The Future Of RR

OK, so what to do with RR has been on my mind for a while. Last year saw us reach the lowest amount of posts ever, I mean, it’s understandable as you’ll find out but still, it’s something that I had to consider. RR was and had to be the last thing on my mind. Well, RR aside from the community anyway. They’re great.

It’s not even like last year was especially unique, over the past few years I’ve had to contend with my own illnesses (I totally do not recommend near carking it two years in succession) and that of Mrs B who has the sort of collection of ills that aren’t going to be going away any time soon either. I’m a dad and hello to any parents out there, I don’t really think I need to say anything more about that do I? And of course, inbetween all this, I write videogames. I like writing videogames, it’s fun. I’ll be doing a lot of that this year and I’m really excited about it.

What last year did bring was one of those “it all sort of rolls into each other” kind of years, it starts off with Mrs B having a rough pregnancy, an amazing little girl popping out into the world a bit early but resolute and screamy then it rolls over into me having to go in for an operation (which to much hilarity left me looking like Frankenstein’s monster, bolts and all) and then Mrs B getting really ill and for bonus points apost-new-sister kid going off his nut. Just one of those things would have been enough to distract me, as it is it sort of felt like I just bounced from one to another with no respite. By the time I got a break, it was up for some judging and stuff on the IGF (which was a great experience).

So here I am in 2014 looking at a few things and looking at what went to the wall and what didn’t and well, it’s fairly obvious that RR didn’t get the love and attention it deserved.

There’s a lot of reasons why RR was first to the wall. It takes a lot of effort to go out and hunt for games, you can multiply that effort by lots when you’re in the eye of a storm and clutching for spare moments. As much as I love writing about other people’s games, as much as I love getting the word out about games that I think someone else might enjoy (even if I personally don’t, that’s the value of curation is to me – not just amaze-o things *I* like). It’s been pretty much just me at the helm for a while now, I’ve had some lovely help on the back end from Gary (STomps) whenever anything has come down to the wire and I wouldn’t have made it through a lot of the server side stuff without him, Ortoslon punted out a fair few games here and there onto the front page and that’s much appreciated but mainly, it’s just been me. And well, as you can see, there’s a lot of me spread thinly (gosh, that sounds rude, you know what I mean).

And what to do with RR has been on my mind a lot over the last year or so. We tried shifting it to a more general thing but without a constant stream of posters to pick up the slack that didn’t work. I’m not sad about that though because picked up, exists now and it’s glorious *and* has a Sunday section on RPS getting the word out and IndieStatik is going great guns and doing brilliantly. To top it off there’s loads of other sites I should mention but really, it’ll just get a bit “wahey us” in here but getting the word out about these things is easier than ever now with the best backbone of site support in ages. That’s brillo. I’m glad to have nudged a few games out there along the way but we’re not needed for that sort of thing and that’s OK.

There’s also the small matter about whatever happened to the Retro Remake. They don’t get made in the number they used to, folks have moved on to making mobile things, desktop things, their own things in the main. That’s brill! All of that is brill. It left us in a bit of a bind for things to actually post about and yeah, that’s sort of also why we tried a shift out. I feel no shame in saying that maybe that wasn’t the smartest idea. I’m still glad we gave it a go anyway. Aaaand y’know, there’s been companies who’ve got a bit of the old slap-happy on the C&D’s and that worries me no end, especially being in the UK with a server hosted in the US and blah blah blah so it’s not like we can be quite so cavalier as we once were way back in 2000 or what have you. Times changed. Things happened. Things moved on, people moved on. For a while there, we also pushed the bar for what a remake could be up a lot, all of us. That was ace too.

And a week or so ago I posed the question to myself “what do I do with RR”. Then I stopped posing it to myself and posed it to the people of Twitter. Then I posed it to the people of the RR forums. If you’re ever having doubts about anything, the constant refrain of my existence over the past ten or so years around this place has been “people are brilliant”. That totally remains true right now also. “Do what’s best for you” came a lot of the responses. Once we’d got past that, we got down to a large amount of people, myself included, who didn’t want RR to die. Yeah, there’s some folks who’d like to see us roll back to 2005 again but that’s never going to happen, that time has gone. So it was decided. RR will live on.

RR *will* live on. But RR needs to be something sustainable. RR also needs to forget about numbers going up on a stats page and just get back to the nitty gritty of posting about games that are remakes of old games, games that are a bit like old games and (we decided) dropping a few nods for some lovely old games too. It should be obvious that there’s no way I can commit to a regular and often posting schedule and we’re all old now so I won’t ask anyone else to do that either. After all this time it dawned on me that that’s where we got it all wrong really. We got it all wrong by burning out at every chance we could to burn out and everything suffered for it. I inherited RR as a site that pushed people to post and to keep the posts flowing at all times even when the posts weren’t there and it shunted along doing that over and over even when it should have become clear that it was burning things out.

So no more burning out. Not around RR anyway. That’s the way it has to be. It’s the first thing I put in place when it comes to making games, it’s the last thing I do with stuff I’m custodian of. No more.

What are we going to do then?

First up, we’ve rebooted the forum. Vanilla is dead, long live a normal forum. Come along and say “hi”. We’re going to use the forum as a way of collecting links together to post on the front page too and here’s what we’re going to do about that.

We’re going to do monthly posts. That’s it. Just one a month. Maaaybe we’ll stretch to more but we can always manage one. If I’m struck down, if I’m busy or what have you, with only one post being needed, someone else can come along and pick up the slack for me. It makes things manageable. It keeps the word out there of things that maybe no-one else would write about or care too much about, y’know? It’ll be a digest of games we’ve liked, remakes we’ve found and the odd nod for an old game we (people of the RR forums) think is cool and worth a mention or a replay.

How are we going to go about that? Well, let’s break it down. If 4 people a month give me 4 links to remakes or cool retro games (on desktop, mobile, 8/16/32 bit machines, wherever), I’ve got a good post. If more people give me more links, I’ve got an amazing post to make. If lots of people give me lots of links, I’ve got a nice backlog growing to keep me posting for a very long time. That’s how we’re going to play this. And we’re going to do this for a year to see how it goes. Maybe it’ll blow us all out the water expectations-wise and we’ll have lots of games to post about and maybe we won’t. We don’t get shit without trying though and damn, we’re going for this.

There’s another thing. If we’re playing to an audience of ten, that’s cool because you know what? I’d sooner ten people who gave a shit than one hundred who might not. So frequency be damned. Disappearing off the face of the planet be damned.

And the final thing? I’m not going to be shy in saying that RR costs me £100 a month and if anyone wants to help offset that cost with a donation at any time, I’m no longer going to be all “mmm, can’t ask for help on this” because every contribution no matter how small helps take the load off me a bit and helps ease up the stress of keeping RR running. We do a lot of good still with what RR hosts even in dormant mode, we look after a lot of remakers, we have a stash of accessible games that we store to keep them online and available for the people who need them, we have archives that might well also lie dormant or rarely get updated but are still valuable. Even if the front page ever goes to the wall, we’ll be keeping all that because that stuff is important. We’ve been funneling off bonus cash from games made into paying for RR for a long time now and to be blunt, I’ve not put a new game out for a year so you can imagine how the sales are looking now, yeah?

So yes, I’m putting the donation button back into the sidebar and I’ll be very grateful if you click it. But even if you don’t or can’t, we’re going to truck along anyway and there’s other ways to help keep RR on the road. Before I finally shut up, let’s have a look at them:

Come and say hi on our forum and lurk around. Tell us about your videogames or just nip along for a chat. We’re still a bunch of old buggers and we don’t want to know about your kickstarter or your greenlight campaign or your crowdfunding but we’d love to hear about what else you’re working on. Especially if it’s retro styled/a retro remake but also if it’s just cool.

If you’ve meandered past a remake on your travels, let me know about it! You can drop a link in our forum (you didn’t see that one coming, right?) or mail me direct at *or* tell me about it on Twitter. I’m @retroremakes over there, you can’t miss me, big hairy dude with the swears.

You can have a read of the “lots of words that make up the plan” here too. If that’s your bag.

There we are then. RR. We’re carrying on. I’m sorry about interruptions in services, getting things slightly wrong occasionally and all that jazz. Sincerely. But to the future.

To the future. And if that future is a small audience and 25 people on a forum so be it as long as the small audience and the 25 people on the forum are happy. Besides which, there’s a fucking official Chaos remake happening and holy shit, we’re not missing that for anything.

Peace and thanks.