Publisher Relations Primer

Hello everyone,

We are very appreciative of all of the positive attention that we have been receiving since we announced Spaceboy Partners, our games publishing platform. My inbox has surprisingly been flooded with everything from concepts yet to be fully realized, to early prototypes, to finished products in need of marketing help. I love all of this, but I thought that I’d make a quick post that covers what we expect from you as publishers, how to make a deal, what to do, what not to do, and how we can get the most out of each other after we have created a partnership!


High Noon Revolver, the product of our first partnership with Mike Studios


The Pitch

Your first step is simply to get our attention. If you want to work with Spaceboy Partners, or any publisher, we need to be aware of your team and your project. This can happen in one of two ways: the publisher approaches the team with interest, or the team makes a pitch to the publisher. Due to the fact that we are a small team that develops games of our own, we are not yet actively scouting for projects to fund, assist, and market. This means that we might never reach out to about your project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we aren’t interested! It just means that we are very busy! To make a pitch to Spaceboy Partners, you will need to organize and send an email to me at

What I expect:

1) High concept and background information: Explain your game in one to two sentences. Give me the elevator pitch. Accompany this with some basic information like the genre, the scope and size of the project, your target platforms, and so on.

2) Playable prototype: Send us something to play! It doesn’t have to be the final art or an incredibly polished masterpiece, but we want to know how it plays. It should generally *feel* like the experience that you want our players to have. I will probably skip out on your email as soon as I notice that there is no attachment to go along with your text.

3) Release window and distribution strategy(ies): When do you plan on releasing your game? We don’t need an exact date, but we want to make sure that we can give your project the love and attention that it needs. We don’t want to have three projects launching simultaneously. The distribution strategy is simply whether or not it’s a game that we will release via Steam, or a mobile game that will need to go through Apple, etc.

4) Expectations of publishing party: What do you need from us? Do you need funding? How much? We can handle your PR, your marketing, etc. We want to know what we can help you with. It’s better to ask for more and get turned down than to low-ball things and then fail when you need more and we are unprepared. We can always come back to you with concerns and work with you to find an offer that works for both parties.

After A Deal Has Been Made

Congrats, you are making a video game with Spaceboy Partners! Now what? You will be assigned a contact email and you will discuss all of your questions, concerns, wants, and needs with that person. Having a solitary means of communication with our team will ensure that the whole team is on the same page and that we won’t make changes to our trajectories via Facebook with one person while another member of the team talks about tweaking something else via email. We want to keep things organized for everyone’s sake.

An initial deal will be made and we will create a contract for both teams to acknowledge and sign. From there the deal may change dependent on what you need, how the timeline or necessary assets may change over time, and so forth. The contract may only be edited if both parties agree on the new terms.

Essentially, our job is to make everything aside from the task of developing the game disappear. That is the high end of what we can offer (not accounting for funding/advance(s)). That covers PR, marketing, Steam Greenlight (or bypassing that system), managing the Steam storefront, managing your build repo, managing your payments, creating a press kit, performing a press release, organizing your Steam sale schedule, contacting different companies to arrange potential bundle options, etc.

Steam Early Access

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about what Steam’s Early Access is and isn’t. For those of you who don’t know, Steam Early Access allows developers to sell their projects before they are complete. Customers can then interact with the developer via the Steam forums and potentially get involved with the development process and influence the final product. This obviously allows for some cool things, as well as for some shady business strategies. The latter is why I am mentioning it here.

Steam Early Access is NOT an excuse to not release a finished product. Steam Early Access is NOT a tool for corner-cutting when you fail to stick to your project timeline or underestimate your development budget. Often, when we are discussing the release window or the amount of funding that a team may need, the developer may suggest Early Access (EA) as an alternative. If your game does not fit into our lineup or we cannot afford to fund your game at the current point in your development cycle do NOT shoehorn your project into EA. EA should be for extremely large projects that can be community-driven, or games with extremely modular content that were built with EA in mind (Nuclear Throne is a good example of this).

EA is also fairly bad for your sales numbers (according to research, friends, and fellow developers). People have grown weary of the system and often don’t trust developers to ever deliver the final product. What is the incentive to finish if money keeps flowing in throughout development? Don’t abuse EA and ruin it for developers that would like to use it correctly (both mechanically and morally).


We are excited about Spaceboy Partners and have put hours into market research, development experience of our own, etc. We know how well INK did. We have tools like Steam Spy to approximate how our friends did. We have lots of feedback and advice from friends who have done this many times, as well. We have friends from within other publishing companies. All of that being said, do NOT trust a publisher who tries to promise you ‘x’ number of sales or ‘y’ dollars (or whatever currency applies) worth of revenue. It is impossible to make guarantees. All we can do is learn from the past and give you educated estimates. I promise you that we will work hard and that we will do our best to give you honest advice and honest numbers. Our goal, unlike most publishers, is to inform you. We don’t want you to have to come to us again (unless you just enjoy the hands-off approach). We want to teach you how to do what we do so that you can continue to excel in this industry alongside us.

Thank you, and feel free to email me if you have further inquiries,

Publisher Relations Primer

Spaceboy Games is now a Publisher for Devs, by Devs

Hello everyone!

Here at Spaceboy Games we are constantly playing with new approaches to our job as an independent studio. We have ideas regarding a plethora of topics including pc/console gaming , monetization strategies, conference talks/prep, and most recently, a way to give back and share our experience with other developers. Along with my fellow team members, we are happy to announce that Spaceboy Games will now be publishing games, as well as developing them in-house.

Below, I will detail what that means for us and what that means for YOU, our potential partner(s). First, we would like to show you the first game to be published under the Spaceboy Games umbrella. Take a look at High Noon Revolver, by Mike Studios!

The Beginning of a New Chapter


Continue reading “Spaceboy Games is now a Publisher for Devs, by Devs”

Spaceboy Games is now a Publisher for Devs, by Devs

Spaceboy Diary #6

Hello, everyone!

As a lot of you probably know, I’ve been having a pretty busy summer. I thought that I’d write a quickie update for all of you before I head to the gym (it’s 2:00AM and leg day *womp womp*). Anyway, status report:


Ok, so HackyZack was a small project that we decided to take on over the summer for several reasons that I stated here. It’s going well and for the most part, as planned. As usual, things got…slightly larger than originally anticipated, but we’re on schedule. We added some extra playable characters and a break-the-targets mode that will extend the amount of content by quite a bit. Continue reading “Spaceboy Diary #6”

Spaceboy Diary #6

#Gamedev: Efficiency and Morale

Hello everyone!

This isn’t going to be my typical blog post, in fact, it will likely be one-of-a-kind, as far as my blog goes. I am constantly asked about how I iterate on code and designs so quickly, how I stay motivated, where my inspiration comes from, and things of that nature. I’d like to take this time to touch on those topics. I may rant a bit, and I may swear a few times. If that is something that bothers you severely, please tell me. I will post a clean and strictly informative version, because I think that this is important. Continue reading “#Gamedev: Efficiency and Morale”

#Gamedev: Efficiency and Morale

Project Reveal: HackyZack

Hello everyone!

As many of you have noticed, everyone at Spaceboy Games has gone dark as far as Fara progress goes. We have been pummeled with questions over the past two months and it is about time that we come clean!


The team has secretly been working on an older personal project of mine, HackyZack! We have been quietly at work on this game for about two months now. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to HackyZack, get into why we switched gears, and touch on what this means for the development of Fara & The Eye of Darkness.

What is HackyZack?

HackyZack is a unique take on a 2D precision-platformer that incorporates puzzle elements in the form of multi-tasking. As you make your way through each compact level, you must also carry a ball of varying properties.

Pretentious platforming is what @zackbellgames does best. But what does it take to name a game after yourself? Balls. HackyZack has been filled with balls since its original prototype in late 2014. Luckily, the other members of the Spaceboy Games team are fans of balls, as well. The group decided that HackyZack deserved an upgrade. With plenty of new mechanics, polish, a fresh art style, and a unique, original soundtrack, the new HackyZack is a kick in the balls.


Why HackyZack?

I have a feeling that most people will be curious as to why we switched gears. A lot of you played and enjoyed Fara at GDC and had assumed that we were working on that project, full-time. Well, we were! Until eight weeks ago, Fara was our sole focus. Friends and fans had been showing great interest in Fara and the game was continuing to grow and grow. A ton of variables were considered when making such a big decision, but I’ll try to keep this concise.

-Spaceboy Games is the largest team that the majority of us have worked on, and we have yet to ship a product together. We felt that a smaller project was a stronger start.

-Having some form of cash flow within the company will allow us to take our time with Fara, and really flesh it out into what we truly believe that it can be.

-For some of us, this will be their first Steam release and/or their first time working within their current role(s). If we’re going to screw up or experiment, we want to do it small. We want Fara development to run extremely smoothly.

With these points on our mind, as well as others, the team came together and decided that revamping my HackyZack prototype was the best path for us at this time.


What happens to Fara?

Fara development will continue full-time, as soon as possible. We have a TON of Fara work that is already done, but has yet to be shown (animation, additional spell cards, an entire second biome, more OST, etc). After HackyZack is launched, we will likely have a brief period where we are responding to the Steam community, patching issues that arise, etc, but we will make it a priority to work towards getting Fara into your hands, as quickly as we can!

That being said, I am proud to announce that HackyZack will be coming to Steam in August! We do not yet have a finalized release date, but the game is coming together and will be ready incredibly soon. We are very excited to see how our fans respond to this new project!


In the meantime, consider voting for HackyZack on Steam Greenlight:

As always, I greatly appreciate all of you and I am continuously humbled by all of the support that we receive. A big thank you from all of us at Spaceboy Games,


Project Reveal: HackyZack

Spaceboy Diary #5

Good evening (it’s 3AM here),

Today was an incredibly productive day for me. I feel like I’ve really gotten my groove back lately. I’m not sure if my current work is a great change of pace for me or if I have less distractions going on, but I’ve been working productively for much longer periods than usual.

This period of Spaceboy secrecy is coming to a close. Most of my milestone work is done and I will be wrapping up what’s left tomorrow. I’m thinking that sometime next week I will be able to stream and work more openly again. I also started a shader tutorial series, for those who have yet to see part one. I’d like to do one entry every week or two, but we’ll see!

I received a bunch of new music demos from Vince tonight (it had to have been 4-5AM for him) and I’m super excited to sit down with him tomorrow and talk about the direction of the audio design and OST for this game. With INK I simply trusted his judgement and his first pass is what we shipped. This time he is giving me a few vibes and directions and we’ll kind of pick and choose where we want to take things from here. Joonas is on vacation, but he will be back very soon to incorporate our ideas and mood into some sound effects, as well.

More coming soon!




Spaceboy Diary #5

Shaders (Part 1)

Hello everyone!


I have been asked a countless number of times to prepare a series of shader tutorials. More specifically, a series of shader tutorials that will help Game Maker users approach this complex topic without being incredibly overwhelmed. Programming requires a certain mindset and shader programming requires yet another mindset to fully grasp what is going on. That being said, I am really going to slow this down in hopes that nobody gets lost.

What is a Shader?

For these examples, I will be using Game Maker: Studio. GM gives you several options for shading languages, but I will be using the default: GLSL ES. This is a shader programming language that is based on the OpenGL shading language, as well as C++.

A shader exists to return a vec4 to the graphics pipeline (at this point I would hope that you have a solid grasp on vectors, as containers). The vec4 contains the red, green, blue, and alpha values of a single pixel. Every frame a shader runs for every pixel on screen. The return value is the pixel that you see rendered on screen. If you do not explicitly set a shader, a pasthrough shader will be called for you.

The Passthrough Shader

For now, we will call a passthrough shader ourselves. To do this, right-click on the shaders tab and choose to create a new shader. GM will create a passthrough shader for you, by default (I called mine shdrPassthrough). A shader can basically be applied to any form and any number of draw calls (a sprite, a entire surface, the application surface, etc). I will create a simple object that let’s us toggle our shader(s) on and off and draws a sprite accordingly.

Create Event


Step Event


Draw Event


From here, place the test object in the room. You can press the space bar to toggle your shader on and off, but you will be unable to see what is happening because your shader is the same as the default passthrough shader that is being called while yours is off.

Your First Shader

Ok, so the first thing that we will do is experiment with the Fragment Shader. You will notice that when you open a shader, there are actually two tabs open; a vertex shader and a fragment shader. The vertex shader is called for every vertex, while the fragment shader is called for every pixel. Open up the fragment portion of your shader file and you will notice that the last line of main() sets a variable called gl_FragColor to a particular value. This is the return value and final rendered RGBA value of your pixel. For our first attempt, we are simply going to change every pixel to a solid red. Note that these values are normalized and range from 0 to 1, rather than 0 to 255. Here’s what this would look like:



That’s incredibly simple and not very useful, but you have successfully written your first shader! We can take that a bit further by blending each pixel in the original image with red, rather than just replacing it with a solid color completely.


We’re skipping a few steps here, but just be aware that gm_BaseTexture refers to the texture that you’re currently running your shader on and that v_tex is the texture coordinates passed in from your vertex shader (in this case, it should be unchanged). So you essentially have a position within your texture (a single pixel) and you’re multiplying it by your red value. You are doing this for every pixel in the texture.


Again, a very simple effect that you may have stumbled upon before. You can also achieve this by setting your object’s image_blend value to c_red. You have now accomplished the same thing via shader!

I’ll leave you all with this for now. I am trying to take this very slow both for people who are new to shaders, as well as people who are new to programming and GM, in general. Play with color inputs and see what other effects you can come up with.

More to come soon,

Shaders (Part 1)