So, yeah. My Kickstarter page for “James – Journey of Existence” isn’t doing so well, despite the press I was able to snag for it. Unless it somehow gets a wave of backers in the last week, there isn’t much hope for it succeeding…
But I did get a lot of feedback, especially from sites like Reddit and Steam’s Greenlight Concept page, where gamers hang and aren’t afraid to downvote a post. Of the people who have seen the game, I’d estimate that roughly 91% don’t give a damn, 4% like the art style a lot, 3% hate the art style a lot, and 2% like the game’s concept but not the art in its current state. The interesting thing is, those last three groups are (almost) identical in size. Of course, that’s a huge estimate that could be way off, but that’s my interpretation based on comments.
I think this sort of feedback is rare. Usually, a game is one of three things: 1) only a concept that hasn’t been implemented yet in any form, and therefore not actually a game, 2) a game that is so poorly executed that it might pass as a student project, or 3) a game that exceeds your expectations and amazes the general public, despite your personal preferences. This all applies well to indie games, and all types can be found on Kickstarter at any given point. Not just restricted to indie games, this can apply to most AAA-titles as well.
But so rare does a game come that divides people at such extremes… for “James – Journey of Existence,” I’ve seen people that are genuinely excited and impressed by it’s pre-alpha state. At the same time, I’ve seen people who think it looks absolutely terrible and void of any real merit. I expected comments that would be in the middle (like “That’s kinda cool” or “Not for me”), but that there are people that would stand behind it and go to war against it is fascinating.
And what does that mean? For an indie project, any form of controversy is fantastic. That means people are looking at it. Talking about it. Showing it to friends and asking them for their opinions. That 91% that doesn’t give a damn needs to be made smaller, even if they shift over to thinking the game is terrible. I want those extremes. A couple posts carefully made in certain branches in Reddit stayed on the “hot” list for days, simply because of the comments and fluctuation of popularity. To date, almost all of my posts on Reddit related to “James – Journey of Existence” have ended with 0 or 1 positive votes, no matter how many votes in total were made, because the positive and negative votes would cancel out. The Steam Greenlight page’s votes is producing similar results.
Personally, I agree with all sides. Yes, the animation is a little crude. Yes, the angles of the character aren’t accurate. Yes, the idea of a 3D character drawn by hand is bound to look strange no matter how it is done. Yes, the environment platforms are a little bare and not well thought out. Yes, the gameplay isn’t all there. But despite that, I think the story is great, at least brimming with insightful potential based on what I’ve shared with you so far. I think the character design isn’t too bad. And, most of all, when I play the demo myself on my computer and move the camera around, I think I’m looking at the most incredible and innovative gaming visuals of the decade, and am convinced that this is by far and wide the most incredible project I’ve been a part of, despite my brief experience with research and a local mobile app company that have worked on bigger things with bigger brand names. In the end, I guess that’s what really matters, whether or not I can look at the game myself and be happy with it. Always remember that, indie artists, and keep that attitude to heart, or else lose what makes your work unique in the first place.
Also, this is mostly taken from Reddit and Steam. Other avenues such as Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, etc. have generally been much more supportive, and offered more praise. Which is great, because I do fully intend to improve the character art, the environment layout and level design (a few ideas in mind should make these updates do well for the visuals and gameplay). The results won’t be seen for months, but if you think “James” is looking good now, you ain’t seen nothing yet…