Briefly Looking Back Before Charging Forward

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.

Looking Back on 2013

While Drifter is still in steady development, and development may be taking longer than I would have hoped, I am happy that I was able to release an early access version of the game in May to my Kickstarter backers and through the Humble Widget and that feedback so far has been incredibly positive. Everyone that has been playing the game seems to be enjoying it so far and that definitely helps offset the irrational feelings of doubt that can sometimes creep in from time to time, especially during such a protracted development process.

In addition to that I want to take a moment to thank the people who have been supporting the development of the game both emotionally and financially. You have all been so generous and patient as I move towards completing the game and that means a lot to me. Drifter is not a small game by any means even as I work diligently on keeping the scope from exploding beyond my ability to complete it, but I am appreciative that people would prefer the game be done right rather than rushed along based on some sort of arbitrary timeline (even if it’s my own arbitrary timeline :)).

Probably one of the most exciting things to have happened in 2013 is that Sven Bergström joined Celsius Game Studios as Technical 3D Artist and its first full-time employee! Sven has been working hard on a ton of art assets from spaceships and equipment icons, to space stations and their interiors. He’s got a lot on his plate here but he’s been doing a fantastic job of dramatically improving the game’s existing visuals as well as introducing awesome new art, especially the soon-to-be-integrated station interiors which I feel will help add a new level of immersion to the game.

A roadblock that I’m glad to have behind us is getting Drifter through Steam Greenlight late last year. As both the lead developer and lead shameless self-promoter for the company it was a difficult six months of balancing promoting the game on Greenlight to get it on Steam as well as trying to get work done on the game at the same time. Thankfully that’s all behind us now and we can just focus on finishing the game and getting it out there but it was definitely six months that could have been spent more productively.

Finally I’m pretty happy to say that between the Kickstarter and the Humble Widget Drifter has generated close to $100,000 in sales as of the end of 2013! After you factor out various processing fees and costs for stuff like backer rewards it kinda diminishes it a teeny bit it’s still a nice milestone and I’m ecstatic with the direction things have been headed.

Charging Forward Into 2014

With 2014 beginning in earnest I’m hoping to have Drifter 0.5.0 ready to go before January is out and finally up on Steam Early Access for Windows, Mac and Linux with keys for everyone who has backed the game on Kickstarter and though the Humble Widget. While there’s a fair amount of stuff I’d like to see in the game before I call it “1.0” I feel that 0.5.0 will help flesh out the existing gameplay and give everyone a lot more fun stuff to play with while we continue to fill our “little” sandbox with all sorts of neat things for everyone to dig into.

It’s my hope that in the next 2-3 months after that we’ll be closing in on the dreaded 1.0 release of the game and we’ll finally be able to release the much anticipated iOS version at the same time as the 1.0 desktop version. As I have said before my biggest regret with the delays the game has suffered is that I can’t rightfully release an “Early Access” version on the App Store so people waiting to play on iOS have been completely unable to play the game on their platform of choice. Thankfully the light is at the end of the tunnel and hopefully you won’t have to wait much longer but rest assured I have not forgotten about you!

Lastly, but not least, while I did sort of let the cat out of the bag on Twitter over the holidays, I’d like to officially announce that Drifter will be coming to the Playstation Vita and Playstation 4 sometime in 2014! I’m not sure of the exact schedule because my focus right now is still on delivering a completed 1.0 Drifter to desktop Kickstarter backers because I kinda owe them the game at this point and to iOS folks because I’ve long since promised an iOS version. That said, the people at Sony, especially Nick Suttner, have been nothing but excellent to deal with and as someone who once desperately wanted a Net Yaroze to make his own PS1 games I’m thrilled to be able to bring Drifter to Playstation later this year!

So, while 2014 has only just started it really does feel like it’s going to be a monumental year for myself and Celsius Game Studios and while a lot of exciting things have already happened it still feels like so much more lies ahead! I also can’t thank everyone who has helped support me along the way enough. I honestly wouldn’t be here without you!