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Spidi

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  1. Spidi

    I Am Overburdened

    The player takes the role of an artifact hunter, who has a surprisingly large carrying capacity, embarking on a quest to search through dungeon after dungeon for mystical artifacts and answers, in a world where magic has long been forgotten… Run focused campaign, playable in short bursts. Fill a huge inventory having 20 slots. Find more than 100 crazy artifacts, all of them unique. Learn the ins and outs of an RPG system which feels approachable and fresh, but familiar and deep at the same time. Crawl in procedural dungeons generated from hand authored layouts. Collect details about monsters and artifacts in your journal. Unfold a funny story, packed with vicious evils, puns and jokes. Immortalize your best playthroughs in the “Hall of Fame”. What is this 20 slots, 100+ unique artifacts RPG nonsense? Simple, your “hero” does not get more powerful magically by beating some orcs to death and he is not a wizard either. In the world of I Am Overburdened the art of magic wielding was lost, but legendary artifacts and relics retained their power. If you equip these you become stronger, sometimes immeasurably, and you may even learn reactive skills and otherworldly abilities, but no sane person wears two pants…
  2. Hi everyone! Two Magic Item Tech games have joined the "Summer Sale" on Steam and itch.io I Am Overburdened The silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a "hero" who has 20 inventory slots, is 40% off so currently it's only 2.99$ (may vary based on region, base price is 4.99$) ! You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. Go go go dungeon crawlers !!! Operation KREEP The best couch co-op multiplayer Alien satire action game, is 83% so currently it's only 0.50$ (may vary based on region, base price is 2.99$) !!! If you are a sucker for retro party games like Bomberman (Dyna Blaster) or Battle City make sure to give it a try! You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. Remember: In space no one can hear you KREEP... I hope you check them out and they will be to your liking ! P.S.: Magic Item Tech also has a Steam developer page now. Feel free to follow me there to receive first hand news about my games, updates and sales. Thanks for taking the time to read my post, have an awesome summer full of fun Cheers!
  3. Hi there! Lately I had less free time to post updates about about my games, but I just released a tiny new update for I Am Overburdened and I have some news/plans to share so here comes a short entry Update Version 1.1.8 is online, featuring mostly fixes and fine-tunings, but lets see in detail what it has to offer! Achievement bug fixed Due to some timing and file-reading mistakes in rare cases some achievements were not unlocked. The boss, monsters and the four artifact unlocking related trophies may have been affected for some players. Now the problem is solved and I added an extra step to the startup logic of the game so that achievements missed by previous versions will be unlocked automatically (e.g.: if you unlocked all the monsters, but the achievement is missing). My apologies for each of you who run into this problem. Item pickup and shop enhancements Item pickups (especially buying one in the shop) bugged quite a few people, due to not knowing what kind of item one receives. I wanted to leave item collection as a "mystery" and unlocking artifacts being both a reward and a learning process, but I understand the inconvenience of this. To alleviate it a little I added a simple item slot notification when the player moves next to an artifact. Another hopefully useful addition is the "same item speech" in the shop, which triggered before when you tried to pick up an item you already own, but now it triggers before buying items you have equipped too. What's next? Finally the Mac and Linux ports are getting closer to the finish line and the save-game feature is already functional ! It will still take a week or two to stabilize and complete them, but they are next in line and will be out later this month Anything longer term? I'm also working on a bigger update. I may have mentioned it before, but it is still too early to show anything in action, however it will see the light of day by the end of summer. My long term plans are a bit vague at the moment. I think I have clear goals in my mind, but no exact plans on how I could reach them. I want to deliver more updates for I Am Overburdened and I would love to port it to multiple platforms (console and mobile to be exact), but I don't really have the resources nor the contacts to really do it. Will see what the future holds... As always if you have useful tips for me, any suggestions or critique, I'm all ears. Drop me a comment or a mail! Thanks for reading my post and for your continued support. Take care!
  4. Hi everyone! Operation KREEP, the best couch co-op multiplayer Alien satire action game, is 83% off for a week (only 0.50$ 😮 , may vary based on region, base price is 2.99$)! If you are a sucker for retro games like Bomberman (Dyna Blaster) or Battle City make sure to give it a try! You can buy at: There is also a demo if you want to see the game in action first: http://www.indiedb.com/games/operation-kreep/downloads If you are interested in the development process, my devblog and my website holds a great bunch of write-ups about how it was made: https://magicitemtech.com/category/operation-kreep/ Remember: In space no one can hear you KREEP... I hope you check it out and it will be to your liking ! Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Cheers!
  5. Spidi

    Operation KREEP

    In space no one can hear you KREEP... Operation KREEP is a two-dimensional top-down couch co-op multiplayer action game. An extraterrestrial organism threatens deep space exploration missions! Only trained personnel working as a team can eliminate these infestations. But, the corporation financing the space endeavor has a private mail for you: Cold hard cash for the alien alive! Which side will you choose? Features: Engage in a frantic local multiplayer action game (offline 1-4) Play single player matches against AI agents Fight in a dozen of arenas and pick from multiple player skins Try out various game rule mutators to take part in hilarious matches Decide, with or against your friends?! Both keyboard and controller support
  6. Thanks for the tip @khawk! I've been planning to put my games there, but always forgot about it ... Now they are there, I Am Overburdened and Operation KREEP in their full glory Thanks for the questions and interest @thecheeselover. About the translations: Both, one language was done by a community member, two were made by hired translators. About my new job: That is a hard one and the decision was influenced by multiple things. I must start with this: working on my own games was the best part of my life from a personal perspective. I woke up every day literally wanting to work, usually rushing my daily routine to be able to start as fast as possible . I also worked a lot, but not in an unhealthy crunchy manner. I always took the time to relax and recharge. I just enjoyed spending a lot of time fiddling with game projects all the freaking time ... But I must continue with this: I can say that I wasn't well prepared for running my own business and this work sadly has its fair share of difficulties too. I had problems managing my projects and focusing on delivering even after a lot of practice. I'm also not a seasoned marketing/pr guy so as you can guess I had problems with reaching a broader audience (+ marketing&pr is a huge aspect of the games business, if you don't know how to do it or don't like it find someone to do it for you, like now !!!). All in all I made some money, but did not reach minimal wage. These problematic parts alone would not stop me (I still have savings so theoretically I could continue), but approaching it from an analytical perspective it become clear to me, that I have a lot to learn before I can build and run a sustainable business. It may be, that I can make and finish games, but I'm not efficient in that regard either, and clearly I'm "bad" at selling games and operating my day-to-day work as a business with finite resources. I decided to take a step a back instead of trying to win an "uphill battle", at least based on my skills, progress and achievements so far it felt like that and putting full-time indie-game development on hold (as a side activity) for a little seemed more reasonable.
  7. Hello everyone! It’s been a while since my last I Am Overburdened update and I haven’t posted anything online for more than a month now. In this post I’ll showcase the changes in the latest version which went live today and I’ll go into what happened to me. Update So I uploaded version 1.1.7. It does not contain many new features or new content, but has some nice additions. The game has been localized to French ( …), Danish ( …) and Romanian ( …)! These are the first bunch of official translations besides English and Hungarian. I’m hoping the game will reach more players with new languages added. Of course I would like to add even more in the near future and I already started talking to translators to make this happen. Special thanks to the translators for their work: Nicolas Fourcroy (French), Victor Fisker (Danish), Fazekas Sándor-Imre and Vezsenyi Ákos (Romanian) Another addition is the “developer” tools for localization and QA. In the latest build of the game three debug screens can be accessed. Of course these were developed for internal use, primarily to test translations, but I thought they could help anyone who would like to localize the game. So I cleaned them up and added an option to access them in the release builds too. I also created an official guide how these tools can be used and how new languages can be added to the game. P.S.: I guess using them could be considered cheating (spoiler alert!), since you can see all the items and monsters the game has to offer even if you have not unlocked or seen them previously. Sale To promote the new languages and the game itself a bit, currently it is 40% off for two weeks, so you can get it for 2.99$ (may vary based on region). You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. What is up? So yeah, long time no see and this update isn’t a huge one neither. What is going on with Magic Item Tech?! Last month I stopped focusing on my projects and made the decision to find a full-time job. I already have a position secured at a studio. This does not mean goodbye, my contract allows me to keep my company and I’m not abandoning my games. Magic Item Tech and I Am Overburdened will not be forgotten, only they are becoming a secondary commitment. Besides job hunting, organizing and integrating the translations, I also worked on new features from time to time. If you checked my Trello board recently you already know that the “save game” feature is getting close to completion. I’m planning to release ports and content updates too in the future. They will take more time due to working on them on the side, but I will try to make all the ideas I mentioned before a reality . Thanks everyone for reading my blog and for all the support I got from you. I’m not sure when, but sooner or later more posts will follow. Take care!
  8. Hi there! I’ve just released another update for I Am Overburdened, my silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a "hero" who has 20 inventory slots. It is now at 1.1.4. and received quite a few enhancements since the first major update . And a big + Currently it is 35% off for a week as a special promotion so you can get it for 3.25$ (may vary based on region). You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. Latest additions Elite variant There is a new “decoration” in the inn. If you complete the game twice on normal or on nightmare difficulty you unlock the skull candle. Once lit, there will be one tougher “elite” monster on each dungeon level. If you completed it before the candle will be unlocked automatically. I don’t consider this a new difficulty as it is a variant working on both levels, but if someone finds nightmare too easy or too painful with normal not being a challenge any longer it can spice them up . Ease-of-use The most requested UI enhancement was inventory screen access through the in-game inventory bar. Plenty other UI and mouse control enhancement found their way into the game (e.g.: the handling of speech bubble fade-out effects are not instantaneous when using the mouse). Effects beef-up Both the battle effects and the level entry (player spawn) got a little more love. The later one especially got many complaints. Hopefully from now on the player will be instantly recognizable when reaching a new dungeon level. Fixes & fine-tuning There were some annoying problems which were fixed with this build. Rendering and input handling works correctly when the application is not in focus and there was a more serious item skill problem too (dodge wasn’t canceling some penalties & de-buffs even though at the end not suffering the hit causing them) which is history now ! The future As always I have quite a few plans for the future of the game! I would like to add more variants (like the Elite or the Treasury) in the near future and for the next big update: saving. Don’t worry no save scamming, this is a roguelike after all . This feature would only allow you to suspend and close the game any time and be able to continue later on where you left off. I already started work on this major addition. If you would like to follow development I post my blog entries here on Gamedev.net too: Sadly I don’t have the capital to pay for professional localization yet, but who knows how this promotional week turns out, fingers crossed ! Thanks for taking the time for reading my post and for checking the game. Take care!
  9. Originally posted on the Spidi, Magic Item Tech Journal developer blog. It has been more than two months since I released I Am Overburdened and since I wrote a devlog entry. Please accept my apology for this, I was super busy with the release and support of the game. But now I’m back with an in-depth analysis how the overall production and final numbers turned out. Summary I want to do a fully detailed breakdown of the development and business results, but I don’t want break it up into a typical postmortem format (good, bad, ugly). I’ve drawn my conclusions, I know what I have to improve for my upcoming projects, but I don’t want to dissect the I Am Overburdened story this way, I want emphasize how much work goes into a game project and focus more on how a journey like this actually looks and feels like. If you really want know my takeaways, here it goes in a super short format: I consider the game a success from a development perspective (good), but I failed from a marketing and sales standpoint (bad and ugly). Now I go into the details, but will focus more on the objective “what happened, how it went, what it took” parts. Development The game started out as a simple idea with a simple goal in mind. I partially abandoned my previous project, because it ballooned into a huge ball of feature creep, so I wanted to finish a more humble concept in a much shorter time period. The original plan was to create a fun game in 4 months. I really liked the more casual and puzzle-y take on the roguelike genre like the classic Tower of the sorcerer game, or the more recent Desktop dungeons and the Enchanted cave games so I set out to create my own take. I designed the whole game around one core idea: strip out every “unnecessary” RPG element/trope and keep only the items/loot, but try to make it just as deep as many other roguelikes regardless of its simplicity. From this approach the “differentiating factor” was born, a foolishly big inventory, which helped me to define and present what I Am Overburdened really is. A silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a “hero” who has 20 inventory slots. Most of the prototyping and alpha phases of the development (first two months) went smoothly, then I had to shift gears heavily… Reality check After 3 months of development, when all of the core systems were in place and when I deemed big parts of the content non-placeholder, the time came to show the game to others. I realized something at that point, forcing me to make a huge decision about the project. The game was not fun . The idea was solid, the presentation was kind-of ok, but overall it was simply mediocre and a month of polishing and extra content in no way could change that! Back than I was super stressed out due to this and I thought about this as my hardest decision as a game maker, but looking back I think I made the right choice (now I feel like I actually only had this one). I decided to postpone release, explore the idea further even if it doubles!!! the originally planned development time (and it happened ) and most importantly I decided to not make or release a “shovelware”, because the world really isn’t interested in another one and I’m not interested in making/publishing one… Final scope So after 4 months of development, feeling a bit glum, but also feeling reinvigorated to really make the most out of I Am Overburdened I extended the scope of the design & content and I also planned to polish the hell out of the game . This took another 4 months and almost a dozen private beta showings, but it resulted in a game I’m so proud of, that I always speak of it as a worthy addition to the roguelike genre and as a game that proudly stands on its own! Some numbers about the end result: It takes “only” around 30 to 40 minutes to complete the game on normal mode in one sitting, but due to its nature (somewhat puzzle-y, randomized dungeons & monster/loot placements + lots of items, unlocks and multiple game modes), the full content cannot be experienced with one play-through. I suspect it takes around 6 to 12 full runs (depending on skill and luck) to see most of what the game has to offer so it lends quite a few hours of fun . There are 10 different dungeon sets and they are built from multiple dozens of hand authored templates, so that no level looks even similar to the other ones in one session. They are populated by 18 different monsters each having their own skill and archetype (not just the same enemy re-skinned multiple times). And the pinnacle, the artifacts. The game has more than 120 unique items, all of them having a unique sprite and almost all of them having unique bonuses, skills (not just +attributes, but reactive and passive spells) and sound effects. This makes each try feel really different and item pickup/buy choices feel important and determinative. The game was also localized to Hungarian before release, because that is my native language so I could do a good job with the translation relatively fast and this also made sure, that the game is prepared to be easily localized to multiple languages if demand turns out to be high. Production numbers How much code I had to write and content I had to produce all in all to make this game? It is hard to describe the volume/magnitude with exact numbers, because the following charts may mean a totally different thing for a different game or in case of using different underlaying technologies, but a summary of all the asset files and the code lines can still give a vague idea of the work involved. Writing and localization may not sound like a big deal, but the game had close to 5000 words to translate ! I know it may be less than the tenth of the dialogue of a big adventure or RPG game, but it is still way larger than the text in any of my projects before… I’ll go into the detailed time requirements of the full project too after I painted the whole picture, because no game is complete without appropriate marketing work, a super stressful release period and post-release support with updates and community management work . Marketing If you try to do game development (or anything for that matter) as a business, you try to be smart about it, look up what needs to be done, how it has to be approached etc… I did my homework too and having published a game on Steam before I knew I had to invest a lot into marketing to succeed, otherwise simply no one will know about my game. As I said this is the “bad” part and I’ll be honest. I think I could have done a much better job, not just based on the results, but based on the hours and effort I put in, but let’s take it apart just like the development phase. Development blog/vlog I started writing entries about the progress of the game really early on. I hoped to gather a small following who are interested in the game. I read that the effectiveness of these blogs are minimal, so I tried to maximize the results by syncing the posts to at least a dozen online communities. I also decided to produce a video version because it is preferred over text these days + I could show game-play footage too every now and then. I really enjoyed writing my thoughts down and liked making the videos so I will continue to do so for future projects, but they never really reached many people despite my efforts to share them here and there… Social media I’ve tried to be active on Twitter during development, posting GIFs, screen-shots and progress reports multiple times a week. Later on I joined other big sites like Facebook and Reddit too to promote the game. In hindsight I should have been more active and should have joined Reddit way earlier. Reddit has a lot of rules and takes a lot more effort than Twitter or Facebook, but even with my small post count it drove 10 times more traffic to my store page, than any other social media site. Since the game features some comedy/satire and I produced a hell of a lot of GIFs, I tried less conventional routes too like 9gag, imgur, GIPHY and tumblr, but nothing really caught on. Wishlist campaign I prepared a bunch of pictures up-front featuring some items and their humorous texts from the game. I posted one of these images every day starting from when the game could be wishlisted on Steam. I got a lot of love and a lot of hate too , but overall the effectiveness was questionable. It only achieved a few hundred wishlists up until the release day. Youtube & Twitch For my previous Steam game I sent out keys on release day to a 100 or so Youtubers who played any kind-of co-op game before, resulting in nearly 0 coverage. This time I gathered the contact info of a lot of Youtubers and Twitch streamers upfront. Many were hand collected + I got help from scripts, developer friends and big marketing lists ! I categorized them based on the games they play and tried talking to a few of those who played roguelikes way before release to peak their interest. Finally I tried to make a funny press release mail, hoping that they will continue reading after the first glance. I sent out 300 keys the day before release and continued the following weeks, sending out 900 keys total. And the results?! Mixed, could be worse, but it could be much better too. 130 keys were activated and around 40 channels covered the game, many already on release day and I’m really thankful for these people as their work helped me to reach more players. Why is it mixed then? First, the videos did generate external traffic, but not a huge one. Second, I failed to capture the interest of big names. I also feel like I could have reached marginally better results by communicating lot a more and a lot earlier. Keymailer I payed for some extra features and for a small promotion on this service for the release month. It did result in a tiny extra Youtube coverage, but based on both the results and the service itself all in all it wasn’t money well spent for me (even if it wasn’t a big cost). Press This was a really successful marketing endeavor considering the efforts and the resulting coverage. I sent out 121 Steam keys with press release mails starting from the day before release. Both Rock Paper Shotgun and PC Gamer wrote a short review about it in their weekly unknown Steam gems series and the game got a lovely review from Indiegames.com. Also a lot of smaller sites covered it many praising it for being a well executed “chill” tongue-in-cheek roguelike . The traffic generated by these sites was moderate, but visible + I could read some comforting write-ups about the quality of the game. Ads I tried Facebook ads during and a bit after the release week + in the middle of the winter sale. Since their efficiency can not be tracked too well I can only give a big guesstimate based on the analytics, sales reports and the comparison of the ad performances. I think they payed back their price in additional sales, but did not have much more extra effect. I believe they could work in a bigger scale too with more preparation and with testing out various formats, but I only payed a few bucks and tried two variants, so I wouldn’t say I have a good understanding of the topic yet. Some lifetime traffic results: So much effort and so many people reached! Why is it “bad”, were the results such a mixed bag? Well, when it comes to development and design I’m really organized, but when it comes to marketing and pr I’m not at all. As I stated I never were really “active” on social media and I have a lot to learn about communication. Also the whole thing was not well prepared and the execution especially right at the release was a mess. The release itself was a mess . I think this greatly effected the efficiency! Just to be more specific I neglected and did not respond in time to a lot of mails and inquiries and the marketing tasks planned for the launch and for the week after took more than twice as much time to be completed as it should have. I think the things I did do were well thought out and creative, but my next releases and accompanying campaigns should be much more organized and better executed. Time & effort I don’t think of myself as a super-fast super-productive human being. I know I’m a pretty confident and reliable programmer and also somewhat as a designer, but I’m a slowpoke when it comes art, audio and marketing/pr. For following my progress and for aiding estimations I always track my time down to the hour level. This also gives me confidence in my ability to deliver and allows me to post charts about the time it took to finish my projects . Important thing to note before looking at the numbers: they are not 100% accurate and missing a portion of the work which were hard to track. To clarify, I collected the hours when I used my primary tools on my main PC (e.g.: Visual Studio, GIMP), but it was close to impossible to track all the tasks, like talking about the game on forums & social media, writing and replying-to my emails, browsing for solutions to specific problems and for collecting press contact information, you get the idea… All in all these charts still show a close enough summary. 288 days passed between writing down the first line in the design doc and releasing the game on Steam. I “logged” in 190 full-time days. Of course more days were spent working on the game, but these were the ones when I spent a whole day working and could track significant portion of it + note that in the first 4 months of the project I spent only 4 days each week working on I Am Overburdened (a day weekly were spent on other projects). Release So how the release went? It was bad, not just bad, “ugly”. After I started my wishlist campaign, close to the originally planned date (2017. Oct. 23.) I had to postpone the release by a week due still having bugs in the build and not having time to fix them (went to a long ago planned and payed for vacation). I know this is amateurish, but the build was simply not “gold” two weeks prior to release . Even with the extra week I had to rush some fixes and of course there were technical issues on launch day. Fortunately I could fix every major problem in the first day after going live and there were no angry letters from the initial buyers, but having to fight fires (even though being a common thing in the software/game industry) was super tiring while I had to complete my marketing campaign and interact with the community at the same time. The game finally went live on Steam and itch.io on 2017. Nov. 2 ! I did not crunch at all during development, but I don’t remember sleeping too much during the week before and after launching the game. Big lesson for sure . I saw some pictures about the game making it to the new and trending list on Steam, but it most probably spent only a few hours there. I never saw it even though I checked Steam almost every hour. I did saw it on the front-page though, next to the new and trending section in the under 5$ list . It spent a day or two there if I remember correctly. On the other hand, itch.io featured it on their front page and it’s been there for around a whole week ! With all the coverage and good reviews did it at least sale well, did it make back it’s development costs, if not in the first weeks at least in the last two months? Nope and it is not close to it yet… Sales In the last two months a bit more than 650 copies of I Am Overburdened were sold. Just to give an overview, 200 copies in the first week and reached 400 by the end of November, the remaining during the winter sale. This is not a devastating result, it is actually way better than my first Steam game, but I would be happier and optimistic about my future as game developer with reaching around 3 to 4 times the copies by now. To continue as a business for another year in a stable manner around 7 to 8 times the copies total (with price discounts in mind) during 2018 would have to be reached. I’m not sure if the game will ever reach those numbers though . If you do the math, that is still not “big money”, but it could still work for me because I live in eastern Europe (low living costs) + I’m not a big spender. Of course this is an outcome to be prepared for and to be expected when someone starts a high-risk business, so I’m not at all “shocked” by the results. I knew this (or even a worse one) had a high chance. No matter how much effort one puts into avoiding failure, most of the game projects don’t reach monetary success. I’m just feeling a bit down, because I enjoyed every minute of making this game, a.k.a. “dream job” , maybe except for the release , but most probably I won’t be able to continue my journey to make another “bigger” commercial game. I may try to build tiny ones, but certainly will not jump into a 6+ months long project again. Closing words It is a bit early to fully dismiss I Am Overburdened and my results. It turned out to be an awesome game. I love it and I’m super proud of it. I’m still looking for possibilities to make money with it (e.g.: ports) + over a longer time period with taking part in several discount events the income generated by it may cover at least a bigger portion of my investment. No one buys games for full price on PC these days, even AAA games are discounted by 50% a few months after release , so who knows… If you have taken a liking to play the game based on the pictures/story you can buy it (or wishlist it ) at Steam or at itch.io for 4.99$ (may vary based on region). As an extra for getting all the way here in the post, I recorded a “Gource” video of the I Am Overburdened repository right before Christmas. I usually check all the files into version control, even marketing materials, so you can watch all the output of almost a year of work condensed into 3 minutes. Enjoy ! Thank you very much for following my journey and thanks for reading. Take care!
  10. @lilington Yep, I think this is probably a common mistake among game developers who are more early in their journey/business, especially when coming from a production (software/design/art...) background and not from a business (management/marketing/sales...) one. @kseh I really want to do ports. I think the game would work really well on both consoles, because both the full user interface and the full control scheme was primarily designed with keyboard and gamepad in mind and mobile platforms as it has a strong puzzle-y, sort-of casual (can be played for only a few minutes/one short run) vein. My current problem with the mobile port is the work involved. It would actually be far more work to port it to android than to port it to xbox one as an example. Mainly because the user interface would have to be redesigned for mobile. The other thing is monetization. I thought about this for a while now and I don't think the game would work well with the premium sales model on mobile and if I do choose to change it to ad-supported/IAP or something like that for mobile, that will take a lot of extra work too. I'm sorry for this shadowy answer. What I'm trying to say, is that I'm thinking about it and I would love to do ports (a mobile one too), but not sure about it yet when and how. Open for ideas/suggestions though !
  11. Yeah, I know TheUbiquitousAnomaly , I babble a lot. " I have a lot to learn about communication"... Funny thing: the longest part of making this post/blog/vlog was reducing the length. I usually start out with a draft and I write every thought down. That version was almost twice the size of this and I spent more time on ripping out stuff and turning it into a more concise and readable variant, than writing the original !
  12. Hi everyone! It has been more than two months since I released I Am Overburdened and since I wrote a devlog entry. Please accept my apology for this, I was super busy with the release and support of the game. But now I’m back with an in-depth analysis how the overall production and final numbers turned out . Summary I want to do a fully detailed breakdown of the development and business results, but I don’t want break it up into a typical postmortem format (good, bad, ugly). I’ve drawn my conclusions, I know what I have to improve for my upcoming projects, but I don’t want to dissect the I Am Overburdened story this way, I want emphasize how much work goes into a game project and focus more on how a journey like this actually looks and feels like. If you really want know my takeaways, here it goes in a super short format: I consider the game a success from a development perspective (good), but I failed from a marketing and sales standpoint (bad and ugly). Now I go into the details, but will focus more on the objective “what happened, how it went, what it took” parts. Development The game started out as a simple idea with a simple goal in mind. I partially abandoned my previous project, because it ballooned into a huge ball of feature creep, so I wanted to finish a more humble concept in a much shorter time period. The original plan was to create a fun game in 4 months. I really liked the more casual and puzzle-y take on the roguelike genre like the classic Tower of the sorcerer game, or the more recent Desktop dungeons and the Enchanted cave games so I set out to create my own take. I designed the whole game around one core idea: strip out every “unnecessary” RPG element/trope and keep only the items/loot, but try to make it just as deep as many other roguelikes regardless of its simplicity. From this approach the “differentiating factor” was born, a foolishly big inventory, which helped me to define and present what I Am Overburdened really is. A silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a “hero” who has 20 inventory slots. Most of the prototyping and alpha phases of the development (first two months) went smoothly, then I had to shift gears heavily… Reality check After 3 months of development, when all of the core systems were in place and when I deemed big parts of the content non-placeholder, the time came to show the game to others. I realized something at that point, forcing me to make a huge decision about the project. The game was not fun . The idea was solid, the presentation was kind-of ok, but overall it was simply mediocre and a month of polishing and extra content in no way could change that! Back than I was super stressed out due to this and I thought about this as my hardest decision as a game maker, but looking back I think I made the right choice (now I feel like I actually only had this one). I decided to postpone release, explore the idea further even if it doubles!!! the originally planned development time (and it happened ) and most importantly I decided to not make or release a “shovelware”, because the world really isn’t interested in another one and I’m not interested in making/publishing one… Final scope So after 4 months of development, feeling a bit glum, but also feeling reinvigorated to really make the most out of I Am Overburdened I extended the scope of the design & content and I also planned to polish the hell out of the game . This took another 4 months and almost a dozen private beta showings, but it resulted in a game I’m so proud of, that I always speak of it as a worthy addition to the roguelike genre and as a game that proudly stands on its own! Some numbers about the end result: It takes “only” around 30 to 40 minutes to complete the game on normal mode in one sitting, but due to its nature (somewhat puzzle-y, randomized dungeons & monster/loot placements + lots of items, unlocks and multiple game modes), the full content cannot be experienced with one play-through. I suspect it takes around 6 to 12 full runs (depending on skill and luck) to see most of what the game has to offer so it lends quite a few hours of fun . There are 10 different dungeon sets and they are built from multiple dozens of hand authored templates, so that no level looks even similar to the other ones in one session. They are populated by 18 different monsters each having their own skill and archetype (not just the same enemy re-skinned multiple times). And the pinnacle, the artifacts. The game has more than 120 unique items, all of them having a unique sprite and almost all of them having unique bonuses, skills (not just +attributes, but reactive and passive spells) and sound effects. This makes each try feel really different and item pickup/buy choices feel important and determinative. The game was also localized to Hungarian before release, because that is my native language so I could do a good job with the translation relatively fast and this also made sure, that the game is prepared to be easily localized to multiple languages if demand turns out to be high. Production numbers How much code I had to write and content I had to produce all in all to make this game? It is hard to describe the volume/magnitude with exact numbers, because the following charts may mean a totally different thing for a different game or in case of using different underlaying technologies, but a summary of all the asset files and the code lines can still give a vague idea of the work involved. Writing and localization may not sound like a big deal, but the game had close to 5000 words to translate ! I know it may be less than the tenth of the dialogue of a big adventure or RPG game, but it is still way larger than the text in any of my projects before… I’ll go into the detailed time requirements of the full project too after I painted the whole picture, because no game is complete without appropriate marketing work, a super stressful release period and post-release support with updates and community management work . Marketing If you try to do game development (or anything for that matter) as a business, you try to be smart about it, look up what needs to be done, how it has to be approached etc… I did my homework too and having published a game on Steam before I knew I had to invest a lot into marketing to succeed, otherwise simply no one will know about my game. As I said this is the “bad” part and I’ll be honest. I think I could have done a much better job, not just based on the results, but based on the hours and effort I put in, but let’s take it apart just like the development phase. Development blog/vlog I started writing entries about the progress of the game really early on. I hoped to gather a small following who are interested in the game. I read that the effectiveness of these blogs are minimal, so I tried to maximize the results by syncing the posts to at least a dozen online communities. I also decided to produce a video version because it is preferred over text these days + I could show game-play footage too every now and then. I really enjoyed writing my thoughts down and liked making the videos so I will continue to do so for future projects, but they never really reached many people despite my efforts to share them here and there… Social media I’ve tried to be active on Twitter during development, posting GIFs, screen-shots and progress reports multiple times a week. Later on I joined other big sites like Facebook and Reddit too to promote the game. In hindsight I should have been more active and should have joined Reddit way earlier. Reddit has a lot of rules and takes a lot more effort than Twitter or Facebook, but even with my small post count it drove 10 times more traffic to my store page, than any other social media site. Since the game features some comedy/satire and I produced a hell of a lot of GIFs, I tried less conventional routes too like 9gag, imgur, GIPHY and tumblr, but nothing really caught on. Wishlist campaign I prepared a bunch of pictures up-front featuring some items and their humorous texts from the game. I posted one of these images every day starting from when the game could be wishlisted on Steam. I got a lot of love and a lot of hate too , but overall the effectiveness was questionable. It only achieved a few hundred wishlists up until the release day. Youtube & Twitch For my previous Steam game I sent out keys on release day to a 100 or so Youtubers who played any kind-of co-op game before, resulting in nearly 0 coverage. This time I gathered the contact info of a lot of Youtubers and Twitch streamers upfront. Many were hand collected + I got help from scripts, developer friends and big marketing lists ! I categorized them based on the games they play and tried talking to a few of those who played roguelikes way before release to peak their interest. Finally I tried to make a funny press release mail, hoping that they will continue reading after the first glance. I sent out 300 keys the day before release and continued the following weeks, sending out 900 keys total. And the results?! Mixed, could be worse, but it could be much better too. 130 keys were activated and around 40 channels covered the game, many already on release day and I’m really thankful for these people as their work helped me to reach more players. Why is it mixed then? First, the videos did generate external traffic, but not a huge one. Second, I failed to capture the interest of big names. I also feel like I could have reached marginally better results by communicating lot a more and a lot earlier. Keymailer I payed for some extra features and for a small promotion on this service for the release month. It did result in a tiny extra Youtube coverage, but based on both the results and the service itself all in all it wasn’t money well spent for me (even if it wasn’t a big cost). Press This was a really successful marketing endeavor considering the efforts and the resulting coverage. I sent out 121 Steam keys with press release mails starting from the day before release. Both Rock Paper Shotgun and PC Gamer wrote a short review about it in their weekly unknown Steam gems series and the game got a lovely review from Indiegames.com. Also a lot of smaller sites covered it many praising it for being a well executed “chill” tongue-in-cheek roguelike . The traffic generated by these sites was moderate, but visible + I could read some comforting write-ups about the quality of the game. Ads I tried Facebook ads during and a bit after the release week + in the middle of the winter sale. Since their efficiency can not be tracked too well I can only give a big guesstimate based on the analytics, sales reports and the comparison of the ad performances. I think they payed back their price in additional sales, but did not have much more extra effect. I believe they could work in a bigger scale too with more preparation and with testing out various formats, but I only payed a few bucks and tried two variants, so I wouldn’t say I have a good understanding of the topic yet. Some lifetime traffic results: So much effort and so many people reached! Why is it “bad”, were the results such a mixed bag? Well, when it comes to development and design I’m really organized, but when it comes to marketing and pr I’m not at all. As I stated I never were really “active” on social media and I have a lot to learn about communication. Also the whole thing was not well prepared and the execution especially right at the release was a mess. The release itself was a mess . I think this greatly effected the efficiency! Just to be more specific I neglected and did not respond in time to a lot of mails and inquiries and the marketing tasks planned for the launch and for the week after took more than twice as much time to be completed as it should have. I think the things I did do were well thought out and creative, but my next releases and accompanying campaigns should be much more organized and better executed. Time & effort I don’t think of myself as a super-fast super-productive human being. I know I’m a pretty confident and reliable programmer and also somewhat as a designer, but I’m a slowpoke when it comes art, audio and marketing/pr. For following my progress and for aiding estimations I always track my time down to the hour level. This also gives me confidence in my ability to deliver and allows me to post charts about the time it took to finish my projects . Important thing to note before looking at the numbers: they are not 100% accurate and missing a portion of the work which were hard to track. To clarify, I collected the hours when I used my primary tools on my main PC (e.g.: Visual Studio, GIMP), but it was close to impossible to track all the tasks, like talking about the game on forums & social media, writing and replying-to my emails, browsing for solutions to specific problems and for collecting press contact information, you get the idea… All in all these charts still show a close enough summary. 288 days passed between writing down the first line in the design doc and releasing the game on Steam. I “logged” in 190 full-time days. Of course more days were spent working on the game, but these were the ones when I spent a whole day working and could track significant portion of it + note that in the first 4 months of the project I spent only 4 days each week working on I Am Overburdened (a day weekly were spent on other projects). Release So how the release went? It was bad, not just bad, “ugly”. After I started my wishlist campaign, close to the originally planned date (2017. Oct. 23.) I had to postpone the release by a week due still having bugs in the build and not having time to fix them (went to a long ago planned and payed for vacation). I know this is amateurish, but the build was simply not “gold” two weeks prior to release . Even with the extra week I had to rush some fixes and of course there were technical issues on launch day. Fortunately I could fix every major problem in the first day after going live and there were no angry letters from the initial buyers, but having to fight fires (even though being a common thing in the software/game industry) was super tiring while I had to complete my marketing campaign and interact with the community at the same time. The game finally went live on Steam and itch.io on 2017. Nov. 2 ! I did not crunch at all during development, but I don’t remember sleeping too much during the week before and after launching the game. Big lesson for sure . I saw some pictures about the game making it to the new and trending list on Steam, but it most probably spent only a few hours there. I never saw it even though I checked Steam almost every hour. I did saw it on the front-page though, next to the new and trending section in the under 5$ list . It spent a day or two there if I remember correctly. On the other hand, itch.io featured it on their front page and it’s been there for around a whole week ! With all the coverage and good reviews did it at least sale well, did it make back it’s development costs, if not in the first weeks at least in the last two months? Nope and it is not close to it yet… Sales In the last two months a bit more than 650 copies of I Am Overburdened were sold. Just to give an overview, 200 copies in the first week and reached 400 by the end of November, the remaining during the winter sale. This is not a devastating result, it is actually way better than my first Steam game, but I would be happier and optimistic about my future as game developer with reaching around 3 to 4 times the copies by now. To continue as a business for another year in a stable manner around 7 to 8 times the copies total (with price discounts in mind) during 2018 would have to be reached. I’m not sure if the game will ever reach those numbers though . If you do the math, that is still not “big money”, but it could still work for me because I live in eastern Europe (low living costs) + I’m not a big spender. Of course this is an outcome to be prepared for and to be expected when someone starts a high-risk business, so I’m not at all “shocked” by the results. I knew this (or even a worse one) had a high chance. No matter how much effort one puts into avoiding failure, most of the game projects don’t reach monetary success. I’m just feeling a bit down, because I enjoyed every minute of making this game, a.k.a. “dream job” , maybe except for the release , but most probably I won’t be able to continue my journey to make another “bigger” commercial game. I may try to build tiny ones, but certainly will not jump into a 6+ months long project again. Closing words It is a bit early to fully dismiss I Am Overburdened and my results. It turned out to be an awesome game. I love it and I’m super proud of it. I’m still looking for possibilities to make money with it (e.g.: ports) + over a longer time period with taking part in several discount events the income generated by it may cover at least a bigger portion of my investment. No one buys games for full price on PC these days, even AAA games are discounted by 50% a few months after release , so who knows… If you have taken a liking to play the game based on the pictures/story you can buy it (or wishlist it ) at Steam or at itch.io for 4.99$ (may vary based on region). As an extra for getting all the way here in the post, I recorded a “Gource” video of the I Am Overburdened repository right before Christmas. I usually check all the files into version control, even marketing materials, so you can watch all the output of almost a year of work condensed into 3 minutes. Enjoy ! Thank you very much for following my journey and thanks for reading. Take care!
  13. Hello everyone! I've just released the first major update to my latest game I Am Overburdened. It is a silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a "hero" who has 20 inventory slots. Now with version 1.1 it has full mouse support and a lot of new content ! Currently it is taking part in the winter sale with a 30% discount so you can get it for 3.49$ (may vary based on region). You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. If you are interested in the development process, my blog holds a great bunch of write-ups about how it was made: Have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year. Take care!
  14. Hello everyone! Operation KREEP, the best couch co-op multiplayer Alien satire, joined the winter sale . It is currently 74% off, so you can get it for dirt cheap. It is less than a $ ! If you are a sucker for retro games like Bomberman (Dyna Blaster) or Battle City make sure to give it a try! You can buy it at Steam or at itch.io. There is also a demo if you want to try the game in action first: http://www.indiedb.com/games/operation-kreep/downloads If you are interested in the development process, my blog holds a great bunch of write-ups about how it was made: Remember: In space no one can hear you KREEP... Thanks for taking the time to check it out. Have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year. Take care!
  15. Spidi

    Making games is no fun for me?

    Hi Finalspace! This is a really difficult question to answer, but I have a recent story to tell which may help you (about a similar situation). I have a friend who wanted to work in games for a really long while now. He works as a software engineer so he always had a good basis to easily enter the game industry. He also lives kind-of nearby two small but interesting studios. Once, he tried to apply to one of them. The studio turned him down, saying, that he does not have much game programing related experience. They told him, to finish a small project just to be more fluent in the topic and re-apply. He was one part sad, but one part happy, because he saw a concrete goal. His "dream job" was in actual reach, he told me. At this point I stepped in and tried helping him out with my experiences on how to go about finishing a project, giving him some advice and tips how to approach it, asking about his project every few days and trying to motivate him, stuff like that. By actually trying to finish a game from start to finish he realized he is not that interested in the topic. By going through all the parts of a game (or a software), he soon realized, that actually making or finishing something does not motivate him at all. He "just" likes programming and working on interesting problems. And from that point of view whether it is a game or any other software on which he works on does not make that big of a difference... I think this is cool. I mean some likes to work on games and some people actually like the technical/engineering challenge and not the actual end product or what it will be / how it is used by customers. My friend who I talked about never finished this tiny prototype program (it was indeed tiny, not much more complex than a pong game only a week or two full-time work maximum) and stopped looking for game programmer jobs. He learned something about game development (he probably romanticized it in his head before) and he learned something about himself. That is why I think this was a cool experience / experiment. By this I'm NOT suggesting you to stop working on games, hell no. I'm just saying, that maybe you are a guy who thinks, that he wants to make games, but in reality you are not. You may still work on game engines or game middleware, tools etc... because you enjoy the technical challenges especially the requirements provided by games, but you may not be really interested in making a game. There is a huge difference in making an engine and making a game and I'm not talking about the "you should make games" advice, but about the difference in the daily work that goes into making a game and making an engine/middleware. I suggest you think about this. I don't think motivation is something you "fight for". I think it is something you either have towards achieving a goal or you don't. I guess you could force yourself or artificially "create" motivation (e.g.: deposit some money somewhere which you can only access if you reach your end goal ... could work! ), if you really want to prove yourself, that you can do it, but than what ? I don't know if it would work out well or if it would make you happy. Just my 2 cents...
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