Open letter to Chris Delay about Prison Archetype

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Will you pay for pre-order and/or alpha testing?

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Open letter to Chris Delay about Prison Archetype

Postby OpenFlow » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:32 pm

Hi Chris,


Compared to DEFCON, Prison Architect is going to be largely a single-player game, correct? If so, how are you going to tackle the problem of piracy and cheating? Traditionally, DEFCON has at least some level of deterrence against both because of the very heavy multiplayer nature of the game. Prison Architect as a standalone game would likely to be easily cracked unless you are going to use some sort of more persistent online activation /authentication key check system (which would go against Introversion's long stated policy of a minimum DRM system; checking for duplicate keys and requiring internet connection for multiplayer games is one thing, doing that for single player is a completely different story ). How are you going to deter piracy on the PC platform? As you know, even steam games can be cracked. Will Prison Architect simply be competitively priced? But in order for that to be feasible, the game must sell in volumes.... so what kind of market analysis have you done? Do you think a prison type of game really has that sort of mass appeal to the general gaming audience or in the indie space outside of the fans and followers of IV?

On the element of game cheating.... the whole structural tension of something like Prison Architect (a sim's like game) is an economic one, how to optimize in the face of limited resources and opportunity costs. How are you going to deter against cheats, trainers, memhacks (such as CheatEngine use, etc)? Will you code some sort of in-game cheat detection mechanism that makes this harder to do? Or will you require internet connectivity in all games and have an anti-cheating server examining all actions against expect monetary values so as to prevent cheating on client side? Or will you even bother with the problem of cheat deterrence at all? The issue with cheating in a single player game such as Prison Architect is that if it is readily feasible, it will really decrease the longevity (and thus the mind-share, replay value) of the game.

I see IV is going the paid alpha, release early, rapid iteration style with Prison Architect. Since IV has announced digital distribution will be the only way going forward, how soon can we expect such a paid alpha and how many platforms will you port this game? Xbox360? PS3? Windows 8 Metro? iOS? Android? All the above? What kind of pricing scheme will you use? If I buy Prison Architect on the PC, for example, do I automagically get it for the ipad as well or will I have to pay again for the convenience of being able to play on each of the fragmented device form factors?

How do you think Prison Architect will do in terms of sales? What efforts have you done in terms of awareness and promotion? Obviously you can't go around posting google ad banners on prison forums and such (that would be insensitive and possibly run you into legal issues) and as money strapped as IV is ... I don't see some sort of magical or massive ad campaign coming to your rescue. So lacking that, you basically rely on word of mouth and the inherent merit of the game itself.

Chris, if Prison Architect doesn't sell the kind of numbers you would like to see.... have you thought about canning Mark so you become a leaner (is that even possible? lol) meaner machine and run IV all by yourself? You are already basically a one man show anyway. You do all the coding and Mark is a formality and a public front to IV.... which sooner or later you will realize you can neither afford nor do you truly need. You have hired and contracted out artwork, contrary to your "we will procedure this" fantasy of not hiring artists... yeah we all know how THAT turned out dodn't we? Its time you put on more meat, afford to get some food and hit the gym, or get your metabolism checked out or something cause you way too skinny man. And Mark on the other hand, no offense, but he can cut some fat, so to speak. Or maybe he is the fat and you can cut him? What is a managing director that neither manages nor directs? I'm pretty sure you can replace him with Excel.

I hope to hear back from you and let me know your thoughts! Oh and I'd love to sign up asap to be a paid alpha test as soon as possible. I sent you a PM.


----

update: As a single player game, replay value and longevity hinges on the fact that the user is continuously challenged in a rewarding manner. Letting him easily cheat (whether by means of developer enabled cheats or memhacks, etc) will seriously erode the longevity aspect of the game. As a result that diminished the perceived value of your game. Meaning you will likely sell less copies and each of those units will provide less profit margins. This will not benefit IV in any way. I'm sure we've all cheated in games like the Sims before. I don't know about most people, but for me when the money is easy I immediately get bored and stop playing. Preventing single player cheating is helping preserve the value and longevity of the PA game... and helping the gamers help themselves a favor. Trust me, I know a thing or two about cheating.


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IMHO you shouldn't avoid the controversial topics like rape, gangbang, murder, assault, hiv, aids, fisting, beheading, cutting, burning flesh, cannibalism, oral, anal, homosexuality, torture, summary executions during riots, corruption, bribery, forced false confessions, cuckolding, infidelity, pregnancy, waterboarding, hanging, suicide, racial elements, etc etc etc.... this controversy is something that large developers and publishes don't want to touch with a ten feet pole... but it is exactly and precisely this niche that gives a company the size/scale and nimbleness of IV the competitive advantage to provide the sort of selling points that would be deemed too politically risky for heavyweight devs & publishers. Here Indie can push the social boundaries and widen the envelope in a way that the Titanic's simply can't and won't. As long as you don't get in any sort of legal trouble, I don't think the controversy will have any backslash or blowback. Indeed, the more controversial PA gets, the more free publicity and the more sales. Do can do what Rockstar did with GTAIV and when selling to the US/ Aus give a watered down version of the game (GTAIV copies sold in Australia had no blood, for example) or simply have a checkbox that enables the user to turn off/on the more controversial aspects of the game, with the most controversial aspects deselected by default when selling to North American regions or other regions that are more sensitive to this kind of stuff. Or have something like a disclaimer or parental warning that user has to agree to in order to activate the most controversial aspects of the game. Basically use controversy to your advantage to sell, but do it in a way that gets the politicians off your assess.

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There has to be SOME online/multiplayer/social aspect to this game. What about an online marketplace exchange where players can buy or sell (whether virtual or real currency) their prison blueprints or entire saved prison gamestates online so for example I can play someone else's design, or even load his entire gamestate at the snapshot. Then you take 30% of each transaction, skimming and milking percentages... Have you thought about going farmville/zygna on our assess and start double dipping the paid version of the game by allowing us to "purchase" more ingame virtual currency with real life money? Say I run out of in-game money and I can't cheat, guess what? I'm going to shell out real money for it. This is what people do on games like those that zygna publish. Make it so that the only way to save/load/swap designs and game states is to go through the marketplace, keep it platform consistent (facebook, iOS, android, steam, etc) and you have potentially an additional source of revenue stream outside of their control. This is again why I advocate a "no cheating" system in the game.... and hence why longevity and ecosystem should matter, you can MONETIZE the cheating behavior and BGP will be paying more to cheat than he ever would for the game itself! By putting a "price tag" to "cheating" you also effectively regulate and control cheating to your benefit.
Last edited by OpenFlow on Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:19 pm, edited 17 times in total.
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Postby Xocrates » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:34 pm

I already replied to you on the blog post, so let me just say this here then:

You have no idea what you're talking about. Not least of which because you seem to act like Defcon is the only other game than IV did.
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Postby OpenFlow » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:37 pm

Xocrates wrote:I already replied to you on the blog post, so let me just say this here then:

You have no idea what you're talking about. Not least of which because you seem to act like Defcon is the only other game than IV did.



DEFCON is the only recent game of any meaningful reference. Uplink... really?
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Postby Xocrates » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:41 pm

OpenFlow wrote:DEFCON is the only recent game of any meaningful reference. Uplink... really?

I'm not sure whether to laugh or facepalm.

You have no idea who IV is, what it achieved, and how it conducts its business.

Seriously, google it.
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Postby OpenFlow » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:43 pm

Xocrates wrote:
OpenFlow wrote:DEFCON is the only recent game of any meaningful reference. Uplink... really?

I'm not sure whether to laugh or facepalm.

You have no idea who IV is, what it achieved, and how it conducts its business.

Seriously, google it.


I have read up all about IV. All I'm saying is that past success is no indicator of future success in this day and age. I might get banned again for talking about such a controversial topic, but what does MARK bring to the table that CHRIS has to keep him on board? If push comes to shove, canning Mark means IV will survive twice as long, guess what he should do?
Last edited by OpenFlow on Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Xocrates » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:49 pm

OpenFlow wrote:I have read up all about IV. All I'm saying is that past success is no indicator of future success in this day and age. I might get banned or talking about such a controversial topic, but what does MARK bring to the table that CHRIS has to keep him on board? If push comes to shove, canning Mark means IV will survive twice as long, guess what he should do?


OpenFlow wrote:Chris has a wife you know? Women are pretty good with keeping track of money. And last time I checked, IV was a two person company, and if Mark gets canned, it would be a ONE MAN SHOW. A guy and his wife can't keep track of their own finances? With all the great financial automation software out there today, I find it hard to believe (that Mark is worth his weight)...

This is fascinating. I think I might have found my afternoon entertainment.

*Pulls lawn-chair and grabs popcorn*
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Postby shinygerbil » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:22 pm

Toasting in an epic bread?
Here is my signature. Make of it what you will.
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Postby xander » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:00 pm

Just out of curiosity, OpenFlow, what qualifications do you have to be giving business advice to IV?

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Postby Feud » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:06 pm

OpenFlow wrote:I might get banned again for talking about such a controversial topic, but what does MARK bring to the table that CHRIS has to keep him on board?


You do realize that these are names, not acronyms, right? ;)

There are some good questions in your post, like the question of why try stop someone from "cheating" if they are only playing single player. But you're come off sounding rather entitled and condecending. A lot of those questions, by the way, are ones that they might not want to answer on the forum right now. It's material for interviews and press releases that can be used to build marketing hype and attention for the game, and media likes exclusive info (even small bites).
Last edited by Feud on Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Laika » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:12 pm

At what point is he actuaally wrong ?
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Postby Xocrates » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:12 pm

Fun fact. He's been contacting me trying to buy Defcon source code.
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Postby xander » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:22 pm

Xocrates wrote:Fun fact. He's been contacting me trying to buy Defcon source code.

I would put money on the proposition that he is BGP, posting with a new account. In other words, a troll in new clothing.

Laika_rus wrote:At what point is he actuaally wrong ?

About what?

With regard to cheating, I think that the issue has been addressed: so what? I put a black 2 on a black 3 while playing Solitaire, who is harmed? So why should it matter?

With regard to alpha release schedules and platforms, he has made no assertions, hence there is nothing to be wrong about. However, he is unlikely to get any response here, and is unlikely to learn anything that we won't all know any sooner by asking the questions here.

With regard to Mark's role, he is simply ignorant. I have no way of knowing whether he is right or not, though we can probably assume that the relationship between Chris and Mark has been mutually beneficial, otherwise it wouldn't still exisit.

Have I missed anything of substance? Was there anything of substance in the first place?

xander

EDIT: Also, what Feud says, below.
Last edited by xander on Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Feud » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:24 pm

Laika_rus wrote:At what point is he actuaally wrong ?


Well, the part where he suggests one founding partner firing another founding partner and then expecting the lead coder and developer to also handle all of the administrative, marketing, and financial duties of a successful company while simultaneously pushing a new IP to market is a good place to start.

Even if Chris does have that power, or could leverage it through other controling powers, it would be an incredibly stupid decision. The negative publicity alone would be a major blow to the company, the additional weight and responsabilities would be a major inhibitor of future product development, and good luck trying to find good employees down the road if the company does somehow manage to grow.
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Postby Laika » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:36 pm

He didn't say about firing, maybe he meant that IV has more chances to survive as it is without Mark than Chris, buuut yes you're right I thought there would be something else from the first post which i didn't read entirely.
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Postby Feud » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:43 pm

Laika_rus wrote:He didn't say about firing, maybe he meant that IV has more chances to survive as it is without Mark than Chris, buuut yes you're right I thought there would be something else from the first post which i didn't read entirely.


Yeah, he did (emphasis added):

OpenFlow wrote:Chris, if Prison Architect doesn't sell the kind of numbers you would like to see.... have you thought about canning Mark so you become a leaner (is that even possible? lol) meaner machine and run IV all by yourself? You are already basically a one man show anyway. You do all the coding and Mark is a formality and a public front to IV.... which sooner or later you will realize you can neither afford nor do you truly need. You have hired and contracted out artwork, contrary to your "we will procedure this" fantasy of not hiring artists... yeah we all know how THAT turned out dodn't we? Its time you put on more meat, afford to get some food and hit the gym, or get your metabolism checked out or something cause you way too skinny man. And Mark on the other hand, no offense, but he can cut some fat, so to speak. Or maybe he is the fat and you can cut him? What is a managing director that neither manages nor directs? I'm pretty sure you can replace him with Excel.


IV has in the past had to downsize, they are aware of how that works. If IV is no longer sustainable, I'm sure that those currently employed with it will have to make decisions about it's future. But, he specifically suggested that Chris fire Mark several times (and to apparently add insult ot injury, he then went ahead and insulted both of them). What he said is very clear, and I see no reason to think that what he said is not exactly what he meant.

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