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Op Ed

Thanks nin.

The PA Report - How Valve “devalued” video games, and why that’s great news for developers and players.
Those seem to be wise words, and gamers are increasingly sensitive to the price of the games they play, but when you look at the data you see that Valve has done something magical: The company has found a way to charge less, and earn more. This isn’t a purely selfish move, as developers also praise the pricing structure of these sales. The issue of game pricing is much more complex, and mysterious, than most are willing to admit.

Wired.com - We Don't Need Game Publishers, Hardware Makers or Retailers.
But something critical has changed. While publishers, retailers and hardware makers might still be adding value, they are no longer required. Using the miracle of the internet, game creators can make videogames — good ones! — and sell them to game players without any involvement from traditional publishers, retailers or hardware makers. And when creators don’t have to put their work through the gauntlet of middlemen, with everybody down the line taking their cut of the profits, they can sell those games much more cheaply.

The PA Report - The ugly side of Kickstarter- the risks in backing game dev campaigns are greater than you think.
Of those projects that do manage to ship, some will be good games and some will be awful, with most winding up somewhere in the middle. This is the reality of game development in the real world, and projects funded by Kickstarter are no different. The unfortunate truth is that many backers of game projects are buying the ability to wait 18 months to play a mediocre game.

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49. Re: Op Ed Apr 20, 2012, 07:44 Dades
 
People are used to being burned by the publishers already. Stop being so bitter that some developers might not need the business model publishers stole from other industries.  
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48. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 20, 2012, 00:07 Beamer
 
Dev wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 19:58:
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
People will realize quickly that the risk of a product not coming out if they don't fund it isn't always worth the reward of what they get for their money, and they'll get stingy.
And yet kickstarter continues to experience explosive growth, year after year.

Yeah, with new people that haven't been burnt.
And I never said it wouldn't grow, I said people would realize they can't throw money at every little thing. If that Pebble watch underdelivers how many of those people plunking down money now do you think would rush to put over $100 down on something again?


 
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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47. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 21:43 nin
 

I thought the pebble looked neat. Not $115-$150 neat, but it's a neat idea.

 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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46. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 21:19 Parallax Abstraction
 
Dev wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 20:05:
I guess its the apple fanboy crowd jumping in.

Man, speaking of a great example of a bubble...
 
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45. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 20:05 Dev
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 12:07:
nin wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:54:
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:51:
I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo.


Speaking of which, have you been following this one? Looks like it just hit 5 million...


Yeah, like I said, those people are absolutely insane...

Creston
WTF?!
And its " the most funded Kickstarter project ever" ???

I mean I can somewhat understand people wanting something to connect to a phone, and its more advanced than any watch I've seen, but that many? I guess its the apple fanboy crowd jumping in.
 
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44. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 19:58 Dev
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
People will realize quickly that the risk of a product not coming out if they don't fund it isn't always worth the reward of what they get for their money, and they'll get stingy.
And yet kickstarter continues to experience explosive growth, year after year.
 
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43. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 18:55 xXBatmanXx
 
nin wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:54:
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:51:
I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo.


Speaking of which, have you been following this one? Looks like it just hit 5 million...


Cool. And they used to make fun of us with our calculator watches! DAMN THEM!
 
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42. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 15:00 eRe4s3r
 
By the way.. I would care to see the design document... if a Kickstarter project does not link to one because it does not HAVE one then the project is doomed to fail. Design documents are what even DEFINES the game, the story, the GUI and gameplay, everything from nook to nail needs to be at least thought through once and written and drawn down. How else would they know how much money they really need to get anywhere?

Equally, when someone says they make Baldurs Gate 3 or a Call of Duty clone with 2 million, I laugh at them.

This is also why Nexus 2 funding failed, they had no idea what to make with the game, no design document, nothing more than a trailer and some general ideas. That simply ain't enough.
 
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41. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 12:50 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 12:05:
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:43:
What I'd like to see is publishers scared back to older days of trying to make quality. Being maybe more like Hollywood - kick out a few wide-aiming games that make huge profits but use those profits to invest in lower cost higher risk games that are designed to be good, not to sell millions.

They're never going to do that. The simple fact that they're beholden to fucking stockholders means they will try to make every game sell Call of Duty numbers. So they'll continue to produce high-value, low-gameplay shit, and many of the gameplayers will continue to buy it, which is fine by me.

Quite frankly, if this works, and Wasteland 2 and SRR become really good games, I don't even WANT publishers to go back into making this type of game, because they've proven time and time again that they'll fuck shit up with their "by committee" approach anyway.

I'll gladly prefund the old-school awesome games, made by devs I can trust, and ignore the publishers for the rest of my life. Other than Bethesda and CD Projekt, there really isn't any big studio anymore that makes anything I'm interested in anyway.

Creston

EA, Ubi and Activision won't, but others probably will.

 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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40. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 12:07 Creston
 
nin wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:54:
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:51:
I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo.


Speaking of which, have you been following this one? Looks like it just hit 5 million...


Yeah, like I said, those people are absolutely insane...

Creston
 
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39. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 12:05 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:43:
What I'd like to see is publishers scared back to older days of trying to make quality. Being maybe more like Hollywood - kick out a few wide-aiming games that make huge profits but use those profits to invest in lower cost higher risk games that are designed to be good, not to sell millions.

They're never going to do that. The simple fact that they're beholden to fucking stockholders means they will try to make every game sell Call of Duty numbers. So they'll continue to produce high-value, low-gameplay shit, and many of the gameplayers will continue to buy it, which is fine by me.

Quite frankly, if this works, and Wasteland 2 and SRR become really good games, I don't even WANT publishers to go back into making this type of game, because they've proven time and time again that they'll fuck shit up with their "by committee" approach anyway.

I'll gladly prefund the old-school awesome games, made by devs I can trust, and ignore the publishers for the rest of my life. Other than Bethesda and CD Projekt, there really isn't any big studio anymore that makes anything I'm interested in anyway.

Creston
 
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38. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 12:05 ASeven
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:51:
I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo. :o

A lot of RPGs and boardgames, physical goods, have been quite successful there. In fact boardgames are more successful there than videogames from what I see.
 
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37. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 12:04 ASeven
 
killer_roach wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 04:05:
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 03:36:
People keep talking about a Kickstarter bubble. I still don't understand how it is a bubble.

The two rules of bubbles, as a finance friend explained them to me:

Bubbles are inherently unstable. What goes up must come down.
Bubbles are inherently insane. They may go up far more before coming down.

At the scale in which they are occurring at present, I don't think they're yet necessarily unstable, which would make the insane part moot.

If we start seeing Kickstarter projects amount to a non-trivial portion of game spending, say, up to a 5-10% level, then maybe we can talk about their instability.

(Personally, I think these Kickstarter projects, in some ways, are really doing what I've been arguing for in terms of game pricing for a long time, but I'll leave that for another time. Only so much econ nerd stuff for one post, you know.)

Agreed.

Also, I would put a third tenet in your bubble definition:

Bubbles are painted as exaggeratedly optimistic and feed on themselves until they burst.

This is human nature, if they see an investment suddenly having a huge ROI then more and more people will start investing in it expecting a high ROI as well, creating an exaggerated sensation of optimism surrounding the bubble (Everything will be alright, everyone will be rich, there's no risks, etc). This is why people warning against them end up being labeled as doom prophets (People don't want a sure thing to end) and why bubbles burst in a seemingly sudden manner (The 2000s dotcom bubble, the 2008 home mortgage bubble). This is why it's rather important to listen with attention to those so called doomsayers, sometimes they're the ones who see things clearly enough and not shrouded by that exaggerated optimism.

When you start seeing people jumping around and excited about a new form of investment with a huge ROI, that may be the beginning of a bubble.

Today the most dangerous bubble is the Grant Bubble and it's a global bubble, making it incredibly dangerous. Governments are subsidizing industries and companies that by the laws of markets should have gone bankrupt (The automotive industry in the US, the banks rescued in the EU, etc). This creates zombie companies that need to be constantly fed because they can no longer stand and survive on their own in an open market and this is creating a bubble of such proportions that when it bursts I fear for this world. A self-contained bubble in a specific country can cause an enormous amount of damage as it is (2008 recession), a global bubble however... It scares the shit out of me and many of my colleagues just to think about it.
 
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36. Re: The risk of failure IS greater than you think. Apr 19, 2012, 11:54 Wowbagger_TIP
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:24:
Wowbagger_TIP wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:19:
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:11:
You're risking $15 per project. Let's say you back 5 projects one month and 3 don't come out, or come out poorly. That's $45 you wasted. Had you simply waited you could have judged the product at completion, rather than at pitch, and saved yourself that money.
No, had you waited (and others done the same), the project would not get funded and there would be no game.


That's not really true. Had I not put a dime into Shadow Run or Wasteland 2 they'd still be equally likely to be there waiting for me in a year or whatever.
Collectively yes, the project may not get funded, but there's no shortage of good games out there - I have dozens in Steam that I bought for $5 and have yet to play. Yes, the two I just pointed out have pedigree, but that Tactical FPS also got funded, with money coming from people here. I could live easily without that. I still haven't played Mount & Blade, which looks awesome and was only $5.
Sure, there's no shortage of good games out there, but that's not what this is about. It's about getting those rather niche games that we really want, but that no publisher will spend the time on. It boggles the mind that nobody has done anything with an IP as rich as Shadowrun (and no the MS game doesn't count b/c it barely even bothered to nod in the direction of the SR universe). So, we end up paying for a team that actually cares about SR, and which has plenty of experience in creating and shipping games, to create it for us. Sounds good to me.

Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:24:
Getting Wasteland 2 is awesome. Most Kickstarter games won't be Wasteland 2, they'll be Bob's Cool Idea & CGI Reel. Plenty of people get their cool ideas onto Steam for $5 without me having to pay before a single line of code is written.
And I don't disagree that people should be smart about what projects they decide to fund. I think the Wasteland 2 and SRR teams will produce at least a decent product. I've seen others that I have much less confidence in. Those I either won't back, or will only chip in the minimum if they seem at least capable of getting something out the door.
 
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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell (I think...)
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35. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:54 nin
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:51:
I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo.


Speaking of which, have you been following this one? Looks like it just hit 5 million...

 
http://store.nin.com/index.php?cPath=10
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34. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:51 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:36:

We're kind of saying the same thing.

I know, but I'm at work, and I'm bored.

I mean business plans and milestones more for physical projects, but games to a lesser extent. As the article Blue linked mentioned, some of these projects are coming from people that haven't released anything that think they can make the best FPS ever for $325k. Well, I'd like to know that they've actually sat and thought about where this money is going and why they feel that is the right amount to ask for. We've all read that Kotaku article about the idiots that offered t-shirts without even bothering to price t-shirts and shipping ahead of time! They offered a perk at a new tier without understanding how much additional money they'd actually get from people jumping to that tier. And it was, I think, for an iPad game, yet they didn't even have iPads to develop on, which is another thing I think people should have known ahead of time.

Right, but that's not something inherently against the Kickstarter model. That's just stupid people giving money to stupid people. I don't think you're ever going to get away from that, no matter what model is funding the (potential) production.

Seeing a budget doesn't make us publishers, it just makes us educated.

Well, to an extent; the thing is, I don't have a clue about game budgets. Is a year a realistic time for Double Fine to make an adventure game from scratch? I'd be doubtful, but Schafer and his guys say they can do it, and they're the ones with experience in the matter.

When Weisman said he needed 400,000 to make a Shadowrun game, I was extremely skeptical, since how on earth can you make a game for 400,000? Then I started thinking that if he makes it through crowd funding, he doesn't need to pay for the 900,000 roaches that work in EA's corporate departments (ie, the marketoids and the lawyers and all those other cocksuckers that are a total zero-sum addition to anything), he doesn't have to pay for the $45M "THIS IS THE NEW SHIT!" marketing budget, and hey, who knows... maybe a dedicated dev really CAN make a game for half a million bucks?

In the end, I trust that those guys love this type of game, and the properties, enough that they are being very realistic.

But again, I'd only ever back a game from a guy that I can trust in such a way. I'd never back a new studio. And maybe people will get burned by these new studios enough that they'll become more careful with who they give money too.


We know that, at the very least, they've given thought to this other than sitting around going "well, there's three of us, and we would need 6 months to do this I think because I can code about 1 line per second, and we're each worth $100k/year, so we should ask for $150k!" That's a project almost doomed to fail. But another project where a guy actually plays the role of project manager and figures out a timeline and milestones and someone (maybe the same guy) thinks about what expenses will come up and does some at least reasonable estimating for all of them has a much better chance of succeeding.

But in the end, I still have to take his word for it. And if that word is from someone I don't know, I'm just not going to give him any money.

It's far more true for the people making physical goods, but still true for people making games.

I'd never kickstart anything except games. People kickstarting physical goods are insane imo.

Creston
 
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33. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:43 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:31:
That's a very good point. As I think about it, I actually hope that's what it turns into. When a dev becomes experienced, and makes games people love, it'd be awesome if they could turn to their fans for funds to make the games the fans want them to make, rather than having to sell out to fucking EA or Activision or their miserable kind.

Shit, that couldn't happen fast enough to suit me. I would have happily paid for Bioware's games in advance, before they sold everything they ever were to fucking EA.

Creston

I still think we'll need central publishers to take the risk. I know I'm in the minority here, but I dig MW3 multiplayer, and a huge part of it being successful comes down to oodles of cash going to polish and, honestly, it being successful (it being successful makes it successful because you're guaranteed a large, diverse multiplayer population.) Marketing, too, but ignore that because while I think it's important everyone agrees it's out of control.

What I'd like to see is publishers scared back to older days of trying to make quality. Being maybe more like Hollywood - kick out a few wide-aiming games that make huge profits but use those profits to invest in lower cost higher risk games that are designed to be good, not to sell millions. There are problems there (mostly in price, as people can afford to see more movies than they play games, and time, in that people often watch 5-10 movies in the same time period they're playing through one game [e.g., if they play Skyrim for 2 months they probably go to the movies, watch HBO or rent DVDs of 5-10 movies in that time.])

I'd really like to see non-public publishers skimming off the top and doing well for themselves but interested in the art, not the profit, which leads to each other if people are smart about it. Gamecock was supposed to be that but Mike Wilson was an idiot and Mike Wilson funded games that were clear losers just so he was funding games.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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32. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:36 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:30:
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:21:
I think Kickstarter kind of relates to being a bubble if you mean the original dot-com bubble. People are throwing lots of money to hopes, dreams and good pitches.


After a few explosions the bar to get money will be higher. Have a great CGI video? Fantastic, whatever. Show me your business plan. Show me why you need $150k, or why you need ONLY $150k. Show me your timelines and your milestones. Show me a prototype. Show me how and where you plan to manufacture. Show me your experience and why I should believe you'll be able to do this.

Cool videos and flowery language won't be enough. But for people that demonstrate ability as well as a cool idea money will still be there.

I would never need to see any of that. I don't give a shit about milestones and prototypes, etc. I care about the guy in charge. Has he delivered great games in the past? Has he been able to deliver multiple games?

This is why I'm still extremely wary of backing Grim Dawn. It's only 18 bucks, but these guys have burned me in the past (and badly.) Fargo and Weisman, otoh, have given me fantastic games in the past.

I'm only speaking for myself, obviously, and I have no idea if there would be many gamers that would want to see like a business plan before they donated money.

And even if they did, that would turn US into the Publisher, and I think that if we let a dev do what they do best, which is make awesome games, the end result will be much the better for it.

I hope so, anyway.

It's funny. Three or four years ago, Valve floated this idea, that fans would pre-fund a game, and I was absolutely vehemently opposed against the idea. ANd now that it's a reality, I'm defending it every chance I get.

(although if Valve tried to Kickstart something, i'd tell them to go to hell. You've got plenty of money, pay for it your fucking selves. Also, there's not really anything Valve can/would make that I'd be dying to play, unlike Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns.)

Creston

We're kind of saying the same thing.


I mean business plans and milestones more for physical projects, but games to a lesser extent. As the article Blue linked mentioned, some of these projects are coming from people that haven't released anything that think they can make the best FPS ever for $325k. Well, I'd like to know that they've actually sat and thought about where this money is going and why they feel that is the right amount to ask for. We've all read that Kotaku article about the idiots that offered t-shirts without even bothering to price t-shirts and shipping ahead of time! They offered a perk at a new tier without understanding how much additional money they'd actually get from people jumping to that tier. And it was, I think, for an iPad game, yet they didn't even have iPads to develop on, which is another thing I think people should have known ahead of time.

Seeing a budget doesn't make us publishers, it just makes us educated. We know that, at the very least, they've given thought to this other than sitting around going "well, there's three of us, and we would need 6 months to do this I think because I can code about 1 line per second, and we're each worth $100k/year, so we should ask for $150k!" That's a project almost doomed to fail. But another project where a guy actually plays the role of project manager and figures out a timeline and milestones and someone (maybe the same guy) thinks about what expenses will come up and does some at least reasonable estimating for all of them has a much better chance of succeeding.

It's far more true for the people making physical goods, but still true for people making games.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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31. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:31 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:29:
Creston wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:23:
First of, the Big Three in the Kickstarters right now (Double Fine, Fargo and Weisman),

I don't think anyone's concerned about those three. All three have released games before. They know what it takes, they know they have the ability, and we know all of this.

It's the other games people are worried about. That Tactical Shooter is a good one. That Cop Warfare game linked to in the article is another excellent one to point out.

Right, which is what I've been saying. Check the guy in charge. What has he done in the past? Don't be snookered into backing something that looks pretty. Go with the name and the team.

And maybe that's what Kickstarter will evolve into for games - famous, proven names making new games free from constraints of people expecting more from them than good games. The unknowns and unprovens won't get much attention or notice and will have to find ways to become names first, which means they have to be less ambitious out the gate, which is probably for the best as ambition is often what kills first projects - people try to bite off more than they can chew.

That's a very good point. As I think about it, I actually hope that's what it turns into. When a dev becomes experienced, and makes games people love, it'd be awesome if they could turn to their fans for funds to make the games the fans want them to make, rather than having to sell out to fucking EA or Activision or their miserable kind.

Shit, that couldn't happen fast enough to suit me. I would have happily paid for Bioware's games in advance, before they sold everything they ever were to fucking EA.

Creston
 
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30. Re: Op Ed Apr 19, 2012, 11:30 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Apr 19, 2012, 11:21:
I think Kickstarter kind of relates to being a bubble if you mean the original dot-com bubble. People are throwing lots of money to hopes, dreams and good pitches.


After a few explosions the bar to get money will be higher. Have a great CGI video? Fantastic, whatever. Show me your business plan. Show me why you need $150k, or why you need ONLY $150k. Show me your timelines and your milestones. Show me a prototype. Show me how and where you plan to manufacture. Show me your experience and why I should believe you'll be able to do this.

Cool videos and flowery language won't be enough. But for people that demonstrate ability as well as a cool idea money will still be there.

I would never need to see any of that. I don't give a shit about milestones and prototypes, etc. I care about the guy in charge. Has he delivered great games in the past? Has he been able to deliver multiple games?

This is why I'm still extremely wary of backing Grim Dawn. It's only 18 bucks, but these guys have burned me in the past (and badly.) Fargo and Weisman, otoh, have given me fantastic games in the past.

I'm only speaking for myself, obviously, and I have no idea if there would be many gamers that would want to see like a business plan before they donated money.

And even if they did, that would turn US into the Publisher, and I think that if we let a dev do what they do best, which is make awesome games, the end result will be much the better for it.

I hope so, anyway.

It's funny. Three or four years ago, Valve floated this idea, that fans would pre-fund a game, and I was absolutely vehemently opposed against the idea. ANd now that it's a reality, I'm defending it every chance I get.

(although if Valve tried to Kickstart something, i'd tell them to go to hell. You've got plenty of money, pay for it your fucking selves. Also, there's not really anything Valve can/would make that I'd be dying to play, unlike Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns.)

Creston
 
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