Archive for June, 2013

ManCraft mode and other such sillyness

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Another trailer day for everyone! Mount Your Friends Patch 1 had been released a day or two ago. It has a bunch of new outfits and this new, amazing sandbox mode EVERYONE wanted me to make! Why? I don’t even know sometimes!

There are also more amazing fan videos that I can’t keep full tabs on, but here are just a few new ones I watched and stood out to me!




Destructoid TV

DatMan Leeroy (also, that name that appears at 13:40 is AMAZING and completely random!)



Once again, I could be adding links and videos for the next hour and make this whole post HUGE, and I LOVE everyone who has made a video of my games, so sorry if your video isn’t here! I still love you all!

Rant: Time To Give Up, But In a Good Way!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I recently gave a 5 minute mini-rant at the IGDA Toronto branch titled “Time To Give Up, But In a Good Way!”. The talk went well, but didn’t quite convey what I *meant* to convey. This is probably due to the fact that I had 5 minutes and did zero preparation work. As such I still have the ideas of the talk in my head, and wish to share some of them here.

I see myself as a very analytical and practical person. I tend to not make games just because I “like” their ideas, but also often because I think I can sell them. I make small games because I think making large games are riskier, and I never try to bet the farm on a single project. When I started making games as an indie who wanted to make a living off of my own work, the first thing I did was look at the top selling game on iOS, which at the time was a Scorched Earth style artillery game. This is why my first game is Tank Strike, a game that plays okay but is creatively bereft. It’s also why I made a really bad Pumpkin Carving app in my first year that sold WAY more than it should have (considering it has a well-deserved 2 star rating). Battle Beat, a game that I spent 8 months on, was based on the idea that “Rock Band and Guitar Hero were popular games, and everyone’s desperate to use those plastic instruments!”. I’m still not sure why someone with no musical ability like myself thought making a rhythm game was a good idea.

Battle Beat was also the game that almost had me giving up on making a living on indie games. I spent about a year and a half making various indie games from Tank Strike to Battle Beat and Mega Monster Mania. Some things I made did okay, but I wasn’t making enough to live off of (if I hadn’t been living with my parents at the time). In fact, around this time I had thrown in the towel. I was revising my resume and sending it out to various companies. I decided XBLIG wasn’t a marketplace where I could make a living. Of course, I didn’t have the attention to spend ALL DAY on my resume and applying to jobs, so I started making a game just for fun. For my own sense of amusement. It would be my last XBLIG game with no intention to really make money off it. I’d spend the next month applying to jobs while working on this dumb game idea I had.

That dumb game idea was Baby Maker Extreme, and it ended up paying for all that time I had been failing. It reversed the flow of events and let me keep making indie games to this day. It also seeded a bit of bravado in my head. Baby Maker Extreme was the #1 game for a while, and its influence on my future games was clear. I suddenly thought “sexual innuendo! That’s how you make money!” and ran with that. I started releasing titles like Stick Massage, Can You Handle 2 At Once?, and Blow Me Up. I was cynical about other devs who used “sex sells” and “massage apps” as their marketing ploys and my games were always trying to make FUN of those ideas. But, nothing really performed like Baby Maker Extreme. I had a few other successes, but time marched on and I started seeing the domination of the XBLIG marketplace by Minecraft games and other 3d combat focused Avatar games. Games I could make, and sometimes did, but didn’t really enjoy the process of making them. I had been spending a few months on a still unannounced project of mine when I realized XBLIG’s time was limited. XBox One and PS4 were coming this holiday and I probably should jump to a new platform. I decided the game I was working on was probably going to be my last XBLIG. I was going to pick up Unity and start making a game designed in a way that it might get through Greenlight and onto Steam. I had my big project going, but also a small distraction.

Now, I say distraction, but what I MEAN is TOJam. TOJam is the Toronto Indie Game Jam that happens every year in Toronto. It’s a fantastic event and I’ve always enjoyed participating in it. It’s where I first learned XNA and made my first XNA game with friends from university. That said, I have a bad history of trying to “do” something with my TOJam games. Last year I made Jetpack Rapture at TOJam in 2 days, then spent a few weeks modifying the game so I could sell it on XBLIG. This year I had no expectations of porting it. In fact, in my design doc for TOJam I put the note “[Porting to XBox] is not a priority. My last TOJam game Jetpack Rapture took a while to port and did AWFUL on XBLIG, so I don’t expect this to be worth porting.” This was possibly going to be the last XNA game I started, and it wouldn’t even be on XBLIG. I just wanted to have fun making another dumb game idea without worrying about how it would do if I sold it, or having a project drag on beyond it being fun to work on. My goal at TOJam was to make the WEIRDEST game at the event (an event that has over 400 participants in a single building!). Surprisingly, I MAY have actually accomplished that goal.

The game I made at TOJam this year was what eventually became Mount Your Friends. So, why is Mount Your Friends on XBLIG if I didn’t plan to port it? Because everyone I showed the game to loved it and demanded a copy. It was a game that made me feel really good because other developers who I respected were giving me complements on my design. It was the confidence boost I needed after a lot of recent failure on the XBLIG marketplace. So I finished it and released it on XBLIG (in a rushed manner, still assuming I shouldn’t overcommit to working on the game) and now it feels like it may be the next Baby Maker Extreme. It seems like every time I make a game without giving a shit about its possible saleability it does orders of magnitude better. When I give up on all my desires for attention and financial success I made something that brings those things to me naturally.

So give up on your dreams of making it big, because once you give up you’ll make your best works? Well, that doesn’t really work. Now that I have this idea in my head, I start building up expectations and making things that artificially feel like I’m saying to myself “I don’t care if this succeeds!” while at the same time hoping “gee, I hope I’ve tricked my brain into making something that succeeds!” It’s a mindset that existed in my subconscious, and perhaps cannot be forced forward. I sometimes wish I could not care about success, but I’m still the analytical developer I started as. Perhaps that’s a good thing though, because my obsession and analysis is still information being fed into my mind, and perhaps my subconscious takes those ideas into consideration as well when it occasionally tries to design something amazing with me.

Mount Your Friends Patch 1 plans

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Thanks everyone who’s tried Mount Your Friends so far and voted for it on Greenlight to help us get Mount Your Friends on PC! This has all been great!

I’ve been in a flurry of press work and actual patch work for the game, so I wanted to talk about a few things that will be added next patch. I’ve got a LOT more plans but I can’t announce them all yet, because they are *surprises*. Right now though, I’ve got a bunch of UI tweaks I need to do so that people know how to exit out of the online lobbies (it’s the back button), as well as some small details like better conveyance to players that they are on a timer, and when their turn times are running out. I also know some people dislike the “Start” to end turn, and I’ll try to add more valid buttons to end turns (likely shoulders). I know that sounds a bit bland and dull, but it helps players… oh and also


I’ll try to get a trailer for that out later, as well as one last SUPER SECRET new mode (which I haven’t started programming yet but should ideally be easy to implement.

But for now, check out another video from JSmithOTI who I sent a “special build” of Mount Your Friends to

Mount Your Friends Big Pictures for youtubers and media!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

So There have been a LOT of videos going up of Mount Your Friends. I linked a few yesterday but they keep growing faster than I can even keep up, but there is one problem.

Microsoft’s jpg compression on my box art is AWFUL and people want higher res version of my box art when they talk about the game.

As such, I’m putting up higher res versions of the art right here along with relevant Marketplace and Greenlight links for anyone to use when making any kind of content about my game. Youtube videos, website coverage, reviews, etc! If you need something in particular that I haven’t included here let me know and I’ll try to add it as well!

XBox Live Indie Games Marketplace Link:

Greenlight Link:

1280×720 landscape with climbers

Alternate 1280×720 landscape from “gentlemanly” censored Steam video

Just the climbers, with a transparent backdrop

XBLIG’s box art

Steam Icon

Gee, can I just start posting Mount Your Friends videos I find?

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

I’ve been enjoying the coverage of Mount Your Friends so far, and was shocked when I saw heavy hitter youtuber pewdiepie play my game. That gave me warm fuzzies and so I want to share his video and some others I’ve found so far.

But before that, I want to share a short story about the game’s development. Before I released the game and made my GreenLight, Mount Your Friends was a 2 day jam game called “Over My Dead Bodies”. It was a competitive multiplayer game I had no intention of selling. Halfway through development I added the “feature” that everyone finds so amusing though a physics tool I had made to speed of my game development. Unforunately… there was a small bug. And by “bug”, I mean “OH GOD IT’S SPINNING UNCONTROLLABLY AT 100 MPH” to the point that it would drag the player’s body through its spinning. When that happened I just had a mental breakdown, spending the next 10 minutes laughing into my laptop as a larger and larger crowd of fellow game developers formed around me. It was at that point that I KNEW I had to release this game publicly. It has been a PR flurry today and I’m so happy about that.

Also some quick self pimping! Sorry!
If you have an XBox and want the game, get it here

And if you want to help me get on Steam, vote for it on Greenlight here



UberHaxorNova (omg I love that video icon!)


and my own follow-up to Greenlight comments

I’m still making a Greenlight campaign because Greenlight is GOOD for indies

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Its been a LONG time since I made a blog post, so bare with me as I try to get back into the swing of things.

My next game, Mount Your Friends, just came out on XBLIG and I’ve made a Greenlight campaign for it. This is after some angry developers have ranted about how they were dismissed by Valve because of their Greenlight page and indies calling Greenlight a popularity contest and the worst thing for indie developers ever. So, why would I subject myself to the popularity contest of Greenlight? Why spend $100 and work making a page for a service that indies are claiming is BAD for indie developers? Why expose myself to Greenlight commentators that sound like every idiotic Youtube video comment you’ve seen?

Maybe because it’s not as bad as people’s hyperbole, and it’s going to get better.

Let’s start with WHY I want to start getting my games onto Greenlight. Mount Your Friends is going to be the first game I’ve made that will be posted to Greenlight, and for good reason. As an XBox Live Indie Games developer I’ve tried to keep my games small and manageable for the $1 price-point market that XBLIG is. Mount Your Friends fits that pattern, but I want it to be a bigger game than what I’ve built for XBLIG. Getting approved through Greenlight is my way of justifying that kind of work. If I can get on Steam, I can make the game larger and more feature rich because I’ll be on a higher-price-point market. I enjoy making small, manageable games, but XBLIG is looking more and more like a sinking ship. Microsoft stopped supporting XNA long ago, the XBox One (or XBone) has been announced and it sounds like there will be no XBLIG in it. From rumours I’ve heard, XBLIG nowadays is run by one person to address issues, who only works on the platform part time. At some point things are going to break, and there will be no one around to fix it. Even though I’ve made a good living on XBLIG, it’s on the way out and I need an escape route. Getting a Steam deal could be that chance for me. That used to mean having the right connections at Valve to make a pitch, but now it means pitching to the Greenlight community instead.

Greenlight is a popularity contest. You are no longer being judged by a small team of professionals to get on Steam. Instead you are being upvoted by driving traffic to your Greenlight page. On the other hand, all game development is a popularity contest, isn’t it? We, as individuals with unique tastes, don’t always agree with what the masses find appealing. Surely you’ve seen games that have been released on Steam that you loved, but didn’t shoot their way up to #1, while games that you would find generic and dull sit on a throne at the top of the Top Sellers lists. Working with the masses directly in the approval process just gives more of a chance of the games that the masses will like being moved forward to Steam. That means more games that will get high sales being released. Yes those games may not be your favourites, but it will get MORE games in the hands of MORE players. The professionally-curated games may drive more interesting experiences onto Steam, but those experiences will often still perform worse in terms of getting the games in front of people. If you want to encourage unique experiences from indie developers, buy directly from the developer and encourage others to do the same, but don’t expect a service that revolves around getting their average game out to as MANY people as possible to take up that flag for you. It isn’t fair to claim that it’s Valve’s responsibility to do such a thing. The games that rise to the top on Greenlight are the games more likely to get more overall sales, and Valve has limited capabilities to push games in front of Steam users.

Speaking of the throughput of games, this tends to be considered one of the biggest flaws of Greenlight. Too few games pass Greenlight and get published to Steam. Greenlight’s “big list of games” really emphasizes how few games get published. This has of course always been the case, the process was just more hidden before when Valve would quietly tell people their games were rejected. Most rejected people won’t make a fuss online about it so we didn’t see big walls of games being rejected. After all, most people who submit games don’t want to seem petty or act entitled when their games don’t make the cut. We were never able to compare what Valve thought was the wheat versus the chaff. I don’t know if Greenlight is really that different from the old methods in this respect, it just makes the problem a lot more visible to the public.

But that problem of not enough games being released through Greenlight? That’s being addressed. Valve seems to WANT to approve more games and just doesn’t have the power the process all the games they want on the service. Valve has recently announced a more streamlined system to get games from approvals to market, and Gabe Newell has expressed his own problems with Greenlight, and how he wants to move the service from approvals to all games being released, and having systems in place for the best games to rise on their own. Valve is a big company and Steam has a lot of moving parts. Valve may not be able to make the changes quickly, but they have expressed their desire to make these changes. Sure Greenlight isn’t the ideal system, but the intention is that Valve is working to build that ideal system. I can’t guarantee they’ll succeed at the task, but I’m happy that they care enough to work towards it.

Greenlight is a flawed popularity contest that shows how few games Valve lets onto Steam and we need a better, more open system to let games prove themselves on Steam instead of being approved by vapid public comments about videos and screenshots. Greenlight could be so much more than what it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means it’s having growing pains, and with the right direction and feedback it can become great. I’m not going to avoid my chance at getting Greenlight’s attention just because there are flaws. I’ve been working in a flawed infrastructure for years (XBLIG) and at the end of the day, I am the one making the educated decisions that will lead to my successes or failures. My platform holder can hurt my work, but everything I do is a chosen, calculated risk by me.

Do I expect to get through Greenlight and get published on Steam? Not necessarily. Do I believe that Greenlight can get my game exposed to more people, and at the very least help me practice marketing my games to new audiences? Absolutely.

Mount Your Friends on XBLIG! Starting to wind down!

Friday, June 7th, 2013

This is a quick post to announce that my newest game Mount Your Friends is on XBLIG

I’m going to have another, longer blog post related to the game soon, but have to do some work for it first. For now check out the trailer!