Category Archives: Thoughts and Opinions

Christmas Giveaway Results

Hey guys, the Christmas Steam key giveaway is over and I’ve sent out 40 game keys by email!

The entry requirement for the giveaway was telling me a bit about your gaming life.
I got nearly 400 entries and a lot of stories. It was nice to see that many people got into gaming playing the sorts of games I played when I was younger: Zelda and Pokemon on Nintendo consoles, Heroes of Might and Magic and Age of Empires on PC, Final Fantasy games on PS1, old stuff on emulators, free MMO games like Maple Story, and a lot of Flash games too (though I still haven’t played Mardek). I was also reminded to play Doki Doki, Hollow Knight, Cuphead, and LISA. These games are on my radar, but as always it’s just a case of playing through everything else first.

I was mildly annoyed by how popular rogue-likes were though! I think games like Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells and Enter the Gungeon would have been better off with actual designed levels instead of randomly generated ones that you were forced to replay over and over. I guess some people like their nearly endless games. But I guess I am slightly out of touch these days, as I’ve not played Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Overwatch or PUBG.

A few people mentioned that EBF4 was the first game they played on Steam, and got them into downloadable games. Most people were very long-time fans, but there were a few that just recently played my games for the first time. Apparently quite a few people have tried playing the EBF games co-op with a friend, with each person controlling a different character in battle. This is weird, but it’s also the sort of thing I might have tried when I was younger.

Anyway, thanks for all the holiday wishes and hope you’re all having a good time!

Here’s a guy I made:
2

Patreon is okay again!

(continuation of an earlier post)

Hey guys, after a lot of pushback, Patreon has decided not to change their fee system!
This is good news, as it means they will continue aggregating all of your pledges into one monthly payment, and you won’t get hit by transaction fees multiple times. So if you support 10 different people, you’ll only be hit with one fee, as before. (and the fee will continue to be invisible to you, being taken out from our end)

But basically, the smaller your monthly amount, the bigger proportion goes to fees. If you’re only giving a $1 or $2 in total on Patreon, it’s probably not worth using. Save up your money and give $10 after a year instead. No point in giving 35% of your pledge to PayPal or Credit Card companies. The main benefit of Patreon (in my opinion) is that you can make lots of micropayments together, as an efficient larger payment.

It’s also worth noting that protesting actually works, if you hit your opponent where it hurts: in PR and cashflow!

Anyhow, in EBF5 development news, the overworld map is complete now!
I’ve just got two of the premium dungeons left to do. After that I’ll finish off NPCs and sidequests, and then patrons will be able to test it all out. It would have been nice to get it done by Christmas, but that’s probably not going to happen. I’ll have many more animated gifs done before then though.

I suppose I may have to do my usual Christmas Steam key giveaway soon…

I already don’t like Patreon

Hey guys, I’ve just set up a Patreon two months ago and I’m already feeling very sheepish about using the service. They’re planning to put up their fees soon, which works out very poorly for people pledging many small amounts. Previously the fee was taken from all of your pledges put together (the whole point of a service like this), but now it’ll cost 0.35c  for each individual pledge. Meaning if you support many Patreons for $1, you’ll essentially be charged over 35% in fees, which is absurdly high. Patreon’s been very brazen about this change, hiding it behind the fact that creators will get more money overall (assuming that many patrons don’t just outright leave). Patreon’s facade of being in it to support the little guy is becoming very hard to believe, especially with these dishonest PR statements that don’t address the actual reasons for these changes.

There’s a lot of anger over this, but if this change goes through, I’ll have to delete my $1 tier and tell people not to waste their money. At that point Steam and Kongregate take a smaller cut, and they actually earn it by giving me lots of traffic, while Patreon does fuck all besides process payments. People who were on the $1 tier will still get all of the perks, but in future those perks will be on the $4 tier instead.

It’s not that I don’t want your $1, it’s just that we’re both better off if you save it and buy my games on Steam or Kongregate instead. Charging you guys $1.35 to send me $1 is pointless.

Also I still think Patreon’s new logo is ugly as hell.

Thoughts?

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Book review time.

Today I read Tribe by Sebastian Junger, and it resonated with some of the thoughts I’ve been having about modern life and how technology is carrying us further away from the way we evolved to live. The premise of the book is that hunter gatherer tribes offered many advantages to mental health that modern societies lack. As a member of a tribe you were around many others at all times. Everyone shared their resources and relied on one another. Class distinctions could not afford to exist, people were judged purely by their contribution to the group. Life was less complicated and one spent less time working overall. People trusted each other and worked for the benefit of the group. Liars and cheats were dealt with harshly.

Skip forward to the future, and for all of our material wealth, rates of depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses are on the rise, presumably due to the loss of such communities and the support they offer. People now spend much more time alone, often rely on the government instead of on each other, feel utterly unneeded when they are unemployed, and have less shared experiences that they can relate with. We have strangers looking after our kids and grandparents. We seek individual wealth at the expense of others. We talk contemptuously about others instead of trying to understand them. We let political leaders turn us against each other over small differences, even though most of us agree about most things.

There’s a lot to sift through there and the solutions aren’t obvious. But in general the message is to strengthen family and community bonds, focus on the many things we agree on, and to be vigilant against those who try to take advantage of the group – bankers, frauds, polarising political speakers and others. I feel like these issues will grow in severity as technology leads to more unemployment and more isolated lifestyles.

Anyway. Tribe is quite short and is an accessible read, but if you don’t like reading you can also get a gist of it from this interview with the author.

There’s a lot of food for thought in there.

Thoughts About Patreon (part 2)

This is a continuation of my previous post, where I explained why I’m considering making a Patreon. No one seemed to have any major objections to me setting up a Patreon, as long as I stuck to the rules I outlined there.

I’ve spent the day researching what other creators have done with Patreon, and I’ve come up with this list of reward tiers. I’d be interested to hear what you think of these:

Supporter: $1 per month
• Get early access to buggy, spoiler-full, alpha versions/demos that otherwise won’t be released to the public until they are finished. Over the next few months this will include the entire EBF5 world map, and a boss fight demo.
• You also get the “Supporter” role on the EBF Discord, making you a trusted user who can post links and images in any channel, and gives you access to the “Alpha Discussion” and “Alpha Bugs” channels for discussing the content mentioned above. (You still gotta follow the rules!)
• And finally the loyalty program: With your continued support, you can request a Steam key for any of my games for every $15 you’ve given. (you can give extra keys to your friends or use this as a way to pre-order future games)

Super Supporter: $4 per month
• Same as the above, but you get the “Super Supporter” Discord role, which does nothing besides letting you show off.

Wall of Thanks: $8 per month
• Get your name listed on the “Wall of Thanks” on my website, KupoGames.com, letting visitors know that you’re kind of cool!
• This lasts as long as your contribution does, and can include a link to some profile or website of yours. (subject to my approval, maybe contact me with your details first!)
+ Includes Super Supporter perks
(100 slots only)

Thoughts About Patreon

Lately I’ve been thinking about making a Patreon, but just bringing that up makes me feel a bit dirty. I don’t want to start double-dipping or locking people out of content that is free at the moment, so I’m writing this blog to discuss my thoughts.

Here’s some perks to me having an income on Patreon:
• My income would be a bit less volatile month to month and year to year. Currently in some months I get 30x what I get in others. I’m used to this but it does make financial planning a bit complicated, especially when working on a project over many years.
• It gives people another way to support me. I get asked about donations, preorders, kickstarters, etc. every once in a while, and Patreon makes more sense to me than any of those.
• Most game stores take 30% of my earnings, and some take even more than that. So it would be a more efficient way of getting money straight to me for those who are concerned with that. (Patreon only takes 5% as I understand it)
• It gives me a way of releasing demos to a small group of people, which would be useful with spoiler-full stuff. For example, I’d like to get a bunch of people to test the entire EBF5 world map, but I don’t want to release that publicly cause it’s obviously full of spoilers.
• I’d get more money overall, which you may or may not think I deserve. I don’t *need* more money, but 2017 is shaping up to be my worst year in a while, as I haven’t published any games in a few years now.
• I’d be able to make some smaller free games again without needing to worry about a sustainable income. Games that on their own probably wouldn’t be worth buying. (And with Greenlight gone I could easily put them on Steam as well) (alternatively it could lead to free updates for EBF5 post-release)

Here’s some perks for patrons that I’ve thought about:
• Early access to spoilerific demos or very early and buggy stuff. Anything that I wouldn’t want to release publicly for a while.
• Requests for little favours that I’ve thought about doing but haven’t quite gotten round to. For example, releasing a blog post on a specific topic, releasing some existing artwork as a wallpaper, releasing bits of source code, etc. This stuff I’d also make publicly available later, so I’m not doing it just for the patrons.
• Some little perks on the EBF Discord, such as having a colorful username and the ability to post images on any channel. (still within the rules, of course)
• Using it as an alternative payment method for buying my games. (not sure how well this would work, but if someone’s sent me enough money through Patreon I can send them Steam or Humble keys or whatever)

What I’m NOT going to use Patreon for:
• Letting patrons influence my games’ content in any way that isn’t available to everyone else.
• Giving out perks that would use up a lot of my time on things that aren’t game development.
• Locking stuff that would normally be free behind a paywall. I would only put stuff on Patreon that I’m currently not releasing at all.

So that’s it I think. Of course what I would do with Patreon depends on how much support I get on there, and what people would find most beneficial. But first I want to hear from fans; Does this sound okay? Are there any perks you’d like to see? Are there any concerns you have?

Ads are bad

Hey guys, I recently took down all ads off this website and closed my Google AdSense account in protest against Google and the ad model in general. I only made a few hundred dollars per year off ads, so it’s not a massive sacrifice, but I feel like I’m doing my part.

Lately I’ve strongly felt that the ad model is doing serious harm to the content that is produced on the internet. It encourages safe, mainstream click-bait instead of high-quality, honest content. Some examples include:

• YouTube is de-monitizing any videos that could be considered controversial to appease advertisers, including video-game violence, swearing, and discussions about the news or politics. A lot of videos are also flagged falsely. For example a video providing help for suicidal people would be flagged as controversial as it’s related to a controversial topic. I’ve noticed that even harmless fail videos are censoring swearing. This is a bad direction to be going if you want a diversity of content to be produced (which I’m assuming YouTube is no longer interested in, despite this being a major advantage it had over TV).

• News websites are printing any garbage that will get clicks. They produce the most addictive headlines and site layouts, keep users outraged over petty nonsense, and do whatever it takes to keep users on the site longer to see more ads. I feel like this is doing major harm to public discourse as the most outrageous articles will always get the most exposure.

• Many ads are just outright scams or otherwise malicious. There’s obviously no quality control going on when ad space is being purchased. I often see ads like “Get Minecraft for free!” or “Try this new bullshit health supplement!” and other obvious scams. I’m assuming these are effective otherwise they wouldn’t be appearing.

So my recommendation would be to use an Ad Blocker (like uBlock Origin) for your own safety, but also to discourage platforms like YouTube and Facebook from bending over to the demands of advertisers. F.B. Purity is also a good chrome extension to block most of the garbage on Facebook.

If you can afford it, throwing a few dollars at your favourite creators on Patreon will do them more good than watching hundreds of ads will. Free stuff is great, but I feel like a couple of dollars isn’t a high price to fight back against the harm that ads are doing – and also to save you the time wasted on them.

And a final note: Short, high-quality content in particular doesn’t do well under the ad model. Stuff like animation or well-researched videos. Those don’t get a lot of clicks relative to the amount of work put into them, and it’s most important to support the creators of works like these through donations.

That is all. Thoughts?

The Big Journey

I’d like to take a moment to shill a mobile game that I actually like: The Big Journey!

As you’ve probably heard me mention before, I think that most mobile games are nothing but endless time wasters filled with micro transactions and horrible psychological exploits. (I blame casual gamers who don’t want to pay up front for anything)
But I like this one, so I’m doing my part to promote something good. It has actual level design, and no mobile bullshit. I also really love the art style and music, to the point where it might inspire the cartoony cutscenes in EBF5 a bit.
It’s not a masterpiece or anything, it’s just really good by mobile game standards, in my opinion. Also Sushi Cat is in it.

Anyway, it’s on iOS and Android for like $3 and takes around 2 or 3 hours to beat.

Rise of the Robots

I recently read “The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment” by Martin Ford, and even though I’m already quite familiar with the topics covered, it was sobering to have all of the information together in book form.

Until now I’ve read a few books about the singularity and the threats posed by super-intelligent machines, but that’s all still in the fairly distant future. Rise of the Robots discusses major problems that will arrive within the next 10 and 20 years, and in many cases are already happening: Automation will soon put a huge proportion of the population out of work permanently and create wealth inequality like we’ve never seen before.

The important take away is that the production of goods is starting to rely only on capital and not on workers, meaning that anyone with a lot of financial resources can set up a factory or a datacenter and produce tons of goods and services with very few employees. This is easily visible when you look at the tiny amount of workers employed by tech giants like Google and Facebook – most of their infrastructure is already automated and requires very little human oversight. It’s very important to remember that the number of new jobs created by automation is a tiny fraction of the jobs being replaced, and not even engineering and science degrees will guarantee a decent job anymore.

One particularly relevant point to me was that the internet itself –  ”the great equaliser” - is a great source of inequality. The new digital jobs being created: eBay seller, blogger, YouTuber, indie game developer, etc… are extremely unequal, with only a tiny number of people actually making a decent living doing these. It’s a winner-takes-all situation, but the platform owner always gets his cut.

The book also sold me on universal basic income, as I don’t see any other way things can turn out well once 30% or more of the population is unemployable through no fault of their own. Fast food and transport industries are upcoming targets for automation, and they currently employ a massive number of people. Those jobs are over, and the economy as we know it can’t function without money in the hands of consumers.

Anyway, I strongly recommend the book, especially if you don’t follow tech news and don’t yet realise how for automation has advanced in recent years. It’s an easy read with clear explanations and is not overly technical or longer than it needs to be. There’s a many more eye-opening examples in there that I haven’t mentioned here.

RIP Flash

As many of you have probably heard by now and started to panic, Adobe has announced they are phasing out Flash by 2020. As ya’ll should know, all of my games are still made in Flash.

Adobe is only discontinuing Flash in browsers, meanwhile it will still run fine as standalone AIR apps on Steam and mobile, so there’s no chance of Flash games suddenly disappearing. And Flash on browsers will still be around til 2020 anyway, so it probably won’t affect EBF5 much. Even if this turns out to be a problem, I can always release free/demo versions of my games on Steam instead.

Adobe has also announced lots of new features for Desktop AIR in the upcoming years, including more resolution options and GPU support. So who knows, maybe EBF5 won’t run like shit once these new features come out!? It would be a miracle!

Either way all this news is a great relief for me. Adobe has been quite quiet about the future of Flash and AIR for a while now, and it’s been driving me crazy. It’s good that they’ve finally revealed their plans. If things go well, I may even keep using Flash after EBF5 and work on some small spin-off games again. I really miss being able to pump a game out in 2 months. I would like to try that again.

Anyway, I’m going on holiday for 2 weeks. Bye.