Announcing Shadowhand

September 14, 2015 | Filed under: business | shadowhand

Soooo. Veteran blog readers may know I/We published (but did not develop) Redshirt and that more recently we also published Big Pharma. Well stand back and be amazed (or should that be stand and deliver?) because I’m about to announce the next game we are publishing is…..*drumroll*



So whats all this then? Well Shadowhand is a narrative-driven card game. developed by Grey Alien Games, who are the developers of the rather wonderful (and very popular) game ‘Regency Solitaire. Basically I’ve known Jake for many thousands of years. He plays guitar and likes Star Trek, which may not be required in a game pitch, but it can’t hurt. Also, he is very good at game design, especially the whole gameplay/user-experience/balance stuff. Grey Alien Games are basically casual games veterans who are going to bring the accessibility and interface sense of the casual games market to the hardcore gaming crowd. Trust me, I’ve played a lot of incomprehensible indie games on steam, this sort of ‘make sure the game makes sense’ experience is badly needed :D.


It is VERY EARLY days for Shadowhand, but I can tell you this: Set in late 18th Century England, we follow the story of Lady Darkmoor, a beguiling young aristocrat who masquerades as the notorious highwaywoman, ShadowHand. Fleeing a crime scene and forced to act under the cover of darkness, Shadowhand will stop at nothing to retrieve an incriminating family jewel, and in doing so, safeguard a woman she holds dear. Its kind of part visual novel, part collectible card game, and its going to kick highway ass.

Best of all, the game is being debuted (in early,early can we even call this alpha? mode) at EGX in the UK in a place called Birmingham THIS VERY MONTH…at EGX. So if you happen to be going to the show, PLEASE come along to the shadowhand booth and mock Jake and Helen who I am assured will be dressed in rather ridiculous outfits.

For now the placeholder site is at Many more exciting details to follow…


Democracy 3 new update coming

September 11, 2015 | Filed under: business | democracy3

Soo…remember back in the early days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I released a political strategy game called Democracy 3? I do. It was fab. And of course it still is. I’ve rel;eased 3 expansions for the game since its original release, and all have proved to be very popular. After that, I turned towards making Gratuitous Space Battles 2, which took FOREVER, and also worked with Tim from Twice Circled on shipping Big Pharma, a 3rd party title. What this means is that its been a long time since the core Democracy 3 game got any attention, despite being very popular.


I’m working on a patch for Democracy 3 (Plus other stuff…to be revealed in a few months), to fix some issues that have come up, but mostly because revisiting the game with fresh eyes makes me spot a bunch of stuff where my older, wiser self goes ‘why the hell is that dialog so small?’ and ‘why don’t we just show the policies that affect intelligence reports here…?’ and similar stuff. This is not going to be a new expansion, or a sequel, just a patch, that fixes some stuff. I’ll also possibly attempt a little bit of re balancing, and add and tweak a few relationships and effects which should be there but are not.

The biggest change will be new achievements. Personally I love achievements, and I’m adding 12 brand spanking new ones with the upcoming patch. They include some arguably negative achievements, like creating an apathetic electorate and huge inequality. They should be fun things to shoot for :D.


So why do this? I guess I have both business and personal reasons. Personally, I like my games to be as good as I can make them, and there were a few GUI things that bugged me about D3 on second look, so fixing it makes me ‘feel better’ about the game. I know some people enjoy the prototyping phase, but personally I love adding final polish to games, especially GUI-wise. I’ll feel prouder of the game when this patch ships in the next few weeks.

Secondly, as people start building ad-blocking into browsers (seriously…wtf?), and everyone starts happily using adblock, and as the whole system of being able to market games in 2015 collapses into a loud shouty smorgasbord of a million desperate game developers screaming to be heard at the same shows, desperate for coverage by the same youtubers, with price wars escalating to the extent that I’m amazed nobody is offering to pay me to own their games yet…Its pretty clear that one ‘marketing’ technique that still works, is just making a better game, a bigger game, a more feature-packed game, and one people market for you, because the word of mouth is so good.

In short, money (and time) spent on an update for Democracy 3, is kinda good PR. I’m still supporting it, its still getting better, surely thats a good thing. I guess we will find out soon :D

For those who didn’t know, Big Pharma is Developed by Twice Circled, and published by us at positech. About two weeks before the game was launched on steam, we recorded a short interview with Tim about the game, and his influences and being an indie dev. Here it is, in all its high-def GLORY. And don’t forget to go buy the game at

Big Pharma is selling really well, as I hoped it would. It definitely scratches that tycoon/management/strategy itch and makes me think of Rollercoaster Tycoon and similar games. I suspect its going to be pretty popular on youtube once a few big name lets-players notice it :D.

There are no comments yet

Big Pharma Released!

August 27, 2015 | Filed under: big pharma | business

So its that day! The lab management/strategy game Big Pharma, developed by Twice Circled and published by Positech Games is officially released. woohoo! Its now playable in English, German and French on Windows/OSX and Linux. Plus you can now grab it from Steam as well as the Humble Store as well as GoG or direct from us. Hurrah!

Games take a long time to make, and a lot of work, blood, sweat, tears, and debugging. The first time the phrase ‘Big Pharma’ was used between us was on 21st February 2014, and we were going back on forth on ideas and names before then, so its at least eighteen months in development. That may not sound long by the standards of Duke Nukem et al, but it is a long time to stay focused on one game as an indie. Hopefully its going to pay off :D


I’ve released a lot of games, I’ve been doing this for ages, and am in a lucky position that if a game doesn’t do well, I can shake it off, at least theoretically. However, emotionally, you always get wrapped up in anything you work on. Although this is Tims design & code, I also feel like I’ve nailed my name to it quite brightly and obviously. Publishing a game is a bit like getting up on stage in front of 10,000 or 100,000 people and shouting ‘I think this is awesome! whose with me?’, and then waiting to see who cheers. Kinda scary.

Its even more scary these days because most games sales figures are ‘more-or-less’ public on steamspy, and you can see how well a game is doing. Other stores are available, and there is a margin for error…but even so…


One of the scariest things about shipping a game as a publisher is that you have basically placed a bet of somewhere north of a hundred thousand dollars on someone you met 18 months ago…and then on release day, with no guarantee that it was a good bet, you have to double-down on that bet and spend MORE money letting people know about the game, with ads etc. The REALLY scary thing about being an independently owned publisher is that this isn’t shareholders money, its MINE. If I fuck up, I could not only look stupid, but have just lost a bucketful of money as well. This is something that I think British people take to heart more than Americans. In the USA failure is ‘a step on the ladder to success’. in the UK its just failure.

Thankfully Big Pharma is a fucking excellent game that I am myself totally addicted to. I suspect it will do just fine :D.


I have DATA to prove it! For people new to my blog, this is because I’m the developer of Democracy 3, a political strategy game where you play the role of president/prime minister and do what you can to change the country for the better and also stay in power. Its a deep complex strategy game, and also an interesting social experiment because it makes people question their own beliefs, make tough decisions, and often learn to compromise.

One of the interesting aspects of the game is that people almost always play with their own beliefs and morals and attitudes, and are determined to prove that they are ‘right’. The game can be ‘won’ (insomuch as another term in office is considered winning) with any strategy, you can get re-elected as a socialist, a capitalist, a conservative / liberal / religious extremist…it all depends how carefully you play. The game has a built-in ‘political compass’ that plots your election victories so you can see where you were on the capitalist/socialist spectrum and the liberal/conservative spectrum when you win an election. It also shows you the same position for your steam friends (if you opt in to that).

This means that there are two big global ‘leaderboards’ (in the loosest sense) showing every players average position on both those spectra. And harvesting that data and sticking it into a graph gives an interesting picture of how players of Democracy 3 fit into the political compass. First the raw data:


its probably not much of a surprise to see a concentration¬† in the bottom left. Game players are probably on average younger than the average voter, and younger people tend to be both more left wing, and more liberal. it is kind of amazing how many people have tested the limits and somehow burst out of the range entirely on the right and the conservative scale. I can’t imagine what their countries were like on election night :D.

Fading the data so we can see a bit more into the detail of that big blob gives us this next image. it looks like people are more rigidly liberal than they are socialist with plenty of people shifting towards the middle ground on the left/right spectrum.


Blurring yet again gives us this… funny to see a feint diagonal line emerging there. I honestly have no idea where that is coming from.


(Obviously disclaimers apply. Some people may claim its easier to ‘win’ in the game with certain policies, people playing the GoG version have the compass disabled, its only working for people with steam who have not disabled the compass, and only for people who play through to an election victory.) So there you have it, 2015 PC gamer politics in a nutshell :D