Do you also like to see the raw behind the scenes footage of cool movies, games, artists or anything you liked? Because we love those! Especially the ones where they show a normal average day of doing stuff, where we get to see behind the fancy curtains you normally see. Well, if you do, then you will love our last dev video, because it's super long and very raw from the entire process of making Fran Bow!
This wasn't planned though, because what we had planned while filming everything for the past years was to make a full awesome documentary where we get into the details of everything. We made a human error by choosing to trust all our video material to one single backup harddrive. By Murphy's law, the harddrive had to completely die in silence the day we sat down to edit it all together. This led to a lot of drama in the apartment, but after the storm we got the idea of just getting everything we could find and placing them in one last video update, beginning from the start and ending at just a couple of days ago.
Watching it for ourselves, it also works as a reminder and a memory to where we came from and how we started out in game development, so it's a very special video for us! It's also the result of still not giving up, even if the crap hits your face with smelly underpants.
It will soon be 10 months after the release of our first big game Fran Bow and today we can almost feel like we are done with everything and can move on to the next project 100%. There are so many projects in mind now that it's going to be a very exciting time ahead!
We hope you like the video! If not, that's fine too, we still love you!
Thank you!!! <3
[BEHIND THE SCENES OF FRAN BOW: THE LAST UPDATE] Behind the scenes, games, short-documentary. Duration: 54 minutes 17seconds Release year: 2016
Hello lovely gamers and developers! <3 I'm Natalia Figueroa, co-creator of Fran Bow and co-founder of Killmonday Games. The other half of Killmonday Games and co-creator, husband and best friend is Isak Martinsson. As you might already know, we released Fran Bow on August 27th, after 3 years of development and we wanted to share with you what we have learned through this journey. You can listen to the Fran Bow Soundtrack here while reading this post, if you like <3 https://isakmartinsson.bandcamp.com/album/fran-bow-original-soundtrack FINISHING THE GAME: Finishing the game was one of the hardest part of development, there is always things you can improve in the game, but on the other hand time and money wasn't on our side. When you have a total amount of 28,000 dollars in a country like Sweden, you have very little to go around. We were too positive about that amount when we asked for 20,000 dollars on IndieGOGO and we were really, really, really new in the whole "making games" industry, so we knew nothing! But those 28,000 dollar were stretched so much, that we ended up living with 1,200 dollars a month, from which 700 of it went to rent, 400 to bills and 100 for food. We weren't even riding the bus or meeting people because that was a TOO expensive. But you know what? We learned that having this little amount of money each month was great, we had everything we needed and it taught us to be more responsible with our resources. Personally I felt responsible for my acts and that was a very illuminating experience. When we were about half of the game, Isak's grandfather died and it was pretty hard times for us both. I felt so much for Isak and his family. One of the nicest things was that Isak's grandfather left him a part of his life's savings which also helped to develop the other half of Fran Bow, because the IndieGOGO money were almost gone. We saw a light at the same time we saw somebody fading away and we are greatly thankful for him and knowing that his savings went to a dream come true for us! The journey of Fran Bow has been an amazing, both sad and happy. When we were coming to the end of development, Isak and I had an extreme break up. The stress that money gives is... satanical! It destroys so much of the beauty. The survival instincts don't see love or compassion at all! But we came back together when we realized that life's meaning is the one we give, we felt that; fuck the system! We didn't want to follow the absurd rules of consuming and social status, so we kind of just forgot about money, we still had very little to finish the game and we were so positive about Fran Bow and we trusted in Fran Bow fans!!! And at the end, we were still alive, and if we needed to give up our home, we luckily still had our moms to go to! So we came back together and tried with our best efforts to finish the game! After a few months of testing, changing and adding small details, the game was already out. We almost couldn't believe it until today and that's why I'm writing now... After one month I can say that I feel happy that we completed this game and that the journey itself was the biggest reward I've received in my entire life and I speak for Isak too.
In a puzzle game, you just don't want to have puzzles coming from no-where. I really wanted to play a game that felt like everything was connected and highly organized and that's what I worked the hardest on to achieve in Fran Bow. My goal was: To write a story that felt complex, both in lore and characters. The problems in the story are what I would transform into puzzles and in that way progress in the game without going outside the story. It's very time consuming making a story-puzzle based game but I think is my favorite thing to do at this point of my life and Isak's too.
Time and organisation:
Time is absolutely the most valuable thing we have. Life evolves around it and making Fran Bow was an eye opening experience when it comes to time. We were working around 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. We had to change many of the old habits we had when it came to food, exercising and resting. First, we became vegan, so we could improve our health. Within a week of being vegan, our heads felt so much clearer and we had boost of energy! We also started to exercise daily, because we were sitting too much and our bodies were feeling anxious because of that. So that also helped a lot to improve our health and mood. We also stopped consuming legal drugs as, cigarettes, alcohol and "snus" which is a Swedish tobacco thing, very gross.We had a monthly schedule where we planned what time to go up, eat, etc so we could use the time in a very effective way. It wasn't hard because we really wanted to do the best we could to achieve this game. It actually was amazing and we felt proud of ourselves being able to manage our own rules.
The technology utilized in Fran Bow is pretty simple. We have 2 computers with Windows, each with two screens. Only one of these screens was bought at full price, because the other 3 were second hand purchases. A Mac-mini and one laptop with Linux. Isak used GameMaker Studio from Yoyo Games tp program the game. I used Photoshop to draw and animate some things, like water and effects. AnimeStudio to animate characters. A Bamboo Wacom tablet, to draw. H4nd Zoom; sound recorder One midi-keyboard to make music. Cubase, music program to edit and record music.
Public relations and Availability:
When it comes to get your game noticed, damn! It's a great casino. Sometimes it works, sometimes it feels like you are doing everything against a wall. We kind of tried our own ways, making what felt honest to do. That's why we did some videos, introduced Mr. Red to the world and we tried to have fun with something we think is not so fun, like asking you please, to buy our game. We didn't have money to spend on ads or a PR company actually, not a single penny. So it was mainly the whole time just us two e-mailing magazines, trying to reach out somehow or the other, but always in a very open and honest way and we are amazingly thankful for those who put their time to play and give a review of the game. Many of our fans write to tell us that we should get more attention, but we don't know what else to do. We send e-mails from MailChimp and from there you can see who opens the e-mails and who doesn't. So we know that the majority we've send information, have opened the e-mail even more than once but even so, haven't answered to us or written an article on the game.Thanks to the fans, we got the game Greenlit and because of that, the game is available on Steam. GOG also accepted the game and after release we turned to Itch.io and Humble store. Right now we are talking to get the game into GreeManGaming as well. Many of sales are because of mouth to mouth spreading and we are super thankful about that!
Money spent: IndieGOGO : 28,000 US dollars Personal savings: 24,000 US dollars Total: 52,000 US dollars.
Sales: Under the first month we have sold around 10,000 copies of Fran Bow. Yay! Woho! Super hyper!!!!
This is an overall about the personal journey while developing the game. We also did a series of development videos while making the game if you are interested. Development videos:
Thank you for reading this post and thank you for your support and we hope, if you already played Fran Bow, that you liked it. Isak send his greetings and hugs to you! Many hugs and love to you! Have a lovely time! Natalia <3 Killmonday Games
Just one week left to release our 3 year project Fran Bow. We managed to get it on steam through greenlight and GOG, so these will be the first places to find it. Later on we will start working on the mobile versions and, if we make any extra money from it, start looking at the playstation and xbox versions! I can't wait to have time so I can put the gamepad support.
So today is 7 days left, and today I will be exporting the very last final build. We had thought that would have been done with a month ago, and that we could just focus on marketing, but as everything when you are new at something it doesn't really go as planned. For the next big game project, we will have learned aloooot! Planning is everything!
We also thought that we would release the new official demo, which is a lot different from the alpha, on the same day as the main game, but did it already last week. I think it's better to have more new exposure than on the day of release, since we are still very new to the gaming world. So far the demo had great respons and only 1 extreme crash when you take a pill, which was pretty game breaking, but is solved by either my check-up-code or updating your directx to atleast 2010. We posted the demo on gamejolt, itch.io and steam that you can find here http://www.franbow.com/demo.php
Also, a great tip I can offer! We actually had the steam demo as it's own page for a day, where you could post reviews on it, and it got like 13 positive reviews in the short amount of time it had a page. Then we decided that it would be cool to link it to the main game page, that says "coming soon". It erases the demo page entirely, reviews also! All we were left with was two words on the main page "download demo". This isn't as good exposure for a demo as a full page, so beware of that in case you want a demo out before the main game is out.
Let's see how this week goes! I will let you all know afterwards. Also, as soon as we get some time, we will be doing propaganda videos like the good old days featuring Mr Red, the puppet. Been too long doing those, it's good to vent out some creative steam on something else every once in a while
I haven't written one of these for a long time, but now it feels like a good time to recap what has happened with our game Fran Bow!
What we have learned, doing this just the two of us. And this is from my point of view of game development!
Making a big adventure game is a lot of work! When we started the idea of making Fran Bow, we didn't know how to make a game. I knew how to play them and what I liked and didn't like in games, so we had to learn. We decided to use Gamemaker 8.1 back then, since it was the cheapest and could do android easily, and there was a lot of information available to learn it fast.
Fran Bow was to be made a quick little game for us to learn how to make a game, below 50mb because that was the limit back then for android. That changed pretty quickly when we felt like we could actually try out a crowdfunding for it, because we fell in love with the game. There was a whole world behind the story that could be picked out carefully! So we succeeded with the crowdfunder and the game grew... a lot! We got around 28k from the crowdfunder, and with that we have now survived almost 2 years now! And the game is near completion.
Thinking about it, 28k isn't much for some for 2 years. During this time, we have barricaded ourselves in our home where we work. We turned vegan, for health benefits, good brain power and it's cheaper! So much food can be made for so little money that won't make you sleepy and let you work better, focused. We also left our social life 100%. We do meet with family sometimes, for birthdays and such. All our time goes in looking at the computer screens, and finishing off every work day with documentaries so the brains get new information occasionally.
Now the game is near complete, and it's starting to feel like something that has been a big part of our lives, that has shaped us as persons and that many are waiting for patiently, is coming to an end.. This feeling has come a few times, like when Natalia drew the last cutscene, when I coded the last room etc.. pieces coming to the end. Feels terrible! But that doesn't compete with the feeling of actually one day soon we say "It's done!" and don't work on it anymore. There comes the ultimate fear!
Our monetary resources has soon ended as well, we thought we would have been done with the game a year ago and that would have left us some money to save our asses if the game fails, or we could have spent that money in traveling around promoting the game even more. Now we will know if we have to move out the apartment the week after release and start going back to dayjobs in resturants and construction.. that's a big fear! We belive in the game though, because it has a meaning to it and we hope many will feel that. It really is made with passion, but in the end it's not at all about us, but the game. That will be the final test, it's all about the game and nothing else.
So for now, we have some thoughts left to add, doing the art for the minigames and sound designing. We have extremely strict deadlines nowadays when we have to have stuff done, or we will fall behind and that causes even more pressure and stress. We don't want to release this in chapters, or release it as a early acces game, because that wouldn't feel right for the game. We would love the money, because that would take away stress-pressure, but it wouldn't make the game justice.
Still depending on yoyogames making a little update on a feature they removed and hoping they will add it back before release, that stresses me out as well! Also, we decided to ditch the fancy orchestral-style soundtrack I made during this time and go back to the grimm ol' synth sound that we felt is more Fran Bowish. Now it sounds more like this (for chapter 3) https://soundcloud.com/isakmartinsson/the-city-under-my-eyes
We do have a new website ready, and will attack it as soon as we find some opening in time. Time is really valuable! I know I will be looking back at this soon enough, thinking "omfgs, remember when we made Fran Bow?!", and I can't see from where I'll think that, but it happens with everything! Important to stay in the present though, so you can savour the moments in to your brain memory.. good or bad, it's all experience!
Even more time has gone since my last journal entry, but now I remember that making these is great because I can just write it all out since nobody near me could handle all this talk!
We made another huge video update! This time we answered questions we had from our facebook and twitter.
But for us this was something more! From a creative perspective, making Fran Bow each day for 8+ hours for now over a year, leaving aside everything else, the energy and super powers begin to drain out. Before Fran Bow, we made lots of things all the time.. Short movies, animations, music videos. And even during our crowdfunding for the game we made lots of different things. It feels good to make something, from start to finish and release it. It's like letting out some steam, and returning to the main boss with refueled energy.
I had my share of this one day during the latest ludum dare, when I sent Natalia off to be with her family (which we don't do that much nowadays because of the game) and made this little game (try it out on gamejolt). It felt awesome and when she came back I was all pumped and ready to continue working, but she was still at the low energy part. So this video was a way for her to just steam it out, as you can see with the creepy part and the montage, and it didn't even take long. I think the whole video took 2 evenings to make, and now we both have full HP and can start making the game again full power!
I think when you are working on something big you need to find your let-out-steam activities that doesn't take long and refuels you.. for some it might be playing a game or going out for a while, for us i'm glad we both share the same thing.. making something else! It's like a endless loop, but it works and keeps us very productive!
We didn't know that Fran Bow would be mega huge gamewise, or we did. We had the story and all from the beginning, but just underestimated the time it would take to actually make it. And we are only 2! Natalia has written a book of lore and dialogue, drawn over 7000 sprites with her own oil-painty-style and animated each thing in 2d, stop motion style. I'm pretty happy with the core of the game engine, so my part adding the new stuff and dialogues goes very fast nowadays, and with less and less debuggning needed. Now comes the part where I have to start sound designing the final sounds and making the soundtrack, while keeping the memory and performance stable.
A couple of days ago we had one of our backers here, playtesting the game on our couch and tv, from chapter one up until the end of chapter three. It took him a bit more than 5,5 hours! That's about 60% of the game, and I was worried that the full game wouldn't last but a couple of hours. Now instead, im worried that the game will be too long.. We do keep all dialogues and cutscenes, where you are not interactive with the world, to a very extreme minimum, and always try to progress the story with gameplay instead. So this will be a long, huge game, and that's something awesome for a 2 person team. Hopefully we won't lose our minds during the process.
If we can make a handpainted, awesome and detailed world with a bloody mysterious plot and with a gametime of a AAA title for a budget of $28k, I will highfive myself! And multiplatform too, since with some license fees and modules we could very well port this to the consoles.
Yet, nobody close to me (family) seems to care at all. That's why i'm writing it all out here, because if I try to talk to my family about these issues it's like talking to a brick wall. I'd get more support by getting back to construction work again, then I would atleast have a "normal accepted job", and I guess when some say "you should follow your dreams" they mean "study to become a doctor, they make good money". I will hold my spit for when we release.
That's enough rambling, check out the video and have a great week and if you are working on something, keep it up! You will make it! We shouldn't forget the privilige we got that we actually can make games, something we all grew up with and now can be a part of! It is awesome times!
It's been a while since we made one of these and it's mostly because after the indiegogo campaign we dove right in to working like maniacs and using the time gained to visit places we always wanted to get inspiration! And we have improved the first part of the game extremely! Looking at the alpha demo we feel it's really just a tiny taste of the full experience, and hopefully for the next year we can have the official demo done.
Right now we are seeing how Valve is greenlighting a huge amount of games into Steam and we are close to stay in the top 30! It's going down fast though, since we arn't pushing hard enough on getting votes and views on our greenlight page though, but hopefully it will go nicely before the year ends..
I have personally had some sort of "coding level-up" and it feels awesome! Might be that now I can work on the game a lot more than before, but it's really sweet. Whatever ideas Natalia throw at me I don't get the usual heartattack anymore, and the tiny details we put in the game is really something I personally would want in a game like this, so i'm starting to feel a lot more free in the development of coding. It sucks in a way though, since looking back at some old code I can't help but try to fix it, and that can become a deadly circle since we need to move forward! So a lot of "kill my darlings" is coming down. It if works, it works! Move forward! Hell, a lot of people couldn't even belive it was made with Gamemaker Studio, so no need to perfect things nobody else but me would care about.
Much has happened since the last journal entry and it's pretty amazing! We reached our goal on our indiegogo and even more than so! That part has left us in great shock, because we thought we would be struggling in the last minutes to get 80% and then borrow the last 20% from everyone we know somehow.. Well, we are really happy right now that we didn't need to do that!
I will try to write a lot here, a sort of thing just to let everything blast out of me, since I really need to put stuff down. Firstly! I can finally listen to this again and don't have to die of stress and anxiety, so if you want put this on and love it, child of the 80s! It's magical sounds!
We started this crowdfunding and game idea from being nothing at all. We never made a game before (Well, PIXXEL (nsfw) and a ludum dare) and we had been working on Fran Bow for about 7 months. So our crowdfunder didn't have much to go on except the game.
We made a pitch video, and the first one sucked. Really, it did suck! We were ready to launch that one, but we then decided to let a few people watch it first and they almost ninja-chopped us in the face! Because they knew that the game deserved more than that shitty video, so we made another, realizing that the first one didn't "respect" or "have the feel" of Fran Bow to it. That's something everyone should always do before releasing anything, let 2-3 different people watch it first and be honest about it. Don't show it to family or close ones, because you need honesty and diversity of eyes.
When we were happy with the pitch video, we launched the indiegogo. We had perks that we thought would be great and doable, and we were happy with the text (also read by other people first). Now we had to reach a million people.. That part is hard, when you have no contacts whatsoever or know anyone, or know how to do reach people other than twitter.
Our first contributions were made by friends and forced upon relatives and family members, then the contributions stopped. We had seen kickstarter projects get funded in less than 72 hours, and that is something you really shouldn't care about. Really, it's people who have been in the business a long time, are more people in the project with wider connections etc, we couldn't compare our success to theirs.
What we didn't think of from the start was that we actually had been working on the game for 7 months, we had a playable version! We didn't include a demo! So we pumped a weekend like crazies and got a version 1 of the demo out to WIN, LINUX and MAC. That is when things started to happen.
We made a couple of crappy presskits until we managed to do this http://franbow.com/presskit/ and we must have sent really many emails to almost every site here http://press.pixelprospector.com/ . Now, the big sites never answered on the first and second email. But the smaller ones, they did amazing articles! And I was doing my best to promote in tigsource, gamemaker community and here. Also on the swedish PC gamer and Fragzone forums, that didn't lead anywhere! ANYWHERE! But that's another story, about the swedes helping other swedes.. Anyway, for the first month we received lots of feedback from the smaller sites and other sites we never even sent out emails and that really became our foundation.
We also made dev videoblog like this
People said that they wouldn't help us and were just a waste of time, but we had fun doing them and would love watching others doing the same, so we never stopped.
Then, the youtubers showed their true power. There were many Let's plays on Fran Bow, with people making their own voice acting on the dialogues and everything, and it was amazing to watch! It was also amazing because they reach so many, and we had many big youtubers that made huge spikes on contributions! After a long time we decided to try and contact them personally from here http://youtubers.pixelprospector.com/ but it feels like they own the internet already. If the game is out there and some have played it, they most definitely know about it and will or will not make a video. Also, they seem to be the future. I can't see anything wrong about Let's Plays and why some wouldn't want their game to be featured by a youtuber.
We then saw that the interest of the game grew, and we started working on a new version of the demo that would be closer to the "spirit" we want the final version to have. And also, since we work on Game Maker Studio we thought that this would be a great experience to get to know Google Play, so we released a version for androids too. In about 1-2 weeks, we made another 9 updates. Each update made new bugs of course.
We got so much support from people that we also updated the perks, made a trailer and started using this so called "FACEBOOK". Where ever you can reach people, you should put your crowdfunder there.
Being personal about your project is something personal, but you should try to be personal. Now I've seen crowdfunders that gets 2-300% more than they asked, and they didn't feel personal at all. So maybe being personal isn't econimically beneficial, but I think that got us the love and support we needed to pull it through, and also to meet lots of new people!
It took something like 30 days after we launched then we got a reply from both joystiq and rock paper shotgun. These were told to be a large part of the funding, but it didn't help much. You should see all the gaming sites as equals, the smaller ones are just as good as the bigger ones, and they are more likely to write about you if you are a first time developer making something nobody ever heard of! They all reach a diffferent kind of audience, and sometimes when you are making something that the "general" mass wouldnt take note of, you will really need as much as exposure you can, so you can reach the right audience.
That PR part, reaching out to press, was the most hardest part! It was mentally hard, and you felt a burn in your soul. Some say that when you walk too deep into PR, you come back insane. Or it's just inexperience in doing it right. We came out semi-mad, hopefully we'll recover soon. What I noticed was, you really need to be active in that part. Really active! We didn't have a social life at all for two months. We sat on the PCs almost 16/h each day. If you have the experience or connections, this might not apply to you. From this massacre, we have also built our own contact list where we have had some kind of personal feedback with a writer or youtuber, that we will be first to contact when we have news or anything worth telling, like the final version!
Then we made the Steam Greenlight but for CONCEPT and not the GAMES section. It was getting awesome feedback from there, and I belive it got up to 98% and nr 13 out of +1000 games. That was encouraging! Unfortunately it didn't get us Greenlit. We decided around 8-9 days ago to go from concept to the games section and the results were a lot different! Still, it's great exposure for your crowdfunder either way.
Soon our crowdfunder is about to end, and we want to be streaming live the last hours from http://www.twitch.tv/misterredplays just to hang out with the people that helped us and such, since it really feels that this whole thing has been made possible by everyone who helped us and that you are all awesome. Maybe we will show something not seen before or Mr Red dances reaggeaton for 2 hours, we'll see.
Also, its so nice that we got above the main funding goal, since Sweden loves having high taxes on everything and indiegogo + paypal costs + the value of dollars nowadays leaves us with less than the correct amount we would have actually needed to succeed!
Right now we are 81% on the way to top 100 on Steam Greenlight! If it works all right for us, I will write an in-depth post about that and the whole process! That would be interesting I think.
So what could we have done better to maybe get another result?
We could have waited with the crowdfunder and let more people look at it, discuss it and only release it when its 100% complete. That it has a playable demo, a presskit thats usable, e-mail lists to sites ready to send out (or send out before, to time everything to the launch? thats where connections come in, I think) and to already be a little big "known" in the business with either some games already made and reviewed or just being very social with everyone.
After this all, I could think that and feel like we did everything wrong from the start. Which is true! But also, if we had not done all those mistakes, we wouldn't have learned it, or made the connections and friends. Maybe it would have been too "perfect" or "generic", and thus raising more than 300% more? I don't know.. either way we are unbelivabally happy with the results, it is a dream come true for us, and we eternally thankful!!
We made yet another videoblog! It shows how we work together on Fran Bow, the point and click adventure, and we visit an abandoned mental institution! We plan on going back there after speaking with officials to get access inside for our full documentary about the game, so we can go even deeper into the madness...
Also, we wanted to show how much we love the support we have had from people making fan art and the amazing youtubers that have proved to be the biggest source of exposure of the game! <3
We also help Mr Red, the puppet, to get his twitch going on so he can start making Lets plays on indie games!
Here is Mr Reds first Lets play! FRAN BOW!
And here is our short film about our situation right now, the poor indie...
<- Click to get the Fran Bow demo on your favorite Android... become the FRANDROID!
I get to finally put that google play logo and link it to a game i've made! Or, am making, but still! It's our point and click adventure game Fran Bow, the updated demo version! It's still ninja, so if you like it now just know that you got to try it out before the PC people!
We are working on the last huge update for it right now, adding and improving lots of stuff! That's what happens when you have been locked inside with a project, not showing it to anyone, and then let it out to play with the rest of the world.. you get a lot of feedback! And that is so much awesome, because we take note of everything and somehow when we go through it all having slept nothing it's like reading a bible thats giving us new ideas and how to improve what we love.. amazing
So, there's one last "content" update coming, then we will be back to the boring PR part again.. now with a new demo and android we might get a new chance to actually making it on the crowd funder!
Ah! And there has been two reports(!) that the game has slowed down so much it crashed, I suspect it's a memory leak but I can't find it anywhere! Hoping to get some more feedback if anyone else encouters it.. I want to find that sucker..
And when this is all over, I want to write some kind of "blog" or "guide" about the whole crowd funding process, reaching out to press and our entire failure in doing it the correct way from the beginning but learning from tons of people along the way. It would really be from a "first-timers" perpective, maybe someone would find it helpful..
We will also release another video log soon about our indiegogo campaign and the development of Fran Bow - behind the scenes! People have told us that they help nothing with marketing the game, but we like to do them anyway since there are some who wants to see stuff happening... behind the scenes! And it's fun to do, gets our minds off all the other hazzle.