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Kev’s Slog #3, posted by Kevin Lew

Rymdkapsel is coming out tomorrow on Steam.  Rymdkapsel means “space capsule” in Swedish, if you’re curious.  It’s a mobile game where you try to manage a space station.

Now if you think that all mobile games are just cheesy and dumb, then wait until you see this game.  I need to emphasize this:  Guess how many walkthoughs exist for this game on Youtube.  The answer is zero.  Nobody has any video proof that they’ve ever beaten this game and it’s been out for a year on the Playstation Vita and Android phones.

The game’s difficulty is really a struggle between gathering resources, building rooms, researching monoliths, and (most importantly) surviving the alien invasion.  The simplistic graphics and seemingly “casual” feel give the illusion that this is an easy game made for small kids.  But in my opinion, this game is effectively a 4X game stripped down to its bare essentials.  The win condition is quite simple:  You live at the end.

I’m strongly tempted to buy it, because I keep having this feeling that I could beat it.  It’s a strange feeling–this sensation of wanting to win at a game despite all the people are nothing but simple rectangles.


Steam will now allow you to cancel pre-orders on your own without having to go through customer support.  Some people may not think this is a big deal, but it means a few things.  First, canceling pre-orders is now frequent enough that Valve wants to just automate it.  There is one small issue about this:  Sometimes as a promotion, pre-ordering a game gives the buyer instant rewards such as a key to another game or a special Team Fortress 2 hat.  I’m going to guess that in these situations, cancelling will not be possible if Valve sees that you installed the game or traded the hat away.

In my silly opinion, customers need to start moving away from the pre-0rder thing so much.  In recent times, there’s been an increase in bad games coming from so-called “triple A” studios.  That is, they come out with really poor quality or don’t deliver on many promises.  But thanks to pre-order money, the publishers have already turned a profit.  Consumers need to understand that this encourages companies to not try anymore because if they just increase the hype and marketing of a game, then they can turn a profit.


In November of last year, Jonathan Blow, the developer for Braid, released some unusual screenshots on his blog.  With just the coy message, “What could they mean?”, he showed images that absolutely confirmed that his upcoming game, The Witness, would be released with Oculus Rift support.

Recently he’s commented more on this in detail.  The interesting thing is that he did not want his game on Oculus Rift.  If you know Jonathan Blow’s personal code of ethics, then you’ll know that he is strongly against putting in gimmicks in any of his games.  This is why you’ll never see cosmetic DLC, Steam trading cards, or a free-to-play game with his name attached to it.  What happened was that Valve approached him and said that they were working on some virtual reality technology and they wanted The Witness to showcase it.  Jonathan was very skeptical but Valve showed him what they had.  After he tried it, he became a believer.

Since that time, Valve decided that they weren’t going to become a hardware company (which again, is why they are not making Steam Machines on their own).  Instead they decided to co-own the technology with Id Software and it’ll be used to improve the Oculus Rift.

Virtual reality is extremely misunderstood in the gaming world.  I get the impression that people keep thinking that the best use for it will be fast-paced action.  In reality, most FPS games have the player running like they are wearing rocket boots.  If you try playing them with VR goggles then you’ll become extremely motion sick because it’s way faster than you’d ever run in real life.  The Oculus Rift is really best designed for games where you take your time, walk around a normal landscape and enjoy the scenery.  In short, that’s essentially the design point of The Witness.  It’s not surprising that Valve picked The Witness as one of their showcase games, because it would be a great fit.

It’s also not bad to have a showcase game be a big hit.  Valve was so certain that it would be good that they approved the game for Steam release during its alpha stage.  Sony thought the same way:  When they announced the Playstation 4, they only had about five or six games that they wanted to show off as part of their console announcement and The Witness was one of them.  This game has been in development for several years years now and it’s constantly being updated.  There’s been screenshots showing the island from a certain angle showing the progress of the game.  It’s very clear that the team isn’t afraid of taking entire sections of the island and destroying them if it turns out that the section has bad gameplay or weak visuals.


Needless to say, this is almost too much hype and hope put into a single indie game.  For all we know, it could turn out to be a complete bomb.  But there’s one thing about Jonathan Blow:  When he sets his mind on an idea and commits, then he puts everything into it.

When Braid was made, Jonathan put all of his money into it.  Reportedly, he was well over $50,000 in debt when the game came out.  The game would have to sell big or it would make him bankrupt, but that’s how he wanted it.  He was a true believer.  The last weeks before Braid launched on the Xbox, he wasn’t sure if he could afford food.  Then Microsoft deposited his pay into his bank account and he just stared at all the zeroes in disbelief.  At the time, Braid became the all-time best-selling game on Xbox Live Arcade.

Jonathan said that all the money he made from Braid is already gone:  It’s been put into making The Witness.  A journalist asked him if that was wise; he could lose everything he’s ever earned in his career.  But he merely shrugged and said that he already knows what it’s like to be in poverty.

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