Jeff Minter speaks of game dev disillusionment

Maverick indie developer disappointed with Space Giraffe sales, pondered quitting game development.

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Jeff Minter, the creator of cult indie games including Llamatron and Revenge of the Mutant Camels, has written on his blog that he feels disheartened by the fact that Frogger outsold his latest title on Xbox Live.

Minter, who recently finished development on Space Giraffe, an action arcade game, which was released onto the digital distribution platform Xbox Live on August 22, is not a happy man.

In a post earlier in the week, made in the wee hours of the morning, Minter said, "Not seeing a lot of reason to continue even trying to make games, at this point, when a remake of Frogger, one of the worst games in the history of old arcade games, can outsell Space Giraffe that we put so much love and effort into, by more than ten to one, in one week."

He continued, "OK, we get the message. All you want on that channel is remakes of old, shite arcade games and crap you vaguely remember playing on your Amiga. We'll shut up trying to do anything new then. Sorry for even trying."

However, in a post made yesterday, the Llama-loving developer appeared to have calmed down a little bit, saying, "Thanks to all those who gave me a bit of encouragement at a low moment. Rest assured I'm not giving up; I'm just getting on with it quietly."

Minter added that he was halfway through his next games project, but that he would no longer be using his blog to talk about games development--no doubt after his rant was posted widely over the Internet. He said, "So no more dev stuff here, from now on this will just be about sheep and plushies and other such non-work-related stuff."

Discussion

327 comments
the_spread
the_spread

Poor Jeff. Outsold 10 to 1 by Frogger? Thats a pretty damning statistic. Judging by his column in Edge he put a lot of love into it. You never know, might turn into a sleeper hit or something. It looks like fun anyway.

dbeddow
dbeddow

I didnt even know this game existed. I play Xbox Live games every once in a while and I might have heard of this game once a while back. Its probably just a marketing thing that nobody knows much about the game to realize that it is good(i dont know if it is), or if its even out yet. Who doesn't know about Frogger? Its a classic that has nostalgia working for it whether its a sh!t game or not, where an unknown "Space Giraffe" can wait. Just my opinion though...

goron_tunic
goron_tunic

homerj he has and thats what annoys him it is an awesome game and he knows it

Homerj
Homerj

It seems that a lot of other innovative, interesting titles have done quite well on XBLA. Perhaps the sales figures of 'Space Giraffe' are not so much an indication of problems with the game industry or consumers' bad taste, but rather a reflection of the quality of the game itself. I wonder if he has stopped to ponder that?

Digital-Hero
Digital-Hero

Hey Minter. Don't give up and don't listen to negative press.

cosmostein77
cosmostein77

Wow, What a crybaby. Frogger is one of the games that birthed the video game industry, it was the "Madden" of its day in terms of popularity, and with the average gamer being in his late 20's and early 30's I am not surprised that classics are selling well. Jeff Minter comparing his games to titles that gave birth to the industry his now works within is so sad, its not even laughable in an ironic sort of way. The Irony of course being without the "Froggers" of the world goodness knows what he would be doing now. The problem was Space Giraffe wasn't that great. I downloaded after about ten minutes of figuring out where I had seen this sort of design before I finally came up with HyperZone an old SNES title, and I will go as far as to agree with the Gamespot comment's that is shares much with Tempest 2000. When Minter says We'll shut up trying to do anything new then I invite him to do just that. He knocks Frogger for being a Rehash, but I don't really see all that much more then a Hyperzone meets Tempest 2000 on Acid sort of game, and why would anyone have much interest in that? Its not Frogger its Jeff Minter.

ZacMad
ZacMad

minter has always been someone i would like to have liked on the old C64. but i didnt. they were too messy to see anything that giraffe game was woeful. usual Minter - no idea what i was doing. Couldnt see jack. i remember the same man writing an article in a UK mag years ago, (atari jaguar time), and he moaned that some programmers had done a near-fullscreen end of level baddy in as a 4-animation sprite, instead of using loats of little ones joined ((it was huge head on a neck waving up and down) he moaned that the programmers had got _lazy_. but really, all he did was program a basic game with a few vectors, and got the technoology to put weird colurs all over the place so that you cant see what the hell is going on. so, not a lazy programmer, just a bit... over-excited by having too many lines and not enough gameplay to match still, nice job on the visuals for the 360 dashboard music player. And lets not forget he wasnt the first man to have a few beers and post s*** in a blog

Andrew0824
Andrew0824

This guy shoudl quit whining. If your game is good enough, it will sell well on Live. Old arcade games aren't the only ones selling. And Frogger is a good game. People woudn't be nostalgic for it if then didn't like it in the first place.

dj_b02us
dj_b02us

what a ****ing crybaby. He just sounds like some egomaniac whos realizing the hard way his ideas and "vision" isnt the second ****ing coming. His personal opinion of frogger isnt going to stop it from selling to everyone else who loved it. and i played space giraffe and when playing it we all assumed its creator was doing mushrooms dipped in acid and sprinkled with angel dust.

glhx2112
glhx2112

Waaahhhhhhh! Somebody hand Jeffy-poo some kleenex.

jjdomo
jjdomo

From GameSpot's review of Space Giraffe: "It's complete madness, and initially, it's impossible to believe that there's actually a sensible game happening on top of all the psychedelic color cycling, animal bleats, and what sounds like an old Defender machine having an argument with a Commodore 64." Yeah, that sounds interesting. And he wonders why Frogger outsells it? Because Frogger is a game anyone can pick up, understand, and play immediately. What a whiner. Quit complaining and make a better game.

me2u2
me2u2

I am the proud owner of a Atari Jaguar Dev box and spent many hours playing Tempest 2000. I have enjoyed Jeff Minter's projects thus far. I also understand that games like Tempest * are a limited market. Having spent many hours in arcades as a teen, I loved both Frogger and Tempest. There was always one big difference between the two games. Number of players. I often played Tempest alone while people watched me clear the levels but even my parents stopped to play Frogger, Donkey Kong, and Pac Man... If Jeff was worried about his sales numbers, he should have slapped the "Tempest" name on Giraffe and sales probably would have doubled on the name alone. I didn't even know Llamasoft put out another title until I read Jeff's blog. Now I just want to go back in time and prevent Jeff from hitting the 'submit' button for his blog... Jeff, you're f'n kidding us, right?

cybrcatter
cybrcatter

I'm sorry, Jeff; I really dig R.M.Camels, but Giraffe almost seems like each individual level could have been systematically constructed by a well designed algorithm. {skip next paragraph if you're pressured for time} Considering all of the current technological innovations available to game developers (including small scale indie devs), I don't see any relevant comparison to be made against Frogger. And, Yes, it is one of those games that really made some permanent fond memories to a former younger population, which means that, if nothing else, the nostalgia and reminiscing that Frogger brings to many should be more than enough for those people to buy it, even if it is archaic against today's standards.(I was never too fond of Frogger when it came out, but then again I spent most of those days spending time getting my a$$ kicked by my neighbor at Pong[ the FIRST GREAT multilayer game], and then I found the addictive joys of throwing fireballs via the skills of an Italian plumber)! My opinion of Minter's blog post is that it was either: a) A dirty ploy to get publicity for a new game, or b) a man treating negative emotions in the way a youth would: letting them get the best of him. Crying on a blog, for which many of your clients(consumers) read, is very unprofessional. Either way, this little stint make me lose a little respect for the man :/

OfcSkeet
OfcSkeet

How about making a game that is good. It is sad that frogger outsold you. There are plenty of new games on Live that people do buy. How about not making anything else, there already is enough crap on the market.

angelGP32
angelGP32

yeah, all of us at Atari Age are getting quite a good laugh at this. He bashes remakes, but this game IS A REMAKE. It's basically Tempest 2000 with some extra stuff thrown in, but at the core, it's the same game. Had he named this game Tempest 4000, maybe it would have sold, or maybe if he made a game THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE WHAT YOUR DOING, it would have sold, it's his own damn fault. Again, good laugh. Hey Jeff, all your fans over at AA who enjoy your previous works are laughing at you and telling you to grow up.

Slayer420
Slayer420

Space Giraffe is basically a remake of the old game Tempest.. so WTF is he talking about? That game is pretty lame and is a good reason to love being able to try before you buy. I have no interest in paying for Frogger but lets be honest here, that game is a classic from the early arcade days. To whine that your bizarro game doesn't sell as much as a game that used to be a household name is what I would call "bringing the weaksauce"... To be fully blunt, I am amazed Space Giraffe really sold at all. I can see part of his point that many people want remade classics, but lets not forget games like Geometry Wars, Lumines, etc which are not retreads of ancient arcade titles.

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

What a cry baby. I mean I understand that people want their games to do well, but his not selling is not Frogger's fault. Look at Geometry Wars. It isn't an old, nostalgic game that got remade. There have been similar games over the years, but it's unique enough. It sold well, and it is a lot of fun. I think maybe if he is so upset about his games selling poorly, he should make games people care about or find interesting. I think his new game is crappy.

Space-Q
Space-Q

I remember downloading this game. then after 2 minutes I deleted it because I thouhgt it was damaging my eyes.

Fumpa
Fumpa

Minter is either a cry baby, or a clever dog, or a bit of both.

EncyBass
EncyBass

I downloaded this, mainly because I vaguely remember playing Llamatron on my Amiga, funnily enough. Llamatron was great- completely trippy, nuts shooter. Space Giraffe? I SO wanted to love it. Jeff Minter was always a bit of a hero to me, simply because of the Amiga games that I grew up with. I tried. I really tried. But I just couldn't get into it. The giraffe just wasn't... giraffey enough. Space wasn't, well, spacey enough. It felt like watching neon flowers exploding over the Doctor Who intro sequence. And more importantly... it just wasn't fun. It felt awfully restrictive being stuck to that bottom line- like an LSD-induced version of Space Invaders. So, I downloaded Speedball 2 instead- which rocked back then and still rocks now!

WormyTheWorm
WormyTheWorm

wow this thread is still going strong! I bet the downloads for SpaceGiraffe's trial game will have gone through the roof since Jeff Minter posted his rant. Id like to see the number of people who downloaded the SpaceGiraffe trail, compared to the number of people who bought the full SpaceGiraffe game... it would be interesting to see what that ratio is. (after trying the SpaceGiraffe demo when it first came out I would guess its something like 20-30 trials for 1 full game sold) how much is the game anyway i forgot... its 400 ms points right? if its 800 points then im surprised its sold any at all, very non-mainstream game, i normally really like that type of retro gameplay but i just didnt like SpaceGiraffe.

l337fool
l337fool

Wow I just realized something.... This article probably just gave that stupid yet another tempest like game from Minter undeserved press. NOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't help him gamespot tempest was overrated!!!!!!!!!! I hate you Minter!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Megawizard
Megawizard

Wow can he cry. It takes time to develop something that catches on (not to mention snag the required backing). Space Giraffe and Frogger aren't even the same genre.

HellblazerUSA
HellblazerUSA

Space Giraffe wasn't terrible- it was made for a different time. Considering the fact that Minter is/was instrumental in gaming history, I'll cut him some slack. It just sounds like a bad day that he shouldn't have blogged about. He's over it- end of story.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

Heh--Frogger is crap, but HIS Space Giraffe is good? From what I have seen, I would pick Frogger over Space GIraffe too. Perhaps the problem isn't that people prefer old games over new, perhaps the problem is that people prefer good games over lame.

SentientGames
SentientGames

Frogger is a classic. Space Giraffe gives me a headache... What does he expect?

soreros
soreros

Silly Llama - you can't play Tempest without a spinner knob!

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

What else has this guy done? If he's as new as he sounds, he doesn't get that making a "good" game doesn't guarantee good game sales, and being indie means you don't have the exposure or draw as a big company. Now if this rant from someone like Schafer, then I'd let him get it out and console him. There's a developer with some cred the industry has repeated failed.

KamuiFei
KamuiFei

Wow, he's like a child. Complaining over nothing really...And back then, Frogger was the s***, how could he even compare? Theres a difference between trying something new, and making that "something new", good.

pattern_recog
pattern_recog

Hmm, can you say "whiny sore loser"? A sore loser who -- as far as I am concerned -- has never made a single game worth playing. You want to sell a game, Jeff? Make one that people want to play. Not one that looks like you're still high.

KAISERKONG
KAISERKONG

To Jeff Minter I would say... "get over it" Space Giraffe was terrible. No matter how much he tries to deny it, it's an absolute rip-off of Tempest and it is hardly even playable with all of the action lost in the overwhelming background graphics. And let's face it...going by name alone...Frogger is going to outsell anything remotely close to "Llamatron" or anything to do with mutant camels.

BoogieManZero
BoogieManZero

Maybe Space Giraffe didn't sell well because it is as fun as watching the background animation during windows media player. If he really put "love and effort" into that game he IS in the wrong business.

krimla
krimla

The gaming community doesn't need an a** like this as a game developer. I don't care about his programming past, he just needs to leave. He has made a piece of junk........plain and simple. Make something good, and people will buy it. People buy Frogger because it's fun. Yours, Mr. Minter is not.

Chiyou
Chiyou

Frogger wasn't a bad game :S it took the technology of the day and turned it into a fun arcade game that people can still have fun with, you want to do something new get out of xbox arcade, this attitute isn't going to sell you any games.

psyph3r-cn
psyph3r-cn

omg, hes not giving up yet. wat next GALACTIC DONKEYS ????

OremLK
OremLK

Did he seriously expect his game to even come close to Frogger's sales? He should be humbly thanking those who bought his game, not bashing those who chose to purchase another.

mop88
mop88

what an a-hole

BrolyB593
BrolyB593

What do you expect when you make a crappy game? Ive never crapped onto a stick then brought it to an art show, only to be disheartened by people rude remarks. He should take it like a man. He made a boring, weird, somewhat ceisure inducing game. Great. Use what he now knows DOESNT work, and try again. Losers are the ones who are so scared of not winning, that they dont try. So as long as he keeps with it, he can keep his head held high.

strategyking92
strategyking92

the main reasons games fail are because it's not worth it or it just sucks... Space giraffe was both.

helium_flash
helium_flash

What do you expect with a name like "Space Giraffe?" Why not name is Space Insanity or something? And when noone knows about your game, i would imagine it would be hard to catch on. Marketing could help.

mylsd
mylsd

I have Frogger & Space Giraffe, I still play Frogger once and awhile, but I was less than impressed with the giraffe, keep tryin you'll get better dude

john1912
john1912

Maybe if this moron didnt rip off old arcade games, dress them up, give them HORRIABLE names, AND piss poor themes of long necked animals it would sell....Just a thought.....

SilentMetronome
SilentMetronome

I'm sorry that he suffered from delusions of grandeur as a game developer, but that's where my sympathy ends. He just learned the hard way that pouring one's heart and soul into a game isn't going to make it popular and garner sales. There's more to video games than being "new and innovative," as he puts it. As some people have already commented, visuals are highly important, so is the experience in the first 5 minutes; hell, the name "Space Giraffe" isn't exactly winning any awards either. Good game developers are the ones who shake off a bad experience and work to make their next game(s) better, taking into consideration the criticism received on their first/past games, and producing much better games in the future. Bad game developers are the ones who cry because a bad (as some people put it) game like Frogger outsells his/her game and considers throwing in the towel.

snakenamedjoe
snakenamedjoe

It is disheartening. Game critics are the worst. You can have a truly stupendous game, but some game critic with his head up his butt who doesn't understand a thing about the game dev cycle docks it down to a 7 of 10 because it didn't have two thousand hours of original game play, then you lose a bunch of sales to word of mouth as a bunch of snotty gamers who don't know economics from their A button go around telling people not to buy it because they can skip nine tenths of the game and beat it in 7 hours. Whatever, though. Gotta keep trudging. In the words of Drew Carey - "There's a support group for that. It's called everybody! They meet at the bar!"

lamprey263
lamprey263

Meh, I downloaded it. It's fun for like 20 minutes at a time. I still prefer Tempest 2000 over Space Giraffe.

Mcrunfast
Mcrunfast

I dunno. There's been plenty of really successful indie games. However, just seeing a title called something like Space Giraffe or Llamatron I'll start to half-dismiss it. He might want to think about renaming his titles, or trying something with a bit more of a serious air to it. I mean you can do funny without going overboard, like Weird Adventures in Infinite Space did.

CyberElite85
CyberElite85

While I do agree the Frogger remake on XBLA is bad. Space Giraffe is one of the worst games I've ever played. I couldn't even tell what the hell I was doing half the time because all the colors and zany things going on distract too much away from the gameplay. I actually never heard of Space Giraffe til I saw this article, and I gave it a try, and it sucked. This guy needs to suck it up, and realize that this game sucks. Pure and simple. I'd rather play Frogger than this crappy game. Jeff Minter you wont be getting my money anytime soon. The reason why this game didnt sell well is because its a really bad game :P

gunhero
gunhero

The only reason his game isnt selling is because it just plain SUCKS I can admit that this article made me aware of the game so I gave the demo a honst try but damn it's so boring. It's like playing tempest inside a winamp plugin. Id rather play Frogger then this. Honestly.