My 2011 indie experience in review
I fixed the big mess of my server just in time to get into 2012 and to write this post. Here’s a look at what I went through as an indie in 2011.
Month by month
January, February: The birth of Star Corsairs
During the holidays I started to work on what would become Star Corsairs: Commander, Star Corsairs: Dogfighters and Star Corsairs the MMO so in January I kept working on some prototype. I didn’t have a specific game idea in mind at the time but I knew I needed to get some experience coding a space game so I just did stuff related to that. The time spent back then helped a lot the development of the MMO.
March: Goodbye Social Gold
Social Gold announced the service would disappear as the company has been bought by Google. To this day Golemizer still doesn’t have a new payment provider and I’m not sure I’ll ever work on that. Moving completely to Kongregate is an option I’m considering as the game still makes some money there.
April: Forgetting about getting a Flash game sponsored
After getting little results from my previous Flash games and a total failure getting Star Corsairs: Commander noticed by any sponsor I gave up on trying to find sponsored for my Flash games. I’m still obsessed over releasing an MMO anyway so I guess I was just trying to try to make quick money (which I did but not a lot) so the heart wasn’t there.
May: Something is coming
I felt something wasn’t right at my day job so I started to work on a prototype for Star Corsairs the MMO. I’m glad I started early as …
June to October: Full-time indie
… in June I lost my job and decided to give a try at working full-time on my next project. I had savings but not quite enough so I knew I had a deadline. A deadline that would mark the day I can’t pay bills anymore. In 5 months I went from a prototype to a fully released MMO. A small crowfunding campaign made sure I could release the game. I’m not sure I will ever repeat the crowdfunding experience though. At least not in that way. Maybe some kind of alpha sale or something but a crowdfunding campaign is a complete project by itself.
November: Saying goodbye to 5 amazing months
With my savings disappearing like ice in summer and failing to interest almost anyone to talk about the release of Star Corsairs it was clear that I had to find a job. Some people failed to understand why I was giving up so quickly but I wasn’t going to wait for the bank to knock on the door to take my house …
December: Taking care of the gamer inside me
While I kept working on Star Corsairs and made significant changes recently I made sure to remember one of the reasons why I was doing all of this in the first place: I like playing games. I won’t list all the games I played but the most recent ones are Gratuitous Space Battles which I ended up enjoying after all after giving it an honest try and Defense Grid: The Awakening which is a nice tower defense game if you’re into that kind of stuff.
Of course then came the big server crash on December 24th … That was a wonderful Christmas gift to see all my stuff down … including Star Corsairs for which I just updated with new graphics … Yes (almost) everything is now back but it did helped me to consider a downloadable project. At least to try one for a change. Sure people will tell me that it’s no better and comes with different problems but who knows … Maybe it could be good for me to try something different a bit. Maybe it would unlock new doors for me in the future.
You miss Dungeon of Loot
About 700 persons found this blog by searching for Dungeon of Loot.
Oh come on people! This game was online for what? Maybe a month or two? It was using Nethack tiles, was buggy because it was using Golemizer’s engine in a way that just didn’t work for this game and there are better rogue games out there. Yes Dungeon of Loot was also an MMO. So I guess you want a MMO rogue-like game? Noted for future reference. Don’t let me down if I ever bring it back …
Most popular posts
Well without any surprise the A look on Star Corsairs launch – No more a full-time indie is the most popular post of 2011 with 1,254 visitors. The most popular post of 2010 was Don’t quit your day job? Here’s why I haven’t… with 1,568 visitors. You really like bad news don’t you?
It’s quite funny to see which post is the second most popular with 984 visitors. It’s Thanks for ruining my day Social Gold that I wrote when Jambool was finally totally consumed by Google. I was using Social Gold as my payment provider for Golemizer and still haven’t got around to set up another one. If you search for “Social Gold” on Google this post appears on the first page of results. Here’s another post appearing on the first page when you search for Social Gold: Social Gold: Will they screw you, too? Yep they did!
On a more positive note my interview with Neil Yates from Dead Frontier is the third most popular post with 875 visitors. This post was also a featured post on Gamasutra and I made sure to link to my blog so it might explain a lot.
As you can see there’s no mention at all of Star Corsairs in the above. I had a hard time to generate any interest in this game and it’s also true on my own blog … Before saying that the release of Dungeon of Loot was more successful keep in mind that a lot of people found the release post after the game was shut down. Still it sucks to see that a closed game generates more buzz than a newly released one …
forum.unity3d.com: 460 (this originated from here)
psychochild.org: 317 (Thanks Brian!)
techcrunch.com: 315 (oh no they didn’t post about my games, they linked to my Social Gold post…)
Interesting keywords used to find my blog
“as3 multithreading” : I posted at some point how to fake multithreading and it seems it’s a common issue devs try to fix
“player.io” : I reviewed this service when I was still not sure what I would use for Star Corsairs. Bonus points to them for spotting this blog post and answering some questions I had.
“start indiegame full-time” : Well you can stop coming to this blog for advice about that. I still have no clue how to do that…
“i want to make games” : ah that I can help. The first step is to … make games
“kongregate rating system” : please I’m in a good mood now so don’t ruin it
“flash game developer starving artist” : lol!
“are movie critics always right” : eh what? No!
“cool shower system” : no idea what you’re talking about
“does anybody still play golemizer” : actually yes. Not a lot but there are still people there. Well in fact more are playing Golemizer than Star Corsairs as I write this …
“i like my projects like i like my coffee game dev” : good for you
“mainstream games suck” : eh well some indie games suck too you know
“money now for my startup” : let me know how it works out for you…
“dead frontier” profit per year company : why would I know such thing! Neil? Willing to share?
“a startup killed my startup” : well sorry to hear that
“blogging is ruining my life” : wow you’re taking this way too seriously…
“facebook credits is ruining my business” : your own fault for linking your business so close to Facebook. You got what you deserved.
Final word on 2011
All that comes to mind is that it was a year of great hopes and great disappointments. Oh I still got experience, new contacts and I hope a bit of wisdom out of it but if I have to be honest that’s not what I was hoping for. Of course just hoping for something to happen doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to it. At best I would have enjoy some slightly better results but it’s slightly worst than previous years. So I will have to find some peace in the experience I got from this year. It’s not what I wanted but it’s all I got so I better make sure I don’t waste it.
What’s in store for 2012?
Well first a re-release of Star Corsairs on some Flash portals soon… hopefully. There are new graphics, new progression, new challenges system so hopefully it will please this crowd. Yes it will be on Kongregate at some point but I need some time to fit their API in my code first. If nothing happens after that then I don’t know what’s next for Star Corsairs. I can try to add new features all year-long that it won’t bring new players. I know because I did that for Golemizer …
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t have yet another MMO project for this year. There’s a small prototype already and a lot of notes. I’m not ready to talk about it yet but let’s just say that this time the keyword would be “simple”. No crafting, no sandbox, just online multiplayer fun right away with hopefully almost no learning curve. I’m not trying a recipe here I’m just trying something different. You know just not to do over and over the same thing while expecting different results …
And finally I’m now seriously considering a downloadable single-player game. I found once again that it’s really hard to get where all the “cool people” are with an online game (bundles, indie portals, giveaway promotions, etc.). I’ll stop you right before you tell me that it’s no easier though. Sure I’ll face some of the same difficulties and even new ones but again the point is to try something new. Get some different experience, make new contacts, etc. I don’t plan to go into completely unknown territories for that one though. I’ve been toying with space games for the last year so I’ll try use this knowledge I accumulated in a new way. Will it work? Bah maybe, maybe not. I won’t know until I try. The good news is that I’m still thinking about working on games even if at times I sound like the most negative person out there. You could say that I’d rather expulse this negativism instead of keeping it all for myself. Must be my way to keep me sane …
On these words see you in 2012!