Pseudoku: Approved

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 7, 2017

Filed under: Programming 52 comments

The good news is that Pseudoku has been approved on Steam Greenlight. I could technically begin selling the game right now. (Well, after filling out a bunch of paperwork, but you know what I mean.)

The bad news is that I’m not happy with how it runs and I don’t feel comfortable putting it up for sale. I got several complaints from people that it doesn’t run. I don’t have numbers on the failure rate because I didn’t make any effort to track how many people downloaded it, but I’m worried the number is high. The last thing I want is to put this thing up for sale and discover that 20% of the people who pay for it can’t run it.

The worse news is that I spent most of my weekend playing, talking about, reading about, and maybe even writing about Borderlands 2. This means I didn’t work on Pseudoku, and I also didn’t write about Pseudoku.


I’d like to know what the failure rate is. I know Straw Polls are just unforgivably ugly, but they really do seem to be the most reliable free poll out there. So here it is:

I anticipate that some people might want to go back to earlier entries in the series and download the old builds so they can participate in the poll. Just to save you the trip: Don’t bother. I’ve taken them down. They were still being downloaded and it’s really annoying to have this constant trickle of comments and feedback on things I fixed ages ago. I’m content to gather feedback from just the folks who downloaded the game at the time.

Anyway, next week I should have something of more substance to say about the project. Unless I’m still playing Borderlands 2. I’ll let you know how it goes.


From The Archives:

52 thoughts on “Pseudoku: Approved

  1. Content Consumer says:

    I think you might need another option on there:
    “I downloaded it, it didn’t run at first, but after some configuring and/or a patch it ran fine.”

    I mean, if your point is to see whether it runs for few/many/most people, a binary choice (especially considering the wide variety of hardware and software out there) is a little limiting. A middle-of-the-road option will tell you that, at the very least, a bit of fiddling on your part (on a for-sale game, probably better that than on the user’s part) will make it work for the large majority of people.
    Uh. Sorry if that doesn’t make any sense, I’m still half asleep this morning.

    I couldn’t select that one, so I picked “it started just fine” instead.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I’d like yet another poll option for “I couldn’t run it because I don’t run Windows.” :)

      1. Florian says:

        It’s surprisingly adamant about not running on linux, too – when wine didn’t work I tried it in a VM with Windows 10 on it and still no dice…

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Seems like a VM running a full Windows install should have worked. Have you tried it on a real machine running the same version of Windows?

          1. Florian says:

            I don’t have access to one right now. I’ll probably try it a week or so when my new processor arrives and I set up a new system.

        2. gorthol says:

          What error did you get when trying to run with wine? For me, it worked out of the box (in a clean wine prefix), but that’s not really helpful to you.
          If a VM didn’t work, it may be your graphics drivers – what sort of GPU are you using?

          1. Echo Tango says:

            I’m surprised it worked! When I tried, I got missing-DLL errors from Wine. Although I think that was the first build, so maybe a later one worked without any hassle. :)

          2. Florian says:

            My graphics card right now is an old ATI 5750 (gonna upgrade when Vega comes out…); the error in wine looks like this.

            If that error message tells you something useful, please do tell me how – I’ve never managed to glean much from them.

            In the VM (via Virtualbox; fresh install of Windows 10, iso from a couple of days ago) it first complained about lacking msvcp120.dll; after downloading that and placing it in the Pseudoku directory it crashed with a nonspecific error.

            1. gorthol says:

              (Please help correct any bad terminology I may use; I’m new to this.)
              From the registers, it says EIP is 0, so it looks to me like it got a null pointer somewhere, and then tried to jump to that location. The rest of the registers look like they were either constants or pointed to the stack, except for EDI, which looks like it might be a pointer into 7e4a…. which is part of the msvcr120 segment.

              I should put in a disclaimer that the following is a blind guess: try running

              winetricks vcrun2013

              Mostly, I made this guess because it looks like msvcr120 is part of the visual C++ 2013 runtime libraries.

              I should also point out that when I apt-get installed winetricks, it was a very old version. I had to download a newer version from github. You may need to do the same (otherwise, it might claim to not know anything about vcrun2013).

              I should also say that if you put msvcp120.dll in the pseudoku directory, you should probably remove it. I don’t know what the search order is, but it’s better to err on the side of caution (so that it loads msvcp120 from wine instead of from the local dir). This dll should be covered by vcrun2013.

              1. Florian says:

                I tried your advice, but it still didn’t work. : (

                What I did:
                – make a fresh wineprefix (env WINEPREFIX=/where/ever/pseudoku wineboot)
                – copy the program folder directly from Shamus’
                – download the latest winetricks from the official link
                – install vcrun2013 via winetricks (env WINEPREFIX=/where/ever/pseudoku ./winetricks vcrun2013)
                – try to run it (env WINEPREFIX=/where/ever/pseudoku wine ./Pseudoku.exe)


                (Installing the packages winetricks downloaded in the VM didn’t help either.)

                1. gorthol says:

                  Well, I’m at my wit’s end. I’m starting to suspect that we may not even be running the same version of the binary, given that my process entry point doesn’t have the same address as yours, and that my stack doesn’t grow to be the same size as yours (not even close).

                  If there’s a newer version (demo?) where we’re sure we’re both using the same executable, I’ll try to pick this up again. Until then, unless you want to try WINEDEBUG=+relay (warning: this produces a lot of output), there’s not much I can do without being able to reproduce the problem.

            2. Bryan says:

              FWIW that matches the crash I was getting, too. (Also in wine.)

              If I get my machines set up again any time soon I might try the vcrun stuff…

    2. Cybron says:

      Yeah, mine wouldn’t run and then after some finagling I got it to run.

    3. Neil D says:

      Oh right… I actually forgot that it didn’t run the first time I downloaded it, and some helpful soul in the comments gave instructions on how to replace a certain .dll file or other.

      So if that’s been fixed, then keep my “It started just fine” vote, otherwise you need to move one into the “it wouldn’t run” column.

    4. Yeah I agree. Which version of the game are we talking about. Does it include the right MSVC dlls? Does it have the correct openal dll?

  2. SpaceMaster says:

    Have you considered releasing a demo on steam?
    Or *shudder* going into early access?

    Or do those options require you to also sell a possibly-not-working game?

    1. Zoulu says:

      Having a demo on Steam looks like a good way to let buyer try 1 level to make sure everything works.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The last thing I want is to put this thing up for sale and discover that 20% of the people who pay for it can't run it.

    What is this?What kind of an indie dev are you?Putting stuff on steam that has to work for all the customers,what a crazy idea.

    1. Duoae says:

      He’s already broken this rule because he released pseudoku puzzles that actually work! Never mind the programme itself! ;)

      I downloaded what I think was the second build and it worked fine on win7, i5 integrated geforce graphics card. (I can check what it was later if necessary). I could also check it on an old win7 AMD system I have (though I am ashamed to post the specs because people will think I’m crazy).

  4. Flux Casey says:

    Approved? Great! You want people to test to see if it works? Awesome! Umm… Where do I download it? The only link I ever saw for it was the first version you posted that no one could run.

    1. Echo Tango says:


    2. Mistwraithe says:

      Indeed. However, given the goal of selling the game I can see there is a bit of a problem with putting a free download link up now. Catch 22?

  5. Waterloonie says:

    I’ve not been following the Pseudoku evolution very closely, but I got curious and wanted to provide a datapoint. Except I can’t find a link to the app anywhere in the post. Or the previous four posts. Or the one that mentions releasing an early build, but then has an edit saying the early builds have been taken down.

    (edit: Err, yeah, what Flux Casey said just above my comment, I guess)

  6. Yerushalmi says:

    I downloaded one of the first builds and it didn’t work, but I’m wary about participating in the poll because more recent posts involved you fixing that problem. So I don’t know if I should send in my answer, because I don’t know if the newer builds would work fine for me.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Probably would have been more useful to include an as-is, “latest” / “stable” version in today’s post, to make sure everyone’s talking about the same thing in the poll. :)

  7. vdweller says:

    “The last thing I want is to put this thing up for sale and discover that 20% of the people who pay for it can't run it.”

    That’s actually a pretty decent percentage. But not high enough to put you up there with some AAA studios.

  8. Ilseroth says:

    Grats on getting approved! Do they give you any metrics for how many of those people that made their way to pseudoku came from this site? I know on whenever someone accesses one of my games it says what link got them there (so if it’s a ludum dare project, almost all the views are from that website, ect.) Just curious how many people found your project by pure chance and how many were fans of the site.

    I played the last build you made available and as I posted in the poll, it worked fine; and for a lot of the people who didn’t play the last build of it, it worked if the first versions didn’t (well didn’t without downloading random dll files) so keep that in mind before voting in the poll (though you probably did while reading the post like I did) assuming that was your issue.

    Granted it’s now a bit late, but I will put forward again that in my personal opinion, the graphics lack a sense of style. I know you’re a programmer, not an artist; but I also recognize that most people will apply their first judgement purely based off the presentation of the game. Again this is just me, but I think you should spend a bit of your admittedly limited time polishing the visuals sometime before release.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Or spend $50 on some pre-made assets, or rent an artist-friend’s time, or something. I go out of my way to help indies, but even I succumb (sometimes) to the “it looks bland, so why should I play it?” trap. For example, I might not have even started playing Factorio if I hadn’t randomly gone back to a blog post on this website, and decided to download the demo! :)

  9. Syal says:

    I tried several of the versions but never got it running, and seemed to have an error other people hadn’t. Don’t remember what it was now; started with an ‘a’, whatever it was.

    Also Avast freaked out every time I tried to open it, are other antiviruses doing that?

    1. Ilseroth says:

      Well I think most antiviruses freak out at any executable that isn’t by one of their “Registered developers” which of course Shamus isn’t one of. Especially since it is an engine of his own design. It’s actually completely reasonable that an antivirus would be cautious of it.

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    If I could have a download link to the current alpha, I would gladly let you know if it works. I looked and I could only find the page where you helpfully say

    EDIT: Sorry, I have taken down the early builds. It turns out it's really annoying to get bug reports and feature requests for problems that were fixed months ago.

    1. Ilseroth says:

      Or you can read this very article…

      I anticipate that some people might want to go back to earlier entries in the series and download the old builds so they can participate in the poll. Just to save you the trip: Don't bother. I've taken them down. They were still being downloaded and it's really annoying to have this constant trickle of comments and feedback on things I fixed ages ago. I'm content to gather feedback from just the folks who downloaded the game at the time.

      1. Waterloonie says:

        Placing this information after the poll and at the very end of the post runs counter to a number of user experience best practices.

        1. MadTinkerer says:

          It also means I can’t answer accurately. “I didn’t try to run it.” only because I don’t have it.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        so … is the only place to get it from Steam, then?
        (That means I can’t download it)

        1. Echo Tango says:

          It’s not on Steam yet – that’s why he’s made this poll! :)

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            Which means there’s currently no way to download and test it? Me is confused.
            (I don’t do Steam but I assumed that it being approved means that there’s at least a test build available)

  11. AR+ says:

    I’m curious as to what you’re using, or how you’re using it, that would have such a high failure rate. Programming post-mortem once you figure out what it is?

  12. Nick-B says:

    I wanted to download the build (latest? heck, ANY build) just to chime in with whether it couldn’t run or if it could. Since you were asking about it simply running (and I assume any niggles and/or other bugs I find are already well reported by now) I wasn’t planning to do any more than that.

    And there is no option in the poll for “I want to check a box, but none of these apply to me!” for those of us that didn’t try the early build because he likes finished products.

  13. Dt3r says:

    Congrats on such a quick acceptance!

    Regarding the poll, I tested it out on two machines. On my main gaming rig (Windows 7) it ran without any issues. On the secondary machine (running the same OS) it refused to start. Most likely it’s a VC++ dependency issue, and my gaming rig had some game installed that uses the same redistributable as Psuedoku. Since Steam lets you include VC++ as part of the install, that should fix the problem I ran into.

    I can poke around if you want any further info. Just drop me a line.

  14. Ardyvee says:

    Congratulations! I hope you get a nice launch (I’ll try to buy it once I have the money/is released on the store).

    With that said, wouldn’t Early Access be a good way to gather feedback and test the game on a wide variety of hardware configurations, hopefully fixing most of the issues? I don’t mean this for too long – a week or two, perhaps, depending on your schedule – but just so you can go through a rapid-fire test->fix->update->test cycle? At least, if I was developer this would be my way of doing it – but I’m not a dev, so your mileage may vary.

    Regardless, I’ll keep an eye out in case you have a call to testing on the blog.

  15. Rax says:

    I only downloaded the first version which didn’t run and never got around to testing the allegedly “fixed” one. But since I can’t see your Strawpoll anyway, I can’t give a useless vote.

  16. Jokerman says:

    Congrats on getting it approved, haven’t had a chance to play it (Been ridiculously busy lately… like never before in my life) but it looks a neat game, and hopefully ill be able to give it a play soon.

  17. mottaaf says:

    To clarify my vote that it didn’t work. When I downloaded it, I started it up and played a bit. Then later I came back to play some more and it wouldn’t load.

  18. Hector says:

    Shamus, I think this game needs to have a wider weapon variety. Maybe if you separate the rifle class into precision and automatic lines. Also, my space commander hero needs to look 20% more ruggedly badass. Please also add a green alien spacebabe to romance. If a hilariously short-sighted council of aliens wants to promote me to secret agent status after solving some puzzles, that woudl also be quite nice.

    1. Henson says:

      I hate how I solve a puzzle and the following cutscene shows me holding the assault rifle instead of the pistol.

  19. Sleeping Dragon says:

    The first build (the one that presumably gave error about some missing libraries or something along those lines) did work for me, which may be a sign of how much clutter the system has accumulated. I didn’t really test later builds as it’s honestly not my type of game.

  20. Zaxares says:

    I’m tempted to select option 4, but as someone who didn’t download the game and has no intentions to play it (no judgment on Pseudoku at all, but it just doesn’t seem like it’d appeal to me XD), I think I’d just be skewing your results.

  21. I know you don’t want to release your game for free just so people can see if it runs, but it seems all you would have to do is make a build disabling the buttons on the start screen, as most errors occur when starting the program and not during.

    It would be extremely helpful so we are all on the same version, and can all give you feedback on if it runs or not

  22. Running .52r, no problems or issues (though I admit I’d love to have a stack all matched but nonplaced tiles neatly together button aka something that places all the 1s/hearts/As together). But I can do that myself, it’d just be a nice thing to have….

    1. Shamus says:

      I think TAB should do this in that version.

  23. whitehelm says:

    Don’t forget that Steam will do a full refund if there’s less than 2 hours playtime on a game, so people who can’t run it won’t lose their money.

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