Getting the Greenlight – What Valve’s Steam recommendation service means to indie games developers

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With Valve announcing the first ten titles to be ‘Greenlit’ on its Steam service, we speak to some of the developers to find out just what it means.

Since its introduction way back in 2002, Steam, Valves digital distribution platform, has inexorably progressed from a way to easily distribute updates and patches, to an online store the envy of every other games publisher from Nintendo to Electronic Arts.

Until just a few days ago the games available from the network were largely those backed by larger publishing houses, amid a scattering of titles from the scant few indie developers who had built up enough prominence to have their projects picked up and made available by Steam’s in-house selection committee.

Now all that has changed with the introduction of Greenlight, a community-based recommendation system where developers can list details of their game for approval, before leaving it to the users to decide whether their ware is worthy of a place on the service.

Last week the first 10 titles to be ‘Greenlit’ were announced on the Steam Greenlight blog, those games including Carlos Montero’s Black Mesa (which sees Half-Life reborn in the Half-Life 2 engine), Rumpel’s eerie FPS Cry of Fear, HyperSloth’s exploration game Dream, Reto-Moto’s massively multiplayer FPS Heroes & Generals, Captain Deathbeard’s feudal RPG Kenshi, Sos Sosowski’s point and click adventure McPixel, zombie shooter No More Room in Hell, The Indie Stone’s Project Zomboid, Lunar Software’s space chiller Routine and Supermalparit’s city-building RPG Towns.

I caught up with the developers of Project Zomboid and Routine to discover exactly what getting the Steam green light means to the small games developers.

‘We’ve definitely had a nice boost in our other sale channels,’ says Marina Siu-Chong, one of the co-founders of Indie Stone, and artist on zombie holocaust survival sim Project Zomboid. ‘Being greenlit means a tremendous lot for us. Being on Desura has been fantastic in growing Project Zomboid’s community, and now we have the opportunity to take advantage of Steam’s huge userbase and grow it even further.’

Project Zomboid, still in its alpha stage, asks the player one simple question: ‘How will you die?’ For in a world where 99% of the population has already been turned in walking dead the odds of your survival are ultimately zero, though canny survivalists can keep deaths cold fingers at bay by using the cover of the sprawling Knox County to their advantage and so keep themselves alive, one day at a time.

‘There have certainly been some bumps in the Greenlight debut,’ continues Marina. ‘But that’s only to be expected as there’s a huge shift from a closed system of few people making decisions behind the scenes, to an open system of thousands of people voting. I think once Greenlight has settled down a bit and developers learn how to use the service to their advantage, the benefits of Greenlight will emerge more fully.’

‘As Steam has such a large userbase, which we will now be able to reach, this hopefully means more funds for development – a winning situation for both our pre-existing and future customers. In addition, availability on Steam has always been one of the most requested features for PZ, so being greenlit has made more than a few people happy!’

Another much anticipated title amongst the first batch of successfully Greenlit games is Lunar Software’s Routine, a chilling space-based survival horror which evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, Moon and Alien.

Billed as a ‘non-linear experience’ Routine tasks players with the exploration of an abandoned lunar settlement, but its actual gameplay is far more ambitious than that, with the game actively rebelling against the hand-holding most modern titles force upon us; so allowing for true freedom of exploration, multiple conclusions and even perma-death so that failure to survive hostile encounters has tangible repercussions.

‘I think it’s absolutely amazing,’ says Lunar Software’s Aaron Foster when I ask him what he thinks of Greenlight as a whole. ‘It gives small developers a better chance of getting on Steam and what else could you ask for in terms of distribution? I do however wish they had some form of Greenlight button on the store page even if its small, as the traffic has dropped considerably since then, but either way it still gets a large amount of visitors.’

‘On Steam [Routine] will reach a much larger audience and that potentially means that we may get enough money back from this project to work on the next one, and honestly that is everything to us, we just want to keep making games comfortably. I think its eases the mind that we have pretty much secured a release on the biggest digital distribution platform around. Now we can just concentrate on making a great game and not worry too much about finding a distributor.’

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick