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Why Didn't You Buy GSB?

"Why didn’t you buy Gratuitous Space Battles?" is the question posed by Positech's Cliff Harris on Cliffski’s Blog, attempting to open another dialogue with gamers similar to his query a couple of years ago about why games are pirated. Here's a bit: "I am NOT complaining. I am NOT moaning about sales. I am NOT unhappy with sales, I am not whining or anything like it. I just like making games that people enjoy, and I don’t know why the people who didn’t buy it, didn’t buy it. I’d like to know. The answers may well make it a better game for everyone, if I fix those reasons (if they make sense). It will make the game attractive to current fence-sitters, better for current owners, and more sales for me and my cats."

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84. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 08:12 eRe4s3r
 
I would bet that piracy went up with the DLC releases. Each DLC that costs money and adds substantial things devalues the original game.  
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83. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 07:08 Prez
 
I admit it - I'm a Cliffski fanboy!

Ever since I played Rock Band, and it mirrored my own (mostly terrible) real life rock band experiences almost perfectly, I've assumed that Cliff has mystical powers and is to be worshiped as a god.

This comment was edited on Jun 7, 2010, 07:23.
 
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82. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 06:49 Golwar
 
Prez wrote on Jun 7, 2010, 05:13:
And by the way, I LOVE the name!

You, dear sir, disgust me in your shameless attempt to suck up!
 
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81. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 05:13 Prez
 
After playing Sins of a Solar Empire, and my favorite space operas of all time, Homeworld, HW Cataclysm, and HW 2, (those of you who said they sucked- you're dead to me! ) I initially read the description of GSB and thought that it sounded too 'hands-off' for me as well. That and the price kept me away. When I saw the sale, I initially passed over it, but when I thought about it, I decided to buy, if only to support someone who I consider a working-class indie hero who does his damnedest to do right by PC gamers.

I initially felt that I wouldn't enjoy them once I began to play, but like someone else here, I played longer and started to 'get' it. The game is in the tinkering and the tweaking; the poring over ship parts and stats and deciding how to build your armada. If you think about it, it's kind of like Sim City in that way. The planning and the building IS the game - the payoff is just getting to see your creations in action. I understand that this is not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it is more a case of what kind of gamer you are than whether GSB design is sound or not.

And by the way, I LOVE the name!
 
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80. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 02:59 [THA] Hamst3r
 
GSB seems like a cool idea, but it doesn't seem like the kind of game I would play much. Same with Flotilla and Sins of a Solar Empire. Dunno though, I might still get them when I run out of other things to play.  
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79. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 02:34 BobBob
 
MoreLuckThanSkill wrote on Jun 6, 2010, 21:48:
Obvious answer, I didn't buy this game because it felt like it would have been many times more enjoyable to actually CONTROL the ships in battle. Nice graphics but too much sitting back and watching for me, even with the ship design.

The AI seems mildly retarded; cruisers/frigates chasing after a lone fighter even though an enemy cruiser is about as far away, and supposedly much higher on the priority slider.

EDIT: Yes, the above is all based on the Steam downloaded demo.

That sums it up pretty well.
 
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78. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 7, 2010, 00:28 Sepharo
 
DG wrote on Jun 5, 2010, 17:03:
"buy local" thing, I suppose.
"steal foreign"
 
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77. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 23:29 Reactor
 
Those are great comments about DLC. That mostly sums it up for me.

Sometimes I personally feel there needs to be more time between the initial game release and extra content. I want to savour my initial purchase for a while, without feeling as though I'm missing out on what everyone else is talking about. That's why I say the DLC arrived too fast. One minute I'm looking at the normal price, and the next I'm looking at it being $6 higher, so I can talk about the game on par with everyone else.

Also, I never did feel like much (or any) effort was made with the game to say thanks to people for getting stuck into a new ip. How about some free content for people who'd been testing the game in the community? That kind of stuff seems to have all but replaced by DLC these days, which feels a little off. I don't know if that would have been as financially beneficial to you cliffski, but goodwill certainly has lasting ramifications. It's a thought, anyway.
 
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76. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 21:48 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
Obvious answer, I didn't buy this game because it felt like it would have been many times more enjoyable to actually CONTROL the ships in battle. Nice graphics but too much sitting back and watching for me, even with the ship design.

The AI seems mildly retarded; cruisers/frigates chasing after a lone fighter even though an enemy cruiser is about as far away, and supposedly much higher on the priority slider.

EDIT: Yes, the above is all based on the Steam downloaded demo.
 
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75. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 19:59 Prez
 
My answer to the DLC fad is simple: wait until there's enough of it that it will get bundled in a single pack, and, if the value is there, treat it as if you were buying an expansion. As is usually the case the DLC will probably be given away in the form of a "complete edition", "ultimate edition", or whatever after some time, and said editions routinely go on sale soon after.

I paid less for GSB "Complete" than just the main game would have cost me on a non-sale day. I hate, hate, HATE that DLC micro-transactions have taken the place of proper expansions, but the protection against getting fleeced is, as always, being a smart, patient consumer.
 
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74. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 19:14 Golwar
 
cliffski wrote on Jun 6, 2010, 16:26:

The responses are interesting. Some I expected (wanting direct control, wanting it cheaper) but I'm surprised that so many people hate the mere existence of DLC enough for them to not buy a game. The DLC is additional and optional, and none of it was worked on until after the game had shipped and been patched and improved already. Maybe its impossible to swim against the bad tide of PR for mainstream DLC?

In financial terms, DLC makes financial sense. I personally like it in games.(I wouldnt do it if I didn't, regardless of money), but the reason its no common is that people buy DLC, and buy it in droves.

I don't know about others, but for me there are forms of DLC that I could accept. A clear no go is first day DLC, but I believe you that it didn't happen this way in your case.

The other side that annoys about DLC is the price point. When several DLC costs as much (if not more) than a full game, I can't feel anything else than robbed.
Keep in mind that many of us gamers are collectors, we grab steam sales and good retail deals - maybe more then we'll ever be able to play. So lets imagine this collector type seeing your game, costing 50 bucks to be complete. And what kind of collector would be happy with owning only parts?

So my solution as a developer would be to do 2 sales.
1. The main game.
2. All DLC gathered in one bundle at one fair price.

An example: You sell the game for $20, the first DLC for $5. When you release the second DLC you bundle both and sell the package for $7 while owners of the first DLC would only pay the difference to gain both. The third DLC would be 8 bucks and so on. I guess I would set an upper limit at $10.

The logic behind this is rather simple and similar to Valve's TF2 patching. You improve the game further and further and gain your reward by increased basic sales, instead of wearing out your fanbase with imho overpriced hangover products.
For me this would be somethign entirely different if I see 4-5 races for $5 each or all together for 10 (with the option of more coming for free due the upper limit). Hate or Love, it's sometimes so simple. I hope my comment was in any way helpful for you cliffski.
 
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73. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 17:19 Ray Marden
 
My overall issues with the price are what other titles, particularly big studio releases, are going for. Just today, now that Amazon is offering Demon's Souls for $29.99 (which appears to be a new price set by Atlus?,) I just bought it for a psychological-equivalent of $9.99. Mind you, that's $20 coupon from previously purchasing SMG2, lack of any sales tax from being purchased online and my state of residence, and free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime for an "effective" out of pocket purchase of $9.99.

Looking directly at the DLC, it wasn't an outright anti-DLC reaction, but skepticism stemming from how the overall industry has adopted DLC. Obviously, I take the approach that DLC is not just a piecemeal release of a larger game (as in something that is 20% of a normal game is 20% of its normal price) or a classic "expansion pack, but a way to nickel and dime the community (10% of a normal game for 20% of its normal price, dropping features from the full game, but maintaining the full purchase price, etc.)

  • If the game is $23, are the $6 expansion packs going to offer 1/4 of the features of the new game?

  • Is this an older game? I don't know either way, but with three expansions, I would presume so. Am I getting a discount on buying this older game?

  • What if I really, really like this game? I'm still looking at all of these being parts of GSB and not GSB2, GSB3, etc. Under that mentality, if I want to buy everything, what is my real cost? That's where that $41 price tag comes up and again faces competition against the other titles I previously mentioned.

  • There is huge gray area, but again, I find the initial information lacking, especially from my previously established perspective of uninterest. I have no doubt I can hunt down information, but I need to be sold on the game before I do that. With really only knowing there are three expansions, what do they offer? Are they new ships? New gameplay? Bug fixes?

  • This is admittedly a double-edged sword and is again a direct result of my frustration with how DLC has been handled by the industry. If you tell me the three expansions are nothing new with regards to game content (essentially map packs,) why do I need them? If I just play the main game enough, won't that be good enough? If you tell me that these expansions do, in fact, offer up completely different game experiences, this ties back into my previous points. I take that as that gutted game is really $23 and the real, full game is actually $41.

  • Let's say neither case is true and it's the perfect combination of all things...which I immediately disbelieve given my feeling of being screwed by companies like BioWare ($7 for 20 minutes of gameplay? 30 minutes if you scan planets? That sucks.) This can be (is) completely unfair to you, but is the reality of how my DLC experiences have shaped my perspective.


  • Needless to say, a lot of it is psychology. But you know what, so are a lot of games. Do this...to get the next item. Spend the money...to get this improved upgrade. Grind this out...to have access to this one thing. Obviously, the immediate and logical argument is the "It's optional" argument, but we are - or at least I am - almost programmed to try and get everything. I don't have to do those side quests. I don't have to rescue that person. I don't have to get the upgrades. I don't need to go for the platinum rating. But there are various reasons why I should - it's a core component of most/many games. At least some part of me wants the carrot dangling at the end of the stick...

    And let it be clear that my issues with the gameplay and the pricing are almost two separate things. Admittedly, one can trump the other in certain cases, but only when ridiculously lopsidded. Looking solely at pricing, A $15 game with $5 expansions and a $25 premium package just fit a lot better with me. But obviously that's a decrease in pricing which is a negative to you. This is a tangental item, but I find it quite interesting to see how the "Pay what you want" promotions perform when factoring in my above neurosi...er...I mean pyschology.

    But again, I'm hardly the intended demographic so disregard this in full.
    Play to your market. Improve the game, but don't drastically change what it is.
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    72. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 16:26  cliffski 
     
    ReverendTed wrote on Jun 6, 2010, 15:23:
    So, Cliffski,

    Are you getting the response you expected?
    Are you getting the response you hoped for?

    (It's great to see you interacting directly and honestly with the community.)

    The responses are interesting. Some I expected (wanting direct control, wanting it cheaper) but I'm surprised that so many people hate the mere existence of DLC enough for them to not buy a game. The DLC is additional and optional, and none of it was worked on until after the game had shipped and been patched and improved already. Maybe its impossible to swim against the bad tide of PR for mainstream DLC?

    In financial terms, DLC makes financial sense. I personally like it in games.(I wouldnt do it if I didn't, regardless of money), but the reason its no common is that people buy DLC, and buy it in droves.
     
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    71. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 15:48 wtf_man
     
    No disrespect intended, Cliffski... but I'm just not into RTS type games, which all of your games seem to be.

    I am aware, that as a individual indie developer, you don't have the resources to make a Shooter or RPG.

    If you try your hand at a GOOD adventure game (Like Monkey Island or Grim Fandango "Good" (lots of humor, etc.)) I'd be happy to check it out / support it. However, Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer are big shoes to fill for that genre.... so you'd have your work cut out for you... that is, if you even have the interest in that genre.

    The Sam and Max series just doesn't cut it for me... so there is a real need for someone to fill Ron and Tim's shoes. While Grim Fandango's "3D" worked ok for that game... I actually prefer the older Monkey Island Style (especially the newly updated graphics versions) You wouldn't have to put in voice-overs, though. I guess my point is... that seems like a doable project within the scope of your resources.

    Cheers and keep up the good work!
     
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    70. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 15:23 ReverendTed
     
    So, Cliffski,

    Are you getting the response you expected?
    Are you getting the response you hoped for?

    (It's great to see you interacting directly and honestly with the community.)
     
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    69. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 14:31 RenownWolf
     
    I've been reading along, rather interested in the discussion the guys at indiegamer will have about it all.

    Interesting way to gather data about the game here Cliffski, ingenius =) Trying to target the scifi space market for our company at the moment and the things I've seen here are excellent to prove sometimes an indie can just ask.

    On your questions, I played the demo. Truth is I'm a action strategy person, rather then a long termer, so I passed. Not my style of the strategy genre.

    One thing that does stand out, is what was mentioned about the min specs listed on the site. I have a P4 1.6ghz 512mb ram with a old Geforce in it I'll test it on and tell you if it's playable if that helps. At least then you can say that it will run on that. I'll even test it on my netbook (1.66ghz Atom 450 with the intel graphics, 1gig ram, win7 starter).

    Again, well done on asking the questions. And to everybody answered, thanks for showing you're willing to answer the questions without getting aggressive and hateful. *gets tearful* This is why I love some of the gaming community =D
     
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    68. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 13:28  cliffski 
     
    Stanly Manly wrote on Jun 6, 2010, 12:48:
    Cliffski,

    Just curious if you are taking into consideration any of the suggestions here, and if so, which ones?

    yup, I've read all of them. I'm so sad I even have a spreadsheet set up saying what got mentioned the most etc.
    I think one of the clearest complaints is that the game is crap at giving you feedback on what works and what doesn't and explaining what to chosoe for each scenario. This is true, and I am wondering if its cost effective to spend time on the game at this stage to fix that.

    Some of the feedback will be out of date though. The game improved massively between initial beta and the current version/demo.
     
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    67. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 12:48 Stanly Manly
     
    Cliffski,

    Just curious if you are taking into consideration any of the suggestions here, and if so, which ones?
     
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    66. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 11:06 TychoCelchuuu
     
    I didn't buy it because I don't like tower defense style games. Sitting back and watching my planning unfold is fine in short spurts (wego turn based games) but over a longer period it's not my cup of tea.

    Interesting to see people who didn't buy it because of the name or because it looked like another game they don't like or because the website is bad or something. It seems to me that the amount of fun someone will have playing a game has nothing to do with any of that.
     
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    65. Re: Why Didn't You Buy GSB? Jun 6, 2010, 10:00 ReverendTed
     
    Aganazer wrote on Jun 6, 2010, 09:23:
    I gotta laugh at the folks that want to control the battle. If it were like that then GSB would have been nothing other than a badly designed and shallow RTS.
    I find this quote humorous, because it seems to boil down to: "If this game had more features, it'd be badly designed and shallow."

    (For the record, I disagree.)
     
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