The developers of Organ Trail, the zombified version of the educational classic Oregon Trail have hatched a new scheme to get their game to the top of the charts on Steam Greenlight. They'll add more features to the game, if more people vote for it.
The game developers, knows as The Men Who Wear Many Hats call their plot a "content campaign," and they're basically just scrambling. They believe they're in the top 30 in Steam Greenlight, and they think that Valve will allow the top 10 games, as of October 15, to be sold on Steam. That's the whole point of Greenlight: people pitch their games, other vote on them, the winners get to sell their games on Steam.
The content campaign, the Men say, will result in more content being added to a Steam version of The Organ Trail, the higher it ranks on Steam. If the game makes it to #9, for example, they'll add a Space Station Wagon mini-game. If it gets to #8, Linux Support. A ranking of 7 or 6?
Getting to number 1 triggers the development and release of an extra, free zombie game.
"This entire campaign is based on what we know about Steam Greenlight," they write on their Campaign's site. "Valve has been a fickle mistress and any of these dates are subject to change. Hell, they might even greenlight us without being in the top ten if they like us enough. Currently we are basing all this on rank but they keep changing the metrics we can see and share so I will do my best to keep this up to date. The only thing you can really count on here is that if our fans show us a lot of support, we will want to reward them with cool games. We love you guys."
This is quite a plan, but it also is already in danger of falling apart. Last week, the developer running the blog Shrewd Logarithm reported that Valve removed the Greenlight games' vote rankings from public view. Developers could still see them, but The Hats guys now tell me they're seeing the ratings intermittently. (Update: They say it seems to be a bug; Valve intends to allow developers to continue to see their rankings.)
And to those who would say the stuff they're offering should already be in their game, the Organ Trail dev Ryan Wiemeyer says: "We are treating this like kickstater stretch goals. Some of the smaller things might make it in the end."
The launch of Steam Greenlight has been experimental, to say the least. Valve has wanted to give indies a path to getting onto Steam. They've wanted to give users more say. But early on they got knocked for being unclear about their content standards after yanking a sex game that appeared not to break any rules. Then they responded to a flood of joke and sub-par submissions by adding a $100 filing fee for any Greenlight hopefuls.
There are clearly more wrinkles to be ironed out. The Men Who Wear Many Hats either just added a new one or just solved one. They want people to vote. They want to give people good reason to vote. Fair or foul.