Author Topic: So... How are sales going?  (Read 4080 times)

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2013, 09:21:38 PM »
at least there'll be Steam sales.   .....of games I likely already have.  Joy.
Haha, yea, that's one trouble with the "move gazillions of units" approach to profitability: the number of unique games being made can't keep up with the number of unique games some of us are buying.

Sometimes there's like 3 or 4 days straight in the middle of a big steam sale where nothing in the "big front page deals" actually interests me (at any price) that I haven't already picked up in a 5-for-1-dollar deal from Humble Bundle or whatever.

But I think we may be able to contribute to your meeting your input-device-disaster quota :)
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Offline x4000

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2013, 09:23:17 PM »
Well, bear in mind that "no plan survives contact with the enemy," right?  So we adapt to the situation as it changes around us.

Right now we are working pretty exclusively on Starport 28, with some side work of course maintaining the few things that need tidying on Bionic.  Though honestly the exhaustive work everyone in the alpha did with us really made this our most polished launch of a game ever, by far.

Fun fact: after getting out of prototyping, Bionic Dues took us one month of pre-alpha and one month of alpha, and that month of alpha felt a bit leisurely and generous honestly (which is the way to do it).  And that was with Keith being pretty much out for most of 2 weeks in there.  So this was basically a two-month project.  As was Skyward 1.0, although since I did not have Keith it was more of a frantic rush and it was not as polished at launch.  Having the full team on a project clearly matters.

Anyway, so we're focused on Starport 28 pretty exclusively right now, although I am also working on designing the next and next next games behind that one.  Starport should be ready for private alpha testing of the style Bionic had starting in November sometime.  Normally we would be able to comfortably release in December just based on our own schedule, but of course with the holidays that would be stupid.  So the expectation is January.

Meanwhile we'll still be working on the next project after Starport during that otherwise-too-long wait until January (we have to keep busy somehow, eh?), and so the second game should be into private alpha by January and released in February.

The game after that is a little more of a question mark, because in Jan/Feb we will probably take some time off to do expansions.  Ideally one for Bionic and one for AI War both, to come out in Feb/Mar (or so).  The presence of those two expansions probably will not derail the next next game from being in April anyway, because that one is extremely light on programming and heavy on design and art and writing, while the expansions both involve programming more than anything else.  So it's a good division of time at that point.

Then after that, everyone back together for the next title, hopefully ready for June I guess.  Something like that.

The crazy thing is, we were never rushing around with Bionic, and the only bits of rush on Skyward were because we split the team (and even there it wasn't so bad).  Making games of the scale of these two, it seems like two months with one being heavy alpha-style playertesting polish, is about the natural pace for the Arcen staff.  Partly because of the size of the staff, partly because of the experience of the staff, partly because of the huge levels of engine and code assets we have from past games, and partly because we're able to come up with very diverse creative ideas quickly and then refine them into something you actually want to play.

Some of us are a little leery of what people are going to think when we keep cranking out games like this, but my hope is that as long as they are awesome, people won't care.  I mean, we'll take the amount of time on a game that it requires, but with 7 people on a project that is really a lot of manpower for an indie project so long as the project is managed well. 

The non-music parts of AI War were done alone by me in 7 months.  The non-music production work parts of Bionic were done by about 4.5 people in 2 months.  In man-months, Bionic took 9 whereas AI War took 7.  And that was with more specialized staff (part of my time with AI War was faffing with graphics and such, which I had no business in), and with lots of prior-code assets (a big part of AI War's time was just coming up with more of the engine at all).  If you take out those extraneous things, Bionic took almost twice as many hours to make as AI War... just compressed into less than half the calendar time.

And then, of course, all of the other elements with project management, QA, and PR/marketing have a lot more support so that I don't get bogged down in all that and thus delay the next project for weeks or months.  That lets us go straight from project to project rather than having big gaps in the middle where the production team is trying to get the word out.

That's the magical thing about teams of about this size.  You add many more people, and that sort of synergy starts to break down.  If you have a team of 100 or 200 people, forget about it -- that's "steering a battleship" for you.  You drop too much below this size, and suddenly things start to slow down much more substantially, too.

It's a funny thing we've discovered by accident.

EDIT: Ninja'd thrice over.
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Offline x4000

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2013, 09:25:06 PM »
at least there'll be Steam sales.   .....of games I likely already have.  Joy.

On the plus side, there's always the Starport 28 alpha, so if it grabs you then there will be that for the holidays. :)
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Offline rallythelegions

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2013, 10:02:55 PM »
The RPS review came across on my feed, and I immediately paused my show and opened it up. My heart kind of sank with the first few lines, then he said he stayed up all night playing and I quite literally cheered. My girlfriend gave me the strangest look, and I had a hard time explaining why I was so happy a game I enjoy got a good review.  :P

Great job, y'all. I'm raising my coffee cup in salute and playing one more round. Well... at least one more.

Offline yllamana

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2013, 12:32:12 AM »
What's a Starport 28? That sounds pretty exciting.

I was hoping the sales would pick up now that it's featured on the steam frontpage.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2013, 12:50:35 AM »
I was hoping the sales would pick up now that it's featured on the steam frontpage.
The section with the little icons helps, but it's the big rotator thing above that that really matters, in our experience.  Generally good for a 2x or 3x sustained difference.
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Offline yllamana

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2013, 01:27:39 AM »
I was hoping the sales would pick up now that it's featured on the steam frontpage.
The section with the little icons helps, but it's the big rotator thing above that that really matters, in our experience.  Generally good for a 2x or 3x sustained difference.
Yes, I see it's up there now! That was actually how I noticed Skyward was out, because the picture you had up for that one was really lovely and interest-provoking.

Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2013, 01:48:42 AM »
I was hoping the sales would pick up now that it's featured on the steam frontpage.
The section with the little icons helps, but it's the big rotator thing above that that really matters, in our experience.  Generally good for a 2x or 3x sustained difference.
Yes, I see it's up there now! That was actually how I noticed Skyward was out, because the picture you had up for that one was really lovely and interest-provoking.
Wait what?  Could you post a screenshot of what you mean?

I've checked the entire rotator rotation twice now thinking maybe they'd put it up there, because of you ;)
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Offline nas1m

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2013, 01:52:59 AM »
I think means its on the Indie section rotator. At least i have Seen it there just now ;)...
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Offline yllamana

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2013, 01:54:07 AM »
Sure! Does this work?

Offline nas1m

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2013, 01:56:22 AM »
Cool stuff! But why haven't i seen it ??? ?
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2013, 01:57:23 AM »
I think means its on the Indie section rotator. At least i have Seen it there just now ;)...
Ah, right.  Yea, that's not bad but I mean the main page.  From what we've seen apparently very few people really look at the category-specific spots.


@yllamana: huh? That's the main page rotator, alright, and that's our game, alright... but I don't see it in the rotator from where I am.  Maybe it's a different set because you're on a mac and it doesn't show you non-mac stuff?  Thanks for the screenshot, either way :)


Is anyone else seeing Bionic in the main page rotator?  If so, what OS are you running?
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Offline nas1m

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2013, 01:59:44 AM »
I just double checked. Its not there for me using iOS...
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2013, 02:03:53 AM »
I just double checked. Its not there for me using iOS...
Hmm.

Maybe it's a regional thing?

Anyway, won't worry about it.  Doesn't appear to be impacting sales, whatever slice of the steam folks are actually seeing it.  But I think if we got a main spot for real that'd help a fair bit :)  Dunno if it'd be decisive, we don't have that much data, but it's helped a ton in the past.
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Offline yllamana

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Re: So... How are sales going?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2013, 02:09:41 AM »
Okay. I booted into Windows (albeit on another machine) and it's not in the large, scrolling display there. So it seems it's on the large scrolling thing if you view it from a Mac, but not otherwise.

It's in the small "featured PC games" section, but not in the "featured Mac games" section or the "featured Linux games" section. I wonder if it's on the large Linux scroller, if there is one?

But either way, there you go.