The Joys of Being an Award-Winning Studio

Oh have you not heard? It was my understanding that everyone had heard…

Two days ago, we won an award for The Day the Laughter Stopped. Or did The Day win an award? Well, someone certainly won an award and The Day was somehow involved. Which means we’re an award-winning studio now. And I hope it means I’m an award-winning writer, too. Because I like saying that. Award-winning. So fancy.

Either way, the event ended up being not quite as cringeworthy as I had feared (still was of course), I gave a speech I hated but everyone else seemed to be ok with, and we got drunk off our asses, mingled, and met some pretty cool people. As always, my heart broke a little every time someone came up to me to tell me about their friends and family who went through the same as the girl in the story, but their support and display of gratitude were overwhelming and beautiful, so all in all, pretty sweet experience!

Award-winning Crabman out.

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Hooray, the Owl Turns One!

Exactly one year and ~4 hours ago (on a much nicer and warmer day, by the way), we sat in a very old man’s super fancy office, listening to him read a 1000-page contract at a pace slower than hair grows. It was the last of a series of tedious steps which I, gracious as I am, let Hackenstein handle entirely on his own, so this is all I know about what happened there.

But now here we are, one year later, during which literally nothing happened (except for The Day, The Wizard, our nomination, the cancelling of our nomination, and some other small stuff of course), ready and psyched for another year of sort of being around!

So I guess, yay for us and Happy Easter to you!

Crabman out.

To Be or Not to Be Nominated: A Totally Official Statement

Well, cat’s out of the bag then, eh? Time for a Totally Official Statement™!

In case you missed it, The Day got nominated for Best Serious Game in the German video game awards (Deutscher Computerspielpreis), along with Scorpius Forge’s Evolution: Indian Hunter and Kalypso’s Rise of Venice. Naturally, we were pretty excited about that, which is, also naturally, when things went awry.

Long story short, bureaucracy happened. That’s how we roll in Germany, after all. The details are not at all exciting and, in our opinion, the DCP’s business how they want to communicate them to the public, but since there’s some vaguely misleading information going around, we’re gonna give you a brief rundown of what happened.

1. The jury couldn’t settle on a winner, so after long discussion they decided to drop the category. We’re all a bit sore about that, but it’s not as simple as “Just pick one!”, sadly. It certainly had nothing to do with none of the games being worthy of recognition though.

2. We were all consulted on how we wanted to handle this going forth. They offered to treat us as regular nominees and to include us in all promotional campaigns and whatnot, and while Kalypso voiced some concerns over that solution, they initially agreed to go along with it since the rest of us agreed it was for the best.

3. Some other things happened that we’ll discuss at another time, but while all of this has been a little frustrating and disappointing, the staff has been nothing but kind and courteous during their efforts to work out a solution, so I’m not all too happy about some of the articles’ implication that there was any kind of funny business or cover-up going on. We were all blindsided by this, staff included, and they handled it with as much compassion and consideration as one could’ve hoped for.

Bottom line, we’re not psyched it played out like this, but we can’t fault the people who are now taking flak over this either, and while a controversy is always good publicity, it doesn’t feel quite right to throw those who did their best to help us out under the bus.

That is all.

Official Crabman out.

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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On Monetizing Let’s Plays

Do it.

Play it, record yourself playing it, share it in any way you like, monetize to your heart’s content. We love seeing people enjoy our work. Plus, Let’s Plays are free advertising. It would be more than silly if we punished you for it. Indeed, if you make a few bucks off it, that’s more than fair.

And I think the line is pretty clear: If someone were to take assets or a piece of music or something out of our games and sold it, that of course wouldn’t be cool. But if 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 showing games to a wider audience, why shouldn’t you?

There are no conditions either. Of course a link to our website would be appreciated, 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 most of all, have fun!

Crabman out.