Resurrection

Well, it’s time for one of our lamentably infrequent blog entries. So much has happened since the last one I can’t even think where to begin.

Whither Battledroid?

Alas, woe unto Puppygames, for we are broke. Due to several decisions of dubious merit last year we’ve ended up wasting most of our cash on things that never flew. We tried for several solid months to rescue our direct sales but it seems nothing but nothing that we can do will change the fact that at any given moment, Steam comprises 97% of our income. And that’s just when there isn’t a crazy Steam sale on. So we wasted months on that and achieved precisely nothing.

This is especially depressing when we consider that those months could have gone into furthering the progress of Battledroid.

Battledroid has in fact come quite a long way – we’ve got all the backend services working nicely, and battles are resolved on the server(s) accurately and transmitted back to the client deterministically. Twiddling the AI parameters of the robots makes a considerable difference to the outcome of the battle, as does initial positioning. It was all looking really great…

…except we only had about four months’ cash left in the bank (as of the start of May), and by my best estimates, we needed to spend about another 12 months on Battledroid before it could actually take in any money (which itself is a dauntingly difficult prospect for a game we were planning to release for free).

This left us with a conundrum.  We needed another 8 months’ cash (which in Puppyland amounts to about £64,000) to release Battledroid. We had always thought we’d do a Kickstarter project to raise the money but some uncomfortable truths about Kickstarter raised the spectre of doubt. The first was, we’d need to spend another 2 months on Battledroid to get it to the point where we could show the real gist of the game from end-to-end, where you choose a territory to attack, place robots, twiddle them a bit, watch the simulations, submit the army, await the result, and then watch the actual battle. That’d be enough probably to show a Kickstarter viewer what we were planning to do. Then we’d need to spend about another month creating a kick-ass Kickstarter pitch, and finally, another month curating the project and drumming up support.

At the end of which we’d have no money left in the bank, no game that we could actually sell, and in all probability… no funding from Kickstarter. It’s a gamble. Free-to-play games are apparently even less popular than normal Kickstarter game projects, and we need a not-insignificant sum of money to get it to release. Furthermore we’re hobbled by having to do our project in UK sterling, which means we lose 20% of it to VAT, and probably another 33% of it due to the fact that most people backing Kickstarter are Americans and most Americans are terrified of anything that isn’t a US dollar and won’t back it.

So what else can be done in four months instead?

Welcome to Basingstoke

Well, it turns out four months is about how long it takes us to make an arcade game. Well, actually it takes a little longer usually but we’re thinking that being in a panic might focus our attentions a bit more keenly this time and besides, surely we know what we’re doing by now.

Enter our latest bit of silliness – Basingstoke. The general gist of it is that you, the player, are trapped in the blasted ruins of Basingstoke, a fairly anonymous English town, following the Titan Invasion. Astute fans will remember Basingstoke was the first up against the wall when the Titans turned up.

Under cover of darkness you’ve got to do what any normal person would do when in Basingstoke – which is try to get as far away from Basingstoke as you can. It’s a brutal arcade roguelike game with no hitpoints, only instant death. Your main tools are sneaking, distraction, surprise, and running away. There should be a bit of crafting as well to improvise gadgets to help you. Guns are a last resort and there won’t be many of them about.

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So all things being well… we’ll have this ready for you to play in October (some time after we’ve already actually run out of cash). It’s already shaping up to be super-fun to play.

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35 thoughts on 'Resurrection'

  1. Probably would have helped if the ROTT port wasnt canned..damn you curve! I honesty wish you guys the best of luck with this project, ive been a long time fan of you guys and i really hope you can get through this and eventually make money from battledroids. As long as you have something awesome to show off on kickstarted, you have a shot, and i think battledroids, with its awesome art style and unique genre clashing, can give you that shot.

    1. Well it’s in an English town, so it already seems to qualify :P

      Joke aside, very intriguing and interesting screenshots and description, will make sure to follow it.
      I’m personally more interested in this than Battledroids (no offense)

  2. “nothing that we can do will change the fact that at any given moment, Steam comprises 97% of our income. And that’s just when there isn’t a crazy Steam sale on. So we wasted months on that and achieved precisely nothing.”

    I don’t understand what this means. What’s wrong with Steam being most of your income? What did you waste months on? I’m very confused.

    1. We spent a fortune in time and money trying to recover direct sales to our customers, both with advertising and technical experiments, none of which had any effect. Steam utterly dominates our income stream. We even spent many months of Battledroid development allowing Battledroid to be played both as a direct download from as and via Steam. Wasted time. We should have spent that time just capitulating to Steam and writing more Battledroid.

  3. Nice. I’d probably get it just to support you guys since I love your work, but the new game actually looks very nice as well, even though you’re using a new graphics style which I find quite strange

  4. Good luck on the cash situation and the new game. Let us all know when it’s available (which I’m sure you will) so we can give you some money. I’d be very sad if I didn’t have any more of your games to look forward to.

  5. Sorry to hear that but best of luck with this one. What happened to the ROTT port? Programmer ran away? I’d love to play ANY Puppy Games creation on my iPhone! RoboVM not up to it?

    1. The RotT port by Curve was abandoned before it even got to the drawing board – they (like everyone else) totally underestimated just how complex our games are. In the end they spent the entire 4 game porting budget just on Titan Attacks!

      Coincidentally we’ll have TA on iOS soon, though we’re not sure how to actually sell it. Free with ads? Plain ol’ paid?

      1. Oh god no ads please. IAP to unlock levels or something, but plain paid game is best. For me anyway.

        So is it a C++ port after all?

        1. It’s actually been done in Monkey. I couldn’t find anyone to do it in Java with libgdx which is just daft but there we go.

          A plain paid game might be best for some but it might not necessarily be best for us unfortunately :( Not really our fault as Apple and Google have created this situation.

          1. Don’t underestimate the paid market, there is still a rather large userbase ready to pay for their games on smartphones/tablets, for games they like. See Threes!, for example, which is not doing too bad, even after the 2048 debacle.

            Also, in the worst case, you can always do the usual “safe devolution”:

            - Start as a paying app
            - If needed (to pop in the top 50 after some time), you can try the occasional sale (half or -66%). You can’t really do that if you priced yourself too low to begin with.
            - If needed, switch this app to free (demo) + IAP (IAP unlocked for original buyers to not steal their content)
            - If needed still, add a “free” version of the game with obnoxious ads (and IAP to remove ads).

            The thing is, you can go in this direction. But if you start on a step on the way, you can’t really go back to selling full price.

  6. Good luck Cas!

    What about releasing smaller episodic games, or even extra level packs, more frequently to get a little ongoing cashflow. Less exciting but we’d probably still eat them up.

    1. Too few customers to sell extra levels to basically. We actually have a DLC mission for Droid Assault sitting around but because it’s only likely to sell about 1,000 units with a net profit of about $1 each we canned it.

  7. So sorry to hear about the financial woes! But I hope you’re able to finish Basingstoke in time and that it helps keep you all going.

  8. I am a great fan of you guys and it was such a pleasure meeting you guys at Rezzed 2013. I am sorry to hear of your woes, but I will support you in any way I can. Big up the blazingstoke massive! (I jest) Good luck guys.

  9. You guys managed to make the only tower defense game I ever enjoyed in Revenge of the Titans. Both Battledroid and Basingstoke sound like good fun and I really hope they turn out well for you!

  10. I don’t normally care much for Survival-games or Roguelikes, but when it’s made by Puppy Games, it can’t possibly be bad.

    I wish you’d release a gameplay video, sometime.

  11. Can I ask, what are your thoughts on early access to help fund your work? Some people complain about early access as a lesser proposition of value for the consumer. But there are as many or more people who love being part of the development process and watching the game develop. There are currently 4 or 5 games that I regularly watch. Rust, Unturned, Space Engineers, and Void destroyer are a few. Reading the dev blogs and testing new features are an added value for me. It’s much more interesting than reading a blog post or watching a trailer for a game that is months away and that might lose interest in. Many of the games in early access benefit from community involvement. You dont have to guess what features are most important if your fans can tell you.

    Surely, early access is not right for every game or every developer. Rust can provide an example of what happens when the community doesn’t appreciate or understand the direction the developers have taken. I would still make the argument that Rust has benefited from early access far more than its been damaged.

    I would love to hear your thoughts about early access, and how you think it would relate to Puppy Games’ work.

  12. Very depressing stuff, but i always thought that the gaming industry is no fun at all when it comes to the business point of view. I´m an old school gamer… atari 2600 and so on so i know how we are here now in the present and what was from almost day one. Not as an insider but as someone who was interested enough (i´m a passionate mod maker since 2000 btw) how games, the industry and gamers have changed over the course. But now i know that things you seem to notice are very real and not just some theorie how greed, the business aspect of making gamer and “emancipated” gamers have damaged this whole cool thing i loved. The illusion is dead and welcome to reality.

    I wish you guys good luck for the future anyway.

    greetings from berlin

      1. thanks for the reply and yeah, that attitude helps a lot.

        I didnt had the chance to comment on that whole steam issue and the only thing that comes to mind is once again, a good invention morphed into a just making money thing. I realy thought they would try to HELP out their colleagues instead of sucking just the money out. Maybe we need an independant platform created and organized by only indy studios who understand how important it is to help each other.

        Well, i think that would be great. There is so much talent out there that just needs a chance.

  13. The three-dimensional landscape of Basingstoke will certainly be different from your other games, but it already looks great! Sad to hear about Battledroid, though. Also, you guys showed a wholly different game on your Youtube account, titled Skies of Titan for the video titles, and Titan Interceptor in the game itself. What’s become of that?

      1. Right then. So, will Basingstoke have a nice diverse selection of what I assume are hatchling Titans to fight, or more likely, run and hide from, like Revenge of the Titans?

        1. That’s the plan. We’re trying to carefully choose the gidrahs in the game so that each one has a specific “purpose” to it rather than just lots of “moves a bit faster and has more hitpoints” kinds of thing.

  14. Oh geez. I’m sorry things are looking grim right now. You guys will ALWAYS be one of my favorite game maker companies, bar none. I feel like any company out there would do well to learn from your games!

  15. The visuals look very good, and the game sounds interesting. If this turns out well, and is available through the Humble Store, expect me to get it.

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