Reactions to TRAUMA

Hey, I’m back again. The release of TRAUMA tore a huge hole in my schedule – obviously. I invested a lot of time in answering E-Mails, reading reviews and writing interviews. But things are slowly getting back to a manageable level. The initial spike has faded off. Not that the dust has settled, it’s time to look back at some of the things that happened last week.

First of all, I’m blown away by the amount and the overall quality of the reactions. Reviews are mixed, as expected. But there are almost no “what is this pretentious bullshit” reactions – more on that in a sec. The sales went well, too. I was initially surprised how much Steam sales dwarf the sales on my own website. For ever game I sold on, I sold over 24 games on Steam. The journalists also frequently ask for Steam codes. I noticed that this was also one feature my homebrew distribution system was missing – a simple way to give away copies. I have a system in place now, but it requires the knowledge of the recipient’s E-Mail in advance. Speaking of delivery system – that worked surprisingly well. It pretty usable and stable when you consider that I coded it all myself. It was quite a relief to me.

But now onto some interesting reactions:

  • knocked it out of the park, I think. It’s not so much a review but an actual critique. I’m really glad to see an article on this level of discourse about it.

  • Rock Paper Shotgun had an interesting, mixed review. They raised some good points. I think they understood pretty well what the game was trying to do. Some of the comments were in particularly interesting: actual discussions with different opinions.

  • Uncommon Assembly had a great article, including an interview with me. It is the first time I heard about this website. But looking at the other games posted there, TRAUMA feels right at home there.

  • Gamespot was pretty much the only tear down. And actually, I wasn’t expecting anything else from the mainstream sites. But it’s so consequent, I’m actually enjoying it. Somebody REALLY didn’t like the game there.

  • GameSpy had a surprisingly positive and insightful article. I like how they compared it to Braid and Limbo. Very different games, yet trying to do something similar in a certain regard.

  • IGN was perhaps the biggest surprise. I was expecting a Gamespot-like tear-down. Instead, they called it “Art meets game” and wrote a surprisingly reflecting article.

  • don’t have a review yet, but I think they are planning to come over and interview me at the NotGames Fest. Meanwhile, they did this nice, creative contest and gave away some Steam codes.

  • On the Steam Forums one dude did a full video Walktrough for the game. There were also some video reviews by YouBigNonce and Northernlion.

  • TruePCGaming did this one, big interview. It’s really in-depth so it’s a great way to read about how the game came to be.

  • wrote this, also quite positive review on the game. And there were actually even more reivews from international websites like this mixed one on Russian or this rather negative one in Spanish, not to mention all the Twitter mentions. :)

Finally, the release was actually a good opportunity to review some older pieces on TRAUMA. They are about older versions of the game, but they make perhaps more sense after you played the game.

  • Mehrspieler Podcast did a a video interview with me. They came over at the Global Game Jam. It was a nice, relaxing atmosphere. So the interview is more freestyle and genuine. I liked it a lot. It’s only in German, though.

  • Ryan Kuo wrote this fascinating piece about the IGF version. I already posted it back then. But it’s good to go back and read it now when the game is actually out. Again, I wouldn’t call this a review, it’s more actual critique.

So as you can see, a lot of stuff happened already, and there is even more coming down the pipe! I a bit busy at NotGames Fest at the moment, but I will do my best to post more frequently now. :)

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

4 responses to “Reactions to TRAUMA”

  1. Kirkpad

    Yeah, IGN’s review shocked the hell out of me.

  2. Yu-Chung Chen

    That’s quite a bit to take in. Regardless of the actual content of the “reviews” (haven’t read all of them yet tbh), it’s obvious that the piece matters, which was kinda of expected but still good to see realized. Kudos once again.

  3. Ava Avane Dawn

    Coolio! By the way, I bought the game from you because I figured that it just has to be a better thing for you (even if I don’t tip), and even if you didn’t state any preference on your website. I guess it depends though. Also, I do wonder if I should bother getting that final picture in some level. The hints aren’t very informative since space works really weird in trauma (not 3d, not 2d, just hyperlinks sort of) and it just feels bleurgh — I’d rather just walk around — but I do wonder if there is nothing more to it when one “completes” everything. It seems very achievement-oriented, and at the same time not at all. The formal menu and the dreamy gameplay. Also I don’t get why there are so many levels with the same kind of pictures (”I can draw this to zoom out”) — yeah I already know that! And sure, it’s not linear, and dreamy, but sometimes it’s hard to configure something according to the rules of games and what makes sense tutorial-wise, and according to the “rules of ones imagination”. It’s sort of like not knowing if something is a bug or not, which can bug me, and also un-immerse me.

  4. axcho

    Bought it. :D Congrats on the successful release! I found it really interesting to play particularly since I’ve been programming hidden object games at a casual dev studio for the past year or so – I really like seeing this more notgames-y approach to the point-and-click format.

    I noticed in one of the interviews you mentioned that it’s pretty easily moddable – I’m intrigued now, I’ll have to check it out. :)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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