I love you, Dan!
For making this game.
My first few posts were about bugs, and that kind of made me feel bad, so here's something on an up-note instead.
I'm absolutely loving Neo Scavenger and can't wait to see how it develops.
I discovered it through Christonian's Indie Game Showcase over at the Towns forum, checked it out and fell in love immediately.
Even as the game stands now, with nothing much to do once one gets to The Glow, I'm having way too much fun by basically looking at it as "Sim Hobo".
Best run so far: scoped rifle with sling, crowbar, night vision goggles, medical nanites, shopping cart and five backpacks (one on my back, four in the cart, and plastic bags in each hand as I pushed my cart around for that extra bit of space). I love that I was still wearing my hospital robes and bracelet; it adds so much flavor. Sadly, I lost that game to a loading issue. But now I have something to aim for: reclaim my former glory!
There really isn't much of a point to this post. A simple "Thanks, I like your game" would have sufficed, I guess. But I'm wordy and ranty, and I'd like to tell you why, exactly, I like it so much, and why I'm happy I gave you money.
There are a few reasons.
On the most basic level, I enjoy RPGs, turn-based games, and survival games in general. So, yay.
Beyond this, though, in all games which allow it to at least some degree, I'm a horrible hoarder and pack-rat; here, this behavior is--more than allowed--actively encouraged and profitable.
Bethesda's massively huge worlds littered with junk are a perfect example and a deliciously dangerous playground for my mild OCD and hoarding nature; "Save the world? Yes yes, I'll get around to that... as soon as I'm done picking up all this litter. Loot ALL the junk!!!".
Problem is, most of the time, junk is still junk, and there's not much (if anything) which you can do with it. This is a common theme with all games which have plenty of mostly-useless loot lying around (Spiderweb Software's Avernum and Geneforge series are another excellent example of this). I've recently discovered Project Zomboid and The Unreal World, and am loving them for much the same reasons as I'm loving Neo Scavenger: junk isn't junk, it's useful, and it matters. Plenty of games give you powerful weapons and armor, but I find there's a special kind of satisfaction in simplicity and finding use/efficiency from small and mundane things.
As this Rock, Paper Shotgun article mentioned,
"[W]ho among us hasn’t wished that Fallout forced us to live like dogs, fighting over bones in the sand of a ruined civilisation? There’s something appealing about the need to fulfill basic functions, perhaps simply because it’s so far removed from the roleplaying fascination with constantly saving the world."
So thank you, Mr. Dan Fedor, for giving me a game which lets my inner-scavenger shine.
And then there's the principle of the thing. Beyond the game itself, I must commend you for the choices you've made as a game designer. Specifically, striking out on your own and your stated business philosophy.
As a long-time gamer, I've found myself becoming more and more disappointed and disillusioned by the general business practices of the mainstream game industry and the direction it's been heading towards (DRM, a rabid need to squeeze multi-player into everything, emphasis on graphics and "shininess" over quality, depth and content, etc.).
I'd be lying if I said I didn't find these trends disturbing and that I wasn't at least slightly concerned about the future of gaming. Thankfully, I find both hope and solace in the Indie scene, which seems to be going through an impressive boom these days. Perhaps it just seems that way because I wasn't aware of these games before? I don't know. I do get the impression it's more than simply my not noticing it until now, though. With all the kickstarts, alpha-funding and betas, I'm seeing an incredible and varied slew of new games coming. They might not be multi-million dollar AAA titles, but they have depth, quality, diversity, heart and soul which is often lacking from today's big shiny (and, dare I say, commercial) titles. I find this terribly refreshing, and it gives me hope for the future.
That's not to say that I hate all AAA titles and big commercial games simply because they are what they are. There's still plenty of great stuff on that end of things. But I can't help but feel as though there are some choices being made on that level (I'd imagine mostly by publishers, not so much developers themselves?) which are quite harmful to the industry as a whole, especially when it comes to creativity and quality content. Perhaps they are choices which are good for the bottom-line, economically? (*coughDRMcough*) I don't know. But my guess would be no, at least not long-term...
Playing the demo a bit was more than enough to sell Neo Scavenger to me. But if it hadn't, if I was on the fence, and read this,
"We tailor our games to those who enjoy CRPGs but who dislike being pressured to play with others or at certain times."
You'd have gained yourself a sale on the spot.
I'm of that rare breed of gamers who still prefers a quiet, turn-based single-player experience and has no interest in action-packed competitive multi-player. Perhaps we're not that rare? Perhaps we're simply not as loud and vocal as our trigger-happy brethren? I don't know. But what I do know is that seeing that above quote warms my heart.
So... I guess that's it. What was my point? Why did I bother writing this monster, knowing that you reading it meant "wasting" your precious time which you could have spent working on the game instead?
Because I think the road you've chosen to follow is off the beaten path, and because I feel there's value in letting you know, explicitly, that yes, your target audience exists and, yes, we are grateful for what you are giving us. I mean, you knew this already, or at least suspected as much, otherwise you probably wouldn't be doing what you're doing. But I wanted to say thank you for more than just making a fun game, I wanted to say thank you for how and why you're making that fun game.
I admit reading that you used to be with BioWare came as a bit of a surprise. Most indie devs are indie devs because they're starting out in the business, trying to break through, etc. Surely, part of it is also the conscious choice and preference for indie vs. mainstream in some cases, but by the same token, I have no doubt that for many, there's nothing they would love more than to be working on big AAA titles.
Coming from there and choosing to strike out on your own couldn't have been an easy choice to make, and I applaud you for it. I can understand wanting to be your own boss, doing your own thing and possibly not wanting to fall through the cracks of a big machine. All other things aside, from a creative stand-point, there's obviously a big difference between being part of a big team on a big project and doing everything yourself. That one-man-army creative process must be quite fulfilling (albeit infuriating at times, I'm sure), and it's a perfectly understandable desire to jump into the deep-side of the shark-filled pool and test fate; the potential rewards are like none other.
But it also takes a great deal of courage. Something which you apparently have quite a bit of. To this, I tip my hat to you, and wish you godspeed.
TL;DR Thanks, I like your game. ;)