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Gametunnel in decline?
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Poo Bear
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Gametunnel in decline? Reply with quote

For those that don't know, Russell Carrol runs http://www.gametunnel.com which is the premier site for indie games information. The only other site of that size/popularity is http://www.tigsource.com which seems more of a developer hangout with regular coding competitions and has a freeware focus.

In this interview Russell implies gametunnel is in decline, which is a bit worrying.

http://www.indiegames.com/blog/2008/01/interview_gametunnel_owner_rus.html

Indeed, alexa shows quite marked growth in tigsource, but a definite decline in gametunnel traffic.

There are hints in the interview that this may be the result of a shift in audience interest away from indie PC games in favour of casual games, free games (flash or downloadable) and console downloadables (xbla and psn).

It's possible it's just the website, but gametunnel has had a new facelift and has enough review staff to release new content regularly. So if anything, the website has improved its presentation and content. I also think the standard of indie games has increased over the years. Russell does work for http://www.reflexive.com/ a primarily casual games portal, but I don't think there is a conflict of interest as reflexive carry far more non-casual indie games than other portals.

Anyway, just in case it symptomatic of some greater problem with the indie audience I think everyone needs to do their bit and spread the word about any indie games you think are good.

What do you think? Is it time to crack open each others head's and feast on the delicious jelly inside or not?
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KingAl



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll just preface this by saying that (in contrast with the two alternatives Carroll presents) in a sense I view indie and mainstream 'hardcore' games as one side of the market and casual as the other - i.e. indie connotes with independent games with gameplay of a depth associated with 'hardcore'/traditional gaming, while casual games are simple, short, 'pick-up-and-play' games. Casual games could also be divided into indie and mainstream, but when I see the word indie I assume it is of the 'hardcore' kind. Obviously this is a blurry distinction, but I thought I should make that much clear.

I for one use TIGSource and Tim W's indygamer blog as my main sources of news on indie games (before its demise I was a HotU devotee). For the reasons I've stated above, I can't see casual games 'stealing' people from the indie games or interest tranferring from one to the other: the kind of people who like indie games are less likely to be satisfied by casual games and vice versa. I've always had a bit of an aversion to GameTunnel, to be honest - while I applaud Russell's efforts it feels a bit manufactured to me, though that may purely be related to its presentation.

Based on my own experience, if anything is hurting GameTunnel I'd think it's the way it seems to fence-sit between indie and casual, or at least that's how I perceive it. Given I don't visit it often, though, this appreciation may be completely wrong Razz Feel free to verbally abuse me if you disagree.

Regardless, it's most certainly the task of anyone who cares at all about indie games to evangelise. And it is always time to feast on delicious jelly, head-sourced or otherwise.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd agree that people interested in indie-hardcore are unlikely to suddenly disappear in pursuit of casual games (although the new casual-hardcore like puzzle quest and guitar hero might be starting a trend).

Perhaps free games and console downloadables have had a bigger impact. I would have thought most of the hardcore-indie audience has one of them (ps3,x360,wii). The wii is the last one to start offering indie games, next month I think it starts. All of them offer retro games. I've been playing Zelda:LinkToThePast on the Wii and I only have so much time to put into gaming (I'm supposed to be playing Armageddon Empires not Zelda).

I know "world of goo" is supposed to be an indie wiiware launch title and in fact the PC launch of the game is being held back until after it comes out on wii (expect to see a lot more of that type of behaviour). Plus, I suspect the Wii version will be $5 or $10 compared to a $20 PC version.

It could just be the website I suppose, but I thought it was getting more attractive (regular reviews, higher standard of games being reviewed, etc) not less.
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Weeble
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never really paid much attention to review sites. I don't really feel like I can trust them or that they're worth investing the time to determine whether I should trust them. Then again, I will admit to occasionally checking out Jay is Games to find Flash games when I'm bored, but I don't generally read the reviews. I'm intrigued at the notion of casual-hardcore. How do you define it?
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah yes, definitions, tricky.

This relates a bit to the post over here:
http://www.moonpod.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=3526

Cotikian touches on the issue of the miss-representation of casual games:

"Everyone, even a demographic like middle-aged women, who historically are NOT major purchasers of games, will buy games on the internet if they're designed to cater to their interests. Online, games need to be at the right level of difficulty to appeal to the intended audience."

I'd call Bejewelled and Peggle casual-light (or just casual). Casual because you don't need to read instructions or put in a lot of hours if you don't want to, very easy to get into, it's easy to control and has low hardware requirements. Light because they appeal to those interested in simple puzzles and relaxing, shallow experiences with almost no requirement for prior knowledge or skill to understand what's going on and make progress.

I'd call "puzzle quest" and "Guitar Hero" casual-hardcore. They are casual because the same definition still holds. Hardcore because they appeal to fantasy rpg fans and rock fans which are a large group but still a specific niche. They also require much more prior experience to understand what's going on.

It's interesting that Guitar Hero has been criticised for it's more traditional "game" content i.e. forcing you to achieve certain levels of skill in specific songs before allowing access to other songs. A lot of people would just like to play any song they want whenever they want, with the game achievements switched to unlocking new outfits/guitars/paint-jobs. That definitely sounds like a casual audience to me.
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