So it’s been four weeks since we launched Drifter on Steam Early Access and I figured it might be worthwhile posting about our experience launching there. The short version is it’s definitely been a very positive experience so far and assuming that we can continue to grow interest in the game while we work on it this will be the best year yet for Celsius Game Studios.
I had originally meant to post this on my birthday a few days ago but a blizzard over the weekend with record cold temperatures followed by rolling blackouts necessitated by a sharp increase in demand on our electrical system and then ultimately a province-wide blackout for a few days kinda put a damper on any computer-related activities such as blogging.
That said, instead of New Years Eve, my birthday occasionally becomes a focal point of my life where I reflect on how things are going and look to the future. I think most importantly my impending 30th birthday, four years ago, became the catalyst that drove me down the path to creating Celsius Game Studios and attempting to follow my dream of creating my own video game company. While the road has been bumpy at times the journey overall has been great so far and despite occasional slowdowns and setbacks it feels like 2014 is poised to be an amazing year.
It’s been about two months since I put my game Drifter up on Steam Greenlight and it’s been going okay with the game having received nearly 10,000 yes votes and the ratio of yes to no votes is pretty much even, which is probably not all that bad for a niche space trading game. If you ask me, anyway.
It’s been a while since I last blogged, as I’ve been quite busy working on Drifter; both the game and the physical rewards for Kickstarter. Many of which, I might add, have already been produced and sent off to my backers. Also a close family member was diagnosed with cancer over the summer and that threw me for a bit of a loop so things have been a bit out of sorts, however while they’re not out of the woods yet things are looking very promising. So in an attempt to return to some level of normalcy I’m going to try and get back to my “hectic” one-blog-a-month-or-so schedule.
So, as you may be aware, I launched a Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming space trading game Drifter a little over a week ago and it’s gone quite well indeed. As of the writing of this post, it’s nearly 70% of the way to its $50,000 goal, and while it’s not over yet, I’m cautiously optimistic that it will meet that goal by the end of the campaign. Even so, a few people have expressed some surprise about the campaign’s performance, and with only 45% of all campaigns succeeding and just 25% of video game campaigns meeting their goals, who would blame them? To be honest, I wasn’t even sure how well it was going to do! Pleasantly surprising performance aside, I must admit this is something I’ve been planning to do since late last year, and a lot of thought and preparation has gone into it which is why I’d like to share some of those thoughts here.
I’m really excited to unveil something that I’ve wanted to have for Drifter for a while now. An official poster, done in a retro sci-fi novel cover/movie poster style. It’s been created by the incredibly talented illustrator Steve Courtney, and I can honestly say I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.
I’m making a very (very) limited run of 18″x24″ archival-quality wide-format prints to take with me to GDC 2012 (in less than two weeks!). I’ll have to think of some clever way to distribute them, assuming anyone actually wants one 😉 Chances are you won’t be able to get one of these, however, I have something special in store to announce sometime after GDC which should see them get a wider distribution.
Anyway, without further ado, here you go:
The other day I rediscovered a cookie recipe my mother used to make often when I was a small child, but I distinctly remember not liking them or at least thinking I didn’t like them so I never actually really had one until a few weeks ago. When I bit into the first one I briefly toyed with the idea of building a time machine for the sole purpose of hitting my younger self upside the head for being so picky and missing out on a lifetime of enjoying what is surely the Cookie of the Gods.
I was talking briefly on Twitter the other day about how I was using polymorphism in C++ to handle different types of AI in Drifter and someone suggested I should make a blog post about it. As I’ve been wanting to post something new for a while, I figured why not!
I apologize in advance if this is not the Right Way to do this, but it works, and that’s the main thing. Also I reference C++ but any object-oriented language that supports sub-classing should be able to implement something similar.
I posted a tweet yesterday which offered some advice concerning finishing games:
How to finish a game: get part way through a project, get an awesome idea for another game, ignore it and finish the one you’re working on.
It ended up getting retweeted quite a few times, so I guess it kind of struck a chord with people. With that in mind I got to thinking about other barriers to completing games I’ve encountered over the years and figured it would make a good blog post.
Having tried to start this whole game development thing once before in the late 90’s, I’ve done quite a few things that have derailed me from actually completing a game. When I started again in 2009, I knew I had to avoid all of these pitfalls in order to actually get a game out the door, so that was my biggest priority, actually finishing a game. I’ve finished 2 games since then, and I’m on my way to completing my 3rd, so hopefully this advice may prove useful to you as well.
Business oriented people that mostly care about money have discovered that the videogame industry generates a lot of money. They have embraced this concept with gusto, creating games that effectively amount to nothing more than psychologically engineered treadmills disguised as toys that force game players to pay money to keep playing. This is upsetting to many people, and understandably so. But instead of realizing that this is an inevitable, if unfortunate, evolution in any popular medium quite a few vocal individuals are wringing their hands and shaking their heads, proclaiming that this is surely the death of videogames as we know them.
Frankly, this line of thought is a festering load of dingo’s kidneys. The videogame is a medium, not entirely unlike the motion picture, and just because Michael Bay is releasing Explosions 4: Revenge of Explosions next summer doesn’t mean that Francis Ford Coppola will never be able to direct a movie again in his life.
Yes it kinda sucks, and yes people have a right and even duty to point out that it sucks, why it sucks, and how they think they can make things better, but it’s not going away and neither are the kinds of videogames that helped to define and continue to define this industry. That is unless we stop making them, but whose fault would that be?
Addendum: Just to clarify, there’s nothing inherently wrong with making games as a business (I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do after all) and there’s nothing particularly wrong with the free-to-play business model. Just like everything else in life, this is not a black and white issue. All I’m ranting against here is this idea that videogames are all of a sudden dead because a certain (tiny) subset of the industry is carrying out business in a way that people find questionable.