Steam Greenlight #2

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--cy
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Steam Greenlight #2

Post by --cy » April 10th, 2014, 8:52 pm

I believe this subject is worth some more exploration than this thread.

Example of an open source game on Steam: Evolution RTS
Source code download remains available from their official website.

I believe for the time being this title benefits from the following Steam's features:
  • downloader/installer
  • updater
  • lobby for multiplayer
  • in-game overlay (for chat and stuff)
  • screen capture (stills and video)
  • cloud storage (saves, settings, etc., prevail even if you delete the local content)
Additional features Steam released titles can benefit from:
  • workshop (users made content hosted and shared easily)
  • achievements (can be displayed on user's profile)
  • cards (you trade them with other users and get badge for completing a collection, can be displayed on user's profile)
  • gamehub (another forum-like place to talk about the game, host screenshots, fanart and videos, community support)
  • probably something else? like attention? I don't know
Above said... what exactly was the deal breaker for BfW?
Spoiler:

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Dunno
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by Dunno » April 10th, 2014, 9:36 pm

I'll say something totally unrelated to developers' point of view (and I'm quite sure someone will state theirs). Steam is not just a gaming platform. Have you ever read the privacy policy, terms of use and everything you happily accept when you buy your game? Have you ever thought about it? You see, Steam has always appeared to me as an evil corporation stereotype which slowly kills video gaming industry, while Wesnoth has been exactly the opposite: a free, open-source project built by friendly community. By free I don't mean just the price, it's also free from all this stench of bureaucracy I feel whenever I have to use Steam. And I fear that by publishing Wesnoth on Steam, we'd have to give up some of this freedom.

Now I don't want to start a flamewar here, I know there are fans of Steam out there who're probably ready to jump to my throat right now and who dream about sharing their Wesnoth achievements on Steam. But I think it needs to be said that Steam is a corporation. Not a noble organisation. And we should be extra careful.
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by shadowm » April 10th, 2014, 10:08 pm

Dunno wrote:You see, Steam has always appeared to me as an evil corporation stereotype which slowly kills video gaming industry [...]
Valve is the corporation. Steam is just their flagship product/service.

You didn’t hear it from me, but I believe we have a Valve employee in our team. Perhaps we are already irredeemably evil and we should hurry up and join them right now. :mrgreen:
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iceiceice
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by iceiceice » April 10th, 2014, 10:10 pm

:mrgreen: I for one welcome our new corporate overlords...

In seriousness, the only reason you've listed above that actually makes sense is to get more attention for the game. I'm actually with you on that, but even that one is not universally shared by the developers. There is no Marketing / Advertising Director for Wesnoth. If you want to take it upon yourself to generate publicity, no one would object, but you certainly wouldn't be invading anyone's turf.

Steam has many drawbacks, and integrating it into Wesnoth would be a lot of work. Even supposing that someone was interested to do that work, the most obvious criticism of steam is that it installs invasive proprietary software to try to "detect cheating". Most likely it is also tracking you and sending your personal info to Valve.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/02/17/ ... ns-history

Many people use free open source software precisely because they want to get away from this kind of thing.

If Wesnoth were only available on steam it would polarize the community and defeat your main goal of trying to get more players. I don't know if Steam requires games to be distributed exclusively? Even if it didn't, it would be a potentially big technical challenge to get the two different clients to play nice, and if you didn't do that you would just fragment the community.

In the other thread, Crendgrim pointed out that Wesnoth is on Desura, which is a bit like an open alternative to Steam. Why exactly would we want to undercut that?

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by AI » April 10th, 2014, 11:36 pm

'Steam' is just a distribution platform. It can also *optionally* do a rather sane version of DRM (one that doesn't need to phone home), various cloud-based services and this anti-cheat service. All these things are independent of each other.
The slashdot article originated as a reddit post. Gabe Newell replied to it: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments ... and_trust/
iceiceice wrote:If Wesnoth were only available on steam it would polarize the community and defeat your main goal of trying to get more players. I don't know if Steam requires games to be distributed exclusively? Even if it didn't, it would be a potentially big technical challenge to get the two different clients to play nice, and if you didn't do that you would just fragment the community.
It doesn't. Nor is there any requirement to use steam's services. We could just keep using our own server.
iceiceice wrote:In the other thread, Crendgrim pointed out that Wesnoth is on Desura, which is a bit like an open alternative to Steam. Why exactly would we want to undercut that?
Does anyone actually use desure? Does gambit still update it?

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by iceiceice » April 11th, 2014, 1:09 am

AI0867 wrote: 'Steam' is just a distribution platform. It can also *optionally* do a rather sane version of DRM (one that doesn't need to phone home), various cloud-based services and this anti-cheat service. All these things are independent of each other.

...

It doesn't. Nor is there any requirement to use steam's services. We could just keep using our own server.
Well if we could actually just sign up for greenlight and distribute to Steam users without changing anything or enabling VAC/DRM then it sounds like a no-brainer. Is that really the whole story?

Edit: By the way, sorry for posting outdated info earlier, it looks like Steam has changed a lot since I last used it / paid close attention to it.

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by Andrettin » April 11th, 2014, 5:21 am

Since Frogatto's code is GPLv2 and it is greenlighted to be distributed via Steam, then I don't see any reason why it would be a problem to put Wesnoth in Steam, unless it isn't possible to put games there for free.

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by AI » April 11th, 2014, 11:03 am

Well, you do need to be accepted by valve and greenlight is the easiest way to do that unless you have a publisher to vouch for you.
There may also be NDAs involved. I don't know whether that's just about the integration parts or also required for the distribution. (I haven't looked into that very much)

Distributing free games is not a problem.

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by --cy » April 11th, 2014, 9:34 pm

I'm glad you didn't shut the thread closed and instead decided to discuss it a bit. Thank you.

Even without achievements, lobby, etc., i.e. without any changes to the code whatsoever (if possible and I believe it is), this first step of having BfW listed there among other titles, marked with the "Linux" label and stuff (they just started to support it, there are few Linux compatible games and even less worth attention) - I think it would actually make a tremendous difference. One click install straight from Steam client is a lot.

And if it would be for some reason necessary to alter the code in any way, I think you could keep it minimal and restrain from maintaining a new branch by just checking whether the Steam client is running or not. When it isn't, BfW could ignore Steam's features. This way old timers could simply play without installing any additional software, with or without malicious prismism, tracking and whatnot.
Spoiler:

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by Andrettin » April 11th, 2014, 10:28 pm

--cy wrote:I'm glad you didn't shut the thread closed and instead decided to discuss it a bit. Thank you.

Even without achievements, lobby, etc., i.e. without any changes to the code whatsoever (if possible and I believe it is), this first step of having BfW listed there among other titles, marked with the "Linux" label and stuff (they just started to support it, there are few Linux compatible games and even less worth attention) - I think it would actually make a tremendous difference. One click install straight from Steam client is a lot.
Automatic updating would also be a nice feature.

--cy
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by --cy » April 11th, 2014, 11:04 pm

I checked it out a bit... there's a submission fee (currently 90,- €) that is donated to Child's Play charity (minus tax). It could be raised via Indie Go Go or Kickstarter promising only that - submission to Greenlight. Maybe additional options like automatic updates after (and only if) it is accepted and the amount exceeds some value (e.g. 200,- €, I don't know).

Other than that the only rules are:
Before you post your game or software to Steam Greenlight, you must agree to the following:
  • You own the rights to sell the game or software you are posting, or you have specific authorization to represent the developer
  • You agree to the terms and conditions of the Steam Subscriber Agreement
Additionally, you agree not to post any item to Greenlight that contains the following:
  • Someone else's game or software, unless you have specific authorization to do so
  • Porn, inappropriate or offensive content, warez, or leaked content
  • Cheating, hacking, or game exploits
  • Threats of violence or harassment, even as a joke
  • Games or software using copyrighted material such as assets or intellectual property without permission from the owner
  • Soliciting, begging, auctioning, selling, advertising, referrals, racism, or discrimination
Abuse of Steam Greenlight will forfeit your Submission fee and result in a ban from Steam Community Services

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by Wintermute » April 12th, 2014, 3:24 pm

I can see pros and cons to this. I'd like to throw out some scattered thoughts, my apologies I don't have time organize them better just now.

If steam is a go, then is there anywhere we wouldn't want to distribute? Do we hit up GoG? Others? Do say yes to some and no to others or do we conquer them all? ;)

My personal experience is that it is mostly annoying for single player games to go through Steam. A hassle every time I play with more stuff running in the background just so that the things I rarely do are easier (occasionally update or buy games)? Not worth it. However, the minor annoyance of clicking things and waiting for them to load is overcome by the multiplayer community if you have friends and like to keep tabs on what they are playing, or want to play games with them then sometimes.

With that in mind, Here are the three things that come to mind as positives (positive depending on your point of view I guess):

1) Wesnoth on Steam seems like it could be really great for MP folks if it were integrated to fully use the steam friend system. That's a big, and nontrivial "if".
2) Greater exposure of Wesnoth (and to a lesser extent open source in general).
3) Supporting the "Linux on Steam" idea, if we could be something that linux steam users could click on.

Some possible negatives or at least issues to work through:
a) What happens when bugs, problems, slow updates or whatever cause users on steam who have never played Wesnoth to get annoyed and rate it low before even giving it a proper chance? Do we care if it gets an average of 3 stars because of this or that problem when we feel that those problems could be avoided by just downloading the game outside of steam? It's a hypothetical, but perhaps worth thinking about.
b) Who does the work of making this happen? Will they keep doing the work?
c) One of the overwhelming strengths of Wesnoth is allowing for UMC. How does that fit into the Steam idea? Is it easy to allow UMC? Impossible?
d) What would this do to our forum structure? Looking at other recently released games that have been Greenlighted, it looks like I could go start a discussion about them. Supposing Wesnoth on steam really took off down the road and lots of people want to talk about Wesnoth on the steam equivalent of our forums, what happens? Do we have two communities? Are Wesnoth developers going to keep up with feedback from Steam discussions?

Maybe the whole thing is a great idea or impossible for some other reason, but the above is my first reaction to the idea.
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by alluton » April 12th, 2014, 4:29 pm

Wintermute wrote: c) One of the overwhelming strengths of Wesnoth is allowing for UMC. How does that fit into the Steam idea? Is it easy to allow UMC? Impossible?
Steam does have Steam workshop that is used to download UMC content for other games. So it certainly isn't impossible.
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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by iceiceice » April 12th, 2014, 5:55 pm

It sounds like distribution on Steam and integration with Steam are really two separate issues.

My thought is that if nowadays Steam is really a content distribution platform, then we should approach it the same way we have with packaging releases for other OS's and platforms.

Presumably there are many gamers, like OP was talking about, who (unfortunately for them) run windows, and desperately want a quality package manager for their software, although they perhaps haven't realized it yet :P . They effectively are using Steam as a package manager for games, and presumably that is why they only want to play games on Steam. Ideally someone would volunteer to be the "packager" for Wesnoth on Steam, just the same as if we were packaging for Ubuntu, Mac OS, Android store, etc.

I don't think we should be particularly worried if we get 3 stars on Steam. We have an award-winning game here, let's have some confidence :) . IIRC one of the Android / iOS ports (the one that isn't really maintained) has like 1 or 2 stars right now and many negative reviews, and this seems pretty much inconsequential for the project as a whole, nor did it harm the later port apparently.

I would suggest that should we distribute on Steam, we at least initially lock the Steam-related forums and put a link to our own forums, as well as the bug tracker, and the Steam-provided add-on manager unless we can find some way to enforce that all uploaded content is GNU GPL similarly to campaignd, assuming that that reflects a correct interpretation of our license. (Please chime in if you have insight about this.)

I would suggest that we approach steam integration similarly to how we have approached desktop integration. E.g. if you look in game_display.cpp, for example we currently give desktop notifications to users on various platforms when the window is minimized. We case out via preprocesor flags on what notification systems are available, e.g. Linux DBUS, Win32, etc. If someone wants to write cases for "if STEAM" in various locations throughout the code, so that we can create a steam-integrated client, then more power to them. (FWIW I'm not sure that anyone is maintaining that sort of stuff that we have right now very well... when I decided to fix some of it one day a while back it seemed generally fubar. So I'm a bit doubtful of what kind of quality to expect from similar Steam integration bits.) But anyways it seems it is strictly speaking unnecessary to do this in order to distribute on Steam. AFAICT doing a *full* integration would also require a major overhaul to our server code, in order to allow clients using exclusively steam messages to chat with non-steam clients for example -- if someone can manage to do that successfully, more power to them, I would say. (Not being myself the person responsible for maintaining the server code.)
Wintermute wrote: If steam is a go, then is there anywhere we wouldn't want to distribute? Do we hit up GoG? Others? Do say yes to some and no to others or do we conquer them all? ;)
I would think that whatever someone will volunteer to package for, and which can be done legally, is a go. After all we already distribute a windows binary, and we already distribute to several google stores... if we are going to hell for that then it's hard to fathom that we will get brownie points for not distributing to Steam or GoG or something :P .

Edit: Are there some other reasons besides privacy concerns / free software friendliness that you can think of that we would perhaps consider vetoing a distribution channel? Have we ever decided explicitly not to distribute on some channel when someone was willing to do the packaging work?
Last edited by iceiceice on April 12th, 2014, 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: repost to prevent stealth edit

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Re: Steam Greenlight #2

Post by Andrettin » April 12th, 2014, 7:07 pm

iceiceice wrote:It sounds like distribution on Steam and integration with Steam are really two separate issues.

My thought is that if nowadays Steam is really a content distribution platform, then we should approach it the same way we have with packaging releases for other OS's and platforms.

Presumably there are many gamers, like OP was talking about, who (unfortunately for them) run windows, and desperately want a quality package manager for their software, although they perhaps haven't realized it yet :P . They effectively are using Steam as a package manager for games, and presumably that is why they only want to play games on Steam. Ideally someone would volunteer to be the "packager" for Wesnoth on Steam, just the same as if we were packaging for Ubuntu, Mac OS, Android store, etc.

I don't think we should be particularly worried if we get 3 stars on Steam. We have an award-winning game here, let's have some confidence :) . IIRC one of the Android / iOS ports (the one that isn't really maintained) has like 1 or 2 stars right now and many negative reviews, and this seems pretty much inconsequential for the project as a whole, nor did it harm the later port apparently.

I would suggest that should we distribute on Steam, we at least initially lock the Steam-related forums and put a link to our own forums, as well as the bug tracker, and the Steam-provided add-on manager unless we can find some way to enforce that all uploaded content is GNU GPL similarly to campaignd, assuming that that reflects a correct interpretation of our license. (Please chime in if you have insight about this.)

I would suggest that we approach steam integration similarly to how we have approached desktop integration. E.g. if you look in game_display.cpp, for example we currently give desktop notifications to users on various platforms when the window is minimized. We case out via preprocesor flags on what notification systems are available, e.g. Linux DBUS, Win32, etc. If someone wants to write cases for "if STEAM" in various locations throughout the code, so that we can create a steam-integrated client, then more power to them. (FWIW I'm not sure that anyone is maintaining that sort of stuff that we have right now very well... when I decided to fix some of it one day a while back it seemed generally fubar. So I'm a bit doubtful of what kind of quality to expect from similar Steam integration bits.) But anyways it seems it is strictly speaking unnecessary to do this in order to distribute on Steam. AFAICT doing a *full* integration would also require a major overhaul to our server code, in order to allow clients using exclusively steam messages to chat with non-steam clients for example -- if someone can manage to do that successfully, more power to them, I would say. (Not being myself the person responsible for maintaining the server code.)
Wintermute wrote: If steam is a go, then is there anywhere we wouldn't want to distribute? Do we hit up GoG? Others? Do say yes to some and no to others or do we conquer them all? ;)
I would think that whatever someone will volunteer to package for, and which can be done legally, is a go. After all we already distribute a windows binary, and we already distribute to several google stores... if we are going to hell for that then it's hard to fathom that we will get brownie points for not distributing to Steam or GoG or something :P .

Edit: Are there some other reasons besides privacy concerns / free software friendliness that you can think of that we would perhaps consider vetoing a distribution channel? Have we ever decided explicitly not to distribute on some channel when someone was willing to do the packaging work?
I agree with you, pretty much. Particularly regarding not using the Steam Workshop: I find that the system already used by the game is superior to using the workshop interface-wise, and the enforcement of the GPL for add-ons is an extremely good reason not to make use of the steam workshop at all.

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