Friday, September 25, 2015

After the Darkness

It's been a while since my last blog post, and that's because I've been pushing myself hard. After the release of our first commercial game, Deity Quest, in 2014, we've been moving full steam ahead releasing our next two commercial projects, ADventure Lib and I Can't Escape: Darkness. I've also had to balance that with freelance work on the side.

So, you might be wondering how things are going with Fancy Fish Games? It's definitely been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, and despite having released two new commercial games, we're still in as uncertain of a position as we were in the last blog post. Financially, we've been making enough in sales to cover costs and distribute some well deserved revenue share to all team members. However, we're no closer to being the full time studio we dream of, and I won't even mention how low our hourly rate comes out to be (based on hours spent and revenue received). A huge thank you to all team members for sticking with me despite that!

Projects Completed

Our latest release, I Can't Escape: Darkness, has been doing decently. Financially, it's not an out of the park success, but it's currently our best seller and will surpass my pessimistic minimum revenue (if not my optimistic maximum). Additionally, 91% of the game's Steam reviews are positive, and fans seem to really like the game, which in my book makes a successful game even if it's not a financial success. Someone even posted this discussion which really made me feel like the game was worth it despite some very uncomplimentary press reviews.

We've definitely gotten a lot of negative press reviews, which is strange given how much the players seem to love the game. It's definitely been affecting my confidence, with reviews ranging from simply negative to downright nasty (not to say that there aren't positive reviews, but the majority of them are negative). I think part of the problem with the press reviews is that they are playing specifically to review the game, and so are not really letting themselves get immersed. Several of the reviews even mention how they liked the atmosphere of the game (which is definitely the core), but then give a bad score because of things they didn't like that were more secondary.

Honestly it's more important that players like the game than press - but perhaps more players would know about the game if we had some strong reviews. Maybe it's just a bad idea to put a number on something as subjective as a game in the first place?

ADventure Lib, our small side project, was also greenlit and released on steam this year. After getting greenlit, we polished and finished up the game, and then added voice acting (which I believe adds a lot of hilarity). Since it was a small project and the game only takes about a half hour to beat, we released it for $2 on Steam - which got it a lot of players. It didn't do great financially, but many people had tons of fun with the game and even took advantage of the workshop to add their own personalized objects. For a small side project, that is about as much of a success as I could hope for, and I am definitely thinking about doing the campaign editor update so players can add their own stories and campaigns.

Projects Dropped

Some of you might have seen this coming, given the continued delays, but Havencall has been put on indefinite hold. The design still needs some work and has some rough edges, and the project is simply too big for a single artist to complete. One day, when we're a full time studio and have a budget, we hope to come back and finish this game, but until then, there are other game designs that we want to work on that are more reasonable given our team and skillset. If you want to read more about this decision, check out this IndieDB Aritcle.

What's Next?

That's an interesting question for us. At some lower moments recently, I was considering taking time off game dev and working only on projects that actually paid the bills. However, fans and friends have made it clear to me that I still do want to make games, and still love it when people enjoy playing my games. I have to finish up some other work this month, but I already have several game design documents prepared and will hopefully start one come October. I haven't decided exactly which game I will be making next, but it will likely be one of the most ambitious I've done yet. While it might not be the smartest idea to work on a big project when we're still trying to find a footing, I want to make something special, something that will stand out as a great game even among all the other great indie games that are constantly releasing. We may not be able to work full time, but we have a lot of skill and as long as we are cognizant of our strengths and weaknesses as a team when planning our projects, I think a larger project is definitely doable.

Look forward to another blog post announcing what our next game is!