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2016

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We’re nearing the end of 2016, so it’s a nice time to make a little review of the year from the Orangepixel perspective.

Games of 2016

First thing: the games! This year I didn’t release a lot: early in the year (February I believe) I released Space Grunts, with a lot of nervous moments because it was my first venture into doing a turn-based game and I had no idea if people would like the way I handled it.

Having that fear surrounding Space Grunts and it’s release, and having taken a little too much risk money-wise and development-time wise, I frantically started on Heroes of Loot 2 before Space Grunts was even released.

Simple reason for making a Heroes of Loot sequel was: the first game is still my biggest seller, so a sequel can’t be that bad. And the other reason was that Space Grunts gave me some new tricks like maze-generation and the light-systems that I thought would improve Heroes of Loot enough to make the sequel a justifiable game.

Luckily for me, Space Grunts did amazingly well on mobile and even on PC I managed to have some nice amount of sales (altho nowhere near the mobile versions combined).  I still managed to create Heroes of Loot 2 in a little over 4 months, and even better: the game did even a little better than Space Grunts on the mobile front!

So when I released Heroes of Loot 2 in July, basically my yearly income target was reached.. yay! (and that’s excluding various deals, sales, bundles I did after that).

Normally I also do a lot of porting and other small releases, but I haven’t managed to do any of that this year. This means  there still aren’t a free versions of Space Grunts and Heroes of Loot 2 which I usually do on Android.. I might do those somewhere in 2017, but right not it will just depend on how 2017 goes.   There are also no ChromeOS versions of those two games, mainly because I’m not really sure what Google is planning with ChromeOS and it now being able to run Android games.

Of course we did see the Gunslugs 1 being released on 3DS earlier this year, after Gunslugs 2 was already available on the system. Revenue wise both the 3DS and Vita ports haven’t been extremely interesting. Altho people keep asking me for Vita and 3DS ports of my games, and I have to keep answering: never say never, but for now.. no.

If I could do the ports myself, I’ll be all over it, but since I have to team up with other developers, the revenue has to be interesting enough for them to get out of bed and jump through Sony and Nintendo hoops.

Business of 2016

As you can read above, the revenue from both Space Grunts and Heroes of Loot 2 made this year a nice year business wise. It’s not the top year for Orangepixel, but it’s extremely close to that, and I actually cancelled one or two deals that would have made this the new top year to beat, but I was simply more interested in working on my next game/project and taking time off during the summer months.

I finally managed to get me some good connections at Humble again, and this made Gunslugs 2 appear in a mobile bundle, and shortly after that Space Grunts was also bundled up. Hopefully I’ll be able to see Heroes of Loot 2 in a bundle next year!

I also had Space Grunts featured on Google Play in a weeklong $0.10 deal. On one end, the $0.10 is of course extremely cheap, but the other end is that a lot of people picked up the game where they normally wouldn’t have. So it brought in a bunch of new players who hopefully also check out my other games on offer.

For Android I also had one very lucrative deal going, where my games are being distributed in a different way besides the Google Play store. Sadly I’m not allowed to say much about it (nda stuff) but things like these really make the business side fun and interesting.

I did a nice week-long sale in the week of Black Friday, pricing a bunch of my games at $0.99 on both iOS and Google Play, and surprisingly the press-release I made for that got picked up by the big sites: TouchArcade, Pocketgamer, and Droidgamers, making the sale go crazy and bringing in a lot more money than I was expecting.. yay! Something I’ll have to try and repeat next year.

It’s been interesting to see everything about VR happening and the many developers jumping on that bandwagon. It’s clearly a gold-rush and I already see some of those developers finding out that it might not be as easy as you think (or at least not a very sustainable business yet).

Right now I honestly still have no interest in VR at all, not from a developer perspective, but also not from a gamer perspective. We’ll see where the technology is a year from now.

Planning for 2017

That brings us to the plans for 2017. As you might know by now, I’m hard at work on Ashworld which will be the first release in 2017. As with Space Grunts I’m a bit worried on how this game will do, so I’m getting some back-up ideas running in my head already. This time, luckily, it hasn’t been as much of a business risk as last year was. So there is some extra wiggle room if the game simply fails.

Worst case I’ll be creating a “4 month” project as I have some fun ideas for that (think the size of a Groundskeeper 2 or Meganoid 2). Those ideas include some ideas for a Space Grunts 2 and for a Gunslugs 3.  With a backup plan to release free ad versions of my last few games, and possibly also move those free versions to iOS.  We’ll see how it goes!

I’m also working on something for the PC version of Ashworld, so if I can pull that off (business wise) then the year should start pretty good.

So depending on how Ashworld does, I might start looking into something like Unity and see if I can work with that. I still love LibGDX, but a simple fact is that with Unity my games can make a move to all the consoles, and that fact alone makes it very interesting to not just keep ignoring it.

I also have a big urge to make a Wolfenstein style version of Heroes of Loot.. so that might also be something I jump into, again depending on how Ashworld does and how much time I can afford to put into my next game!

Personal life of 2016

Don’t worry! I’m not all work and no play. This year I would actually say I took more time off than most people. During summer I’ve been taking long walks (and not just because of Pokemon Go, but it did help just aimlessly walking around). I guess my work-days were only 3-4 hours of work. Strangely I found that I was very productive during those hours, so it might be something to look into more.

As for Pokemon Go, it was an amazing experience, but I think the developer dropped the ball on a lot of design things. The fact that I still need to throw 3-5 balls to a simple Magnemite (most common thing around here) is frustratingly bad. The fairly stupid random settings on the eggs – where the chance of having something new pop up is like 5%? .. anyway, great experience at first, but bad game design all over.

Besides the walking I was also often roaming around Aline’s new store. She had a small section of a store to sell hobbycraft stuff, and last June we found a bigger shop-in-shop area and we took the plunge to give that a real try. So she now runs a hobbycraft store 24/7-ish and I had to do some webdesign for the webshop that goes along with it and all the point-of-sale systems and a bunch of other store things. We’ll see if we can get that up and running to a profitable business in 2017 (it’s already 90% self-sustaining, so that’s pretty good).

I didn’t manage to get a lot of gaming going. I still have Dark Siders 1 on Playstation 3 unfinished. I’m at like 90% of the game, with just one end-boss left, but I just lost interest in it at some point. Following that, my weird brain didn’t allow me to start a new game because I like to complete a game before moving on.. silly, I know!

Eventually it was either complete Dark Siders, or force my brain to shut up and just start something new… I picked door number 2: I played Uncharted 4 on PS4.. for some reason it felt much, MUCH, shorter than the other games. It’s not groundbreaking obviously, because it’s part 4! but I found all the Uncharted games very entertaining and this was at that same level.

I started playing Just Cause 3, mostly to learn what open-world games are all about and steal some idea’s to use in Ashworld. The game is fun, but sadly the whole open-world thing is just not grabbing me. I might return to it for some more running, paragliding, and parachuting fun, but it’s not something that will be completed by me.

Last week I started playing Doom on PS4 (yeah yeah, with a controller, so what!) and I’m loving it!  There’s a lot of inspiration I can get out of a game like that, it’s really clear on what it is and what it isn’t. Which is really what the original Doom was all about. Recommended.  I also have Wolfenstein ready, most reviews say it’s not as good, but we’ll see, I’m sure I can complete it without being disappointed.

Other games on my must have list are: the 2nd Tombraider, and of course the announced games: God of war, Last of us 2 and the extra Uncharted chapter.

 

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  • Alexander Carls

    You can also check out MonoGame, which supports a few more plattforms (https://github.com/MonoGame/MonoGame#supported-platforms). The huge “unmaintained” Issues list is a bit worrying.

    • yes that is a bit worrying :) also Unity is huge business, so right now I don’t see them suddenly stop developing their engine for at least 5 years

  • I find myself in your same problem, I love libgdx, but it is an undeniable fact that Unity has more portability to other platforms (more easily), and much help in the form of Assets.

    Right now I am very comfortable with GameMaker, but in the future I will gradually migrate to Unity.

    I also discovered this year that less is more. I feel more productive with a 4-hour workday than with a 10-hour workday.

    Nice reading.