This is really trying to show what Flash games can be, to me. Each car has its own feel, and no single car is able to win every race. There’s over 60 races, though they are nice and quick – I believe the game can be finished between 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on the choices you make. And that’s really what it’s about – giving the player free reign to buy all sorts of cars, and discover their own personal favourites to upgrade, so they develop an attachment to their own garage.
A lot of heart went into this one. I cared about little details, such as how brands in-game have a consistency between their car types, or how they are affected by the era they were built in. Before release, I was panicking that I had wasted time, and that no-one would care.
So it is thrilling, for me, that they do. Out of 6600 players today that Playtomic recorded, 32 players spent presumably 4+ hours collecting every single car. There is no incentive for this – the game can be completed with 10-20 cars on average, there are no achievements, and the game does not provide anywhere near enough money to buy all the cars in one playthrough. But these few completionists have made me feel totally justified in putting in as many cars as I did, and I only hope they enjoyed the time they spent with the game. Better yet, they are not alone – from the data, it appears that there is a respectably big drop as players work out what the game is and some dislike it, but of the ones kept, the retention rate is excellent; of the players who get 3 cars in their garage, 20% go on to spend long enough on the game to get 20 cars – that’s a lot of gameplay time! The average play length is very healthy, between 20-25 minutes.
Right now it is an exclusive for Mousebreaker.com, who hired me these past 8 weeks. The reaction has been more positive than I hoped for, and I am pumped for the global release!
Surprisingly, though I have rarely touched Flash this year, I got a job this summer working 5 days a week at Mousebreaker. (That’s this Mousebreaker). As such, I have been powering away at Flash, and with any luck I’ll come out of it with something cool to show for it. Here is a little preview of the first.
Menu ripped off from the original Driver. Let’s call it an homage.
The working title is “Literally Insane Racing”. This is one I’ve been wanting to make for a while – the biggest Flash top-down racer I can imagine, with 40 cars available to play. The hook is that the cars are all useful for different races – rather than a linear progression from slow to fast, in this game no one car will be able to win every race. Oh, and it’s going to have a stupid story attached, because it’s one of my games and that’s what I do.
(I think I got better at drawing in the last year despite not drawing at all.)
We’ll see how that goes. Incidentally, there’s nothing quite as scary as opening up your game on your home PC and seeing how the colours look vastly different.
I love getting physical games. Tearing off the plastic wrap, piggling off all the stickers the shop adorned. Flicking through the manual, even though the tutorial will cover everything.
Most of all, I love how it can never be taken away. When Viewtiful Joe is an historical artefact*, and Pokemon Misty-Squid-Colour is released, I will still have my cartridges and discs of the originals, long after the new consoles have given up compatability. Or, if I decide to burn everything I own and change my identity and start a new life, I can do that too. Carts give me freedom. Half the fun is poking through the bits, fondling the physicality of it, and then putting it on a shelf so my visitors can bow before the games I have decimated. If I dislike a game enough, I can literally blend it.
I will never, ever pay the same to download a game as I could on eBay to get a second hand copy. I hate the idea of locking games to a console, as Nintendo so proudly do, and I distrust services that require DRM. Have you seen my internet connection? Our phone line is attached to the exchange with sticky-tape. Telling me that I must be connected to the internet is telling me that I am only allowed to play your game at 2am, three nights a week.
And this, friends, is why I am not buying a PlayStation Vita. I got a 3DS to enjoy backwards compatability with the DS (which I have never owned) – and since then I have played some incredible DS titles. In contrast, the only way the Vita can play PSP games (which I also never owned) is by downloading them on the store, paying the publishers for games produced years ago.**
This deprives me of all my technophilic joys. There is no eBay bidding, parcel opening, box stroking fun.
Which, frankly, is pretty much the only reason I own as many games as I do.
* Google wouldn’t tell me whether it should be “an historical” or “a historical” artefact. So I decided to be pretentious.
** I’m sure there’s an argument that I should buy a PSP for PSP games. Or that I should use my 3DS for 3DS games and a Vita for Vita games. But you would be mistaken.
Women have pretty bums. If I must stare at one for twelve hours, surely I would much rather it were a pretty one.
That is the usual logic when a developer has a female main character in a videogame. Nay, it applies to a majority of female characters that feature in games at all; whatever our escapist fantasy may be, there will be beautiful women.
I was dubious when approaching this topic, as every side is lined with spikes: too flippant and it is sexism; too far the other way and you are hampering creativity. But I honestly think it is worth looking at, and not just to scold developers who surround macho main characters with supermodels in fetish clothes.
Chell from Portal is notable for being one of very few female characters who does not have her cleavage slapped on the box art. Not that she is any ugly duckling.
However, she is not objectified. The game is not sold based on her appearance, and at no point does she have sex with anyone. (Because we all know, girls who have sex must be objects.)
Chell is only worth mentioning because she is one of few women to lead a game. Even when allowing Bayonetta and other girls that make Christina Hendricks look flat chested, the majority of games focus on a bloke. And some would have us believe this is a bad thing. (Incidentally, absurd body shapes are rampant throughout fictional characters, whatever the gender. That isn’t sexism, just bad writing.)
Men tend to write novels about men. Women tend to write novels about women. In the videogame industry, most writers, directors, and executives are male, and therefore they tend to write male characters as the heroes.
I have heard it said a thousand times that there should be more women in these roles. Why? Why is it that we must force more women into these roles?
Studies show women are more likely to work part-time and take time off for family commitments. If they marry, women are more likely to work from home or at minimum take more maternity leave than men. Career-wise, women are less ambitious – and this is not a bad thing. The outcome is that proportionally more men occupy the high-pressure roles and spend less time with their family. And so, more men are in control, and choose by default to make the main character male.
The idea that the directors/executives in the industry should be 50/50 between the sexes is preposterous. Placing limitations will be sexist; if there are 10 dedicated, talented women for every 30 dedicated, talented men, I would expect the ratio to be 1:3.
Some have suggested that we must encourage more women to work in the games industry. (And encourage them to be ambitious once there.) I find this concept curious – it implies that the games industry is better than whatever else the woman may wish to do. Why is working in the games industry better than staying at home raising children? The idea that we should get women out of the home strikes me as rude to those who choose to stay at home. If family are more important to the individual, then that is where the individual may wish to go.
This whole post comes from hearing far too many feminist writers call the games industry sexist because of the high ratios of male directors and male characters. Nay, I say. If more women wished to work in the games industry, and put careers first, and climb the ladder, then the option must be open. Generally, the option is open, and therefore the games industry is not sexist as a whole.
There are more men than women in games because it is not a sexist industry, focusing on talent rather than gender. We do not need to force women to become more ambitious within the industry.
And that, friends, is why most games focus on some bloke shooting things.
* The only footnote is that some companies discriminate against women who appear likely to get pregnant and take maternity leave. I can see both sides of why this is detrimental to both women and the companies, and I wish there was a better solution. Until then, this is the awkward area where my argument falls.
I would love to hear some counter-opinions. Do you think the industry is sexist?