- Releasing 0.0.7 - Overtime stress - Releasing future versions quicker - Changes to my personal philosophy as a designer - Plotting version 0.0.8 - What happened after the summer sales spurt - Other bits and future predictions
I have to say, I felt the stress - and frustration - dripping from each statement.
Question - why did you decide to design a PC-game? To get rich? Or to have fun? If it was the latter, then it seems you have forgotten. Maybe you're letting testers pressure you, who are forgetting that Atomic Society is not a game to be played - but a product to be tested?
It's easier said than done - this is your baby, after all - but you really need to try and sit back and relax a bit. What's the point of doing this - if you're not having fun!
I've tested a few games in my time, and I have learned one thing - you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. I feel, it would be better to stop looking at the calendar, and accept that it takes as long as it takes.
Fundamentally, the core concept of the game is sound. What you have already isn't bad at all. (I have only seen positive reviews, btw.) Stuff needs adding - stuff needs tweaking - ok. It takes time. Take the time! I have recently dropped out of another Beta, because the game - with a budget of probably two million or so - is fundamentally flawed. The designers aren't listening to the testers, and are stubbornly holding on to their vision. I predict, it will flop badly, once it's released. You're on the right track, though.
Marketing is always a problem, but I don't think it's an issue for you - yet. If more players bought the game now - then you'd only get a heap of bad reviews, by people who don't understand the concept of "beta". (Steam really needs to get rid of their "Early-Access" term - it's misleading!)
From what I've seen, AS only has three upcoming city-builders to compete with - and two of those are totally different concepts. As for the third - they're pouring a lot of money into it - but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be a good game (thinking of ME-Andromeda, TW-Rome II, etc.). I think, when it is finally released - Atomic Society will have it's niche.
Relax - don't let testers pressure you to speed things up - and have fun!
Thanks for writing such a nice post. Don’t worry about me from reading the dev blog.
Dev blogs are where I get things off my chest. I try and be as raw in them as I can in them so other people get a sense of the journey of making your first professional indie game. Sometimes I wonder if I’m diving into my own psyche too much in them, but people seem to like it, so I keep doing it. It definitely helps me unwind.
But don't let that make you think I'm not having fun. I'm having an insane amount of fun making this game. Atomic Society is an absolute joy for me. I might only be 28% satisfied with the game as it is today, but I'm 100% satisfied with the direction we're moving in (I wish we could be faster but that's the way it goes with part-time devs). I love it more today than ever. Even on the scary, stressful days where I can barely sleep (such days are a tiny minority), I love it. Every morning I wake up and just want to make the game. It's fantastic.
My goal for Atomic Society (bearing in mind I’m just ¼ of the team) is to make a "pretty good computer game". My dream for Atomic Society is that it sells enough copies we can make another pretty good computer game after this one, while paying ourselves a modest salary. That latter dream is what can cause anxiety, because it's an unknown, and I want to be making games for the rest of my life. But I’ll accept whatever happens. The fact we’ve sold anything still amazes me if I let it.
Rival games do worry me, but I'm sure I'm worrying over nothing. They can't copy us as individuals, and hopefully we have an original slant to put on the game or why bother getting into this business?
I’ve been holding back on marketing the game for a long time now. We’ve turned away Youtubers with a million subscribers and publishers who wanted to be promoting our game at Gamescom right now. So I can sound paradoxical when I worry about marketing while at the same time I reject it. I think Atomic Society’s time will come, but playing a waiting game requires a cool nerve. These thoughts always fight each other in my head, so I vent them in dev blogs. I know how harsh people can be on Steam but we'll know (me and you folks, the pre-alpha players) when the time is right to put the game in the limelight.
If I’m anxious and stressed before releasing a new build, rest assured it’s because I love AS and games so much I want it to be just right when it goes out, and because I do care a lot about the pre-alpha customers who look forward to updates and have kept us going. I think faster releases will help a bit with that but I'm always going to stress over updates a bit, because this is my passion.