Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cinco Paus has been incredibly well received; a lot of people are saying it's my best game yet, reviews are consistently highly positive (nobody on the appstore has rated it less than 5 stars), everything I'm hearing from players is great. This has not translated into many sales; it doesn't seem to have spread much past the circle of people who are already following my work. Weirdly there have been quite a few new people buying 868-HACK - it might be that people are hearing good things about the new game and then buying the old one instead because it's somehow seen as an "entry point" to my work? I guess I can't complain about this but they are very different games and I suspect for a lot of people Cinco Paus would serve as a more accessible entry point - it's more immediately fun, with less technical resource management, also it might be a better game. For similar reasons I'm a little surprised by the lack of recognition from the IGF - 866-HACK and Imbroglio were both design finalists and I'd hoped that with this one having a bit more immediate accessibility it might be the one to have a chance at actually winning - but I don't really know what's going on there now that Design, Nuovo and Grand Prize have all merged into the same category. Anyway, not to worry, I'm very happy with the response from people playing it and it's okay if sales are a slow burn.

I discussed my thoughts around expanding/porting Imbroglio. I've had an expansion just about ready to release for months but kept delaying it because I felt like it should wait until after the PC release. But I've realised part of what's been getting in the way of me porting it is that updating it with expansions becomes a bigger task the more platforms it's on, and I want to keep being able to do that in the background while working on new projects. So I think the answer is to keep it just on iOS for now, expand it there, and then eventually do a full PC release with all of that content included once I'm done meddling with it. Sorry I know that's not an ideal solution for everyone but it's one that works for me.

Started messing with a prototype that might turn into yet another tiny roguelike, not sure yet if the concept works, it's a slightly awkward one that needs quite a bit of stuff built up first before I can really test it. This might just be a bad sign; I usually get the best results from ideas that I can prototype super-quickly, but I don't want that to be a limitation on what types of things I can ever make so I'll sometimes try the tricky ideas anyway. I'll hopefully be able to reuse some things even if the main idea doesn't work out.

From thinking about what's seen as an "entry point" to my games, I'm wondering if I really ought to prioritise making something that might establish a new entry point, and I think the way to do that is to make something that is perceived as somehow "bigger". It's really nice that 868-HACK continues to sell and reach new people but it won't be enough to keep sustaining me. I'd very happily continue making games on the same kind of scale that I have been, but I know part of why they're hard to get attention for is that they're "small". Imbroglio was really quite a large project but a lot of the work was paring the design down to essentials and making it work in a tiny space, work that is unappreciated in an industry obsessed with BIGGER and MORE. So the challenge for me now is to find how to make something that will fit that perception of being "bigger" to get that attention on it, without completely throwing away the design principles that make my games good by making them small. Let's see what I can do.


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  2. People might hesitate and instead going for 868 because of the Portugese. Completely understandable, since you have to take some risk to buy something in a different language... your fellow followers know they get a gem, but people new to you might not take the leap.

    Anyways, I‘m sure you‘ll never leave your principles, so, I‘m interested to see what‘s coming out of your code when going „bigger“ or „bolder“ (so stupid, I‘d love to see more devs think as big as you). Maybe you really should take one of your neat restricted designs but put a flashy pixel coat on, that hits that sweet spot between retro love and modern indie (like Nitrome, Orange Pixel or Onion Games...), as long as it‘s also pleasing your personal eyes.

    I hope that especially Cinco Paus will make a bigger splash over time. It‘s the one game I‘d currently go for, if I was allowed to only keep one on my device.

    Best of luck to you!

  3. I always thought of Zaga-33 as the Brough entry point. Cinco Paus is definitely my new favorite though.

  4. Cinco Paus is a lovely game, but I am frustrated by not being able to read the descriptions. Until vivafringe's video series I opened it a couple of times and flailed around, but didn't get much joy out of it.

    For some people that discovery phase is part of the fun, but it doesn't do anything for me. I like to know the fundamentals and then work from there.

    I really hope this game does well, it really deserves to. But I can see how the decision to work exclusively in Portuguese may limit the sales.

  5. I wonder if you would write a bit about how your software architecture works?

    For example, do you generally have a little interpreter, which reads and follows something like a comma separated value data table so that you can tweak the parameters of the game design continuously?
    Or do you have one or more big literals in your source code, maps or tables or something, and edit that and rebuild? Or do you code everything in the source, without separating it into two parts "this is the kernel, an engine" and "this is the high level design, which controls the engine"?

    How much of your source code is copy-and-pasted from previous games, do you effectively have a personal game-framework, or do you start from scratch for each game?

    Your games are generally turn-based, but they do have animations. Do you have some patterns that you use to deal with the two time-scales, frame-by-frame and turn-by-turn?

  6. Hi Michael, as a Portuguese learner I find the font really hard to read. I can only really make out words when I show them to a fluent Portuguese person. If you’re after sales, I think you’d reach more people with an English version too. It’s an interesting experiment, but most people would be just put off by there not being an English download.

  7. I like the portuguese in Cinqo Paus, but even after playing for maybe 5 hours (dispersed in many blocks) I still have trouble remembering what any wands do; I find the symbols cryptic and un-memorable. This is possibly personal to me and how my mind works, but I can't really get into it too far.

    Zaga-33 was really my favorite (and definitely the entry level game), but unfortunately with the system update on my tablet and phone it no longer functions.
    That said, i still enjoy playing all your games and trying out each little or big thing you make.