Just gotta keep promising more!
At the start of February I flew into Amsterdam to attend Casual Connect as an Indie Prize finalist. At the time I was happy to spend a few days with our composer Steve who was living in Amsterdam and to meet some of the other devs showcasing their games. I didn't expect to get anything else from the rest of the show, in all honesty. However we got a very nice surprise when Guild of Dungeoneering scooped up the 'Most Promising In Development' award! Oh yeah!
A fancy bit of glassware!
This is our first time winning any kind of award so it was super exciting for us. Here's myself and Steve up on stage accepting the award.
Casual Connect? Sounds Legit.
Casual Connect sounds more like a speed dating event than a games show. The name comes from the casual gaming genre which blew up in the 2000s. Nowadays those games have essentially moved to mobile, but the name lives on. The show itself is very business oriented, with most exhibitors and talks focused on monetisation strategies for F2P games and the like; ie not exactly a match for my kind of game development. However a couple of years ago they started the Indie Prize showcase which is really cool. They selected 120 game devs to be able to showcase their games in a prominent spot in the middle of the show floor, and on the final day they handed out about 10 prizes.
That's a LOT of indie games!
That's a whole LOAD of games in the indie prize zone so as you can see you only get about half a table of space each. We just turned up with my laptop showing the game (that's a far cry from the heavily branded setup we had at PAX). There's no space for anything more than that, which is a shame, but on the other hand it means there is an absolute butt load of games on display. It took me all three days to get around and try and chat to most of the devs, but it was very worthwhile for that alone. There's some really great games out there that you have never heard of!
There's an entire separate hall to queue in at PAX
Two weeks ago I was able to attend my first ever PAX, which is a massive and beloved consumer gaming show. The kind that attracts real gaming fans who will happily give up their weekend, pay for tickets, and queue in their thousands to be the first ones into the show. The kind that sells out of tickets on a regular basis. Just attending would have been extremely interesting to me but I had the opportunity to do something even more incredible: I was able to showcase the game I'm working on to thousands of potential fans. WOW. Read on for my full postmortem.
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I'm very glad to announce that we have partnered with Versus Evil to publish Guild of Dungeoneering!
It's OK, they are AGAINST evil
This means we'll have more time to focus on making the game as amazing as it deserves to be, while Versus Evil looks after everything else for us.
This also means we'll be able to showcase the game at several upcoming gaming expos including PAX South, GDC, PAX East, and EGX Rezzed. Exciting times!
There's a full press release for those of you who are into that kind of thing.
One of the big draws of Guild of Dungeoneering is the distinctive art style created by Fred; it really evokes that feeling of playing a paper and pencil style RPG, where you are sketching out your own dungeon maps. However we felt we weren’t doing that art justice in the transitions between picking a room card and it appearing on the page. Rooms simply faded in to a static image. We also weren’t really happy with the way the game was highlighting possible placement positions for new rooms, showing just question marks in valid locations when in the middle of the placement sequence, which was confusing for some players.
the finished Scribble Effect in action
So when I joined the team one of my tasks was to try and implement solutions to these issues, eventually coming up with what I call the Scribble Effect.
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Note: this position has now been filled!
I'm looking for a talented game designer to join the team here at Gambrinous. The ideal person would
- love creating engaging, elegant systems that are a joy to play, learn and master
- have a deep interest in board games and card games and what makes them tick
- be keen to apply board & card game mechanics to a digital game
- have a portfolio of previous games or prototypes they have built
- enjoy working in a small team where everyone's effort makes a big difference
- get to focus on gameplay rather than monetisation (we don't do F2P)
You too could be a Dungeoneer!
That person will be joining a team of four working on Guild of Dungeoneering, which is due to come out on Steam and tablets in mid 2015. More info on Guild of Dungeoneering can be found right over here.
We don't know what we'll work on after that but you can bet it will be something boardgamey and full of juicy game design challenges. We are based in Dublin, Ireland but I'm also willing to talk about working remotely with the right person.
Interested? Great! Drop me a mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me about yourself. I'd also love to see some of your previous work and get an idea of your salary expectations.
Just wanted to share a couple of new things about Guild of Dungeoneering. First of all here's a new video showing the latest alpha gameplay with commentary that I recorded as part of submitting the game to the IGF awards. It's about 5 minutes long and will tell you everything you need to know about Guild of Dungeoneering. Check it out!
Secondly I now have a tentative release date for PC & Mac (including Steam) of April 2015. This isn't 100% locked in at all, but it's at least what I'm aiming for right now based on our current momentum, and for once I feel this is achievable!
Finally don't forget if you want to keep up with all the interesting behind-the-scenes details of development then you should look no further than our amazing TIGSource devlog thread. Many have said they feel 20% smarter and sexier just by posting their comments in that thread. Incroyable!
As a final bonus have this lovely animated gif!
That's not an oxymoron! While the whole point of being 'indie' is to be independent (primarily of a publisher!) there are many other ways a publisher can help you while letting you remain independent. Traditionally game publishers would pay an upfront fee that paid for a studio to develop their game, but in return own all of the IP and almost all of the revenue from a game (and sequels!!).
Nowadays with digital distribution one of the main reasons to need a traditional publisher is gone but there are other things they can help with like PR, advertising and marketing budgets around launch, getting you onto marketplaces like Steam, etc. Sometimes this could be more of a partnership than a publishing deal.
I've just started talks with a few indie-friendly publishers for Guild of Dungeoneering so I thought I would share my list for others considering this approach. Some of these are full-on publishers with a focus on indie games, some are actual indie developers who also publish other dev's games, and some are marketing specialists.
I'm focused primarily on PC, as is most of the above list, but if you are looking for help with a mobile game I'd recommend looking through this twitter list as quite a few of the list are mobile-focused.
Thanks to the Indie Game Developers facebook group, @kristruitt, @LukeD and /r/gamedev for helping me put this list together. If you have any suggestions to add to this list feel free to leave a comment!
Making a game for PC or Mac? You'll probably want access to Steam's 75 million subscribers and their often joked-about spending problem. After all it turns out most people are buying games on Steam that they never even install! Now there's a market you want to tap into!
Time to buy some games you won't play!
Steam's almost-monopoly causes some real problems, with gamers often refusing to buy games from you directly, saying "I'd buy it if it was on Steam". A couple of years ago it was basically impossible as an indie dev to get onto Steam. Even with the launch of Greenlight, their crowdsourced vetting service, it was extremely difficult as recently as last September. Fortunately in January Valve started ramping up the number of games they were Greenlighting and right now they are accepting a batch of 75 games every two weeks. Lets ignore for now what this rash of games is going to do for your game's release (hint: find an audience outside Steam) and instead address the question 'How hard is it to get through Greenlight in 2014?'.
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Guild of Dungeoneering is coming to Steam!
Steam! You son of a bitch!
Thank you for all the support, votes and comments on Greenlight!
The game is currently in active, open development. If you want to see the latest updates I'd suggest checking out this devlog thread on TIGSource, where I talk about what I'm working on next, share first looks at new content, and take feedback and suggestions from YOU the player!
There's also @gambrinous on twitter and the facebook page.
If you want to pre-order the game right now you can do that here. Pre-orders will get the full game on release (including a key for Steam). You can also play the latest alpha version of the game at that page.
If you want to find out what it takes to get through Greenlight in 2014 check out this AMA I did on reddit last week. I'll be writing up a blog post about it very soon, too.
The last week has been an important one for me. I've given up my job and become a fulltime indie game developer, I've released the first trailer for Guild of Dungeoneering and launched the game on Steam Greenlight.
Independent of being paid, that is!
Indie can be hard to define and is definitely a bit too overloaded these days, but it explains quite well what I'm trying to do. I'll be mostly working by myself making games. I like to compare myself to a writer who has decided to give up the day job and focus entirely on finishing that first novel.
A wild TRAILER appeared!
So this has been in the works for a couple of months. Fred (who is doing all the art for Guild of Dungeoneering) came up with the script, the jokes, did all the animation, picked the music and even did the voiceover for it!! Talented fellow! Have a look yourself:
We released this last Wednesday at the same time as a big press blitz I coordinated which has led to quite a few people writing about us, which is fantastic! I'll write up a longer post about the experience later on.
For Your Consideration
We also launched on Steam Greenlight at the same time, to try and maximise any press exposure we got for the trailer and convert as much of it as possible into Greenlight votes and attention.
So far this is going well, though not quite the rocketship to the top I was hoping for. As of this writing we are 42% of the way to the top 100 with 2,910 yes votes. Sadly a massive proportion of visits to the page has been from within Greenlight itself, so despite getting some big numbers to the main game page in the last few days they haven't quite translated into Greenlight traffic. That said, I'm sure anyone who's looking at the game page and clicks through to greenlight is pretty likely to throw down a yes vote.
I do have some more ideas to get extra traffic onto greenlight so more on that when it's ready. I'll also write up a much longer post on the whole experience once we're through. Oh and if you've voted for the game - Thanks! It's really appreciated!