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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 30
Jul
2015

Crooked

Writing

How significant is it that Austin Grossman re-tweeted your ASK MAX tweet and has he had any input into the computer game you allude to, and if not, why not? And, can we expect more writers to turn their hand to computer games unaware that indie computer games creation is about as profitable as indie novel writing?

Dan

This is a timely question because Austin Grossman has a new novel out about Richard Nixon fighting demons. Literal demons, that is. No, actually, both kinds. It’s very fun and does that Austin Grossman thing of taking someone you’d think was totally cool and together and tearing them apart with insecurities. If you enjoyed Soon I Will Be Invincible or You, or you are intrigued by the idea of a Cold War fought with intercontinental necromantic missiles, take a look at Crooked.

But no, I haven’t consulted with Austin on the computer game I’m fooling around with. I probably should have, since he is excellent at writing both novels and games. That would make a lot of sense. But the only way I know how to be creative is to take the thing away somewhere private and smash my brain into it until it’s done. So I’m doing that.

The crossover between fiction and games… on the one hand, there are more similarities than people might think. In both cases you are world-building, one way or another. And I like that I can dive in to either and build something all by myself. This is handy because I lost the ability to work with other people sometime around 2002.

On the other, the mindset is very different. I’m kind of horrified by how programmers can spend so much time focused on the tools: choosing and tweaking their IDE and plugins and language and platform and agonizing over the process. It’s like what writers do but times a thousand. And that looks like a lot of busy-time spent Not Writing to me. You can tell me this attitude will come back to bite me hard in about twelve months but I say it never will.

Probably indie game design is exactly as profitable as indie novel-writing, as you say, Dan. But it is interesting. And in gaming, people aren’t debating whether their industry is dying, which is nice.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Saint (#4004)

Location: Los Angeles
Posted: 1482 days ago

Hah! We totally debate whether the industry is dying. Are console games dead? how about PC? anything that doesn't contain multiplayer? social games? anything that isn't social games? do small indie games disappear in the massive Steam offering? Are mid-sized games too expensive to sustain themselves? are AAA-games buckling under their own weight? there are doomsayers of every flavor.

Machine Man subscriber Ben (#3924)

Location: Alberta, Canada
Quote: "I don't wanna ride the elevator."
Posted: 1482 days ago

One thing that doesn't seem to be dead is selling pre-beta titles to people on Steam.

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