The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby charlie » 20 Sep 2017, 12:01

Arthur {l Wrote}:I kinda agree that they should have been versioned differently, but that should have happened from the start. Like, STK 0.3 could have been called 1.0. Now we're so far along changing versioning plans should not happen until we reach 1.0 in my personal opinion.

Nothing is stopping you. You guys control it.

Arthur {l Wrote}:So who are those people who would have kept any 1.0 series going while STK or SuperTux continued into 2.0?

You get quite a few people on the STK forum asking for old tracks to be included (I've read a few of those posts).

The problem was more apparent with Super Tux. Ambitious rewriting meant that the last stable 0.1.x release was the most playable version until probably the 0.5.x releases. Certainly the old 0.1.x releases perform a lot better on weaker/older computers.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Arthur » 20 Sep 2017, 13:09

charlie {l Wrote}:Nothing is stopping you. You guys control it.

You get quite a few people on the STK forum asking for old tracks to be included (I've read a few of those posts).

The problem was more apparent with Super Tux. Ambitious rewriting meant that the last stable 0.1.x release was the most playable version until probably the 0.5.x releases. Certainly the old 0.1.x releases perform a lot better on weaker/older computers.

Nothing is stopping us except just going to 1.0 now would be silly in my opinion. There's one big feature missing, some polish, and then we'll be on track with the 1.0 milestone that have been on our website for years. People should expect us to keep our word on that to a reasonable degree.

As for older tracks, the blend files are in the history of our SVN repository, and for tracks only a few years old all you'd have to do would be to re-export the track with a recent exporter (best would be the very latest from our Git repo). For tracks older than the 0.7 release you'd probably have to redo the drivelines and replace the items but that might take a couple hours. And then you could upload it to our add-ons repository, including any modified blend file and it should be reasonably future-proof.

The fact that so few have done that, even for tracks only needing to be re-exported tells me the interest for older tracks isn't that big.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby charlie » 20 Sep 2017, 13:15

Arthur {l Wrote}:Nothing is stopping us except just going to 1.0 now would be silly in my opinion.

Yeah, I understand this, which I guess is why I brought up the idea of STK Classic - a way of releasing 2 "1.0" games alongside each other.

At this point it probably makes more sense for SuperTux but STK has become quite graphically demanding so there could still be those who look to the older versions. I dunno, I'm musing rather than asking. It needs somebody motivated to do the work, certainly.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby onpon4 » 20 Sep 2017, 16:40

I don't think that would have been appropriate for SuperTux, unless they were going to say that it was complete and "SuperTux 2.0" was going to be a sequel. I think the damage from playing version 2.0 expecting it to be different from 1.0, only to encounter the same levels, is far greater than the damage of correctly interpreting the game as incomplete. This is why Hexoshi's first release is 0.1, not 1.0. Milestone 2 will start out exactly the same as Milestone 1 does; it's just that Milestone 1 is not a complete game.

The problem with SuperTux, as I see it, is it wasn't developed properly. After Milestone 1, the game should have been finalized. It could have been released as SuperTux 1, while SuperTux 2 could have scrapped the SuperTux 1 levels and worked as a sequel. Instead they made a whole bunch of minor changes and went ahead with the same levels, plus a few more, while changing the music. The result is a mess.

As far as version numbers go, I think I did it right with ReTux. ReTux did use the 0.x versioning, and the reason was because it was incomplete, not ready to be played for real. I'm doing the same for Hexoshi. But you do need to have a completeness point in mind, and you have to make that attainable. If you're wanting to revamp everything before then, wrap up and release version 1.0 first. Then make the revamped version an entirely new game, a sequel.

But for games like STK where there isn't any real story or progression to speak of (usually because they focus on multiplayer), version 1.0 should come when the game is playable, fun to play, and not buggy. So STK, Xonotic, Teeworlds, and OpenArena should all be at or past 1.0. Both Glest and Warzone 2100 did this correctly, though MegaGlest seems to have dropped the ball; it should be at version 4.x, but it's still in the 3.x series.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Arthur » 20 Sep 2017, 16:50

charlie {l Wrote}:Yeah, I understand this, which I guess is why I brought up the idea of STK Classic - a way of releasing 2 "1.0" games alongside each other.

At this point it probably makes more sense for SuperTux but STK has become quite graphically demanding so there could still be those who look to the older versions. I dunno, I'm musing rather than asking. It needs somebody motivated to do the work, certainly.

For sure, it could be done and there would certainly be interest from people with limited hardware. At the same time, the older releases are still up on SourceForge so people can download an older version if they were happy with how that performed. But someone taking that code and trying to "forward-port" (not to be confused with port forwarding) features, or taking our current game and improve upon the legacy renderer still there would be a good thing indeed, granted they could do that independently and not add to the main game's support burden.

Incidentally, the legacy renderer has gotten fixes this release cycle (or maybe release kart would be more apt) making it more useful in a pinch, but it's not accessible from the menus because there are rather apparent graphical issues and we don't want to support it officially. Regarding our current renderer, it could indeed use a lot of improvement but we don't have any OpenGL experts with the time and motivation to make it better. However lowering the graphical settings and choosing a lighter track can make it quite all right on modest hardware. Until a couple years ago I used a Geforce 250 GTS (the 1 GB version) and that was good enough at low to medium settings.

Anyway, sorry for rambling, I think I got a bit off-topic here. I tend to do that at times. :)
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby freem » 20 Sep 2017, 17:05

c_xong {l Wrote}:Even if you follow semver, major version numbers are reserved for major compatibility breaks, something that most projects avoid deliberately. Backwards compatibility is a virtue, so there is no reason to suddenly jump from 0.x to 1.0.


Actually, semver says the major 0 have special meaning: no stability is guaranteed between versions. When something reach stable apis, then it is time to declare the 1st stable: v1.0.0.

But using semver for a game does not seems to be a good idea to me: semver's goal is to help with dependency hell. So, yes, the engine can use semver, but it is not adapted to the whole project.
For example, visual studio (have to work with that, sometimes) uses commercial names like "visual studio 2012", when it's real, contributors-oriented version is something like 11.y.z.
For games, it would mean that you can have the same engine for, by example, stk classic and stk modern (to reuse that one), where assets might be radically different.

Their use is correct: plugins can easily know if they are compatible, while users will mostly notice UX changes. I think FOSS games should use a similar model. But why do they not? Because their authors are more than often coders, attached to procedures and usually bad in communication (well, all of the colleagues I had and myself are, at least).
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Wuzzy » 31 Oct 2017, 01:48

Hmm, I agree. Using version numbers wrong can be devastating.

If you are too shy about going for version 1, you will keep potentially interested players away for a long time. OpenRCT2 is a perfect example of this. They are currently at 0.1.2, but it's already a near perfect re-implementation of RCT2 with very little few bugs. Hell, I'd say even in version 0.0.3 was already “ready”.
If you go for version 1 too early, your game will be remembered as being “buggy” for years to come. Basically a good game developer should first sit down and write down a plan, even if it's a rough one. I have seen so many projects burn and crash simply for the lack of plan.

I think what many FOSS game projects fail to communicate correctly is when they are in WIP state. Even those which mention it clearly, almost no FOSS game makes it obvious how far the project has come. Either this info is not written down at all, or it's hard to track down with 2 clicks.
I think many games can be simply hard to grasp for complete newbies. Newbies deserve to at least know what the whole point of your game is.

Then, many FOSS game websites are terrible.
To be fair, most game websites are terrible. :D
Most websites fail to summarize the game in a few sentences and put a big screenshot right on the homepage.
The description of the games is often not well-written so that it could be understood by complete newbies.
I think FOSS games, even the good ones, are rarely explained well to outsiders.
Also, a good summary should only bother about the gameplay. Don't waste the readers time on the project's history, licensing, relationship to other games, etc. Also don't write how awesome your game is. That's just boring.

Descriptions like “A FOSS clone of Random Game XYZ” have to burn and die. Even for near-perfect clones. Nobody knows all the games. It's perfectly okay to mention and admit that your game is clone of another game, but this info has to go into the details or trivia section, it definitely does not have to be the first sentence.

I think http://minetest.net s an example of what NOT to do. Big screenshot, that's a plus, but the summary on the homepage is just terrible. And the rest of the homepage really doesn't add much more information, it's hard to really understand Minetest unless you're already knee-deep into this cult (of which I proudly am a part of! xD)
Meet Minetest.
A free, open source voxel game engine and game. Fully extendable. You are in control.

Well, at least it doesn't say “Minecraft clone” but this description says absolutely nothing about the gameplay. It's not even correct, because technically, Minetest is not a game, it's only the engine. The game is called “Minetest Game” (which is even more terrible … XD).

http://openrct2.org/ is not much better. It says “clone” in the first sentence, after the second sentence is already starts to get tiresome to read and goes into technical details.
OpenRCT2 is an open-source re-implementation of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2), expanding the game with new features, fixing original bugs and raising game limits. The gameplay revolves around building and maintaining an amusement park containing attractions, shops and facilities. The player must try to make a profit and maintain a good park reputation whilst keeping the guests happy. OpenRCT2 allows for both scenario and sandbox play. Scenarios require the player to complete a certain objective in a set time limit whilst sandbox allows the player to build a more flexible park with optionally no restrictions or finance.


I like the http://xonotic.org/ homepage better. It's to the point. But it includes the term “free-to-play”, this is a term which you should NEVER EVER use for free software games!
Xonotic is an addictive, arena-style first person shooter with crisp movement and a wide array of weapons. It combines intuitive mechanics with in-your-face action to elevate your heart rate. Xonotic is and will always be free-to-play. It is available under the copyleft-style GPLv2 license.

What I think this description is missing that Xonotic also has a lot of game modes.

I could probably go on forever like this but you get the idea.


Finally, I was being told that I am ignorant of most FOSS games as well. Note I have only mentioned some of the better-known FOSS games, not ALL of them in existance. And frankly, not all games are really noteworty or even just promising.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Duion » 01 Nov 2017, 13:14

Who cares if the website is "good" since that is subjective anyway, as long as you can quickly find the download link and some screenshots what it looks like it is sufficient.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Egberto » 01 Nov 2017, 17:28

Wuzzy {l Wrote}:Hmm, I agree. Using version numbers wrong can be devastating.

I think what many FOSS game projects fail to communicate correctly is when they are in WIP state. Even those which mention it clearly, almost no FOSS game makes it obvious how far the project has come. Either this info is not written down at all, or it's hard to track down with 2 clicks.
I think many games can be simply hard to grasp for complete newbies. Newbies deserve to at least know what the whole point of your game is.


That's a good point, to have in mind.

Wuzzy {l Wrote}:Then, many FOSS game websites are terrible.
To be fair, most game websites are terrible. :D
Most websites fail to summarize the game in a few sentences and put a big screenshot right on the homepage.


I like when a website is attractive and all, but ...

Probably only the screenshots are the minimum requirement to get my attention, usually I lose interest when I can't find how the game looks (probably because I'm more leaned to visual stimuli).

Wuzzy {l Wrote}:Don't waste the readers time on the project's history, licensing, relationship to other games, etc. Also don't write how awesome your game is. That's just boring.


Well as a gamer I usually ignore the majority of technical details too (I'm only interested in the required libraries or if my graphics card support it), so this makes sense, but the licence ... I like when the game is free software, :) . Of course a "mainstream or outsider gamer" probably not; I usually take the "relationship with other games" as a guide to see if this game have potential to me so I think that this point is not bad.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Wuzzy » 05 Nov 2017, 18:21

Who cares if the website is "good" since that is subjective anyway, as long as you can quickly find the download link and some screenshots what it looks like it is sufficient.

Yes, that's my point!

IMO a website is good if the average user learns what the game is about and where to download it. Big screenshots, download links, short but understandable description, system requirements, that's really all that a good website needs. The rest is optional. A gameplay video might also be something to consider, just make sure it NEVER EVER autoplays. :D
I find it funny how some people spend months of work on their uber shiny website and then you can't even find the download link. xD


so this makes sense, but the licence ... I like when the game is free software,

Well, I would't recommend to completely bury the fact that your game is free software. I would still mention it on the homepage somewhere.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Duion » 05 Nov 2017, 19:36

I just noticed that of course they ignore it, since most of the projects can in no way compete to anything on the market today, additionally you have to consider that the mainstream media ignores most video games.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Wuzzy » 05 Nov 2017, 22:59

I think you are missing the point. I am not talking about the long tail of small not-really-serious hobby projects. These are obviously ignored or even simply just not noticed since they're just hobby projects. Note there is a huge amount of freeware (proprietary) games as well, only a very few of them catches any attention.

So, it's not really a surprise that the small projects have a hard time. I'm not debating this.

What I am concerned about is that the big and serious FOSS projects have very little attention as well. I'm talking about Xonotic, Red Eclipse, Battle for Wesnoth, Stunt Rally, FreedroidRPG. This kind of stuff.
While these are not the top-tier AAA 10/10 points (with gold star) games, is it really too much to expect that there is at least any amount of coverage?
All I'm really asking for, is that the existance of these games is at least recognized. If the people thinks they're crap, just give them a low rating, but at least look at them.
There have been far worse proprietary games. Shitty games appear all the time, but at least they exist in the mainstream.
I don't think it's really about the quality. There are tons of proprietary games at this quality level (or below) and have a much easier time getting coverage. There must be another cause. Even in the indie scene, FOSS games are pretty much non-existing.

It seems almost like a curse. If your game is FOSS, you're doomed automatically, it's as if the quality does not matter at all anymore. This is really strange.
Funny thought experiment: I wonder what would happen if Xonotic suddenly turned to the dark side and would only release Xonotic as non-free software, plus, they start selling it for $20 each copy. They don't need to change anything else, they just make it proprietary (assuming for a moment this would be actually legal) and sell it. I wonder what would happen.
Or what if they only sell copies, but without abandoning the free software license. It would be really interesting to know what would happen.

I wonder if the simple act of being proprietary and/or commercial somehow gives you a free popularity boost.

Brainstorming for possible explanations:

- The writers really have never heard of these games. This would mean we just suck at, well, “marketing”
- The writers think that free = crap (solution: start selling your software for $60 each. XXXD)
- All free software is crap, no exceptions
- The mainstream media are, somehow, against the idea of free software
- The mainstream media have been bribed, silenced, threatened, it's a big conspiracy, etc. etc. etc.
- The writers would like to write about it but their bosses won't let them
- (feel free to add your own crazy or maybe not-so-crazy explanations)


Hmm, so far I think the truth is a mix of 1) and 2). The others … not so much.
3) is just silly.
5) is possible and shouldn't be rejected automatically, it wouldn't be the first scandal. But it seems quite unlikely. There are not many high-profile FOSS games to be a serious threat. Basically I only included it for teh lulz.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby onpon4 » 05 Nov 2017, 23:39

Shitty games appear all the time, but at least they exist in the mainstream.

That's at least partially why. No one wants to cover the mediocre. They want to cover the marvelous and the terrible. I suspect most libre games are just seen as mediocre; not bad, not particularly noteworthy. That right there pretty much dooms them to not be covered by many people because not many people are interested in them.

I wonder what would happen if Xonotic suddenly turned to the dark side and would only release Xonotic as non-free software, plus, they start selling it for $20 each copy.

Don't forget why Xonotic exists in the first place. It comes from Nexiuz because Nexuiz became proprietary. Look how it turned out for them: no one was interested in it. In fact, if you search "Nexuiz" on DDG, you get only results for the older libre game, because that's the only version of the game anyone is interested in.

So that's the answer to your question: it would get exactly as little response as before.

Or what if they only sell copies, but without abandoning the free software license. It would be really interesting to know what would happen.

Already did that. I've seen no change from the time ReTux was sold and now, when it is gratis.

I wonder if the simple act of being proprietary and/or commercial somehow gives you a free popularity boost.

I hope I've sufficiently demonstrated that it doesn't.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Duion » 06 Nov 2017, 00:35

The only FOSS games that do well in terms of player count and media coverage are the clones of big proprietary titles, they benefit from the promotion that the big companies of the proprietary title has made for them and they are simply parasiting from that work. So don't complain, since most FOSS game (clones) already receive far more media coverage and players than they deserve, measured by the work that was put in marketing etc which is probably close to zero in most cases. Free games, open source or not, that are not clones of big titles usually get far less attention.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby onpon4 » 06 Nov 2017, 01:52

"Parasiting" is not a word. The word you're looking for is "leeching". I reject the notion that cloning is a form of parasitism, however. That implies that it has a negative impact on what is being cloned. I think it usually has a beneficial impact on it. That would make the relationship between an original game and a clone mutualistic, not parasitic.

I'd be really interested to see some pertinent statistics showing what happens with an original game when it is cloned. I would predict that more people would play the game during that time, and consequently there would be an uptick in sales if it is still available to buy. I don't know if it's realistically possible for shlubs like us to get our hands on such statistics, though.
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Duion » 06 Nov 2017, 12:38

Yes then use that word, I was also not suggesting that it will damage the original product, but that the clone does benefit from it, so in the end most FOSS games are probably just fan art and fan art is usually tolerated.
My point was just, that some clones get very good media attention, like minecraft clones, since the original is so popular you often see websites with like "10 alternatives to minecraft".
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Wuzzy » 26 Nov 2017, 07:24

That's at least partially why. No one wants to cover the mediocre. They want to cover the marvelous and the terrible. I suspect most libre games are just seen as mediocre; not bad, not particularly noteworthy. That right there pretty much dooms them to not be covered by many people because not many people are interested in them.

I don't think this is the answer.
Mediocre games get coverage all the time. Shitty ones, too. And if it's just by reviewing them. If you make a review, you don't know in advance how good the game is. That's the point!
Duke Nukem Forever got tons of coverage, but many people weren't impressed. I think it's pretty clear that the quality of a game does not correlate with the amount of coverage.

The point of this thread is that free software games almost never even get it to the review stage.

Basically, my goal is that more people at least freaking look at the games, to give them a chance. Tear them apart, call them “mediocre” or praise them. Just give some feedback. Acknowledge the existance.
I want free software games to be recognized as games which actually exist.
And in times of greedy business strategies like Free To Pay I think our community might be relevant than ever.

------------------
About clones:

I just like to point out that the truly original ideas are actually rare.
A lot of games borrow ideas. Naturally, game developers tend to be gamers as well. Other games will influence them.
Gameplay mechanics are copied over and over again. Especially those that work: You see hit points, XP, power-ups, etc. all the time.
What happens if there are 100 “clones” of the same game concept? It's called a “genre”. Early FPS' were originally called “Doom clones”. I predict the same will happen to Minecraft clones. :)
There's even a genre named after a game: Roguelike.
If you see games as an art form, nothing of this should be a surprise or shocking.
The whole point of the free culture idea is that it's not a big deal if ideas or whatever are copied, modified or whatever.

That doesn't mean there should be no innovation at all, of course.

Don't forget why Xonotic exists in the first place. It comes from Nexiuz because Nexuiz became proprietary. Look how it turned out for them: no one was interested in it. In fact, if you search "Nexuiz" on DDG, you get only results for the older libre game, because that's the only version of the game anyone is interested in.

So that's the answer to your question: it would get exactly as little response as before.

Or what if they only sell copies, but without abandoning the free software license. It would be really interesting to know what would happen.


Already did that. I've seen no change from the time ReTux was sold and now, when it is gratis.

I wonder if the simple act of being proprietary and/or commercial somehow gives you a free popularity boost.


I hope I've sufficiently demonstrated that it doesn't.

About Xonotic, right, I totally forgot about the whole Nexuiz thing. Note that development also stalled after version 2.5.2.

Nexuiz itself actually never was proprietary. You can still play it with no strings attached.
They just sold the rights to the name (or something), and then a proprietary remake of this game with the identical name was created.
But yeah, this remake doesn't seem to be really successful.
The original Nexuiz still exists, is still free, but is now also sometimes called “Nexuiz Classic”:
http://www.alientrap.com/games/nexuiz/

About ReTux: Not a good example IMO. I don't think ReTux was even really advertised outside of this forum, so it doesn't make sense to make any comparison.

Overall, to really answer the question, we need more data. A sample size of 2 is too small. ;)
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Magellan » 26 Nov 2017, 08:06

Perhaps one thing to keep in mind regarding why mainstream media outlets don't cover FOSS games much is the distribution format. By that, I mean that not all FOSS games are available in the form of a works-out-of-the-box Windows binary. I currently play FOSS games on both Debian and Windows, though mostly on the former. Many games that I have enjoyed, I had to download and compile the source code for. That process could be very daunting to non-programmers. This is probably not the only reason, of course, but it could be another obstacle.

This thread makes me wonder if maybe what free software games need is there own online magazine/news platform. I like FreeGameDev Planet and the Freegamer blog, but I'm thinking something more along the lines of a small-scale version of one of the major mainstream game news sites like (just for example) IGN or Destructoid or something. Oftentimes these sites don't just offer news and reviews, but also create their own works like video series, podcasts, comics, etc. I think something like that, but for strictly FOSS games, would be cool. Who needs the mainstream media, anyway :D
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Wuzzy » 26 Nov 2017, 08:54

Well as soon your proposed publication becomes popular, you will be part of the mainstream. ;) Which is not a bad thing, actually.

Anyway, I think creating a more sophisticated publication is a great idea. I think nothing like this exists yet. At least nothing with potential. One problem I see is that it might not be enough to get out of the bubble, but maybe my fear is unjustified.

I don't think Free Gamer has potential, it hasn't been updated since March 2017!
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby Julius » 26 Nov 2017, 10:09

The problem is that creating such a publication is more or less a full time job... and who is going to pay the bills for that?

Sure there is crowd-funding these days, but lets look at a practical example: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/ is funded that way ( https://www.patreon.com/liamdawe ), and while he and his contributors produce a quite high quality steady stream of Linux gaming related news, the amount of money is no where near what can be considered a decent income.
A FOSS gaming news site would probably cater to a largly overlapping subset of supporters and thus generate even less.

Yes that is a rather bleak look at things, but your are not going to get anyone to invest that much time into creating something like that if he/she can't make a proper living out of it.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” - Buckminster Fuller
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Re: The mainstream media ignores free software games :-(

Postby onpon4 » 26 Nov 2017, 18:05

Wuzzy {l Wrote}:Mediocre games get coverage all the time. Shitty ones, too. And if it's just by reviewing them. If you make a review, you don't know in advance how good the game is. That's the point!
Duke Nukem Forever got tons of coverage, but many people weren't impressed. I think it's pretty clear that the quality of a game does not correlate with the amount of coverage.

Duke Nukem Forever got a lot of coverage because it was a highly anticipated sequel of a well-liked game that was in development for a decade. That's why mediocre games get covered: because they're connected to a well-known franchise.

That's also why any time someone covers a libre game, it's usually because (they think) it's a clone of some other game. That's the only reason anyone even finds out about SuperTux, SuperTuxKart, Naev, Freeciv, etc.

I don't think ReTux was even really advertised outside of this forum

That's incorrect.

we need more data.

Nethack:

https://www.gamespot.com/nethack/reviews/
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