Every transition period brings both risks and opportunities, and the constantly-evolving videogaming world is especially prone to this dual nature: the platforms that were open and free from remote control until now, like Windows (pre-8), are risking to turn into closed ecosystems, even though technology evolution isn’t stopping not even for a second; the historical on-line services are shutting down glaringly showing the risks coming with reliance on an Internet connection, but software optimization is getting new speed from the old bones in the old-gen graphic cards. The endless promise of virtual reality is attracting millions-worth funding, while the PC as a gaming platform is as dead as ever.
Traditional publishers think about making money first instead of showing at least a bit of respect for the user and his needs, and that’s a fact. But as the recent case of Broken Age teaches, the path of self-production has its own drawbacks as well: despite a multi-million crowdfunding campaign closed on Kickstarter, designer Tim Schafer and his Double Fine ended up exceeding their budget - which had unexpectedly grown already compared to the initial expectations - and now plan to collect new funds by releasing a first half of the game on the Steam Early Access service. An uncharted territory, really, while traditional AAA productions continue to grind millions of dollars in stores. It’s all Star Wars’ fault, it’s always Star Wars’ fault one way or another.
Who writes is strongly persuaded of the fact that digital delivery isn’t the only possible future of video games, and I already said this some day ago. But the release of games in digital format has its advantages too, and waiting for a short in-depth post on the topic it is worth to report the Project Eternity case: Obsidian Entertainment and important names of the RPG-flavored game design have crushed every record for crowdfunding, overcoming the Double Fine adventure for the most funded game on Kickstarter (+some other bits through PayPal) with more than 4 million dollars. Eternity will be an RPG for PC, and the PC as a gaming machine is clearly dead. As usual.
Gaming machines of this generation are soon to be retired, I was saying the last time, and who is working on the “next-gen” technologies thinks about “philosophical” improvements to development besides the predictable evolutionary jump in the graphics department. Waiting to test the effects of this greater focus on design in triple-A titles, the following post is mainly about indie games in development that don’t necessarily need the Unreal Engine 4 to have their say or engage players.