Heya Space Cadets,
Welcome back! Hope you had some good weekends, and I hope you caught a bit of the action over at the Sportsfriends Kickstarter. Even if you didn’t contribute and aren’t interested in the games they’re offering, the Sportsfriends Kickstarter getting funded is a big win for local multiplayer, and that’s good for everyone.
Local multi has gotten a bit of a beating in the past few years, with the relative ease of online multiplayer making local almost irrelevant, but not entirely. When we created Delve Deeper we didn’t think about the need for online multiplayer, and it quickly became the most requested feature. For good reason, but in defense of “Couch Multiplayer,” there is really no comparison between the two.
Online is great for a lot of stuff, like organizing massive battles or competitions, but it has limitations for emotional impact, and it keeps gamers isolated. We’ve got to find ways to get gaming out of the dark, and it’s not just a matter of attracting more players, but of evolving the way we play.
Some of this is going to require getting back to basics, which is a thing Indies are pretty good at. We’ve been learning how to play with each other since, well, since games first got started. It won’t be hard to pick it back up again, as games like Johann Sebastian Joust do show us. Electronic gizmos are small enough nowadays that sports aren’t going to be forever the purview of leather balls and goalposts, there’s really a good chance of seeing more and more of what we considered a traditionally videogame aesthetic popping up in all kinds of new social games. These games don’t have to be casual, though right now they help to be, the same way that Arcade games were simple and relatively easy so that anyone could play them if they had the quarters.
Really, the people we’re looking to attract to this new kind of gaming isn’t the “everyone else” that the hardcore gaming demographic is afraid of, it’s us. We’re the outsiders in this situation, but we’re also the pioneers leading the way, since the rules for these new sports and social games are going to be based in the years and years of development we’ve made in our own little niche of the entertainment world. It’s a bit of a scary situation, since we risk making ourselves obsolete if our new electronic sports are too close to actual sports, but the great thing about this is we have a chance to make sure that these don’t become strictly spectator events, and that we keep the fun in our own hands. The ability to grab a controller and jump in is the best part, and there’s a bit of convergence between some of the new sports I’ve seen popping up—like the Frisbee ones—that show people are hungry for getting involved in these active social games instead of just sitting and watching them.
Local multiplayer is really what lets that happen. Sitting with your buddies on the couch lets you feel so much more connected, and it makes the experience a social one again. In an increasingly networked world that pushes us farther and farther into our little boxes, connecting us with tiny quips of text on our phones or Facebook or Twitter, it’s nice to see that gamers are pushing back and trying to get us back together to have fun with each other and enjoy a bit of human interaction. For our industry, that’s a really big deal, and it’s going to get bigger and bigger. For anyone making a game or thinking about it, try to think how you might want to recapture a bit of that “sit around and play together” feeling. Delve Deeper was always an attempt at that, and even though we are trying to dive into the online world, we want to bring people together for a very modern spin on the social beer and pretzels gaming experience. Joust and Sportsfriends made their funding goals, so this Kickstarter is kicked off. That’s a win for everybody. Game on!
Spacelab Signing Out
If you’re reading this right now, you’ve got about an hour to go if you want to spend 15 bucks and get yourself a copy of Sportsfriends via Kickstarter. As I write this I remember that the whole topic of Local Multiplayer has slipped through our design meetings, and I wonder if we’re going to have it for Delve Deeper 2. People have mentioned wanting to see tabletop Delve Deeper a few times in the past, and it’s hard to get much more local than that. Those are two good questions to look into and report on at some point. If you’ve got an interest in a DD Boardgame, or thoughts about local multi, drop me a line here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Neil Wickman is totally making a Lasertag/Freezetag/Ultimate Frisbee mashup.
He has been working for Lunar Giant studios since its inception, one of the lead designers and the Creative Director. Listen to him @LunarNeil on Twitter.