November 2023 PCG Article Links and Discussion

Page 3 - Love gaming? Join the PC Gamer community to share that passion with gamers all around the world!
Can you afford to make, market and localize your game without financial help?

Again going from my experiences with the sisters, I would say financial help could be the easiest for an indie to raise on their own—friends, family, maybe an angel investor, then followed by reinvesting revenue. Marketing is the big gorilla, very few devs have mkt skills or knowledge kept up-to-date in a very dynamic marketplace.

As you say, getting product on shelf isn't a problem these days. But that's got a major downside, in that a million other devs can also do it these days. Iow, barrier to entry is low.

Today's major issue is 'discoverability'. How are potential customers going to hear/see your product when it's launched alongside anywhere between dozens [games] and thousands [books] that DAY? That's where pubs earn their oats these days.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pifanjr

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
Again going from my experiences with the sisters, I would say financial help could be the easiest for an indie to raise on their own—
I could be wrong, but I think you are talking about tiny teams/solo developers here. There are a lot of small developers that have too many employees to easily raise money.

Personally, I think nothing is easier than marketing right now. Make a demo and a few posts on reddit. Maybe go to PAX. Very few publishers do really anything of note for marketing these days. Half the time all they seem to do are press releases that are then ignored by the press. The games end up being stealth released. A motivated developer is, IMO, far more likely to do a good job of marketing their own product. Plus, everyone knows how to do traditional marketing. We are bombarded by commercials from birth.

*****


Solo developer making mad cash. Love it. When it's November and you are currently outselling Call of Duty, you know your life is changing.
 
I think you are talking about tiny teams/solo developers here

Mostly. Larger groups would fall in the reinvesting model, but of course there's a timing issue there too, that's a slower burn and requires confidence in the long-term prospects of your game.

I think nothing is easier than marketing right now

I can't speak for game pubs, so maybe your examples are all they do—if so, they suck. We do a lot of marketing in our industry, and almost all of it is unseen by our clients or the public. In our industry, nobody cares who the publisher is, so our clients do the visible stuff—with our guidance and resources while new.

A motivated developer is, IMO, far more likely to do a good job of marketing their own product

Absolutely, I completely agree, and that applies to any product sector—for the very limited visible portion of marketing. Hearing a farmer tell about caressing his carrots and singing his spuds to sleep is so much more powerful than Walmart's 'Come see our new fresh stuff' :)

everyone knows how to do traditional marketing. We are bombarded by commercials from birth.

:D
 

I disagree that every single player RPG should have free respecs. I think respecs being limited and having a cost have a similar function as, for example, inventory carry weight: it's a way for developers to indicate to players not to spend too much time doing stuff that isn't fun, because of the tendency of players to optimize the fun out of their game. In Skyrim you're not supposed to go around picking up every loose item you come across, it's not part of the intended game design, but there are definitely players who would do that just for the little bit of extra gold they could get out of it. Similarly, if you can respec at any time without any cost, the optimal way to play becomes to respec before each and every fight to pick the perfect perks/skills/attributes, making the game much more tedious. Developers would then have to choose whether to balance the game assuming all players respec before every fight or risk fights be far too easy for the players who do choose to respec every time.

For example, RPGs often have perks/abilities/skills that do extra damage against a certain type of enemy. However, if you can respec whenever you want, developers will have to assume that players are going to take that specific skill every time they encounter that specific enemy type, at which point you might as well not include the ability at all and just make that enemy type slightly weaker. You could make speccing characters before each fight a major gameplay mechanic of course, but you don't want to do that for every RPG.

Instead of free respecs, I would prefer an (unlockable) option for an advanced/accelerated start to help with the fact that playthroughs often take far too long to do one with every build. Let me skip the (often boring) start of the game and give me some levels for free so I can try out different builds. The more options available for fine tuning your progress for the advanced start the better.

Of course, talking about options, it wouldn't hurt if single-player games would give you the option at the start of the game to allow free respecs, for those players who do prefer to play that way.

EDIT: One more thought: if you discover halfway through the game that your character build is useless, the game has (probably) done a poor job of explaining how to properly build a character. It shouldn't be a matter of trial and error, where the trial period takes dozens of hours and the consequence is starting from scratch. Allowing respecs would just be a bandaid, not a proper solution.
 
Last edited:

I disagree that every single player RPG should have free respecs. I think respecs being limited and having a cost have a similar function as, for example, inventory carry weight: it's a way for developers to indicate to players not to spend too much time doing stuff that isn't fun, because of the tendency of players to optimize the fun out of their game. In Skyrim you're not supposed to go around picking up every loose item you come across, it's not part of the intended game design, but there are definitely players who would do that just for the little bit of extra gold they could get out of it. Similarly, if you can respec at any time without any cost, the optimal way to play becomes to respec before each and every fight to pick the perfect perks/skills/attributes, making the game much more tedious. Developers would then have to choose whether to balance the game assuming all players respec before every fight or risk fights be far too easy for the players who do choose to respec every time.

For example, RPGs often have perks/abilities/skills that do extra damage against a certain type of enemy. However, if you can respec whenever you want, developers will have to assume that players are going to take that specific skill every time they encounter that specific enemy type, at which point you might as well not include the ability at all and just make that enemy type slightly weaker. You could make speccing characters before each fight a major gameplay mechanic of course, but you don't want to do that for every RPG.

Instead of free respecs, I would prefer an (unlockable) option for an advanced/accelerated start to help with the fact that playthroughs often take far too long to do one with every build. Let me skip the (often boring) start of the game and give me some levels for free so I can try out different builds. The more options available for fine tuning your progress for the advanced start the better.

Of course, talking about options, it wouldn't hurt if single-player games would give you the option at the start of the game to allow free respecs, for those players who do prefer to play that way.

EDIT: One more thought: if you discover halfway through the game that your character build is useless, the game has (probably) done a poor job of explaining how to properly build a character. It shouldn't be a matter of trial and error, where the trial period takes dozens of hours and the consequence is starting from scratch. Allowing respecs would just be a bandaid, not a proper solution.
Nice post, good points.

I dont think every game would benefit from infinite respecs either, I'd say its a game by game thing. It worked in Baldurs Gate 3, because on normal difficulty the game was balanced so that a wide range of builds could win fights with the right tactics and use of items. Must have taken a lot of tweaking to get the balance as fine as they did. (I know you technically had to pay Withers but it was basically nothing by end game).

Respeccing before every fight just wouldnt occur to me in any game I can think of, but if a fight was challenging and taking multiple attempts with the options I had then different approaches might include respeccing if available. If a game was then forcing me to respec before every fight, either I'm bad at the game, the game is designed that way and its part of the fun, or its a bad game :D

Good point that limits like encumberance are there to stop players going off the deep end, I hadnt really thought about it like that.
 
Nice post, good points.

I dont think every game would benefit from infinite respecs either, I'd say its a game by game thing. It worked in Baldurs Gate 3, because on normal difficulty the game was balanced so that a wide range of builds could win fights with the right tactics and use of items. Must have taken a lot of tweaking to get the balance as fine as they did. (I know you technically had to pay Withers but it was basically nothing by end game).
I think the fact that you have to go to a specific character and pay a cost (even a trivial one) does communicate to players that they are expected not to respec too often. If it was possible to respec at the start of a fight for free with the press of a single button I think a lot more players would be respeccing, even if it isn't necessary to beat the game.
Good point that limits like encumberance are there to stop players going off the deep end, I hadnt really thought about it like that.
I mean, it's obviously not to make the game more realistic, the limit is far too high for that for most RPGs. It's also too high to really force the player to do careful resource management in most cases. I do think one very major factor is that it prevents players from overfilling their inventory to the point the inventory UI becomes unusable. Skyrim's default inventory UI is already pretty mediocre when dealing with the amount of items you can carry with an encumbrance limit, it would be almost unusable if there was no limit at all (for players that do not keep their inventory clean by themselves).
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
EDIT: One more thought: if you discover halfway through the game that your character build is useless, the game has (probably) done a poor job of explaining how to properly build a character. It shouldn't be a matter of trial and error, where the trial period takes dozens of hours and the consequence is starting from scratch. Allowing respecs would just be a bandaid, not a proper solution.
That's hard to do sometimes. As you've mentioned, some skills are better against certain enemies. Maybe there are some thrown weapon skills that help fighters deal with flying enemies. However, when you're picking out your skills, how are you supposed to know whether there are a lot of flying enemies in your future? If hordes of flying enemies will only show up on one of two paths you can take, even the developers won't know how often you'll need that skill. Or perhaps a bunch of enemies you do know about get the ability to fly after some plot twist in the story, so the devs are going to have to do something tricky to convince you to take the anti-flier skills without giving away the twist.

For me, though, I don't care either way. I'll use the respecs in moderation, just like I always have.
 
That's hard to do sometimes. As you've mentioned, some skills are better against certain enemies. Maybe there are some thrown weapon skills that help fighters deal with flying enemies. However, when you're picking out your skills, how are you supposed to know whether there are a lot of flying enemies in your future? If hordes of flying enemies will only show up on one of two paths you can take, even the developers won't know how often you'll need that skill. Or perhaps a bunch of enemies you do know about get the ability to fly after some plot twist in the story, so the devs are going to have to do something tricky to convince you to take the anti-flier skills without giving away the twist.

For me, though, I don't care either way. I'll use the respecs in moderation, just like I always have.

If a game gives you a choice but doesn't give you the information to make an informed choice, you're not really making a choice, you're making a guess. There's plenty of ways to foreshadow necessary information, from little clues given by NPCs to loading screen tips to unlocking new items in shops that counter specific mechanics to the naming of locations/enemies. You can even use the placement of skills in the skill tree as an indicator of how important that skill might be. However, the easiest way is to introduce any new mechanics slowly. Don't just suddenly make all enemies flying, just mix in a few flying units with the regular enemies or have a single (weakened) flying unit show up for players to get used to them first, allowing them to adapt their build if necessary.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
If a game gives you a choice but doesn't give you the information to make an informed choice, you're not really making a choice, you're making a guess.
Yeah, we get those a LOT in the early parts of RPGs. Want a druid? That'll be great - if you spend a lot of time in the woods. If it turns out the adventure takes place mostly in cities and deep underground, not so much. How do you know which is coming? Errr.... well, maybe look at the "box" art?
There's plenty of ways to foreshadow necessary information, from little clues given by NPCs to loading screen tips to unlocking new items in shops that counter specific mechanics to the naming of locations/enemies. You can even use the placement of skills in the skill tree as an indicator of how important that skill might be. However, the easiest way is to introduce any new mechanics slowly. Don't just suddenly make all enemies flying, just mix in a few flying units with the regular enemies or have a single (weakened) flying unit show up for players to get used to them first, allowing them to adapt their build if necessary.
That would be the hard part, especially if you want to really surprise the player. If you start tossing foreshadowing and whatnot in there, you won't surprise the player much. It can still be done, but surprising the player without killing the poor schmuck off isn't an easy balance to pull off.

P.S. That reminds me of some old JRPGs where you would go to a new area and find all sorts of items that protect you from fire plus one weapon per character that does cold damage. Lo and behold, the boss spit fire and took extra damage from cold! Or, in more modern times, making sure your health potions and ammo were topped off before sending you into a big room.
 
That would be the hard part, especially if you want to really surprise the player. If you start tossing foreshadowing and whatnot in there, you won't surprise the player much. It can still be done, but surprising the player without killing the poor schmuck off isn't an easy balance to pull off.

If you really do want to surprise the player, at least make sure they don't lose a lot of progress when they die to your surprise. Right before such an encounter would be the perfect place to give the option for a (partial?) respec, or at least a shop to switch out equipment.

P.S. That reminds me of some old JRPGs where you would go to a new area and find all sorts of items that protect you from fire plus one weapon per character that does cold damage. Lo and behold, the boss spit fire and took extra damage from cold! Or, in more modern times, making sure your health potions and ammo were topped off before sending you into a big room.

Exactly. Another thing that came to my mind was the sudden appearance of antidote potions in shops right before the poison enemies show up.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor

Kind of interesting stats:
13% on Xbox, 20% on PS5, and 68% on PC

And on PC*
87% Steam, 10% GoG, 3% Epic

*Warning. I used Copilot extensively to get the Steam/Epic numbers. The only one explicitly stated by CDPR was the GoG number, so take this with a grain of salt. Copilot is not 100 percent accurate, I've found. Since there's more info to be found about Steam, I got Copilot to grudgingly estimate Steam sales based on various information including from SteamDB, and I just assumed the rest came from Epic, although I know some people use the Windows store.

@Pifanjr while I wouldn't even bet a dollar that these numbers were accurate, I thought you might find it interesting since we were discussing Epic Store sales recently.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
@Pifanjr in a bit more rosy projection for Epic, using readily available numbers it would appear that Epic has sold 15 percent of PC copies of Satisfactory. Of course, it was an exclusive for a year, so that helped it a bit. I found it impossible to estimate the Epic sales after the game hit Steam.

Okay, I'll stop reviving old conversations now :) That article just sent me down the rabbit's hole.
 

Kind of interesting stats:
13% on Xbox, 20% on PS5, and 68% on PC

And on PC*
87% Steam, 10% GoG, 3% Epic

*Warning. I used Copilot extensively to get the Steam/Epic numbers. The only one explicitly stated by CDPR was the GoG number, so take this with a grain of salt. Copilot is not 100 percent accurate, I've found. Since there's more info to be found about Steam, I got Copilot to grudgingly estimate Steam sales based on various information including from SteamDB, and I just assumed the rest came from Epic, although I know some people use the Windows store.

@Pifanjr while I wouldn't even bet a dollar that these numbers were accurate, I thought you might find it interesting since we were discussing Epic Store sales recently.

@Pifanjr in a bit more rosy projection for Epic, using readily available numbers it would appear that Epic has sold 15 percent of PC copies of Satisfactory. Of course, it was an exclusive for a year, so that helped it a bit. I found it impossible to estimate the Epic sales after the game hit Steam.

Okay, I'll stop reviving old conversations now :) That article just sent me down the rabbit's hole.

Thanks for the mention. I took another look as well, but for most games the developers never release the numbers of sales per platform and the platforms themselves don't release anything useful either. It does seem like Epic only gets a decent chunk on sales on exclusives and only a few percent otherwise.

Personally I've only bought one game, Assassin's Creed: Origins, 3.5 years ago for €5. Just finding that transaction took about 10 minutes of pressing "Show More" as the page got progressively slower while loading all of the free games I got since then.

Maybe reading a large list of games was a bad idea though, because now I want to play like half a dozen of them, on top of the ones I'm already playing. First world problems...
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
Thanks for the mention. I took another look as well, but for most games the developers never release the numbers of sales per platform and the platforms themselves don't release anything useful either. It does seem like Epic only gets a decent chunk on sales on exclusives and only a few percent otherwise.

Personally I've only bought one game, Assassin's Creed: Origins, 3.5 years ago for €5. Just finding that transaction took about 10 minutes of pressing "Show More" as the page got progressively slower while loading all of the free games I got since then.

Maybe reading a large list of games was a bad idea though, because now I want to play like half a dozen of them, on top of the ones I'm already playing. First world problems...
The number and quality of the free games they've given away really is amazing. I need to go back through the list again so I can be reminded of what I have there.

I've bought a couple of Ubisoft games, Satisfactory and Control there.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor

@neogunhero at one point you were talking about stale shooters and wanting something new, and I believe you have Game Pass, so here you go. Both the first and the second Remnants are available. The first one is definitely worth playing despite the suggestion in the article that you skip it and play the second one. That's literally a terrible suggestion. The first one is a fantastic game and the reason that the second one sold so well.
 

@neogunhero at one point you were talking about stale shooters and wanting something new, and I believe you have Game Pass, so here you go. Both the first and the second Remnants are available. The first one is definitely worth playing despite the suggestion in the article that you skip it and play the second one. That's literally a terrible suggestion. The first one is a fantastic game and the reason that the second one sold so well.
When I saw that it was added to Game Pass, I immediately thought about making a post on here saying that it’s time to try Zed’s favorite shooter, then as I opened up the forums to make the post, I see you had already mentioned me on it. Get out of my head!!
 

I still don’t think this game is for me for a multitude of reasons, but I cannot dismiss how great the dev team is. Congrats to Larian for adding an insane amount of brand new content completely for free in a world where nearly every other game dev/publishing company would absolutely sell this as DLC.
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts