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Author Topic: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]  (Read 1562 times)

Tartiflette

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Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« on: October 13, 2020, 02:17:05 AM »

For those that do not follow Alex on tweeter, he was recently interviewed by Indie Retro News. Read all about it there:
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/10/an-exclusive-interview-with-starsector.html

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Tartiflette

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2020, 02:22:32 AM »

 Personally, while I will acknowledge the interview nice in itself, I find it a bit too boiler-plate and almost a 1:1 copy-paste of previous ones. Given that the game has been in development for 11 years (or thereabout) I wish there would have been at least a couple more pointed questions.

 Either in a personal story vein, like "How do you keep your motivation up and your inspiration going when working on the same game for so long? Often times working within a close-knit team helps. While you have some close contributors, did you had to cope with being a solo dev for most of that time?" or "With the end of the tunnel slowly getting in sight, do you have plans for yourself post-release, apart some well-deserved vacation of course? What other types of games would you have liked to make instead or will you make in the future?".

 Or maybe something more technical like "If you had your current experience when starting off, what part of the game would look different? Would have you still used Java as a base for your engine, or used a pre-made one instead?" or "Top three eureka moments during development, go!".

Anyway, I feel that interview would have been a good first half introduction for a new audience before diving in the nitty-gritty details for the existing player-base.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 03:50:49 AM by Tartiflette »
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SonnaBanana

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2020, 03:48:05 AM »

Or how systems and mechanics evolved over the course of development.
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Grievous69

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2020, 03:56:16 AM »

Unfortunately I feel the same. Maybe for someone who hasn't read a single interview or listened to a podcast, this interview would've been more interesting. But I knew most of the answers even before I read them and there wasn't many questions to begin with. Still a nice read for those that want to know more. Maybe we'll get another in depth interview after 1.0.
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Tartiflette

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2020, 04:30:21 AM »

Even the few generic questions that were asked for the conclusion of the 10th tournament would have added more depth to this interview. And it could have been even better with follow-ups and so on.

For example:

GoKart asks: What's the biggest issue you have with the AI as it currently functions?
Quote
   Probably how it deals with fighters. It's just a tough one since the decision to ignore fighters and go for a kill is too strategic for the AI to make well consistently, so it kind of *has* to try to play the attrition game. And then in a lot of cases it leads to a slow demise. On the player side this isn't too bad since they player can/is expected to give orders to let the AI know when to be more aggressive, and can intervene with their flagship, too. But on the enemy side, its hesitation can make for some too-easy wins for the player.   I think probably the best way to handle this is to de-emphasize fighters a bit so that winning the attrition game against them is more viable and thus more often the right choice. In the next release, I think things will head in that direction - less skills buffing fighters (especially en masse), and stronger skills that counter them.

Chimni asks: What recent games have had an influence on your original concept for the game and how they affected changes?
Quote
   I'm tempted so say Crusader Kings, because it made me go: “Wait, maybe Starsector tooltips *don't* actually have too much stuff in them” but that would unkind. Also, Glass Houses.

I've really enjoyed Heretic Operative:
https://store.steampowered.com/app/958740/Heretic_Operative/

It's not a direct influence as far as specific mechanics, but the way it handles resources - in an abstract, but very evocative way ( “go to the Library District to and do research to get 2 points of Lore, then spend that Lore to pass some kind of magic-flavored challenge” ) is really clean. Its boardgame heritage shows, and I think that kind of elegant design is something to strive for.

( Also, wow, do I ever want to make a Starsector game of that kind. That'd be so much fun. )
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pairedeciseaux

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2020, 05:54:06 AM »

While I kind of agree with you guys and understand your concerns, at the same time I feel like you have unreasonable expectations.

(1) Have a look at what is published on Indie Retro News. It’s mostly (only?) news and reviews about 40 to 20 years old video games. Basically Starsector only fits because of its retro-style and the interviewer’s love for well crafted games. And I suspect the blog’s audience has the same interests.

(2) Have a look a what the interviewer previously published. Mostly reviews of classics, in a short yet informative format. Including a review of Starsector published a few weeks ago. The short format means he never goes too much in depth. I think there is a good balance between quick-overview on one side and explained-game-mechanics-across-the-board on the other side.

(3) The interview itself is not directed at Starsector old-timers, it is directed at the blog’s audience. So the audience gets a short and informative brief about this indie developer and his game. This may lead part of the audience to buy the game and support the developer. Mission completed.

IMO advanced questions about game design or programming languages / frameworks / game engine have no real place in general interviews from the interviewer’s perspective, and are generally not the kind of subjects a developer want to communicate on during development or even shortly after a release. This is the kind of communication you (sometimes) get years after a public release. Think “post mortem”-type presentations. In any case an interview is rarely the right format for these subjects, because questions and answers are expected to be rather short - too short for proper explanations.

Interview questions about post-release plans… really? At best you get vague answers to such questions. And you should not expect more, IMO.

In Starsector’s case we got plenty of quality blog posts + discussions on the forum, as these are the preferred communication channels for the developer, with a strong focus on practical game design and actual player experience rather than philosophical essays. So I would expect this to continue on these channels.
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Tartiflette

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2020, 07:06:48 AM »

Counter-points:
Firstly I did said it would be a very fine first half of an interview. Something directed at people unaware of the context around the development of the game. But then I'd argue that the main (only?) audience for an interview of a small niche indie dev are the people already playing their game or other indie devs. And for those people, there isn't much substance to read. As for non-players, they are probably more interested in a review or a preview rather than an interview.

Secondly, I'd say it would be courtesy from the person asking the questions to read any previous interviews to NOT ask the same questions over and over.

And I'm not saying it's a bad interview, I'm saying it's a boiler-plate one. I mean, We already know being an indie dev is a financially risky endeavor, and their game can take-off or crash on the whims of youtubers. Unsurprisingly Alex wanted to make a great exploration and combat space game because he played great exploration and combat space games. "What are your plans for the currently lackluster story? -Well I intend to add more story." The only question that for once had a different answer was the "Steam when?" one.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 07:24:38 AM by Tartiflette »
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Ryan390

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2020, 09:15:17 AM »

The response regarding steam was interesting, many good points there from Alex.

Hopefully we get to see the next update soon I've been checking every day since August for the next release / dev update.
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MaGicBush

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2020, 12:29:26 PM »

Nice interview! Though, I don't agree with some of his opinion about Steam. I love achievements in games, as they give me goals to work for when I run out of ideas in a game. Which adds more playability. Just my opinion!
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pairedeciseaux

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2020, 05:09:47 PM »

Hmm.

Interview of an indie game developer?
Very long and still ongoing development of the game?
In-depth Q&A?
Not a text interview, but an audio interview?
Longish interview duration?

Didn’t search for it, it found its way here by itself: a two parts Dwarf Fortress creator interview recommended today by YouTube.

Part 1, 2020-06-12:

Part 2, 2020-10-02:

(a lot of topics are covered, a lot, look at the video description for an overview of the content and shortcuts to each topic)

Which reminded me of the 2019-02-19 Space Game Junkie Podcast featuring Alex:


It’s worth listening to even today! On the other hand, the gameplay footage is, uh, not stellar, so I would say don’t bother watching while you are listening.

So, if we put the two together - (1) a community run interview with curated sensible in-depth questions and one good interviewer, (2) Alex willing to participate - then we might obtain a holy grail up to date Starsector interview.  :)  The Dwarf Fortress interviews linked above set a high standard that should be attainable. And I think the right moment for such an interview could be a few weeks after next release, after the early feedback / bug fixing rush.
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Serenitis

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2020, 02:02:26 AM »

I'm not really a fan of Steam due to Valve's less-than-stellar record of behaviour, and repeated attempts to circumvent legal protections for customers.
So being cautious about irrevocably attaching your work (and income) to them just seems like due dilligence tbh.
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Ryan390

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2020, 09:01:21 AM »

GOG is the better shout in my opinion, I always get mine stuff from there if I can (DRM Free) and on your account you'll own a copy of it just like you do on steam, so you can download it as many times as you wish.
Not to mention some of the sales on GOG are insane, especially lately.


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Morrokain

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2020, 09:43:36 PM »

I'm not really a fan of Steam due to Valve's less-than-stellar record of behaviour, and repeated attempts to circumvent legal protections for customers.
So being cautious about irrevocably attaching your work (and income) to them just seems like due dilligence tbh.

I'm not exactly against Steam, but another thing to consider here is that no company lasts forever. The problem with Steam from my point of view is that it sort of acts as a game "lender" in that Steam absolutely forces itself to be the "middle man" to get access to the game's software. If, theoretically, Steam went out of business in the future (you know, because a competitor was way better or something)... all access to any game a consumer ever bought on Steam would be lost no matter if the developer or studio that releases that game is still thriving. Even with an existing download, without the account associated with the launcher I'm not sure you could even play the game if the server was ever shut down. This whole "software as a service" thing is a lot of BS if you ask me. Even without a subscription fee for use, this is a cut-and-dry case of it imo.

In the end, it discourages healthy competition. Even though the studio or dev technically owns the "rights" to the software, the consumer gets completely shafted if the 3rd party distributor platform bites the dust. I think this leads to a pseudo monopoly of 3rd party distributors who have the leeway to do whatever they want since people are unlikely to forgo their investment by switching to another and risk losing access to all games they previously and legitimately bought if said 3rd party goes under as a result.

So, at best case scenario, you would have to re-buy the game from the dev website if Steam access was ever compromised - even in the case of a DOS attack or anything like that. It would be nice to think that if that ever happened Valve would give everyone a download outside of Valve's proprietary launcher, but the reality is that it's unlikely that they would bother to do so.

Don't get me wrong, I have bought plenty of games on Steam, but I do think this is a very real problem that has real implications for the future should this ever happen.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 09:53:05 PM by Morrokain »
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Deshara

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2020, 02:00:35 PM »

Personally, while I will acknowledge the interview nice in itself, I find it a bit too boiler-plate and almost a 1:1 copy-paste of previous ones. Given that the game has been in development for 11 years (or thereabout) I wish there would have been at least a couple more pointed questions.

its not for us
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Tartiflette

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Re: Alex's interview by Indie Retro News [2020/10/12]
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2020, 03:26:49 PM »

Are you saying that the target audience for an interview of the dev of an obscure niche indie game isn't the hardcore playerbase of that game? For who would it be then?

As it stand, that interview is not destined to for Starsector players since it's pretty much the same interview as the last three.

It's not for other/aspiring devs because there is little substance.

It's not for people that don't know about video games because why would they care.

It's not for regular indie game players either because again, those are the same questions and answers as every other indie game dev interview ever.

That narrows the public to people that either know about the game or the blog, but never read an indie game dev interview before? Sounds like a rather small subset of readers, and that's exactly my point: That interview as it stands has no audience. That's why I'm saying it's too boiler-plate and could use some additional more specific questions to make it worthwhile to a wider audience.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 03:40:55 PM by Tartiflette »
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