today I just wanted to write a bit about the latest release of Timbertales. Yeah! We left “Early Access” and we are live by now! Thank you all for your support, questions and money on all different Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Patreon.
I want to give you a small overview about the latest update of Timbertales:
Steam Achievements I think I don’t have to tell you much here. I added 30 achievements with their own pictures and challenges. There are also some hidden achievements, so good luck achieving them all!
Improvements to the game I increased the game speed a bit, so everything should feel a bit more fast paced. The attack animations should close the distance to your opponent and making the combat feeling more enjoyable. I spend also a lot of time into bug fixing, which includes problems with fullscreen mode, crashes in missions or wrong counting map objectives.
Idle Animations All units should feel more alive by now. I added new idle animations for every unit to make the game more lively.
Sound improvements There were a lot of sound effects, which were annoying or not matching at all. I made a lot of changes to the sound effects and I hope you like them.
Of course there were also a lot of code changes and cleanup overall. I wish you a lot of fun while playing Timbertales and feel free to share your thoughts!
Future of Timbertales I want to be open and share some insights with you. Unfortunately Timbertales didn’t sale very well and I didn’t received so much feedback I would have hoped for! Nevertheless there are some fans and I am still willing to invest time into the game. My backlog is full of cool features and updates, but how to say the game needs to pay off a bit first. I don’t want to earn a million bugs that said, but I can’t invest full time into a game, when I have less than two sales / week. So summarised if there is good feedback and the game performs quite well in future. I will invest more time 🙂
Rainware Bundle on Steam There are also some other news. I added a “Rainware Bundle” on Steam which includes both Steam games FlatFatCat and Timbertales with a discount of 30%. So if you aren’t own the games yet, make sure to take this chance 🙂
Future projects and some numbers You may ask what is the plan for the future of Rainware. So since I am still working as freelancer, for at least three more months, there isn’t something special or big upcoming within the next weeks. I actually have two game concepts which should work out quite well and I would love to introduce them to you within the next blog posts. I also have one open project related to localisation, also here I would love to introduce it. As far as Timbertales is released now and FlatFatCat is running quite a while I will take a break into the development of both games. The reason for that is simple as I stated before: These projects actually haven’t paid off for me yet.
I made a screenshot for you of revenues total (I like the numbers):
I am fine with it and every sale is a huge compliment for myself! For being economically its far behind expectation. Just to leave it here unstated both projects costs me around: 10.000-15.000$ So I am not willing to speak of a success yet 🙂 Also 666$ for about two years of being independent couldn’t make my living, if I would have this amount per month it would go into the right direction.
Thank you all so far for your support and stay tuned for news. I won’t give up yet and fill my pocket with some paid work. There will be huge projects following after the freelance time is finished. I promise that!
finally I am back to indie development with at least one day per week. I am still working as freelancer for two more months, but only 4 days / week. So, I will dedicate a full day per week to the development of my games and indie business. First progress is already made in a long awaited patch for Timbertales, which will fix some major issues. I will go a bit more into detail what we can expect for the next updates of Timbertales and how long it will take.
Steam Patch this week
To start off with good news: I will release a patch for the steam version of Timbertales this week. This patch includes major fixes for resolution issues, adding a quit mission button, fixes a freeze which is caused by switching portraits and some more minor things. Yesterday, I was able to finish 80% and the missing 20% will follow by tomorrow. So you can expect the patch at last by end of week 🙂
Feedback and further development
I am still gathering feedback for Timbertales and creating a roadmap in direction of full release. Thanks to everyone who contacted me and shared his thoughts about the current game state. There are some really cool ideas and I got a lot of motivation to implement those. There was a long passive phase in Timbertales development and I lost a bit of motivation in between, but with all the feedback and some new very cool ideas I am back on track. I want to release a full version with a good game state and of course it should worth its price. Here is a little preview of my open tickets, if you miss something please don’t hesitate to contact me.
One Idea I want to highlight – Battlemap
There was one person with this brilliant idea. In short there will be a new game mode (Maybe as DLC not sure about that yet). In this game mode we will have to fight for the dominion of Timbertales. We will have a battlemap with different regions and they will provide different bonuses. Your goal will be to conquer all regions, but of course the enemy will get stronger the longer the conquest take. So your strategy in which order you will conquer which regions is very important. Unfortunately I can’t share much details about the bonuses yet, since there is a lot of work needed to build the concept, but I will get back to you as soon as there is a rough concept.
Conclusion – What can we excpect?
My current plan is to bugfix and improve Timbertales to a state, where I am happy to release it to the full version and leave Early Access. Of course this will take some effort marketing and development wise etc. It is still a good time to share your feedback, if there is any. I don’t have any deadline for the release, so I don’t have to stress myself. First priority is to make the game more fun and enjoyable. If the release works out very well, I can imagine to add DLCs and work on more content patches otherwise I will focus on another project.
today, I want to write a little bit about my impressions from the Games Conference 2018 in Hamburg, where I attended yesterday. There was a bunch of different talks and the topic of the Conference was “Play it – The future of games & films”. So I will go through the different talks and try to recap and summarize as best as possible 🙂 All talks are available on YouTube: GameCity
I was a bit late, so I missed half of the opening speak, but it was most likely about Hamburg. There are more games studios than ever before and more revenue was generated than the last year (somehow I do something wrong here, while I always hear of growing revenue in games and more studios I wasn’t able to get my slice of the cake yet). Also there were huge investments into faster internet speed on all schools in Hamburg and they plan to contract huge bunch of professors in technology universities to educate even more students.
Christian Fonnesbech (Nordisk Film Games) – “Less risk, more value: Create your IP for ALL media
This talk was really great. Christian seemed like a very cool person with a lot of experience in games and trans media. The talk was about creating your own IP and spread it everywhere, but he also said before creating any IP or think about a it of course a game should have a fun and cool core mechanic. This made him very personable for me, because it was more directed to create very cool games instead of focusing on an IP and make the most out of marketing. Nevertheless what he said was, that if you have a good game, which performs quite well try to make an IP out of it. Take the world or the character and make another game of it and spread those things into other media like tv series, books, toys and so on. Another thing was to rely on your creations and don’t start from scratch for your next project. Always try to reuse as much as possible and tighten your IP.
Michael Geidel (Produzent für Film und Games, MiriquidiFilm Leipzig) – Case Study: Vom Album zum Buch, Film und Game und vom Film zum VR-Game – Erfahrungen aus Transmedia-Projekten
I actually was a bit reserved in this talk. It was about a Jazz band, who created an music album for kids and MiriquidiFilm Leipzig did some short films according to the tracks and presented them to an audience of kids. It was very well accepted and they also asked, if the kids would like to see a game out of those series. Actually it was a great example that one IP could spread through different medias, but as far as I understood: MiriquidFilms was just contracted to do the films, so it was kinda less interesting for me, since I want to create my own IP and not working for some one else as a studio. That said they also tried to make an VR-Game out of it and had some success with it. My opinion to VR / AR and MR is something like: I like the idea in generell and it offers a lot of potential, but with all the different hardware and no standard its kinda too early to dig deeper into the topic right now. Also I often have the thought when I see some VR projects “Why not just making a normal game? Because I don’t see any advantage of the VR technology”
Case Study: Die Workflows von „Trüberbrook” – Was man aus der Filmproduktion für Games-Development lernen kann – Hans Böhme (btf GmbH)
That was actually a blast. Hans showed some scaled models and how they created a film out of it. Trüberbrook was a very successfull kickstarter and looks amazing. You can find the kickstarter campaign here: http://trueberbrook.com/de/startseite/ Now they are trying to make a game out of it. They have a very unique workflow for that, since they work with scaled models. They often take pictures with real lightening and use them later as pre-baked textures for their environment. For this they try to get the same camera perspective in game as they have used to take the picture. Only the main character and some dynamic objects were designed fully digital and got dynamic lightening, which actually generated some problems they had to take care of. It was amazing for me to see those very different techniques and how awesome they worked in the end. Actually one of my problem for the most talks was: I can’t compare myself to these studios, since all of them had already bigger teams and much more opportunities with their creations, which made me kinda sad sometimes. Because I have the feeling I could never achieve such cool models or environments as a single person in a reasonable time. Anyhow, I could take something away in any talk and of course I respect their work a lot.
Short break and networking
After these three talks we had a short break to get some food, drinks and could talk to each other. There was a colorful audience from developers over producers, publishers, schools, media etc. I met an ex coworker from Innogames, who is now working for Amazon. Amazon had a small booth to show up their “game on” services, which are quite cool and I would like to use in future. Amazon was also one of the sponsors of the conference. Three more talks followed.
Case Study:AR-Game zur Graphic Novel „Der nasse Fisch” vom Carlsen Verlag Bengt-Oliver Stellmann (Creative Director, Garlic Games Media GmbH)
AR-Game talk with a bit of a fresh concept. Oliver talked about a project, where they tried to create an AR-Game out of a comic. They pitched a first prototype to a publisher and the publisher answered something like: I am sure you are able to ship the game, but I don’t think you are able to create a comic and publish it. So they searched for another publisher and found the “Carlsen Verlag”, who had already published comics and some experience with AR-Games. They could take advantage of a comic, which was already in production and would be released within the next months and build up their game on that. The challenge was they wanted to create a new story for the game, which differ from the comic. So they had to talk and discuss with the author and designer of the comic. This is always a problem they mentioned, because you try to build up on their “baby” and this can lead to different opinions and emotions. In this case they had a very successful conversation and could get up with a story and a game for the comic. Their first prototype worked with a print. You had to scan it site by site with your camera and than you where able to play different levels as a standalone game. The game they are currently working on works with surface detection and no longer needs a print. You just download it from the App Store and scan your surroundings. So they rely on the rooms where you are actually in. This technology is quite nice, but also offers a lot of difficulties, especially if your room is much smaller or bigger than the level which should be presented virtually.
Case Study – Petra Monheim (Founder, Goodbye Kansas Germany)
Sorry, but for this “talk” I only got two words: Advertising show. The talk consisted of 5 or more high rendered trailers with very cool effects and of course awesome characters and models, but really there wasn’t any value in the talk. It was just a showcase of their awesome trailers and explaining their studio structure / construction. For me as single Indie Developer this was a bit frustrating, since I couldn’t really take anything and just thought yeah would love to have those visuals … It was actually really impressive, but for a budget I will never be able to spend. At least the trailer for Biomutant, was interesting for me as a gamer, because it looked very nice and I could like it.
Marktzahlen und Chancen bei transmedialen Produkten – Niklas Wilke (Partner, PriceWaterhouseCoopers)
The last talk was about the future of different markets from a business insider. It was a presentation with a lot of percentages and numbers and differed a lot to all those creative talks before. Nevertheless I found some trends quite interesting. The biggest growth for the next five years is expected to be in eSports, followed by video games. I am a huge eSports fan and really like this trend. There is also a discussion ongoing, that eSports should be treated as normal sports in Germany. This would allow to register legal eSport clubs etc. Another really good point for us as indie devs – Video games are predicted to grow even more within the next five years. Actually the biggest growth can be expected on casual mobile games, in between pc games and last but not least console games. Impressive fact: On consoles still 60% of games are bought in stores as boxed version and only 40% online as digital copy. Unlike pc games where a lot more games are bought as digital copies.
Buffet, networking and beer
After this we had some food again, beer and could talk to each other. I met a few people and talked to them. Unfortunately I had to leave early so I couldn’t attend very long. There were also some more talks in the evening I couldn’t attend.
As Indie developer there weren’t too much topics of interest or related to my daily business. Nevertheless most talks were quite exciting and educating. I won a free ticket, so the conference was actually free for me, which was quite nice. I think I wouldn’t pay the normal price for the conference due to the lack of interesting stuff for myself and I am very bad at networking.
last week I wrote about my switch from OSX to Windows 10 as development environment. Today, I can say I am still using Windows 10 and I am more familiar with it than ever before. I would like to talk about some issues and software I use for my daily business and why. So lets get started!
Hyper as Terminal
Recently I switched to the Hyper Terminal. I really like the design of it and with the Windows Manager you can arrange it really cool. Behind Hyper Terminal I still use Ubuntu as WSL and I am using zsh instead of bash. You can checkout my zsh configuration here: https://github.com/anthraxx/ant-zsh
A more delicate topic is vagrant on windows with WSL. First thing: It is possible and it works, but with some drawbacks. The most import thing is to execute following command on your WSL:
You need to install vagrant and Virtualbox on your windows machine. You also need to install vagrant on your WSL (careful the version must match the windows vagrant version). If this is done you can use vagrant as usual. My only drawback at the moment – I can’t use nfs. At the moment I have to work with rsync for synced folders, which isn’t very optimal but ok for now.
I am using vagrant a lot for web development, if you haven’t used vagrant yet you should give it a try.
Windows 10 introduced the multiple desktop feature, which is quite nice and I am used to use many desktops from OSX. I always having specific applications on specific desktops. I also usually work with two monitors. While the terminals stay always on my notebook monitor the applications cycle through the different desktops on my primary desktop. Unfortunately there are two flaws on the virtual desktop feature for Windows 10 I identified.
You can’t assign apps to starts on a specific desktop – To solve this I usually start all applications at once and then move them to the right desktop on TaskView or I go to the right desktop first and then start the app.
There isn’t a shortcut, I know of, to switch to a specific desktop. My solution for that problem is to have the applications in my taskbar in the right order with this little trick I can use WindowsKey + 1 for Chrome, which is on Desktop 1 or WindowsKey + 2 for Phpstorm, which is on Desktop 2.
Other Software I use
Android Studio / PyCharm / PhpStorm – They are nearly the same base, but for different programming languages. These products work as expected and there is no difference to the OSX versions except the shortcuts.
Blender for 3D Modeling works fine having no problems at all. Cool tip is to use your surface in presentation mode and plugin an external keyboard. Then you can use the surface pen and having all num pad related hotkeys at the same time.
Office Stuff – As written in the post from last week I am using the Office 365 package. Mostly I use Outlook 2016, OneNote, Word and Excel. Before I worked a lot with google docs, spreadsheets. OneNote is definitely a really cool tool and I use it for a lot of different tasks. Game Design concepts, brainstorming ideas, todo lists and of course notes.
Today I want to talk about my switch recently from OSX to Windows 10 as development environment or better said from Macbook Pro to Microsoft Surface Book 2.
Why should I switch at all?
As you all know game development, especially with engines like Unreal Engine 4, need a good amount of performance. I ran into some problem with my old MacBook 13″ early 2015 it wasn’t able to handle that mighty engine very well. So I thought about buying a new Notebook. I work as a freelancer sometimes, so I want to stick to a Notebook instead of just buying a Desktop. Of course my first thought was to just upgrade my MacBook to a newer one. I checked out the configurations available for the new MacBook. I will have to get a 15″ MacBook, if I want the best hardware. I was really happy with my 13″ MacBook, because it was very light and portable. I really disliked that the new MacBook comes with this new touch bar, that I will never use and I don’t get the sense of it at all. The second point I really disliked was the new flatened keyboard. That said I started researching, if there are any alternatives and I found one, which fit my needs: The Microsoft Surface Book 2. It comes with a better hardware than the MacBook, has a touchscreen and is very flexibel, since you can use it as Tablet or Notebook. This makes the Surface especially good for developing for mobile platforms. You don’t need to upload every build to your phone to test touch gestures etc. another very cool advantage is: You can actually play games on the Surface very well. In the end there was one very big counter argument for the Surface – I have to use Windows 10 for development. I think I have been working on OSX for more than 5 years now and I am very used to my work environment. Nevertheless I try to overcome my comfort zone and give it a shot.
Working with Windows 10 First steps
As I said the biggest challenge is to actual work efficient with Windows 10. I always used Windows for gaming, so I am not totally unaware of Windows as os, but for development I never used it before.
First I missed my zsh shell, since I am really used to bash or zsh with my OSX / Linux history in development. I was really amazed, that the windows 10 creators update introduce a Linux subsystem called WSL. Now we are able to use a Linux with Windows 10 and the best thing about it: It isn’t a virtual machine or something it works with the original kernel, but somehow integrated in Windows. Actually you can do everything in Linux even starting gnome GUI things etc. I installed Ubuntu on my Windows 10, because I couldn’t find any Arch Linux for Windows yet. The shell and all development tools like NodeJS, Python etc. works as expected, the only flaw about WSL is that the Filesystem is quite slow, even slower than on Virtualbox. But there are some tweaks to get at least an acceptable performance. Check it out here https://medium.com/@leandrw/speeding-up-wsl-i-o-up-than-5x-fast-saving-a-lot-of-battery-life-cpu-usage-c3537dd03c74
Second point is the feeling of Windows. I felt very at home on OSX, most things run very smooth and ran out of the box or wasn’t supported. On Windows there are few minor things, which aren’t behave the same way like on OSX and that annoys me quite a lot. For example the scrolling with the touch pad doesn’t feel as smooth as it feels on OSX. Working with multiple desktops, which I do quite a lot, luckily works on Windows, but there aren’t shortcuts to jump to a specific desktop. There are also no options to assign applications to a specific display or desktop at least as far as I know.
Third point: The software isn’t on a quality level like OSX. On OSX I used the builtin software for mail, calendar and could easily synchronize it with my google account and everything worked as expected. On Windows I started with Mail and had all the same features and everything worked flawless until I realized that Mail has no possibility to add a html signature. So I upgraded to Outlook 2016, because I thought the premium software included with Office 365 would have the same features plus additional features like html signature. Not even close, yes Outlook offers the possibility for html signature, but I couldn’t add my google account, since it is an application with lesser security. Also I needed to add a special plugin to have calendar synchronization possible. This was really annoying and I don’t understand why the Mail App, which is for free, had those functionalities and Outlook 2016, where you have to buy, doesn’t?
The Surface Book 2 is definitely a very cool Notebook and I like it as much or even more than I liked my MacBook. The Tablet mode is quite interesting, even if I haven’t figured out yet how to work with it in a efficient or proper way, its more like playing around at the moment. As mentioned the only flaw at the moment is to getting used to working with Windows and get everything setup like I am used to it. Of course software like Unity, Godot, Photoshop behave the same, but always differ in shortcuts. It feels quite wrong at the moment, most of my shortcuts I have in mind don’t work anymore etc. But I am still willing to adjust myself and get used to it. At the moment I would say, if you are used to Windows the Surface Book 2 is a very good choice for development. If you switch from OSX it has his downsides, caused by the software, but you can get used to it.
today I want to write about a more technical / marketing topic. I recently started to make a plan for marketing my games Timbertales and FlatFatCat. One of the first steps included in this plan was to message YouTubers, which actually covered similar games to mine.
My first approach was quite simple: I thought about a fitting search term and searched on YouTube. On the results page I just clicked through the channels and gathered the most relevant informations: Name, Subscriber number, Link to channel and Email address if provided. After filling my excel sheet and having round about 40 entries I thought “Man this is kind a exhausting and there must be a better method”.
Using the YouTube Data API
After googling for some better methods I came across the YouTube Data API. Luckily I already have some projects, which could be used for the YouTube Data API. So I registered Timbertales for the API. I was able to find a library for NodeJs written and maintained by google itself called “googleapis“. So with a small setup I am now able to send requests to the YouTube API and gather the required data. Unfortunately I wasn’t yet able to fetch the email address out of the channel details and I am not even sure if it is possible at all. If someone knows more about it I would appreciate your comment a lot! Nevertheless even with taking care of the email address manually I am much faster now in gathering relevant YouTubers than ever before. I can just search for a specific game and my script will fill a file with all relevant informations. After that I just gather the email address, if provided, manually.
I hope I could give you a small insight and may be you are interested in the script itself, if this is the case just comment or leave a message and I will write another part with the script included.