Category Archives: Tangential

The Indie Fund submissions process is now open…

… and the web site is updated. See it here: http://indie-fund.com/

Earlier this year, some friends and I, all successful independent game developers, put together the Indie Fund in order to help support newer folks with good ideas. All the hoops involved in setting up such an organization have been passed through, and we are now open for general submissions. If you are an independent developer who needs money for a project-in-progress, go check out the Apply page to see what kinds of games we are looking for.
Thanks, and good luck!

(Cross-posted from the blog for The Witness, a new game in development from the designer of Braid.)

Announcing Indie Fund


Today we are announcing a fund that provides very good terms for talented indie developers working on high-quality games.  Our terms are much friendlier than what publishers offer.  Our goal is to help indies become stronger while retaining their independence.

The past couple of years have been good for independent game developers.  Through download services like Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, WiiWare, and Steam, independent developers have found a very large audience.  Some of us have been lucky enough to develop hit indie games that were very financially successful.

Braid was one of those games.  The success of Braid has allowed me to undertake more-ambitious projects like The Witness.  At the same time, I felt that I wanted to do something with the profits that would help other indies with their own games.  More recently, while talking to publishers about The Witness, I felt that the business climate around publishing and funding these smaller games had not caught up with reality: it’s a model where the standard terms are tuned for budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.  Because publishers want to stick to this model even for low-budget games, it was very hard for indie developers to get a fair deal.

It turns out that other successful indies felt the same way, so we have pooled our resources and launched this fund.  We will be announcing further details soon.  At the GDC, Ron Carmel will be giving a talk about the problems that exist in the current publishing model for indie-budget games.

We’ve had the timing of this announcement planned for a while, but it seems like some kind of strange synchronicity that we’re revealing our existence just as all this trouble is happening at Infinity Ward.  When you’re a mainstream developer, and you’ve made one of the most successful and profitable games of all time, and then just a few months later your publisher and parent company is willing to so bald-facedly mutilate your company, well, what conclusions can be drawn from that?  If publishers of that size are so megalomaniacal as to be incapable of seeing the importance of a developer’s talent — instead believing that the game’s success is somehow due primarily to their brilliant marketing strategy or their CEO’s charming personality — then how will this ever change?

If Infinity Ward can’t be treated with respect, then who can?

Independent developers can.  That’s one answer, at least.  Indie Fund is here to help make that independent existence a reality for as many talented developers as we can.

Here’s a link to the main Indie Fund site, with an email you can use to contact us.

(Cross-posted from The Witness Development Blog.)

Name That Game competition answers, and Why You Might Wish to Play All These Games

To celebrate the release of the Braid theme for the Xbox 360, we had a Name That Game competition wherein people look at small pieces of screenshots and try to identify the games they came from.

20 people have submitted the correct answers, and so the competition is now closed. (Actually, I mailed out 25 codes, because a few of the entries looked suspiciously like they were submitted by people trying to get more than one copy. But I can’t be sure about that, and the problem wasn’t big, so I just sent out extras.) If you haven’t received a reply, you didn’t win; sorry about the lack of personal replies, but there were too many submissions to respond to each.

Here are the answers. I chose these because they are all games worthy of your time and attention:

Continue reading Name That Game competition answers, and Why You Might Wish to Play All These Games

A demonstration that Direct2D is patently ridiculous.

The previous blog post expressed the opinion that Microsoft’s new Direct2D API is bad. Some people might have been thinking, hey, that’s just your opinion, Direct2D is actually kind of neat.

As responsible party Thomas Olsen says on his blog, Direct2D is layered on top of Direct3D. The goal of such an abstraction layer ought to be to make the underlying functionality easy to understand, use and debug.

It seems like a natural question, then: if we take that hideous Rectangle demo application and re-implement it in Direct3D, what does it look like?

I have the answer for you; today I wrote a Direct3D version of this application. The output looks like this (click for full-sized image):

Continue reading A demonstration that Direct2D is patently ridiculous.

The Jeff and Casey Show on Visual Studio 2010 and Direct2D

A while ago I posted an excerpt from the Jeff and Casey Show, on advertising in games. That seemed to go over well (there sure was some animated discussion!) so let’s do some more. This episode is mainly for programmers who have to work on Microsoft platforms.

Their first rant is about Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, the upcoming version of the IDE that most game developers use for Windows and the Xbox 360 (and sometimes other platforms as well):

[audio:http://mollyrocket.com/9112?action=download]

(Here’s a direct download link).

I’ve tried to correspond with lead members of the Visual Studio team in the past about issues like this, and they seemed to just be in complete denial that anything was less than perfect.

The second rant is about Direct2D, Microsoft’s upcoming API for fast 2D drawing in Windows 7. I could see that maybe Direct3D is too complex an API for the general-purpose use of people who just want to draw 2D stuff, and so you’d want something simpler and more robust, and that’s probably why the project was conceived. How they got from that initial idea, to what has now been presented as the Direct2D API, requires such a sheer volume of incompetence that it’s nearly inconceivable that this happened. Somehow they made a 2D API that is more needlessly complicated, more brittle, and less readable than Direct3D… which provides a superset of all the functionality anyway.

The code sample that Jeff and Casey go over in this rant is not a joke. If you want to follow along, you can find it here on Microsoft’s site.

[audio:http://mollyrocket.com/9123?action=download]

(Here’s a direct download link).

God help us all.

You can listen to all the episodes of The Jeff and Casey Show by going to jeffandcaseyshow.com.

About the WGA’s Video Game Writing Awards

The Writers Guild of America recently announced the nominees for their 2nd annual Videogame Writing Awards. Anyone familiar with the games of this past year, though, will consider this a very odd and deficient list. Conspicuously absent are most of the games that stand out as well-written.

Ben Fritz at Variety recently wrote a column wondering why there’s so little industry participation in these awards, and postulating that it’s because the industry is anti-union. After all, to be eligible for the awards, game writers only need to join the Video Game Caucus and pony up some cash ($75 a year). No problem, right?

Continue reading About the WGA’s Video Game Writing Awards

Giveaway: Free Copies of Braid (Xbox 360)

To celebrate the release of the Braid theme, I wanted to give away a bunch of copies of the theme for free. But Microsoft says I can’t do that. However, I am able to give out free copies of the game itself, and I have about 20 spares.

Let’s have a Name That Game competition. Posted below are pieces of screenshots from 10 games. Correctly identify each game!

The first 20 people who mail competition@number-none.com with all the correct answers will each win a code for a free copy of Braid on the Xbox 360. The competition ends as soon as all the free copies are gone, or at 11:59pm GMT on March 23, 2009 — whichever comes first. (My bet is that at least one person gets them all within a day… we’ll see!)

If the competition ends without all the free copies having been given away, they will go to the people who got the most right answers. So even if you can’t figure them all out, send in what you’ve got — you still might win.

I reserve the right to deny people who look like they are spamming the answers to win multiple copies, or something.

The clues are after the fold. Update: The contest is now over. See this posting for the answers.
Continue reading Giveaway: Free Copies of Braid (Xbox 360)

There’s now a Braid dashboard theme on the Xbox 360 Game Marketplace.

When the new Xbox dashboard launched, we decided to do a theme for it. That theme is now ready to download. For some strange reason, it is not showing up in the New Arrivals list, so you have to go look it up by name.

Currently you can find it in Game Marketplace / Themes & Gamer Pictures / New Arrivals, but I don’t know how long it will be up there.

In the long term, you can find it at:

Game Marketplace / Arcade / Browse / B / Braid

… then click on All Downloads, and it’s “Braid Premium Theme” at the bottom of that list.

Unfortunately, we had to charge the standard Premium Theme price of 250 Microsoft Points (which is about $3.10 in American money). We want to make it free, but Microsoft doesn’t like giving things out for free. But if you do buy it, you can be secure in the knowledge that you own one of the few Premium Themes that is not an advertisement — there is no text in the Braid theme anywhere. (Seriously, Microsoft, what is with the Subway: Eat Fresh Theme?)

Here are some screenshots David took, showing how the theme looks when installed: