Sunday, December 26th, 2010
Lizzie found me this amazing present for Christmas:
Sunday, December 26th, 2010
Lizzie found me this amazing present for Christmas:
Monday, December 20th, 2010
I really like Twitter – it’s by far my favourite manifestation of the internet’s almost pathological tendency to create extremely active communities.
As many of you will know, Twitter only allow you to follow 2000 people; this is ostensibly for two reasons:
1.) Technical issues
I don’t know anything about this.
2.) Spam and “community values”
Twitter say that mass following doesn’t necessarily constitute spamming in and of itself, but “If some accounts are aggressively or indiscriminately following hundreds of accounts just to garner attention, it makes Twitter a less-nice place to hang out.”
Once your number of followers goes up, they then allow you to follow more people – there is a ratio involved – they won’t tell you what it is. There is no way to get this limit removed.
Last week, I decided to boost the number of followers we have on Twitter. The most efficient way of doing this is to follow other people. I decided to follow fans of other indie games I liked, because I thought they might be people likely to be interested in us and Frozen Synapse.
So, that doesn’t constitute indiscriminate following, right?
Remember, I really like Twitter. I’ve just started using Tweetdeck to organise the people I follow into sensible groups. For me, following 2000 people is nothing – I like having the general noise of the Twitter community going on constantly – and if I want to focus more specifically on useful content, I just look at my elite “Interesting People” column. I literally get the best of both worlds.
My “mass following” worked – the number of followers we now have has gone up significantly directly due to that behaviour. This is because people chose to follow me back.
I submit that “mass following” is completely legitimate behaviour for an indie game developer. I am really interested in the opinions and lives of people who buy indie games, so I want to follow them. I use an application to effectively deal with the large volume of information this generates.
If they want to follow me back, that’s fantastic! After that point, they can always unfollow or block me if they don’t like one of my updates.
I’m very spam averse, personally, and I am mortified if anyone accuses me of doing it. I try to use our mailing list as little as possible, and when I do I want it to be something directly relevant to the people receiving it. I make the messages as personal as I can, and anyone can unsubscribe instantly or mail me back and talk to a real live person instantly. If someone gives us their email, that is a precious thing because they are investing trust in us, and I want to repay them for that. I take any complaints about the way I use our mailing list very seriously – I have only received two so far in three years of doing this and I have thought long and hard about both, even though those opinions didn’t represent the majority of people on the list.
Also, I always log in to Twitter and submit a spam report for any spambots that I encounter – they genuinely make Twitter a worse place to be.
I was thinking about the morality of my mass following, and then received a tweet and another message from someone who was really glad I followed him, because it brought our game to his attention and he was pleased by that.
The sale we are currently doing (get 30% off Frozen Synapse until Christmas with the coupon code “JINGLE”) was driven a lot by Twitter -we had many more retweets this time and the sale was significantly more effective than the last spot discount we did. I’m very grateful to everyone who chose to retweet the message.
So, what do you think – am I behaving in an unacceptable way? Personally, I believe that Twitter should raise the limit to allow for extensive following, and that it should be dictated only by their own technical limitations. They should, at the very least, notify you when your follower / following ratio allows you to follow more people.
Businesses should communicate with their customers and potential customers, but they should do it in a human way. Twitter is really good for that. I am a person, Paul Taylor, and I talk about the work I do on Frozen Synapse – it’s that simple. If you don’t like me or my opinions, you don’t need to follow me, even if I am following you!
I submit that anything which makes an individual follow more people is better for Twitter as a community. Yes, you need a good way of organising all those people, but applications like Tweetdeck cater perfectly for this.
We’re approaching 1000 followers today, which will be a nice Christmas present! EDIT: We hit this about 2 minutes after I posted this, thanks to some very nice people like LewieP, RomerosSoldier and BrainCandyGames.
If you’re interested in what we have to say, then please follow me – I’m @mode7games
Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Tribes is unique because it’s a first-person shooty game which is not about reactions. You don’t need an ADD teenager’s reaction times to be great at duelling in Tribes, you need to have mastery over your movement. In charge of a jetpack, and generally only vulnerable when on the ground, the game is all about conserving your limited fuel while trying to gain position on your opponent.
Tribes 2 made the incredibly brave decision to make this aspect even more prominent. With more momentum and less power, the second game increased the importance of movement over that of reactions even further. This is why I loved it.
Four years after release, someone released the “Classic” mod for Tribes 2, which bought the Tribes 1 movement and physics into the second game. The community was suddenly split in half.
You need a critical mass of people playing an online game like Tribes to keep it alive. I believe that without the Classic sharding, we would have had that critical mass. As it was, Classic slowly won and those who preferred “vanilla” were driven away. Tribes 2 now exists only as a slightly insane hardcore meta version of it’s earlier self, with the popular modes Cluster and LakRabbit bringing the game ever closer to what it stood apart from originally – totally reliant on reactions.
The death of a multiplayer game you love is a very sad thing. It’s almost like being dumped. No matter how much you yearn to play with it, you can’t. Every few months I get a sudden urge to try and make a good Tribes 2 AI – basically a robotic version of the girl who left me.
One of the reasons I’m attracted to making two-player turn based stuff is that it can’t really die. You don’t need sixteen people in your continent wanting to play at the same time you do. You need one person, anywhere on the planet, and not necessarilly at the same time. It’s amusing that this week I’m working on making the Grand Server able to withstand thousands of simultaneous players (something I hope happens when we get our full Steam release) – the Grand Server was designed from the ground up to keep Frozen Synapse alive with only a few worldwide players.
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
I’m pretty proud of Frozen Synapse’s export to youTube feature – it’s something people like a lot, and over 1400 match videos have been uploaded – but it’s a long way from perfect.
Here’s an example of what the exporter produces at the moment (the comments are all Alex Max though…)
If you make that full screen and you up the quality you can just about see what’s going on, but it doesn’t exactly put FS in the most flattering light.
A couple of months ago I set about producing an algorithm which would attempt to show the match in much more detail, by showing each turn several times and focussing on each event. I called it “Snapcam v1″ and this is what it looked like:
I like some elements of it, but it’s pretty confusing. For instance, Taylor still doesn’t understand it to this day.
I woke up this morning and decided to try and get a nice halfway house at least. I decided to go for an ultra-simple approach which shows the whole match but only zoomed out as far as it needs to be. Here’s the first attempt:
Getting better – certainly better than the standard one. Finally I added some nice preamble and tuned a couple of things:
Hmm… I wonder if the widescreen nature of that will break the blog… do full-screen it and up the quality.
I’m really posting because I want your guys’ opinions. An FS match happens so fast when viewed in real time, and so much is going on every second, that it’s very difficult to convey it in an obvious way. That’s what I was trying to do with Snapcam1, and I kind of feel like I failed. This second attempt is a big improvement, but I can’t help thinking that I should be doing something a bit more exotic.
What do you guys think?
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