OK. I'm not talking about you (necessarily). It's just a thought that I've had for a while: A lot of indie developers make these games that are super fancy and "elegant" because that's what they think indie is supposed to be about. The term "art game" or the phrase "it's not a game, it's an experience" makes me wonder if these developers realize that some people's negative reaction might just be because the game is not fun, or engaging. I'm not suggesting that every game should be fun, or just a rogue-like top-down shooter, but I disagree with the mentality of "if it's not 'artsy', it's not worth it". I believe that some games should be considered art, like Gone Home. But I also believe that some game should just be fun, like the newly released High Hell and there's space for both of these types, it just depends on what kind of game you want to make. This got started as an argument I had with a colleague about how art games try to be smart and how often that gets in the way of an enjoyable experience, so I would love to hear your opinion on this: Are indie game supposed to shoot for the moon in terms of narrative and "artsyness", or are they supposed to be entertaining and just fun?
Your Artsy Game Probably Sucks
I agree with your point about the "Business" of big studios and the risks small studios can make. It can be very easy to forgot the the biggest Studios are often owned by (Third-Grade Finance Warning) Shareholders, and that to them a atmospheric game may not be something they want to show Shareholders who want to make money. Which tragically can lead to Sequel 2: Sequel: Reloaded.
It's why I love indies. You can make things and not (generally unless our ramen budget is threatened) and not worry about the risk. Big Studios. You have 3+ million shareholders curious about the quarterly results.
Do you think Gone Home could've done anything to be more valuable in your sight? ( I haven't played it by the way, just generally curious)
Don't want to get off topic with a deep discuss of Gone Home, but in a nutshell, it's a walking simulator so there is no game to play. That can be fine, but if you're not providing any gameplay, you better have a damn interesting story. Gone Home does not. It's also way overpriced for its length. So I suppose to answer your question, things it could do to be better is either have some actual game to play, or have an interesting story, or both.
Ah thanks! I've always been curious about peoples thought. If you don't mind answering a more personal question: (and a broad one at that) what's a good price to length ratio? It's very subjective, but that has been debate I've heard a couple times about walking simulators or short artsy games.
The price for length really depends very much on the genre of game. The best way to determine this when making a game is to look up popular games that are similar and see what they are selling for and how long they are.
For adventure games (what I usually play and make), the going rate at the moment seems to be about $2-$3 per hour of gameplay. For RPG's however, that may have a longer play time but only because of repetitive battles (grinding) taking up a lot of the time, the cost per hour is going to be much less than that.
It also highly depends on the quality of the game as well. It also depends on how well-known the studio is. A well-respected studio known for quality games can charge more and still get enough sales. It also gets cheaper per hour the longer the game is, too. If you make an adventure game that's 50 hours long, that doesn't mean you can charge $100 for it because no one is going to pay $100 for an adventure game.
There are a lot of factors that come into this, but as I started off saying, the best way to find out a price for your game is to look for similar games of similar lengths that are doing well, and see what they're priced at.
An indie game isn't "supposed" to be anything
Couldn't agree more. That's the beauty of it, total freedom to do what you think a certain audience would enjoy.
Really good point there, I didn't think about the overlapping of the two sides and how it doesn't have to be one or the other. Thanks!