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What’s next? November 9, 2010

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Bluebones' Curse,Game Development,Hero In Training , 1 comment so far

Bluebones’ Curse has been out for a few weeks now. While reviews have been really positive (I’ll include some links below), sales have not been quite what we’d hoped for. In fact, they’ve been pretty poor. This left us wondering what to do next. Do we put in the six months (or perhaps up to a year) of work required to turn Hero In Training into the game we want it to be? Do we try our hands at another smaller title, better suited to the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace? Should we move away from Xbox development altogether, and try out Unity or Flixel?

Well, I think now I know the answer. Today on the developer forums, a Microsoft employee posted that the 2011 Dream Build Play competition will be focused on the Xbox 360. Many of us had worried that it would target Windows Phone devices instead. This makes me totally excited again, and I want to focus on the game that I love to work on.

Going forward, it’s Hero in Training all the way. I’m going to start with a new game design document, and then rebuild my animation and level editing tools to closer match our needs. (They were getting a bit clunky to use, but we had no way of knowing what we’d need when we started.) Once we get to a point where there’s something interesting to show, I intend to record (roughly) weekly development update videos, and I’ll be posting lots of screenshots.

I’m really, really excited, and nothing is going to stop us! Hero in Training is going to win Dream Build Play 2011!

Reviews and media for Bluebones’ Curse:

CrushFragDestroy – XBLIG round up review
Dealspwn – XBLIG round up review
DIY – XBLIG round up review
GameMarx – Bluebones’ Curse review
GameMarx Podcast (1:30 – 9:00) – Indie game discussion
GayGamer – XBLIG round up review
IndieAsylum – Being and Bluebones’ Curse reviews
IndieAsylum Podcast (43:00 – 44:50) – Indie game discussion
Suburban Journals – Article about our work on Bluebones’ Curse
TeamKobun – Bluebones’ Curse review
VVGTV Video Review – Bluebones’ Curse review

A good month for Being October 22, 2009

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , add a comment

Every few days I still take a look at the sales data for Being to see if anybody is buying it. In the last few months, sales had dropped off to about one sale every day or two. Earlier this month, however, I logged in to find I’d sold nineteen copies on October 11th. I assumed it was some sort of fluke, but then on the 12th another ten copies sold. This left me wondering, “What in the world is going on here?”

I guessed that the game had been reviewed by a magazine or website, and that’s what had driven the traffic, but after much web searching I couldn’t find anything. (Let this be a warning to other developers. Do not use names for your game that are impossible to Google for.) It turns out that Being had been added to the “IGN.com Top Picks” on the Xbox Indie Games section of the 360 dashboard. Sweet! As far as I can tell, there’s no website or blog to go along with their picks, so I just grabbed a shot of the tv with my digital camera to add to my collection of press stuff.

Well, it’s been nearly two weeks since then, and I’m happy to report that Being has seen a tremendous spike in downloads. So far this month, I’m up to 1076 trial downloads, and 137 sales. I’ve almost had as many downloads in the last 11 days as all of the last quarter. Crazy!

The additional downloads have raised the game’s position on the “most popular” charts. Here’s a screenshot I just grabbed from Retronator. (Click the images for a bigger view. The layout of the blog isn’t really suited to wide images, and these versions are pretty hard to read. Sorry.)

Here is a chart I plotted showing Being’s sales stats since launch. There are a few interesting dates to notice. There’s a huge spike around November 21, 2008, which corresponds to the initial launch of the XNA Community Games. The next spike is around July 21, 2009, which is around the time of the rename to Xbox Indie Games, the addition of several new countries, and the price drop to one dollar. And finally, around October 12, 2009, you can see the spike that has me so excited. Whee!

Just for fun, here’s a chart showing the trial downloads. All of the same spikes are visible, but what’s really interesting to me is that the initial spike is so huge it makes everything else look tiny. It’s hard for me to believe that nearly 1400 people downloaded the trial in a single day, but I’ve got the data to prove it. Crazy.

And finally, last quarter’s sales have been tallied, and Being has now earned us over $1000. (That’s after Microsoft’s cut, but before taxes.) That’s pretty amazing for a game that I was expecting to get about 50 sales total.

Being – The Final Level September 9, 2009

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , add a comment

I recently received an email asking me for tips on beating the last level of Being, and since it’s a rather common occurrence, I put together a Youtube video of me playing through it. I can get through it almost every try, but I’ll admit it took me three tries to get through without getting hit. I had a couple of close calls with the bees, but pulled it off.

The framerate looks a little odd, and I’m not sure why. Might just be a compression artifact, or because Youtube doesn’t like that the video was recorded at 60 frames per second.

I’ve embedded it below, but the blog format is a bit narrow, so it looks a bit small. Click here to watch it quite a bit bigger over on Youtube.

Being reviewed by Small Cave Games August 14, 2009

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Another good review up for Being.

I’m really happy that there seems to be a renewed interest in reviewing Xbox Indie Games. Now that the developers have been given codes to give away for our games, it’s alot easier to make that happen. If you have a website (or magazine, podcast, etc.) and would like to review Being, please contact me for a review code.

A little news August 12, 2009

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I found a great review of Being yesterday. The author really enjoyed the game, and went into great detail about it.

The rating system is now in place on the 360 dashboard. If you enjoyed Being, please take a second to go leave a rating. To find it, on your xbox 360, go to Game Marketplace, Xbox Indie Games, Browse Games, All games. Then scroll down to find Being. Press X to bring up the rating box, then press A to add stars. If you haven’t yet tried it, you can download it to your xbox on this page.

Finally, work slowly continues on the next game. I have a good deal of the basic framework code in place, and an artist is working on some concept sketches for the look of the main characters. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something soon.

Being’s world tour July 27, 2009

Posted by Jesse in : Being , add a comment

With the latest updates, Xbox Live Creators Club games (now called Xbox Live Indie Games) are available in Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Sweden. And so now too is Being. Also, they’ve changed the pricing tiers and so now Being is available for only 80 Microsoft points. (Around a buck.)

I’ve been (very slowly) working on a new game. Becoming a father has taken just about all of my free time away, though. But I’ll finish another one someday. 🙂

Being sales data April 2, 2009

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 2 comments

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. I’ve gotten really into playing Street Fighter 4, and haven’t felt the urge to write video games lately. I do have something interesting to share, though.

Microsoft gave us access to the sales data for Community Games recently. As of March 30th, 2009, the trial version of Being has been downloaded 9084 times. Out of those, 485 people decided it was worth their money and purchased it. From the data, I had a rush early on, but now I get a sale every day or two.

Here’s a breakdown by country:

Canada: 33 (6.8%)
France: 4 (0.8%)
Italy: 4 (0.8%)
Spain: 5 (1.0%)
United Kingdom: 66 (13.6%)
United States: 373 (76.9%)
Total: 485

For my first game, I have to say I’m totally stoked by these numbers. This isn’t the sort of sales I would need to start a business, but that wasn’t the goal here.

If you haven’t yet given the game a go, you can download the demo to your Xbox 360 right here. If you try it, please tell me what you think.

I’ve got an idea for a new game. It’s time to get back to work!

Some press November 19, 2008

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Purchased November 15, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 2 comments

Today I was lucky enough to make it into the final round of users who received early access to the New Xbox Experience.  That means I was able to buy Being today!

While I realize that this stuff isn’t likely to make me rich, and it’s not the start of a new career, it’s definitely made me very happy.  This has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and I’ve finally gotten off of my behind and made it happen.  Thank you very much to all the people who helped make this possible!

It will be awhile before I have anything to show off from my next game, but I’m already experimenting and learning the things I’ll need to bring it to life.  I’m not stopping now!

Being on Community Games November 7, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 5 comments

I didn’t think it was possible to be more excited than I was when I posted the approval letter. But this totally trumps it. The ZMan from thezbuffer.com captured some screens of what Being looks like in the Community Games section on the Xbox 360.

Thanks, ZMan!

(Click for larger images.)