Sorry Guys… (And why Greenlight stinks)

Posted by (twitter: @RobProductions)
August 8th, 2013 8:41 am

Logging in to Steam Greenlight today I found this…

Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 10.58.29 AMThe comments said the problem was with the visuals. I agree. But visuals aren’t everything. I mean my game had more animation and gameplay options then Receiver (by Wolfire games) and that was one of the very first games to be Greenlit. The problem is people just look at the graphics. They just look at the “original” parts of a game, and even though I spent 300+ hours on complicated animation matrices, coding, and AI development, the visuals weren’t enough for people to take interest.

You know it bothers me when games with screenshots like this:

Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 11.11.25 AM

Get more votes then games with screenshots like this:

Sneak1I picked a random game to compare with mine. While the random game had somewhat impressive backgrounds and an interesting character design, they showed 30 seconds of repetitive walking gameplay. Looked like they had about 3 animations. And then they showed off some of their models and called it a game. And yet people are 300x more excited for it because their design is similar to that of popular mmos. Their game probably won’t have complicated animation matrices, AI systems with multiple states, and stealth scenarios that put you crawling inches from enemies. Their game probably doesn’t even have any complete levels. Now which game sounds more promising to you?

A lot of comments said “You shouldn’t have put this game out in Alpha. You should’ve waited until Beta.” Well take a look at the game above. 30 seconds of walking gameplay, remember? Yet people weren’t even bothered by the fact that their systems weren’t developed at all and all they could show off was a walk-through demo. This has started to make me think… Do people base development progress on visuals? Because it doesn’t make any sense for people to just skim over mine because the graphics didn’t look so good. Did people even see what my game was about?

Now call me a baby for complaining like this, but Greenlight is a flawed system. Personally I’d like to see how much work was actually put in to some of these entries. And by how much work I mean how many hours did they spend working on art and how many hours did they spend on actual gameplay. Sure the two go hand in hand, but people only look at the art, so what’s the point in working hard on the other part?

I took the game down from Greenlight. Sorry, but the results have just proven too horrible for now. I don’t want to just trash 300+ hours of work, yet I see no other option. Sure, I could increase the visuals of the game. But that’s something I’ve always been bad at and it’ll probably take another 100 hours or something to properly do. By that point who knows what people will think. They probably still won’t like the graphics, and by then they’ll start worrying about the gameplay or something. Overall it’s just too risky for me to put any more time into this game. There’s a chance it could be accepted after an aesthetics overhaul, but that’s a chance I don’t know if I want to take. Now that I know what people are looking for, it shouldn’t be hard to develop a new game, it’ll just take a really long time…

What do you think I should do?

Happy gaming!

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23 Responses to “Sorry Guys… (And why Greenlight stinks)”

  1. Wish I Was an Astronaut says:

    Greenlight is flawed in the sense that, as raters can only really see screenshots, videos, and the text description you give the game, this often means it can be quite difficult for you as a developer to convey a proper sense of how the game feels.

    In my opinion, I would put the game on the backburner for a bit. Make some 2D games with fancy art styles (those always go down well). You’ll mature as a developer over time, and you’ll eventually figure out some great new ideas to make your game even better. Then you can go back to it, make it wonderful, and try greenlight again. Repeat ad infinitum, or until success is reached.

    Just my thoughts :) Good luck!

    • That sounds like a plan! Thanks haha I’ll probably do 3D games instead but smaller ones with better graphics and a more original (and possibly creative) core mechanic… Maybe something with building vehicles or something…

      Thanks for the help!

  2. VEC says:

    I don’t know too much about how Greenlight works, but from what you posted, I think it should not count “no”s. All you need to know is how many people say “yes”. There will always be types of games that do not interest the general public and that is fine as long as there still is a considerable number of people who are interested. That said, many people just barely look a page and then already vote. It’s partly fault of the way Steam presents games and induces people to vote without much thought before seeing something else. A “Show another game” would be much more attractive than “Ask me again later”.

    • Agreed “No” voting is not the best thing for developers who are competing. Furthermore it’d help if they had a section for smaller/one man teams so at least people will know not to expect a AAA game from a guy working on it in his spare time -_-

  3. goerp says:

    The green light thing is not terrible. It gives some game makers opportunities and an audience they otherwise never would get.
    The main problem I think, is that there are a LOT of game makers and because the potential game players have so many games to choose from, they just choose at a whim what they think they’ll like. They’re spoiled for choice.
    A big part of game making now (speaking as a not very accomplished amateur) is promoting your game, convincing others that your game is worth playing. And visual fluff is a way to do that.
    In my experience the same (to some extend) applies to the Ludum Dare competitions.

    Maybe Steam greenlight isn’t the best way for your game to get the attention it might deserve.

  4. TooMuchPete says:

    I look at Greenlight a bit differently, I think.

    It sounds like you’re taking the answers to mean that the game isn’t good or isn’t fun. What I think the Greenlight answers mean is that, based on what you’ve shown, the voters who voted “no” don’t want to play the game. The key to Greenlight, it seems, is getting people excited about your game.

    In point of fact, and this is hard to hear as a creator, it doesn’t matter one bit how many hours you spent or how hard you worked. What matters is the quality of the game. The results. So, yes, it sucks that you put 300+ hours into development and it wasn’t received well on Greenlight, but that might just mean that you aren’t selling your efforts well.

    If your AI is incredible, show that off with videos or descriptions of what that amazing AI means to the end user. If you have really awesome game mechanics, sell those.

    At the end of the day, though, when it comes to getting someone to want to play your game, you have to resign yourself to the fact that lots of people want to play visually appealing games (which I don’t think is a flaw).

  5. Loyalty says:

    When it comes to greenlight it comes down to marketing and monetization.
    You can make great games, but when you can’t convince people buying (or even paying it) it takes you nowhere.
    I once heard about a theory, which says that a game can focus on several aspects like art, sound or innovation. A game which has art as one of those points is easier to market, because it’s not hard to be shown to the consumer. Thats far harder to do with design or even AI. This is the point where you have to think very hard about those things, because not everyone thinks like a gamedev.
    You could do this either by releasing a small, limited demo or gameplay videos. In this case you should totally focus on quality. A lecturer on the games academy (probably best gaming-school in germany) said “5 minutes of fun gameplay is far better then 15 minutes of “meh”-gameplay”. (This also works on screenshots and stuff)
    That’s any advice I could give you, since I’m not that experienced in promotion myself, but maybe you could teamup with an artist or work on some references. Showing other games you’ve made helps gaining knowledge.

  6. Osgeld says:

    no sorry, you are not selling it

    I have never seen your game, and since you do not provide links I get the option of screenshot A or screenshot B

    Screenshot A looks like a production from this century with high production values
    Screenshot B looks like a quake 2 hack job I would have ran on my 486DX4 and Matrox Mystique

    which screenshot is yours? no friggin clue

    • The point of this article is to show the problems of graphics vs gameplay, which you just demonstrated. While my game (bottom) may not look as pretty as the one above, the one above has a 30 second walking demo, while I have entire open levels with sneaking and combat. Please don’t judge, I made this game in my free time and didn’t do much work on art assets.

  7. wupto says:

    People on Steam are different, they’re not like here at Ludum Dare or IndieDB. I once put a game on IndieDB and the feedback was 99% positive, then I put it on Steam Greenlight (was free back then) and it got down to about 50%, which was kinda depressing. However to me art is important and I look at it, if you’re not good at art you should think about getting an artist. Good luck!

    • sorceress says:

      If true, this means that the rating your game gets in LD isn’t a good indicator for how successful your game will be commercially.

      The differences could be due to: tactical voting, differing tastes, or the rating system being ineffective. I would say that the LD community prizes both innovative and psychological games far more than the mainstream do. The mainstream may value aesthetics more too.

  8. NaoisTheGuardian says:

    If people enjoy a game, they will tell other people about it. Im not sure how you do it, but you might be able to get your game on the humble store. If your game was in the next humble bundle and people enjoyed it, they would tell their friends about it, and after the bundle, people might buy it off the humble store. If it was popular enough, you could then possible greenlight it. A demo is also a possibility. How smooth is the movement? I always find that smooth movement is important. I hope that I’ve said something helpful somewhere in this post. And I hope that nothing in my post sounded rude at all. And FYI, most of my favourite games have really bad graphics. Much worse than your games.

    • Movement wasn’t the problem here, everything in my game is smooth as can be, animations and everything. Thank you for your post, I really think the Greenlight community is fixed on judging a game purely on aesthetics.

  9. Puzzlem00n says:

    Hey, Rob. (I know that’s not your name, but I don’t have many other options, now do I?) I’m really sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your game, especially once you finally announced it. Bad timing for me to forget.

    I wish I’d gotten to see the Greenlight page before you took it down. Time for my world-renowned advice giving. (I have a trophy for it!)

    Now, I’m pretty sure I told you not to try for Greenlight weeks ago, right? Not to rub it in, but I mean, what’d I tell you? Steam is probably the worst possible place to try and start out with your first commercial project, especially since you’re solo. Now, you have to realize that Steam is not the only place in the world to sell your game. There is no reason to scrap this game just because their player base doesn’t approve of it. They are not your target audience.

    The fact that the other game was voted up because of its graphics is not a bad thing. It’s an indication that they have experience in something, art, while you, no offense, have very little experience all around.

    Now, I don’t care whether you keep developing this or not, but if you want to, this is how you do it.

    1) Don’t try to get it on Greenlight for Pete’s sake. It doesn’t belong on Steam. Sell it direct, where the only audience you need to please is the one that already likes the game.
    Moral: Don’t be so stubborn in your ambitions that you see only the destination and not the path to get there.
    2) Make it look good. It’s really quite bad judgement to try and justify a game that looks terrible because “it’s got great mechanics I worked really hard on.” Well, guess what? You’ll have to work a bit harder. Or just look up an artist to do it.
    Moral: There’s sadly more to games than just the gameplay. Yours deserves to be judged by its art just as much as its mechanics.
    3) Advertise it well. If the audience on Steam thinks your game is bad, either your game is bad or you did a really bad job of showing them that it’s good. TooMuchPete said something to this effect above. Show off what it can do, get people excited about those things! Show them that out of everything else, they want to spend time on your game more than all the others of its price.
    Moral: Marketing is everything in terms of money. Make sure you pull it off.

    I hope to see this project come back in the future, even if not for a while. Sorry if I was a bit harsh. Good luck in the future.

    • Hi. I agree with your info, but the thing is it’s my goal to get on Steam… If you want you can watch the trailer here (it’s still up) but might not be up for long…

      So yeah I know while I’m probably “supposed” to sell my game direct, I have virtually no way of advertising it outside of Ludum Dare and my own community. And still, that’ll get me about 30 people at most.

      People tell me I have no experience and Steam isn’t for me… but I mean, I got 14% of yes votes from over 600 people, which equals around 84+ that said my game deserved to be on Steam. Much more than anyone on Ludum Dare and community combined. Honestly I’m proud of that, and that number is only going to get bigger with the more games I create. I’m going to make a new game and then I’m going to put it on Steam Greenlight, and I’m going to keep trying until I get a game on there. This time I’ll wait a little longer, and all that.. work on art obviously…

      but I’m NOT going to stop trying to accomplish my dream just because a few hundred people said no. I’m sorry if you think I’m stupid or think I don’t know what I’m doing… but I’m determined that I can do this… and I will do this, no matter how long it takes.

      And honestly I think graphics are not that important as long as you have the basic stuff. Gameplay should be what drives games to be fun. I mean would rather sit back and watch some cool art, or would you rather have fun with the actual game? Honestly don’t get me wrong it’s important, but when you have a demo that just looks at the art you’ve made, there’s something wrong. I don’t know how your game feels or plays, and thats a problem.

      • Puzzlem00n says:

        I think you’re missing a really important part of what I said here. “Don’t be so stubborn in your ambitions that you see only the destination and not the path to get there.” I’m not doubting you can’t get on Steam one day. What I’m trying to tell you is the best way to get there. CEOs don’t get promoted that far up because they keep applying for CEO jobs until they get one, they get a small job in the company and climb the ladder. If you start selling direct, you’ll gain an audience that can give you enough yes votes to make it. You wouldn’t be stop trying to accomplish your dream, you’d be working your way up to it.

        The issue with your lack of audience is easily fixed. Just follow lots of people on twitter and tweet more and you’ll be able to get WAY more people looking at you then 84.

        On to graphics again. To be honest, if I were to have watched that trailer without any prior knowledge of you or your game, then I wouldn’t want it either. Try to see it from that point of view, not your own. (The only really bad problem was the humans. You may want to make their clothes separate from their bodies…)

        There are four elements to every game. Aesthetics, Mechanics, Story, and Technology. Artists tend to think that Aesthetics are most important. Writers think the Story is. More tech-oriented Programmers tend to think Technology is. Game-oriented programmers and designers tend to think Mechanics are most important, which you fulfill here. But the best of the best know that all four are equally important to the end experience. Aesthetics are most visible to the player, and therefore you must show them something that is pleasing so at the very least there’s nothing standing in the way of enjoying Mechanics. You could make the argument that detailed graphics aren’t important, sure, but even minimalistic games like Thomas was alone make sure to be visually pleasing. Movies with terrible special effects, barring nostalgia, are very hard to enjoy no matter how good the story is.

        Contrary to popular belief, the answer to “I mean would [you] rather sit back and watch some cool art, or would you rather have fun with the actual game?” is actually quite subjective, all depending on who you ask. Personally, I like doing both. Especially if the art of the “awe-inspiring” variety. There’s a reason games like Proteus sell, you know.

        You can get on Steam one day. I know it. I just think you need to make a name for yourself first.

        • Yeah alright sorry.

          I’ll try again… just don’t criticize me if it’s not that good… I’m only one guy… and most importantly my goal of trying to make games that I want to make conflict with making games for the Greenlight audience… For this next one I’ll think of art and simple mechanics instead of gameplay…

          • Puzzlem00n says:

            “For this next one I’ll think of art and simple mechanics instead of gameplay…”
            That’s not what I said. Gameplay is still just as important as before. There’s no need to apologize to me.

            I can sense you’re a bit down about what I said, I’m sorry about that. I mean to try and encourage you to make good choices. But if you disagree, who cares what I say? Do what you want to do. Perhaps the other game did have very little gameplay, so they too misplaced the balance. (Or they just had a bad trailer.) I know I’m a harsh critic.

            And finally, when it comes to wanting an audience, the truth is, the best way to get one is not to pander to them. Go ahead and make the games you want to make and they will follow. Making the game look good is about more than just the audience. It’s about letting your game shine through.

            Like I said, you could always get a second guy to do art. :)

  10. darrkbeast says:

    I understand RobProductions, I recently put a game on the steam greenlight and found out first hand how rude and visually driven people are. I hade people say the same thing, that I shouldnt have put my game on there yet, or the graphics suck, etc. What makes it worse is I copyed the defintion of what qualifies as a greenlight game from steam and posted a response only to have people say I should not complain, and that I should answer that persons response. I understood the greenlight program as a means to get feedback, what better time to get it then early in production. Someone also said that games like mine are taken up space for real kickstarter games. Needless to say, now i just respond to the good comments and dont focus on the negative ones.

    As for the voting system, I have more no’s than yes’s and most are based on the graphics. Not many people read your write up about the game and most people dont understand the development process. I think you should have left your game up, I wouldnt let the negatives get you. I have more no’s, but I still have over 4500 fans, and as long as i have 1 fan I will keep working on it.

    I like your concept and what youve done with your project, keep it up and dont let the nay sayers get you.

  11. Anheurystics says:

    You would probably get better feedback in places or sites where the users are also programmers or can understand the concept behind all of the hardwork you put in. I’m not generalizing, but not all of the Steam users are developers, and some (if not most) of them might just look for the quality of the visuals, since it can affect how the player enjoys the whole game.

    Just my two cents. Upload it somewhere else, showcase it to people who would actually care about the hard work you put into making it. Don’t give up just yet.

  12. NaoisTheGuardian says:

    Hi… Rob? What should I call you? Anyway, I, for one, have to say, that I’d be very interested in buying this game if you released it somewhere, and there are many ways that you could do that, but namely, being the reason I’m here, I would suggest that you try and get your game on Desura. From what I’ve heard, its not too hard to do, and it would be a shame to never see this game released.

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