Category Archives: Thoughts and Opinions

Epic Battle Fantasy 4, Postmortem 2

Hey, since my new turn-based RPG, Epic Battle Fantasy 5, is 99% finished, I think this is a good time to write about the previous game in the series. I wrote a postmortem of Epic Battle Fantasy 4 back in 2013, and things were not looking so optimistic at the time. Here’s a continuation of that story.

—The Story so Far—

EBF4 was well-recieved by players and got very high scores on Flash game sites, and the premium content for the game sold quite well on Kongregate. However, even with millions of plays, the game didn’t have the same viral appeal that EBF3 had – and the biggest part of that was that the Flash game industry was rapidly shrinking. EBF4 paid off it’s development costs, but only due to lucky timing – if it had been released just a bit later, it would have had trouble getting sponsored, and may have flopped completely. I worked on EBF4 on and off for a few years, but the final development time was probably around a year of full-time work, and in the end it made $60K, which is decent for a software developer in a cheap city. Making another big game for Flash sites was no longer an option though.
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While EBF4 was nearing the end of development, I started thinking about Steam. Games like Binding of Isaac and VVVVVV made me realise that good Flash games might be allowed on the platform. Luckily, Greenlight was announced around the same time, and it seemed like Steam was the way forward for the types of games I was making. But getting through Greenlight was incredibly hard at the time – initially your game would need over 50K votes or so, and only a handful of games were selected each month. EBF4 sat on Greenlight for a few months, and seeing that it was never going to get that many votes, I wrote the 1st postmortem, and decided I may be doomed to make lame mobile games, or some other career path. And now, some 5 or so years later, it’s time to continue the story…

—Preparing for Steam—

After 5 or 6 months, Valve started Greenlighting many more games than before, and EBF4 had a chance again! I immediately started working on new content for the Steam version of the game (which I also added to the paid Kongregate version), and EBF4 finally got through Greenlight, with around 15K votes. (For comparison, in the final days of Greenlight, all you needed was somewhere between 500 and 1K votes) Kongregate was a great sponsor, and they allowed me to link to Steam Greenlight in the web version of EBF4. I kept their logo on the Steam version, but they were not involved in it – I had no sponsor or publisher this time.

Steam was terrifying at first, since it was the first time I was publishing on a platform that wasn’t specifically designed for Flash games. It’s also very lonely, as you can go through the whole process of launching a game on Steam without ever talking to a human from Valve! I was worried I would not be able to implement all of the steam features – achievements, cloud saving, overlay, fullscreen modes, and trading cards. My time at University prepared me for situations like this – when you’re stuck on an assignment, you’re forced to talk to other students and to find out who’s better at it than you are, so you can get some help. I hunted down the developers of all the Flash games on Steam, and most of them were very happy to share their solutions with me. A huge thanks goes out to Alexey Abramenko, developer of Intrusion 2, who suggested I use MDM Zinc (basically a Flash projector) to package EBF4, and let me use his code for Steam achievements.
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While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Amanita Design, developers of Machinarium, for sharing their FRESteamworks ANE, which allows Adobe AIR to interface with Steam features. I later used Adobe AIR for other games I released on Steam, but it was no good for EBF4, since for some bizarre reason, Adobe decided to remove the LOW and MEDIUM stage quality options, which would have drastically damaged the game’s performance. (I eventually found a workaround for this, and will be using Adobe AIR for EBF5)  Anyway, MDM Zinc worked very well for a couple of years – it got my little Flash game running on and interfacing with Steam. But in the end the company closed down and stopped all support for it, and I’m no longer able to update EBF4 on Steam unless I update it to use Adobe AIR instead, and I don’t have a huge desire to revisit old work.

In the end the only Steam feature I couldn’t get working was the Steam overlay! It turns out this is because regular Flash content isn’t hardware accelerated, and the overlay cannot appear if the GPU is not active. The FRESteamworks ANE has a handy workaround for this problem – it creates a single off-screen hardware-accelerated sprite, which allows the overlay to be updated. Oh well, I found out about that a bit late.

—Time to Launch—

Anyway, onto the Steam release! I expected a lot of pushback from Steam users that are angry about Flash games showing up on Steam, but there was only a few of those, and the game was incredibly well recieved, with a review score of 98% positive for almost its entire lifetime.

There’s definitely a lot to criticise about EBF4 – it runs traditional Flash content with vector graphics, which even if programmed perfectly, would take up a lot of CPU resources. But there’s also a major memory leak in the game on top of that! I limited the game’s resolution to a max of only 720p, because I know most users would go as high as possible and then be surprised at how badly the game runs. The game was never designed to be played in widescreen, so the aspect ratio is an awkward 4:3. (apparently I was one of the last people with 4:3 monitors, and thought this was still normal)

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I’m going to speculate here about why I think EBF4 got past these issues. First of all, I think I was very honest on the store page about what the game was offering. The trailer is just standard-definition footage from the game. Anyone who is expecting technical brilliance or mature-looking graphics, would instantly back away from the game. But more than that, I think the vast majority of people who bought the game were fans of the series from the good old Flash days – my art style hasn’t changed in 10 years, and anyone who’s played my games or seen my animations on Newgrounds or Armor Games will recognise them instantly. With EBF3 alone having over 20 million plays across the web, there was bound to be a lot of Steam users who had played the earlier games on Flash sites before finding EBF4 on Steam. Maybe nostalgia for Flash games is a real thing now.

But Flash does have some unique advantages. For one, it’s incredibly compatible – no matter what your hardware is, it will most likely run on it, even if it doesn’t run well. Only a small handful of players had trouble running the game at all. It’s also very easy to decompile Flash games, which most would consider a weakness, but this turned into a very helpful tool for hobbyists who create wiki pages, and some players would even find bugs in my code for me! Unofficial Chinese and Russian translations were even made! (EBF4 was actually the first game I localised into different languages, and here’s a blog I wrote about that.)

Maybe the game would have been more successful if it was made in a modern engine, but in my opinion, the risks and costs of learning a new engine and rebuilding the game would have outweighed any potential benefits. Working with Flash allows me to limit scope-creep, because I can’t get carried away with fancy graphics or new features, and I am able to guarantee that I will finish my games, no matter what. (unless I’m killed) I prefer to jump straight into prototypes and development, rather than thoroughly learning new tech, so I’m still not in a hurry to ditch Flash, even in 2019. I might be the last guy still using it for Steam games.

—Big Sales—

The opening day was strong – EBF4 got into the top 20 bestselling Steam games for a few hours! But after a few days, things began to settle down, and I thought that was it. I was used to the Flash game lifespan, where games only get major attention for a week or two, and then fade away after that. I was not expecting the long sales tail that would follow. But even so, the sales so far were just barely enough to make the extra content and Steam launch worthwhile.

I got a lot of emails from game bundles, asking me to take part in them. I was an inexperienced Steam dev, but even at the time I knew it was not a good sign to send your game into the bargain bin a few months after launch. (though the game was over a year old in my view, if you include the web version, so maybe…?) I picked carefully and chose a very small and obscure bundle group, called Blink Bundle, (I don’t think they exist anymore) and EBF4 sold 5K copies there. It was a nice little introduction to bundles – it didn’t result in any user engagement, and didn’t change anything in the long term, as far as I could tell. But I did panic a bit, and swore not to bundle the game again unless sales had completely dried up, or I was approached by Humble Bundle.

Some time in its first year on Steam, EBF4 was featured in a flash sale (anyone still remember those?) and this was possibly the most exciting day of my game dev career. I got news in the morning that it was featured, and went out hiking for the day. When I got back and checked the sales stats, I thought they were broken, because the graph was just a backwards “L” shape. I can’t be too specific about the numbers, but the sale had quadrupled the number of Steam owners so far, and that allowed EBF4 to get enough traction to start getting picked up by Steam’s recommendation algorithms. (getting over 500 reviews is a major milestone for the algorithms) That’s also when I decided I could actually make EBF5 someday!

In 2016, sales of EBF4 were starting to wind down. But then Steam introduced the discovery update, which introduced smarter game recommendations, and made it easier for players to find niche products. Top selling games were featured less prominently than before, and much more indie games were promoted throughout the store – if that’s what a user was interested in. Since then, EBF4′s day-to-day sales have remained strong and fairly constant, only decreasing slightly over time. There have been a few occasions when Steam’s algorithms decided to stop promoting the game, and sales would drop by up to half, but luckily these have all been temporary – so far. Most indie games really are at the mercy of Steam’s algorithms and policies, which are changing often.

At the start of 2017, Humble Bundle approached me to include EBF4 in their Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle, along with some very well known games like Shantae and N++. The results were as good as I could have hoped for – huge sales and very low customer engagement. Around 135K people bought EBF4, only 90K bothered to activate it, only a fraction of those played it, and just a handful actually left reviews. Those new reviews averaged to around 75% positive, so it’s good that there wasn’t enough of those to damage my overall score very much. It goes to show you the dangers of showing your game to a much less invested audience.
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Thanks to the bundle, and to Brexit for plummeting the value of British currency, that turned into my best financial year ever. I hadn’t even published any games that year, so it’s funny how things sometimes turn out. Game dev sometimes feels more like a lottery than a job.

EBF4 still has no critic reviews on Metacritic, and has never been covered by a major YouTuber or gaming news site. I’ve never paid for any advertisements. I had no marketting plan, I just made free web games for 5 years, (they were still very profitable) and it looks like many of the kids who played them are now adults who want to support me.

—Conclusion—

As of now, EBF4 has sold around 255K copies across all platforms, with around 140K of those being from bundles. It ended up earning many times more than the initial web version! It’s also worth noting that 75% of the game is still available for free online – I do wonder how a free Steam version would have affected the numbers?

To this day EBF4 is still selling around 7 or 8 copies on an average day, and a lot more during seasonal Steam sales. 5 years after it launched on Steam, it’s still covering my living expenses. Thanks to this I was able to work full time on EBF5 for 3 whole years! (but not without stress of course, as income like that could stop without warning if Steam decides to change something. I’ve recently started a Patreon as an emergency source of income) (I’d also like to mention that my living expenses are only £15K per year – with an unstable income like game dev, you gotta save a lot)

I think it would be a miracle if EBF5 saw the same success as EBF4 did. (even though development time was more than double…) With some luck, maybe it will come close. I’m definitely more prepared this time, as this will be my 4th game on Steam, and based on various social media stats, there’s around 10K people following EBF5′s development. I’ll also be sending out discount coupons to everyone who owns EBF4 on Steam, which should make for some good marketting, and I’m planning to release a free web version of EBF5 on the usual Flash sites, some time after the Steam release.

We’ll see how it goes.

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Translating Games

Hey, this is a big blog about my experience translating Epic Battle Fantasy 4 and Bullet Heaven 2, and how I’m trying to do things better in Epic Battle Fantasy 5.

Translating EBF4 was a last minute decision – it didn’t even cross my mind until the game was almost finished. But I knew I had a lot of fans that didn’t speak English, based on my Facebook page and Kongregate data, and the fact that my Flash games were quite popular on Spanish, Chinese, etc, Flash game sites. The languages I chose to translate to were Spanish, Portuguese, German and French. The first two because I had a lot of fans in those regions, and the second two because they just seemed like the most popular European languages to translate to (ie. they buy a lot of games). I didn’t consider Chinese because they already had made unofficial translations, and I figured they just pirate everything anyway. (I don’t know how much that’s changed in the last 5 years, but China seems to be really big on Steam now)

I asked for volunteers from my fans to translate and proofread, and a lot of people stepped forward. I couldn’t judge their skill at their first language, but I made sure they were at least fluent in English. My translation strategy was to turn all of the text strings in EBF4 into arrays of text strings, and dump them on Google Docs so that all the translators could work on them at the same time. “Word” would turn into ["Word","","","",""] and the translators would fill in the gaps. I also provided a lot of notes and instructions for the translators, and hung around in case they needed me. Once translated, the script was also shared publicly, so that anyone could provide feedback if they wanted to.

This wasn’t very efficient, but it worked. The worst part was going through all of the game’s code, trying to find every tiny bit of text, copying it to a Google Docs file, and then later doing that whole process in reverse. It also means that adding a new language now would involve all of that work again. With EBF5, I’ve put all of the text in seperate files right from the beginning, and each file contains one language. The game’s code just loads the relevant text file depending on the options. This means that adding a new language requires almost no extra coding work: I can just give out the English files, they can be translated, and the game can load them as a new language. So that should save me a lot of work in the long term!

But there were some other problems when translating EBF4:
 It turns out that most translated text ends up being a bit longer than the original, so I had to significantly increase the size of many text boxes. Lesson quickly learned.
 Translating parts of sentences separately is a very bad idea, for example: “A ” + “fire/water/ice” + ” elemental attack!” This works well in English and a few other languages, but you never know when weird grammar rules might pop up. From now on I’m sticking to full sentences, even if it leads to a lot of redundancy, like typing out the full line for 10 different elements.
 Dialects! I didn’t realise how different these could be. With French and German we managed to settle on neutral dialects, but with Spanish and Portuguese we went with south American ones, since that’s where almost all of the volunteers were from. Some Europeans were not very happy with these translations. I’m not sure if this problem is totally avoidable, but it’s worth talking to your translators about it before you start. (and then marketting your translation accordingly – luckily Steam let’s me specify that it’s Brazilian-Portuguese)

One thing that went very well was, uh, Flash! Flash handles special characters and text related stuff very well. So I never had any problems putting weird non-English characters in my games. The default fonts seem to handle everything.

So, in the end, was translating worth it? Well… kind of? It took me about a month to organise and implement EBF4′s translations, which also includes countless hours of work by the translators and proofreaders. The Steam sales for German (8%) and French (4%) are reasonably high, so from a financial perspective, those languages were worth doing, maybe even if I had to pay professionals instead of volunteers. But even though tons of Spanish and Portuguese speaking people played the free versions of EBF4, very few of them bought the game on Steam (less than 1% of Steam sales each), so if I was translating just for money, I wouldn’t have done those languages.

EBF4 was overall very successful on Steam, with around 100K sales in total – so 8% more sales is a lot in the end (well, I’m sure a lot of Germans speak English, and may have bought the game without a translation, but whatever). My other game, Bullet Heaven 2, on the other hand, was not so successful. The game wasn’t a flop – but it’s not far from it. Even though it had much less text to translate, I think translating that game was a waste of time – it just wasn’t worth the extra work. And if I had paid professional translators, I would have lost a LOT of money on it.

So I think that’s what it all comes down to for me. If I have a lot of fans in some region, and they want to volunteer to translate EBF5, I’m perfectly happy to work with them and make it happen so that more people can enjoy the game. But I wouldn’t bet on the translations to be worth it financially if I had to pay professionals. I guess I just don’t like taking too many risks. It’s also not particularly fun to program my games to support multiple languages.

Anyway, I’m almost ready to start translating. I’ll start doing research and asking for volunteers soon-ish. German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese are coming back, and the new languages I’m strongly considering are Chinese, Russian, Polish and Vietnamese. Feel free to suggest others, but I think those are the most likely. Of course, I can always add more languages after the game is released, as the new infrastructure makes that much easier than in previous games.

I’m interested to hear what you all think.

tl;dr: I translate for the fans, as it’s probably not worth translating a text-heavy indie RPG for financial gain, except maybe to German.

Play Expo Results

Hey guys, I’ve been without internet for over two weeks, but I’m back now. I guess I have to start off with a write-up of the Play Expo.

It went really well! Not a single thing went wrong!

Setting up was easy. I just brought in my computer, two monitors, a poster, an old pile of Kongregate stickers I got from Mochi London, some cute business cards to give out, and that was about it. The venue was conveniently 10 minutes away from my home. At first I didn’t have anywhere to put up my poster, but the guys next to us left very early so we essentially got a 2nd table just for that. Me and Ronja took turns manning the stall, so we didn’t tire ourselves out. (I also got to try some VR stuff on my break, woop!)
expo photo 1

EBF5 never crashed. Both days it ran non-stop for 8 hours without any problems, which was pretty cool, but also what I would have hoped for since the demo was just the most basic parts of the battle system. On the second monitor I had my YouTube videos of EBF5 running on loop forever.

The audience was a bit different from what I expected. EGX in England was mostly for gaming enthusiasts, but while this event still had some of those, it was generally much more casual and family oriented. There were a lot of really young kids, but also a lot of parents and grandparents who weren’t even into video games at all. I ended up showing off EBF5 to a huge variety of people, and it was a very educational social experience for me. I learned how to talk to kids, disabled people, and a lot of very socially-awkward people.

I’m glad I had EBF5 configured in work-safe mode, and I’m happy I made that option available in the first place. Bouncing anime breasts were not out of place at the event, but I think it would have been a bit awkward with the game’s default settings, especially when young girls came to play.

A related point that surprised me was the lack of PC gamers! I think EBF5 was one of the only mouse-controlled games there, and a lot of kids were confused when they couldn’t find the controller or keyboard. Quite a few people had trouble using the mouse accurately, and double-clicking when single-clicks were fine. But besides that people picked up the game very easily. I just told them to pick commands and hit the baddies, and that was all they needed to know really. I only intervened to tell them how to heal when their health got low.

expo photo 2Besides all that we also got to know some of the other exhibitors, including Mega Cat Studios, who make modern NES games, Wrench Games who make card games, and Oi Oi Games who are a store for retro games (their Mario Maker stall dominated the area at first and sort of overshadowed us – not fair!). I don’t think there was anyone particularly famous there – there wasn’t even any official presence from the big gaming companies. It was all quite local and modest. A reporter from The Sun talked to me briefly, but in the end I don’t think he actually wrote anything about me.

I had around 5 people tell me they were fans of the EBF games, and another 5 or so who said they’ve probably played them at some point in the past. So that’s not bad – I’m not a total nobody!

Anyway, it was all a lot of fun and I’d love to do it again if I get more chances to do it so cheaply. (Grand total spent on the event: £89 and around 3 days of preparation)

EBF Sticker Packs

Hey guys, if you recall some of my old rants, I’m really worried about online privacy, freedom of speech, and big tech companies like Facebook taking over the world. Lately I’ve started using Telegram for instant messaging (Desktop & Mobile) in an attempt to rely on Facebook less, and my favourite thing about it is that you can make your own sticker packs! So once I got bored of spamming Pepe the frog memes, I made two EBF packs: One is the characters in the cutout style, and the other is the character emoticons from the game.

You can get them by opening these links in Telegram:
EBF Character pack: https://t.me/addstickers/EBF_characters
EBF Emoticon pack: https://t.me/addstickers/EBF_emotes

Anyway, I like Telegram a lot because it reminds me of the old days of instant messaging: where you could post whatever you wanted and didn’t have to worry about some huge corporation recording all of your personal data. It’s even popular with ISIS, so it must be good for privacy.

Also before someone mentions Whatsapp: that’s also owned by Facebook.

Alright, that’s enough shilling for now. Let me know if there’s any other apps that can use custom sticker packs, and maybe I’ll put these on there too.

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Playstation 4 Binge

Hey guys, I borrowed my brother’s PS4 over the holidays, and played through some great games. Figured I’d write a few quick reviews about them as I’ve got some thoughts, so here it goes.

Inside
Inside has some of the most fluid animation I’ve seen in a game. Every movement feels incredibly natural: The way your character stumbles after a jump, objects flexing as you walk on them, the way background characters react when they see you, and so on. It’s a spooky puzzle-platformer game that tells a story without words, and does it well. It’s a good game to study if you want to see how much feeling can be conveyed with relatively simple graphics.

Unfortunately, it’s very similar to Limbo, which is a good thing, but also makes it feel much less groundbreaking. I’ve already played something like this before.

The Last of Us: Remastered
The Last of Us is a masterpiece. It’s the first game I’ve ever played where I would consider the storytelling to be as good as a top-notch TV show or a movie. The cutscenes are exciting, and the scenery is detailed enough so that areas in the game actually look like real places. Even the gameplay enhances the story: The characters visibly work together, get power ups as a result of story progress, and actions have consequences. It’s all tied together.

Also the general variety of pacing and combat is very refreshing. You may be fighting thugs, soldiers, or zombies. You may be chased, ambushed, navigating complex terrain, stealthing your way through an obstacle course, or just having an all out shoot-out. Each enemy encounter in the game felt different, and the game rewarded taking your time and experimenting with approaches.
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Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
If you’ve heard anything about this game, it’s probably that it’s an incredibly slow-paced walking sim, where your character can’t run. This is very accurate, but I feel like it adds to the weird dream-like atmosphere. It’s much easier to enjoy if you play it first thing in the morning or just before bed, when you’re very sleepy. I thought the voice acting was great, and I liked the way characters were portrayed as glowing lights – it meant that you could imagine real people instead of falling into the uncanny valley of modern games. Anyway, it’s different from any game I’ve played before, and if you’re in the right state of mind and don’t rush it, it’s easy to look past its flaws.

Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a fun interactive-horror-movie to play with friends. It’s got some very pretty graphics – though the framerate is noticeably less than 60fps. There’s a lot of story branches, and although I’m unlikely to play through the game again, it’s still fun to talk to other people about how many characters died in each other’s playthroughs.
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Call of Duty: Black Ops III
I played through the campaign mode just to say I’ve completed a Call of Duty game, but apparently I didn’t pick the best one to start with. I found the gameplay and story excruciatingly boring. There’s no sense of pacing: Every mission is just over-the-top action and chases and explosions – there’s no stealth missions, or moments to enjoy the scenery, or time to question the choices I’ve made in the game. It just flies down a linear path at a constant full speed. The characters are as bland and shallow as they can be – I don’t think any of them ever told a joke or talked about their history at all. The dialogue is mostly made of military cliches. The enemies types become repetitive very quickly.

Also I just outright suck at CoD. I’m okay at other FPSs: I can play Doom or Halo. But something about CoD just never clicks with me, and I die a lot even on easy mode. I can’t tell which guns to use in which circumstances, nor how aggressively I should be moving forward. *shrugs*

Doom
I’ve already played new Doom several times on my PC, but only on the lowest settings (being 5 or 6 years old, I suppose it’s good that my PC can run it at all). I played it again on PS4 to compare graphics and controls – and woah does it look good on a huge 4K TV. Until I get a new PC, I should probably enjoy AAA games on console for a while.

Anyway, I definitely prefer playing FPSs on PC – mouse controls are more accurate and it’s much easier to switch weapons with all the keys you got. But Playing with a controller wasn’t too bad. It’s still nice to have the comfort of sitting on your couch.

Oh, and Doom is a great game. Probably my favourite of 2017.
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Christmas Giveaway Results

Hey guys, the Christmas Steam key giveaway is over and I’ve sent out 40 game keys by email!

The entry requirement for the giveaway was telling me a bit about your gaming life.
I got nearly 400 entries and a lot of stories. It was nice to see that many people got into gaming playing the sorts of games I played when I was younger: Zelda and Pokemon on Nintendo consoles, Heroes of Might and Magic and Age of Empires on PC, Final Fantasy games on PS1, old stuff on emulators, free MMO games like Maple Story, and a lot of Flash games too (though I still haven’t played Mardek). I was also reminded to play Doki Doki, Hollow Knight, Cuphead, and LISA. These games are on my radar, but as always it’s just a case of playing through everything else first.

I was mildly annoyed by how popular rogue-likes were though! I think games like Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells and Enter the Gungeon would have been better off with actual designed levels instead of randomly generated ones that you were forced to replay over and over. I guess some people like their nearly endless games. But I guess I am slightly out of touch these days, as I’ve not played Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Overwatch or PUBG.

A few people mentioned that EBF4 was the first game they played on Steam, and got them into downloadable games. Most people were very long-time fans, but there were a few that just recently played my games for the first time. Apparently quite a few people have tried playing the EBF games co-op with a friend, with each person controlling a different character in battle. This is weird, but it’s also the sort of thing I might have tried when I was younger.

Anyway, thanks for all the holiday wishes and hope you’re all having a good time!

Here’s a guy I made:
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Patreon is okay again!

(continuation of an earlier post)

Hey guys, after a lot of pushback, Patreon has decided not to change their fee system!
This is good news, as it means they will continue aggregating all of your pledges into one monthly payment, and you won’t get hit by transaction fees multiple times. So if you support 10 different people, you’ll only be hit with one fee, as before. (and the fee will continue to be invisible to you, being taken out from our end)

But basically, the smaller your monthly amount, the bigger proportion goes to fees. If you’re only giving a $1 or $2 in total on Patreon, it’s probably not worth using. Save up your money and give $10 after a year instead. No point in giving 35% of your pledge to PayPal or Credit Card companies. The main benefit of Patreon (in my opinion) is that you can make lots of micropayments together, as an efficient larger payment.

It’s also worth noting that protesting actually works, if you hit your opponent where it hurts: in PR and cashflow!

Anyhow, in EBF5 development news, the overworld map is complete now!
I’ve just got two of the premium dungeons left to do. After that I’ll finish off NPCs and sidequests, and then patrons will be able to test it all out. It would have been nice to get it done by Christmas, but that’s probably not going to happen. I’ll have many more animated gifs done before then though.

I suppose I may have to do my usual Christmas Steam key giveaway soon…

I already don’t like Patreon

Hey guys, I’ve just set up a Patreon two months ago and I’m already feeling very sheepish about using the service. They’re planning to put up their fees soon, which works out very poorly for people pledging many small amounts. Previously the fee was taken from all of your pledges put together (the whole point of a service like this), but now it’ll cost 0.35c  for each individual pledge. Meaning if you support many Patreons for $1, you’ll essentially be charged over 35% in fees, which is absurdly high. Patreon’s been very brazen about this change, hiding it behind the fact that creators will get more money overall (assuming that many patrons don’t just outright leave). Patreon’s facade of being in it to support the little guy is becoming very hard to believe, especially with these dishonest PR statements that don’t address the actual reasons for these changes.

There’s a lot of anger over this, but if this change goes through, I’ll have to delete my $1 tier and tell people not to waste their money. At that point Steam and Kongregate take a smaller cut, and they actually earn it by giving me lots of traffic, while Patreon does fuck all besides process payments. People who were on the $1 tier will still get all of the perks, but in future those perks will be on the $4 tier instead.

It’s not that I don’t want your $1, it’s just that we’re both better off if you save it and buy my games on Steam or Kongregate instead. Charging you guys $1.35 to send me $1 is pointless.

Also I still think Patreon’s new logo is ugly as hell.

Thoughts?

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Book review time.

Today I read Tribe by Sebastian Junger, and it resonated with some of the thoughts I’ve been having about modern life and how technology is carrying us further away from the way we evolved to live. The premise of the book is that hunter gatherer tribes offered many advantages to mental health that modern societies lack. As a member of a tribe you were around many others at all times. Everyone shared their resources and relied on one another. Class distinctions could not afford to exist, people were judged purely by their contribution to the group. Life was less complicated and one spent less time working overall. People trusted each other and worked for the benefit of the group. Liars and cheats were dealt with harshly.

Skip forward to the future, and for all of our material wealth, rates of depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses are on the rise, presumably due to the loss of such communities and the support they offer. People now spend much more time alone, often rely on the government instead of on each other, feel utterly unneeded when they are unemployed, and have less shared experiences that they can relate with. We have strangers looking after our kids and grandparents. We seek individual wealth at the expense of others. We talk contemptuously about others instead of trying to understand them. We let political leaders turn us against each other over small differences, even though most of us agree about most things.

There’s a lot to sift through there and the solutions aren’t obvious. But in general the message is to strengthen family and community bonds, focus on the many things we agree on, and to be vigilant against those who try to take advantage of the group – bankers, frauds, polarising political speakers and others. I feel like these issues will grow in severity as technology leads to more unemployment and more isolated lifestyles.

Anyway. Tribe is quite short and is an accessible read, but if you don’t like reading you can also get a gist of it from this interview with the author.

There’s a lot of food for thought in there.

Thoughts About Patreon (part 2)

This is a continuation of my previous post, where I explained why I’m considering making a Patreon. No one seemed to have any major objections to me setting up a Patreon, as long as I stuck to the rules I outlined there.

I’ve spent the day researching what other creators have done with Patreon, and I’ve come up with this list of reward tiers. I’d be interested to hear what you think of these:

Supporter: $1 per month
• Get early access to buggy, spoiler-full, alpha versions/demos that otherwise won’t be released to the public until they are finished. Over the next few months this will include the entire EBF5 world map, and a boss fight demo.
• You also get the “Supporter” role on the EBF Discord, making you a trusted user who can post links and images in any channel, and gives you access to the “Alpha Discussion” and “Alpha Bugs” channels for discussing the content mentioned above. (You still gotta follow the rules!)
• And finally the loyalty program: With your continued support, you can request a Steam key for any of my games for every $15 you’ve given. (you can give extra keys to your friends or use this as a way to pre-order future games)

Super Supporter: $4 per month
• Same as the above, but you get the “Super Supporter” Discord role, which does nothing besides letting you show off.

Wall of Thanks: $8 per month
• Get your name listed on the “Wall of Thanks” on my website, KupoGames.com, letting visitors know that you’re kind of cool!
• This lasts as long as your contribution does, and can include a link to some profile or website of yours. (subject to my approval, maybe contact me with your details first!)
+ Includes Super Supporter perks
(100 slots only)