Everlasting Games


A lot of really good computer games have been made in the last few decades. Many of them are designed with such elegant simplicity that, technically, they have no expiration date. And yet these wonderfully timeless creations do sadly expire into obsolescence because of the game industry conventions of secrecy, exclusivity and unrelenting newness that they came out of.

The intention of Spicy Lobster studio (makers of the Fish Fight franchise) is to make everlasting games, holistically designed to last for as long as the game is still being played. We do this by following similar development practices as the open software movement with its many long-lived giants such as Linux, WordPress and Blender.

The games we build will last forever because they are:

Open

As long as a game’s inner workings are open, it can be continued, with or without its original creators.

Moddable

By enabling ease of modification, a game will forever evolve and grow.

Cross-platform

Platforms come and go. The more platforms a game exists on, the greater its longevity.

Communal

A connected and tended-to community rooted in friendship is the living essence that keeps any game going. Collective ownership facilitates discourse and feedback between equals.

Sustainable

Continuously developing and servicing a game requires continuous income. Profits should however be in the service of mutual developer-player happiness, and not for outsize individual enrichment.

Loving Play

The classics we fell in love with are held in such high regard because they were designed first and foremost *in service of play*, I.e. they were created out of a love for play(fullness).

The Grand Scheme

With the principles above in mind, we can openly present our entire ‘master plan’ as an indie studio startup.

Innovation by openness 

All other things being equal, we’re convinced an open source product is objectively better than a closed source one. Maybe not better at conception, but continuously more so going forward, because an open product inherently invites greater product innovation.

The same holds true for games. In particular, moddable games get significantly better with openness, and openness invites moddability. 

Example: Warcraft 3 and WordPress

Modding activity surrounding the game Warcraft 3 was almost indistinguishable from the open source practices that are mainstream today. And yet, Wc3 is a “dead game”. A prettier but non-backwards-compatible ‘Warcraft 3: Reforged’ only made the community more divided.

Warcraft 3 came out in 2002/2003, same as WordPress. Warcraft 3 is an RTS-game engine; WordPress is a website engine.

While Wc3 has slowly headed towards obsolescence, WordPress has grown ever more popular. A huge part of WordPress’ success is its moddability by means of plugins and themes. By avoiding monopolistic and over-controlling practices, the WordPress ecosystem has flourished. The pie is growing ever-larger for everyone.

We posit that had Warcraft 3 been run in a similar way as WordPress, it would be perfectly healthy today, and could easily rival the likes of Roblox and Minecraft in terms of community size and content(/value)-creation.

Building open games

We believe that the ‘open product recipe’ for making a successful COSS company is quite straightforward:

- Have some domain knowledge and a real itch for improving the status-quo of that domain.
- Identify the most successful closed-source product in that domain
- Replicate the core offering of that closed-source product and make it as an open product.
- Make a better product by means of open source methodology and complaint-driven development.

We further believe that the same recipe can be applied to games:

  • Have some domain knowledge and a real itch for improving the status-quo of that domain.
  • Identify the most successful closed-source game in that domain.
  • Copy the core mechanics of that closed-source game and re-make it as an open product.
  • Make a better game by means of open source methodology and complaint-driven development.

This rudimentary thesis for how to make everlasting games is being tested with Fish Fight. Best of all, the developer of the original Duck Game is well aware of our project and has given it his blessing. After 7 years of maintaining a surprise hit for a cult following, he is beyond eager to start working on other game designs in his backlog. So instead of competing with Duck Game, we are amicably making its spiritual successor.

Reproducible openness tactics

There are many games like Duck Game out there. Minimalist games that have a ~10/10 on Steam (which has the best rating system of any games site), or would have if they existed on there. Some examples:

We want to test our thesis on all of these, starting with continuing the legacy of freeware smash hit Little Fighters 2. In collaboration with members of the enduring LF2 modding community, we’re building a modern, moddable beat-‘em-up engine & accompanying flagship game, set in the Fish (Fight) World franchise.

beatemup boss

Preview of a WIP boss unit in "beatemup"

Crowdfunding prospects

These are not AAA games in terms of scope, but their sales numbers punch waaay above their weight. The core mechanics of these games can be re-created with a $2000-$20,000 budget. At that point the game should be polished enough to attempt a Kickstarter of $5,000-$50,000 to truly test product/market fit. The potential profits are in the range of $0-$5,000,000++.

All these games have a fanbase that is hungry for more game (see the Mario Party link). On the other side you’ve got open source game enthusiasts and indie developers who are always hungry for more examples of high quality open games that are commercially published, demonstrating end-to-end how it’s done.

There is strong precedent for open, learning-focused projects doing well on Kickstarter:

Being an open game (and 2D platformer engine) developed in Rust, Fish Game stands out as one of the most polished games in the Rust gamedev ecosystem; a big fish in a small pond. 

The Fish Fight crowdfunding campaign (most likely happening Q3/Q4 of 2022) will bet on the convergence of two communities: Duck Game players and Rust game developers, both of which are known to have purchasing-power as well as enthusiasm for indie creations.

Collective ownership

We believe we have a repeatable model for success on our hands, but we don't have the resources to make all these games at once. The easiest way to bring our vision to scale is by relinquishing our ownership of it. Everlasting games ultimately belong to the lineage of developers that bring them to life, and the players that keep them living.

Come talk to us if you think your own vision might be in alignment with ours. We can be found on Discord ( erlend_sh#4477), Twitter and GitHub (more game repos coming soon).

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