Wednesday 18 December 2013

where i am at with 868-hack

When I released 868-HACK on iOS I said I'd release it on PC soon. That was like four months ago and it hasn't happened yet. In particular I may have claimed it would be released this year and now it's mid-December and it's not done and there's no way I'm going to get it out in between visiting people over Christmas, and it's probably a terrible time to release something anyway given that everything else is on sale.

And now some people are putting it in lists of their top games of the year! Which is really great, but makes me feel a little awkward because it is not a game that everybody has access to this year, maybe I am losing money by not offering it for sale to everyone at this moment when attention is being drawn to it, maybe someone is sad because they hear about it but cannot play it. (Here are some of these nice list-writing people: Kris Graft, Leigh Alexander, Brendan Keogh.) The year thing is kind of arbitrary but still it happens.

I guess I don't owe you an explanation or anything but since I have said things that were not true I would like to give some justification.
A few different factors are combined to cause this happening!
- When I spend lots of time working on one thing I get too many ideas for other things and want to try them out instead. So I really wanted to do that instead of spending even more time on 868-HACK. Distractions!
- Also I'd promised someone a game for a Kickstarter reward a while ago and not delivered, I'd tried to make it a few times but the ideas were not working out, and I'd finally figured out what to do for that so I needed to spend time on that.
- One of the things I have to do for the PC version is fix a crash that affects a few people and which I do not understand and can't replicate. I've spent a while trying to track it down but mostly I get frustrated and give up, do something that feels more productive. I will find it eventually. (A couple of my free games that have used the same API have the same problem but those are free so it kind of doesn't matter.)
- There have been a bunch of things to fix in the iOS version, and those have been higher priorities since that's OUT.
- I had been working too hard and stressing too much and really needed a break.

This last element is the main one. For the last couple of years I've been working really hard and there's been this constant worry about whether I'd be able to keep going, just making me feel tense all the time, draining. I didn't know what to do, I'd tried the "spend years polishing something" approach and that was bad for me and didn't work out, I'd tried being ridiculously prolific and out-performing almost everyone else and that got more positive responses but paid even less. I'd made - to my taste - some of the best games, felt like I was doing something worthwhile, I'd gotten some recognition for them, but it wasn't enough.
So then when 868-HACK came out and was so well-received and made enough money that it looks like I'll probably be able to keep going, I relaxed. (So far it's sold 6000 copies. I know lots of people will scoff at that, sales figures from Actually Successful games contain more digits than that, but since it was just me it's enough.) My tension fell away, I stopped feeling like I had to spend every waking hour making things or self-promoting, I took some time out to not be stressed, read some books, play some games that weren't my own ones I was working on (MOSTLY DOTA), have a social life. IT'S BEEN REALLY GOOD FOR ME.

OK so I'm feeling better about things now, I'm working on another update for the iOS version (some bugs fixed, some balance tweaks), I'm prototyping some new things which are exciting and new, and hey sometime in the new year there will be a PC version of this and also some other new games and hopefully I will keep doing game-making art things. Really sorry to everyone who's still waiting to play this game on the computer they have, I will get there but I haven't yet and it is better this way really.


  1. It's really, really good to hear you've met with enough success to keep going and take a breath. That's what really matters. Here's to an awesome 2014. \o/

  2. As one of the people who has pestered you about the PC version, I'm happy to wait if it means a healthier and less-stressed Michael Brough! I hope to feel the "my tension fell away" thing myself at some point! :)

  3. I think everybody should take a one week break at least every three months. It may seem very difficult if you have to constantly worry about money but in the long run it may be the healthier and even more productive solution. I really don't want you to burn out on making games!

  4. You can do it, Michael! Thank you for what has become one of my favorite roguelikes of all time!

  5. This might sound silly, but I'm considering switching from iOS to Android, and the ONE THING keeping me from doing so is that 868-HACK doesn't exist on Android. Silly, right? Well, it's true. It's a fantastic game.

    Have you considered porting 868-HACK to Android? I don't know if it would be a fun experience for you, but it would be a fun experience for a whole slew of phone owners!