in the last blog post I told you a bit about going back to old projects or start something new. I decided to go back to an old project. Since my budget is running super low and I can’t survive as indie game developer much longer – I had to make decisions and one of those were: Bringing Timbertales to the quality it deserves!
The quality of Timbertales
Timbertales was my first game project and I invested a lot into that game. It is based on a very complex server infrastructure and all the code is written with the libGDX framework. That means I haven’t used any game engine and had to write massive amounts of code. This makes the maintainability even harder and I wish it was achieved with Godot nowadays 🙂
Nevertheless the code isn’t bad at all it just takes so much more time to patch and change things if you have to do it all by code instead of an easy GUI editor. Timbertales were released in a no where near perfect state back in 2017. I had to rush myself because of the lack of money. The start wasn’t very successful and so I didn’t put much more effort in a project which took me more than a year of development time.
It is overwhelming how much I learned in the time and so I come up with a lot of changes and very different view than two years ago. My plan is to improve the visuals to make the game more appealing to a possible audience. Afterwards I would like to improve the store page on Steam and put up some new graphic assets like screenshots and trailer to push the sales. My goal is to get more community feedback and release a patch very week. That said tomorrow will hit another patch. Timbertales is also on sale at the moment, if you are interested in the game.
What are the next changes?
This week I also focused on tweaking, fixing bugs and improve the visual quality in general, but there were also a lot of thinking ongoing in which direction the development will move. There will be big game play changes upcoming. I also want to improve the balancing and add another story campaign, but first of all there is small little problem with the budget.
As I started working on my current game shuffleboard cat, it was intended as a funny little shuffleboard game with cats. I absolutely like my progress so far, but unfortunately I made some decisions and got lost somewhere in the middle where I need your help and feedback for discussion and getting back on track!
Please keep in mind that most of my arguments are based on my experience and not a given fact. 🙂
Introduction Shuffleboard Cat
Let me first introduce the project to give you a small impression about the type and genre of the game. I used most assets from my Flat Fat Cat franchise, because I like the assets very much and I think they fit perfectly into this type of game. With Flat Fat Cat Bounce I created already a game where you can slide and bounce cats together and I liked that game mechanic a lot so I sticked to it.
But there is one major difference which isn’t visible on the first view. Godot! Flat Fat Cat Bounce was achieved with libGDX meanwhile I switched to Godot as game engine and I wanted to transfer the mechanics and assets to a new game engine with success!
Shuffleboard cat is made with Godot and works fine so far with nearly the same behaviour physics wise as the original Flat Fat Cat Bounce. As usual I challenge myself a lot so beside of transferring the game to a new engine I also wanted to include multiplayer and a more competitive approach into shuffleboard cat.
The idea in short: Provide the mechanics of sliding und bouncing cats like we had in Flat Fat Cat Bounce, but instead of matching pairs – combine these physics with a standard Shuffleboard game and add multiplayer and a ranking to it. I also added some skins and some kind of progression system, but this shouldn’t be discussed now and will be introduced later.
Why choosing mobile market / platform?
This is the project in short. I had the vision to make it as mobile game for several reasons:
I like the slide mechanic with touch inputs
The portrait mode has the perfect aspect ratio for the playground
Short 1v1 matches for ranking multiplayer would fit on mobile
General Art style matches the mobile market
Free to play games are easier to distribute on mobile
It is not the complete list, but these were the main reasons for me to design it for mobile devices. As said unfortunately I lost the focus at this point and I am not sure if I was ever the right call with these assumptions.
I still like the touch input for the slide mechanics and I think the playground fits perfectly to the portrait mode.
But! Is multiplayer really good on mobile devices? I mean seriously clash of clans or clash royale prove that there is a competitive scene on the mobile market. I think Shuffleboard is a really niche in sport games and so it will on the video game market. I don’t have any idea if there is a lot of potential or even enough players to make it work.
Is the general art style really only fitting on mobile market? I don’t know! Flat Fat Cat Bounce for example was much better sold on Steam as it ever did on mobile market and this even without optimising it for PC or Steam!
“Free to play games are easier to distribute on mobile market?” At this moment I don’t think so anymore, because I think the mobile market in general is so much harder to enter than to publish games on Steam for example. Without spending money on marketing you have to put a lot of effort into actually reach out for players. I have the feeling that it is easier to build up a community or get players on platforms like Steam.
Why choosing PC / Steam as platform?
Ok, now why do I think Steam is may be a more viable option?
Flat Fat Cat Bounce sold much better on Steam than on mobile platforms even as mobile game
Community building feels more comfortable on Steam / PC
As a gamer myself I don’t know the mobile market very well, because I don’t play mobile games very much
Games on Steam feel more worthy – At least for me
As said before I made much more revenue on Steam as on mobile market overall and this just proves for me that Steam should be the place to go. Unfortunately I always have the feeling that the games I create aren’t fitting the PC market, because they weren’t planned for it in the first place?!
In this special case for Shuffleboard cat, I have the problem with the aspect ratio and I am not sure how to fix it and I am also not sure about the free to play approach on Steam. Is this a distribution model which works or gets me a lot of players?
On the other hand Flat Fat Cat Bounce proved that even a mobile port works better on Steam than I expected and made more revenue on Steam than on the mobile market.
The biggest issue I have right now with releasing games on Steam is the following: I think smaller games like Shuffleboard cat don’t feel right for PC games.
As a PC gamer myself I have quite a lot of quality expectations for games on Steam and I am not sure if I can match them. I think this is why I tend to develop for mobile, because there it feels more like “I don’t give a shit” if you know what I mean.
Where should I go from here?
This brings us to the end of this article and a hopefully upcoming discussion in which direction I can or should go. In my heart I feel like I should do games for PC / Steam, because that is what I want and where I know more about the players, market and games in general.
For that I need to do some adjustments to reach my quality expectations and being able to ship the game with a good conscience.
What do you think about the topic? Where would you release this game? Do I miss a solution?