Thanks for the post Dan, very interesting indeed.
There is a lot of text to use entire quotes with responses so my replies are with abbreviated quotes, I hope you can follow what I am trying to say while referencing back to the paragraphs of your original post Dan.
Oh geez, this will be interesting to reply to then...
I can completely understand the principle behind this but there is always the danger of being classed as some sort of 'elitist' with that approach, I still consider 'Independent Commercial' to be more accurate. The problem nowadays is that 'homebrew' has adopted 'indie' into its category, the term 'homebrew' many years ago did mean exactly as you posted, but with the Wii homebrew channel and the Xbox Live indie games becoming mainstream, there really should be no shame in acknowledging the roots of the final commercial product.
No, and that is very true about the terms more or less blending together now, and it isn't that we aren't "acknowledging the roots" of the projects, but within the industry things are looked at differently...
A "homebrew" game is (to me at least, or it was before the Wii Homebrew channel and such) a game that is created by someone with the intent of learning how to create a game, proving a theory, or whatever. Because these games are (were) often released online so you could download them and burn them yourself to check out and they were free, the games may not have a final level of "polish" put on them that a commercial release would have.
As someone who programmed a lot myself, the concept and creating the initial start to make something work is the fun part. The part where you have to do bug searches, tweak gameplay elements and balance the game often takes a lot longer than the initial fun part, and is considerably less fun than the first part of the game.
But, it is perhaps the thing that big name developers look for the most out of smaller releases.
There is *absolutely nothing* wrong with doing a homebrew title. In fact, I think it is really something that someone should be proud of. But, to be able to take homebrew release to the 'next level' definitely takes some hard work, and I think that it is unfair to class them both together.
Also, compared to Red Spot Games which apparently purposely tried to make confusion over it's games looking just like Japanese releases, I think that our games MUCH more acknowledge their heritage. I don't exactly know what more you would want from us -- putting downloadable titles on our site? Referring to everyone as "not professional" developers instead of "independent"? I don't know what, exactly, you're after here. Could you clarify for me?
All that was really straight-up marketing hype, let's remember here that GOAT has been quiet for a long time, and ANY hype from anyone that counteracts a silent contender is going to get noticed.
Yes, which is why we're not being silent. But, I'll also point out that in all of our marketing hype that we've done for lots and lots of stuff, I've never made bold claims without backing up my facts. Hell, we're overly cautious the other way because I'd rather not get called out as a liar or someone that makes up facts. To use the MGC as an example...
1) We have constantly referred to the show as the Midwest's Largest All-Encompassing Electronic Gaming event even though we were the *only* event to combine all the elements like we did because we didn't want anyone to be disappointed by it.
2) We have claimed our attendance for the show each year by only counting tickets that are sold, and not any of the 12 and under who get in free. When we have an approximately 25% rate of kids entering the show, it has made vendors question us for claiming so low.
To me, it's better to have someone questioning why we are claiming so low than to tell others that we're lying and our attendance wasn't half of what it is.
This seems to be where the real disappointment is, and I sympathize with you about the situation.
That is life buddy, you will get screwed by associates (and so-called friends alike) if you take the naive approach.
Oh, trust me -- I totally know and understand this. But for me, when I'm a fan of things, I find that being passionate about it often ingrains you more with people than by being cold and calculating about things, and when you find passionate people who don't screw you, magical things can happen.
Not to keep pointing back to it, but the MGC is an event where we have overall lost money so far. I'm expecting that next year, we'll finally have that change, but it has grown to the point that it entertains thousands of people every year and gets some of the largest industry luminaries to come and speak at it because the people that help us run it are all passionate fans who work with us to put on an amazing show.
Even though I really would be dreaming to believe in GOAT releasing another 15 Dreamcast games, it shows the dedication towards the real community that you guys had from the beginning. Just remind yourselves that the pioneers of anything are fondly remembered in certain circles but hardly ever credited outside of those circles.
No, and it is interesting to me for instance that our entries for games like Feet of Fury and the others got taken down from Wikipedia at the same time the Red Spot Games ones went up, with the notation that our games were not notable for anything. Not to toot our own horn here, but ours were the first commercially published titles for a console that were done by an independent publisher through a 'backdoor' since Accolade made games for the Genesis. Ours were also the first games that went through after the DMCA was put into place, and could technically be pointed at if any future games are done in a similar fashion as a project that was done after the DMCA made *everything* murky to prove that you can do such a thing.
I said long ago that with the advent of things like Xbox Live Arcade, I expect there to be no future market for commercially released indie games in this fashion, as the entry cost to more or less "officially" develop a title for Xbox Live Arcade is not that different than the startup costs to prove that it is legal to make a commercial independent title. Besides that, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft I'm certain would be VERY quick to shut down a development like this to ensure that other companies don't jump on board.
What you must also think of is the time (time = money) that genuine members of the community put into projects that did not make their way to a GOAT release. This of course refers back to my reply above to the first quote: the projects that did not make it on a GOAT release are just 'homebrew' in your eyes, that commercial/homebrew divide without communication can also damage the remaining community in the long run.
I don't know where this whole belief comes again, and I do take offense to it. We worked with many, many developers on many, many things, and as I have stated in the past -- Yes, not everything was good enough or complete enough for an official release. When a developer comes to me with a game that, let's say for instance, is a Galaga clone and says, "We want to publish this!" I think that we have every right to say that it needs to be something more before we do. That doesn't make it any less noteworthy that it was programmed, but there is a difference between what we felt like would earn money and what wouldn't.
In fact, the GOAT Store exists because we, as developers, got screwed...
"Welcome to the machine".
No, I know -- BUT (and maybe this was naive too) our goal was to create a place that developers could feel confident going and not getting screwed doing their stuff. Just because the world works that way doesn't mean that *I* have to.
...I blame that on us not promoting it good enough...
A truer statement never typed.
GOAT was the basis of something unique, that does not mean it still can not fulfill the dream, but you guys really need to get to grips with the current retro climate.
I don't exactly know again what you mean by this, but I'll just say that as one of the largest online classic gaming retailers, someone who has networked with tons of different stores because we also happen to run what I think based on attendance is the largest show period for retro gaming in the world, I don't exactly think that we're misfiring with stuff.
I'm guessing you're one of the people that are still angry over the announcement we made at MGC06 about the games that were coming, which I'll next...
About as unprofessional as 'vanishing' from the community for years after so many promises to coders and supporters with little delivery?, then expecting rapturous applause after a new release?
Lessons to be learnt all around here.
Sure -- and as I pointed out two years ago when we had basically completed a year without hearing much of anything after the announcement the year before:
1) Unless you know something that I don't, we didn't make any promises to any coders that were not fulfilled.
2) We learned from making the announcement when we did that it is stupid to really start to promote something until it is ready to come to market.
Did I expect "rapturous applause" for releasing Irides: Master of Blocks? No. I don't think we got rapturous applause from the Dreamcast community for any of our projects and if we did, they missed the point -- the developers should be the ones being applauded for finishing the project, not us.
As for the games that were announced and did not happen, after we made that announcement where we pressured people that were working on stuff to announce them early so we could start tracking them and hyping them, the problem simply became that independent development is a s-l-o-w process, and once you get the first bit of it down and get everyone hyped up, it can take MONTHS to tweak things to get it right for the release. And this is no fault of anyone, it's just the nature of the beast and working on stuff that doesn't pay until it is complete -- a lot of people, as you noted elsewhere, moved on in that time to better jobs or lost interest, or whatever.
There are two projects in particular that we had other issues with, and I'll highlight those right here -- GOAT Games we had the major issue of not having the menu system written first, and then trying to reverse squeeze people into something that was always a little ways away from being coded. Although I don't devote tons of time to it, I *still* want GOAT Games to come out, and I am *still* working on a way for that to happen. But coding a menu isn't exactly sexy or fun, and we ended up after the contest for GOAT Games with less titles than we thought we would get for it. I believe there were around six or seven completed titles ready to go, which while they are all awesome, great titles, makes the full disc a hard sell. But, as I've said, I'm *still* working on that. But for updates, I can't imagine every couple months going, "I GOT SOMEONE TO DRAW THE GOAT ASSET WE NEEDED! CHECK IT OUT!" and that exciting anyone.
Radium a lot of people pointed to and wondered what happened, as it was announced to be coming very soon. Well, long story short, the developer (a professional development house actually) came to us with Radium and a bunch of other titles, and sent us a version that could be played on the Dreamcast so we could see what it looked like. They said they would then improve the graphics for the games. After we got the disc and we started going through it, Gary and I came up with a HUGE list of issues that the game said, not just to note that it was literally the Game Boy game running emulated. We wrote back to them and said that we were excited with the potential, but it definitely needed some tweaks. They agreed, and the next thing I know there is a press release on their site about how the game is going to come out in a few months from the GOAT Store. Which made Gary and I scramble to put something together and put it up so it didn't look really fishy, which we did.
After that, we were told that they did not intend to make any changes to the game, and that we had to choose between publishing it as is or not publishing it at all. The game was not fun at all in it's current state, so Gary and I talked with them and said we could delay it and fix the problems, and they decided not to release it because of that.
So, those are the two stories behind the two games that we're probably asked the most about, and I've always put the blame for both of those on us. As for the other 12, it would have been better for all concerned if those weren't mentioned.
The community has been divided from day one (literally), just look how many Dreamcast sites have come and gone, look at how they exist today, it is still the same, and the GOAT/RedSpotGames status is an accurate reflection of the community as a whole - IT IS A MESS!.
Yes, but what good does it do to divide it further? What do I have to gain (other than pissing off potential customers if the community is divided) by going out and pissing on someone else's parade? What Red Spot Games did was nothing short of miraculous -- I don't deny that. I just don't want them to make statements about us that knock us down for no reason, as I think that what we did and what we went through that Red Spot Games didn't have to go through because of us is even more amazing.
...his announcements were made in such a way that I felt and do feel that they could hurt the developers of the games that we have published by making them seem less noteworthy...
Really?, take a look at a portion of your own post again:
"Most of the development teams have used the games they have published to move on to other industry jobs because they can point to them as commercial projects that were released"
If someone representing another company really needs to lower the standard of a 'previous release by another company' to showcase their new release, that in itself is a desperate attempt at attention (especially if it's an independent release), I think you are looking into this far too deeply, you are confusing personal attachments to facts, and those facts are blurring the reality.
Let me throw in a neutral example here: Google for Olivier Chatry (you may remember his name from 'Epitech' and the creation of 'Iris3D'). Take a look at the credits and current status Olivier has since his humble beginnings within the Dreamcast community, and ALL THAT from someone who DID NOT get a GOAT release (even though he was a major player for the roots of - with regards to an announced GOAT game: DCASTLE). I need go no further with name-dropping for anyone actually involved with a GOAT release.
I will say this again: Just remind yourselves that the pioneers of anything are fondly remembered in certain circles but hardly ever credited outside of those circles.
Oh no, and I do know that, but here's the thing -- we're still working with a number of people.
It's just that if you keep repeating something over and over and over again, people (especially people that don't know the full details) begin to believe it. I do feel the need to combat the negative publicity publicly so if someone looks at it, they can see the difference.
And, while some may look at parts of what we posted as bitching, the truth is that how we differentiate our product from the actual releases is, to me, a big selling point of why you would want to work with us.
In my opinion: IT'S ABOUT TIME!
You guys should have done this a LONG time ago, but I guess it's better late than never. The real genius behind the Dreamcast community has always been the developers, the ones who created the development tools, the ones who ported the games, the ones who created the genuine games, and the ones who created or ported the emulators and applications, etc..
The truth is GOAT Store Publishing only 'disappeared' off the web almost exactly a year ago when we were undergoing the huge rewrite of the entire site. It went down because it was simply a site that did not get a ton of traffic, and because we needed to recode it for the new core of our site now. But, when you're releasing a game and running a huge gaming convention, stuff gets put off.
Besides that, I had a horrible personal accident happen to me last year. As a matter of fact, it actually really hurt the promotion of Irides: Master of Blocks. On the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend last year, I basically took a spike to my left eye in a bad accident. Since that point, my vision in my left eye is permanently badly damaged (it went from 20/15 without glasses to 20/60 WITH glasses). At the time of the promotions for Irides: Master of Blocks starting, I was literally told that I should not be reading anything and should not have my eyes open for more than five minutes at a time. It was two weeks before I could be back on my feet to go to work or do much of anything.
On top of that, I became a father for the first time in January, which for as horrible as the eye thing is, way makes up for it. It's been a blast.
But, between that all, running the Midwest Gaming Classic, reopening the site, doing TONS of work overhauling the site to improve it, and so on, it just took the backseat for a bit.
I will point out however that our plan is to showcase the developers that we have worked with. I want to ask them questions and post interviews with them, give them a way to keep people up to date with what they are up to, and so on. At this point, I'm not planning on making the GOAT Store Publishing a sort of historical site about every Dreamcast developer ever, as I think there are already sites like the Wiki that do a great job keeping up with that info.
You have however, represented yourselves as something you are, negligent of the 'homebrew' developers themselves.
Again, I don't know what you want from us here. Do you want me to celebrate every release that isn't a commercial game through the GOAT Store? That makes little sense. Do you want me to send Christmas cards to all of the developers?
All of our developers started out creating something that was a homebrew title, and they took it to the next step to publish it independently. We found them all because their projects were awesome *before* we talked with them about publishing them. I'm pretty certain that for all of the games were published, we asked the developers about publishing them -- it wasn't a case where the developers were begging us.
I'll say it again, if you read the comments that developers have made that have worked with us, I don't know of any developer who felt slighted by us. We didn't constantly bug them about the projects because we never felt that was our place, but I did check in with them every so often, and was always happy to look at anything they wanted me to. I think that I have playtested each of our games on average 40+ hours personally. I know Irides: MoB was over 100 hours by me. I'm not doing that because I have no idea how tough it is to develop a game, but to try to help the developer really hone their craft.
It was interesting to me to see that in the Red Spot Games note, they stated one thing they liked about the new game is that, "We also have been involved to the development process (e.g. voice recordings) and really enjoyed the new experience of participating directly in the production of a new game." That's surprising to me, as every game that we did has a ton of fingerprints from ideas that we had all over it -- although the developer was always told that they had the final say, a lot of things were bounced back and forth and I think it is why the games turned out so well. Maybe the involvement with development is what other developers didn't want from us, but why not push a game to be the best it can be?
...I really harbor no ill will toward Red Spot Games...
That is plainly obvious, but the disappointment speaks volumes. You have learned a valuable lesson in business Dan, DO NOT get fooled again!
Oh, I won't deny some disappointment there, and I also have fully come to grips with something that I thought would be the lasting legacy of the GOAT Store will be reduced to something that the developers and I remember, and maybe just a couple of other people, and because the final 'flash' was done by a different company, everything else will probably be forgotten by all but a handful of people.
I'd love for us to be remembered in a more positive light, but the error of the games announcement in 2006 is in many ways our legacy - we hyped up people for something that we had no control over delivery of unless we decided to just publish whatever we could find. And I do find that too bad.
And, even with me saying *ALL* of this, there is still tons more interesting stories out there, many of which may get lost to time, some of which already have.
With a dream fulfilled there really is no need for disappointment.
So you guys made mistakes, so what?. Who hasn't?
No, and I totally know this at the end. At the end of the day, if I was *only* friends with one person because of it, it was worth it.
I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to get cards from developers when my son was born. *That* does not happen every day. There is NO disappointment that I have with any developer we've worked with, which is again why I find you claiming that they were deceived to be frustrating.
So go ahead and do it, DO NOT let a MINOR setback drag you guys down.
Kudos to you for writing the whole thing to begin with.
No problem. More kudos for reading this one too, I guess.
I've never felt the need to hide from the Dreamcast community. I've always been happy to take part in it and read the new news when I can (harder with a baby!). The whole thing about how we disappeared was I think a great misunderstanding because we simply had nothing to show until something came along ready to be shown. And then Irides: Master of Blocks occurred, which in my opinion is an absolutely outstanding title, and we had a reason to talk again.
If anyone ever wants to get into touch with me, feel free to PM me or email me, which every developer had my address. I am glad to talk about stuff one on one if you like. I'm not making any promises right now that the Dreamcast community will suddenly be hearing tons from us, as while there are things in the pipeline still, as I've said before -- when the developers are very close to releasing them and we feel confident in them, we'll be MORE than happy to promote them. But before that point, we don't want to disappoint everyone by talking about something that isn't a guaranteed lock.
GOAT Store Publishing at a minimum is going to be there to show people that if they want to do something with us, we'll be happy to try our best to make it work if we believe in it too. And, I think and hope that we have some cool stuff up our sleeves