Some Thoughts About Launching A Game

Woohoo, I launched a game! Someone bought a copy! Success!

Okay so, first thing's first, the launch sale on Steam is over, so the game is full price there. However, since is a ridiculously awesome platform I decided to extend the launch sale there for another week. So you get the game for 10% off (which, I know, is only 40 cents, but still) plus you still get a Steam key (if you want). Everybody wins there as far as I'm concerned! Also I highly recommend using itch's desktop app which is super fast and will keep your games up to date.

A Game Was Launched (And Patched)!

Weird! It got launched, some people bought it. Most people seem to like it, or at least they think it's hard, which it is. More than two people (not counting myself) seem to be playing the Daily Challenge. It got a nice little mention on and was subsequently picked up by a French gaming site.

I also patched the game! Not quite zero day but I did want to show my commitment to adding stuff post-launch. Someone was nice enough to give me a "recommended" review on Steam (still the only one) but they mentioned that they didn't like how the HUD overlapped the map. There's not a super elegant solution to this due to how the game is written, but I added a "compact" HUD as a compromise of sorts. I also added Steam achievements, which I would have added much sooner had I known they would be so easy to add. They were one of the things I decided to cut in order to call the game "done" and get it out but they definitely could have been added.

Some Thoughts

Obviously the game hasn't been what one might consider a commercial success. I have managed to make back the Steam submission fee, but I'm not going to be able to quit my job from the earnings. If I can make enough to pay back the submission fee and pay for the next game's fee (whenever that is) that would be pretty cool though. I'm in a fortunate place where I have steady income from my day job and I don't need game sales to pay bills or anything.

From a sales perspective, I didn't really have huge expectations for this game. It's pretty low-fi and doesn't do much to wow you when you see screenshots or even video. That's by design (and necessity) since I did all of the art myself. I think it's cute and mostly well done but I'm certainly not going to win any artistic or pixel art awards. The game itself is also kind of in a weird grey area as a game. It's meant to be a simplified version of very complex rougulikes such as Brogue or ADOM (or uh, Rogue) which theoretically lowers the barrier to entry. However it's still quite difficult so the relief only comes in how long it takes to play a single game. You fail fast, which means you can fail more often, but you still need to learn how everything works and plan ahead a reasonable amount.

I don't know what all that means, it's just kind the way it is. Sometimes you have a goal like "a roguelike with simplified systems and mechanics", thinking that makes it more accessible, but then by necessity you can't get away from the difficulty that comes with those types of games. On top of that, would this game actually be fun if it wasn't difficult? If you spent 10 or 15 minutes creeping through the levels and beat it almost every time you played, that would be pretty boring. What makes roguelikes interesting is that failure is the default. You're going to fuck up and lose all of your progress and that's just the type of games they are. Overcoming failure and escaping against the odds are what I think makes roguelikes appealing to most fans of the genre.

That all said, I could probably sell a few more copies. Reaching an audience is the most difficult thing about selling a game. I emailed a few sites, but only posted about it. That's fine, since there are a ton of other games to cover and the coverage benefits me much more than them at this point. I'm completely unknown in the gaming space and my connections are pretty sparse. I can (and probably still will) email more sites. I've also targeted a couple of streamers who might enjoy the game, so we'll see where that goes. It's also entirely likely I've sold the majority of copies I'll ever sell, which is fine too. The important part of this process, for me, has been actually finishing and releasing the thing.

What's Next?

There are a couple fairly minor changes I want to make to the game. I don't quite think I want to re-balance the late game, but I do think I want to attempt to add a couple tweaks that might improve quality of life. On a bigger scale I'd like to release a Linux version. It should be fairly easy once I get a VM up and running and can properly test it. I'm also working on a Mac App Store version, which is mostly because I paid the Apple Developer Program fee so I may as well utilize it. It's been a pain to get all the code signing stuff working, but I'll probably get there eventually.

That's it for now; thanks for reading. More updates and blog posts are probably coming. I do eventually want to start on a new game (which probably won't be a turn-based roguelike) but I'm taking a small break for now. I also signed up for the 7 Day Roguelike Challenge (again) which starts on March 2nd. Hopefully I don't spend four years on that one!