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Bluebones’ Revenge November 9, 2011

Posted by Jesse in : Bluebones' Curse,Game Development , 2 comments

A little over a year ago, we released our second game, called Bluebones’ Curse on the Xbox Indies platform. It was total failure commercially, with just a total of 282 sales to date. We were expecting to do quite a bit better than that.

The game had a number of things going against it.

  1. Xbox Indies Platform
  2. Bluebones is a 2d run and jump platformer, a genre completely overrun on XBLIG. Many developers struggle to turn a profit, and releasing a basic platformer might not be wisest choice, if profit is a consideration.

  3. Timing
  4. We had planned Bluebones to come out in time to possibly score a tie in with the Halloween Xbox 360 dashboard event that they run every year. Unfortunately, by the time the game launched, I was informed that the promotion selections had already been decided. Now, that doesn’t mean we would have been included, but we obviously made a mistake with the timing.

  5. It isn’t very good
  6. Duh. This took me a really long time to come to terms with. The graphics and animation look great, and I’ve gotten lots of great comments on my intentionally cheesy voice recordings, but the game itself isn’t all that memorable. It’s not bad, it’s just doesn’t bring anything special to the table. Obviously, while it’s worth noting the other problems, this is the one that really matters.

Now that Hypership is out and Kris has taken over the responsibility for future updates (I’m still willing to help with bug fixes, of course), it’s time to turn my attention to the next project. Mollie (my wife and artist) and I are really excited to return to working on Hero In Training. We love the concept, and have a lot of content ready to go. Plus, we have some fun ideas on how to freshen it up. (For starters, it’s no longer going to be a standard action-combat platformer.)

But before I get to work, I feel I owe it myself to take another look at Bluebones and see if I can do better. In addition to redeeming myself, I have two specific goals in mind. First, I want to experiment with platformer controls on mobile devices. Few games have done a good job there (virtual d-pads are an abomination!), and I’d like to see what I can come up with. Additionally, I want to really kick the tires on my code and make sure that it can handle releasing on all of the platforms I want to target in the future. (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.)

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

Bluebones’ Curse October 19, 2010

Posted by Jesse in : Bluebones' Curse , add a comment

Things have been a bit quiet around here lately. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working.

After we did our public playtest for Hero In Training, we realized that we were a long way from finishing. We need to overhaul several portions, and redesign a large chunk of the game. That left us a little less than motivated to work on it, so we started something new. Six hard weeks later, we are ready to reveal Bluebones’ Curse to the world. (Screenshots and a gameplay video are available at that link.)

We even put together a tongue-in-cheek press release that I’ve been sending out to journalists in the gaming press. I know our game is too small for most of them to cover, but hopefully we caused a smile or two. Here it is:

Pirate’s Cove, Tortuga Island - October 31, 1652 – In
an ironic twist of fate, Bluebones, the most
dastardly pirate to ever sail the Seven Seas, has
been cursed to roam the Earth as a skeleton.  During
a failed attempt to steal a priceless ancient ring,
Bluebones was confronted by a powerful hag, who
gave no mercy to the scallywag.

“Tis a wicked unsettlin’ ting to be sure!  I did nae
know such a ting be possible,” said the scurvy dog.
“This be worse than when ol’ Greenbeard lost his hand
to a mutinous crew and hadta use a hook instead. I
cannae even drink me grog! It goes right through me
to the floor. It ain’t right, I tell ya! How will I
e’er get to Fiddler’s Green now?”

In hushed whispers, local residents suggest Bluebones
might seek out the lost gold of Davy Jones, which
is said will grant the finder his heart’s desire.
It’s a dangerous journey, and time is running short,
as the gold only appears once every thousand years,
on Halloween night.

When asked for comment on his immediate plans, the
privateer just muttered to himself, “Stupid bag o’
bones. Damned, bloody witches.”

Bluebones’ Curse is available on the Xbox Indie Games
marketplace for 80 Microsoft Points.