Author Topic: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15  (Read 8003 times)

VAgentZero

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
    • Game Zero
Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« on: January 12, 2010, 07:14:44 pm »
I've noticed there's a pretty serious contention regarding whether VVVVVV is worth the $15 price point.  It's a perfectly valid criticism, mind -- there are certainly plenty of free indie games out there of high quality.  But I believe it is worth it.  Allow me to explain my position.

First, why should you pay for VVVVVV at all?  Terry's not under any obligation to release his work for free just because it's independent.  The entirety of the games industry was built on the model of paying for the work of small teams.  In the late '80s and early '90s, the "Apogee Model" of shareware releases was in its heyday.  Download a game demo, and if you like it, ship the author anywhere from $10 to $50 depending on the game, and you'll obtain the full-featured version.  Of course, over the course of the past, oh, 15-20 years, games have become more commercialized, and multi-billion dollar firms have replaced the shareware developers in large part.  But they're still out there.  Paying an author for his time is a show of support for his work -- buying VVVVVV tells Terry, "Hey, the time you spent working on this is important to me."

Okay, so if you buy that releasing the game in a sale-based format is legit, why is it worth the full fifteen bucks?

Consider fun factor.  There's the argument of the "poor" graphical quality of the game.  VVVVVV is certainly not the most flashy piece of software out there.  It lacks the three-dimensional, anti-aliased, whiz-bang bloom effects that are apparently the standard these days.  You can't see the beads of sweat dripping off of Captain Viridian's face as he bounces between precarious platforms.  That being said, I submit:  Who cares?  I've never understood the gaming world's obsession with graphics.  They're a strong selling point, a wow factor, something that people will flock to a piece for.  But truth be told, they're disposable.  A fun game with poor graphics is still a fun game.  A boring game with excellent graphics is garbage.

The game is short.  No one is arguing that.  Know what other, nearly universally acclaimed game was a handful of hours of play?  Portal.  It may seem absurd to the point of sacrilege to compare VVVVVV to Portal, but it's the best example of recent vintage that I can come up with.  I completed Portal in a single sitting; so too did many others.  You paid your entry fee not for a sprawling game world, or for tens of hours of gameplay, but for a small quantity of gold polished lovingly to a mirror sheen.  I'll be damned if I can think of a mainstream commercial title out there which packs that much purity of design and play into each room.  VVVVVV's quality is similar -- each room is a carefully balanced, thought out element.  None are throwaways; none are dick moves, none are cop-outs.  The differences between the beta and release versions show that to the last minute, the puzzles were iterated on until they came as close to perfection as possible.  I'd happily take (just to pull a number out of the air here) 60 screens of utmost quality than 300 slightly above average ones, or worse still, a thousand mediocre ones.

Whether a game is made by a large company or one man makes no difference to me.  I believe the value is in the gameplay, in the love, and there's plenty of it here.  Of course, it's just my opinion -- if you don't agree, if you find your value in length, or beautiful graphics, or lightweight, stress-free gameplay, don't buy it -- no one will mind.  If you find value, but not enough to justify it, wait around a bit -- maybe you'll get lucky and catch a sale or something.  But as far as I'm concerned, I got every penny of my money's worth.

StephenM3

  • Professor
  • ****
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
    • Cloud Cover (my games)
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2010, 07:29:51 pm »
I've got a friend who believes that there's no such thing as "intellectual property" -- that anything that can be duplicated at no loss to the previous owner can be "owned," and that creators of anything like this (music, software) have no real right to control their work.

People like that will never be convinced (I've tried many, many times) to pay for anything that doesn't have a physical presence.  It's quite frustrating.

VAgentZero

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
    • Game Zero
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2010, 07:34:34 pm »
Stephen, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume he doesn't see that (at risk of invoking a slippery slope) if his theory was correct, and people stopped paying for software, music, and so on, that the industries wouldn't exist as they do today?  You'd get either a dearth of content, or content of poor quality, or both.

Applekid

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 41
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2010, 07:59:35 pm »
I've got a friend who believes that there's no such thing as "intellectual property" -- that anything that can be duplicated at no loss to the previous owner can be "owned," and that creators of anything like this (music, software) have no real right to control their work.

People like that will never be convinced (I've tried many, many times) to pay for anything that doesn't have a physical presence.  It's quite frustrating.

All you have to do is point to history. The 18th-19th century was a boon for invention and innovation, due to strong and sensible* copyrights and patents enforced by governments (France and England and copied by others). They understood the benefit of granting rights to intangible ideas: namely the encouragement of development. Look at the great literary works created with the financial motivation made possible from the establishment of strong copyright and the modern inventions that make life comfortable similarly with strong patents. In turn, what communal intellectual property advocates ignore is that we all benefit in standard of living (which in my opinion includes culture such as entertainment) through selfish profit motive.

Who wouldn't be proud to make a great game? We all out. But, wouldn't you work harder on making it great if you saw a payday at the end of the tunnel? It's easier to say "it's good enough" than to really spend your energy with the promise of recouping investment.

* I say "sensible" because the permanent extensions being granted to copyrights are clearly not sensible now that corporations exist that have lifespans beyond that of mere humans, and are well above what would be needed to motivate creation.

BlueSkies

  • Crewmate
  • *
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2010, 08:42:28 pm »
Terry Cavanagh has provided me with some of the most cherised indie games. The games Pathways, Judith, and Don't Look Back have been artistically inspiring. Even if I didn't think VVVVVV was worth every penny, the fact that those games were gifted for free justifies the $15 as a kind of catch-all sum for Terry's entire back catalogue of games. 

allen

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 45
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2010, 10:38:50 pm »
Indeed BlueSkies. Terry has the potential to make some outstanding games (and which he has already made plenty) so why not fund him so he can keep on doing it? And by giving him money you actually get a game, well how about that. Seems like a sweet deal to me.

The other day I bought 15 dollars worth of liquor, and it's gone now. I'll never get it back. But I have VVVVVV sitting on my desktop. Taunting me with it's speed run trials I have left unfinished and 4 missing trinkets I have to obtain. Not to mention playing the game in flip mode. Not the longest game I've played, but damn if the experience isn't 100% gratifying.

lazer bomb

  • Crewmate
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2010, 10:48:47 pm »
I notice that many people on Kongregate don't know that the final version is out. They (obviously without reading much) assume DEMO means NOT FINISHED.

scarybug

  • Crewmate
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
    • Scarybug Games
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2010, 10:55:17 pm »
I want to respond "The users on Kongregate are illiterate", but in the interest of avoiding hyperbole, I'll say that there are a vocal minority of Kongregate users with low literacy.

Doesn't quite have the same bite to it.

VAgentZero

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
    • Game Zero
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2010, 11:29:15 pm »
It's equally fun seeing Anthony Burch dress down commenters on his 10/10 Destructoid review too.  You know, the "10/10, more like 4/10" type, or the "you're pretentious because you like indie games that aren't made for $15 million".

bloocheese565

  • Crewmate
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2010, 12:42:06 am »
I notice that many people on Kongregate don't know that the final version is out. They (obviously without reading much) assume DEMO means NOT FINISHED.
I know, it's terrible.

DeceasedCrab

  • Crewmate
  • **
  • Posts: 20
    • View Profile
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2010, 04:40:35 am »
I want to respond "The users on Kongregate are illiterate", but in the interest of avoiding hyperbole, I'll say that there are a vocal minority of Kongregate users with low literacy.

Doesn't quite have the same bite to it.

Spare the rod, spoil the child.
The users on Kongregate are illiterate.

VAgentZero

  • Doctor
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
    • Game Zero
Re: Apologia: Why VVVVVV is worth $15
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2010, 05:08:46 pm »
Sadly, scarybug and DC, you're absolutely right.  A favorite of mine on there, "Zilch", is getting dressed down repeatedly because, of course, a computer who can win a primarily luck based game about 50% of the time with unusual tactics "cheats".  Expecting some of the more vocal screwheads on there to understand very, very basic statistics is like trying to build a nuclear reactor with a tapioca pudding cup.