All posts tagged with "notch"

More FAQs; or: On the Folly of Giving Money Directly to Developers

Some recently Frequently Asked Questions:

“Why do we have to wait two weeks to buy a game which is already done?”

As you may have noticed, Valve has some kind of a Summer Sale thing about to go… although I don’t see a formal announcement yet, people have started talking about it so I guess the cat is out of the bag. Anyhow, we can’t put Dredmor up during the Summer Sale, so you have to wait until it’s over. Sorry, folks.

“How will Linux users be able to pay for their copy of Dredmor?”

I hate to say it, but selling games for Linux is hard. (My former employer found this out the hard way, and went bankrupt.) We’re still working on this. As an interim solution, I will likely put working binaries in the Steam builds for both Windows and OS X users, similar to what the Steel Storm guys did. That way, at the very least, this helps the dual booters. We are also opening the floodgates and talking with some other Distribute-y people. There *will* be more distributor announcements.

“If I buy a Windows copy of the game, do I need to buy a new copy of the game for Linux or OS X?”

I certainly hope not, and this is certainly our goal. In an ideal world, if you buy Dredmor, you buy Dredmor.

“I don’t like Steam! Why does the game have to be a Steam exclusive?”

Dungeons of Dredmor is not a Steam exclusive. We’re just launching there first. This has everything to do with us being a small company, and needing to focus our resources on getting one distributor set up at a time. We are considering other alternatives, but we haven’t gotten there yet. Steam will certainly end up being the best place to buy Dredmor for awhile, anyhow.

“Will the game be available on the OS X App Store?”

This is a priority, yes. All that this is really waiting on is for me to find the time to package and upload the submission. Also, I think we have to pay a hundred dollars, and I don’t think any of us *have* a hundred dollars…

“Why can’t I just give you money directly and download a .tgz file or a ZIP or something?”

This one is a little more complicated to answer. Basically, it’s for our protection.

When I say protection, I’m not talking about the game having DRM or not having DRM. For what it’s worth – and I cannot speak for the rest of Gaslamp here – my take on DRM is that it prevents very low-key, casual piracy (at the level of, say, your grandmother giving a copy of Dredmor to your Uncle Mitford, neither of whom are technologically literate enough to operate a non-rotary telephone never mind a Bittorrent client); it does nothing to prevent systematic, institutional piracy and it is also very effective at alienating your end users. So I feel your pain.

In an ideal world, we would ship with a DRM free copy of Dredmor, and would rely on having a frequent stream of updated content available for users with legitimate registration keys to encourage people to have legitimate copies. I haven’t seen a scheme that works as well as this, so this is basically what we’re going with. If you want to have an anti-piracy solution in place, you have to have some sort of game function on a server somewhere, and the best we can do for a single-player gaming experience is to put the updates on our server and force you to give us a legitimate registration key before we can hand out Sooper-Fun Bonus Content. This is the “drinking from the firehose” method of piracy deterrence.

This is also why nobody makes single-player games any more: single-player games are perceived as being impossible to secure against piracy, so nobody makes them. Instead, we get Free to Play stuff, and multiplayer games, and things in your browser, and all kinds of stuff where gameplay decisions take a back seat to being able to execute code on a company-controlled server in order to provide an authentication measure. Sad, really.

That said, this *isn’t* what we’re talking about when we’re talking about our protection. If you really feel that you can’t shell out five measly, stinkin’, lousy dollars to play Dredmor, well… there’s not much we can do about that, other than possibly feeling sorry for you. When we’re talking about our protection, we’re talking about our financial protection. Running our own financial processing and transaction engine leaves us exposed to a number of problems. As a very small company, we cannot afford to find ourselves in the same situation that both Notch and Project Zomboid have found themselves in. Paypal, Google Checkout, Amazon Express, The Fiendish Guild of Gnomish Banking Interfacers – all of these institutions can, and will, freeze a seller’s assets; all of these institutions could completely, and utterly, destroy our company and we would be powerless to do anything about it. Anybody who has ever run afoul of Paypal or Google knows that it is next to impossible to find an actual human being to talk to. Consequently, these services are not really an option for large-scale game sales.

The next best alternative is that we set ourselves up with a credit card processor and run our own storefront-based, money-taking web-solution. This assumes you have a credit card, which can also be a bit iffy in this day and age. It also exposes us to the problems associated with running an in-house electronic commerce system; we have to build a system that is secure enough that you feel comfortable giving us your credit card number, and we also have to ensure that it is secure enough from our end that the money ends up in our bank account and not sent to the First International Bank of Lulzsec. Again, if anything goes wrong, it could destroy Gaslamp. Writing your own software solutions for these things is dangerous; again, look at Project Zomboid, who built a clever cloud-based updater system only to realize that pirated copies were slowly bankrupting them. We don’t want to be in that situation, which is why we’re using third-party publishers and distributors.

A final option is something like BT Micro; a service that handles all the credit card processing and transactional downloading for you. This isn’t a bad idea, although it does leave the problem of providing you with updates.

Anyhow, that’s our thought process. For those of you who want to give us money directly – we love you, but we really, really can’t take it. I hate to say it, but waking up and knowing that you still have a company in the morning and that your accounts haven’t been frozen is worth a slice of your revenue stream.

Posted in Dungeons of Dredmor, Gaslamp | Tagged , , , , , , ,