There are a lot of really interesting replies here.
For sake of a shameless bump, here is a promo code for our iRis AG game: 4ALN499M466W (note: Only works in US iTunes store)
I really appreciate you all taking the time to do our survey. We’ve already gotten a large number of responses and hopefully we can start seeing some trends forming soon.
I did want to take a second to reply to a few things that I thought were interesting:
> --[TITLE] SCREENS YOU CANNOT ESCAPE OUT OF.
In a game that has a long storyline, this is a double edge sword. What I have heard of people doing is clicking out of the cut scenes and then getting to a point where they have no clue as to what is going on, then get online and write negative reviews. Part of the development effort within a storyline heavily revolves around ensuring an interesting plot with an interesting twist. That takes time and effort to develop, and when people miss it, well, they miss a core point of what the game is doing that may make the entire game feel “absent minded”.
So, what we’ve done (and this is in the “hidden intro screens” in iRis AG) is make you watch it at least once, and then after that you can click through it. I think this has a really nice balance, especially for those replaying the game who already know what’s going on.
> --DRM of any type
> --Signing in to play single player games
We subscribe to the gamer bill of rights, which limits the amount of intrusive DRM at work. Another person had mentioned that some companies cough EA cough go overkill and have all these special things that hackers just take out anyways (so why even put them in in the first place? Which we agree with).
To really defeat piracy and recover a bit of sales (which I estimate to be maybe in the 5% range of pirated copies), you have to change the entire storage mechanism to a server based entity (e.g. MMO, freemium, etc.). This has been known for a long time though, but again, our gamer bill of rights says a single player game should be able to be played whenever and wherever. So, we don’t recover that 5% in this case, oh well.
> --More than 1 confirmation for quit game, preferably with a bind-able bosskey
This is actually in Apple’s HIG that when the home button is pressed it has to immediately exit. So no worries here.
> --Anything with microsoft live involved.
This could also mean anything with “corporate_identity_here”. Tricky slope.
> --Anything that deals with “micro-payments” to make your avatar look non-generic.
This goes into the freemium aspect. I know of a few other indie developers that are going to experiment with their next title being that sort of way. We currently aren’t moving that direction yet, but do want to see what our potential customers think of such a move (hence why it’s on the survey).
> Come one… FF7 is the king! Bad graphics, but awesome story.
I also loved FF7.
But… At the time though the graphics it had were pretty amazing. This notion that it is an either-or world with graphics and gameplay (and/or storyline) simply doesn’t hold a lot of weight when you look at today’s sales numbers.
I mean, by today’s standards, super mario brothers (the very first one on NES) could be said has having horrible graphics - but at the time it was AMAZING. It had both, and it become huge.
Not that there aren’t games out there where the graphics aren’t the greatest but they still have popularity, but they are the exceptions.
We live in a time where it is a both-and world - you need great gameplay and great graphics. The great graphics adds to the overall polish and presentation, which means everything to that initial sale. The great gameplay adds to the overall validity and notoriety of a title, which means everything to that long term brand loyalty (or creation of that brand loyalty).
Without both, you’re screwed (or if neither, think Superman 64). We already learned this lesson, and other Indie teams have to learn this lesson over and over again. IMHO, people who are saying “graphics don’t matter” are on the end of the spectrum looking back at games they did enjoy that no longer have good graphics comparatively to today’s standards but did back in those day’s standards.
While there are always exceptions, and there will always be plenty of people crying that graphics don’t matter as much as gameplay… The sales numbers say otherwise. Graphics do matter.
That’s why I came to this forum first, and eventually grabbed Ben.
Again thanks to everybody for taking the survey. Really appreciate your input.