Today I’m talking about Microtransactions. Why some are using it and should it be considered good or bad. Another beefy episode, I took me x4 more time than usual, and I only covered one third of what I wanted to say.
Thanks to Juicy Beast, Toge Productions and Chris Jeff’s games! You guys rock!
Recently, we had to lay off everybody working at Berzerk Studio, sell pretty much all our stuffs and move away from our office. Leaving only the 3 co-founder with no office and little to no money left.
It's a very sad fate for the long ride we had, this December will be our 5 years anniversary (...yay!). 2013 has been a very bad year for us, we lost a lot money, and finally our kick-ass team. It was all going along nicely, but yeah, our bank account told us that... we should go... f**k ourselves.
Why is there no money left ?
We have a couple of ideas, errors we did that we need to avoid in the future, but it's hard to pinpoint. What we do know is we ended up spending too much money on games than what it gave in return. We wanted to make good, quality games at the point where we were losing money making it. Fans before money.
Still, we are not giving up.
We may be back at square 1, we might have lost a lot of projects, we may have lost a lot of money but we are not giving up, we are still working all day, making games, as our primary jobs.
We lost this round, but the fight ain't finished.
As rocky said : "...it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."
I hope this video will give hope to any indie going through a hard phase!
This is a small and concise post mortem of my Ludum Dare entry. Nothing life-changing, just a little modest post about how I've hidden my weakness as a one-man army to create a nice little game in 48 hours.
Also, my english is not main language of mine so apologize me for all the faults.
Ok, I'm not THAT bad ;)
Let's start with a fun fact : I told my wife I wanted to enter the contest the day before it started, asking her if she could take care of the kids for 2 days. She said yes, but decided totally-voluntarily-as-a-free-will-human-being to get sick the day it started, so I had to either abandon the idea or do the Game Jam on Hardcore mode : Alone, with 3 kids.
I chose the Hardcore mode.
It's really weird to have a boy's dream job AND and being an adult with responsibilities.
As for my game, I had a cool idea at first, but the reality struck me right in the face, I'm a coder, not an artist. So 99% of my ideas went to garbage, because I would have spent too much time on trying to draw, and most likely give a bad impression, or wrong feedback to the player. Is that an apple, or a ski-doo?
I had to improvise.
Since I was alone I had to go with an Atari and/or Commodore 64 feeling for the game to be interesting. (Yeah, I suck that much). At least, if the visual sucks, I can say it was meant to be that way. It won't appears ugly, it'll look planned.
Next, the music has to be in line with that "art direction" so I thought about chiptunes music. This is where I discovered the awesome soundtrack of Shawn Daley and Keith Chiptunes (link at the bottom). The music was so good that it made the visuals looksgood, the music explains to the player that the Art direction was intended. My art weakness problem was now solved.
[Note] I realized I couldn't use somebody else's music after the contest, oops! Let's just say I enter the Game Jam instead of the compo alright?
Random Personal advice : My biggest weakness being the visual, I wanted to shift the player's attention on something else. The music is usually what I put on the front. In this case, each level is synchronized with the music, each 10-seconds verse represent a level in the game. That makes the player concentrate on the soundtrack to visualize what's coming, driving his focus away from the visuals. My point here, try to hide your weakness by making the strongest elements of the game on the front.
Teaching a new game mechanic in 5 seconds: I wanted to put an upgrade system with 3 choices, for replayability. Nothing new here. The hard part was to make the player choose his upgrade within 5 seconds, to be sure the music stays in sync with the level system. (Remember, the music is the main focus of the game)
That means, in 5 seconds, I need to
- Explain to the player he need to chose within 3 upgrades
- Explain each upgrades and what they do.
- Tell the player he has 5 seconds to make a decision.
That might not appear that much, but it's actually a lot of information to convey for a very short time.
So I went with a "upgrade zone" system. 3 zones or tunnels are coming toward the players, slowly covering the whole screen. When the hero enter one of the zone, his ship is upgraded with the selected zone's upgrade. If he switch zone, he get the other upgrade.
That looks very simple and stupid, but I want to pinpoint all the informations that I give to the player here. Let's look at the list again :
- Explain to the player he need to chose within 3 upgrades : There is only 3 zones, and they are slowly covering the whole screen, so there's no other choice then enter 1 of the three zone.
- Explain what are the upgrades and what they do. : By entering a zone, the ship upgrade according to the zone, giving the player a preview of what he can have. This gives a lot more information than words could do, you see and feel directly what the upgrade does.
- Tell the player he has 5 seconds to make a decision: The 3 zones are slowly covering the entire screen, leaving the player no choices but to be in one of the zones by the end of the 5 seconds.
In the end, the player understand and take a decision within 5 seconds, without even noticing all the new rules I've put in his head. It just feel right. And that's something REALLY hard to do : to teach the game's rules without the player even noticing. The best video that explain this is by Egoraptor, and I strongly advise all Game Developer to watch it twice a day : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM So ! I'm proud of what I did within 48 hours, especially on Hardcore mode ;). I'd like to give the game more love, and I probably will.