Jake Sparrow-Hunter is an Indie Developer currently working on his first game. He has a background in music composition and audio engineering and is particularly fond of chiptune and retro aesthetics. Spurred on by the desire to write music for a game and to make a childhood dream come true, he started his first project with a very small amount of experience coding and little else. Currently living in the East of England, he spends most of his time making and playing games and music.

I’ve been working on what is tentatively called Project2 a lot recently, mostly because it’s smaller in terms of actual code needed to achieve what I want it to and because creatively, I feel it works better with my current skill set. Whilst clarifying my creative vision for this project, I came to the idea of a release model – how and in what way do I want to release it? Project2 is something that could be released episodically if I wanted it to be, and if I were to release it in that manner, how much would I charge, if anything, for it? That then brought me to the question “what is a game or interactive art piece worth?” I ended up looking into the different ways in which I personally could quantify what games are worth to me, both in monetary value and other aspects.

Dev Blog SpelunkyFirst let’s deal with monetary value against hours played, something I’ve seen people that play games often quantify games with. By over 100 hours, Spelunky is the game I have spent the most time with over the last year, totaling 244 hours since I first purchased it on Steam, a game that I bought at its initial sale retail price on Steam of £10.79. That works out at just over £0.04 per hour of gameplay. Okay, so maybe Spelunky is an odd one out, let’s try my second most played game on Steam over the last year or so, The Binding of Isaac. I currently have 137 hours played since I bought it in June of last year (including The Wrath of the Lamb DLC) for the full Steam retail price of £5.98. That also works out at a bit over £0.04 per hour of gameplay. Well, it’s not looking good for the value of games if we just go by that, is it?

Okay, so let’s go with games and interactive art that I feel has affected me the most over the last year or so. This is a three way tie for me between Gone Home, Kentucky Route Zero and The Stanley Parable. Gone Home I purchased when it went on a 75% off flash sale on Steam, for £3.74, Kentucky Route Zero I purchased on the Humble Store for the full price of £14.99 and The Stanley Parable I purchased for the full price on Steam for £9.99. All of these experiences I would have paid more for, would I have known how much I would value them afterward.

So far this hasn’t really said anything about how I should value my own work, it more just shows how in the past I have valued games and interactive art. I know for sure that Project2 is neither almost infinitely re-playable nor an experience that I would consider close to the cultural value of that which has affected me most over the last year or so.

So, let’s consider something from a different market entirely, but it ties in because there’s some significant similarities between this and Project2 and the way it will be split up. The musical album market – full digital albums generally sell for between £7.00 and £11.00 on the iTunes store. However a lot of people don’t buy full albums on there, they buy singles, which sell for £0.59-£0.99 here in the UK. Does that price range sound familiar to you? It should, because that’s a similar figure that a lot of paid apps sell for on the iOS app store.

Dev Blog Super Crate BoxOkay, there’s one big thing I haven’t really mentioned yet: free. I’m not talking about free-to-play, I’m talking free. Look at Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box for example: it’s on the PC platform for free, but it’s not free on all platforms. On the iOS app store it costs £1.49. I played Super Crate Box on PC for free and because of that bought it on iOS. Vlambeer are rather interesting in the way that they sometimes develop a small version of something and make it available for free or end up releasing an early version of something for free, before developing upon it further (see: Luftrauser which eventually became Luftrausers and Wasteland Kings which eventually became a free/demo version of Nuclear Throne).

With this in mind, and the somewhat episodic nature of Project2, I feel that perhaps creating an “Episode 0” thing (in my mind this is a mix between a prototype, a demo and a fully functioning piece in its own right) available for free and incorporating this into the full project is a way to go. This could also be something to get out within a fairly short time period to show people the kind of thing this project and I, as a developer, can do. There is, however, still the issue of how much do I charge for the full product and how do I release it? Do I launch it in episodes and allow anyone purchasing it to automatically get all future episodes as a part of that, or do I release all of the parts separately for a much lower price? I haven’t yet fully decided, however I now feel that releasing an “Episode 0” is probably the best way to approach this release.

If you’d like to know more about this and other subjects (in 140 characters or less) and occasional weird thoughts, you can follow me on Twitter at – @thesparrowhunt.