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Wednesday 21 November 2007

When your Hero Goes Mad [Lurks]

Jeff Minter recently had a bleat. Which is newsworthy for us since our hero and inspiration for the clan name itself is non other than the Yak himself. He's bleating about the fact that Space Giraffe on XBLA was outsold by Frogger:

"not seeing a ot of reason to continue even trying to make games, at this point, when a remake of Frogger, one of the worst games in the history of old arcade games, can outsell Space Giraffe that we put so much love and effort into, by more than ten to one, in one week.""OK, we get the message. All you want on that channel is remakes of old, shite arcade games and crap you vaguely remember playing on your Amiga."

I have to say I find this more than a little odd. The Yak has basically done virtually everything he can for much of his career to make sure that his games are played by as few people as possible, leaping from one crap defunct platform to another. He's also gone to absolutely no lengths whatsoever to make his games approachable by people who are not familiar with his psychedelic musicolour type background.

With that in mind, why on earth get upset about a game now that's a remake of an arcade game. I mean let's be clear, most of Minter's classics were themselves remakes of arcade games. In terms of genuinely coming up with a new game, he's just never done it. He takes arcade gameplay and then makes the graphics nutso. It's well and good but quite clearly it's not going to be as popular as one of the most famous arcade games the world has ever known. Buying into his own bullshit perhaps?

The last bit is just as rich really. Vaguely remember playing on the Amiga. So let's lambast the entire retro gaming scene, only the genre which actually gives succor to his self indulgent game development career of late, and take issue with the exact flavor of crap old arcade remake they want to play.

I think it's about time the Yak got out of bed in the AM and smelt his own rancid wet fur. Maybe look out the window, realise it's a new era and maybe it's time to get a shave, play some modern games and see what people are really doing these days. Assuming he wants to earn an actual living from this stuff.

You can be an ecentric nutjob, and you can wear your heart on your sleeve (as they did when faced with the tiniest bit of reasonable constructive criticism on their forum), and we'll still love you. There's a place for that but everyone has to have a dose of commercial reality out there and not just believe that their own whacky out version of reality ought to do well because it's really good man.

Yak dear chap, if you want your games to actually sell, you might want to look outside the legions of forum yes-men and groupies who are looking to you because they vaugely remember playing something you did on some old computer. I think XBLA is a fine place for the last of the backyard coders (when the fuck are Introspective going to do stuff on XBLA?!) but gaming has moved on since Tempest and Trip a Tron. Mostly there's just more games, so if you hide all your stuff underneath piles of impenetrable psychedelia then most people will simply wander off to play something they know they will like.

Most of all, though, I'd say you just need to walk away from Space Giraffe with a bit of humility and respect for the audience. I wanted to love Space Giraffe desperately but it just didn't quite work for me. So learn from it. Go off and listen to people (without spinning into a forum tantrum) and work out what CAN work on XBLA. I think we're receptive to a Llamasoft game. We'll definately try it when I wouldn't try any crap like Frogger (I mean come on, that's HARDLY your audience is it). You just need to pick your socks up and bounce back with a better executed game that people can largely pick up and play because that's what XBLA is about.

I know you can do it. I've still got faith in you. All you need is a little more patience and a little less emo.


  1. It would seem the Yak has decided to stop writing dev blogs. In an ideal world that's not the solution, really. The solution is more to look away from the forum sycophants and just get a better sense of games that people want to play. We all find dev blogs interesting. Even an emo rant is more interesting than nothing at all. I think the Yak has basically misconstrued the target of the criticism really.Still, some of the stuff that's been said is heartening:"We're invested in XBLA now, and we need to re-use the [Space Giraffe] framework for a couple of reasonably quick games - I think that's the way to make it work out for us, we just need more games in the pipeline. I'm already halfway through the next one and I just want to get my head down and get on with it."Spot on!


  2. But won't Frogger be still more popular than these other Giraffe-a-likes?