Defining Awesome — A new way
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  • A new way

    Written by . Posted at 5:40 pm on February 8th, 2008

    If you’re wondering what’s up with Berserker I took a little break from it cause I had exams and it’s always good to stop doing what you’re doing for a while – for multiple reasons (did you ever notice you get better at games when you’re not playing them?). In times like these I have a lot if insight, cause you can stop and meditate, and see how things really are. Good soil for epiphanies.

    I want to write here about one of these epiphanies I had less than a year ago. I was doing Crimson Glory at the time but something didn’t feel right. I felt this is not the thing I should be doing. This wasn’t just about that game but my life in general. It was a 3D game with a 2D view, so it was far more complicated graphically than what I wanted to do. From a programming point of view it was easy stuff but it wasn’t easy from an artists point of view. I had two 3D artists working at the time and the game was slowly becoming a monster. 3D is very time consuming and even these two guys couldn’t manage it, and there were still levels to be made… I slowly realized it would be overkill. So I just grabbed my balls, said fuck it, and ditched the project.

    That took a bit of courage because I was left with nothing after more than a year of production. I had no idea what I was going to do next. All I had was a complete game engine. A basis on which I could do anything.

    Then Luc e-mailed me out of nowhere cause he wanted to do some concepts for Crimson Glory. I told him it was dead and I was thinking of making a new game in 2D. He had some ideas in his head. Luc played this old Amiga game Paranoia and when he told me about it quickly a game formed in my mind. I had a vision and in like 5 minutes a new project was created. It was called Link-Dead.

    The epiphany I had was that I was doing it all wrong. With Crimson Glory I was heading into the corporate world, striving to make it big, like mainstream. Meaning I would have to really become serious about business, getting to be a real manager, stop doing games “by hand” and focus on hiring people, leading a team and producing the whole game. What’s wrong with that you might ask? Others do the game for you?

    All my life I was really heading in that direction because I had this idea in my head that if I want to make real games I have to rent an office space one day and become a game producer. Like a Hollywood movie producer. So I would have people under me and tell them what they should do. So I would have people do all the work, I would pay them money, I would sell the game… Again what’s wrong with that?

    Isn’t this what every game maker aspires to? I think everyone in the independent game industry dreams about this. Usually people don’t have enough money to pull this off or are afraid to lose it because they have other obligations, like a family, loans etc. I had the money to do this, wasn’t afraid to lose it at all. Even if I could not do it on my own I had an offer from a game company, which literally wanted to just give me cash so I make a game for them. I said fuck it because I had a new vision.

    I want to make games not have games done. The corporate business model of game making was completely on the other side of what I wanted to do in life. It wasn’t what my heart desired at all. I knew it would be just pain to go against what I truly want. It was back then when it formed in my head what I really want and I knew how to do it! I had the tools, knowledge, not only about making games but human productivity and philosophy of art which I try to write down in this blog… so… let’s start making games baby!

    I had an idea for a completely new business model. It was back then when I discovered Manowar. When something rocks my world I have to know everything about it. I learned how they do business. They make their own music, have their own record company, merchandise store, they do it all… yet at the same time they are still wearing leather and riding their bikes. They are a metal band at heart. They make money and at the same time make kick ass music and always stay loyal to their fans.

    Maybe this idea is not new, just forgotten. ID Software did this in the Keen/Wolf/Doom days. They were a garage company, they made games on their own and they sold them on their own. Now some might say these are different times, shareware games don’t sell that well anymore. This is always what losers say! It’s the games they make that are shit not the times. If something is good and people want it, it doesn’t matter if the stock market is going down or there is a war, people will buy it! I decided to go this way. The idea of Link-Dead really gave me confidence to do this. I believed that this can be done.

    So I had a game engine and an idea. I just started doing what I did best. Making a 2D game, developing new technology, working on the tools. I wasn’t worried at all, I was and am 100% confident about this idea. For a long time it was just me and Luc. I didn’t have a graphic artist or anything which is essential to make anything more than Soldat. I didn’t think about it much I just assumed somebody would come along.

    And I was right, as always. After a couple months Sigvatr e-mailed me. We quickly clicked and we knew we should be doing games together. We created Transhuman Design and hope to make a revolution in the game industry. We will make the best games possible. We will make games that we want to play. I know I want to play Berserker, I wanted to play a game like this since the dawn of time probably, and Link-Dead is also something I dream about everyday.

    I will write more about this business model which is Transhuman Design in a while, because I need to really write it down good, what it is all about. I hope it will inspire others to do the same. Until then, let the gods of war give me strength to carry this out.

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    1. First!
      I don’t get it, is there ony other difference between TranshumanDesign and the company you had a chance to create besides how many people they consist of, and thet in TD your mates will have a part of money you make as team (they are associates) rather than be paid for work (they are employees)?

    2. First!
      Please don’t start ffs.

      It would be awesome to work in a company like that, MM.

    3. Anonymous


      Sounds like a fellowship then company.

    4. funny that you say you have no graphic artist…i always tought you have one. ^^

      well if you need one i could help you 😉

    5. Booler: He dint add one but he has one now. It’s sigvatr!

      sigvatr is part of my every day social discution in class he really is an awsome person he want’s to change the world to make thing’s like he want them to be. He dosent need a reason. let the force be with you. We need more people like you to make changes because the world at certain point is unfortunatly crap.

      Transhuman Design is more like a group of person having the same vision a compagny is a group of people payd to do what 1 people wants

      here’s a point

      Transhuman Design: liberty of idea from every one in the group.

      compagny: one leader deside’s all.

    6. Sounds like a fellowship then company.

      Transhuman Design is more like a group of person having the same vision a compagny is a group of people payd to do what 1 people wants

      Yeah something like that. I’ll make another post just describing what it is about, with more details, so it becomes clear what my vision is.

      teh_ham: stupid feminists…. anyway it would be nice to get that kind of media attention for our games…

    7. Yeah, they say how prejudice is wrong, yet, they even said they haven’t played the game and are judging it off the fact that they have heard there’s sex in the game.

    8. The problem with the games of today is that they need a lot of man-hours. Today’s gamers refuse to play an FPS without pixel shading, physics, at least a bazillion polycount and HDR bloom. That obviously requires a large team and with that comes the price. The price isn’t only in dollars, but creativity. Risking a year’s work of few guys having half-time jobs isn’t the same as risking 20 million dollars. Publishers don’t care about producing good games, or games at all. There’s just the probability of getting your investment back, doubling or tripling it. Good coders and graphic artists are in demand, yet today’s games more than ever need great designers with great ideas. Unfortunately that’s not economically viable. For each three great ideas on paper, two end up as failures. Either the idea being a great theoretical concept alone by itself but not as an element of a bigger scheme, bad implementation, no previous implementations to base and build upon, or technological limits.

      I’ll be honest Michał, Soldat may be a good game, but it’s not a gamer’s bread and butter. It hasn’t got the incredibly heavy and gritty atmosphere of Stalker, the rich storyline and quest-laden world of Fallout / Arcanum, nor did it waste as many man-hours as any MMORPG. Soldat fills the space somewhere between disposable Flash games and Quake 3 Arena.

      As an indie developer you have to rely on users to provide content and gameplay. Creating content is a wonderful job, but it’s a job nontheless. Writing quests, storylines, developing art takes precious time – often more than one can spare. Sandbox-type games such as Soldat, Berserker or Link-dead rely on the user to provide the challenge, the community, and make the world feel alive in general. Each player is, in a way, the reciever as well as the creator of the game world. Such games aim mostly towards casual gamers with not much free time on their hands – an hour or so to waste. No night-long gaming sessions, no deeper meaning or emotion. Just the simplest idea ever concieved for a video game, however refined.

      Is this a curse or a blessing? Are you confined to low-content games or does that provide you with all the freedom you would ever want?

      As an indie developer, you don’t really have much of a choice. Ambitious indie projects fell by the dozens, and still continue to do so as new teams form, ambitious plans and incredible designs emerge, all to fall apart as the team realizes the amount of work they have to invest. Been there, done that.

      You do however have a different choice. While your games will never be close to any reputable single-player in terms of content, you may, and in fact should seek new design opportunities. New ideas, new modes of gameplay and engaging and challenging the player’s mind. Unlike a development studio, you don’t have a manager babysitting you, whose total lack of knowledge about gaming or programming makes ctiricizing your game all too easy – and trust me, that is a major pain. You have all the freedom in the world in certain areas. And unlike gamedev studios, you can afford a fuck-up. By your post I see you’ve used that opportunity. I give you a virtual pat on the back for that.

    9. archont:
      Game content is created in your mind. I provide a vehicle for imagination, creativity and fun to come out of you. Sadly game studios will never realize this because they do what they THINK people want, not what people really want.
      Gamers just want to have a good time. That’s what they want. But most of them think they need nice graphics, big stories and endless quests. None of it matters in the end, and if you have ever been dissapointed by a game you now probably know why.

      I’ll be honest Michał, Soldat may be a good game, but it’s not a gamer’s bread and butter. It hasn’t got the incredibly heavy and gritty atmosphere of Stalker, the rich storyline and quest-laden world of Fallout / Arcanum, nor did it waste as many man-hours as any MMORPG. Soldat fills the space somewhere between disposable Flash games and Quake 3 Arena.
      Stalker is terrible in terms of gameplay. Soldat can’t be compared to an epic like Fallout, you can as well compare it to a book. Quake 3? If we’re talking about numbers Soldat fits in the top 20 on gamespy stats (

      The sad thing about the game industry is that flash games and casual games are the bread and butter. You may not know this but yeah, that’s where the money is. But I want to create real games not shit. Even if people think they want shit.

    10. There are two types of games:

      – Games which are an experience, which are awesome the first time round but have very little replayability. These games usually rely on a plot or have scripted events. Basically like a movie with some parts where you can do stuff.

      – And Games which are games, which are usually simple and fun to play with plenty of replayability. Instead of forcing you to go down a path, it basically says “Heres the game, go play it.”

      Most mainstream games fall under the first, they provide a good first time EXPERIENCE but the replay value is crap.

      The thing that compels me to Soldat is the fact that it’s just fun to play, and – as Michal stated – gamers just want to have a good time, which is what Soldat provides. This can be backed up by the simple fact that personally I enjoy games which rely on a story (the MGS series) and games which don’t (Soldat).

      You could argue that Gamers want shitloads of pixel shaders, normal mapping, HDR bloom and all that shite, It really doesn’t matter. The only thing a dev should take into consideration when deciding on what graphics to use is if it looks awesome. Like the blood in the source engine – it sucks hard – I think the blood in the hl1 engine looks a lot better, yeah sure it doesn’t look realistic, but who cares? I like it, most other people like it, end of.

    11. Blood in Hl1 rules!

    12. watched Rambo 4 right now. Was VERY closed to tears since a LONG time. Hope god will forgive me.

      Blood, yea f***** Blood.

      Soldat isn’t a game, its a lifestyle.

    13. Game content is created in your mind. I provide a vehicle for imagination, creativity and fun to come out of you. Sadly game studios will never realize this because they do what they THINK people want, not what people really want.

      Trying to apply general philosophy to games I see? Unlike the real world, the game world is usually human-created with specific purpose in mind, with precoded solutions to problems. As for the second part, you can never do what people really want – one person alone can have problems describing what he wants (take the example of women who describe their perfect husband as a sensitive, calm, friendly man and end up with drug-abusing rockstars) – how about an arbitary group of people? You too make games based on what you think people will like, unless you practice massive-scale mind-reading. Just that your ideas may be closer to reality than those of other, more “conservative” designers.

      Stalker is terrible in terms of gameplay.
      Stalker is like being hit by a speeding KAMAZ truck. Not much gameplay in that, but oh, what an impact.

      Although I loved the ballistics model, the main selling point was the atmosphere, which was incredibly heavy, unique, industrial decay, perhaps nostalgic. I felt like Tarkovsky designed the game himself.

      As per the money being in Flash games – tis what I do for a living. And no, you won’t find a rolls royce parked in my villa’s underground garage. This line of work doesn’t give one many opportunities for self-development either. And crunch time along with the “OMG I’LL SUE YOU IF YOU DON’T FINISH IT BY YESTERDAY” attitude doesn’t promote creativity either.

    14. yea I just played halo 3 and wow it is crap. I would rather play DOOM for the atmosphere of it.

      Frankly though I only play Soldat because the low system requirments and it is fun. I would rather play 3d games but my computer sucks too much. I would suggest that you make low requirment games.

    15. “(did you ever notice you get better at games when you’re not playing them?).”

      Usually this simply means that I thought I was worse at the game than I really am or I simply forgot how easy the game actually was hahaha. 😉

    16. archont:
      how about an arbitary group of people? You too make games based on what you think people will like
      No. I make games based on what >I< want. I know what I want from a game and that’s what I am doing. I’m completely selfish :). You make flash games? I bet you have more players than me :). If you don’t have a ferrari yet, then I think you haven’t found a way to make money out of it yet, but you will. Google is starting to offer ads in them, that’s a first step.

    17. I’ll stick with Soldat thank you very much, now when is Berserker coming out? 😀

    18. No. I make games based on what >I

      I’d love to do that as well. But frankly, I’d need a much bigger team for that. And I’m not sure many people would play that either. A realistic stealth and quest-based terrorist simulator set in a pre-orwellian dystopian police state of America?

      My idea of death in games is that people don’t die often, but when they do, you have nightmares about it.

      Funny thing is, among other things, I’m making childrens games….

    19. Sounds like a good game.
      I believe that anything you like, is not unique for you. You will always find a group of people that will like the same thing as you. Let’s take a band like Cannibal Corpse. Do you think they wanted to make music that people want to hear? They probably just thought, hey lets sing about raping cadavers, that’ll be cool. And sure enough there are lots of other people that secretly wanted songs about cadaver raping. So they have a following. Nobody is really unique. Tell about that idea to other people and see what they think about it.

    20. @archont
      pick up a copy of a Metal Gear Solid game lol

      Games SHOULD BE FOR THE MASSES. Rather a group of people are made up indivual confined to socal norms.So you should meet me in the dark alleyway if u want 2 go grave digging. :)

    21. Games for the masses? Why? People are more similar than you’d say at first sight and that’s why a lot of games might be ‘suited’ for a large group of gamers anyways. Just look at Dwarf Fortress. Personally I can’t quite get into it’s ASCII graphics, but apparently there’s a jewel underneath according to many. Is it a niche game? Sure, but it’s pretty popular for *just* a niche-game.

    22. Watch out, you might become the Peter Molyneux of indie game designing.

      Also, connecting that to the older idea of giving real value to your soldiers life in multiplayer – with Fable2 they’re making it so that you can’t die, but instead fall unconcious and the player will have humiliating scars showing their defeat. That might be food for thought, even in soldat if a server is running statistics ( k:d ratio mainly ), then people start to statwhore and play more cautiously. Just mentioning that because it sure is simpler than having one life / week or day, it’s also less radical. Maybe have a vanilla mode and a hardcore mode, like Diablo had?

      Food for thought. And persistance \o

    23. MekanikDestructiwKommando

      I’m impressed with your decision. Nice work.
      I think you’ve definitely hit a truth here — the times haven’t changed, but the quality, and the love and passion behind games, has.
      Now that games have gone through a few generations, the latest generation “game designers” copy the effects and what they “see” in a game. Like a scientist analyzing the thousands of games, they invent patterns and suggest “a dynamic goal system” or “each level should have secrets” or “save systems are better then one life games because the masses say it’s more fun”, and make absolute judgements from these inane analysises..
      When Tetris, Mario and Zelda came out, there was nothing before.
      There was no “genre standards” to adhere to, there were no such things as “fan groups”. Games were made to be as awesome as what was in the designer’s head. And they were successful, monetarily too.
      Games are art, Life is art.
      Most games are mass-produced from a culture junkpile.
      I’m excited to see someone doing something original, and have the guts to cancel a project when they realized they were becoming the “bad side of corporate”. Kudos. Many kudos.


    25. MekanikDestructiwKommando: Spot on! Exactly it has become a science. That’s how the industry works and many indie developers follow the same path. It’s like you say, there was a time when good games were coming out but nobody knew what a good game should be like. People just did what they felt would be fun. And that is, in my opinion, why it worked, not because the times or people were different.

      Cosmin: woohooo good for you!

    26. :)MoNkEy(:

      Live your life how you want it, do your games how you want them to be. Thats what this nasty world is about. Keep ’em coming Michal!

    27. I am the greatest in any way.

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