Matt chats Twisted Metal and Warhawk with code monkey Jay Barnson

Matt Barton's picture

This week debuts my new interview series with the Rampant Coyote, aka Jay Barnson. You probably know Jay from his blog and game site, as well his fantastic indie CRPG Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon, which yours truly helped to be beta test. In this segment we talk about Jay's extensive industry background, which includes some projects you've probably heard of if you owned a PS1--Twisted Metal and Warhawk! Enjoy.

As always, you can download the video. This week also marks the beginning of my Subscriber Goal of 7,000 subs by the end of the year. As of this writing, I'm at 6,256, so quite a bit of work left to go. If you have a forum, blog, Reddit, Twitter account, or WHATEVER, please post there about your favorite episodes and try to spread the word so we can grow our community into a force to be reckoned with! Thanks!

Comments

Rowdy Rob
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Nice job, Matt.

Now I want to play Frayed Knights, as well as Twisted Metal and Warhawk! Geez, too many games, not enough hours in a day....

Jay Barnson seemed like he was just getting started with the "good stuff" when suddenly, the episode ended. Can't wait until next week's episode!

I thought "Frayed Knights" WAS on Steam, but a quick search seems to indicate that I was mistaken. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be on Steam, considering the other old-school-style CRPG's that are on there (and some rather primitive 8-bit-looking ones at that). I'm sure it would be a boon to "Rampant Coyote" if it was made available!

Nathaniel Tolbert
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While it would be incredible

While it would be incredible to see Frayed knights on Steam, it might be that he cannot afford the % pulled by steam to have his product showcased. I have heard in articles that while steam can provide some good coverage, but their sales can almost break indie game companies. I now know where I can purchase the game from the creator, so when I have the money that is exactly what I am going to do.

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Rampant Coyote (not verified)
Not my choice

Steam is not an open platform. You can't just "sell your game" on Steam, any more than you can set up a stand in the middle of Wal*Mart and start selling your homemade kitchen gadgets. They refuse most indie games submitted to them... and it's often mind-boggling which ones they accept and which ones they reject, because it often seems random.

Anyway, I did submit it, and was rejected. Steam's policy is not to comment on why games were rejected, so I don't know why, I just know I'm in some pretty good company. But I also knew better than to plan on Steam ... if your business plan requires the cooperation of a major entity... well, it's kinda like that scene in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure where they are trying to figure out how to get Eddie Van Halen to play for them to make a righteous video...

Nathaniel Tolbert
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That sucks that Steam can be like that.

I know it isn't much, but I played the demo and I greatly enjoyed it. I am going to talk about it in the next podcast my friends and I do. I know that isn't much, but it will reach some people that may not have heard of it. And I fully intend to buy it once I'm back on my feet after this Kidney failure fiasco and I am working again.

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Rowdy Rob
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Steam is huge

I admit I only go to Steam or GoG for my digital games. I did get a couple of digital games from Amazon, but if I'm not mistaken they were freebies (Jewel Quest II was one of them).

While there are alternative digital distribution routes (like direct sales, what Rampant Coyote is doing already), Steam really puts these indie games on the map.

I thing GoG.com would be a great fit for "Frayed Knights," considering the type of customer base they have, but R.C. would probably have to drop the asking price to $10 or less to get customers there. Volume sales might make up for the lowered profit margin. But GoG seems to be going towards a more modern games distribution strategy, so this might be a good time for Rampant Coyote to get in on the ground floor. I dunno, just some thoughts.

Minecraft has been able to be HUGELY successful without Steam, so there's always a chance to make decent money going your own path.

Rampant Coyote (not verified)
Direct Distribution

I think these are all great opportunities, and I'm of course attempting to pursue as many of them as makes sense, at whatever price makes sense for my distribution options. Right now the game is priced appropriately for the niche I can reach. At least it's in the general window. I'm going to always go direct distribution as my primary emphasis - perhaps not my primary source of revenue, but it will always be my focus. There are several other examples of companies doing quite well doing this (besides Mojang), but you don't hear much about 'em. They are quietly raking in the dough, have their own customer base, slowly expand, don't make a huge splash, but slowly and continually grow.

I think any indie should also do the same. "Mind your own business," first and foremost. Not to neglect these other opportunities, but to make sure you are still going to be able to keep making games when the squeeze comes. We already have historical precedents to go by. Like the casual portals. A lot of indies went casual in the early part of last decade, and did extremely well by the portals, to the exclusion of their own business. And then, when the casual portals got into the price war, they discovered - lo and behold - that the portals really weren't concerned about the individual developers, but in their own bottom line. A lot of indies got crushed when they discovered that they'd been commoditized.

Ditto for the mainstream games biz - it's exactly the same story. That's why independent (I specify independent rather than "indie" - for me the difference is pretty pronounced, if occasionally blurry) studios have such a hard time of it and often disappear and are forgotten quickly after a flurry of posts about layoffs at Gamasutra. When you are just the developer, especially, and don't even own the IP rights to the hit games you created, you are completely disposable.

I suspect history will repeat itself with Steam, Impulse (now GameStop Online, I guess), etc. It's inevitable, IMO. Right now we're in the gold rush stage. I don't think it will be too long... a year, two?... where things are going to start getting nasty there, too. If they aren't already. Steam has already trained its customers never to buy a game at full price. It's been great for them in the short term, because they can offer temporary, steep discounts and generate a feeding frenzy. But that's becoming an expectation. I tend do buy all my games during their holiday sales now, and almost (almost) never buy a game through them the rest of the year. I think that's going to bite them - and more importantly, game developers - in the long run. Just as it did with the casual portals.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
maybe
Rampant Coyote wrote:

I suspect history will repeat itself with Steam, Impulse (now GameStop Online, I guess), etc. It's inevitable, IMO. Right now we're in the gold rush stage. I don't think it will be too long... a year, two?... where things are going to start getting nasty there, too. If they aren't already. Steam has already trained its customers never to buy a game at full price. It's been great for them in the short term, because they can offer temporary, steep discounts and generate a feeding frenzy. But that's becoming an expectation. I tend do buy all my games during their holiday sales now, and almost (almost) never buy a game through them the rest of the year. I think that's going to bite them - and more importantly, game developers - in the long run. Just as it did with the casual portals.

While i agree with the fact we "expect" great deals from steam.. i dont think the sales hurt full price sales. Most (steam does release sales figures) games sell at full prices on steam as well as in stores when they are released. The big difference is when shelf space is limited in stores games get shuffled back and forgot.. a Sale on steam brings them back to the limelight and extends sales. I DO think theose "fence" games my not benifit from it. The ones your not sure you want, dont feel like bying at full price, you wait. SO i would suspect it does hurt sales on those. I'm not 100% sure but I belive i read that Oblivion actually sold more units on steam years after its release then it did in stores when it was new. I seem to rember them saying that at $19 it made them more profit then it did at $49 in stores when it was released by volume.

Where i do see the problem is having 10 'alwasy on" download services boggin my PC down, sendign crap back to the owners about my gaming.. while i could care less about them knowing i play XXX game alot.. I have no interest in more than one doing it.. I DO THINK all games should be on all services so we can pick which we want to use..

Rampant Coyote (not verified)
All Games on All Services...

I don't think that's very likely. There's no way Steam could keep up. It would be like the iPhone market, where there's a new game released approximately every five minutes, and a lot of great games get buried before anyone even has a chance to discover them.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
agreed!
Rampant Coyote wrote:

I don't think that's very likely. There's no way Steam could keep up. It would be like the iPhone market, where there's a new game released approximately every five minutes, and a lot of great games get buried before anyone even has a chance to discover them.

I know, i know.. one can dream cant he :)

Nathaniel Tolbert
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Joined: 11/06/2010
Fascinating...

That was an incredibly interesting interview. I must say I didn't go into this episode with much enthusiasm, but it kept me rooted to my chair until it was done. I was fascinated with his talk about coding and the process of doing design for an indie game. If I had money I would buy his Frayed Knights game right now because I miss the old Turn based rpg games. Excellent interview I am actually impatient to see the next part of his interview. Oh, and I have already subscribed to Matt-Chat, I did when I first found the show about a year or so ago.

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