked on, and this one has been in progress longer. But this one also has more complex art and GUI, both of which are particularly time consuming. We've learned how key first impressions are, so aren't sharing much until its really polished. It's coming along, though!
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 20, 2013, 12:49:15 PM
So is this going to be something like FTL? Get from point A to point B.
The semblance is pretty vague.  But yes, A to B, survival in the process being the main challenge.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: Kahuna on June 23, 2013, 04:14:03 AM
So is this going to be something like FTL? Get from point A to point B.
The semblance is pretty vague.  But yes, A to B, survival in the process being the main challenge.
Cool. I'm looking forward to this.
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: x4000 on June 23, 2013, 07:09:46 AM
Unfortunately the project is on hold, potentially indefinitely. :(
Title: Re: Exodus Of The Machine Teaser 1
Post by: fanneyjack on April 09, 2014, 10:46:54 AM
I really like the Artwork...