Game 3

Filed under Arcade Badgers, Projects, Random Gibberings

So.. Grim has been available for a few months now.

It’s done better than Germies has, but it’s still been a catastrophic failure.

We have sold a grand total of 3 copies outside of the Bundle Bandits bundle that happened in June.
The bundle was indeed a good thing for us as we did get a fair bit of exposure from it… sadly, it just didn’t quite convert into additional sales after the bundle had ended.

So now what…

Pick ourselves up, and get cracking on Game number 3, of course!

And keeping with the number three, there’s actually three designs to pick from:
A Rogue-like
An Arcade game

Let’s break them down a bit..

Yargh! is our RTS game. Rejiggered a bit to make it as simple and straight-forward as possible, and aiming to be a gentle stepping stone for those perhaps not so familiar with the usual RTS standards, to just jump in and play.
I originally wrote Yargh! for one of the Ludum Dare contests, and although largely incomplete, there was a spark in there and the core ideas were there – just perhaps not quite implemented too well ( or at all! )

Our Rogue-like is a bit more interesting, but again serves the ‘Badgers mission of breaking down the barriers.
Most Rogue-likes are hard as nails – perma-death, and lots of it, is a common trait – and while some traits define the genre; some do get in the way of the experience, we think. Such as, why not continue down into the dungeon again with your last character? Everything might be that bit more beasting, of course, but how many procedurally generated dungeons can your valiant hero survive? Or will they wimp out and run back out ( with a boat-load of loot in tow! )
So, taking on the “coffee break” experience where games are quick but satisfying, we’ve come up with a simple and intuitive design for our Rogue-like that breaks some of the rules – but all the right rules ;)

And finally, our Arcade game.
We originally started this almost exactly a year ago; and have a very basic version of it running as is.
Like Grim, it’s a mash-up of a couple of defining games we thoroughly enjoyed… this time being Lode Runner, Rodland, and another bit of Bubble Bobble – as you can never have enough Bubble Bobble!
This one is perhaps a bit seasonal, and as a certain ghoulish holiday is approaching, we may want to choose this one over the others to try and sneak into a few bundles and promotions for said holiday.
That said, it is another Arcade game, and we’ve just done Grim… though, our name isn’t Arcade Badgers for nothing!

There’ll likely be more gibberings actually on the ‘Badgers main site once we figure out what it is we want to do.. but all three designs will be done at some point. Just that they’re the most likely for Game 3 at the moment, and writing them down sometimes helps the choosing.

An open letter to the indie gamedev community

Filed under Random Gibberings

Last year, my wife and I founded Arcade Badgers Limited with the help of Princes Trust, Business Gateway, and Dundee Development Grant.
We started with the idea of breaking down the barriers to playing games – making them as accessible as possible.

Our first game, Germies, a riff on the standard Match-3 gems formula, was released last year. While a lot of the people we did get it infront of thought it was great and loved it… we had hell getting any form of distribution for it. For those that actually DID reply, we were often just sent with a decline notice, and no way of figuring out why or what was so wrong with it. So the game has sortof stagnated a bit.. we had all sorts of ideas to add in later on, depending on feedback, but as we got next to no feedback as we couldn’t get it out to people, we lost our confidence.

So, a year later, and we’ve just finished our second game, Grim… and we’re having the same issues yet again.
We’ve managed to get it up on and gameolith, who have very open policies on getting games on their service… but again, we’re getting rejection notices from others… one particular “indie” game store declined us without even actually playing the game, so what they based it off of I have no idea. The screenshots? The gameplay trailer? And if so… what was so wrong about what they saw to decline it with a generic message?

The barriers for game development itself are coming down, thanks to the likes of GameMaker et al, and there are more games being made than ever before.
This is great.
Making games is fun, especially in a collaborative way, with a melting pot of ideas being thrown in to see what sticks and what slides down the wall.
But we now have an issue of getting these games out there to people.

We thought that Germies, being HTML5, and ad-supported with non intrusive ads away from the game area, would’ve been a fine game to get everywhere. That wasn’t the case, so with Grim we were a bit more conservative with making it PC, Mac and Linux, and charging a small £2.99 for 100 levels, upto 4 player local co-op, 3 difficulty settings ( which do change the game somewhat, with Easy allowing anyone to play through the game regardless of their age or skill level ) and a good solid arcade game… being a bit more “standard” doesn’t seem to have helped either. So what is the magic incantation here? What is it that all these portal gatekeepers are looking for? And more importantly… why?
If someone’s made a game, there’s bound to be someone else that’d love to play it.. so why is it so hard to get that game to them?
Why are the portal gatekeepers defining what we want so much…

Last year, I let this all get to me and ended up in a bad way again.
This time, I’m not going to stand for it… as if we’re having trouble getting our quirky little game to people who might want to play it, there’s bound to be others in the exact same situation.

The barriers for development may have fallen.. but the barriers for distribution certainly haven’t.

Server Wibbles

Filed under Arcade Badgers, Random Gibberings, stuckieGAMEZ

So, the server switch didn’t go smoothly as previously posted.

Actually, having ran it a few days now, I did hit some issues.
Most of that is to do with the multi-server shenanigans of Arcade Badgers.

It’s DNS is hosted elsewhere, it’s mail somewhere else, a VPN somewhere else and now, it’s web server another different place as well.
Most of these were consolidated on the same server.. but what with Arcade Badgers being somewhat of a priority domain, I split off emails and DNS so that if the server had a hiccup, I could still get emails.
When I upgraded the server, I just pulled along the VPN and web server with it… but the poor little server had issues with it, as it’s DNS isn’t quite what it thought it was, so was sometimes getting confused and then pulling down the entire server in a bit of a fit.

So, the webserver is now up on Amazon’s EC2 service… and what a rather pleasant experience it was to do.
As it’s only going to be one instance for the one thing – hosting the site data – I was able to use the micro instance which fits with the free usage tier.
It’s Amazon Linux appears to be a RedHat derivative what with the use of the Yum package manager, so is easy enough to deal with as the server has CentOS on it as well as a backup; another RedHat variant.

In my usual manner, I still stuffed up a couple of things on the first attempt.
I managed to cock up the security groups and blocked access to the server from pretty much anywhere. That was silly. Thankfully you can reassign and fiddle with security groups as you see fit.
Then it was configuring the Elastic IP thing for plugging into the DNS server and wiring up the domain properly.
What I didn’t expect was this sortof knocked out the address I had been using to access the server, so was somewhat confused when I couldn’t get back in!

However, it’s up and running now, and hopefully will sit quite happy in the free tier for a while

That also brings us to the end of the server madness.

Till something else breaks anyway!