The great thing about being a video game reviewer on Steam is that I have a whole section now where developers can go ahead and just send out notifications to me on Steam. I can grab free copies of their games right on the platform, and it just loads onto my computer and we’re ready to review. If you don’t follow me on Steam, CLICK HERE to join the SNERD Herd on Steam, where we’re always trying to keep you updated on independent video games! This last one came directly through the curator connect program on steam, and it’s called Neon Brood.
Neon Brood is just another example of the huge dumpster fire that is Steam, produced by a guy who just reskinned doom, slapping a new paintjob over the top of it, selling the game again and again on Steam. It’s somehow worse than Doom, and I don’t mean that Doom is bad, I just mean, Doom’s a product of 1993, and this is 2018.
You start in a room where you move forward, picking up a pitchfork and a machine pistol. Neither of which actually work when I use my left mouse button, or any button, for that matter. This isn’t the only issue, but it’s the first gameplay one. Have I mentioned that you don’t have any options? So… your screen is full screened automatically, with no resolution settings, and even though my mouse could turn, it jittered like I was just tapping my arrow keys. Thankfully, Spacebar DOES open the doors. Once you open up the next door, there’s a room full of enemies that you can’t fight, because you can’t shoot. So… I let them walk up to me, because they don’t shoot either. They just get into melee range, and change to a single frame with their arms raised, and your health drains. No sound, no visual clue except for your health percentage dwindling, nothing.
Graphically, the game’s kinda pretty looking. It’s like, if someone wanted to work on their art skills and just slapped together a game really quick to show off their artwork, but… the game doesn’t work. From what I can tell, all of the levels look similar and there are only a handful of enemy types… the audio doesn’t work, the enemies don’t have animations… I play for about 3 minutes before I realize it’s just pure shovel-ware. I do a bit of investigation, and man, if you’re gonna scam people on Steam, don’t send out copies to reviewers. It’s just a bad idea.
If you’re interested in learning about shovelware on Steam, though, lemme break this down for you.
Here’s some good examples from Drop_Dead_Fred (Фред)
And some from Narayan Games.
So, we can see that all of the games are roughly… the same, just a new coat of paint. So… I naturally dug deeper, just because I was interested in seeing this trash fire burn. I wanted to know how deep the rabbit hole went.
Dark Light Studio’s bundle includes…
So, out of this list, Edge of Hearts is early access (and has been forever! It hasn’t been updated since November 30th, 2017 and I doubt it’s getting any more work.), and Maniac GO I haven’t played, but it looks different enough that i’m okay with it right now.
My beef’s not with different games, or even developers that get suckered in by dogshit publishers, or whatever. If we look at Invention… it’s a trashy asset rip FPS, but, at least it’s a different type of game… I mean, it’s a FPS, but, it’s a wholly 3D one, and seems pretty basic. So, I looked at Way of Hero… and, it’s also just an asset rip, that basically looks like they used the same code base as Invention.
This kind of behavior continues with the developer of Invention, Falcoware, where they have even more garbage dollar games, including…
- Russian Car Driver
- Invention 2
- Cemetery Warrior III
- Mission: Escape from Island
- and a bundle called, “Cars Drive Explore”
These all kinda feel like asset rips, so, I looked into it. They are all either garbage FPS games, or that asset rip Russian Car game, which, is in that bundle. That bundle is put together by Atriagames which is another graveyard for poorly developed, mostly Russian games.
Well, it felt like that was kind of a dead end, because we’re far away from our original complaint, which was Doom clones that are somehow worse than Doom. That’s not to say Atriagames in itself isn’t an issue. They publish absolute trash games next to games that might be decent. I would NEVER publish a game underneath a company like that, because they either aren’t curating their titles, or don’t mind accepting garbage because it means that they have more chances to scoop up money from random purchases across a wide base of games. They aren’t promoting anything, they just publish them and then use their twitter bot army to tweet and retweet to an audience that doesn’t listen.
Super Meat Shooter is a game that… for all intents and purposes, is exactly the same game that Neon Brood is, except that it’s $5.99 and, while still developed by Drop_Dead_Fred, is published by Coconut Tree Studio.
Coconut Tree Studio has a bevy of incredible games you’re SUPER likely to be interested in!
All of which are exactly the same game with a new coat of paint. They are just slapped together poorly developed Game Maker titles with a bit of ray-casting. Most have 3 or 4 levels, and aren’t really that interesting or novel. Most of them are a dollar each, and, at that price, you can kinda just buy it and forget about it… but, that’s the point. Sure, you’ve got an unnatural obsession with the 80s, so you go and buy yourself a copy of Neon Brood – and it sucks, but you’re like, “it’s a dollar, and I bought it while I was drunk, oh well.” and bam, it’s permanently in your steam library and some guy who lives in a pair of Adidas pants while squatting and chain-smoking cigarettes is paying for his shack in the middle of the former USSR. There are enough people on Steam to hit them all up and turn a profit. Jumping from developer to developer makes it difficult for you to track these scumbags, and jumping from publisher to publisher means that they can get their game in a wide variety of bundles, selling them at a discount, and… as long as one of the games isn’t trash, you’re likely to just shrug and move on.
SO – If you’re a game developer – watch out for these scumbag publishers. Watch out for these scumbag developers. You don’t want to be associated with that garbage. Heck, come talk to me, and I’ll publish your game. You’ll get slightly more exposure at slightly less cost, ’cause I’ll do it for whatever they are charging minus 2% and I’ll make sure to tell my mom about your game.
So, about the mystery at hand… I’m not promising that Drop_Dead_Fred is part of Coconut Tree Studio or anything like that, just pointing out that they have very similar games, that are likely to have very similar origins.
Steam can’t be bothered to fix this problem because there’s no economic benefit to them stepping away from that hundred dollars per game being published, and as long as these devs make more money than it cost for them to put the game on Steam, they’re gonna keep doing it.
Overall, the system in broken. Game developers themselves are going to have to choose if it’s worth putting their game up on Steam or not, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of developers are thinking about leaving for greener pastures. Steam’s going to lose the indies pretty handily here, if it doesn’t do anything about it, and unfortunately, the indies are going to lose out on a lot of sales by ditching Steam. Well, that’s okay, if you’re a developer, you’re not in the industry to make money anyway, are you? It’s about passion. Well, I hope so, because the chances of you making any money just got slimmer.
Disclosure: This rant was brought to you by Neon Brood, it’s on steam for 99 cents.