Designing a loot system

So I'm designing a game that's centered around a Diabloesque loot system and having a ton of fun with it:

EDIT: Here's some more from the "actual game:"

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can try downloading it here (Windows only), but it might not work right because of various reasons, most of which are my own fault. Try extracting it and running LootSystem.exe.

(Note that all of the stats and stuff aren't balanced or even really tied to anything at all. They scale by item level, and rarer-colored items get more random attributes, but that's about it for now.)

So yeah, I was wondering what y'all's thoughts were on loot systems, and what you want to see out of them. Many people see Diablo III's loot system as being kind of shitty and unrewarding (unless you use the Auction Houses), but people seem to like Borderlands and Dead Island and Diablo II, right? What would you like to see out of a game that was basically focused on the loot entirely?

I say this because I picked up Diablo III with my friend and wanted to have a great time with it, and did, for like 60 hours, but man, I expected the loot system of a Third Diablo Game to be way more satisfying than it was. So I set out to make the greatest loot system of all time, starting with color-coding, random stats, and funny names. Where do you go from here?

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I Am Alive has the worst ending of anything, ever

So I just played through this game in one sitting. My playtime clocked in at 5:53. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, visuals, sound, and even the gameplay, to a certain extent. The story, though... God, it's so lame.

Spoiler time ahead! I'm not going to bother marking them, as most of you won't play this game anyways, and, plus, it's basically the rest of this post.

Also, while we're listing disclaimers: I've slept like two hours in the past thirty-six. So... yeah.

So the game starts off with your character looking for his wife and daughter. About ten minutes in, he finds a little girl who he thinks is his daughter, but isn't. Then he spends the rest of the game reuniting her with her mother, and saving the two of them.

Meanwhile, periodically, the game keeps cutting back to someone watching the main character taping bits of the story on his camcorder. You know from the start that it's going to be a Silent Hill: Shattered Memories-style "twist," where, uh, it isn't the main character watching it, but his wife and/or daughter, because he's dead by the end of it.

After finding his house, the main character (I keep referring to him as such because I can't for the life of me remember his name) immediately forgets about finding his family in favor of helping out this other little girl and her mom. That's fine, as maybe the first and maybe second act of the story, but at some point you want to get back to the main character's story.

This never happens. The final scene of the game is on the camcorder, of main character-man saying goodbye to the little girl and her mother as they board the U.S.S. Deus Ex Machina to what's apparently a safe haven somewhere. He mentions how he still has to go find his wife and daughter, and also help out the wheelchair-bound ex-fireman who knows where they are but got kidnapped by bad guys at the last minute for no explained reason by an opposing force whose motives aren't really clear. Then, the camera pulls back, and it's a woman (presumably the main character's wife or [grown-up] daughter) watching the video on the camcorder. The camera (that you, the player is viewing, not the camcorder) pulls back, and you see all your guy's gear on a table, implying he died.

That's fucking it. Roll credits, score screen, bam, back to title screen.

What. The. Fucking. Shit.

I about had twelve heart attacks for how half-assed of an ending it was. I wasn't expecting, y'know, cinematic amazingness or anything, but man, for a game with such interesting mechanics and amazing atmosphere, it really deserved better.

Oh, and also, when you're in the kind of recurring hub-area-thing, you see a hunched-over zombie-like creature on an inaccessible(?) piece of land. When I first saw the thing, I was terrified, and kind of excited that it was going to turn out that the Event was some weird radioactive mutantmakery after all. But nope, as far as I could see, there was no way to get over there, and there were no other creatures like it anywhere else in the game. What. The. Fuck.

But yeah! The sound design is pretty good, if slightly repetitive, in terms of musical cues, the gameplay is interesting, if slightly clunky, and the graphics are atmospheric, if slightly... bad, upon close examination. The level design, visually, though, is amazing; whoever made all these levels really knows how to make torn-up-by-earthquakes-and-shit city buildings, because damn, they look great.

And now this is turning into a review or something, because I'm tired, angry at how the game ended, slightly hungry, and I have to use the restroom after sitting still for six consecutive hours. Did I mention I'm tired?

3/5

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takua108's Top 10 Games of 2011

My Top Ten Games of 2011

2011 was a weird year for games. A bunch of good ones came out near the end of the year, sure, but a bunch more were sprinkled throughout the year as well. But that's not to say that it was a bad year for games! It was actually pretty damn good, overall!

Anyways, here's my list for the Top Ten Games of 2011. These are games that I liked the most, and not games that I think are objectively the best or anything, so just know that going in.

I think the biggest bummer this year for me is the lack of indie games that were Top Ten-worthy. Whereas last year I had both LIMBO and Super Meat Boy hanging out alongside Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, and other big-budget games (not to mention having Art Style: light trax be my 2010 Game of the Year)... this year, other than Bastion being an obviously fantastic game, there wasn't a ton of indie stuff that really grabbed me. To the Moon is a fine story-told-in-something-resembling-game-mechanics, Terraria is also pretty neat, and yes, Minecraft was in fact released this year, but yeah, nothing else really stuck out this year. Here's to hoping 2012 is a better year for indie games.

1. Dark Souls

Yes, Dark Souls is my 2011 Game of the Year. And no, I'm not anywhere near finishing it. I'm giving Dark Souls the top spot because it was unlike anything I've ever played before. Yes, last year's Super Meat Boy was on my Top Ten list, but the two don't even compare; SMB has delicious, fantastic controls and then makes you use them in punishing situations. Dark Souls is something completely different. It forces you to take the game slowly and carefully, because you have absolutely no idea what the hell could be around the next corner when first scouting out a new area. Then you play that area literally dozens of times over and over as you keep dying, and eventually you have the position of every enemy memorized and you just fly through zones with ease. The bosses are similar; they're incredibly fucking hard to beat, and you have to trudge through 2-5 minutes of gameplay just to get back to them from a save point after dying, but man, after killing one, Goddamn it is the greatest feeling of accomplishment I've ever felt in a video game to date. Like I said, I'm nowhere near finishing the game, but I've logged 40 hours in already, and I plan on doing more once I'm in the mood.

2. Bulletstorm

When the Bulletstorm demo came out, I played it nonstop for a couple days. I loved the mechanics, the violence, and the idea for striving for a high score by killing as many dudes as possible creatively as possible in as short of a time as possible. I only got around to playing the game late December after it went on sale on Steam, and man, I was blown away by the campaign. They strike a perfect balance between over-the-top "you scared the dick off me" immature violence, profanity, and craziness, AND deconstruction of all of that. The game has a surprisingly solid story, and executes on it fantastically. The gameplay does drag here and there, but overall it's a great experience that had no right to be as good as it did based on its marketing. Oh, and also, Bulletstorm is freaking amazing-looking running at 60FPS on the PC. It's probably the most beautiful-looking game I've seen this year.

3. Portal 2

I really don't know what to say here. Portal 2 is obviously a great game, and you already know all of the reasons why. I liked it for all of the reasons you did, and reiterating all of them seems pointless. Portal 2 is a really good game, and playing it co-operatively with my friend, in the same room, our PCs back-to-back was an amazing experience. And yes, the part where you press your left mouse button at the end of the game is easily the most awesome thing to ever be in a video game to date. It wasn't as groundbreaking as Portal, and I think I still like the original better overall, but it's still a stellar game that everyone should play.

4. Bastion

Like Portal 2, there's not much I can say about Bastion that hasn't already been said, especially here on Giant Bomb. Bastion is just a great combination of gameplay and atmosphere, straight-up. I really like that it's a video game-ass video game, while still being a fantastic vehicle for great storytelling and showing you amazing art, music, and voice acting. More than anything else on this list, it's just a really good video game, overall. It's what a video game should be.

5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I'm really conflicted about how I feel about Skyrim. The world of Skyrim is pretty much second-to-none, in terms of having tons of stuff to do in a gigantic world while still looking great. I'm taking a break from the game as I write this list in order to get other, shorter games finished up, but Skyrim is a great game to go back to again and again to just see more of the seemingly-infinite STUFF in that game. Despite having tons of stuff to do, though, the actual gameplay is still not great. The combat is not, like, actually satisfying to me. The game still has that unmistakable Bethesda Jank to it. I'm not trying to say Skyrim isn't a great game - it is number five on my Top Ten Games of 2011 list, after all - I'm just saying that it's not the best GAME. I had Super Meat Boy on my list last year entirely because of how good it FELT to play. Bethesda made great strides between Oblivion and the Fallout games and Skyrim, and I hope they put some work into improving the actual gameplay in future titles, too.

6. Saints Row: The Third

Saints Row: The Third is like a cross between Bulletstorm and Bastion, at least, as far as why I like it. It tops Bulletstorm in terms of over-the-top crazy-ass ridiculousness, and, like Bastion, it is just straight-up fun to play. The gameplay isn't perfect, but it's a joy to play. Holding RB and pressing Y to jump through the windshield of a moving vehicle to jack it is probably my favorite repeated gameplay action of 2011. Also, it has the fantastic thing where, when you press the "dive" button, you do a roll at the end if it's a short enough fall, but if you're diving from too high a place, it turns into a basejumping animation. It's glorious. It's just little touches like that that make Saints Row: The Third a fun game to play. Then you throw the stupid dumb awesome story on top of it, and some of the most genuinely funny moments in a video game that I've ever seen, and you have a game that really shouldn't be as great as it ends up being. I really can't recommend it enough.

7. L.A. Noire

Yes, L.A. Noire has a ton of shortcomings when you look at it in hindsight. Yes, the gameplay is incredibly repetitive, and yes, the parts where you shoot like twenty guys in five minutes are incredibly immersion-breaking. But man, when I was playing it at the time, I was having a blast. I opted immediately to play L.A. Noire in black-and-white, a decision I never regretted. The atmosphere and storytelling is fantastic, and the game is really good overall, even if I did think the very end of the game was pretty lame. Maybe I'll replay the game in color at some point, as if it was "Digitally Restored."

8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

As someone who actually kind of liked Deus Ex: Invisible War and is too young to have played the original back in the day (but did eventually play it, years later), Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing evolution of the series' formula. The game has a slick visual style, a great combination of RPG and FPS mechanics, and really incredible world-building. There was a reddit meme early on wherein the player is surprised that there is more than one city in the game; I can say that this was more or less true for me. I knew that there had to be more cities, but after spending several hours just wandering around the first one, doing all the side stuff and finding all the secret areas. I was stupid and played through the game basically as Solid Snake, opting to usually reload a save whenever I was detected, but I still had a blast doing so. The slightly retconny cyberpunk universe they built for the game is amazing, and I had a lot of fun spending time in it.

9. Battlefield 3

I'm not much of a competitive multiplayer guy, and when I am in the mood for shooting some dudes over the Internet, I usually just load up TF2. But Battlefield 3 on the PC ended up being an amazing multiplayer experience, and this is coming from a guy who played maybe like fifteen total minutes of Battlefield games in the past. There's not much to say here other than that it looks great, plays great, and is just fun to play. I've grown incredibly tired of Call of Duty's "scan your screen for guys, see a guy, pull the right trigger" gameplay, and this game offers so many more options and so much more craziness that I can't imagine going back to CoD anytime soon (not that I've played CoD multiplayer in about a year). I should also mention that a lot of the fun I had with Battlefield 3 was due to the Giant Bomb community being a generally awesome group of duders to play with. I should probably also mention that I played maybe two hours of the single-player campaign before giving up. It's not great. It looks very very nice, but it's basically a shooting gallery that happens to take place in the Middle East. Not really my thing, but it totally does not detract from the amazing multiplayer in any way.

10. Sonic Generations

So Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is my #1 most favorite video game of all time. It is the game that got me into games, and the game that I played more than anything else for the first ten years of my life. Sonic Generations... man. I've played some of the recent 3D Sonic games, and they're not great. I watched a good portion of a Let's Play of Sonic Unleashed, and the daytime levels looked amazing, and the nighttime levels looked like utter garbage. Well, Sonic Generations is those daytime levels, combined with nostalgia from every Sonic game ever. I mean, they have a super dope remix of Super Sonic Racing, for crying out loud. Which reminds me: even though this game plays pretty alright for a 3D Sonic game, I'm really giving it a Top Ten spot because of the music. It's fantastic across the board (except for the Modern remix of Chemical Plant Zone, which I don't care for at all).

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn mini-review thing

I waited years for this game, and it's... eh, okay.

Spontaneous mini-review!

TL;DR Combat is stupid easy, puzzles are stupid easy, the game doesn't tell you when there's a point-of-no-return and you're going to miss stuff forever, but the art is amazing and the story is surprisingly good.

I was having a great time playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn today (getting into it again for my trip tomorrow), but then I got to this point where you have to go and collect all the djinn (collectible creatures, for the uninitiated) and summon tablets before you go to the next area or else miss them forever.

Did I mention that it doesn't even tell you this in the game, you have to read a guide to know where these points are? And in case you didn't play the previous two titles in the series, there was nothing like this in those games (definitely in the first, not 100% sure about the second); you could traverse the world as you pleased.

This stupid B.S. and the fact that 90% of the puzzles aren't even puzzles, but just "see this here unlit torch? Cast 'Fireball' on it to open the door to the next room" Zelda crap makes this game less awesome than I initially expected.

Oh, and the battles are stupid easy to the point of ridiculousness. If I run into one, two, or sometimes three creatures in a random encounter, I can almost always kill them by mashing "A" (Attack, [target creature], Attack, [target creature], etc.). On slightly harder monsters or large groups of monsters, I just have each character cast an area-of-effect spell, and it kills everything in one or two turns.

I almost always only need to heal up between battles, and even then, running out of PP (Psynergy Points [mana]) is never a problem or anything. I haven't slept at an inn yet, except to advance the plot. I've never used a healing item, and I sell all that I get, including Water of Life (revives player) (each character has a djinn that can revive a player and Matthew just got it as a spell) (and it's worth hella monies).

Bosses are a little more difficult, in the same way that picking lifting a can of soda over your head is more difficult than raising it to your mouth. For every boss so far, I first spend four turns having each character use djinn effects.

(Quick explanation of djinn for non-Golden Sun fans: When you "use" a djinni [singular of "djinn"], it does an effect on a character, the party, or the enemy [healing, damage, confusion, stun, etc.], then becomes "on standby." When djinn are on standby, you can "spend" them to cast summons. After being used for summons, they are then put into "recovery" for a few turns, and can't be "used" during that time.)

After four turns of status effects and minor damage on the boss and healing and buffs on the party, I then have each character use a summon on the boss. If this doesn't kill it, do it again, after the djinn haven't recovered. Throw in some light healing occasionally, and you have a dead boss in like ten turns, max.

It's just silly; the combat system is really good, and you have a ton of options on how to do stuff, but you just... don't need to use any of them except for a few. And did I mention it's stupid easy?

The art is amazing, though, and the story, while confusing at times (pretty much every town or civilization has some beef with another town or civilization) is surprisingly good and sometimes genuinely funny. The only downer in this area is that only a handful of characters return from the previous games, and two of those characters are talking trees. Only two of the main protagonists of the first two games are seen in-game, but the rest are frustratingly referred to constantly.

Overall, as a rabid Golden Sun fan, the game is alright. I wish I could turn up the difficulty of the combat somehow, and I wish there were more difficult puzzles, and I wish you could retread through every part of the world you've been to at any time, but it's okay. It's fun. It's very nice-looking, for a DS game.

Oh, and as a self-proclaimed menu connoisseur, the menus are awesome. They are about as perfect as I've seen in a game. I could go on all day, but I'll spare you, since let's face it, you either didn't read this far or skipped right down to this paragraph because the link stood out. Right?

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I just fell asleep to the Bombcast and woke up before it was done

Hey guys. So I haven't been blogging for awhile. In fact, my last blog post was my Drunk Blog. Wow.


I fell asleep super-late last night, having stayed at a friend's house playing Portal 2 co-op until 2AM (we both saved our co-op virginity until summer vacation). In order to ensure that I was going to wake up at 7:30 for my orientation at Walmart, I took a legally-prescribed Adderall and drank a Monster before going to sleep, knowing full well that I'd only get maybe two hours of sleep, but that I'd be wide awake and ready to roll afterwards.

Well, it worked exactly as planned; I fell asleep during Jeff's talk about Brink and woke up (was woken up by?) E-MAILS. So now I'm wide awake at 6:15AM and ready to listen to Walmart propaganda and sit in front of a monitor whose refresh rate is so low that it will murder my eyes and learn about how to not sexually harass people at the workplace and handle hazardous spills. I know that this is how it's going to happen since I spent 1.6ish years working at Walmart, only ending nine months ago when I tried (and failed spectacularly) to go to college.

I wrote literally about 20 paragraphs explaining how my life's been just now, and then deleted them because it was long and boring. In short, I more or less flunked out of college and learned that traditional schooling is not for me, and finally convinced my parents to agree with me. Now I'm looking at working at Walmart until I can get into DigiPen, the school of my dreams. Hopefully I can get in this fall, but maybe not.

Anyways! I've been addicted to Frozen Synapse lately. You should check it out.  Yes, you.
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Drunk blog? Drunk blog!

I may or may not be joining the drunk blog club with this post.

We're in a hotel room, watching late-night television due to boredom.

Shoperotic is the funniest Goddamn thing I've ever seen on television. Jackmaster? Hilarious.

However, Walk-In Baths are the fucking Goddamn future. I want ten in my next house.

My butt is wet from what I can assume is a beer spill. This is a travesty.

Now we're watching Animal Planet. The show is apparently about killing animals though. Apparently there's an overabundance of mice in rural Australia? Great.

Oh shit, pizza crust in this box here... fantastic!

"The sea is the only place around Streaky Bay not infested with rodents." Hahaha.... "streaky bay."

On a scale of one to drunk right now, I'm probably about 6.5. And no, "one to drunk" isn't be being drunk; I use that expression all the time. Not "one to drunk" but "one to x."

So I'm trying Firefox and apparently CTRL+I opens your fucking bookmarks sidebar thing! And Whiskey Media's WYSIWYG editor doesn't override it! Fail, on both parts.

This is the silliest blog post I've ever made. Look at the format; not even paragraphs, but just lines, with spaces in between the lines.

If I were to describe the hotel room I'm in in terms of Flight of the Conchords songs, I'd say that it has "Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor)." (I hope that's the name of the song.) The dick-to-non-dick ratio is 2:1, I think, but it's hard to count. Just kidding, it's 2:1 (4:2).

This is not my first time being drunk, but it is the first time I've been drunk enough but simultaneously not-drunk-enough to write a blog post coherently. I even spell correctly when I'm drunk because I actually pay attention to the red squiggles under words. I am mildly surprised that Firefox recognizes the word "squiggles."

Now the teevee is talking about raccoon feces. This is the greatest! God bless Animal Planet. Apparently the feces are urine-soaked. Fantastic!

I was going to note something about myself but then I didn't. What was it? You'll never know!

I think I'm sobering up, so it's time to go try some more homemade grog. When I say "grog" I mean "Spike Your Juice-tainted Welch's Grape Juice that has been fermenting for two weeks." Mix it with some fruit juice and it's quite delicious.

Animal Planet is talking about Streaky Bay again. It's the funniest shit.

Alright. Grog is in hand.

Now I'm typing without looking at the screen. Just kidding, I looked. Shit.

I think my back is moist, which is too bad because I'm wearing my Whiskey Media member's shirt. I don't know if it's alcohol or sweat, but it's damp either way. Moist, even.

The ratio of people on laptops in this room to people not-on-laptops is 1:1. The other two guys in the room are playing Age of Empires II. That's pretty ballin'. I'm not, though.

I do hope I get formally recognized as being in the Drunk Blogging Club, or whatever it's called these days, despite my lack of misspellings and grammar mishaps. Ironically, that's the name of my newest album: "Grammar Mishaps."

That was a joke.

As a Valve fan, I love this whole Portal 2 shit that's going on, but I'm more sad about Encyclopedia Dramatica going down than anything else. I mean, seriously! An Internet cultural touchstone has been erased from existence and hardly anyone cares. Fuck the Internet.

Speaking of Internets, I read on Reddit today that

(Hold on, I thought I'd note that "Reddit" is in Firefox's built-in dictionary. "Digg" is too, and so is "Slashdot." In this respect, they are beating the hell out of Chrome.)

Asia is out of IPv4 addresses. That is some trippy shit!

"Trippy" is not in Firefox's built-in dictionary, though, so fuck that. I don't even smoke weed or anything like that, but fuck that shit.

On that note, I think I'll end this drunk-blog post.

Fuck it!

EDIT: I apologize in advance for posting this in Off-Topic. Well, it's not really in advance since I just posted it there. But still! Sowwy!

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Want the Persona 4 HUD on your desktop?

I know I did. After Googling about, I found that someone had made a Rainmeter skin for it, but it didn't look good enough, so I edited it a bit, redoing most of the artwork: 

The battery meter is part of another Rainmeter skin, as is the grayish bar. Everything else, though, is part of the skin!

 Here's an old screenshot of it, when it still had the time on it. Compare to the original (not-made-by-me) skin and the actual, in-game HUD!
All you need to do to get it is: 
  1. Install Rainmeter (Windows only)
  2. Download this file
  3. Extract the contents to the "Rainmeter\Skins" folder in your "Documents" folder (C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins if you're using Windows 7)
  4. Go to this weather website thing
  5. Find your location either by ZIP code or by typing in your city, state, province, country, or what have you
  6. Once you've found the correct page for your city, copy the name that shows up. For me, it was simply "Aberdeen, South Dakota"
  7. Open Persona4.ini in that folder that you just extracted
  8. Look for "[Variables]," and overwrite "Aberdeen, South Dakota" with whatever you just copied (unless you actually do live in Aberdeen, South Dakota, in which case we should hang out sometime)
  9. Save and close Persona4.ini
  10. Right-click on "Days.ttf" in the Persona4 folder, and click "Install" (or, if this doesn't work, copy it into C:\Windows\Fonts)
  11. Launch Rainmeter, if it isn't already running
  12. Right-click on the tray icon, then select "Configs" -> "Persona4" -> "Persona4.ini"
  13. Drag it into the upper-right-hand corner if it isn't already there
  14. And you're done! If the weather icon isn't showing up, right-click on the skin and click "Refresh Skin"
 
Feel free to post any problems you're having getting everything to work, or any suggestions you have for future versions. I'm super new to Rainmeter skin-making, and I think that this turned out pretty alright, but I'm not opposed to adding functionality to make it even more awesome :) 
 
Oh, and while the font for the time-of-day phrase is spot-on, the font for the date doesn't 100% match the one found in the game. I spent several hours scouring the Internet for a similar font, and this "Days" font is the best I could find. If anyone knows of a more accurate font, let me know! 
 
EDIT: I forgot to mention that I removed the purpley semi-transparent background thing from the original version of the skin because without it, you can combine it with other Rainmeter skins and it looks nice. If anyone really wants a version with that thing in it, I can upload that, too.
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Working on a new game!

So about a week ago I decided that, over the course of the weekend, I'd pick a color palette from colourlovers.com and design a game around it over the course of said weekend. I ended up not finishing it that weekend due to having ideas that will take longer than that to execute, but progress is going well, and I'd say that I'm maybe 60% done. This will be the first game that I've actually finished. 
 
It's called Interior, and it's a lo-fi adventure puzzle game of sorts. I made the game entirely at 160x120, because a.) it looks like a 2600 game and b.) it's really easy to draw and animate stuff at such a small resolution. The sound effects in the game were all generated using sfxr, and the music was created almost entirely with Tweakbench VSTs, mostly Monomate. As a result, the sounds sound pretty 2600y also.
 
I more or less started making it because I was updating my personal website and I added a "games" section, only to realize that I've never completed a game. I'd really love to tell you what kind of game it is and what games I've been playing that inspired me to create it, but everything I'd be saying would be spoilers.
  
Interior will be finished within a month or so (I really ought to start focusing on schoolwork), and probably take 20-30 minutes to complete. 

 Part of the retro-awesome loading screen slash splash screen

 The title screen

 A mysterious and semi-spoilery screenshot!

All of the controls in the game! 
I might post more as I work on it more, but I really, really don't want to spoil anything. I will post a forum-linked blog post once it's done, though. 
 
EDIT: I didn't really mean to post this in the forums, but eh, fuck it, why not. 
 
EDIT AGAIN: Oh, and, in case it wasn't clear, the basic gameplay is "move around the screen, brawler-style (up and down move backward and forward on the z-plane) and interact with stuff, moving between screens in a kind of Metroidesque way. I figured the world didn't need yet another 2D indie platformer :V
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Convincing my friends to give their music away for free

So I made a website for my friends' band, and I'm helping them with all the social Internet stuff for it, such as posting their tracks on last.fm and so forth. We use SoundCloud as a means of hosting the tracks to be played on the website. 
 
Yesterday, they found out that I had enabled free downloads of the tracks and were kind of shocked and appalled by my doing so. 
 
At first I was confused, but then I realized that they didn't understand the Internet as well as I do. These are guys who are going to college right now to be music majors in hopes of having their band get relatively popular. (Failing that, they'll either teach music in schools, or other music majory jobs like that.) They see me checking that "enable free downloads" box as just giving away free copies of their music when they feel that they should be paid for it. 
 
Which they totally shouldn't! I'm not saying that these songs are bad or anything; I think they're actually pretty good and I find myself humming and whistling them constantly (though that may be due to me waking up at noon on weekends to them having been practicing in our room for the past hour [I'm a pretty sound sleeper]). 
 
It's just, they churn these songs out in one to three days by sitting in our dorm room (I live in a four-person suite, which consists of two bedrooms with two beds each, a maybe 10'x15' "living room" area that's more couch than room, and a bathroom), coming up with ideas for songs, recording them in said dorm room, mixing them in GarageBand, and exporting them (as MP3s only after I showed them that nobody uses m4a, the GarageBand default) in half a week or less. The drummer (the guy whom I share a bedroom with and have known since I was like six) is particularly talented, but, since they lack the facilities to record drums in any real way, they just put the drum tracks together in GarageBand by using... *gasp* stock drum kit samples. They record the vocals in a "recording booth" we made in the corner of our room out of  the box that my card table from Walmart came in and copious amounts of duct tape: 

I just don't think you should sell your music when this is what your recording booth looks like (I'd take a better picture, but it fell off the wall when I touched it.)
They put the guitar tracks in the song by plugging their guitar into a USB recording thingy, and then using a virtual GarageBand "amp" to make it sound the way they want, for crying out loud. 
 
Again, I'm not saying that these guys aren't musically talented or anything; quite the opposite. They spend five to seven hours a day in music classes (white I take five gen ed classes and fuck around on the Internet, watch anime, make websites and games, and play more games than I probably should).
 
Anyways, back to my point about them not understanding how the Internet works. I posit that, at the current state of Almost Illustrated's popularity, if someone has an MP3 on their iPod with "Almost Illustrated" as the "Artist" ID3 tag, then this is fucking awesome, whether they paid for it or not. Fans are fans, and right now, they don't really have any fans. Their Facebook page gets forty viewers a day (while the awesome website I made for them gets a mere 5-10), and Facebook claims that they have over 100 "active users," whatever that means. They recently opened for Quietdrive (who is apparently a band?) to much success, and they have gigs at local bars every now and then. 
 
 Quietdrive: apparently a band? (PICTURED: Almost Illustrated [my roommates], not Quietdrive)
Despite all of this, nobody is begging for media, either physical or digital, of their stuff, yet. I'm going to try to explain to them later today that giving their (non-final, not-even-fully-recorded) music away for the time being is the right move to make. 
 
What do you guys think? Am I just being a crazy Internet-Libertarian as usual, or do I have the right idea?
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