Indiegala “Hump Day Bundle”

The Steam version of “Let There Be Life” is currently available as part of Indiegala’s “Hump Day Bundle.” There are two tiers of pricing: the lower tier gets you the initial three games on offer, and the upper tier gets you those games plus nine(!) more, including Let There Be Life.

If you make it over there before the end of today, you can purchase the bundle at a discounted rate!

Analyzing Our Kickstarter Results

I decided to reflect on some of the reasons behind the performance of our “Dukes and Dirigibles” Kickstarter. Here are the highlights:

Community. Our “community” largely consisted of Twitter followers of the company account @Backward_pieS, somewhere upwards of 1600. After reading this blog about how Moon Hunters had 700 Twitter followers at the start of their campaign, and 1500 afterwards, I thought we were in good shape in this regard.


Backward pieS Twitter

However, despite this number of followers, we had few backers come from our Twitter feed. I can imagine two reasons for the low turnout:

First, the large majority of our followers likely fall into the “follow me and I’ll follow you” category, with little-to-no direct interaction or true interest in us. It was probably a mistake to follow so many other accounts, because their “return follows” provided an inflated sense of interest.

Second, our previous game “Let There Be Life” is totally different from Dukes and Dirigibles, being a relaxing creative game about trees, so fans of our earlier work may not be interested in the new action game.

Being the lead developer in a small husband-and-wife studio, I have poured so much of my time and energy into building the game, that I hadn’t done the necessary promotion of it on forums like TIGSource and Reddit (and other sites I should probably know about but don’t). I knew that would be a weakness, but I didn’t know it would be death knell.

Work-In-Progress Art. I focused too much on refining the game play, particularly the game loop for the multiplayer demo. With a steady schedule of public appearances, I felt pressured to make fixes and additions so that the multiplayer experience felt complete. This took away time from development of the game’s graphics.

The weakest visual elements of the game are the drab and repetitive arenas, which are using old art. Since the arena walls/islands are not grid-based (allowing for angles and smooth curves), I have been waiting on the introduction of Smartsprites in Unity (scheduled for next June) to allow me to create sophisticated arena geometry easily and efficiently. Waiting for this release to focus on arena updates was smart from a development viewpoint, but terrible from a promotional one.

DnD_Multiplayer_635x357

The landscape backdrop doesn’t help either (it was done in about an hour-and-a-half right before a previous convention).

So what we were left with was drab multiplayer arenas, and singleplayer arenas that were recolors of the multiplayer artwork. Hoping people will look at your unfinished graphics and transpose your vision onto them is a losing prospect.

Bad Timing. We initially intended to run our Kickstarter back in June, but the time spent keeping the game in a playable state for each public event took away from development of the Kickstarter project (in addition to the art development). By Autumn we still weren’t ready but were quickly running out of cash.

October through November became a death march as I frantically implemented new player art, prepared for the next convention, added bosses for the singleplayer, recorded/edited footage for a video, and created imagery, gifs, and copy for the Kickstarter. The earliest we could get it all done was the week before Thanksgiving. So here we are, running a project that spans the peak of the Christmas gift-buying season.

We wanted to show the game at a convention during the Kickstarter campaign, but having one the weekend it went live pulled all our time away from making any sort of online push over those first few crucial days. The project launched a little past noon on a Thursday, then I went right back into fixing the game build for the show, followed by packing for the weekend. We got up early Friday and headed out for the show, leaving the Kickstarter to basically fend for itself.

 

The Takeaways

Going forward, I would like to invest money into some good contract artists to make the graphics more exciting. Once the final art style starts to take form, I will begin the long process of promoting the game everywhere I can to build up fan interest. We intend to take our time with the game, and won’t rush its development, so that one day when it is ready for release it will be the best game it can be.

The “Dukes and Dirigibles” Kickstarter has launched!

It’s official! We’ve put together a Kickstarter project to seek funding so we can afford to finish developing Dukes and Dirigibles for a Steam release.

Please see the project page linked above to view all the nitty gritty details, but in short, we have been updating the game to include both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. We’ve shown the multiplayer off at a few public events, and have had a ton of fun with guests who have given it a try.

Blue Singleplayer 03 - Scaled66p

 

Our KS video includes the theme song “Put Up Your Dukes” by Professor Elemental, and we think it is rather lovely. In fact, backers can even choose a reward tier that includes the theme song before its public release.

We hope everyone will take a peek at the project, and let others know to check it out as well!

Indie Dev Diary on DoubleUpGaming

DoubleUpGaming recently gave us the opportunity to write an “Indie Dev Diary” entry detailing the types of things we do on a day-to-day basis as indie developers. We focused on our efforts to put together a booth for the TooManyGames convention in June. Since the diary was published after the convention, we were able to add in a few of our experiences/observations.

We also filmed nearly three minutes of Snapchat video. It is quite silly. :)

You can view the diary entry here!

The Banner Arrived

We just purchased a company banner! We have a few events that we will be going to this year. Since, we have to decorate our booths at these shows we figured it is about time that we have an official company banner with the Backward pieS logo on it. Probably something every Indie Dev Company should own. We will have demos of our games Let There Be Life and Dukes and Dirigibles. You can learn more about the demos we will be attending on our events page. Here is a picture of our Banner. CGwqKGDWQAEJPMS

Full Steam Ahead!

We are happy to announce that Let There Be Life will be available on Steam this Friday (February 13th, 2015) at noon EST!

You can find its store page here.

The Windows build will incorporate many of the updates we added to the mobile version, including streamlined tutorials, a more open level structure, and enhanced procedural generation of branches. Not only that, but we are now supporting Mac as well. :)

If you already purchased Let There Be Life from a different storefront, you will be able to download the latest version from there as well. Or, if you prefer, we will be uploading keys for Steam copies of the game to those storefronts so you can add it to your Steam library at no extra cost.

Exciting times!

Hacked! :(

We’d like to apologize to anyone who has gotten malware warnings for trying to visit our website over the past two weeks. Seems someone hacked into our site through Worpress, so we had to pull everything down and add things back bit-by-bit (not like, computer bits, that would take forever!). After that, we needed to have Google review the site to remove the warning.

So right now, chunks of the site are still missing because we pulled out all the WordPress plugins we had been using (for things like image galleries). Our domain host told us that most hacking attempts go through the plugins, because they may not be secure.

Please bear with us while we reconstruct the site!

“Let There Be Life” now available for Android

It took months of porting work to refine  the touch controls (and make a few additions), but Let There Be Life is now out on Android!

Google Play Store
Amazon App Store

The game actually released a couple weeks ago, but we couldn’t even announce here it because we haven’t been able to get into WordPress (obviously, that is all sorted out now :).

We’re really proud of the Android release – playing the game on a touchscreen feels really natural. As part of the porting process, we got (and in some cases needed) to make some additions:

– Multitouch support
– View-scrolling
– Left-handed mode
– Daytime cycle for the background
– Post images of finished trees to Twitter and Facebook!

It sounds like a cliche, but if you enjoyed the Windows version Let There Be Life, we think you’re going to love it on mobile. :)

Waiting and Updating!

Let There Be Life Mobile

Let There Be Life Mobile

On May 14th we submitted the mobile version of Let There Be Life to IndieCade with the possibility of being chosen for IndieCade’s showcase at E3.

“The IndieCade Festival is the biggest independent game celebration in the nation. This premiere event is held each October in the Los Angeles Area and is open to the industry and to the public. IndieCade offers a unique opportunity to play and preview the latest innovative indie games of all types and rub shoulders with the creators of the newest games, as well as legends from across the industry.”

E3 is the world’s premier trade show for computer and video games and related products. The show is owned by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies, publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet.”

We have been assigned a juror, and now we are waiting to hear back if we are going to be one of the games featured in the festival. We can’t help feeling a little anxious, because our game and our all hard work are being judged. To pass the time and to kill nervous energy we have been busy updating our submission. We have until June 15th to keep updating.

The great thing about updating our submission is that each update we make gets us one step closer to the finished mobile port.

So fingers crossed, here is to hopefully getting into the festival! And even if we are not chosen to be in the festival we will have the mobile version of our game near completion, which is good too. :)