Long time no post, so let's get straight to business! On Monday (17. Sep 2012) we will finally release the first story episode in pay-what-you-want mode! (this is kind of supposed to be a surprise, so don't tell anyone!) This will also mean a 1.0 release of the open nikki version with quite some fixes.
Also, tonight the first story episode will be playable during the Ate Bit Vomit Experimental Chiptunes party & exhibition. If you're in Berlin, Germany, hop on by!
Nikki had a recent shooting in which we picked screenshots to put on the buy page. Here are a few examples of shots that didn't make it:
Image: Open development graph: being open about your development makes noise, grows the community and lets you meet new people which has potential to interact which each other.
Today, Data Realms (Cortex Command) started sharing their backlog (aka ToDo-list) with the public. This made me want to re-capture some methods of being open about your game development and using this for marketing.
1. "Leak" alphas to pre-orderers
When your early version already has re-play value, allowing people to pre-order your games and to play your alpha versions is one of the best things you can do.
Image: Wolfire's Overgrowth alpha "leaks" get distributed via their preorder forum, which you can only see if you preordered the game.
2. Show off remaining tasks and bugs
Progress bars are beauty in players' eyes. Simply giving players read (and ideally write) access to your internal bug tracker allows super-fans to stalk you with no additional efforts on your side.
Image: Natural Selection 2's roadmap progress is being shared by Unknown Worlds live, directly on the game's homepage.
3. Share your design knowledge
When a game strongly depends on its plot, it often becomes hard for the writers and designers to let players read or play the story before the project is finished. Even in these cases there is still a lot available in the designers' heads that can be shared spoiler-free: Instead of letting the player experience an in-game plot-twist prematurely (before the game is released), you can teach them about how plot twists are constructed and examine examples of plot twists in existing games.
Image: Frictional Games shares thoughts about game and story design in their "Narrative not a game mechanic?" article.
I myself work at Joyride Labs on a Linux/OSX/Windows game. Our engine code is open source, we sometimes share insights about our code (this is often Haskell-related and we should do this more often), our bug tracker is completely public, our pre-release versions (that exclude the story mode) are available for download for free.
Image: Joyride Labs - The Team - Working Hard™
Time for a photo of the team (see above)! We took it for a German-language indie games blog that put up a profile of Joyride Labs. As you can see, we are working hard at delivering the best possible black-pink ear platformer experience to you and the rest of the planet!
So why are we taking so long to deliver?
- Both Sönke and I have been working on another open source project (that has nothing to do with games).
- Florian started working a full-time job in the south of Germany making 3d visuals and is enjoying the regular life style for a change. :)
Image: Nikki and the Robots S1E2 getting a test run at Indie Dev Meeting 0.1 in Berlin
Image: Nikki and the Robots S1E1 test-played during pd-berlin at Berlin Linux User Group
We have been showing our game around off-line (see photos above). If you have been keeping track of the previous release versions, there are a few changes so far, that will make it into the next free/open source version.
- We added the first pieces of in-game music (8bit Tidbit 2 by chadsicle in the free part).
- Performance increased, bugs fixed...
Life lesson learned: do it like Blizzard and don't set a release date!
Here is the new Nikki and the Robots 0.5 Beta(!) release (download here).
We're working on a preorder web page, which is open source under AGPL and hosted here.
The changes explained in the video (and some that were left out) are as follows:
- Info terminals instead of text bubbles in tutorial
- Falling tiles take a little longer to start falling
- Batteries have a little less mass
- Switches are easier to trigger
- Added laser robots and laser endpieces
- Cannon-robot sounds
- Boost sound for jetpack robot
- GUI/OSD and Controls:
- Added keyshints in game mode
- Allow configurable game keys (jump and context) to control the menu
- Main menu will notify you about the availability of the story mode
- Mac OS X: default jump key is space
- In-game OSD shows total number of batteries in level
- "..."-bubbles when nikki can start npc/computer monolog
- Added "retry level" menu item to failure menu
- Added retry-option to pause menu
- Level editor:
- Added gray level template
- Better layer insert and delete control
- Game art sources added to source code repository
- Bugfixes on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows that prevented many users from running the game
In preparation for the soon-to-be release we printed some stickers to hand out. The business cards we've had for quite a while but I believe we haven't shared them yet. If you have a game-making-related business card yourself, share it!
Meanwhile, we're solving problems that prevent Nikki and the Robots from running on various computers. If you would like to help us make sure that Nikki 0.5 will run on the operating system of your choice, feel free to drop us an email.
We added a neon pixel heart design to our shirt store. It is based on one of the first game objects that you will see when playing Episode 1 of the story mode:
One of us was at the Global Game Jam in Berlin as an organizer.
The theme was a snake biting its own tail and we made a tiny level referencing it. Too late for submission though. ;)
The video also shows the recently added game over screen menu (no more abrupt returning to the level selection) and a new, simple background for the editor.
Episode 1 of the story mode is ready to be released and we are very excited! This will also mark the first public beta version.
We will start selling the story mode using a pay-what-you-want model, which is strongly inspired by the Humble Indie Bundle (which on the other hand was inspired by a World of Goo sale). After one week we will then set a fixed minimum price.
When you buy the game, you pay for the game as it is, but will also get all further episodes and updates for free. With each further episode, however, the minimum price will increase for new buyers of the game. The sooner you buy, the less you pay, hooray! This is similar to the Alpha-Beta-1.0 price increments of Minecraft.
Right now we are working hard on the presale website and we hope to be able to release Nikki and the Robots' story mode until mid February.
In the next post we will tell you some more details about episode 1, in which Nikki's great adventure begins to unfold.