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Technicolour Rain: The Toxicity Of Developer Sleepy Studios
Technicolour Rain; we talked about the top-down shooter before, when the demo for it released. We already addressed back then how it felt vastly similar to Hotline Miami. Playing the demo again, however, made that feeling grow to such an extent that I personally made a video, shown above, to display just how far this goes.
Developer Sleepy Studios saw this analysis and didn’t like it. Fair enough; being criticized on projects is painful. Not everyone reacts to that quite as venomous as they did though.
Sleepy Studios was rallying people to bombard the clip and thumb it down. Unfortunately, given this is an indie title and it has gained nearly no coverage so far, this still skyrocketed the critique’s views. It’s now the second search on Youtube for neutral accounts that aren’t bubbling, right underneath the game’s own announcement trailer.
Sleepy Studios chose, instead of taking the analysis to heart as a way that people could view Technicolour Rain, to immediately ridicule and stomp out any criticism. Laughing off your audience with mockery would improve the situation, somehow.
To their credit, some points were also fielded, though most were laced with disdain and the tone was generally dismissive, because their stance was seen as impeccable.
One of the developers, Tudor Sandulescu, a Londoner roughly in their late teens, went even further as to put them above the situation completely, acting as the benefactor blessing the video with views. That all views were meant to spite and destroy any criticism wasn’t part of that grandiose vision.
Early on, Sleepy Studios was quick to take credit for the badgering, stating it was funny to watch this badgering unfold, admitting they were the source of the sudden toxicity. It goes with the same infallible bravado a lot of shady figures start off with, thinking bullying will squash whatever troubles they’re facing, as they’re in the power position of controlling likes and dislikes.
Similar stances have been seen through the years, such as Ocean Marketing telling their customers off when asking about orders. This was later made infamous when the harassment continued once Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade came into the picture.
Many of the initial comments were on belittling my take or my impact. Again, that’s fine, but it doesn’t make me like Technicolour Rain or its creators more. It only reaffirms that something that looks like it was made with ill intent had people with ill intent behind it.
That doesn’t give me a reason to stop criticizing a game. This particular incident caught me on the wrong day, as I had just been appalled by a reddit thread regaling in the layoffs of many influential Gamespot veterans. These were industry people responding with glee at someone’s loss. This is an industry where this mockery is standard and condoned. I didn’t want to stand for it that day.
Once the initial barrage of insults was through, cop outs were directed towards mostly comparing the game to other top-down games, such as Grand Theft Auto 1 or 2. That would somehow excuse Technicolour Rain doing the same. It doesn’t. This is indicative of Sleepy Studios’ stance, casting off all material that would make them anything but impeccable.
All games from a genre are the same or none are; black or white. All game elements are one unit of measurement, so if it doesn’t fully sync up, it doesn’t gel at all.
So, when I would point out that chapters would roll in the same flip book style, with similar visuals, aesthetics, music and the reiteration of the title before startup, all that’s used from that is that I used “chapter” twice. That leads to “bias,” the go-to term to wave away anything you don’t agree with.
That’s the short form of the clip: Even by subtracting one or two elements from its broken down form, all points from its overall mechanism remain derivative of Hotline Miami. At this point, a lot of the vocal detraction was blurted out by Sleepy Studios pixel artist Darrel as well.
This dismissive nature is something they have been holding up for some time now. Previously, PC Gamer ran coverage of Technicolour Rain where the pattern was exactly the same: A rally sprung up of developer and acquaintances, using the same rhetoric and pushing their voice in an astroturfing move.
Read it. Their arguments were nearly identical there as it was on the analysis video.
Little was learned, despite other comments chiming in about the blatant similarities as well. These are all pooled in a “people like you” comment; those who don’t interpret the developer’s grand vision correctly.
Stronger still, it lead to the accusation that, since I didn’t develop a game, I couldn’t possibly know what it’s like when someone talks badly about my project. This is a comment Sandulescu made after at least twenty bullying comments from an entire group from that exact perspective.
I don’t want to just stop there though. We need to show that we take criticism as well, probably, so feel free to go add to the venom in our now infamous piece on Dark Souls 2, where we dare to address some shortcomings. It happens. You get blasted for things you think you’re doing well. It sucks. It doesn’t mean you get the free pass to spit venom in that general area at anyone.
Just this week I sneered at Quantum Rush Online for being unplayable upon Steam launch in a much coarser manner. The developer also responded.
Instead of berating my derision, however, they simply welcomed me back. They even sent some good wishes. Let’s emphasize that: A developer sent their best to a person who was hurting their baby.
Quantum Rush Online works now, by the way, but back to the matter at hand.
One more point was hammered by Darrel that I’d like to personally point out, beyond a list of other comments.
Something that also seems to be a trend in the whitewashing of flaws: Pulling the “indie victim” card. It’s just a small operation; of course they’re not going to produce something great. I’ve heard this one too many times to make it stick now.
I’ve had run-ins with disgruntled developers about that before, given I’m the resident indie person. This statement, not being able to stay away from producing something detrimental due to an arbitrary number of people; it’s insulting to the indie community as a whole.
Darrel thought it unfair that Hotline Miami, as a giant hit published on Steam, would be compared to Technicolour Rain, a poor thing made by three people.
Dennaton Games, the developer of Hotline Miami, is comprised of Jonatan Söderström and artist Dennis Wedin, so just two people. This was once more butted back by Sleepy Studios, mentioning Abstraction Games, which came into the project with additional workers after the game had already been established on its initial exposure.
Too bad, because there was a brief moment where there almost seemed to be an inkling of owning up to any flaw.
Regardless of that grey “success” area, a set number of people doesn’t make a game good or poorer. A developer can be one person and that one person can make something wonderful. They can go on to win awards even and that without an expense of a large amount of bickering. Choosing the “indie victim” card is saying you couldn’t possibly do one person’s job, where others did.
So, to at least have a modicum of positivity in this dreary article, let’s commend developers that undeniably prove that a one-man team can run and shape the world. Let’s put some holes in those that hide behind the banner of “indie cred” to mask their issues.
Oh, and Minecraft, you might’ve heard of that game. Its initial momentum was built by Markus “Notch” Persson, before shattering the one-man mold under the weight of all its success. While some games may also have had some help here or there, the fact remains that they were pretty much directed by a lone wolf.
More so, that person produced greatness and didn’t resort to fallacy when met with hardship. That rules out anyone trying to pull off the poor, fragile indie rhetoric.
These ridiculing, dismissive comments come from a team trying to sell their game. Tudor Sandulescu acts as the big chief, also gunning as their own PR and marketing person of Sleepy Studios. This is a studio that spits on people on a regular basis and then gathers a crowd to laugh at the mockery. That’s a marketing tool.
In another comment made on their forums, Sandulescu, who also goes by the handle Sekaru, speaks of telling off Desura and IndieDB, an important platform for indie developers.
Like many of the other comments, it’s filled with a sense of betrayal, a feeling that the world is against them and they’re just biting back, instead of using foresight. They’re still impeccable here. Sleepy Studios is in the business of burning bridges, casting off anyone and everyone not fluffing their ego.
“Any publicity is good publicity,” Sandulescu stated proudly, while laughing with acquaintances. Muxwell, the developer of Earth: Year 2066, thought so too.
So, here’s some more free advertising for the Hotline Miami “inspired” title that is Technicolour Rain, now no less derivative than it was before.
There’s still a demo to grab from itch.io, until that platform scorns them and inevitably becomes despised for its injustice. Donations are welcome even, if you want to become their customer. They might laugh as they tell you to kill yourself when you’re mad, but that’s none of my business.