Sprog Number 2

So, my big news is the birth of daughter number 2, Saffron Natalie Asia Prince (continuing the tradition of strange and unusual names in our family). Born at 815am on Saturday morning and weighing a colossal 10lbs 4oz after an extremely gruelling 26 hours of what looked like a pretty nasty labour! But all’s well that ends well and baby and mum are hale, hearty and healthy, and we were all home in time for mid-afternoon tea.

Another mouth to feed! Bugger. As I have alluded to my geeky friends though, I shall know my life’s work is done when my daughters one day ask me, “Daddy, how come the Dude is also in Tron?”

This is all, of course, not spectacularly interesting to Puppygames blog readers :)

What might be more interesting are the following items on the agenda:

Revenge of the Titans 1.80.7

I’ve uploaded another patch, early. We need to get it as trouble-free as possible for our release on Steam next week, so I’ve just stuck to trying to fix the last few important niggles. To this end it’s there right now to download, so you can test out the couple of fixes I’ve done. Here’s the changelog:

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: super slow gidrahs

Balance

  • Reduced Saturn boss armour to 4, so now damageable by more weapons; increased hitpoints by 40%

Internal

  • Added a Thread.yield() in the tick() loop to see if we can reduce sound stuttering
  • Added a commandline switch sleep=true to force sleeping instead of yielding for machines with persistent sound stuttering troubles
  • Game now recovers gracefully from a failed Restore, no more ghostly sprites left on the game screen!

Musings on Pricing

You might have noticed that the price of Revenge of the Titans has shot up to an apparently ball-bustingly massive $27.72 – egads! That’s like, nearly as much as a takeaway curry, which will give you, like, days and days of enjoyment! (If you leave it out all night and reheat it and eat it, anyway).

This has caused much nerdrage amongst the Glorious Entitled Of The Internet, who believe that everything should be free or nearly free (and if not free, then DRM free and available from the Pirate Bay). How dare Puppygames suddenly charge full price for their shitty 8-bit retro Flash same-as-all-the-others Tower Defense game? Why would I, Angry Righteous Gamer, pay my week’s pocket money out for this piece of utter shit?

Of course, gamers know everything there is to know about economics and pricing models, because they all make and sell games for a living, and do so more successfully than Puppygames do. We are of course famously broke and never made much of a bean with our games, but it was never anything to do with the price of them. We’ve sold games from everything between $4 and $28, and if you want to know the actual truth of it, it makes no difference to our bottom line whatever price we charge. My esteemed peer Cliff Harris aka Cliffski has rather a lot of knowledge of economics and has a few things to say on the subject which you might find interesting, and which I won’t bother repeating here (hurrah for hyperlinks!).

So I’m going to let you in on a few secrets and explanations as to the method behind my madness, mostly because if you’re reading this you’re a) very likely to already be a fan of our games and supporting us already and b) it really won’t make any difference if world+dog knows our secret world dominiation plans.

Firstly: we have always said the game would be $27.72 when it was finished, and we lured your wallets open with a 50% off pre-order beta offer which we rounded down to the considerably more l33t number $13.37. Obviously our UK and European customers got some crazy price in our funny national / continental currency that was around halfish too, except we all have to pay VAT. Bah.

Secondly: if we failed to officially increase the price of the game, that would have made us bullshitters about our pre-order offer. Technically.

Thirdly, there’s a 50% off coupon in the game, which is the first thing you see (if you don’t know yet it’s ROTTROCKS – put this in the BMT order form). So in reality it’s still 50% off, just like it always was, give or take a few cents. This is a special offer; we can change that whenever we want. We can offer 25% off, or 75% off, or 90% off. What this does is firstly make the game as cheap as it always was, and secondly make it look like a right bargain compared to its RRP of $27. It also means we can do legitimate sales with apparently astounding savings one day in the future but still make enough money to make it worth doing. At 90% off we still make a profit of about $1 on a registration of the game and 90% off sounds bloody appealing.

Fourthly, we needed to ensure there was pricing parity with the Steam version, which will be released next week at $14.95. The special offer 50% coupon means we’re effectively charging the same price as Steam is for the game. Well, a little bit less, but then Steam comes with the real advantages which you’ll all know if you love Steam. I love Steam. Don’t be ashamed.

So you see, having a high RRP on our site might be newsworthy fail for a few angry Reddit nerds, but the reality is, the game is still obtainable for the same price everywhere, and we can tweak the offer on a whimsy and make it newsworthy when we do so at the same time as making it look like a bargain.

And that’s the method to our madness. We have no idea if we’re right, but you’re sure as shit not going to tell us we’re wrong. We’ve got the numbers to do that for us.

46 thoughts on 'Sprog Number 2'

  1. Bottom line: if you don’t like the price, don’t buy the product. It’s called “market economy.”

    NO ONE has a right to your work. NO ONE has a right to buy your work. NO ONE has a right to tell you what to charge for your work.

    If the price is too high, people won’t buy it. If the price is too low, you just screwed yourself out of your just reward.

    The entitlement crowd chaps me.

  2. As a fellow indie developer I laughed at this phrase:
    “That’s like, nearly as much as a takeaway curry, which will give you, like, days and days of enjoyment! (If you leave it out all night and reheat it and eat it, anyway). ”

    that’s true. People think we make games while we sleep. There’s an enormous amount of work behind even the most simple game! Hours and hours of coding, testing, art to be done (and artist to be paid), musicians, and then you have to spend money on ads, marketing and so on.

    Nobody’s getting rich (well maybe a few exception) doing indie games and buyers should realize this.

    And anyway, games prices are the ONLY thing that went down since the first shareware games appeared on internet in circa 1999. So, everything else (food, gas, movie tickets, music CDs, etc) goes up in price, but games must go down? ;)

  3. Congratulations on Sprog #2, I recently had my own Sprog #1.

    Very entertaining and what’s more true rant. I don’t listen to the great unwashed, feed your family orifices and keep making great games.
    I’m looking forward to the Steam release!

  4. Absolutely love the artwork for the last two posts. There needs to be a gallery or something for yours and fan’s work.

    Overall very sound strategy on the price issue.

    Cannot wait to see it on Steam, even if just for satisfaction purposes.

  5. Hmm it seems some of the links aren’t working correctly.

    Congratulations on the birth of your daughter :)

    1. Bah, bloody Chrome doesn’t put the http:// bit in when you copy-paste the URL from the address bar. Fixed it.

  6. Hah! I dig your musings. I believe you are absolutely correct.

    I saw forget the naysayers. They are clearly the impatient 2-yr old variety of Internet-goer.

  7. Another update?! Downloading and will test later this evening!
    Thanks for the ‘musings on price’ Cas, very informative & enlightening, and yes, I see the method in the (apparently according to others) madness….
    … and congrats for your daughter, and thank you for making me LOL… glorious entitled of the internet… :)

    p.s. still eager for the new tech!

  8. ROTTROCKS coupon code master user here ( I was going to use “master race” but a) that might offend people and b) most probably wont see the Yahtzee reference there)

    and yes I am a HIB user (as I like have stated more then a thousand times) but recently decided to purchase the game directly from PG and no its NOT and let me make this clear NOT because the HIB updates slowly its just because I believe in supporting developers that I like.

    and I found 27.72 to be actually pretty reasonable, granted I used the coupon, but most games here at least retail for 59.99 with most PC releases for Multiplat titles being 29.99, so here Revenge is pretty much in line with most games I buy anyways.

    and also congrats on child number 2, good luck :)

  9. Ahh, the psychology of pricing! always a wonder when $.99 can make an item more appealing despite a higher initial price.

  10. Been playing survival and encountered a game crash. I was playing on Mars, small with minimal environment. At 42:39:47 my game crashed. It was getting really bogged down and really slow, but finally stopped working completely and crashed. From what I can remember, I had 14 droid factories with buffed droids, ~40 turrets, ~20 powerups, and a ton of walls. Don’t know if that helps, but I thought I’d provide as much info as I could.

    The version was 1.80.6.

    1. Ah. Try 1.80.7. And in any case, please send me the err.log and out.log files. Have a feeling you might have run out of allocated memory (it’s capped).

        1. Under .revenge_of_the_titans_1.80 in your user home directory. 1.80.7 is there right now for everyone.
          Also: I think I should probably have put a limit on the number of droid factories that can be built somehow. They used to get more expensive with each factory but that doesn’t make “story” sense. Maybe I’ll just cap it at 4 + world number.

          1. Okay I’ve emailed them to you.

            In addition, a cap on the amount of droid factories would be great. 4+ world number seems like the right amount as well.

  11. Whew, finished the game for the first time. Some random thoughts:
    - Just noticed that lasers display 20-240 damage on research screen – weren’t they nerfed to 12-144 recently?
    - At some point I tried getting x-ray scanner research to deal with ghosts. Not sure, maybe lasers are bad choice against ghosts in general, but I ended up redoing the mission involved and sticking with capacitors
    - I was underwhelmed with disruptors. The damage is nice, and their area of effect can be good, but overall it felt like rocket launchers did the job better (same damage, more ammo, better firerate and if you place it well attacks at safer distance than waiting for disruptor trigger range. And aside from that it’s easier to fit four scanners to support 1-2 launchers and 1-2 lasers and supplement them with batteries and reloaders than try disruptors who need foru – bulky – reactors and four scanners to get most of their AoE attack)
    - Likewise I was a bit underwhelmed by mines and barriers – mines are nice on earth and moon, but beyond that girdahs get too smart in their pathing and even if they run into mines those run out too fast and deal too little to have any significant impact. Perhaps blast mines can be of more use, but I didn’t had other research topics to follow. Barriers are difficult topic – on one hand they seem like they can be usefull, on the other they’re a huge money sponge. In the end I ended up getting concrete as late as mars, to slow down the pesky spiders (since I couldn’t predict what route would they take, and I needed time to plop down some blasters) – they saw some more use on early saturn but then they gradually phased out. I used them some on titan, and even picked up steel, but it felt more like formality than actual use.
    - Another thing – decoys. I can’t really seem to see se for them. They’re expensive, and they’re going to die after one hit judging by stats. That pretty much screams waste of money to me. Perhaps they could be of use if set up after defensive line, to draw girdahs the route you want to take them, but that’s another thing I didn’t have time/will to check.
    - Droids are awesome. What’s the deal with sergeant droids though? Didn’t even knew about them until recent changelog that mentioned buffing them and giving them a separate sprite – is it just random chance for them to get created? (Wouldn’t mind some stats on droids… and capaciotors. I like stats :P)
    - Titan between mission music is awesome. ‘Nuff said. Shame it doesn’t play during them.
    - Regarding the topic of people using buffed turrets near base as defense, discussed few newsposts before – I think that might be something too tied to how the game works to get rid of. True it’s beneficient to set up defenses further out if you can, securing more minerals, but beyond earth and moon it’s rarely possible due to landscape, number of sides girdahs are approaching and their increased AI – if you try to defend further out you’ll either lack the funds to defend, or leave routes ungarded, which will get then exploited by the titans (I first met with that on first level of saturn where titans gleefully avoided my whole defense and walked around it, sacked far out refineries then moved for the base. At later levels most of the time I *had* to make defenses near-base unless I got really lucky with how map was generated)

    That’s all for the moment I think.

    PS. Congrats on the child.

    1. Sergeant droids are able to deal more damage to titans (and can penetrate armoured titans easily!) although their production rate is less than regular droids; think it’s 1 x sergeant for every 6/7 regular or something…
      it takes some time to build up a decent number of them (trust me, it’s worth it!) but by haftway through Moon when the levels start to get much longer, you should have plenty of time, particularly if you’ve researched all tech etc for efficient crystal harvesting.
      I find that comprising my defenses of droid factories, assault cannons/multi blasters + (by Mars) lasers (buffed with scanners etc) means that I’m able to create two or three defensive positions a distance away from the base – and later on, this is pretty essential in order to defend refineries as well… and I’m rarely using barricades!
      …so all in all I think the game is really well balanced now, it’s just about prioritizing tech choices early on! :)

      1. This is all working out just lovely :) Lots of different ways through the game.

        Now: test your worth in Survival. The proof of your tech choices and skill lie here.

  12. Wow, you weren’t kidding about the rage. At least it’s Internet Rage(tm), so it will all be forgotten in a day or so. You should try dropping the price to $5 and then plugging it on Reddit. I wonder how many people would put their money where their mouth is.

  13. Been playing survival and noticed that the tech available for survival is one level behind the level you completed. For example, when playing Earth, I get all the tech through stage 9, but not the tech I researched for stage 10 of Earth. Is this deliberate? It seems to me that since you don’t unlock survival until you’ve completed Earth that you should get all the tech you researched during the Earth stages including the final stage, stage 10.

  14. I’m psyched to try the new version, Now with moving Gidrahs! Also in response to the inevitable Tron question, the answer, as always, is simple: “The Dude abides.”

  15. Had a quick blast on survival earlier on, and noticed the slowdown is still present, although admittedly when it started to happen I did have 19 droid factories built (I know! but you gotta test these things!) besides, I LOVE droids! :)
    Reduced it to 13 and the game was still running slow-ish… the in-game clock was running approx 6 x slower (I could even follow the decreasing circle that marks where money drops occur and collect the cash before the circle vanished)
    Eventually, I took it right down to 6 but it didn’t really improve things (by this time, my droid armies had been considerably reduced)
    Oddly, noticed that whilst using the freeze powerup, the game played almost at regular speed, once the freeze ended, it returned to being slow; so I’m left wondering if it’s something to do with the number of droids + the number of titans on screen x on-screen fx?
    Specs – AMD Athlon 64×2 4000+ Windows XP pro s.p.3 1g ram Radeon x1950 – btw, checked it whilst the game was running, and the cpu was at 50%
    p.s. @ Emile – nice quote!

  16. Oh, and yeah, I think a cap on the number of droid factories as mentioned earlier on is a good idea (can’t be too reliant on just one technology now can we!)

  17. cas,

    congrats on both your babies! The newborn and Revenge, of course.

    I still have a stuttering sound issue with the game, even with the current update. I did notice an error log from java in the game folder every time i started it. I’m not too familiar with java, so i’m not sure if this is the culprit or not. get back to me if you’d like to take a look at the error log…

  18. Just started a new game, feeling snappier every time. No slow Gidrah’s yet – except for the ones stuck in my tanglewebs.

    As far as gameplay goes, things feel more and more balanced. So far I’ve tried 3 strategies since 1.80.5 that each seemed viable (on early to mid levels at least):
    -tech to rockets early, and get all the rocket research. In game place rockets far enough so they can triangulate with eachother on enemies, or occasionally next to eachother. This approach is fun, does not require lots of upgrades and does not require bunched up turrets (it’s worse if they’re bunched, usually). It’s also risky, as occasionally someone gets by and I blow up a building or the base. If a crystal is in my line of fire, I don’t mine it. The approach is economical enough that I still make a profit.

    -tech to robots early, augment with blasters. This is a fun strategy, especially now that some droids have armor piercing. The droid ai is clearly better and they seem to be relatively effective. It’s still better to scatter the droid factories, since they tend to all go in the same direction when bunched up (leaving undefended channels). I still need the occasional blaster placement to deal with moderate / heavy armored guys, especially in the beginning of the match, before I’ve got a mass of droids.

    -tech to lasers early, then get tanglewebs. Tanglewebs are really cool, especially in conjunction with lasers or rockets (It’s too early for me to tell, but it’s possible that this combo may actually be a bit overpowered). the tangleweb causes guys to bunch up, then I take out a large number with each shot. It winds up being relatively economical since I can get away with a few lasers each level (unless they come from all sides).

    Each of the approaches seem solid, at least as a foundation to build off of in early to mid levels. The enemies and levels also vary enough (some with good choke points, others with spread out enemies), that the game play and strategy changes from level to level. I haven’t felt like any levels (aside from the first few) were so easy that I could just go on autopilot, and I also lately have not been frustrated by the difficulty of the levels (they seem tough, but possible with perseverence). I also lose and restart a decent amount (though not at lower difficulty), which I think speaks to the difficulty of the game, but again, I don’t feel like it’s impossible, which makes the game continue to be fun. Lastly, I usually want to take a break after 20-30 minutes of playing, but I always want to come back to it. In my opinion that’s the best kind of game, one that doesn’t get me so hooked that I ruin my life, but good enough to kill a little time when I feel like it.

    1. Up to Saturn in story mode and the game’s looking great. It’s snappy, and the gameplay is always varied. Every level seems like a different puzzle, where one strategy no longer seems to work well, and I have to try new things. Massed droids for example work well in some situations, but when the map is spread out, they tend to waste time wandering back and forth. Lasers are great, but they won’t take down a boss like they used to, so you need to augment them with heavy blasters. I’ve also played some game where I started building refineries and then raced around to put defenses up where they were needed. All of these strategies are viable in certain settings but have limitations as well…This all has me convinced that there is no one “best” way to get through this game.

      I’ve had a few minor crashes at the beginnings of levels, but otherwise, things are looking great.

  19. oh one last suggestion regarding droids, and slow-downs. Rather than limiting factories, you could limit the number of droids (a hard total cap). Beyond that cap, you get no more droids for building more factories, but droids get replaced faster when destroyed. Not sure if that’d be easy to implement, but the result would be diminishing returns for too many factories, though still some reasons to build a lot.

  20. ESETs Antivirus keeps saying the following

    “D:\Downloads\SetupRevengeOfTheTitansHIB-18021.exe » NSIS » RevengeOfTheTitans.exe – a variant of Win32/Packed.MoleboxVS.B potentially unwanted application”

    Might want to chat with them about that

    1. I keep getting this (with ESET smart security), and I got it for the last HIB update (1.8.06). I get it when I download and try to install.

  21. What happened to the ZX-Bot? Is there no way to get the extra 2.5k starting money now?

      1. And I signed up for the news letter, yet I’m not getting my extra starting money in the game, it’s just giving me the standard 550.

        1. Did you sign up and then start a new game? because if you did, you arent supposed to do that.

          1. It would have been nice to have been given a notification of such… How am I supposed to get the money then if not by starting a new game?

  22. “As I have alluded to my geeky friends though, I shall know my life’s work is done when my daughters one day ask me, “Daddy, how come the Dude is also in Tron?””

    Yes! Finally someone else understands. Tron, when seen now, features the Dude and Captain Sherridan team up to defeat our corporate masters. You have to admit, Boxleitner and Bridges play fairly similar characters to the ones from Lebowski and Babylon 5.

  23. Hmm, sound stuttering isn’t fixed yet, at least on my PC. But I really seem to have a PC that’s too slow for this game.

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