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5 Conspicuous Absences from Steam Greenlight

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By Nelson Schneider - 08/17/13 at 05:06 PM CT

With Steam Greenlight opening the doors to anyone with $100 to submit their game project for potential publishing on the world’s most popular digital distribution service, it would make sense that every Indie game with any kind of public interest would join the struggle for votes. Yet all 5 of the Indie projects currently on my radar are conspicuously absent from Steam Greenlight. Do some of these developers have access to that mysterious method by which some Indie and small-budget games appear on Steam without going through the Greenlight process? Are these projects still too far off from a finish date (even though there are plenty of games appearing on Steam Early Access as paid alpha and beta tests)? Regardless of the reasons, these are some Indie projects that should appear on Steam Greenlight, and if they did, I would encourage everyone to vote for them.

1. Project Eternity
The state of PC RPGs has been pretty dismal since 2006, when “Neverwinter Nights 2” provided the genre’s last gasp before it was consumed by FPSes and action/adventure games pretending to be RPGs. “Project Eternity” promises to remedy that situation with a party-based, top-down classic RPG experience. Both the concept art and screenshots available on the “Project Eternity” website instill great confidence that this game will live up to the hype. Mysteriously, the “Project Eternity” FAQ says they’re already signed up for Steam and distribution. Perhaps the fact that Obsidian Entertainment isn’t just two guys in a basement provides them some perks, proving that Steam isn’t as egalitarian as they claim.

Update: My suspicions were correct! According to Obsidian: "We’ve been a registered developer with Steam for years prior to Greenlight’s existence, and helped ship all of our publisher-funded titles on the platform. Presumably because of past work like Fallout New Vegas and Neverwinter Nights 2, Steam has not required us to go through the Greenlight process for Eternity."

2. Pier Solar and the Great Architects
You don’t like PC RPGs? Well, then you must like console RPGS! “Pier Solar and the Great Architects” was initially released in 2010 by Watermelon via their Magical Game Factory site… as a physical Genesis cartridge! The low production numbers and high price meant that it has been nearly impossible for most people to experience “Pier Solar” (and some clever copy protection built into the cartridges has ensured that pirates privateers haven’t been able to distribute the ROM for free). After earning nearly double their Kickstarter goal, Watermelon really needs to stop leaving us hanging with regard to the future of “Pier Solar” on other platforms. The Magical Game Factory site is a disaster of bad design and perpetual ‘pre-order’ status, so putting the game on Steam via any means would instantly be a huge improvement.

Update: After contacting Watermelon and asking them if they plan to submit "Pier Solar" to Steam Greenlight, they responded, "Yes, that is our plan, it is probably what is going to happen." So at least those who want to buy "Pier Solar" for PC won't have to deal with the Magical Game Factory!

3. Shadowgate 25th Anniversary
“Shadowgate” on the NES was one of the first adventure games I ever enjoyed. Sure, I played others, like the entire ‘King’s Quest’ series, but never really could get into them because of the obtuse and logic-defying activities required to make progress. ICOM really did a great job with “Shadowgate,” “Uninvited,” and the two ‘Déjà Vu’ games, and the original team is returning to work on this 25th Anniversary remake under the moniker of Zojoi. It’s exciting to think of how “Shadowgate” could be improved with modern technologies and game design mentalities, without the horrifically untalented clowns who worked on “Shadowgate 64” around to ruin things. Yet Zojoi’s website says nothing about distribution platforms, aside from the fact that the game will be on Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, and Android. Will the Windows and Mac OSX versions hit Steam and/or GOG? Of course the iOS version will be in the Apple Store, since the entire OS is a walled garden. Will the Android version be available on the OUYA store?

Update: After contacting Zojoi and asking about their plans for Steam Greenlight and OUYA, they responded, "We are planning to submit to Greenlight - most likely in the next month or so. We will be developing an android tablet version (when we are done with the PC and Mac builds) so we will certainly consider the OUYA platform when we get to that point." Yet more good news!

4. The Iconoclasts
Joakim Sandberg, the lone developer behind the 2D throwback games of Konjak, has been working on this spectacular-looking platformer for several years. The FAQ on his site also tersely points out that platform decisions are not something he discusses. One of his other games is on Steam and the Humble Indie Store, while several are available for free directly from Konjak’s website. It appears that the Konjak game available on Steam didn’t go through the Greenlighting process either. How mysterious!

5. Flare
“Flare,” being an open-source and completely free game creation engine, doesn’t really need to be on Steam. Paying the $100 Greenlight fee doesn’t really make sense when the game isn’t actually sold for profit and all of the development costs are covered by donations. However, Steam provides more than just a way to sell stuff. Steam provides mindshare. It’s a central repository for everything that is good about PC gaming. Putting a project like “Flare” on Steam Greenlight might serve to get it in front of more eyeballs – eyeballs attached to people who might be willing to donate funds to see the game to its completion. At least “Flare” is on one centralized gaming repository: Desura.

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