Friday 14 May 2010

The (Not So) Humble Indie Bundle

Since my first post was all thinky and depressing, it's only right my second be shameless promotion. It'd be shameless self-promotion if I had anything of my own I was allowed to talk about, so count yourselves lucky.

Way back in 2006, Frictional Games released their Penumbra tech demo and I sent them a cocky email suggesting what they really needed for awesome commercial success was an unproven, undergraduate writer from the UK with a penchant for dark humour and philosophising. We released a trilogy that sold just enough to keep itself afloat and then, once the games arrived on Steam at a healthy discount, enough to finance a new project called Lux Tenebras. The Humble Indie Bundle is the latest development in that saga, and with over $1 million in sales it's fantastic to see things really taking off for the developers involved. Even before the figures came out I knew something big was afoot - games writers don't tend to get royalties, but I do get remunerated in fan mail, and it's doubled over the past ten days. I don't know where I'll find the time to answer that additional one email per month, but it's a nice problem to have.

With the pay-what-you-like concept and the announcement that most of the games (Penumbra included) are now going open source, it's reassuring to see the indie community consistently demonstrate a real grasp of marketing and how to turn a profit in today's something-for-nothing web culture.

As of right now the offer has another 1 day, 5 hours to run. Given its success I wouldn't be shocked if the expiry date wasn't extended again, but all the same it'd be best to get in quick.

While we're at it, Thomas and Jens at Frictional are gearing up for the release of their new IP, Amnesia, with a 20% discount on pre-orders if you mention my name. Or just turn up at the site at all. But feel free to mention my name anyway. From the alpha build I've played I'd say the most exciting new element in the formula is the use of dynamic light and shadow as a gameplay mechanic in the truest survival horror vein. Born from the ashes of Lux Tenebras, Amnesia's narrative is much less the Penumbra: Black Plague +1 I wanted to create, and more of an experiment with the way the player relates and adds to a more passive story. I'm not involved for that reason, but I'll be very interested to see how their approach works out.

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