KREEP, post Steam.

Hi everyone!

Haven’t been around the INTERNETZ lately, sorry for that (been busy with a lot of work and important decisions to make 😐 ).
I promised a postmortem kind-a thingy after the Steam release of Operation KREEP, so here it goes!

Before I jump into numbers, I’m going to describe the project a little, what went well, what didn’t, the usual mortem content…
The Steam update and the release itself for the game was designed, developed and tracked as a project separate from the original game. This was done mainly due to being greenlit only a few months after the release. I already started working on new projects back than and the good news kind-of shocked me. Wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t want to rush it to the market, so I decided to take my time with the Steam release and prepare a “free” update for the game (note: I always referred to this as a free update, since all the original buyers received it on various stores for free…). While working on this update and the Steam release preparation, feature KREEP (pun intended 😀 ) and a smallish burnout (combined with a semi-serious health-issue) almost took the head of this project :(. It took a little longer than six months, but I finished the update and released my first Steam game on the 10th of June, 2016 🙂 !!!

The good:

I released a game on Steam! That alone is a great reward and a memorable experience!!!
Also while preparing for it, I could revisit a game I made and finished/released already and I could give a little more love and polish to it. In one way, that was really cool. I guess many probably had some bad feelings about finishing a project and still wanting to add some more to it here and there.
+ Steam integration was nice and surprisingly- easy/well documented :).

The bad:

Making the update was a CHORE. The actual procedure got pretty boring fast. I had an existing game of which I made the most out of I could on the first try, and now it did not feel special. I felt, that most of the modifications only added more to the game but did not make it any better (except for the input handling enhancements :), working on that feature was pretty cool!).

And the ugly:

I made the same preparations as with my previous two projects, written down and estimated tasks, and planned important milestones. I also tracked my progress while working on the update the same way, but this time, disciplined and organized work did not save me. I felt a rather big urge to make a better game out of Operation KREEP, because “it is going to be on Steam” :|, so a small feature-creep clouded my sight. Also I had semi-serious health problems with my stomach and duodenal, so I spent the last six months in glum mode :(.

Some numbers to certify these results/problems:
The original game took 430 hours to make, spanning over 6 months, where my original estimations and milestones predicted 300 work hours and somewhere between 4 to 5 months. Not the best probably, but certainly not bad results.
This update also took 6 months, but only required a tiny little less than 190 work hours. This mostly shows my rather bad work ethic regarding this project (and the bad mood 😦 ), since the estimation was even closer to the end result, than with the original game. I estimated around 150 work hours and around 3 months top to execute it! Based on my results with Operation KREEP, the update with the Steam release could have been done in three months with same amount of weekly work-time spent on the project, but I guess sometimes life just happens :(.

So, mortems have to have some conclusions, on how to do better next time, right?
I think, next time if I feel, that some tasks and features do not really add much to the game overall + I feel like I’m loosing interest in the project, I will re-evaluate my designs and plans, or I will start a tiny pet project parallel, so that I do not fully waste a lot of my gamedev time and efforts. Also I’m certain I will take the mentioned stuff into account regarding milestones.

Did it sell?!

I guess this interests many, so here goes nothing: it did not sell…
Before going any further, I have to mention, that for saying “it did not sell”, I’m taking into account, that it is a small and niche game + my marketing efforts took much less time and/or money, than half of the project costs, as it is the case with AAA titles :D. I wasn’t expecting it to sell thousands of units at all in the first place :). Nevertheless, even with this in mind, selling only a few units leaves a rather bad taste in my mouth :(.
The Steam release did not reach 100 units. Based on the wish-list additions, it may reach 500, probably if I drop the price later on, and that number sounds better, but I feel like the price was totally reasonable even for the original release. I guess it is common sense, but this is another example, that a game alone is not going to reach many people, not even on Steam. Real effort has to be poured into pr and marketing to actually get the word out and to find people interested in your game. I guess a more interesting game wouldn’t hurt either, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for retro and pixels :).

Still, I’m thankful for those sites and press people who tried the game, and even more thankful for those who wrote about it. Indie Retro News wrote a really cool review :), especially thankful for that!
+
For my next game, I’m going to work a lot more on the marketing front too, to reach a broader audience, who may enjoy it.

Future plans:

Recently I worked on many cool gamedev stuff and I’m prototyping my next game (not ready to show it yet, but it’s getting there).
+
I made a huge life-changing decision lately, which I’m going to keep as a “secret”, no official statement, because I suspect, I would get a lot of “Are you out of your mind?!” responses, and I don’t know how to handle that properly, but I guess it is not hard to figure it out. Here’s a hint:
Still here, writing about game development, the one and only job that keeps popping up in my life no matter where I go and what I do. A profession which I could spend a lifetime practicing, a profession which is intertwined with the person I am.

I tried many times to make a weekly habit out of writing these gamedev related post, but I failed miserably :(.
Now I’m going to have a lot of time to try it again, so expect my next post soon 🙂 😉 !
Best regards.

KREEP, mortem.

Hi everyone!

Wow, almost three weeks passed since the release in a glance.
A lot has happened with me and KREEP, but I wasn’t really active on these weeks 😦 …
I think it’s kind of time to talk about KREEP in past tense, though it’s story is not over yet, but I’m focusing less and less day by day on it and starting to move onto new things. First a little shameless promotion, than I jump onto a postmortem kinda thingy and future plans:

KREEP got released, sold practically none in it’s first weeks (as I predicted, so it was expected), but got some nice view and demo-download numbers, at least compared to my previous hobby project. But a rather pleasant happening lately:
KREEP got into a groupees bundle!
2015_11_20_Groupees
Groupees – High and Strange bundle – curated by Remute
A couple of days are still left, so if you would like to get the full version for dirt cheap + some other goodies go go go 😉 !!!
Heard bad stories about how this devalues your product etc., but in hindsight it wasn’t a bad decision to participate. KREEP was never intended to be the next Minecraft or Fallout 4 ( its a cool game though 😀 ), especially not financially 😛 , and it resulted in a lot of people who tries out the game and a lot of greenlight votes which is really nice!

It got a little press presence for which I’m really thankful and now you can reach it at multiple stores (+ more to come):

2015_11_20_itchio
itch.io

2015_11_20_IndieGameStand
IndieGameStand

Mini-mortem:
KREEP was my second more serious hobby project which I intended to finish. Looking back, my older projects were more like “free time spent well”, but never really got serious about actually finishing anything, so again, the final verdict is SUCCESS! My original plans were more humble though. I got a little carried away with features around mid project when I was locking down the final feature set. From that point of view it was a bit of a failure, since it took much more time to complete, than the original vision. This happened due to me deciding to try steam greenlight at that time, because I thought, that the game is pretty fun even in a half-finished state, so with some extra features and more polish it may actually could make it + why not. In the back of my head I actually knew, that plans about more content will not be enough for that, but still went with it. It was fun though 🙂 , maybe next time will work out even better!

Some numbers & facts:
It took from start to finish close to 430 hours to make, spanning over 6 months.
From this, programming and testing was around 190 hours, it took 140 to produce the content and around a 100 went into “marketing” (haven’t made that much stuff on marketing front but I count here every media material preparation, so as an example writing this blog, or creating the trailer too).
The code is a little bit over 5000 lines in C#, sitting on top of a bigger pile of code which I named MagicItem. It is a bunch of code I’ve been “developing” for years now in spare time, running games using XNA/MonoGame, but while making KREEP it was mostly left intact.
My final Assets folder contained 142 files (without sub-directories and only pre-processed content) from which 39 were images, 23 were sound effects and the rest 80 were general purpose resource files (tile-maps, animations, fonts, strings etc… mostly in xml).
Used the following tools for development:
Windows PC
Visual Studio 2013, XNA/MonoGame
Notepad++, GIMP 2, piskel, Tiled, sfxr, Audacity, Bosca Ceoil, Fraps and blender

I’m generally really happy, I deem it as a success. For a I time I hoped, that it would get on steam, because it would have been a wonderful achievement as a creator and a really cool learning experience. It may still happen, thanks to some colleagues, friends and bundle people 🙂 I received a lot of votes lately. If it does, I will jump back to the drawing board and fill the game with steam achievements as + goodies. For now, I’m already focusing on my next game, starting out with some MagicItem “framework” developments, which I will showcase soon because it is fun/useful.

See ya in a few weeks with new ideas!