Hello there! As you may have heard, I’m now making a little football game, despite knowing nothing at all about football and not really liking the sport or the people who used to walk past my bedroom window at 11:30 at night after the “big game” shouting “WAAAAY-OOOOH, WAAAAY-OOOOOOOH, WE DID IT, WE DID THE FOOTBALL-aaaaah” or whatever it was they shouted.
I liked Sensible Soccer though, back in the 1990s on Mike Horner’s Amiga. I also enjoyed Speedball on IBM-compatible PCs but (ssssh, heresy incoming) Speedball 2 left me a little cold, it wasn’t as good. There, I said it.
Anyway. Here we are, we’re all here now making a football game and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it so probably best to just knuckle down and make it into a viable product to shovel into people’s faces.
Progress has been thick and fast, loads of cool stuff going in. It’s starting to ‘feel’ like a sport, but I’m aware quite a lot of the work at the moment is ‘game feel’ and tinkering, which is something I really enjoy but doesn’t make for a barrage of interesting gifs for Twitter. So, here’s a little run-down of the stuff that’s getting done, and where Kickmen is going.
Lovely Michael Cook has been slaving over the AI – they’re still the game’s biggest problem at the moment. When it was all a silly joke the idea was to have players dogpiling the ball, like a playground match, and the AI for that was going to be exceptionally simple. Sadly, it turns out that just isn’t fun, and while Behold the Kickmen is a tongue-in-cheek silly little game, it still needs to be fun and enjoyable to play. So Michael’s hard at work making the little football men do sensible kicking, and making them do things that make the game more enjoyable to play – spreading out around the arena a bit, predicting what you’re thinking, that kind of thing.
I like working with Michael. He’s super-intelligent, funny and – importantly – doesn’t know anything about football either, so his AI code is all just guesswork as well. It’s helping make Kickmen not feel like just another football game. It’s warped enough to be its own thing, thanks to sheer, blissful ignorance of ‘facts’.
For my part, the main football stuff is bordering on finished. I’m working on giving it some variety, and hoping to get the main “football match” side of things finished soon – all the rules like goals and penalties are in, it’s now a case of making the whole thing ‘flow’ in an interesting way. We’re getting there, but it’s all a lot of jiggling.
From there, I’ll be adding “leagues” or “divisions” or whatever that is, as well as some sort of Management side. Not sure what form that’ll take yet, but it’ll probably be cribbed off of Speedball with a little bit of X-COM thrown in, because who doesn’t love that game loop?
I think that’s where Kickmen‘s development will end – with a nice progression up the ladder to win the World Cup, and some sort of management side to tailor your team. I should point out I’m focussing purely on Single Player. Mainly because I’ve heard from loads of other indies (as well as my own experiences with Gibbage) that Local Multiplayer just won’t sell copies. I’m also not touching Online Play with a bargepole, for reasons I’ve outlined here.
Obviously if the game sells a million billion copies and it’s something people want, I’ll shift my stance. But for now, the game is strictly SP only.
That’s it for now. That’s where the game stands – bordering on playable and interesting, but not quite there just yet. But that’s game development, isn’t it? Everything’s always shit for at first while you wiggle the pieces into order.Posted in Behold The Kickmen, Development, HELP, Legally Dubious, News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I’m counting today as Size Five Games’ 10 Year Anniversary. Although I started learning to code some time in 2004, my first paid-for release Gibbage came out exactly 10 years ago today.
Back then it was Zombie Cow Studios, a company name I despised from the off and people still tell me was better then Size Five. They don’t have to live with it, I guess. I was making it up as I went along, and I still am – beware anyone who order xanax bars for surviving as an indie, they’re making it up. There’s only one rule: have fun doing it.
And it has been such incredible fun. Somewhere along the way I’ve learned to code relatively-competently (stop sniggering) and been privileged to work alongside some astonishingly talented people. To name but a few: Ben Ward, Louise James, Michael Firman, Tobey Evans, Chris Simpson, Andy Hodgetts, Mike Watts, Adam Foreman and oh god just so many people who have taught me so, so much.
Thanks also everyone who has supported me and liked my stuff over the last 10 years. I am achingly grateful to everyone who has bought one of my games, and helped contribute to me being one of those lucky bastards whose hobby is also their full-time job. Thanks also to everyone who made the Zombie Cow/ Size Five Forums such a joy to hang out at (especially in their heyday!), and to everyone who supports me on Twitter.
If you want to celebrate, please buy a copy of The Swindle. To celebrate, it’s 0% off (or 100% on, if you’re a glass-half-empty sort of person). Every penny helps keep me afloat.
I’d say “here’s to the next 10 years” but I think deep down we all know there’ll be no need for indie developers in the apocalyptic after-times.News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I’ve got a SMALL PROJECT on the go that needs some gorgeous Pixel Art.
It’s a tiny thing so a few weeks’ worth of PAID work, but honestly you can kind of take your time with it and fit it around whatever else you’ve got going on, there’s no massive hurry to get it all done so it’s a pretty sweet side-gig. As long as it’s finished by Christmas.
It’s work-from-home and you don’t need any experience making games, we can work through inexperience together, you just need an interesting, professional and unique pixel art style and importantly: to be capable of animating your work nicely.
Style-wise it has to be Pixel Art, and ideally with a very ‘indie’ feel to it, but honestly I’m happy to see any style. As long as it’s GOOD and make PROFESSIONAL-GRADE art and PIXELS.
I can’t explain right now why I’m banging on about pixels so much, it’s a secret and there may be other people reading this, so for now just please bear in mind it’s pixel art I’m after. PIXELS.
If you’re interested, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your portfolio and some idea of how much you’d charge.Posted in Development, Legally Dubious, News, Stupid Idiot Comments Off
I don’t have a massive burning conviction about game prices particularly; we all love a bargain. I’ll pay full price for something I know I’ll love, but it’s nice to try other stuff when it’s on sale. That’s fine, that’s human nature. It’d be hypocritical to denounce sales while yumming up some new experiences myself.
But this ‘race to the bottom’ pricing concerns me. I haven’t helped – Time Gentlemen, Please! launched at £2.99 and has been in numerous bundles and in sales at up to 91% off. As an indie developer, it’s always good to try things, see what works. Bring in new fans, more money. Some stuff works, some doesn’t. It’s all just part of the rich tapestry of life, and pretending these decisions are based on METRICS and DATA rather than just guesswork would be disingenuous.
I do worry about the industry, though, and I worry about my job in the future if games cost pennies, so when I launched The Swindle I promised myself no sales until Christmas (it’d be silly to miss the biggest sale of the year, 6 months after launch), and no bundles in at least the 1st year (this is PC-only, by the way; Curve are in charge of Console versions and we’ve worked together on my desire to keep the game full price for 6 months as best we can).
Anyway: The Steam Winter Sale was the first time it was discounted, and it received a generous discount of 50%.
Has it sold less copies for not frequently having a ‘10% off’ banner throughout the Autumn? Probably, I guess? Has it sold less copies for not being in the Thanksgiving Sale, or endless Bundles? I expect so.
But data? Strong, hard, reliable data? No idea. It did well, it sold lots of new copies and brought in more money for the company to make more games with, so that’s good. But I’ve got nothing really to compare it against, so no insightful conclusions to draw.
I’ll say this, though, so here’s your INSIGHTFUL ANALYSIS: I feel better in myself for not devaluing my work. I feel happy that I haven’t devalued other peoples’ work by encouraging race-to-the-bottom pricing. And I feel better for my customers who bought the game full price at launch that they didn’t find the game discounted after a month.
So, worth doing, I think.Posted in Legally Dubious, News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot, The Swindle Comments Off
We’re all in this together – you’re good for me because you help spread the word of my game, and I’m good for you because I save you cash when making your videos by flinging over a free key. I thought it might be useful for youTubers to know what the situation is like from my end, so you can plan your emails to devs accordingly, and get more keys, which will help you make more brillo videos of the latest games.
It’s been a long, weird road to this point. The Swindle’s been through two engines, been cancelled, resurrected, stripped bare and chopped about. But it’s done, and I’m so so happy with it.
Reviews are coming in – 9/10 from Pocket Gamer, Recommended from Eurogamer, 80% from PC Gamer. What a relief. I worried people wouldn’t get it.
Here’s a Steam link to the game. Please do buy a copy, review it, Let’s Play it on youTube, spread it round. I hope you enjoy it.
Huge thanks to Michael Firman, Tobey Evans, Louise James, everyone at Curve, Paul Hoey, Ben Ward and anyone who has helped out on the game in any capacity. You are brilliant.
I’m beyond exhausted. It’s been a long, weird road and there’s plenty left to do.
Yes, I am already thinking about the next game.Posted in HELP, News, Shilling, Stupid Idiot, The Swindle Comments Off
My inbox is currently just a fucking disaster zone though. I like making games, and truthfully I quite enjoy this “emailing people and blagging press” bit of making games. It’s all just so fraught.
Here’s some questions people keep asking:
Q: What is it on and when?
A: Windows and Mac (Steam, GOG.com, Green Man Gaming), PS3, PS4, PSVita on the 28th of July. XboxOne on the 31st and WiiU at some point slightly later. I honestly don’t know why, but they are doubtless very important and grown-up reasons.
Q: Can I pre-order it?
A: No no no, you should never pre-order games. Wait for the reviews.
Q: How much of my money will it cost?
A: It’s £11.99 in proper The Queen’s Money, $14.99 in American Money and then variants of that for whatever currency you use.
Q: Is it Cross-Buy on PS?
A: Of course it is!
Q: Is there a launch discount?
A: Yes, 15%. For a fortnight.
Q: When is it being reviewed?
A: There’s a print embargo until the 25th, digital embargo is on the 27th. I DO NOT KNOW WHY THIS IS which is quite embarrassing but I’ve been adding content and fixing bugs. Keys are being sent out to Twitch/ youTubers over the course of this week, so you should start to see Let’s Plays or streams popping up shortly.
Q: Is there a snazzy launch trailer?
A: YES. It’ll probably be out the day before, I think? I’ll be tweeting the shit out of it, so keep an eye on @danthat.
Wish me luck.
dPosted in News, Shilling, The Swindle Comments Off
That’s not true. I’ve commented out the code that allows the game to feel human emotions. But the game definitely wants you dead, and it wants you to fail. And in doing so, it wants you to learn its systems for yourself.
I thought it might be interesting to explain some of my design philosophy behind the game, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. One of the first Eureka moments in development was when I ditched the concept of health – originally you had a regenerating health bar, and could take several hits. For fun, I set it to 1%, so one hit will kill you, no matter where it came from, and the game transformed. The stealth was suddenly so tense, death was now funny, stupid, embarrassing, sometimes rage-inducing, and your vulnerability quickly became a central gameplay mechanic.