Going for new game projects or stick to older game releases?

Going for new game projects or stick to older game releases?

Every time I have to decide which direction I want to go as indie game developer I ask myself should I go for a new game project or should I stick to older game releases?

If you have already shipped a game or two and it didn’t sold well in the past you always ask yourself as an indie game developer is it the fault of your game? Is it your marketing? The quality? Game design?

Can I change something to make it sale well or should I go for a new project with fresh ideas?

Reasons to improve older releases?

You already shipped a game so you are in the lucky spot to actually sale something! This is a huge advantage!

Every new project takes time to build and you don’t have any fans or community with the start. This means you are not able to ask for feedback and you don’t know if your new game will be any good.

With an old game you maybe have already some fans or even a community which can help you to improve the game and attract more new players. Also as you all know marketing takes a lot of time and you have already done this for an older release. You can focus on improving instead of working out loud.

There was a reason why you developed your game, try to go back in time and think about why you actually started the game, why does it not sale well? Check analytics on store pages and review your reviews.

Why going for new game projects?

Sometimes you are somewhat stuck in a game project and don’t have any fresh ideas or you don’t even know what is wrong with your game. That might be the best time to start a new game from scratch.

Most of the time new games brings a lot of motivation you have new ideas and you can do things how you would like to do it. You are also able to try out different and new things. Maybe you find a new niche and can sale this game even better than other games before.

Conclusion

My life situation at the moment is quite hard and I have to make hard decisions how to progress in my life and how to secure my living. At the moment I have depts due to taxes and older projects and unfortunately there isn’t much income at this time.

So I decided to make my decision depending on the feedback of my players if I want to continue on older releases: Timbertales and FlatFatCat or if I want to try out something new. Also I need to work on a lot of side projects where I can actually earn some money.

If you would like to support me make sure to check out our community hubs:

Timbertales: https://steamcommunity.com/app/673480/discussions/0/1741140435157560305/

FlatFatCat: https://steamcommunity.com/app/690130/discussions/0/1753525328595906342/

Where should I publish my game – Mobile or Steam?

This is a cry for help – please help me out!

As I started working on my current game shuffleboard cat, it was intended as a funny little shuffleboard game with cats. I absolutely like my progress so far, but unfortunately I made some decisions and got lost somewhere in the middle where I need your help and feedback for discussion and getting back on track!

Please keep in mind that most of my arguments are based on my experience and not a given fact. πŸ™‚

Introduction Shuffleboard Cat

shufflecat

Let me first introduce the project to give you a small impression about the type and genre of the game. I used most assets from my Flat Fat Cat franchise, because I like the assets very much and I think they fit perfectly into this type of game. With Flat Fat Cat Bounce I created already a game where you can slide and bounce cats together and I liked that game mechanic a lot so I sticked to it.

But there is one major difference which isn’t visible on the first view. Godot! Flat Fat Cat Bounce was achieved with libGDX meanwhile I switched to Godot as game engine and I wanted to transfer the mechanics and assets to a new game engine with success!

Shuffleboard cat is made with Godot and works fine so far with nearly the same behaviour physics wise as the original Flat Fat Cat Bounce. As usual I challenge myself a lot so beside of transferring the game to a new engine I also wanted to include multiplayer and a more competitive approach into shuffleboard cat.

The idea in short: Provide the mechanics of sliding und bouncing cats like we had in Flat Fat Cat Bounce, but instead of  matching pairs – combine these physics with a standard Shuffleboard game and add multiplayer and a ranking to it. I also added some skins and some kind of progression system, but this shouldn’t be discussed now and will be introduced later.

Why choosing mobile market / platform?

This is the project in short. I had the vision to make it as mobile game for several reasons:

  • I like the slide mechanic with touch inputs
  • The portrait mode has the perfect aspect ratio for the playground
  • Short 1v1 matches for ranking multiplayer would fit on mobile
  • General Art style matches the mobile market
  • Free to play games are easier to distribute on mobile

shufflecat

It is not the complete list, but these were the main reasons for me to design it for mobile devices. As said unfortunately I lost the focus at this point and I am not sure if I was ever the right call with these assumptions.

I still like the touch input for the slide mechanics and I think the playground fits perfectly to the portrait mode.

But! Is multiplayer really good on mobile devices? I mean seriously clash of clans or clash royale prove that there is a competitive scene on the mobile market. I think Shuffleboard is a really niche in sport games and so it will on the video game market. I don’t have any idea if there is a lot of potential or even enough players to make it work.

Is the general art style really only fitting on mobile market? I don’t know! Flat Fat Cat Bounce for example was much better sold on Steam as it ever did on mobile market and this even without optimising it for PC or Steam!

“Free to play games are easier to distribute on mobile market?” At this moment I don’t think so anymore, because I think the mobile market in general is so much harder to enter than to publish games on Steam for example. Without spending money on marketing you have to put a lot of effort into actually reach out for players. I have the feeling that it is easier to build up a community or get players on platforms like Steam.

Why choosing PC / Steam as platform?

Ok, now why do I think Steam is may be a more viable option?

  • Flat Fat Cat Bounce sold much better on Steam than on mobile platforms even as mobile game
  • Community building feels more comfortable on Steam / PC
  • As a gamer myself I don’t know the mobile market very well, because I don’t play mobile games very much
  • Games on Steam feel more worthy – At least for me

As said before I made much more revenue on Steam as on mobile market overall and this just proves for me that Steam should be the place to go. Unfortunately I always have the feeling that the games I create aren’t fitting the PC market, because they weren’t planned for it in the first place?!

In this special case for Shuffleboard cat, I have the problem with the aspect ratio and I am not sure how to fix it and I am also not sure about the free to play approach on Steam. Is this a distribution model which works or gets me a lot of players?

On the other hand Flat Fat Cat Bounce proved that even a mobile port works better on Steam than I expected and made more revenue on Steam than on the mobile market.

The biggest issue I have right now with releasing games on Steam is the following: I think smaller games like Shuffleboard cat don’t feel right for PC games.

As a PC gamer myself I have quite a lot of quality expectations for games on Steam and I am not sure if I can match them. I think this is why I tend to develop for mobile, because there it feels more like  “I don’t give a shit” if you know what I mean.

Where should I go from here?

This brings us to the end of this article and a hopefully upcoming discussion in which direction I can or should go. In my heart I feel like I should do games for PC / Steam, because that is what I want and where I know more about the players, market and games in general.

For that I need to do some adjustments to reach my quality expectations and being able to ship the game with a good conscience.

What do you think about the topic? Where would you release this game? Do I miss a solution?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

Creating a Multiplayer headless lobby server in Godot

Introduction to creating a headless lobby server in Godot

Hey fellow devs,

today I would like to add some more advanced words to my Tutorial on my YouTube-Channel. If you haven’t already please make sure to follow me on YouTube to receive updates about my upcoming Tutorial videos.

Why do we need a lobby server?

We could of course making just a peer to peer connection. The Problem? Most devices are behind routers and you won’t get the public ip from the device to connect them together.

For this reason we use a routing server aka lobby server which handles the connection to the devices. The lobby server also offers more control and we have the possibility to monitor things like concurrent users online. Opened games and other statistics.

Is MultiplayerEnet the only variant for this server?

No! Godot offers a wide range of Multipler implementations. It is maybe a better idea to use websockets if you would like to have a more dynamic server as a lobby server.

I used the Enet because it feels like it makes the most sense for my type of game, but maybe I will change this later.

If you have any questions regarding my blog or tutorials please feel free to comment below and share your feedback. I still have a of posts to do, but I hope I get the blog up to date as fast as possible.

Restarting my Dev-Blog with new domain and focus!

Hey everyone!

New year means new motivation leads to new actions! I thought about reactivating my old dev blog and make it attendant to my YouTube Tutorial videos.

I have a lot of fun teaching you guys stuff in Godot I learned or I experienced and this is why I want to focus on that on this blog. For me learning works best when I try to teach other the stuff I learn.

One very cool thing is I was able to restore all old blog posts from 2016 and 2017 I have written. So you are able to browse through them and the page isn’t as empty as it would be without!

What can you expect in this blog in the future? I will keep you informed about topics I am currently working on and learning. Also I will try to give more insights and more detailed informations about my Tutorials on YouTube.

I hope you like it the next few days I will spent time to bring the page up and style it a little bit more. Also I have to restore the images of my old posts, but nevertheless I am already pretty proud about having wordpress on my server with https working πŸ˜€

Kickstarter failed!? What to do if your game don’t get crowdfunded

Hey everyone,

as soon as I started my current project Tera Lo Mania I had three primary goals:

  1. Build up a community
  2. Create a playable tech demo
  3. Start a Kickstarter campaign

Build up a community

I learned a lot from my first three games and what you need as an Indie game developer is feedback as soon as your project starts. To achieve this you need to build up a community, which is interested in your project. So far so good, but how to we do this? I thought it was pretty easy by sharing my development progress being consistent in creating content and I started a video log diary on  YouTube to create a community …

Create a playable tech demo

I already knew at the beginning of my project, that I will need additional budget to finish the project. So, the idea was born to create a Kickstarter campaign to gather the missing budget as soon as possible. The clue – I wanted to have an early downloadable version of my game, which showcases that I can achieve the game and I could use some scenes in a trailer. I achieved that and thought everything is going fine …

Start a Kickstarter campaign

The time has come from September 2018 till mid of March 2019 I was able to finish a tech demo and build up a community for the game. At least I thought so. That said the Kickstarter Campaign has gone live! And it still is …


So I achieved my goals and the Kickstarter Campaign looks just horrible …. by today we have 11% funded and already 5 days gone. Even with the minimum funding reach by the end of it, it is not that what I expected and as you all know the first days should be the strongest to get the Campaign going. The goal is calculated with the very very very minimum and I will have to pay on top to get the game working and release it.

What is the problem? What did I miss?

I had the demo and my Video Logs, I thought I build up a community and created lots of marketing hype by sending out thousands of emails. Lets investigate: 

Follower numbers

The community I build up wasn’t that big I expected

As you can see in the numbers. Yeah, I was able to gain follower on every platform, but in total the community is still very small and not very meaningful. There was already the first indication that my game isn’t that attractive to people, otherwise the numbers should have raised higher.

Problem: I hadn’t any comparison and was too busy spending time on developing the tech demo (which nobody wanted).

By the way speaking of the tech demo, when I was releasing a first playable version I just had round about 15 Downloads and nearly no feedback at all. Slowly I got some bites of feedback and it told me, that those who downloaded the game didn’t even know what to do, because they didn’t played the original game. The tech demo was of course so early that there wasn’t polishing possible to explain how the game actually works.

Problem: I ignored the fact, that the playable version wasn’t intuitive enough and not well received by my small community.

I have had quite a lot of fun to create my video log diary and showcase my development status. Nevertheless I was always a bit shocked by looking at the video statistics after releasing a new video log. Nearly nobody watched it and the watch durations were really really short.

Problem: I didn’t see the signs of unattractive content at all.

What can I do now, after realising the problems with the crowdfunding?

If you get a little bit of distance to your game, which I got after 5 days of running Kickstarter and thinking about the situation, you start to realise, that I was too hyped for my own game and I didn’t noticed that there wasn’t a big interest from the community for my project at all. Now, I know that this campaign is as good as done and it won’t develop very well anymore. The daily views are sinking with every day, I wasn’t able to impress the press or YouTuber or Blogger to create a hype. So, I guess the campaign will slowly but surely end without gaining very much interest anymore and funding.

What are my options at this point? I already spend a lot of time and money into this project, but acknowledging that there is so little interest it won’t pay off to finish it with paying even more time and money. I still didn’t lost all hope and I will of course continue to try make the most out of the last 25 remaining days to keep this project alive, but I know I have to look forward and find a way for me and the company how to deal with this or giving up the dream of being an indie game developer after 4 projects without any real success …

The struggle is real – My life as an indie developer right now

Hey fellow readers,

I am not sure how to start this article and which topics I should point out at all. So, I try to not cry or blame anything too much πŸ˜€ First let me start with something I am really looking forward to: I will be Dad in just about three more months … man time is running so damn fast right now.

Self doubts about my actions

That said of course I slowly get some doubts about my lifestyle, since my indie business is not very worthy at all from a financial viewpoint. Also the time spend on working is so much. I am not really sure about the near future when I take look at this.
I was really able to get some things going and I have the feeling that the business is doing better from year to year, but at what cost and effort?

At the beginning of the year, I got much motivation and I tried to get as hyped as possible for my current project. I also told a lot about this in my latest video logs:

Scary business numbers

Unfortunately, my reality is: The analysis of my business numbers shows that the growing process is more than laborious. With every video log I create on YouTube, I manage to get one or two more followers, what is awesome don’t get me wrong, but with this kind of growth I will have to create another 600 videos to get some kind of valuable reach. Of course I would do this and I love everyone who is willing to follow and support me. Thanks to you guys!

Nevertheless, also kind of regular posts on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook didn’t managed to build up a community the last two years. It feels like marching on a spot. Of course I have to admit that I am nowhere near a professional marketer or social media manager. So, the low follower count and engagement isn’t too surprising! I hoped the content would engage more, but there are so many talented indies out there that I sometimes think why should someone be interested in content I release?

But there is light at the end of the tunnel

With the start of this year a friend of mine helps me out in this specific topic and spread the word through our social media channels, maybe this changes the engagement. I hope I will be able to pay him one day for his efforts … 

Seriously the indie business is a really hard business and you have to be very dedicated to it, I knew that before I started and I don’t want to miss the time I spend to develop my games and build up the numbers at all. The only thing I wish for myself in this year is to be more financial independent, since non of my indie efforts became very worthy yet.

The only parts, where I am able to actually earn some money is to work as a freelancer for companies in complete different branches or selling my programming skill elsewhere. This makes me very sad, because I invest so much time and money into my indie business. Sometimes when I am in a bad mood like today – I just ask myself if it is worth all the effort? 

I guess I can only answer this to myself and as long as I enjoy what I am doing it can’t be wrong. At least for now I won’t quit anything and I hope I can make my dreams still happen πŸ™‚

New game project scheduled – Some informations

Hey everyone,

after working a whole while as freelancer, round about 7 months now, the time has come to go back to game development and start another project. Luckily, I wasn’t idling in the meantime and finished all the planning stuff already. Today I would love to share some first insights and upcoming changes compared to the last projects.

Project introduction

So let us start with some basic informations about the new project. As real time strategy fan, I will stick to strategy games and how could it be different – The new project will be another strategy title, which is more or less real time. It will be a remake of one of my first strategy games I have ever played and enjoyed a lot πŸ™‚
I will not spoiler the title yet. The header image provides you a first hint. The second hint: The game will be “more or less” real time strategy. Would love to read your guesses in the comments. So please leave your comment! πŸ™‚ 

As you can see in the header image, it will be my first 3D title with a low poly art style. The game will be focused on PC / Steam first, but it will be possible to distribute it later on every platform.

Technical insights

Lets get into a bit more details on the technical site. My last projects were written in libGDX with Java as main language. Nevertheless, for this new project I decided to achieve it with Godot, an open source game engine. The main language I will use for the code is the in-build GD Script, which is fairly similar to Python in general.

The decision is based on the following reasons: 

  •  I want to learn something new
  •  I want to use a game engine instead of a framework
  • Stable software for future projects
  • Godot provides a good usability for 3D
  • Godot  offers great performance
  • Godot is open source 

After hours of comparisons between UnrealUnity and Godot β€“ I came to the conclusion to use Godot

Team

There is a big change team structure wise this time – I will work with a bigger team than ever before! TimbertalesFlatFatCat and Space Unicorns were developed and distributed by myself with a lot of help from my girl friend for all the art stuff needed.
This time I hired an 3D artist for all the models, animations and vfx, who is fully dedicated to the project. This helps me to completely focus on the game code. We hopefully gain a much higher quality with this change in both art and code.

Project schedule

The game itself is planned to be done within 6 months. This includes development, alpha / beta and a first release candidate. The first prototype / demo should be out very soon after start, to have more early feedback and start a kickstarter campaign to gather more budget if needed. The official start for the project is scheduled for mid of September this year. So round about 6-7 weeks from now on!  

Thanks for reading, I hope you looking forward to this game project. Of course there will follow a lot of artwork, dev blogs etc. by the time. If you want to be in first place and also be involved in the development / testing etc. don’t miss to become a Patreon and get any peace of information much earlier πŸ™‚ I would also love to read your comments.

Create a Game with Godot – First lessons learned

I would love to share my first steps and first learnings with Godot 3 with you guys πŸ™‚

Export Blender Models as .dae files

As one of my first tasks I tried to export models from Blender to Godot. For my first approach I used .obj files and imported them into Godot without any problems so far. After a while I realised, that my artist also created some materials, which weren’t included in the import.
I figured out that Godot advices to use .dae files, which includes the materials correctly. So we exported the files as .dae. Surprisingly every model was imported as a Scene in Godot, which first confused me, but it is the right workflow. I will explain it within the next chapter.

Use Scene instancing

Having each Model as a scene has one big advantage: We can instantiate them. In UE or Unity this is called a “Prefab” as far as I know. In Godot we can use a Scene as a prefab, this is why .dae files represent a scene. It is a good practice to have everything as a scene and then in your game scene instantiate all the other scenes just like that:

Game (Scene)
  Human (Instanciated Scene)
  Landscape (Instanciated Scene)

You can read more about that here: http://docs.godotengine.org/en/3.0/getting_started/step_by_step/instancing.html

Use Unity Tutorials, if you can’t find any for Godot

Actually there are more tutorials available for Unity than for Godot, but nevertheless just watch the Unity ones. Most likely it is really easy to transfer the knowledge from Unity to Godot, since most options have the same names or working in kind of the same way.

GD Script is not Python

Even if they look quite similar GD Script is not Python, it is just inspired by Python. Why is it worth to know that? I was confused, because I encountered some ‘What the fuck’ moments when writing GD Script for the first time, since I have a strong Python background. So you should definitly check out the GD Script syntax first to get an overview. 

You can read more about GD Script here:
http://docs.godotengine.org/en/3.0/getting_started/scripting/gdscript/gdscript_basics.html

Next steps, next big idea

I decided to start a Vlog (it will not replace the Blog) on YouTube within my project (Remastering MegaLoMania). I will record the first introduction video within the next days, so make sure to follow me on my social media channels to get informed.
In the Vlog I would like to share all learnings and progress I made day by day.

Thanks for reading!

Timbertales left “Early Access” – Post Mortem

Hey everyone,

today I just wanted to write a bit about the latest release of Timbertales. Yeah! We left “Early Access” and we are live by now! Thank you all for your support, questions and money on all different Platforms like TwitterFacebookInstagram and Patreon.

I want to give you a small overview about the latest update of Timbertales:

Steam Achievements
I think I don’t have to tell you much here. I added 30 achievements with their own pictures and challenges. There are also some hidden achievements, so good luck achieving them all!

Improvements to the game
I increased the game speed a bit, so everything should feel a bit more fast paced. The attack animations should close the distance to your opponent and making the combat feeling more enjoyable. I spend also a lot of time into bug fixing, which includes problems with fullscreen mode, crashes in missions or wrong counting map objectives.

Idle Animations
All units should feel more alive by now. I added new idle animations for every unit to make the game more lively.

Sound improvements
There were a lot of sound effects, which were annoying or not matching at all. I made a lot of changes to the sound effects and I hope you like them.

Of course there were also a lot of code changes and cleanup overall. I wish you a lot of fun while playing Timbertales and feel free to share your thoughts!

Future of Timbertales
I want to be open and share some insights with you. Unfortunately Timbertales didn’t sale very well and I didn’t received so much feedback I would have hoped for! Nevertheless there are some fans and I am still willing to invest time into the game. My backlog is full of cool features and updates, but how to say the game needs to pay off a bit first. I don’t want to earn a million bugs that said, but I can’t invest full time into a game, when I have less than two sales / week.
So summarised if there is good feedback and the game performs quite well in future. I will invest more time πŸ™‚

Rainware Bundle on Steam
There are also some other news. I added a “Rainware Bundle” on Steam which includes both Steam games FlatFatCat and Timbertales with a discount of 30%. So if you aren’t own the games yet, make sure to take this chance πŸ™‚

Future projects and some numbers
You may ask what is the plan for the future of Rainware. So since I am still working as freelancer, for at least three more months, there isn’t something special or big upcoming within the next weeks. I actually have two game concepts which should work out quite well and I would love to introduce them to you within the next blog posts. I also have one open project related to localisation, also here I would love to introduce it.
As far as Timbertales is released now and FlatFatCat is running quite a while I will take a break into the development of both games. The reason for that is simple as I stated before: These projects actually haven’t paid off for me yet.

I made a screenshot for you of revenues total (I like the numbers):

I am fine with it and every sale is a huge compliment for myself! For being economically its far behind expectation. Just to leave it here unstated both projects costs me around: 10.000-15.000$ So I am not willing to speak of a success yet πŸ™‚ Also 666$ for about two years of being independent couldn’t make my living, if I would have this amount per month it would go into the right direction.

Thank you all so far for your support and stay tuned for news. I won’t give up yet and fill my pocket with some paid work. There will be huge projects following after the freelance time is finished. I promise that!

Back to development at least for a day :)

Hey,

finally I am back to indie development with at least one day per week. I am still working as freelancer for two more months, but only 4 days / week. So, I will dedicate a full day per week to the development of my games and indie business. First progress is already made in a long awaited patch for Timbertales, which will fix some major issues. I will go a bit more into detail what we can expect for the next updates of Timbertales and how long it will take.

Steam Patch this week

To start off with good news: I will release a patch for the steam version of Timbertales this week. This patch includes major fixes for resolution issues, adding a quit mission button, fixes a freeze which is caused by switching portraits and some more minor things. Yesterday, I was able to finish 80% and the missing 20% will follow by tomorrow. So you can expect the patch at last by end of week πŸ™‚

Feedback and further development

I am still gathering feedback for Timbertales and creating a roadmap in direction of full release. Thanks to everyone who contacted me and shared his thoughts about the current game state. There are some really cool ideas and I got a lot of motivation to implement those. There was a long passive phase in Timbertales development and I lost a bit of motivation in between, but with all the feedback and some new very cool ideas I am back on track. I want to release a full version with a good game state and of course it should worth its price. Here is a little preview of my open tickets, if you miss something please don’t hesitate to contact me.

One Idea I want to highlight – Battlemap

There was one person with this brilliant idea. In short there will be a new game mode (Maybe as DLC not sure about that yet). In this game mode we will have to fight for the dominion of Timbertales. We will have a battlemap with different regions and they will provide different bonuses. Your goal will be to conquer all regions, but of course the enemy will get stronger the longer the conquest take. So your strategy in which order you will conquer which regions is very important. Unfortunately I can’t share much details about the bonuses yet, since there is a lot of work needed to build the concept, but I will get back to you as soon as there is a rough concept.

Conclusion – What can we excpect?

My current plan is to bugfix and improve Timbertales to a state, where I am happy to release it to the full version and leave Early Access. Of course this will take some effort marketing and development wise etc. It is still a good time to share your feedback, if there is any. I don’t have any deadline for the release, so I don’t have to stress myself. First priority is to make the game more fun and enjoyable. If the release works out very well, I can imagine to add DLCs and work on more content patches otherwise I will focus on another project.