Reimagining the Game

A manifesto-like idea piece on the vision behind Amigame

Forget everything you know about games. Forget what you’ve seen being done, what the public opinion is, what experts say on current trends. Forget the mechanics, the objectives, the stories. Forget decades of muscle memory and experiences.

Forget it. Just forget it.

At the beginning, and this was years ago already, we thought we would be just another game studio. Possibly a game studio with quirky productions, haven for expressing our weird selves.

For a short period (2010–2012) we released titles using Unity, because that seemed to be the thing to do at the time, and tried to relate with the community; although in the process we realized we were losing a few fundamental things that characterized us:

  • Our love for open source
  • Real interaction with the users
  • Focusing on the application rather than the monetization

We decided that we couldn’t live without those elements and that if we continued in this direction we would change our ways to an undesirable degree. Instead, we went “back to the lab” and created a lot of components that would help us reinvent the brand into something we loved…

Open Web Technologies

Focusing on open technologies like WebGL, JavaScript, HTML5 seemed reasonable, even if at the time it was dismissed as an amateur sport. We surely had the web development experience and believed in the Web as a platform. Plus we wanted to avoid ambiguous licensing of third-parties, that would limit us from achieving #1 (open source).

As an extension of using web technologies, we created a delivery concept that used common conventions like URLs and CDNs to build our games. All our experience for building web applications is mirrored into creating video games.

Tailored content

We love our work. And want to extend that love to our creations. We identify as gamers and want the ultimate gaming experience for ourselves.

All inclusive marketplaces like Steam and Google Play are great but it’s hard to know what’s worth your time without having trouble installing, running and possibly flaming games later on the forums.

With that in mind, Amigame can be seen as a tailored experience that doesn’t contain everything but it can contain enough to keep you happy indefinitely.

To achieve that, we’ve extended the scope of the main site to an online destination, a commonplace for all gamers to stroll around. We promote a uniform stack among all games, so each game has expected behavior and features.

Ongoing experiences

Traditional video games are tightly related to testing skill and completing goals. From a psychological standpoint this can be interpreted as:

“Try and try again until you are successful…”

This creates the unnatural expectation that everything is attainable if you try hard enough. It’s what leads to psychosis like “the fear of missing out”.

This is not life as we’ve experienced it. In real life, you don’t get everything you want, you don’t get to try 100 times until you succeed. You often have to change paths to accomodate your top priorities and there are many things that may and will evade your attention; events that you simply weren’t present to witness.

Of course you can’t have everything. It’s only normal to be imperfect.

Partly that is what a drives gamers into fictional worlds: the fantasy of the unachievable. But we believe the absence of that can also draw people into a world and create and ongoing relationship with a game, simply by the fact that they know they haven’t seen everything the game can offer, and possibly never will. With Amigame we’re testing this theory…

In that regard, our games are more fluid, more close to real life. You will not experience everything, but you’ll experience something. And that’s what creates replay value. Every time you play you can try something else, even take the story to areas you haven’t gone before. We want to avoid creating worlds “on rails” that pause until you click at the right place so the story can continue….

Power to the users

Taking a step back and looking into the fundamentals of the Web, what makes a web service successful is:

  • Real utility
  • Customizability
  • User generated content

The utility in our case is shear entertainment. If people are having fun playing the game, its utility is fulfilled. Customizability and user generated content are related to traditional game modding; but under a “web service mindset” it can become more integrated than ever before.

Any Amigame production is expected to be customizable anywhere from superficial elements like the UI to fundamental components like the story dialogue. We share with users actual code. Users can replace assets and make the game their own. We even allow them to contribute content back to the game.

Practically everyone participating in Amigame has a say how the games are developed. We leave the opportunity open for anyone to work towards their ambitions and develop games for others to play, having our total support along the way.

No game left behind

We are fans of abandonware, and we feel bad for awesome creations just a few years old that are forgotten because they are not promoted any more. So many people have put so much effort into proprietary software. And we feel for their loss, as their work is locked down by publishers and their creations are squeezed till they drop every penny they can and then thrown in the bin.

We see Amigame as a collective of creators, and for that reason cater to the creator needs. Instead of a “slaving” model that rewards people for their time, imagine if creators could be rewarded for their work on an continuous rate through royalties and reserve the intellectual rights of their creations.

But what about the creations themselves? Even after the regular lifecycle (release schedule) of a game, there’s still something to be gained from them. Our strategy is to release all content that gets dated as open source, so it can continue to live as a community project. Users may benefit from past code and recycle elements in new creations. As an added benefit, this practice should keep old games up to date with newer hardware and browser specs.

Although we’ve started preparation for this years ago, we feel the world is now ready to accept this content. With the advent of indie gaming, taking the spotlight from “AAA” games and mobile gaming taking the reigns where console gaming left off; with more diverse groups joining the gaming community than even before, we find our efforts being received with an open mind that’s refreshing to say the least.

It’s been a long journey but this experience was useful and helped us identify our weaknesses and strengths. Through the course of time we’ve identified that Amigame can help in more than one areas. Not only defining a new distribution model, promoting open web technologies or experimenting with original game concepts; but also fostering a unique creator culture and maintaining an open communication channel between the platform and its users, integral for the development process.

We are proud of what we’re building and hope you can share our vision and passion.

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