December was a slow month with the Holidays taking up the bulk of the time so I mostly focussed on bug fixes so there isn’t a video this time.
January was all about getting ready for the Waves: Arena Tactics Kickstarter which took far more time than I expected it to (turns out the Camera hates me). Hopefully the Kickstarter should be launching in the next week and will run till the end of Feb.
I’ve also lined up a Composer for the new game who I’ll announce when the Kickstarter goes live.
I’ve also been tidying up some loose ends such as getting the Waves Soundtrack up for sale on Steam at last. It’s available to buy now for just $2 here.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to put together a proper Press Kit for Waves: Arena Tactics and do a bunch of boring business things like talk to Accountants. Hopefully I can get back to actually making a game soon!
This is something silly I put together quickly which I initially called “Pretentious mode” because of all the “Art” games that think having a substandard shooter is OK if all your sound effects are musical (It’s not. Do some work and make a good shooter as well).
It’s an audio setting not a new game mode where all the existing game sounds get replaced by a musical instrument playing a random note in the pentatonic scale. Depending on the length of the original sound it either plays a Glockenspiel, a piano or an ambient Lustmord-like drone.
It really highlights the 64 voice limit in Unreal which you can hit just by firing the gun at the arena wall so you should be getting about twice as many sounds playing when you get a big explosion but sadly the engine it says no.
Once I remember how to do Steam updates (it being over 7 months since the last one) I’ll probably throw this up as a free update for Waves which you’ll be able to access in the audio settings.
You may have heard of Because We May by now but if not I shall explain what’s going on…
For the last week of May a whole bunch of independent game devs are celebrating the fact that we can do whatever the hell we want when it comes to pricing our games rather than having retail partners or big portals forcing us to charge certain prices and potentially screwing us over as a result. This means there are a whole bunch of awesome games on sale at reduced (and in a few case inflated) prices just because.
On Monday Waves sold it’s 15,000th copy during it’s Daily Deal on Steam. That’s not bad for a game that’s been out a little under 6 months and was made mostly by just one man.
So with 20k copies looking very far away indeed right now it seems like a good time for a look back at Waves to see what went right and what went wrong.
First up some statistics without any context:
Units sold to date: 15,238
Percentage sold direct: 3.7%
Percentage sold on Steam: 96.2%
Percentage sold in Steam bundles: 53%
Percentage sold during Daily Deal: 15%
Metacritic Score: 82
Steam Demo Downloads: 25,985
Steam Demo Conversion Rate: 6.8%
Average Time Played: 2 Hours 44 Minutes
Average Play Session: 22 Minutes
Percentage of Players who played more than 20 hours: 1%
Percentage of Players who reached the Score Cap: 0.4%
If you are a website looking for a story feel free to pick a headline out of those numbers although by now I don’t think there is anything that surprising about them as we all know that Steam is a pretty big deal these days.
As you can see the majority of sales have not been at the full asking price of $10. In fact the average price paid per unit is significantly south of that and I’m yet to reach the point where I have to pay Epic any royalties for my UDK license. In short I’m not rich but I’m not starving (I am however still living with my parents which helps even though it is embarrassing as a 30 year old man). Now on the assumption that the inevitable Summer and Winter Sales for this year bring in about half as much as the first Winter sale did I should be able to fund myself for the next year. Those same numbers however say that I won’t be able to afford to pay for lots of art or other content for my next game which sucks.
Why Am I not Rich?
Everybody knows all indie developers that make it onto Steam are minted and have no money problems so why am I not sitting at a gold plated desk smoking money cigars while wearing a money hat (aside from my not smoking and looking daft in hats). Read on to find out why…
As mentioned before I’m working on a content update for Waves which will add a new game mode and a big bag of achievements for Steam. So here is a preview video of the new game mode: CHASE
Chase is simple:
10: Touch a Red Pad and get 5 seconds on the clock. A new pad will appear somewhere on screen;
20: Touch the new pad within 5 seconds or lose a life;
30: Goto 10;
That’s it. I’ve nicknamed it “The Speed Metal of Shooters” because your first game will probably be very short lived. So far the beta testers have been very positive about it and this mode may need to carry a health warning for those with a weak heart.
There are also just under 30 new achievements coming most of which have been suggested by the community and some of which are my own devious creations.
Hopefully the update will be done before the 22nd. If it isn’t then it won’t appear until the second week of January as I’ll be away for the holidays.
…and I’m back to coding again. Now that the dust has settled and all of the nasty bugs have been found and hopefully fixed I’m back to thinking about content instead.
There are two things I’m working on now – A Waves Update and Game 2. I’m splitting my time roughly 50/50 between the two and today is the first day of working on the Waves update (as opposed to just thinking about it).
The Waves update is going to consist of two parts. A big boat load of new achievements and at least one new game mode. Most of the new achievements have been suggested by the community over on the Steam forums and if you want to suggest some more then go ahead.
The new game mode is as yet undecided. This is because I’m actually going to be prototyping a bunch of new game modes and picking the one that’s actually any fun. So far there are three candidates and I expect this to increase over the next few weeks.
I’ve always had an open development philosophy with Waves and I plan to keep that going so here are the potential new game modes:
Outbreak – This mode was planned for the full game before the combo system and bombs appeared. It got ditched as a result of those mechanics making it completely trivial and very boring. Essentially this is based entirely around the self-replicating Virus enemy giving you a single life and a mission to stay alive as long as you can. This mode is NOT going to work as it stands because it’s missing a whole bunch of stuff that makes the rest of the game work (Virus kills don’t give XP for example). However it’s on the list for being brought back if I can find a way to make it work.
Chase – This mode has a time limit of 5 seconds. It could be the shortest mode ever. It is the speed metal of game modes. It’s a little like Bombing Run and a little like Rush. The mode is based around rolling over timer pads as quickly as possible in order to keep resetting the timer. You will be fully armed in this mode but with a 5 second time limit you’re going to find your route around the arena determined entirely by where the pads spawn.
EDIT: I’ve been messing about with Chase all day and it’s definitely going into the update. It is absolutely insane.
Hold – (Yeah I suck at names) This one is inspired by what a whole bunch of people did at the Eurogamer Expo: Not move. There will be an area roughly 25%-33% the area of the arena in the middle. Stay inside this area and all is well. If you move outside it for more than a few seconds though you’ll explode. Normally the edge of the arena is the safest place to be. This mode turns that around by forcing you to stay in the middle.
Those are the 3 modes I’m going to be prototyping up first and if it turns out that all 3 of them are fun then all 3 of them will appear in the game.
Now on to other business.
If you happen to be awesome with video editing software and interested in making a new snazzy trailer for Waves for no payment then I definitely want to hear from you because I suck at it. Also if you happen to be a marketing guru willing to work for compliments then I have a job for you as well.
So Waves was released a week ago and since then there have been 2 patches on Steam and a third that will hopefully go live tonight (EDIT: It has gone live already). That’s more patches than Skyrim has had and I’ve definitely fixed more things than I’ve broken.
Generally the only bugs have been with Achievements and that’s largely because achievements are hard to debug until you can actually see the stats for them which I couldn’t during the beta. Everything else has been adding little feature requests like being able to pick a Random announcer each game or turning off the Aim Line.
Since release several people have said some very nice things about Waves in what are known as “Reviews” I shall share the ones I know about below along with some of my favourite quotes:
DealSpwn “Prepare for hectic unforgiving splendour and retinal titilation of the highest order.” The72Pins “If you’re looking for a game to take the place of the never to be seen Geometry Wars 3, then this is it.” Kotaku “Waves is the most addictive little twin-stick shooter I’ve played since Geometry Wars.” IndieGamesMag “Waves is a hard hitting, spunk-filled fireworks display.” ElectronDance “1 min of its edge-of-seat bullet ballet = the handstrain of 6 self-love sessions.” DIYGamer “it’s a lot bloody good.”
Some other things that have happened since release is the Survival leaderboards have seen 4 players break the 1 billion barrier with one player managing to hit the score cap I had to implement because Steam Leaderboards and UDK don’t support 64bit integers.
The current top score for the Challenge mode was actually caught on camera and is on Youtube as well which was quite lucky.
I shall now address the things that people ask me (aside from “Can I have a review copy?”):
Q: Can we have more music?
A: Music is expensive. Really expensive. Waves has not yet made enough that I can afford to pay SMILETRON to make some new tracks. So at the moment no.
Q: Will the soundtrack be released?
A: We’re working on it. SMILETRON is mastering the ingame tracks into an album friendly format at the moment. When it’s closer to happening I’ll post about it.
Q: The Friends leaderboard is a bit slow isn’t it?
A: Yep it is. This is unfortunately a UDK issue and one I was hoping would be fixed with the October update. It wasn’t. This is one of those bugs that I can’t do anything about. The November UDK update may fix it but I’m not promising anything.
Q: Is there going to be a Mac, XBLA, PSN, iThing version?
A: XBLA and PSN isn’t going to happen unless the game makes a huge amount of money. The UDK licence doesn’t cover those platforms so I’d need a full Unreal licence. That’s assuming I got a slot which I think is incredibly unlikely. A Mac or iThing version may happen further down the line but it requires that I have a Mac and iThing to test on which I can’t afford right now.