I usually call Day 1 of the Game Developer's Conference the first day of the main sessions. There's actually always two days before that. This year, I went to the second of those two days. Come with me on an exhausting internal and external journey. This is super long, but you at least get some character arc here if you make it through.
I arrived and picked up my speaker's badge. I saw Steve Swink (formerly of Flashbang, now of Enemy Airship) and Matthew Wegner (Flashbang). They also had speaker's badges, but Matthew's had an extra green ribbon saying Session Advisor or something. We debated whether this made his badge more cool or less cool. Steve asked if I was going to the Independent Game Summit. I said no, what's what, I'm going to the all day thing on virtual currency in social games. He gave an expression of surprise and disgust and said "dude, you should really go to the indie game summit." Incidentally Steve and Matthew were running the summit. I explained that since I'm going to launch an online gaming site for Yomi, Puzzle Strike, Flash Duel, and probably more...and that that site will have at least basic social features like chat and friends lists, and virtual currency, that I feel obligated to go to this. Shouldn't I find out as much as I can about the various methods and tricks they use, so I can use some of them and write articles about how unethical the rest are?
Steve explained that the indie game summit would be interesting because of all the talk about how to develop experimental games that do interesting new things, but just as importantly, it's "the center of all heart and passion at the whole conference." I nodded and said it sounds really entertaining, but I maybe I'll be a grownup and go to the business stuff this time.
Mitch Davis (Live Gamer)
Davis opened the so-called V-Con (I guess that means conference about virtual items, but they can't be bothered to use full words? Maybe a less lol-cat name would work better next time?). He gave us many impressive stats about the world of virtual currency. It used to be a thing that just took hold in Korea, but now it's really worldwide. His company, Live Gamer, is a service that handles virtual item payment stuff. In a kind of handwavy way, he said that all the backend to handle that well is very complicated and has a ton of parts. The thing is, I've looked into this a bit, and yeah he's right. Maybe I should be considering his service.
Anyway, the most interesting stats he gave were changes in ARPU per country and per year. APRU means average revenue per user (measured per month usually), and you have to say that as a normal word a lot when you talk about virtual items. Say it with me. Arrrrrrrpooooooo. His point was that yeah, the amount of money from virtual item sales has increased each year in basically every country worth mentioning, but it's even more than that. Also in every country, the NUMBER of users paying for virtual items has steadily increased and also the Arrrrrrpooooo has increased in every country. Even in established markets like Korea, each user is spending more and more each year. If I remember right (ALL of this is from memory, no written notes), he said US ARPU is about $24, in Japan it's gotten as high as $50 or $60 I think, and even South America musters up $4.
Then Davis introduced Dave Perry, and made the seemingly disingenuous remark that Enter The Matrix is one of his favorite games. (Really?) 10 hours later, a guy named Brandon who was not at this lecture coincidentally mentioned that he bought Enter The Matrix for $1 in a bargain bin.
(If you're short on time to read, skip this section as it gets more interesting later.)
Perry showed us travel pictures of his trip to Korea and maybe China too, I forget. He proved to us conclusively that he's much taller than everyone there. He showed some graphs that mapped out various strategies taken in the online game space and how much money each were making. It gave us some perspective to see the big ones like Blizzard and Zynga, and Perry pointed out how scary it is that many major game companies do not even APPEAR on the graph because they have no discernable online strategy. Scary for them, he meant.
Then Perry talked about lots of ways you can approach selling virtual items. He has a short list of horrible ideas that you should avoid, like items that prevent you from playing with friends who don't have the items, or making people buy new items because their old items are literally broken by some change in the game. He had a long list of good ideas for items, such as anything to do with customization, and anything improving the social situation in the game. He said having scarce items means people will be more likely to flock to the guy who has the scarce item. (Hmm...) Anything that helps you express loyalty to your friends, or to break the ice with strangers, or to recognize people who are trustworthy, are all good areas, he said. Items like silly snowballs you can throw at each are ways to break the ice and start talking to strangers. He showed one game that was a boys vs girls thing, and after the game ended, people immediately left. But they added a thing where the losing team's avatars are shown wearing ridiculous silly costumes for losing, and it caused people to stick around and "lol" about it, sometimes even apologizing for bad behavior during the game, or congratulating each other. Maybe you could buy different silly costumes or something? I dont' know.
Then Perry went off the rails, as far as I'm concerned. He mentioned two things off-handedly, kind of smiling about them, and my jaw dropped. The first was the suggestion that you could add a bunch of clicks to your game intentionally, then sell the ability to bypass those clicks. You know, I gave a lecture at the Montreal Game Summit that was entirely about removing extra clicks everywhere you can. I considered interrupting him about this--the microphone was right next to me. It was a keynote speech and you're not supposed to that, so I let it go. Would have been more interesting if I said something though.
Next, he mentioned a genius idea from China. Some company makes literally hundreds of millions of dollars off this: the treasure box. The Chinese government was upset at the effect this was having on people, which also blew my mind. So a country with flagrant human rights violations found this GAME MECHANIC so objectionable that they stepped in? Anyway, here's what it is. You pay money (or virtual money? what's the difference) to open your "treasure box." When you do, a slot machine thing spins, showing all the very rare and valuable virtual items you might get. Then it settles on a not so valuable virtual item, and you get that one (well you know, most of the time. I'm not implying it's cheating you, other than entire concept itself being a cheat). The Evil Genius part is that they also give an award to the top X people who open the most treasure chests that day(!!!). Those people automatically win the most valuable prizes.
This egregious, unethical practice is the kind of thing he should have prevented as extremely dangerous. If you are "playing to win" in business, yeah you'd do that. But doing so is damaging to the lives of our own customers. I waited until the end where you get to ask questions because I wanted to ask his take on that. I mean personally, I'm embarrassed to be part of an industry that so blatantly manipulates people like rats in a skinner box, and isn't he embarrassed about that too? If he's not embarrassed, care to explain that? Conveniently, there were no questions at the end of his session though.
Dear Mr. Perry: sorry for busting your balls on that, a plausible explanation is that you just didn't realize the gravity of what you were suggesting. It's pretty gravitous though, fyi.
Perry then pitched his new gaming service, Gaikai. I'm not sure why this was allowed (pitching in a session isn't, though maybe it was a sponsored session so it was ok?) Anyway, I'm fine with it because I actually really liked hearing his pitch, it was great. His service is one of those things where his servers are running a game and you're seeing streaming video of it. So you can play it on even a netbook, instantly, with no install, anywhere. He listed a staggering number of completely legitimate benefits of such a service. Developers being able to gather more data on how people play, so they know where they went wrong. Ability to patch easily, because all the patching happens on Gaikai's servers with no hassle to the players. Anti-cheating because players don't even have the code or files on their computers at all, they are just getting video. Did you make an E3 demo that you can't possibly let out into the wild? Put it on Gaikai and let it run for just two weeks if you want, then take it down. Beats the hell out not letting the public play your E3 demo, which is usually what happens.
He also gave stats on how important a demo is in the purchase decision. His stats made sense to me. Trailers for games were rated extremely low in these surveys, even lower than looking at vids of gameplay on youtube because players want to see what the game really is. His service means you can play a demo of a game INSTANTLY in your browser. Reading an article abou the game, even a complex game like Call of Duty, and you could click a button and play in like one or two seconds.
He also talked about Apple and their amazing success. They showed us that $1.99 is an amazing price point and that making a really good App Store leads to tons of money, he said. It's all about how easy is it try or buy something, and that's what we need to do. In a crazy reversal of stances, he then showed how many clicks it takes to just TRY a game these days. First, he showed that if you want to try World of Warcraft, you start by going to their site and clicking on the Trial button. He showed in rapid succession the series of 31 clicks it took for him to actually get to the game, which also involved long downloads and patches. He showed the same kind of thing for a Valve game that took 34 clicks. His service lets you try those same games with one click in like 1 or 2 seconds.
After the player plays the demo a while, he urges publishers to show a "buy now screen" that has options like downloading the full game for $50, or having it delivered to their door for $60 or whatever that would cost, or maybe they could drive to a retail store (gas and time) and buy it there, or....pay $1.99 to keep having access to the streaming service.
Finally, Perry Mentioned that his service has 300 data centers, as opposed to like 3 from Onlive and 2 from whoever his other competitor was. But he DIDN'T mention the only stat that matters: the input lag players will feel when playing a game this way. It seems that it would be large enough to make the entire concept infeasible. Can you imagine having even 5 frames of input lag in a fighting game, rhythm game, for first person shooter? I can't. I found it very weird he didn't mention this stat. Please do next time!
A Lot of Stuff About Facebook
If I could sum up V-con in 10 words, it would be this: Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Yeah really. Facebook is so powerful that it's sucking everything in, warping the game industry around it. One of Saturn's moons has actually broken off orbit because the pull of Facebook was so strong. How can we integrate with Facebook? How can we make more money off Facebook games? How can we predict which things will be successful on Facebook?
Dennis "Thresh" Fong mentioned that even something as simple as your game posting a stream of semi-interesting achievements to the player's Facebook feed is a lot better than nothing. He said he learned about the existence of several casual games from his friends this way, yet he doesn't learn about big budget games this way. Why not? Daniel James of Puzzle Pirates mentioned that years ago, he suggested this idea that dual currency systems were a good idea (he did, I was there). People basically ignored him (yeah, they did), but now it's accepted as absolutely the way to do it. One currency tied to real money, one tied to attention (just play a lot and you get that one). Facebook already has dual currency, so how should your game integrate with that? How will your game's dual currency system work?
Interestingly, it was assumed 1000% that you are going to integrate as much as you can with Facebook and that you are going to have dual currency. If I had mentioned out loud that I'm working on an online gaming site with friends lists and chat and stuff, and that really, it's just its own thing unrelated to Facebook, the panel would have been stunned. Their mouths would gape, and a dead silence would roll over the room. It would simply be unthinkable and absurd. Not actually laughable, but pitiable. They would explain that what we've learned the last few years is that free-to-play is the name of the game. By making something free-to-play you can get a huuuuuuge number of people to play. By being involved with Facebook somehow, you can get a way even huger number of people. Then you multiply the huge by the huger when it's Facebook + free-to-play and you get eleventy billion people. The network effects kick in where the number of people playing add tons of value because there's so many opponents (or coop, whatever) and then that all gets multiplied by a barrel of coolness because it's your real friends who can play you. Everything is better when your real friends play (that part is right, and backed up by actual research, but we won't get into that).
So yeah, free-to-play so you get tons of interest, then monazite it somehow. Everyone stressed customizing your avatar as a HUGE thing. Don't look at it as stupid, instead offer it then lay atop your giant Dragon-sized pile of gold coins and treasure.
There was just a bit of talk about the ethical side here. Daniel James was obviously troubled by the entire situation. When he looked at that absolute most blatant ripoff schemes there are, he found them personally absurd, implying only idiots would fall for them. Then he looked at real numbers of how much money they made. I could tell that he's personally willing to not make that money, instead settling for simply making "a lot" rather than selling his soul. The moderator advised that the best idea from a business standpoint is "use the tactics that make the most money possible...that your staff can live with." He was saying that if your staff can't live with something because it's just too rip-offy, that ultimately you'll fail at that strategy. The people who succeed at ripping people off are really good at it and don't think twice about it. I don't even know what to say to this.
Patrick Chung of SK Telecom had some really interesting things to say. His company runs many things, including Cyworld and for the benefit of us stupid Americans, a few people explained just how big Cyworld is. It has *80%* marketshare in Korea amongst people in teens, 20s, and 30s. So with people between teenager and 39, 8 out of 10 of them play Cyworld. This is unfathamable and baffling to think about in America. The moderator pushed Patrick to guess how many years it would take any game, or even the sum of ALL casual games to reach a 50% penetration in the US. It took Cyworld 7 years to go from 0 to 80%, so can we do it faster knowing what it did? Patrick explained that it might take longer than it did in Korea, and it might not happen at all. He explained that in the US, you simply can't do the kinds of transactions they do. It's literally impossible. In the US, each transaction gets robbed by credit card companies and paypal. Anything involving a cell phone gets huge chunks of cash taken out too. In Korea, SK Telecom basically owns cell phones and credit card processing and instant messaging. In 2002, Microsoft had 80% marketshare in instant messaging, but how SK Telecom has 80% in that. They can integrate payments of virtual items with credit cards, with cell phone charges, with lots of things, and have no transaction fees. The kind of integration they can do, we just can't do. The moderator joked about how we're in caveman times over here in the US, with shitty cell phones and shitty credit cards. Patrick said that really, it might be unique that their enormous distribution through search, IM, and phones makes possible a game like Cyworld to get 80% share, while here...hmm.
Daniel James chimed in to agree. He also pointed out the irony that in the US "social games" are not at all social. Daniel thought he made social games for like 10 years now, the kind where you talk to people and are social with them. Then he learned that social games means a single player game on facebook where you pass tokens to other people. He said that where we're headed right now with Facebook is not what he calls "social games," but whatever it is, he doesn't see it leading to the same kind of thing they have over there in Korea at all. We seem to be on a different track. A race to the bottom with one click slot machines?
William Grosso (Live Gamer)
Grosso told us about merchandising. I thought this meant selling merchandise, but it doesn't. It means selling stuff using various tricks that are effective, apparently. Interestingly, Grosso stressed several times throughout his lecture that none of the things he's explaining affect gameplay in any way (so they aren't negatives) and they also don't rip any one off. He's right. As he said, his advice is all very obvious stuff, and it's just a matter of doing it.
Here's a quick rundown. You want to offer bundles of items. Buy a whole set, get a discount. Even with no discount, a bundle helps you get stuff in the cart quicker. Allow gifting. This one is huge. He said you absolutely should offer some way to buy someone a gift. And most importantly, a non-gamer should be able to buy a gift for a gamer. For example, if I know you like Ragnarok, I should be able to buy you a gift of some item or something in Raganrok, without having my own account. Apparently this is impossible Ragnarok, and that's retarded.
Don't forget to offer discounts. He explained in great detail the discount coupons offered by Banana Republic and Bed, Bath & Beyond, explaining his wife's shopping habits and how they were affected by various coupons. Am I really in this conference? What's going on here. I thought I was supposed to be a game designer. Let's skip ahead.
I had lunch with the cool indie guys, including Derek Yu of Spelunky fame. One idea that came up was that I should really do an expansion of my three upcoming card games that would include Gabe and Tycho from Penny-arcade. After all, they've already been in a card game that simulates a fighting game that also kind of sucks (UFS). Would be pretty cool if they were in a good card game that simulates a fighting game (Yomi). Sounds cool to me. Dear Gabe and Tycho: let's do it.
After lunch, three Ph.Ds took the stage and talked about economics in games. They all advised us not to get PhDs in economics, and that really a deep understanding of the basics is what we need, not advanced topics that have no applicability to practical business in games. I finally got to see Ed Castronova. He has a really cool name and he's written cool stuff. I did not expect him to have a dry sense of humor and the mannerisms of a clever comic book character, but he did. He mentioned that some companies are finally figuring out that their virtual economies could use some economists to advise. He also told us that he learned that some huge company that makes condoms and vibrators recently commissioned an academic study of exactly which kind of vibrations and exactly where on the human body cause the most pleasure. He said his point was not that he was surprised that a company would ask the Ivory Tower for this information. His point is that they waited until 2010 to do it! That means they were just guessing all this time?? So yeah, don't guess about economics. At this point, Grosso tried to continue the panel, but was a bit speechless. Apparently vibrators don't fit in with his lifestyle of Banana Republic and Bed, Bath & Beyond shopping?
The Turning Point
You know what, let's see how that indie game summit is going. I knew I *had* to be back at the V-con thing to hear the panel where Riot Games and some others talk about how selling virtual items is something dinosaurs complain about then die out. I really wanted to hear some sort of apologist stance on why it's ok to put an RPG leveling system in their supposedly competitive game. But for now, let's check on the indies.
As soon as I walked in, everything changed. Everything was different here, the vibe, the people, the energy. This is the kind of thing I can't communicate to you words, I think you just had to be there. It took me only a few minutes to realize that Steve Swink really meant it when he said this is the center of all heart and passion at the conference. The social games things seemed sterile and dead compared to what was going on here. These people CARED.
The panelists were introduced. Edmund Mcmillen, David Hellman (Braid), and Derek Yu (Spelunky). Usually people will clap for panelists, but not here. There was some clapping, but so many other sounds. Yelling, cooing, hooting, some sort of thunder. These people were loved, through and through.
They talked about their passions, where they get inspiration, how they view their work before and after publication, what it means to create art, how they view criticism, how their own personalities affect their work.
Here's a random mishmash of all that. Derek's father was a big influence on him, and he's talked more with his father than anyone else about art. (Hey Derek, talk to me sometime.) Edmund doesn't like people, and likes being alone. As a kid, he had some elaborate game he created with his Ninja Turtle toys and thought how if someone else were involved, they couldn't possibly know all the things he set up in his mind, or why is was fun, they just wouldn't get it and they'd probably ruin it. Now he implements his ideas in the form of games, and that is a form of communication for him. (I certainly relate.) He doesn't care if criticism is good or bad, but he does care that people know his work exists. Hellman couldn't understand that idea, and felt feedback needs to be good or bad, not simply "your work exists." Hellman enjoys positive feedback, and constrictive negative feedback. He says he also enjoys (but in a different way) negative feedback from people "just don't get it." People who say bad things, but they just have no clue at all what is even going on. These people amuse him. (You know what? I feel the same way sometimes. It's just the people determined to hate for no apparent reason that I don't understand. At all.)
Edmund mentioned that developing games or art is a way of "playing" and that he has great fun playing alone by doing that. Derek agreed and said he also "plays" this way, by creating. Hellman added that he has learned a lot about himself by closely monitoring his own abilities as a creator. Sometimes, what he needs to progress is to discuss an idea with someone. Sometimes, he needs to draw it. Sometimes, he needs no interruption and hours of solitude. Sometimes, he needs to to busywork or go for a walk to take his mind off things. He has learned more and more about what he needs many various different situations, and work has that helped him discover more about his own workings. This is spoken like a true introvert. My only comment is that he's in the club of people who "get it." And he certainly is an introvert, by the way, stating that he often tells people he just needs to be left alone to work.
Edmund raised the question of "how socially broken are you?" He was implying that perhaps some sort of social disfunction (don't be too hard on yourself Edmund, there is nothing wrong with being an introvert at all) enhances other functions. Perhaps there's a correlation between social "problems" and being an artist. If the panelists are any judge, the answer is yes. Though I'll further point out that an introvert's exploration of self is surely an advantage when it comes to expressing deep things. And even more to the point, the book Iconoclasts goes into great detail about how the world's visionaries literally have different brain chemistry and usually missing the function of the brain that makes them afraid of going against the pack--in other words--they are missing a key social function of the brain that most people have. So yeah, you're on to something, more than you know.
These guys poured out more of their hearts, but you get the idea.
Then there was a series of rapid-fire rants, each only 5 minutes long. I forgot everyone's name and I'm really sorry for that. One guy really summed up the entire indie summit in his 5 minuts. He showed a picture of shit, and said that in mainstream games, you have to care about "shit on your face." That's like when a publisher demands that you suddenly drop everything and go into crunch for an E3 build they never mentioned. Or that some political thing means your level is cut. This happens about 3 times per day, he says. So in mainstream games, you have a constant risk of "shit on your face."
In indie games, you have a risk of "getting presents." Why is this? He says because the driving force behind mainstream games is competition. Men in suits fiercely compete with each other, at practically any cost. They hate risks (not good for money usually). They thrive on control, sure, but really they thrive on business competition. He used a bunch of evocative words here that I forget, basically conjuring up how stunting and silencing such an environment is. Indie games, he said, run on love, not competition. Passion to create, passon to try new things, passion for each other and for the indie scene. People help each other, they collaborate, they are rooting for each other to succeed. I really have to tell you, this is not made-up hippie bullshit. I only needed to be in that room 5 minutes to detect that he was exactly right. And that this room is where I felt at home.
Another ranter complained that games are too damn long. He said in his lifestyle, 2 hour movies is about right. A 5 hour game sounds good to him, maybe 10 or 15 if he really liked it. 40 hours is straight out. 80 is way out. Furthermore, 80 hour games are horrible beasts because they are so big, the contain a million ideas, each half baked. How about one idea done well, instead? Also, they cost so much that you you lose money on them unless you sell tons, so they become hit driven, and can't take risks. But worse than any of that, they are just too damn long. And after he plays them for 5 hours and has fun and wants to be done, they tell him "No, you are on chapter 3 of 45 and you haven't seen anything really." He says these games should simply agree with him and say "yeah you had fun, thanks for playing." He said we should all make games that are like 5 hours, not 80 hours.
I completely agree, by the way. My claim: I have never played a game that's too short. Not once ever, in my entire life. I have played some that cost too much, but never one that was too short.
Another ranter wrote us a letter from the future. He told us in 30 years how women are 50% of development, african american 12%. 30 hour work weeks are the norm, and crunch time happens but is uncommon. People need to have full lives and that makes them produce better work, we know that now, he said (from the future). We know now to use our medium to the fullest, and that means if we want to tell stories, we do it through the game world itself, or through mechanics, not through static text or cut-scenes. We also look back at our immature beginnings where we made "games" that simply used psychological tricks and variable rewards schedules (aka slot machines) to rob players of money and time, and turn them into zombies. We also used to turn out endless drones from game schools who went on to join various huge corporations, at making whatever specialized cogs that done was trained for. But now we know better. Now we have more small teams doing more creative things, and we laugh at those old slot machine mechanics. That part made me happy enough that I forget the rest.
One ranter mentioned that small teams or teams of one are NOT second in importance to big teams. It's not that they are made of people who couldn't hack it. Books, screenplays, theatrical plays, symphonies, operas, and several more works of art he mentioned have been created by one, two, or three people....all through history. So many of our great works are from very small teams or teams of 1. He gave reasons why this might be, but do we even need to explain? Individual spirit not watered down by groupthink is a powerful force. He said don't apologize for being indie.
Another ranter said that Nu-Lo-Fi is awesome. Lo-fi art is like when you pretent your game is retro and 8-bit. But some people are tired of that. But Nu-Lo-Fi is when you also have low resolution stuff, but you do it in a more modern way. Like Crayon Physics for example. He showed lots of examples rapid fire, I don't even know what they were. But yeah, they used simple art, they used it as a STYLE so it looked fine. This is cheaper to produce and keeps the focus where it belongs: on the game itself.
Ryan O'Donnell (formerly of 1up, now of Area 5) urged reviewers to treat every game the same. He explained the sham that is mainstream game reviewing and echoed that whole bit about love from before. Because their process is driven entirely by money and competition, it leads to a bunch of really bullshit things that don't create any value for anyone, they just make money. Churning out crap literally every 30 minutes on blog updates makes money. Not actually playing through an RPG but "reviewing it" makes more money. Paying journalists less than a living wage makes money. He said the sector of indie reviewers is different and they review things because they BELIEVE in game journalism. His main point though was that a reviewer should treat Gears of War with the same cares as Spelunky. I was sitting next to Derek Yu at that moment, I nodded in approval to him, and he accepted the compliment, so to speak. I was sitting next to indie game royalty. (Oh and speaking of Derek Yu, a fan came up to him at one point and asked to touch his hair. (It's fluffy asian hair). He said ok, then one of his friends wanted in on it. I didn't want to go through life being the guy who didn't touch Derek Yu's hair, so I touched it too.)
Another ranter said that "reviews" are not really what people need at all. They need analysis and criticism. They need someone to explain how the game actually works and what idea it expresses. That's a whole lot more valuable than "buy / don't buy" or telling you it's "epic" or that it has "mind-blowing graphics."
The very last ranter took quite an unusual move. He said "instead of a rant, I'll show you this video." It was a crazy, crazy video in black and white, with people speaking some different language and partying. They were old and fat and weird looking people, and they didn't care. It was set to music, very rhythmic and heavily edited. It was, in itself, a work of art. It expressed the joy of music and of letting go and enjoying yourself. I have absolutely no idea why he showed us this. That is how the indie game summit ended.
The Spirit of Indie
These guys. These crazy, passionate guys. It's like they all have the same kind of blood flowing through them, and I have it too. You know, I mentioned to some of them that I'm working on these card games that simulate a fighting game, and that it seems inevitable that make a fighting game. Just about all of them that heard that though it would be "super rad," and really wanted that to happen. One even offered to model and animate the first character, to help the project get going. (Maybe I'm not supposed to mention his name? I probably am, but I'll wait just in case.) He said if we had one character, then someone would want to make sound effects. Someone else would want to make backgrounds, and so on. My point is that these guys want to make things happen. They want to get involved and create.
And finally, I'd like to say that the entire indie vibe was much different today than it was several years ago. Then, I felt a lot of the vibe was "fuck the man." Publishers had so much power, and it sucked so much for indies, that they were just really frustrated. But now, they are coming into their own. They're starting to make their own things, and make money at it. iPhone, web, Xbla, there are many roads to success for them now. Or perhaps I should say "for us." The vibe is no longer "fuck the man." It's "let's create the very best stuff we can because we love it, and we love those who share our love."