Category Monstrum

Creature Feature II

Category: Monstrum Comments: 5 comments

Here’s some more new creature art, originally posted over on the Facebook page.

You’ve probably also noticed that the site has a new look. An overhaul was long overdue, and I’m not completely happy with this one yet– but it’s better. I still need to go through and refresh the actual content on the pages.

 

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Putting the Pieces in Place

Category: Monsters' Den: GodfallMonstrum Comments: 10 comments

Things have been quiet again, at least publicly. As well as working on development, I’ve been trying to figure out everything I need to have in place to formally “announce” (or re-announce) the game.

For an indie developer targeting the PC, the importance of getting on Steam really cannot be overstated. In almost all cases, not being on Steam will doom your game to obscurity and failure. To test the waters, I created a Greenlight Concept page for Godfall. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response so far, and it’s settled into a decent chart position in Concepts, without any promotion from me at all (I haven’t previously posted the link here or to social media).

That’s great, as far as it goes. But Concepts is not “real” Greenlight, and votes there don’t ultimately count towards getting your game listed on Steam. The success of the final Greenlight campaign is so important that I’m terrified of screwing it up. I need to be ready, and so I need to:

  • Get the game into an attractive state. At the very least I need to be able to generate screenshots and videos that I’m proud of, but a playable demo would be ideal.
  • Have good promo material. This overlaps with the previous one.
  • Continue to grow the game’s social media presence. This is something I can do now, to ensure I can get back in touch with people when their attention will really count.
  • Improve press contacts. This is a problem because working in Flash for so long made me complacent. In Flash you don’t have to hustle to get eyes on your game, the portal’s do it for you. I’ve had years of good opportunities to work on this and I’ve squandered them.
  • Get a better web presence. If I start getting publicity and more eyes on the game, I need to be able to make a good impression. Redesigning this website will be a priority. I would also love to be able to get a couple of URLs related to the game, but I’m not willing to pay what the squatters are asking. Even negotiating with them makes me furious.

If I managed to accomplish all of that, the time will definitely be right to throw everything I have behind a Greenlight campaign.

However, there’s also the real possibility that my money won’t stretch far enough to do what I need to, and I may have to consider crowdfunding. That’s a scary prospect for me. I’d really prefer to avoid it if I can, and thankfully I still have a while before I have to decide one way or the other. It can be a great generator of publicity, though, and that might end up even more pivotal than the money. If I do have to seek crowdfunding, it would probably be worth starting Greenlight early to run in parallel.

This was a bit of a boring business-y update, but that’s my life at the moment. Here’s a picture to make up for it– the kind of heartwarming, truly emotionally affecting moment that you can only get from Monsters’ Den.

 

art_skeletons

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Recent Events

Category: Monstrum Comments: 6 comments

I’m trying to breathe a little more life into the Facebook page, so I’ve been posting some new artwork there. Check it out if you haven’t already.

So what’s happened lately? I went to GDC, got sick, had a birthday.

Nobody cares, what’s happening with Godfall? Well, for the past month or so I’ve actually been working on something else– a mobile version of Monsters’ Den.

People have often asked me when it’s coming to mobile. What you may not know is that over the years there have actually been three different attempts to outsource it, which have all fizzled out or failed for various reasons. What I’ve realized is that if I want it done properly, I’ll have to do it myself– and before now I haven’t been prepared to take that on.

Last month I finally decided to have a play around, and experiment with what was possible using AIR. And after a few false starts and confusing dead ends, it worked surprisingly well. There’s still a significant amount of work needed to optimize the performance and redo the UI to properly support the screen size(s) and touch interface, but I’m more excited by the prospect than I’ve been before.

I now have to decide whether to push on with the mobile work (which realistically will take at least a couple of months to get right) or get back to working on the next game.

Addendum: The mobile game has been put on the back-burner, and I’m back to Godfall full time. More news soon.

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Suddenly, it was 2013

Category: Monstrum Comments: 32 comments

It’s been a long time between updates, so please accept my usual apologies. Let me fill you in on what’s been happening.

Despite the Roadmap, I managed to go careening off a cliff. Which is to say, things didn’t go to plan. Towards the end of last year I had a long bout of depression which left me questioning not only my willingness to do this type of work, but also my capability. I really started to think that I just didn’t know how to make games any more. It was a bit scary, actually. I think it may have been exacerbated by some design issues I was having with the city builder game I was working on. By the time I came through all that, putting that game on the back-burner seemed like the smartest option, especially as I was getting more excited about Godfall. That city builder is the strategy game I referred to in the Roadmap post, and though it still doesn’t have a name I think it’s a neat idea. I do hope to come back to it one day.

So I’ve been back on Godfall full time for a little while now, and it is exciting. Time has helped clarify some questions I’d never had firm answers to, and the direction and scope of the game is more solid than ever. The amount of work still ahead of me is daunting, and I’ll try to communicate progress better here, like I used to. One thing I may have got right in the Roadmap is that the game does have to come out this year. I don’t have the financial resources to go any longer than that, that’s all the runway I have. It’s an incentive and a challenge and an ulcer in my stomach, all in one.

There is one big question hanging over the game, and that’s whether it should be aimed at the web. Should I release another free, sponsored game, or is it time to try selling it as a download? I do want to make that transition eventually, and this will be by far my biggest game yet. It is a real risk though, and I’m still undecided.

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Flash Gaming Summit

Category: Monstrum Comments: No comments

 

Flash Gaming Summit is coming up again soon, and I will (somehow) again be one of the speakers, on the panel Flash Development Life 2012. The panel will be a wide-ranging discussion on what it means to be a Flash game developer at the moment.

It will be moderated by my friend (and former producer) Ethan Levy from Bioware San Francisco. Also on the panel are Sean McGee (Thing-Thing Arena) and Andrew Sega (Mytheria). If you won’t be able to attend, but have questions for the panel, Ethan has set up a form here where you can submit your own topics for discussion.

Last year was my first taste of doing this sort of thing, and although I was pretty nervous about it I did have a good time. I’m looking forward to this year’s panel.

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Flash Gaming Summit 2011

Category: Monstrum Comments: 17 comments


Next month is the third annual Flash Gaming Summit, in San Francisco. This year I will actually be speaking on the panel Polish: Make Your Games Shine. This is somewhat nerve-wracking for me, but it should be good experience.

The hyper-curious will be able to view streaming video from FGS on the day.

Update: The recording of the session is available here. It’ll be of limited interest to most people, though.

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“Hackers”

Category: Monstrum Comments: 4 comments

Today I noticed all of the obnoxious advertising that had appeared all over the site. Rest assured, I didn’t put it there. Embarrassingly, I didn’t notice until now because of my browser’s ad-blocker– I didn’t bother disabling it here, because I knew my own site had no ads! Well, originally.

To fix it, I had to take the site down and pretty much reinstall it from scratch. The database has been cleaned up, the security hole has been addressed, and their ad code has been reported to the ad provider. Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen again– I would have preferred to spend my day actually working on the game.

I haven’t set up the forum again yet, I’ll do it tomorrow (no posts will be lost.)

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Godfall Report: September 2010

Category: Monsters' Den: GodfallMonstrum Comments: 18 comments

It’s been a lighter month, work-wise, as I spent two weeks on holiday back home in New Zealand.

At the moment, I’m overhauling and streamlining the way quests and locations are generated. I’m also still struggling to get some elements of the fiction and geography nailed down. It’s turning out to be more difficult than I realized.

Have a look at a couple of the new item properties:

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Doing It In Public

Category: Monstrum Comments: 10 comments

First of all, I’m sorry about the infrequent updates lately.

Truth be told, it’s not always easy to find something to post. There’s a lot I’d like show or tell you about, but it turns out I have a strong aversion to publicly showing things before they’re finished. This is, naturally, a bit of a problem when you’re trying to be more open about your development process. The thought of someone seeing placeholder art or WIP UI elements and thinking less of the game for it bothers me. But plenty of other developers manage it, so I’ll see if I can start scraping together some more actual gameplay shots for you in future.

Another thing that comes up a lot is the release date for the game: to be blunt, I don’t have one. The most specific I’ve ever gotten is “2010”, and I’m still hoping I won’t end up a liar about that. One of the great things about being an independent is being free of externally-imposed deadlines, and being free to take as long the game needs. This is a big game, much more complex than the previous ones. And I’m working hard.

I’ll put up a new character art preview soon.

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Forum

Category: Monstrum Comments: 5 comments

By request, I’ve added a forum plugin on a trial basis. I’m not sure how well it works, or if it’s even set up correctly, so if you use it let me know.

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