Category Archives: business

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Yup, it’s true, the much-awaited sequel to the 200,000+ selling Indie Strategy game Gratuitous Space Battles, is finally on sale. Hurrah! This has taken us twenty months to make, involved a complete redesign and re-engineering of the graphics engine, numerous changes, improvements and fixes, not least the fact that the game now lets you design the look of the ships from scratch AND has steam workshop support, achievements, trading cards and so on. Plus it has one-click easy to use multiple-monitor support, which I HIGHLY recommend. Behold: the cheesy trailer:

The game has been in beta a while, so its hopefully vaguely playable by now! Big thanks to all the beta testers, and of course everybody who worked on the game. You can grab it from a variety of sources, and I’m just going to flat out assume all of their buy links are active right now…so here we go:




Of course the world is a different place now to when GSB1 was released. Who knows how well this one will do? Will anybody like it? One of my biggest fears is people assuming it wont run on their PC. It will! Its actually not *that* demanding. And if you happen to have two monitors you OWE it to yourself to grab it :D. So please do it, help me feed my cats! And if you like the game, PLEASE review it on steam, or wherever you buy it, tweet about it, tell all your friends. And your enemies :D. If you are someone who makes youtube lets-play videos, I hereby give you permission to use the game in your videos, and to monetize those videos, this is fine with me. The more video footage of the game the better. (The battles look much better in motion than as screenshots).

If you want more information / screenshots / wallpaper head over to the official site. Press inquiries welcome to cliff@positech.co.uk.

If you are not already aware, Gratuitous Space Battles 2 will be released on April 16th, this coming Thursday. This is scary stuff. People who are working on their first indie game may suspect that after you have shipped a dozen of them, you become more relaxed and laid back about it, but absolutely not. It always both exciting AND terrifying. The benefit of having some games ‘under your belt’ is that¬† if the game totally bombs, you can at least know that you *have* made some decent selling games, and thus you don’t feel like a complete failure. However, the downside is, that you have likely scaled up both your production and ambitions, and expectations, so you are setting yourself up for a bigger fall if it flops.

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Conventional wisdom in media circles is to never admit to a flop, so you don’t get to read about them, but we have all had them. Gratuitous Tank Battles definitely made a profit, but comparatively, it was a flop. Check out it’s steam spy entry compared with the first gratuitous space battles. (Not accurate data, but you get the idea)…

My plan to make GSB2 a success, apart from the obvious and ‘I think we can assume that’ strategy of ‘making the best game possible’ is basically to minimize reasons for people ‘not’ to buy it.

For example, some people might not buy it because its not in their language, but I’ve hopefully reduced that by translating to French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch. (Others *may* follow). Some people may not buy it because they don’t run windows, but again I hope to eliminate that by porting to Mac & Linux (I *hope* these will be ready by Thursday). Another reason people may give is that they don’t think the game will run on their PC, but I’ve gone to great lengths to both optimize the game big-time, and also include a plethora of graphical options to ensure people can streamline the game down to whatever graphics capabilities their PC supports.

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And yet another reason is that people have their preferred store, but I am hopefully mitigating that by being on Steam, GoG, Humble store and direct. The others are too small to be worth the accounting hassle tbh.

Of course, thats all well and good, but the reason 99% of people don’t buy your game is because they don’t know it exists. I am *still* running an ongoing facebook campaign promoting democracy 3, and every few days I see a comment on the ad saying ‘whoah this looks interesting’ and I wonder where on earth these people have been hiding! There are a LOT of people out there.

So with that in mind, I have a big scary ad-campaign budget primed for GSB2. Hopefully you will see an ad somewhere, if you are vaguely in the target demographic.¬† And don’t email saying ‘why not advertise with us’. I’m more aware of ad opportunities than most. If I didn’t email you, I’m not choosing that as an ad option thanks :D

 

Soooo…I went to rezzed, which was cool for two days and then I just wanted it to ENDDDDDDDD. I get very burned out by shows. I could talk at length about how I was one of the chosen 0.00001% who got to try Valves new VR thing, and how it is just awesome and even better than the one I saw last year, but you know all that kind of thing anyway, and nobody will believe me until they try it…

I’ve been back working in GSB2 land since then, tweaking, adjusting, bug fixing and generally doing the 101 jobs you have to do before shipping. The current projected shipping date for GSB2 is April 16th. before then I need the trading cards set up, final bugs squashed, French,German and Spanish translations done and integrated, Linux & Mac ports done (hopefully), the final release trailer done, and some missing stuff like medium & hard difficulty enemies set up, plus default ship designs for every ship (only some are done so far). Plus those missions need some more interesting starting restrictions (something planned for today). With any luck, all that will be done by release day. Yay!

I’ve been advertising on twitter lately, with both GSB (a bit) and Democracy 3 (a lot). I got a few people complaining that they saw the ad too many time, which seems nuts because I have selected a very large group of people to target, and they shouldn’t really have seen it twice. I pestered twitter who said ‘you don’t need to limit frequency, our algorithm does that’ to which I had to refrain from replying ‘Sack your fucking programmer then’. The thing is, if you write an app that hooks into the twitter API they have a variable to set the frequency, so as usual, the front line customer service rep knows fuck all about their own product, and as usual (as with google, facebook…) I am more informed about their advertising delivery system than they are. Grrrr…

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Apologies if you see an ad from me too many times. You can always just click ‘dismiss’.

And on that topic…why do people get so annoyed at seeing a promoted tweet. Twitter is a business. Businesses need to pay their staff and server costs. If you really object to twitter ads, ask for a refund…oh wait.

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There is an argument that twitter should allow ad-free subscription service too, but they don’t, and frankly that isn’t my fault :D. Ho hum. I guess if people think they see too much promotion from me now they may have to go hide in a cave when I release GSB2 :D

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Sooo… because making decent mac & linux ports, and translating into French German and Spanish takes so long…I’ve put back my target release date for GSB2 to …

April 16th

Which is a pain, but on the plus side it does mean that I have more time to be careful about stuff like final mission and hull balancing, optimizing and polishing and general improvements. Plus it means I’ll have steam trading cards on launch day. I’m also hoping for a simultaneous Steam/Humble/GoG launch.

With that on the horizon, today is patch day to version 1.19. what has changed I hear you cry? Here are the highlights:

1) New more helpful text displays instead of ‘no effect’ in battle.
4) Improved tabbed interface with more data for the end-battle stats.
9) Simplified system for quickly and simply posting a ship design as a steam workshop submission added after saving a ship design.

(and obviously lots of minor tweaks & fixes).

I’m hoping the one-click posting of ship designs will work, and be cool. It *might* not work for anyone but me until the game is officially steam-launched, not sure TBH.

In other news, tomorrow I head off here:

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That’s London. Hopefully there will be less cybermen and more gamers as I will be at REZZED showing off both Gratuitous Space Battles and Big Pharma, with the help of Tim from Twice Circled. COME TRY OUR GAMES. With any luck GSB2 will have dual monitors. Plus if you have a youtube channel and want some content, come interview us. We are photogenic and literally ooze charisma. We have boxes of leaflets (mine are printed wrongly because I’m a dork, so they seem to read backwards or in some funny order. I am too busy to care),

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and boxes of badges. The GSB2 ones printed weirdly, again, I’m stupid, but the Big Pharma ones are cool. Tim *may* have jelly beans.

So please come along on Thursday Friday or Saturday and enjoy the show! Also I have a new phone. I may do some exciting live-tweeting from the show floor!!!!111oneoneone.

 

 

GDC thoughts from 2015

March 07, 2015 | Filed under: business

Ahhh…the indie life, so summed up by sitting here in the first class British Airways lounge at the airport eating unlimited free m&ms. (I don’t fly first class, but I looked very British, and there was no hot water for tea…so they bumped me up).

Another year, another GDC. Let me muse on what I have learned. Because of the way my mind works, lets put the lessons in list form…

1) GDC is big. Bigger than ever I suspect. There are a lot of developers out there. If ever you start to worry about all those releases of new games on steam, wait until you physically see all those developers in one city. There is a LOT of competition out there. A crazy amount. My personal theory is that at least 20% of the indie devs at the show are burning through savings and losing money. For ones doing mobile games, I’d guess 50%. There are too many games, not enough *paying* players, especially on mobile.

2) GDC and its ilk are still a bit of a stressful nightmare if you are shy and introverted or don’t know many other developers yet. By any objective standard I failed at networking. I met 2 journalists for interviews, that’s it. I didn’t hustle, I didn’t introduce myself to loads of people, I totally forgot peoples names, I didn’t tell anyone about my game. I did drink lots of wine and ate sushi, so that was good.

3) Giving talks is great, but you feel like jumping under a bus just before you speak. The good thing is people then know who you are and have something to say to you, which fixes 2) slightly.

4) Big companies have more money than they can count and are throwing it at attempts to hire new developers. This is strange, as to me it is the flipside of the struggling smaller devs. There seem to be huge companies earning crazy money, and lots of indies eating noodles, and maybe just a handful in-between the two. The phrase ‘get big or go home’ comes to mind, alongside ‘arggghhhhh’.

5) I am so behind on graphics tech. I went to some directx12 talks and Vulkan (GL) talks and didn’t understand half the terminology, let lone what was being revealed. I should probably jump from dx9 to 12, or to vulkan eventually. Still, I prefer being l33t at DX9 than a n00b at dx12. The talks really made me want to jump into optimizing and expanding on the GSB2 tech once it’s had its initial release.

6) There is a limit to how many m&ms a man can eat before feeling sick, and it really does sneak up on you.