Rami Ismail @tha_rami
Rami Ismail @tha_rami
Hilversum, Netherlands
Chief Executive Business & Development Guy at indie game studio Vlambeer. Creator of presskit(). Drinks only real cane sugar coke.
Feel free to ask me any question!
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When you are not developing games yourself, which games do you like to play?
I just kind of play games, I guess? I like games that allow me to strategize a lot - deep RPG's, strategy games or first person shooters. Racing games or sport games are less my thing, but I enjoy quite a few of those too. NFL Street 2 or Split/Second go into my consoles quite often. Currently I'm playing through Fire Emblem: Awakening and I'm still enjoying Destiny a lot.
If you had to kiss either jw or Paul who would you pick
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Can you describe what the major differences between distribute() and Promoter App are?
They're completely separate products! Promoter App is a great way of keeping track of what is happening with your games press, while distribute() helps you manage your contact list and send out (p)review builds, while also verifying the identity of people asking you for review builds.
Think of it this way: if you have a good presskit(), you'd quickly have use for distribute(), which would fill up your Promoter with hopefully great news.
Always wondered: "Rami", how do you pronounce this?! :D
If you look up any of my talks, I always start every single one with "My name is Rami Ismail, one half of Dutch independent studio Vlambeer". It's funny, because there are honestly three different proper ways of saying it as far as I'm concerned - I feel both the Dutch, Arabic and English prononciation are fine.
Hi Rami! You recently posted an image on twitter of your bug/issue tracking tool. I was just wondering which tool that was, and whether you would recommend it. (I currently use Mantis but am not 100% happy with it as it has some serious flaws and limitations...and looks really horrible)
That'd be JIRA. I think there's a huge market for a simple, to the point issue tracker that allows for public bug reports. JIRA isn't it, nor is Mantis - I just happen to prefer JIRA.
As a Muslim, but also a very busy game developer and frequent flyer, how do you handle the calls to prayer, especially if you're in mid-flight?
Muslims can skip prayer during travel. They can also skip fasting, but I refuse to skip fasting.
Is Yung Venuz the protagonist of Gun Godz, or the final boss?
If I told you, Y.V. would shank me.
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How do you treat your Facebook account? Would you add a fellow developper you don't really know (met only once)? Asking for a friend...
My Facebook account is 100% public for followers - including all messages, and with ability to comment on all my posts, but recent harassment in the industry has stopped me from adding friends without knowing them. That's not because I don't want to talk to you, but because Facebook's handling of privacy settings is abysmal, and I want to respect my friends' privacy on the service.
Have you ever been to Sweden and are you planning om going to Sweden in the future?
Absolutely! Some of my favorite memories in the industry actually are from my early years, when I visited Sweden a lot more frequently than I do now. I've visited Stockholm, Malmo and Karlshamn. I actually really would love to go back, so maybe I should plan that sometime soon!
Why do you apologize for things you didn't do? It makes me feel like you're dumping responsibility on others who didn't do what you apologized for.
Because I want to. That's my choice, and I feel like I should be free to make that choice. I don't expect others to do that, nor do I feel they have to, or should. Something like that is simply a personal choice, that one can personally make.
If I can be proud for the brave actions of several muslims protecting innocent lives that day, I can surely apologize for the heinous crimes of other muslims.
After a recent twitter argument, I've lost the respect for a developer of a indie game I was really looking forward to. Should I still buy/play the game? This isn't about you, I just really trust your opinion
I think this is a very personal choice to make, and I honestly think this is something you should resolve yourself. There's two major trains of thought here, so maybe talking about those might help.
The first one is that creation and creator should be seperated. It means that we can appreciate something for what it is, without negatively affecting it because the person that brought it into being is somebody you have a problem with. In many ways, we already do this - many of the inventions we use nowadays, and many artistic creations we hold in high esteem weren't made by great people. For many, the socio-historical context in which they lived, created circumstances in which it was culturally fine to be sexist, racist, discriminatory or homophobic. In this way, we appreciate the work while seperating it from the creator. It's an inherently artistic view of games - games as an artform, as an artefact. There's a good argument to be made that games, more than any other medium, is seperate from its creator. A large part of the meaning of a game very often derives from what the player brings to it, and how the player interacts with it. It's a mode of expression for creator and user.
The other view is that they are inherently bound together. The creator is a part of the game that can not be seperated, and as such the work can be tainted by the actions of the creator. In many ways, this is a common idea - it's how boycotts against companies like Chick-fil-A or Nestle work. The motivation of a boycott is on sort of a sliding scale: either it is internal - in that people can not personally live with the idea of supporting an entity that has done or said certain things, or it is external - in that people hope that voting with their wallets will change the behaviour of the company. This is an inherently commercial view of games - games as a product, as a good. The argument here is that if you want to support the type of thinking you agree with, you buy products by people you appreciate, and don't buy products by people you think poorly off.
This is obviously not a one-or-the other choice. You can choose to have certain actions or statements be over the line, and others not. I think the central question is: "do I appreciate this creation as a work of art enough to be OK with supporting whatever made me lose respect for the creator?" The answer can be maybe, or up to a certain amount of money - and maybe this is less of a rational decision than an emotional decision. You could try and read up on what you dislike about this person, open the store page, hover over the buy button and see if you click it.
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Do you think that indie developers are less willing to experiment with what works and what doesn't when they release something commercial?
It's hard to answer a question about "indie developers", as -like many other words in our medium- it has become such a broad term nowadays. In general, the higher the stakes are, the more risk-averse a studio gets. Some developers consistently defy that rule, and others play safe with low stakes. It's up to individual developers to decide what they do - although there are certainly certain points where a certain risk-averseness becomes the responsible action, like in AAA.
I read Troy Baker's quote in an article at Polygon today about how games influence our life and thoughts about controversial subjects. In what way do you think games can influence modern-day society, or can influence in the near feature?
The same way other media do. I don't think there's any valid reason to claim that games would have less effect on us than other media. I always get a bit confused when people shout "games don't make people [x]", where [x] is whatever. It's a claim directly counter to the idea that games are actual culture, and that this medium has the potential to touch, change and inspire people.
I got Nuclear Throne and it is super cool, but the controller support doesn't seem quite there yet.. I still get keyboard prompts and all that. Full controller support is planned I assume? Thanks Rami!
Does JW learned to create the random generated levels for Nuclear Throne by studying the source code of the free Spelunky version?
No, he just needed a good, fast algorithm to create levels. J.W.'s brilliance is in finding ways to do things fast, and his experience shows in how often he gets things right. He's been toying around with similar systems for almost two or three years now, I think. This is the first time he 'got' it right, but it sure worked out beautifully.
Does JW developed Nuclear Throne with drag and drop events instead of coding in Game Maker?
It's developed almost exclusively in GML, or GameMaker's coding script language.
Are you okay?
Yes, although my right hip has been stuck for a few days and it makes walking really painful. I'm fine, though. Thanks for asking!
How didja get to know Bisnap and Phedran?
Like most people in the industry, we met at industry events. I think I met Phedran at Vancouver indies, and Bisnap at PAX East. They're both wonderful people, and I think the industry is better for having them around. Phedran puts in a lot of work in connecting developers with streamers, something I think is super invaluable in todays' industry, and Bisnap is such a relaxed and focused streamer that I watch his streams in the background every now and then. Him and Sleepcycles are kind of like my new Bob Ross.
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Why JW doesn`t have an ask fm account?
He doesn't like this sort of thing.
Is dropping out the key to hapiness? ._.
Hell no. Dropping out is a terrible decision, and one that should only be taken if there is absolutely no other way you can see things progressing. In fact, if you have to ask me about dropping out, and you're considering it, chances are you shouldn't.
Unless you've got a reasonable plan that you can convince others with, please don't drop out. We challenged ourselves to get the Dutch Game Garden - a local business center - to take us in. If they believed in us, we surely had somewhat of a shot.
"They want to be included" is the one that interests me. I guess my pondering is less "is x a game?" (a tired and uninteresting question) and more "*why* is x a game?" Not intending to be reductive, dismissive or disrespectful, but why is it important that e.g. Proteus is a "game"?
Depending on your viewpoint, it can be important that it is a game because that type of experience shouldn't be excluded from the medium, or important that it isn't a game because that dilutes the meaning of what a game should be to you.
For me, I believe games are an inclusive medium - if the creator thinks its a game, I'm fine with that.
Why is the "game" label so important to people? On all sides, I mean.
I think different groups have different reasons to care. Academics care because defining something is important to them, some people care because they want to be included in the common use of the term, but I think the largest group of people care because they derive an identity from it. If you touch that identity, they get upset - and sometimes, expanding the definition of something does that.
Do you consider twines and visual novels to be games? No malice intended, I am creating a visual novel atm and it's weird trying to decide if fail states are necessary.
Yes, I consider Twine and visual novels to be games. Honestly, though, I don't think my opinion about whether what you're making is a game or not is relevant: if you think it is a game, it is a game.
Fail states aren't a requirement for something to be a video game. If you think your visual novel is a game, it is a game - with or without fail states.
Make the thing you want to make, and don't worry about the definition of it. Your responsibility is to your creation, not to the people that'll argue over what it is exactly.
New way 2 contact u? Cool. Sooo, here i go again and ask 'bout Luftrausers. Yes, about that bugs u left there, yes 4 PSN. Are u feelin' rest enough now? Not sad or somethng? Ready 2 clean ur mistakes, like a man? So, like, when? No pushing, like always, all the respect, u know..
Same answer as before: Nuclear Throne is too much work right now to deal with that right this moment. We'll clean our mistakes, and we don't want to promise a date we don't know we can keep. When we have a date, you'll hear it through the other channels.
What do you think of the new tekken character? Also you've talked about how Arabic writing being poorly done in games, how about Arabic speech?
I am all for an Arab character - it's obviously a huge stereotype, but I guess in a game that's full of stereotypes I'm fine with that. The only odd thing is that Shaheen is very much not a typical Arabic name as far as I know - I thought it was more of a Persian name. They seemed to have gone about it in a rather respectful way - I hope that if Shaheen makes it into the game, they'll get the speech right.
Which answers your second question. If Arabs in a videogame have more lines than "kill the infidels", it's usually in the wrong region (no, Afghanistan does not speak Arabic), the wrong accent or just flat out nonsense.
I appreciate Team America's version more, where it's clear they're just using nonsense. A lot of modern games hide under the guise of realism, but don't even get close to it. That's not just Arabic, though. Russia, for example, gets the same treatment apparently.