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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

GarageGames Interview on Torque X

The first is that, as a hobbyist, there's quite a bit of cool factor in being able to run your games [on Xbox 360]. Right now, sure, you can get a compiler and make a game and share it with your friends over email. They can play it on their PC, but it's pretty cool to be able to run it on your 360, and invite people over to come and see it. I think that'll get a lot of people hopped up on making games. I imagine if I were in high school again, learning games and game development, and I heard this announcement, I'd be rushing home as soon as it was available to make a game and show it off to my friends.
-- Microsoft Gamefest 2006: GarageGames Interview

I've only been saying this for, like over a year now. GarageGames are a natural partner for this venture since they've made a business in trying to excite hobbyists about making games. And the thing is - it makes so much practical sense because it's a lot easier to sell your friends on trying out your game than random strangers ... but a lot harder to really get it into their hands.

If others (Nintendo, Sony) jump into this - we could see a whole new subculture emerging. A kind of socialization of hobbyist game developers, not unlike garage bands or heck ... even quilting circles. It's all the interesting things about homebrew with a lot more potential and a lot less hacking.

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jvm said...

So Torque has existed for a while, been so easy to use, allowed you to mail your game to friends ... but hasn't ignited the homebrewing revolution that some think could happen. Putting the same in the hands of a miniscule audience (fewer than 5 million Xbox 360 owners at this time compared to the hundreds of millions on Windows, MacOS, and GNU/Linux) is somehow going to make it work?

I am in favor of homebrew. I don't see what Xbox 360 brings to the party that will change the popularity equation. I especially don't understand the people saying "this could be the PlayStation 3 killer if Sony doesn't do the same". (Not you saying that, mind you, but the hype that flamed up around the XNA stuff is astonishing.)

Josh said...

Well, Torque 2D (now Torque Game Builder) hasn't around for a while, in fact it only just now left beta and only like one person out there took the bother to try and release anything under the early adopter license.

The full Torque engine has largely been shadowed by people modding Source, Unreal and id engines. And modding is largely the homebrew of the PC gamer culture - and it's pretty widespread.

Plus, PC freeware is missing a few components: namely a couch and your friends. Not to mention that I can't remember the last PC owner I knew who owned a joystick or gamepad, which actually does start to suck once you start looking at 2D development over 3D and especially sucks if you're trying to get more than one person to play at the same time (unless you've also decided to include networking which is even more intimidating).

And then there's the pain in the ass morass which is the PC platform. I even ran into this with mod development. You can never be quite sure how or what something is being deployed to and so just because it worked on your machine doesn't mean it will work on your friend's.

The 360 solves all of this. It provides both the hardware and the social outlet to encourage people to try making simple games.

I have a lot of respect for homebrewers - but they're largely a masochistic lot. They're completely handicapped in what they can deliver, how they can deliver it ... and at anytime some firmware update might make all their work completely useless. Props to them, but homebrew will never be mainstream.

I started wanting to try and get stuff to be playable on a couch with friends after the last Make Something Unreal contest. Commercialism is strangling the mod scene. It's not nearly as energetic and social as it used to be. This might be the beginning of a viable alternative.

I'd much rather we were talking about the Nintendo DS here, mind you. It's cheaper, simpler and portable. I'm working on the Mac now, but I welcome the 360 as the first to take this seriously.

As a PS3 killer though? No, I don't buy that. This is a value add with a marginal impact on sales, if best. But for those interested in this kind of stuff - it's a big boon. But I'd what you call a prime target if this was a swing point, and it's not terribly decisive for me.