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Check out VODO’s Otherworlds Bundle!

April 14, 2014
tags: , ,

I’ve got my copy! Get your otherworldy bundle…

Here’s the skinny on the great content we’ve curated for what we think is our best cross-media bundle yet:

Ghosts With Shit Jobs 
(Mockumentary satire by former Adbusters Editor, Jim Munroe)
a brilliant, satirical indie flick about the future of dead-end jobs” io9

AI Wars: Fleet Command 
(Brilliant RTS from Arcen Games)

“Expertly crafted” Boomtown, 90; “close to perfect” Dark Zero;  “Excellent space strategy.” PC Gamer

Drones
(Awesome indie feature by Amber Benson and Adam Busch of Buffy fame)
“The Office meets Close Encounters”,  “office politics take on cosmic dimensions” Eye For Film;  “a heightened reality that’s just left-of-center…. It’s hard not to root for a film that can translate intergalactic drama into water cooler talk.” Notcoming.com


The Surrogates 1, 2 and Case Files 
(Top-notch graphic novel collection from Top Shelf Productions)
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! “The Best Indie Book of the year.” IGN;  “An absolutely fascinating piece of work — heartfelt and thoughtful” Fantasy & Science Fiction;  

As well as:
Future My Love, a documentary from Maja Borg:
Romance and politics in the ruins of economic collapse

Bientôt l’été, Tale of Tales games:
Existential gaming at it’s most atmospheric 

Blink short-film compilation; Clarkesworld magazine, 4-month subscription; The Apex Book of World SF:
Collected works of short-form Sci-Fi in movie and magazine form 

Sabled Sun 5-part album suite; Not Not Fun records Out-There EP:
Soundtracks for your ride – file under deep-spaced 

It’s a TRIP!

WHERE THE MONEY GOES
70% of contributions are divided between content providers, 25% goes to VODO and 5% goes to our chosen charity for the bundle, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.

Yogscast Talks Chainsaw Warrior

March 28, 2014

Made me laff anyway :) as they riff on Chainsaw Warrior

The Board Game Renaissance: Buried Treasure and Chainsaw Warriors

March 26, 2014

I’m doing a talk at Quo Vadis on the 9th April at 2-2.45pm!

The Board Game Renaissance: Buried Treasure and Chainsaw Warriors

With over 370 apps per day now being released, how can an indie developer stand out from the crowd? One approach is to re-invigorate an older IP, which is the route taken by Auroch Digital who recently relaunched Games Workshop’s classic 1987 solo-boardgame ‘Chainsaw Warrior’ on mobile and PC. The games producer and designer, Tomas Rawlings, will talk though the process of going from dead tree to pixel, what they learned from the process, what of the classic game was kept and chat was changed during the conversion process, how they worked with the IP holder and what their future plans are. He will also talk more generally about the strategy behind this decision of seeking buried treasure in the form of older IP and more specifically about ones that can, with a bit of polish, be made to shine. He will also discuss how other developers can see their own gaming gold.

#GameTheNews Shortlisted for GamesIndustry Innovation Award!

March 19, 2014

I’m very happy to say that our Auroch Digital’s Game the News project has been shortlisted for Innovation in Social Responsibility at GamesIndustry Innovation Awards! We’re incredibly honoured to be shortlisted amongst so many worthy and amazing projects. Here’s the full list of the category we’re in:

Innovation in Social Responsibility – The shortlist

Gaming has always been about fun: bringing some goodness into the world via the medium of play. With this prize we hope to celebrate those companies who choose to give something back to their communities and society at large ­ either through direct work for charity (or by being a charity itself), making staff feel valued or the support of good causes with fundraising drives or sponsorship. With the mainstream press still happy to keep games at the front of the evil scapegoat folder, these are the initiatives which are fighting back.DonateGames

Like any charity, DonateGames relies on the generosity of its patrons, but by focusing on the donation of unwanted games and hardware instead of cash, this group lets people clean their lofts and their consciences in one fell swoop.

HumbleBundle

What began as a way of garnering attention for indie titles whilst also giving to several charities, the Humble Bundle now attracts the world’s biggest publishers. By giving the customer the power over how much goes where, Humble Bundle has made its giving completely transparent and hugely popular.

GametheNews.net

Encouraging young people to take an interest in the world of current affairs isn’t easy, but Auroch Digital’s project has produced 15 educational short games which bring today’s key issues to the fore in a memorable and enjoyable fashion.

Special Effect

Special Effect changes lives. It might not have the scope of some of the projects here, but an incredible bespoke service and tremendous levels of engagement and after care have made it one of the industry’s most treasured and admired outfits.

RuneScape – Well of Goodwill Initiative

Proof that free-to-play can definitely be used for good, this in-game fundraiser from Jagex raised over $90,000 for good causes as players donated in-game funds equivalent to thousands of hours of effort.

GamesAid

Supporting a wide range of charities voted for members, GamesAid is never afraid to try something new to raise money. A constant calendar of events and interesting new activities keeps this charity at the forefront of industry minds year round – raising over £1 million for good causes in the process.

A special day for James – Total War: ROME II

A truly personal event dedicated to a single member of the Total War community, A special day for James helped realise the dreams of a terminally ill young man suffering from liver cancer, bringing together the studio’s staff and players for a cause which touched more than just one life.

Please vote for us here, if you think we deserve it of course!

Advertising in an Infinite Space and the Problem of Digital Ads as Income

March 12, 2014

When we started GameTheNews.net I was looking at ads as a possible route to generate income. Big freemium companies were paying good money for installs of thier games. However for us that road didn’t really work out for us. Either the juxtaposition of an ad for some cute Candy Crush type title would jar next to Endgame:Syria or the volumes you needed to make the income worked against the aesthetic of making games with political content. Within our games we swapped to only ads for our own content and moved back towards paid content.

Since then the ebb and flow of advertising has become something of an interest to me. Aligned with our decision to drop ads in our games, I read with interest a post by the What’s App people, in a post entitled ‘Why We Don’t Sell Ads‘:

No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake… and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.

(Now they’ve been purchased by Facebook – an ad selling behemoth, it will be interesting to see how this ethos, if it does, changes?)

So it was with great interest that I read this article entitled ‘Profits of Doom‘ looking at the ad income of the Daily Mail group. It is a fascinating read:

In the same report DMGT also reported that their print advertising was down 2%, bringing in only £53million this year. This figure was kind of brushed over in favour of talk of website growth – played down almost – but it’s worth a quick look.

£53 million is £12 million more in ad revenue than the website generates. Yes, the website’s growth has been impressive – it has become the biggest newspaper website in the world – but it’s actually pulling in much less cash [£41 million] than its dead-tree equivalent.

The Daily Mail’s circulation is 1.6 million [online is 160 million unique users a month], about 1% of its apparent online audience. So the ad space they’re selling online is actually, relatively, worthless and it appears to be their only major stream of revenue.

Let me repeat that: 1.6 million newspapers brings them £53 million – £33 per paper sold – yet online brings less at £41 million for many more hits, 160 million but generates only £0.25 per hit. That’s income not profit. Not good numbers at all.

So why do so many digital-eye balls generate so little ad space? There are many reasons but this quote from the article caught my eye:

For every new page impression mailonline gains, the site will spawn roughly five new advertising slots. So the more popular the site becomes, the more available ad space they have to fill. As laws of supply and demand dictate, a surplus of advertising space means that its value drops. Ad agencies have taken advantage of this to drive down the price of the display inventory by trading it through an exchange, so its actual value sits closer to one pound per thousand views. A long, long way off anyone’s ratecard. This problem isn’t exclusively the Mail’s – this is happening all over the internet – but if the page impression isn’t an entirely debased currency as yet, we are wading about in the wheelbarrows-of-cash-for-a-loaf-of-bread stage of hyperinflation. The people who are driving the problem are the link-baiters and page-views chasers (i.e. the Daily Mail). The people who stand to lose the most from it are the people who have built their entire business model on it (i.e. the Daily Mail).

In the digital space, ads are selling into a virtual space where there is almost no limit on the amount of ad space there is. As new digital spaces open up from Twitter, Faceboo, mobile etc – they all do so with swathes of ad space. Making ads in games and apps with over 300 per day released on iOS alone is just compounding the problem.

Add to that the issue that in the digital space, consumers are more empowered to act against ads they don’t like in a way they can’t so easily in the real world. Hence we see a plethora of pop-up and ad blockers.

There is no way ads are going to go away, but there seems little probability they are going to help save the media industry or to make gaming more money that the other business models…

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land Hits Steam!

March 7, 2014

Oh yes! After getting Greenlit last year, we’re hitting Steam!  Here’s the full info…

Upgraded WW1 Themed ‘Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land’ Arrives on Steam

http://bit.ly/wastedlandsteam

The multi-award winning World War 1 strategy RPG launches today on Steam for PC. The critically acclaimed title originally launched on mobile and PC in 2012. The title successfully passed Steam’s Greenlight process and now arrives as a fully-fledged game on Steam. The Steam launch includes updated graphics and the bonus DLC “Kaul’s Dairy”, which had previously only been available on iOS and is priced at $5.

The game features 14 levels set in the trenches of World War One. The player controls a team of up to six investigators charged with uncovering a deadly inhuman conspiracy underlying the clash of empires of the Great War. Barbed wire, mustard gas and machine guns prove to be the least dangerous challenges the investigators encounter as they venture into no man’s land to solve the mystery of the Wasted Land. As the game progresses, the player must build up the team’s skills, weapons and equipment to counter the rising tide of darkness. As well as the physical danger, the investigators must guard their sanity against myriad horrors that threaten to destroy them.

To stay in touch with the developers and get updates on the game, help and strategy guides, connect to Red Wasp Design on Facebook, Twitter and on their site at redwaspdesign.com

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land (iPad screenshot)

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land – Click to go to Steam…

Jennifer Ann’s Group announces the “7th Annual Life.Love. Game Design Challenge” with a first place prize of $7,000

March 4, 2014

This looks like a great design challenge and a worthy cause:

Jennifer Ann’s Group announces the “7th Annual Life.Love. Game Design Challenge” with a first place prize of $7,000.

Can you create a video game about teen dating violence . . .
without using violence in the game itself?

Since 2008 Jennifer Ann’s Group, a nonprofit charity headquartered in Atlanta, has run a game design challenge to promote awareness of teen dating violence and provide educational information to protect teens. The contest is the largest and longest-running of its kind in the world and was recently named a 2014 Top 10 Trailblazer as selected by the National Youth Advisory Board. The contest is open to all over the age of 13 and receives entries from both the domestic and international video game community. The winning games for 2013 came from Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, and Thailand.

Previous winning games have been received with a great deal of praise:

“I was surprised how much I learned about my own relationships as well as having some really useful conversations with my family about establishing healthy boundaries.”
- Geek Dad, Wired.com

“Unlike some games with a message, Finding Jane really allows you to interact with your environment and keeps the preachy facts at a minimum. It’s a great example of learning by doing.”
- Jen Schiller, Kotaku

“I approached Grace’s Diary quite sure I had never encountered dating violence. But playing caused me to stop and remember back to when I was a teenager, and I realised that wasn’t completely true.”
- Microcosm Gamer

“This is the first game to get a perfect 5 on this site, and I’m not just being swayed by the fact that it’s made to support a good cause.”
- GirlGameReview

Drew Crecente, Executive Director of Jennifer Ann’s Group, has this to say:

“Video games are often unfairly blamed for violence in our society. Using them as a tool for social change to prevent violence is fitting as well as being very effective. We have found that teens prefer to explore a sensitive issue like teen dating violence through self-paced exploration. Additionally, parents like to use these games as an easy way to begin a conversation with their teenagers about abusive behavior in dating relationships.”

Registration for the contest is open now and entries are due by June 1, 2014.

Rules, sign-up information, FAQs, and previous winners are available through Jennifer Ann’s Group online at:http://bit.ly/LifeLove2014 (http://stopTDV.com/2014-life-love-game-design-challenge.htm)

ABOUT Jennifer Ann’s Group – Jennifer Ann’s Group is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization preventing teen dating violence through awareness, education, and advocacy. The organization has been instrumental in the passing of legislation mandating teen dating violence awareness in schools and has distributed over 1/2 million free educational materials to schools, churches, and other organizations throughout the U.S. and U.K. at no cost to the recipients.

On February 15 2006, Jennifer Ann Crecente – a high school senior – was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Jennifer was an honor roll student in high school, a camp counselor, a hospital volunteer, and participated in community theatre with her dad. Jennifer Ann’s Group is run by her father.

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