Andrew and myself have taken a quick look at some of the points from today’s interview – here are our opinions, what are yours?
Development of Game Maker
Andrew: It was fairly predictable that all effort is currently going into the PSP version, and given YoYo Games’ aims this is most likely a good move. Maybe PSP games could be run through an emulator on PC, or even just exported as .exes with a particular control system simulating the buttons on a PSP.
Presumably they’ll then be looking to work on iPhone/Android ports, as well as getting some PSP games made up and submitted to PSN. If only iPhones and iPod touches weren’t so popular, I’d be quite happy for YYG to just say “screw you” to Apple and ignore their devices. Apple seems to be very keen to screw up third party support in the most jerkish manner possible. DS Game Maker already exists, and with Nintendo constantly messing about with the console, making new versions etc, it seems like it’d just be a hassle for YYG to constantly alter their program for compatibility with new features.
YoYo Games App Store
Philip: With YoYo Games’ stated aim “to become the World’s most prolific publisher of Mobile Games” and Sandy revealing in an interview in December 2008 that they planned to sell some of the best games on the site (timescale then stated as ‘before the end of 2009’) it is just a matter of time before this is launched. Indeed in his recent appearance on GMIndie’s podcast Sandy revealed that the store has actually existed for some time but has just not been put online. Obviously it is important that quality control is in place – we all remember Mark’s famous “most of the games are absolute crap” speech and the now infamous plague of mentions of click the clown clones – but there are good games on there that have been sold elsewhere or have paid for versions with extra features available and there have been a handful of commercial game maker games.
Although the casual PC gaming market is large I’m pretty sure this would just be a stepping stone to distribution on portable platforms if YoYo Games are able to somehow self publish user created games on these.
Andrew: Sounds intriguing, though I’m surprised this wasn’t always the plan (unless it was and other priorities have just pushed it aside). Would be a good alternative revenue stream for the company, while also allowing people to make a little cash themselves. The main problem I foresee, which was mentioned in the podcast I believe, would be the system getting bogged down with substandard/unsellable games.
More resources for developers
Philip: This is key to enabling Game Maker users to improve the quality of their games which in turn will attract more people to YoYo Games to play, purchase and design future games. Prior to the release of Game Maker 8 contests were held to find graphic and sound resources which were included in the Game Maker distribution replacing the old ones which in some cases were over 10 years old! Resources should not just be limited to graphics and sounds however – there should be a comprehensive set of official or “approved” tutorials introducing various aspects of Game Maker and Game Maker Language. The help file in the extension maker also doesn’t currently work, as far as I can see YoYo Game’s current developer support relies entirely on community members with nothing provided in house.
Andrew: Not entirely sure if this is really a decent priority. Resource sprites will quickly be seen near-ubiquitously, meaning they start seeming ugly regardless of how well made they are. Besides, the majority of skilled GM developers can either produce more-than-adequate artwork themselves or have the knowledge to get someone better at it to do it.
Andrew: I think the rating system in general needs an entire overhaul. The site YoYo Games aims to be the game equivalent of, YouTube, recently scrapped their five star system in favour of thumbs up/down, a system I’ve always been a fan of (I actually use a “thumbs up” engine on my portfolio site). Either something like this or something at least more sophisticated than the current rating system would be more than welcome.
With regards to finding a particular game I think it’s less the search itself, more everything around it. For example, you can’t sort search results. I wanted to see the highest-rated, and most-played, Competition 05 entries, but couldn’t without looking at the 24 or so pages of results individually, writing down the ratings and plays, then manually sorting them (I didn’t do that by the way). Slightly clearer search operators would also be welcome – the site mentions how to use AND and OR as operators, but stuff like exact phrase matching would also be welcome (and made clear).
Philip: The current homepage is dreadful. I pointed out six issues with the homepage a couple of months ago but could easily have come up with 20 or so problems with the entire site. For a modern wanna-be-Web 2.0 company the website is dreadful. There have hardly been any changes since it first came online and the same games get all the exposure on the front page making the site look stale. I visit the site more than once a quarter so it would be nice to see some new games when I first visit the homepage. You can’t even subscribe to or follow your favourite game developers.
Andrew: Yeah, it needs a sort-out and an update. For starters, YoYo Legends should be ditched altogether – none of the top four most played will ever change because they’re permanently front-paged. Two of the games are faulty, ancient, poor fan-games, and their most played, Crimelife 2, actually manages to break a site rule by being listed as complete when it isn’t. I agree with What’s Hot though it may just be worth renaming so it’s clearer it’s “Recently Featured”, and perhaps it can take over the space occupied by YoYo Legends to display eight instead of four. And to those that mentioned the odd order in which genres are displayed – yes. Not only are they more popular, they’re also more common, so the lists will refresh faster. As for the Spotlight, perhaps it should be altered so it displays the eight newest featured games, then What’s Hot could display the slightly older ones.
The mentioned single login would always be handy. As long as they allow the linking of pre-existing accounts and provide some sort of verification engine so you can’t just link to someone else’s account, I’m all for this.
Andrew: It’s good to see two skilled game development veterans join the team. Shows a great deal of “serious business” sense and makes the outcome of all the advancements even more exciting. I’d thought they’d found an office already. It’s not really a bad thing, but I’d’ve thought that getting an office set up would have been a top priority – it must make progress a lot slower when things aren’t in a permanent location.
I’m wondering what role exactly this “community manager” person will have – can’t just be what it sounds like, a “moderator”, as I’m pretty sure that’d piss off all the current moderators that do it all for free. Unless it’s an eight-hours-a-day full-time thing with added powers, I guess.
Philip: I am excited at the recent announcements that we have seen. Undoubtedly there is a lot going on behind the scenes but now I think community members can be confident that YoYo Games are actively working to improve the Game Maker software and the services on offer whereas before there was little news emerging on anything. With the appointment of senior staff and more team members likely to start work soon perhaps a new era of transparency (sounds overly political I know!) is here – maybe at last this will turn into the modern and dynamic company I expected.
What do you think has been the most exciting announcement from YoYo Games in the month or so?