Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #150 (Roster Complete)


     Finally finished everypony and their ultra forms! They're in need of cleanup, but sometimes you just gotta move onto the next step or the bigger picture will never be framed. Can't believe I've been on this for over 150 weeks now... Time to kick things into even higher gear to get this game out on time for a Spring 2018 release!

     This week is filled with tons of exciting news, updates on Yotes Games as a business, retrospection on previous games, plans for the future, and tons of inspiration for getting through the rest of the development of Battle Gem Ponies.

Get a MAJOR gamedev update to make up for the weeks of silence below, on this week's devlog!

Interesting side note. I've been running ads on this blog and my various apps since 2013 and I'm just now passing the halfway mark for being allowed to collect revenue from them. Picking up a handful of pennies every month, and unless BGP gets a lot more people to visit yotesgames.com, it'll be about another 4 years before $100 randomly shows up in my bank account. Sheesh, I can see why it takes millions of views to make ad revenue matter.

   Completed:
  • Finalized All Ponies & Ultras (gonna reveal the legendary trio alicorns later)
  • Reorganized ReBlog Pages (places to advertise updates and links to this site)
  • Learned About New Steam Curator Connect
  • Updated List of Press Sites to Visit
  • Read All App Reviews from the Past Month
  • Read a Fascinating Q&A Thread by a Pokemon Prism Developer (with links to the Pokemon producer's opinions on fangames and a real C&D Letter)
  • New Ideas for Stadium's Challenge Cup Planned
  • Marketing Idea for Hall of Fame Planned (share fancy pics of your team with a quote)
  • Updated YouTube Channel
  • Researched How Other Indies Merch (how to sell custom shirts & stuff)
  • Studied Lots of Patreons
This forum is my exact target audience. Bronies who enjoy gaming enough to make their own forums about it.
I should make it my goal to become the most popular thread on here before release. 

     Lessons Learned:
  • I should probably open up a Patreon alongside the alpha build of BGP and use donation funds to get me to brony & indie game conventions across America in 2018.
  • If I had a Patreon, I could allow Patrons access to my Itch.io games for free.
  • I'm going to start posting devlogs on the Equestria Daily forums more. I used to only do them as Status Updates on my personal page there, but almost nobody is seeing them, meanwhile my BGP Thread is one of the most viewed in the Community Projects section, so I should be using the platform with the most eyes on it, right?
  • I'll save the more boring devlogs as status updates, so those who really care can always see I'm still working on the game every week, while I put all the exciting announcements and progress on the main thread for all to see.
  • Between the 2,500 active EQD forum users and the 2,000 viewers I get on this blog with a major update, that's like $11K if I can convince everyone to buy BGP at launch. And that's about 20% of the funds I'd need to move out of my parent's house. A great start!
Some pixelated Ultra Pony drafts.
There's room for improvement on a bunch of them, but if I keep tweaking this game will never be done.
       I should make some promotional material today showing off some of the pony designs or overworld mockups and stash 'em away for later. Now that I'm entering a coding period there might not be so many interesting things to show for a week. I'll try my best to showcase why each week's progress is significant even if the changes only exist in code.

On the topic of Patreon...
     Projects like Starved for Light, Ambient, and Yandere Simulator have ongoing patreon accounts to fuel their games' development with $800+, $900+, and $5000+ respectively and I feel like I'm leaving useful funding on the table.  I came across a few people expressing how happy they are to help contribute to a game financially while reading comments on their various social pages, youtube videos, and blog posts and if multiple brony projects with less frequent updates than mine are averaging over $800 a month, there's no reason I can't shoot for it too.

     Currently, I'm making about $30 a month from Unicorn Training sales (which I basically use for gas money) and an ongoing $10 a month from a follower named Craig, that I'm extremely thankful for, who's been donating since October of 2015! Everything else is covered by my parents who agreed to house me after college under the agreement that this passion project is finished "soon" and makes enough money to match a starting salary of a game designer. I'm already a year late and they're not seeing any benefit so they're pushing me towards just signing up to work at the local EA Sports office if the game's not out by Summer 2018).


     This is where I get my 25K figure from. If I get that many people to buy my game at it's $5 price, then after tax and paying BGP's musicians their share, I'll have about $50K, which is almost the average starting salary for game designers. I know that doesn't include typical benefits like dental or insurances and I know I'd also need to make an extra $33K on top of that if I want to get rid of my student debt AND survive for a year in a tiny house or apartment in Orlando Florida.

     Basically, I need to sell Battle Gem Ponies to the 30K+ people who've seen a Let's Play of it on YouTube as well as the 100K+ people who've downloaded the Unicorn Training Demo and left comments like "wish this was more polished/fleshed out" and "can't wait for your next game". With all that, I'm hoping it makes enough money to erase my student debt, get me a decent new car since my current rust bucket is going to collapse any day now, and generate a stable income over the next couple years while I develop the sequel which should be wildly more successful than this first attempt at a giant RPG adventure.


     If I'm going to do this, I'll have to do it right. It'll basically be an open donation box and another place to repost weekly updates. Since Patreon will only contain my absolute biggest fans, it'd also be a pretty good idea for public polling those situations where I can't decide which of two options looks the best (I'm currently using Discord for that, but why not make it a donor perk?). Having a list of Patrons would also give me something to fill up the end credits with. Maybe I could even make little NPC sprites for my top contributors too.

     I want to launch this alongside the release of the Alpha because I'm planning a huge media blitz when that build is complete. At that point I'll be able to have tons of blog posts stacked up and ready to release on a regular basis and the game won't just be a pipedream anymore as I'd only be polishing it and translating maps from graph paper sketches using the tile editor.

     Also, having income during this final stretch of development will be a good indicator of how successful the game could be. If I make $800 month to month and see no dropoff, then I'm clearly doing something right. It's one thing to have someone look at my game and say "cool" or subscribe to me and check in every once in a while, but if somebody throws money down, then they're really invested, and I wanna know what needs to be done to get people to do that for Battle Gem Ponies.

     So this Patreon initiative would push me towards marketing the game effectively and using feedback to improve the game's quality... I should really jump on that soon.

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     Downloads:



     Here's the download count for December 2017. All looks well & good. Glad to see Unicorn Training Demo approaching 150K downloads!

       Featured:


     This week in featured news I wanted to try something a little different and talk about some of the reviews Unicorn Training gets. Most of the Google Play store reviews say basically the same thing (and often poorly auto-translated to sometimes hilarious affect). The controls are bad, mechanics aren't explained well, enemies are too tough, lots of exploits & bugs, "this is like Undertale!", and people can't wait for a sequel.

     I've been taking all these messages into account in my ideas for a followup to Unicorn Training. But just so you can see too, here's a few recent examples from the list of thousands of app reviews on Unicorn Training and its demo!

Bugs & control issues and otherwise fine game.
Some things just aren't explained well in-game.
A boss skip exploit was found.
It's impressive to see a "real game" on the app store.
The infamous infinite chest glitch...
Uncomfortable controls and the spell reorganization gestures aren't ever explained.
If I try again, I could really be onto something...
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     Time to get down to business! Gonna implement the improved Battle System, make the cutscene system, then just get to building the alpha itself! It's December, things are down to the wire! The final Pre-Alpha MUST be complete by Christmas. I need that Alpha built before mid-January if I have any hopes of getting decent press attention. No matter how sloppy, something solid needs to exist so I can spend a couple months animating it,  another month polishing it, and yet another month marketing it.

     The game's gotta be finished, it's gotta look good, and I have to sell it like crazy. Online door-to-door style if I have to. Whatever it takes to put the finished product in front of the eyes that need to see it.

I want Battle Gem Ponies to be the kind of game people nominate for "Mobile Game of the Year" in 2018

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