Thursday, August 22, 2013

Working to put my game on Amazon

So, in my recent search for outlets to put my game, I contacted Amazon. They are on of the main outlets that contacted me back (quite quickly also) and told me the requirements for my game to be on the Amazon store.

They sent over a contract for me to look over and sign off, and then we can start working on the page for the game. I need to send over game materials and such, but this is how I expected it. This is the kind of service I was expecting when I would contact places to put my game on their service.

It just makes me even more frustrated that GoG turned down my game. It is a huge sales platform, and I would love to be featured on it, but I just don't get why they can't do the same as Amazon has. GoG didn't even play the game, they just said no without even giving it a try.

Just thought I would share a little more insight on this for everyone.

On that note, I will be out of town this weekend, so I won't be updating blogger or anything, but I will get some nice free time to work on the game. I am trying to "go gold" by Tuesday, as per my marketing service team thingy, which I will now reveal is Beefjack.

Today, as far as the game goes, I added some "color correction" to the game, which as basically just a screen overlay of a specific color. I also added a faded overlay to the screen edges. Other things was stuff like some bug fixes, making sure all the particles worked properly, and stuff like that.

Release date is quickly approaching, and I am very excited. I hope the gaming world latches onto my game and likes it. It is my first game, so I understand it won't be perfect, but I hope people enjoy it.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sent out requests for places to sell my game

Today I sent out dozens of emails to outlets everywhere on the web to see if I can get my game sold through their website or service. I will share here what they respond with (hopefully most will accept). I don't understand why anyone would deny a game that wants to be on their service.

Venting time:
I mean, I can set up an account with Fastspring and have a store up in running very quickly (depending on how advanced you want the product to be integrated into the service), but for more purposes it took only a few hours, of which most time was spent waiting for an email response.

When you are ready to put your store live, you write an email to Fastspring asking them to activate your store, and then they review it, and activate it. It's that simple (not to mention free). Amazing service. Fair rates. Friendly interface. It really is exactly what someone wanting to do direct sales should look into.

Literally, Fastspring doesn't ask for any up front money or any reimbursement if you can't sell anything at all, but they ask for only 8.9% of all sales you make. They set up a distribution platform for you with absolutely no requirement for units moved, and that is absolutely fantastic. But I can't understand why other digital distributors can't do this.

For example, GOG turned down my game being on their site. The only costs I can think of would be that they would have to pay would be the server for hosting the files and related information about the game, which with a huge database of games already in there, should be miniscule. I am doing all the work, I am making the game, trailers, screenshots, etc. Literally all they have to do would be to activate my account, like Fastspring did, and let me set up a store.

I understand Fastspring takes a huge risk with their policies, but obviously the rewards must outweigh the risk, especially the failures. They know that for every 10 or so they accept, most will fail, but they can recoup those costs by the one that succeeds out of every 100 or every 1000. I just don't get why this model doesn't work for other distributors.

I know some of it may come from the fact that a lower quality game may bring down the general quality of the website, but when you don't even play the game, you can't make that decision. Not only that, but it's not their place to deny a game opportunity for success. They have a rating system in these services for a reason, to filter out the bad games. By jumping the gun and denying indie game developers like myself the opportunity to reach a wider audience for their game, they essentially condemn the game to failure, or at least a lower level of success, and it is kind of frustrating.

In fact, it is very frustrating. By denying indie game developers these opportunities, they are not helping the indie scene. They are narrowing it down and only giving attention and press to the games that "they" deem worthy. It is almost like a segregation of indie games based on content, but this is the heart of the "indie revolution". As indie developers, we should be able to explore other ideas and content without having to worry about not being featured on a distributors platform because it doesn't feature pixel art or isn't a rogue-like.

I know people have services like these to make money. I know that is what they are after, and they want to specify which games will make them the most money, and denying games which they expect will either net them a small return or make them lose money. But this is the same pattern of big game companies only allowing developer studios that want games published. They need to fall in line and make a game that will appeal to the masses. But this is inherently opposite of indie games, where we try to make something personal, and most often niche.

It just hurts the indie gaming scene. There should be more open platforms, with games that sell better having a smaller distribution cut, and games that are higher rated by users get more publicity on the service. That way, smaller games by smaller devs can still be included in the site, and if they make good games, they will get recognition.

 It shouldn't be the distributors decision what indie games get recognition, it should be the consumers. They way things are now, both developers and consumers of the indie game scene are being harmed.

Sorry if I appear to be rambling, I am just speaking my mind continuously.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. If GoG changes their mind, I would still love to work with them. I am not putting an embargo on their service, but I think they should be more open to smaller indie developers, especially brand new ones like myself.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I have always heard the last 10 percent of the game is the hardest...

.. and it definitely is. I think what happens in the last stages of development will either make or break the game. The mechanics are there, the aesthetics are all in place, the only thing left is polishing and bug fixing.

I have been knocking bugs out consistently, and it seems every time I fix one, I find two more. I don't break two things when I fix one, I just happen to find two more after I fix one. That and I have spent considerable time trying to make the game's graphics more appealing. I removed a blur effect because it harmed performance immensely in some levels, and it made the game feel hazy, which wasn't the effect I was hoping it would do.

I also added many particles systems to the game. Today I added some on the character to make it look like the UV s moving around a little. Other ones I added was dust when the player lands from a jump and some rain.

On a side note, unity sucks sometimes. Their particle system is nice, but I can't access most of the variables from within code, and the particle system crashes Unity frequently. Not only that, but when Unity crashes, the particle systems remember some settings but not others, so they become entirely useless and I have to create a new particle system and start from scratch. Incredibly frustrating.

Unity is a powerful engine that is awesome in some aspects, but in others it is completely unreliable.

In other news, new price change. The new price is $10 for launch. I was suggested this by the marketing people I have partnered with, and hopefully it will lead to more revenue.

Oooooo I also recently had an article about my game featured on IndieStatik. It led to a little more buzz, and I am excited to see if my game catches on with other outlets. By far though, the most helpful way to promote my game so far has been Boogie reading it in his fanmail. I will definitely send him another letter and copy of the game for launch.

School started recently also :( I won't have much time to work on the game while in school, but since it is mostly finished I don't think that will be too much of an issue.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Updated Accounts + Publicity + Free copies of the game

To prepare for the game really getting out there, I created a twitter and facebook for the game. I added screenshots and stuff like that too. Hopefully this will let me connect with people on a more personal level.

I recently noticed on IndieDB that the game hovers around position 1000. I know this isn't really something to brag about, but perviously it was wavering around 5k or 6k or something like that. Within the past few days however it seems to float around 1k, most of the time closer to 900. This gives me some hope that the game is getting bigger before the real marketing push (which will begin in the next two weeks).

If there is also enough publicity over the game, I am considering doing a midnight launch event on twitch. I will stream what I am doing at launch, share sales numbers, and give away many copies of the game for free. I think I would enjoy doing some kind of giveaways for each game sold. Something like for every 1 game sold, I'll give one away, or something like that. Something that would drive sales and help promote the game. I mean, on Twitch people flock to giveaways, and hopefully if I give mine away people will flock to the channel and learn about the game.

But again,  I think I would only do this if I have tons of interest in the game. The last thing I want is to get on Twitch and have 4 people watching me be awkward. My self esteem would be damaged more than my sales.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Game is done - and other news.

State of the Game:
I think the game is pretty much done. I fixed the last couple things today and played it through a few times, and everything appears to be working nicely. I will do more testing to be sure, but so far I think my work is done. With this extra time I am going to be helping market the game, and maybe (possibly) translating the game into other languages if it isn't too time consuming. If you want the game now, it is available for preorder with instant download of an old build, and I will be uploading a new build soon so it won't be the two month old beta. So if you don't want to wait, you don't have to.

GOG denied me:
One piece of bad news: I contacted GOG to see if we could put my game on their service, and they turned me down :(. They weren't convinced of the sales potential apparently. Things like that are very worrisome to me. Maybe it was because of the lack of exposure so far, but I mean how hard can it be to put a game on their service? I would assume it isn't too much, but it may actually be very expensive. Again, I doubt it though.

Oh well. So far my main profit avenues will be direct sales and Desura (assuming they don't turn me down also for some reason, but I think their service is more accessible). I'm going to hold off on getting the game on Steam until the game seems to have more of a following.

It is disheartening to hear that someone thinks my game will fail. I assume the individual who contacted me for marketing purposes has faith my game will succeed, at least with their help. And the better my game does, the more money they will make, so I assume they believe in what I am doing.

The whole experience just puts bad thoughts in my head that I should be ignoring.

Going public:
Most of my nervousness has subsided since I revealed the game to my family, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. This has given me confidence to open up the facebook page publicly, and actually get Twitter working. I will work on all of this tomorrow, in addition to a new "launch" trailer.

This is it. The time has come to get it out there.

Thanks for reading.

Why the game was Postponed

Long story short: The game was pushed back for marketing time.

The real story:
 Recently I was approached by an individual who works for a company (who shall be unnamed for now) who offered to work with me for the marketing for Irritum. We weren't able to immediately work something out, but we now have an agreement in place and are starting to work on publicizing the game further than I would be able to.

They said they would need 3-4 weeks prior to launch to start marketing, and the original release date of August 16th would have been too small of a window for them. So I pushed the game back to September 6th.

The individual who contacted me did marketing for several other indie games, many of which hit their goals and have been successful (I am sure you have heard of two of them) but they will stay unnamed for now also because I don't want to reveal who this individual and the company is without their consent.

Anyways, they approached me and offered to do marketing for the game. This gives me more time to focus on the game, in addition to reaching a wider audience.

On a personal level, I am excited. This could open up a whole new level of success for the game. Time will tell though.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 2, 2013

More and more polish (as well as other news)

School is quickly approaching, the first day is stated as August 16 (a Friday...?), so I want to be done with the game by then, which is exactly why that was the first launch date. Coincidentally, it will also be my birthday.

With only two weeks of actual development of what I desire to include in the game, I am generally polishing the game. I changed the shaders around a lot to find something I like, in addition to adding some particle effects. The game seems to now have a real "atmosphere" that I like.

I added falling objects that leave behind little smoke tails, I added a glowish looking thing to collectible memories, I added a yellow fire effect to checkpoints so they are now visible (in addition to removing the "checkpoint reached" text), a small dotted line that follows moving platforms to enforce the idea of circulation, and some shards of glass that fall from broken platforms. I also added some fading screens between the scenes so the game transitions better. The game fades to white between levels, and fades to black between menus. Oh yeah, and a rain effect (still barely working) that I think adds some nice ambience to the game.

I have a couple of bugs I want to fix, one is game-breaking, but only temporarily. I know exactly how to fix it, and where it occurs, but I am too tired right now to do it. A job for tomorrow. Everything is just more polish.

As I begin wrapping up this game, I find more ideas of new games entering my mind. I have one idea that I keep dreaming of, but it may be too ambitious for my next project (depending on how this project turns out).

I also changed the HUD a bit, making it less cluttered and such. Also fixed some issues with resolutions. Added in some sound effects. Changed some sound effects, added in some music.

I am glad to be wrapping up this project. It's not that I don't like making the game, I absolutely love doing this, but I want the nervousness to end. I want to be able to relax and be happy that people like the game. Not even that, but I just want people to play it and know about it.

I need to update my profiles. I will probably be doing that next week. Find out how to use my twitter account, update and make facebook page public, update youtube, and update IndieDB. I have a lot of screenshots I want to put out there. Then I need to make a release trailer.

At that time I will also make preorders the full $15, and they will receive the build I have currently have, rather than the beta, in addition to the final build at release. I don't want people to pay $5 the day before release for my game.

My next post will be about why the game was postponed, I promise.

Thanks for reading.