My videogame came out yesterday. And if that’s not shocking enough for you, try out this factoid: It continues to be out. You could even buy it for money if you wanted.
Last week we did a hangout where Josh streamed the game. If you missed the event, here’s the archive:
Sorry I sound so crappy. At the time, I thought I was getting over a cold. But no. It turned out I was just in the early stages, and it was about to get ten times worse.
I really am on the mend now.
As far as I can tell, the Good Robot launch was a success. There are a few very minor bugs or annoyances that will probably be patched soon. There weren’t any serious, widespread, game-killing bugs, which is what I was worried about. The public response so far has been positive.
The only downside is our release timing. We were very careful. We spent many meeting-hoursThe longest sort of hours. trying to figure out when would be the optimal time to release the game. Our goal was to release when not a lot of other titles were coming out. Usually a new game will get a spot in the fancy rotating banner at the top of the store, and we wanted that momentary glory to last as long as possible. February was too soon. GDC happened in mid-March, so there was no point in trying to get any media attention then. A couple of major tent-pole releases were scattered around the calendar, like landmines. So we picked early April as a good opening where we might be able to make an impression among the never-ending avalanche of indie games that hit the Steam store every week.
And then Valve chose that exact week to launch the Vive, and they made the entire storefront a huge VR showroom. Not only did we not get an extended time in the spotlight, we were actually denied any place at the top of the page. No splash screen. No spotlight in the sales box. Nothing below the splash screen. We were shoved way down the page.
We did manage to briefly appear under top new sellers, but in practical terms, that’s recognition for sales we’d already generated under our own power. It’s not a great way to reach out to people who’ve never heard of the game before.
This was probably the worst possible release date this quarter, and there was no way for us to know that ahead of time. There was no way to know Valve was going to give their storefront over to VR. Releasing opposite high-end hardware sounds like a safe bet. But even if we’d broken into the Valve offices and stole their secret storefront plans, it wouldn’t have done us any good. We picked this release date two months ago and we’d made trailers and web pages and marketing and press releases, all trumpeting the April 5 release date.
I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe being on top of the Steam page wouldn’t have done anything for us. But there’s no way to know for sure, and now it’s going to eat at me forever.
 The longest sort of hours.
Who Broke the In-Game Economy?
Why are RPG economies so bad? Why are shopkeepers so mercenary, why are the prices so crazy, and why do you always end up a gazillionaire by the end of the game? Can't we just have a sensible balanced economy?
Are Lootboxes Gambling?
Obviously they are. Right? Actually, is this another one of those sneaky hard-to-define things?
The Plot-Driven Door
You know how videogames sometimes do that thing where it's preposterously hard to go through a simple door? This one is really bad.
Pixel City Dev Blog
An attempt to make a good looking cityscape with nothing but simple tricks and a few rectangles of light.
How I Plan To Rule This Dumb Industry
Here is how I'd conquer the game-publishing business. (Hint: NOT by copying EA, 2K, Activision, Take-Two, or Ubisoft.)