The Day “The Day” Got Nominated

The Day the Laughter Stopped is nominated for Deutscher Computerspielpreis in the category Best Serious Game, alongside Rise of Venice and Evolution: Indian Hunter. Yes, that’s a thing that happened.

For all you lovely people not familiar with the DCP, it’s basically the biggest award show we have in Germany. It’s huge. As such, getting nominated, too, is huge. And I’m speechless. Then again, what is there to say other than “thank you?” Exactly, so let’s just do that:

First of all, there’s all the people from Ludum Dare who made my first jam a really great experience; moonbeamwhim who posted it to reddit; Rute who saw it and wrote its first review; Angelica Norgren and Thomas Arnroth who brought it to Sweden’s attention; Rami Ismail and all the other wonderful people on Twitter who passed it along and provided some fantastic quotes for me to brag with; Lena LeRay who wrote one of the first articles; Alexis Trust and Mike Bithell who gave it its next big push, which I think might’ve been responsible for Meg Turney hearing about it and recommending it on SourceFed Nerd; Amy Silbergeld who repeatedly lent her support when things became a little tough to process; Becky Chambers who reviewed it for The Mary Sue; Leena van Deventer and Amy Gray who quadrupled our Australian audience; Lara Luccas who surpassed them all and brought us the most hits we’ve ever gotten in a single day; everybody else who supported and shared the game, everybody who wrote, argued, discussed, everybody who played and everybody who couldn’t but passed it along anyway—everybody except 4chan. I mean, two threads and not even a little increase in publicity? I expected better from you.

But there’s one person in particular I should mention. I don’t talk about her often because she wants to be kept out of it, understandably, but please don’t forget that there is a real person at the heart of this, a person who had to live through and with it, who trusted me with her story and allowed this game to be made. It’s she who’s to thank for this, so here it goes:

I hope you realize what happened here. There are people writing how much the experience changed them, how they had to confront some truths about themselves they weren’t comfortable with, people who say, “I get it now.” There are victims whom this helped come to terms with what happened and to accept that it really wasn’t their fault, that what the other people say about them wasn’t true after all. I’ve gotten many messages of this nature, from men and women alike, and I’m sure there’s even more who didn’t write. This story gave them something, changed them, and all of that because of you.

Yes, you. Without you, none of this would’ve happened. While this’ll never make the past less horrifying, it will and does do some good. You did what so many people strive for and the fewest ever achieve. You changed the world for the better. Maybe just by a small amount so far, but it’s mind-blowing nonetheless, and don’t forget, all of this from only 25.000 players. As we go forward, these numbers will rise. Every future game we’ll make will generate new attention for The Day. More attitudes will change, more people will find solace, maybe it’ll inspire even more to speak out and tell their own stories (which, if any of you do, let me know and I’ll help you in any way I can to get it out there).

We can’t single-handedly fix all the world’s problems overnight, but we can contribute, and you did. So if you ever feel small and insignificant, remember the hundreds of people whose lives you bettered, and the attitudes you’ve changed for the good of other victims. You matter. Not just to me, your friends, your family, but to people all over the world, you matter. I mean, Robert tap-dancing Pattinson, if that isn’t incredible!

So yeah, from me, and everybody else I’m sure, all the thanks, love, and happiness in the world to you. God knows you deserve it.

Crabman out.

Business Owl: Donationware

I’m tired and this is boring, so I’ll keep it short: We need to earn money if we want to keep this going. We’ll be good for a while, but we’re paying out of our own pockets and they’re only so deep, so that’s not a long-term solution.

Now, there’s a few ways to finance something like this, but we’re picky. We don’t want to be at the mercy of investors or publishers, we don’t want to be in debt, and we don’t want to deface our beautiful site with ads. There are no guarantees that we won’t have to resort to any of these things if all else fails, but as long as we can help it, we’re trying to stay clear of that.

So what’s left? Selling our games, of course. But producing a quality that we’d feel good about selling is already expensive, and then there’s some things we just don’t want to sell. The early beta of The Wizard that we’ll release during the next few weeks would be one example, or The Day the Laughter Stopped, for which charging money would be downright wrong.

Instead, we’re making those titles donationware. That means you can play them for free, and if you enjoy them and would like to support us, you can do that, too. As a thank-you, we’ll add some small perks to the donation—standalones, source code, soundtrack, things like that—which you then can download. Or not, whatever tickles your fancy.

Long story short: Support us if you like, don’t if you don’t, get the games (and our love!) either way. Sound fair?

Crabman out.

Hypnotic Holidays to All

Xmas Owl

You know, the last week has been a pretty serious and happysad one. But it’s Christmas for Chrissakes, time to have some fun!

So whether you are with your family, your loved ones, or, if you’re reeeeeeeaaaaally lucky, by yourself (I so envy you), I hope y’all have a fantastic time and get whatever it is you wished for!

We’ll be back next year with The Wizard, which will go into closed beta then. Or something like that. I really should pay more attention when Hackenstein’s talking at me. Anyway, video games!

Take care, folks! Crabman out.

The Moment the Choices Stopped

As you, by this point, probably know, I have created a short interactive fiction game for Ludum Dare #28. If you don’t, or you haven’t played it yet but plan to, you might want to do so first. I am going to answer some of the questions people have asked and will expand on my explanation of my motivation and design choices outlined in this post, where you’ll also find a link to the game.

Naturally, that means there’ll be major spoilers in this post and the same trigger warning applies as to the previous one.

Well then, last chance to turn back.

TRIGGER WARNING AND MAJOR SPOILERS after the jump.

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The Day the Laughter Stopped

As you may or may not know, I have participated in the recent Ludum Dare #28. Under the theme, You Only Get One, I have created an interactive fiction game, a Choose Your Own Adventure if you will. The topic I chose was quite a serious one, and I think it would be good to discuss why I wanted to do this, what I tried to achieve, and, basically, what it all means.

If you haven’t played the game yet, it would be advisable to do so first, as I will completely spoil the whole thing in a minute. You can find the game here, but please be aware that the game comes with a ginormous trigger warning. Please read the notes in the game’s menu if you think there might be topics that could cause you significant emotional distress.

I’d also ask you not to play it if you are a minor. I understand the appeal such a statement has, but even some of my friends, adults, have had very strong reactions to it, so please skip this one. Or, if you are really curious, talk to your parents, have them play it first or play it together. Just don’t take this lightly, it is a very serious topic.

Now, if you have played the game and you are certain that a discussion of the same won’t cause you distress, let’s talk about it.

Again, TRIGGER WARNING AND MAJOR SPOILERS after the jump.

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Let’s Plays, Copyright Claims and Other Ridiculous Nonsense

Again things are happening in that wonderful industry of ours, and again publishers and corporations are managing to make the world just a little bit worse. Their newest stroke of genius: Copyright claims on YouTube Let’s Plays, game reviews and pretty much everything that has a frame of their product in it. Because, obviously, LPs are a great threat to the game industry. Or something.

Usually I’d just scream a couple of profanities into the Twitter void, but this seems relevant enough that I’d like to have it around for when we release our games and the question of where we stand on this issue comes up.

So here it is, our official stance:

We don’t give a fuck. Play it, record yourself playing it, share it in any way you like, monetize to your heart’s content. LPs are free advertising, and we don’t plan on punishing you for your help in spreading our work. If you make a few bucks off it, that’s more than fair. And I mean, the line’s pretty clear, right? You take an image or a piece of music or something out of our game and sell it, that ain’t cool. You do a commentary or share your gaming experience with others, that couldn’t be more fine. Monetize. It’s a form of journalism after all, and journalists get paid for talking about games and showing off screenshots and whatnot, so why shouldn’t you?

There are no strings attached either. I’d ask you to put up a link to our website and do some reasonable spoiler warning where appropriate, but it’s not mandatory. Do whatever feels right for you.

So to sum up: Don’t resell our stuff. Do sell your commentary. Any and all footage is fair game. Use it. Show it. Share it. And don’t forget to be a good person.

Crabman out.

Lorem Ipsum

All right, I need a post to finish up the page design, but since we’re already here, why not take this opportunity to give you a bit of a heads up regarding all the wonderful things to come?

So as you may or may not know (if you don’t, Games should be ready by the time you’re reading this), we’ve chosen to work on a classic top-down RPG with flying pirates and turn-based combat as our very first project as Hypnotic Owl, and while we both have quite a bit of experience with game development—both recreationally and professionally—running our own business is completely new territory for us. It’s very exciting and very. very. terrifying.

But good news! We wanna share this little adventure of ours with you! In excruciating detail! Meaning, we’re gonna do a wee bit of blogging about all the stuff we’ve done and the things we’ll do. Hopefully it’ll be of use to some of you, or at least interesting for those who are curious how we do things here at the Owl.

Anyway, as Chief President of Business & Game Design™ Jan’s gonna focus on the design aspects of our games and what it takes to found and run a company in Germany. Not an easy subject, lemme tell ya; I still haven’t figured out what exactly happend there, so I sure am looking forward to his explanation. Maybe third time’s the charm.

I, meanwhile, will write a bit about the game itself, its inception, how we go about making it, the technology we use, plans, hopes and dreams and stuff like that. I’m still writing this post as a (hopefully) more interesting Lorem Ipsum, so I haven’t really figured out what it will be exactly, but something about why I love HTML5 so much or how we got from “We need something quick ‘n easy!” to this seems appropriate.

Stay tuned, folks! Crabman out.