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Random pre-Steam thoughts

So far this week has been rather action-packed. On Monday I was at the office of the mill, programming some new features for the application suite I've been providing for them. When I was nearly finished with the task at hand, my cell phone rang. My neighbours called, telling that we are out of water. From my well there is an underground water pipe to the nearest neighbour. So I quickly drove to inspect, and found the water pump running with a miserable noise. I disconnected the water pump, opened the maintenance lid of the well and took a closer look at the pump. As far as I could tell, something was broken beyond repair. I called the neighbours and they decided to go buy a new pump for us. In the mean-time I drove back to the mill, finished my work for the day and returned home. Soon the neighbours arrived with a replacement pump, and we spent couple of hours to get it properly installed - there were some unexpected problems with it, but maybe the details aren't that interesting =)

Tuesday morning I was again riding on the yard with Raiku. And spent the rest of the day working with massage customers. It was late evening when I returned at home, and soon it was 2 am as I kept on working with various computer stuff. Today it is Wednesday, I woke up after less than six hours of sleep, and after a heavy dose of morning coffee I found some time to help Sami with minor pr-stuff related to upcoming Steam release of UrW. And all the time I have had an itching feeling inside me - I'd like to seriously reduce my massage business to regularly have more time to code for UrW. Yes, this is something I've been talking about for as long as I've been writing this blog. And, looking back at it, I see that there has been a lot of progress - I've slowly learned to better manage my timetables, and I've emotionally prepared myself for a more radical re-arranging of my work.

Well, with these thoughts I left for today's work with the massage customers. The way I do it, it sometimes involves some extra time spent for non-business reasons. Like, today I visited a grandma at her nineties, living alone at her home. After massaging her aching back I always sit down to drink coffee with her. Just because I feel sympathy for her, and often she has interesting stories to tell, as she can remember when the WWII started, and such stuff you usually just read in books. Today while we were having the coffee, I suddenly spotted some movement behind the window. It was a young moose, foraging her backyard. We stood up and went to the window to have a better view. Usually the moose are active at twilight time, but for some reason this young moose was there in the daylight, munching away the branches of willows and bushes near the house.

Uh oh. While driving from a customer to another, I was thinking to myself how it would feel to tell these people that I can't book future times for them. Without any detailed plan, I've had a vague feeling that I'll just keep on working until the Easter / March Equinox (this year they are rather close to each other). And after that I'd like to spend the summer season with only minimal massage work. So, I have to make a clear decision of what, exactly, does "minimal" mean here. I like my work, apparently my customers like me and the way I work, yet sometimes I feel a bit too tired and there is this growing inner sense of "Heck I desperately need less timetables and more time at home!". So, a way or another, I have to decide a change of tactics. Now I don't remember which day it was, but I remember sitting at a local cafeteria, having an afternoon break in between booked times, and drafting "yes" and "no" lists to clarify the idea of "minimal" for myself. As, if I'm not completely quitting my massage business, it will come down to saying "yes" to one group of customers, and saying "no" for everyone else. So I'll need that "yes" list, and then a necessary amount of inner clarity to stay true to that list without making too much exceptions.

OK. but at the moment of writing this I have absolutely no idea, if any of this will be connected to the upcoming Steam release. As usual, I don't have that strict plans for my life, I'm bit like just floating with the flow, curious to see what the near future will be like. And, that made me think that I'd like to write down these random thoughts now, before the actual Steam release. So, the following is a couple of unordered memories and impressions from my own point of view;

It must have been years ago, when some UrW players first suggested going the Steam Greenlight way. At that time UrW was still share-ware, sold with a three-level licensing system. One could buy either an "as is" single vesion license, a major vesion licence typically covering several years of version releases, or ultimately a life-time license, granting unlimited access to any and all of the future versions. We took a look at Steam policy, and felt it alien in many ways. It felt easier to stay with our old-school indie ways of game distribution which comes with maximum personal freedom to decide on pricing, licensing etc.

And, all the time, Steam felt like it is not just a neutral distribution platform, but it comes with a vague feeling that there are "Steam ways" of doing things. That going into Steam will probably mean that a game has to adapt to Steam ways, like it or not. Which means giving away a portion of the design freedom. Which is something a honest indie developer won't do just like that. Personally I also have some kind of aversion towards things which seem "on / off" to me. I mean, once you enter Steam, is there a way out? What if it turns out to be a bad experience and you want to pull your precious project away from the Steam? Can you do it? (I never discusses this with Sami, so I don't know how he felt. But I do recognize I have this kind of attitude towards many things, in so many situations my first question is "where is the escape route in case I need to flee?")

Well, after some consideration Sami decided to drop the share-ware licensing system. Although the income dropped at first, the donation-based system was that much easier to manage, and Sami felt that he has more freedom, more time and more energy to concentrate on the actual development work. That went on, and people kept on asking for a Steam release. Eventually Sami felt that it is time to try the Greenlight process. We thought that if UrW goes to Steam, we can figure out a way to combine Steam pricing with our own direct distribution and pricing. In a way it has been a slow unhurried process, Sami working hard with the development to get a fresh version for the initial Steam launch. And that bought us more time to get ourselves familiarized with Steam stuff and pricing. (On sites like IndieDB or now-pretty-dead Desura publishing a game was a pretty simple procedure of filling out a neat form. But in Steam there are tons of options, and it took us weeks just to make some sense of the overall concept of Steam publishing process. And later on, that's slightly different for different OSes, which means more work for Sami to get everything adjusted just right.)

Most of the time I was thinking of the mere technical side of the Steam release, discussing pricing and stuff with Sami. After 24 years of constant development, I was thinking that "oh, Steam is just another new distribution platform". But now, as the actual Steam release is only a couple of days away, things start to feel different. After all, Steam means like 75% of the global market of computer games. In a sense, that is something more than just "another new platform where you can download UrW". The traffic at the forums, the views of the official trailer at YouTube have been rising sharply. And the community activity is building up at Steam. There has been some media attention, which then leads to more pr-work to be done. It's a good nice buzz. And yet, personally, I feel pleasantly calm in the midst of all this. I'm equally interested in other distribution platforms like GoG, and feel that the old-school indie UrW will always be there. That exposure and publicity is not a value in itself - the game content and actual development will always be our main focus.

spot the elk
spot the elk
in my car, before the last customer of the day, feeling tired
iny my car, before the last customer of the day, feeling tired
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Comments

I feel like I should have a long-winded speech about how this particular post moved me is some, earth shattering way. But I am not that kind of writer, so I will say that this, and in fact all of your posts, do have a very different feeling then anything else I have read. There is just something about the honest and sincere way you write that can be felt. So, thank you Errka, thank you for writing down your actual thoughts without trying to make yourself look or sound like a stalwart saint. You let all of your thoughts positive or negative show though the way you write, I hope someday to be able to write like you.

Thank you very much for the feedback!

Sometimes I hear people assuming that I'm bragging about my stuff, ie. writing "Look at this cool stuff I did, look at how good I am, admire me and praise me!" - or, for some people my writings seem like I'm kind of a waiting for consolidations and comfort, like "oh look how much I have suffered, here I'm rolling in self-pity, now people tell me positive things about me so that I'll feel better!". Well, I don't know but maybe both of those are rather common ways of human communication. But personally I'm somewhat alien to both bragging and self-pity, and I don't know how to reply if people misinterpret my writings in those ways.

So, I'm not writing to affect the way others see or evaluate me. I'm just writing to communicate with other people. To share my inner thoughts and feelings about how it feels to be a human being in this world. Because, for me, sharing is a value in itself - and honest sharing only takes place when people feel each other as "equal" in some fundamental sense; not evaluating "higher or lower rank" in the bragging / self-pity sense of herd hierarchy or such. That's not my kind of thing.

I remember in some of the earlier comments I used a metaphor of "sending a message in the bottle". When I write a blog entry, I'm usually alone at my home, just writing out my thoughts and casting the message to the ocean of internet, not knowing if anyone is going to receive the message. So, for me, it is extremely nice to get direct feedback, hearing that there are people out there who get the message, who feel my writings as touching something inside them - that's the moment when actual sharing takes place, communication occurs, people meet each other as equal beings, each with their unique point of view, mutually sharing their perspectives of how to navigate the life.

So, hooray to all of us =)

I think what you describe is the thing that makes your writings so earnest and meaningful for me. I get this tremendous sense of exchanged open dialogue through the way you outline your thoughts and, often, the processes through which you arrive at them. I come away from your blog feeling richer, more contemplative and usually a little happier. Enriched for being made part of your point of view? Something like that. Don't ever stop.

Viikinkiaika on kyllä 5/5. Lehissä luki että Peter Franzen ja Jasper Pääkkönen ovat päässeet näyttelemään The Vikings sarjaan 4.:lle kaudelle. Piti ihan vaan sen takia alkaa katsoa sarjaa ja arvosteluina... Tuo viikinkimeno on 5/5 siitä ei pääse mihinkään. Nyt 4.n kauden seuraavia jaksoja odotellessa bongasin Unreal Worldin Steamissa! Oon aina tykänny old school tyylisistä peleistä ja varsinkin nethäckin tyylisistä kuten ADOM oli menestys. Odotan tältä VÄHINTÄÄN samaa, kun suomalaista laatutyötä. Yksikin noista oikeista kuvista huvittaa minua niin paljon että meni ohi kaikista supermeatballeista ja muista nykyhömpötyksistä graafisessa työssä :D Arvostelen vielä pelin kokeilun jälkeen.

No jos on nethack hallussa, niin sitten varmaan pääsee sisälle myös UrWin käyttöliittymään. Onnea matkaan, ja hyviä seikkailuja! =)

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