Saturday, March 12, 2011

The UNOFFICIAL XBLIG Developer's Code of Ethics

Consumers will always buy garbage - watch garbage movies, listen to garbage music, and even spend hard-earned money on garbage video games.   So I guess it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the demand for garbage is met by a willing group of garbage suppliers.    After all, garbage is pretty common, easy to create, and mostly void of worth.

So when garbage restrictions are minimal (hello XBLIG platform), out of the woodwork come developers willing to 'develop games' that cater to the garbage eaters.   Some succeed, far more don't, but holy shit these terrible games are running rampant.  

I know what you're saying.  "But if people are buying it they must not think it's garbage, stupid!  I am just giving them what they want."  

Now, I don't hate you, imaginary blog interloping XNA developer, but I don't want to associate you with you.   If that's your rationale for creating poor quality, turn-a-quick-buck slop-ware, let's just part ways.   You're catering to the lowest common denominator.  I get what you're doing, and I get your point (blame the ones buying it, rather than yourself for supplying it), I just don't want any part of it.   I want to be separate. 

So conversely, if you're like me, let's agree to a code of ethics - as ambitious under-appreciated indie developers, let's be proud of our work.   Let's develop quality games to the best of our ability.  Let's use this code as a guardian of our integrity (too much?) 

And thus:

UNOFFICIAL XBLIG Developer's Code of Ethics 

1.  I shall not develop games about farting or pooping just for immature intentions (farts are funny, but they shall not be a crutch for my game concept). 

2.  I shall not develop quick turn gimmicky apps (massagers, screensavers, interactive photo galleries, etc).

3.  I shall not blatantly rely on partially nude woman as the main draw to my game. 

4.  I shall not clone a game (aka Pong, Snake) and then re-release essentially the same exact game (or less) for sale.  See #10. 

5.  I shall not develop a subpar game with Avatars, simply because I know that subpar Avatar games will sometimes still sell decently.  

6.  I shall not develop a subpar game with Zombies, simply because I know that subpar Zombies games will sometimes still sell decently. 

7.  I shall not release a game "just to see if it will sell."  

8.  I shall attempt to make my box art look attractive and relevant to my game. 

9.  I shall attempt to make games of high quality. 

10.  I shall attempt to innovate. 

11.  I shall take pride in the games I create. 

12.  I shall be an active and helpful member of the XBLIG community. 

If you like this code, please feel free to suggest adding new guidelines to be adopted. If you don't like this code, please leave a spirited hateful comment below.   


  1. Very nice initiative. I guess greed is the main reason for the garbage out there.
    However, maybe we can build our confidence in human kind - well at least the game developers part. In fact, let's try and make this happen. Long live The Code!

  2. maybe there should be an official logo you can stick on your box art to say you've followed this code!?

  3. I would like to add to the zombie clause:

    a) if i do a zombie game, it shall be innovative and different

    b) i will not add zombies to my games in hopes of extra sales.

  4. I would definitively sign such code of ethics if it wasn't point 4:

    4. I shall not practice making a clone of a game (aka Pong, Snake) and then possibly re-skin it and release it for sale.

    I would merge it with point 10 and rephrase it to:
    4. I shall attempt to innovate even when cloning an existing game (aka Pong, Snake).

    This way, you allow developers to improve an existing game genre ;)
    Just imagine that if every game developer would have signed such code of ethic, we wouldn't have seen great games out there...

  5. Some good feedback from all - I am going to let it settle a bit, then make some tweaks!

  6. I Second the notion of having a Stamp of Approval Logo for Games following this code. Then Maybe a website listing them so we can separate the treasures from the garbage.

  7. Shouldn't games that follow this code just be apparent without the stamp? I'm all for websites listing the cream of the crop. But I don't think we need badges/icons to identify those.

    Honestly if everyone passionate about XBLIG would have a list of their "must buy" recommendations on their sites, we'd not only increase awareness to the world at large but we'd also all have lists we could point people to in a second that show them some of the best XBLIGs out there.

    Fantastic code of ethics though! Really great idea.

  8. Great Idea, that code of ethics stamp should be really big so the customer can’t miss it. You should design this stamp yourself and make a standard placement position for it on all box art, so the customer will be able to spot it easily. Perhaps the stamp should be treated like a brand in the sense that it’s very important to keep it pure. That way, if you’re lucky, others will recognise and want to be associated with the stamp and your code of ethics in the future.

    I think you should be the judge of this stamp as well. We can’t have people just putting it on their own games without permission. Otherwise you would see it on everything. You need someone to approve the games that get a stamp. You seem like a good enough person to do that.

    I think you can start a movement here, so make sure to put it on your next game, whenever that may be.

  9. +1 for NO official stamp. Stamps, badges, groups, etc make XBLIG look cliquey, and exclude newcomers.

    Although I am very much FOR everything on the actual list.

    I would suggest, however nitpicky this may sound, that "I will attempt to innovate" should be listed before "I will attempt to make games of high quality." I think innovation is more important in the indie scene any day, as it's what sets us apart from the high-budget studios.

    Again, great list!!

  10. The badge idea isn't good. XBLIG is already a bit too much of a social drama fest without giving out badges voted on by the exclusive "ones."

    Having something like this is great. Although I don't think it should ever be enforced in any way on developers. It's a free market system for a reason. Also, does the garbage really run more rampant on the Indie service?? Have you stepped into Gamestop or Wal-Mart lately and looked at the video game aisle?

    XBLIG is what it is. It's primarily experience building, and a fun community for the most part. Very few will make enough money to justify time and cost of games. Even those releasing re-hash Snake games have fun, just the rush of having a game available on a platform like the XBox 360 is a bit of a rush itself. Of course most go into it with way to high of expectations - but the first couple weeks of sales numbers seem to dull those sharp edges really quick.

  11. Now this is what I'm talking about! I'm not exactly down for the "stamp," but I'm certainly one to follow the code.

    Suck it all you "imaginary blog interloping XNA developer's!"


  12. I feel you’ve hit the nail on the head with this code of ethics. From what I can tell I don’t think the customers want Avatars, Massagers, Screensavers, Chicks, or Farts anyways. I think a game developer should put as much heart and soul into each game that they possibly can. Like the many cool role playing and shooting games that are on indie games.

    I’m sure Avatar Drop, Baby Maker Extreme, The Impossible Game, Avatar Paintball, Avatar Golf, Miner Dig Deep, and RC-AirSim sold hundreds of thousands of units each. And some lesser games like Avatar Showdown, Try Not To Fart, Avatar Ninja, Head Shot 2, Rumble Massage, and Avatar Racedrome probably sold half that.

    Sure the top 50 selling games probably make up 95% of everything sold on Indie Games. But after all the sales have come and gone, at the end of the day, can they say they’ve made a good game? I don’t think so.

    I think the code should be enforced. Wasn’t there a Winter Uprising, and didn’t someone/or group enforce what was allowed on there and what wasn’t? They excluded certain people and projects on purpose. But… that worked out pretty good in the end I think. So why not have someone enforce this too?

    Point and case. Rule number 2. ‘I shall not develop quick turnaround gimmicky apps’ Then a high school student says, “I’ve worked all semester on this ‘gimmicky app’ and it’s the best I can do. Am I allowed to still be a part of ‘the code’, even though my game looks awful?” Well someone has to judge each game to see whether it’s too fast of a turnaround or too gimmicky? Right?

    Another point and case. Rule number 5 & 6. ‘I shall not develop a subpar Avatar or Zombie game’. Again, the college graduate working part time on a video game says “I’m just learning XNA and this is only my second game, but is it above par or subpar?” Again, someone will need to judge that.

    We can’t just let ourselves be the judge of our own games, because then someone will work really hard on a ‘subpar’ game that looks terrible and uses avatars. But because they’re a beginner programmer or simply doesn’t have the time, technically they really did obey ‘the code’ of ethics because that ‘subpar’ game of theirs took all the heart and soul they had. In their mind, they worked as hard as they possibly could and did obey ‘the code’, even though their game looks completely awful. So, I think there needs to be someone to say, ‘Not good enough, try again.’ I think there needs to be someone that establishes what the PAR is. I don’t think you can have a code of ethics that mentions ‘subpar’ multiple times without mentioning what PAR is first. Why not just use your game as a standard for par, Opac’s Journey, from the screen shots it looks like a lot of fun. If it’s not as good as Opac’s Journey, you’re not ready for indie games.

    I think ‘the code’ is something that has to be elite. Because if you’re one of the few, not using Avatars, Chicks, Re-hashed games, or Farts then you are elite and you should be proud of it. I know it’s not fair to exclude others, but if you don’t want to follow the code, tough luck I guess.

    There’s only one thing I think should be changed. There really aren’t many pooping or fart games. I think there’s like 7 of them out of like 1700 games. So for that to be number 1 on the list, really doesn’t make sense. It’s like saying, ‘no shooting games with clowns in it’. Don’t worry, there real isn’t too many anyways.