INK: Postmortem

Hey everyone!

So…I released a game today! Imagine that.

Pitch

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on a small game called INK, for the past three weeks. Today I launched the Windows build on itch.io. I also launched the Windows build, along with the source file, on the Game Maker marketplace.


INK is 2D platformer where all of the terrain is invisible. When you bump into terrain, paint is spread on the surface and it becomes visible. When you double jump, bullets of paint are released from the player so that you can uncover more of the world around you.

The game was an experiment, if anything. I know literally nothing of the itch.io market and I was curious how fast I could ship a product that was polished up to my standards. I also just wanted to finish something, in general, haha.

If you bought it, I REALLY appreciate the support! Anyway, onto the postmortem.

THE GOOD

I had several objectives with INK. First, I wanted to release a title. If I am looking for further funding, publishing, or investing in the future, it’s best to have a few titles under your belt. I accomplished this. Yay.

Second, I wanted to push myself to see how much I could handle before burning out. This is a bit of a dangerous task, but luckily, I didn’t really burn out at all. I worked on INK for the three weeks following Ludum Dare 32 (I was too busy to participate that weekend) and mainly worked weekdays. I’d say that I put 80 hours into the game over the course of those three weeks. I was able to work fairly consistently up until the end. I got quite sloppy with the menu and credits code during the final stretch (a few hours prior to launch), but I think that was more just the thought of finishing something. I was eager to release, so I cut a few corners.

So far, feedback is positive. The controls are tight (that’s always my number one), it’s fun, and it’s challenging. I decided early on that I wanted the game to be difficult, but easy enough for me to beat each level twice in a row without dying. It seems to give people quite a challenge, but everyone has been able to finish it in roughly an hour.

SHIPPED PRODUCT. DIDN’T DIE. PEOPLE DIG IT.

THE BAD

Overall, it was a positive experience. However, I did rush a bit during that final launch period. Due to this, there were two bugs that were reported within the first few hours after it went live. The first being a total “oops” moment. I generally test with a gamepad, so I forgot to double-check the keyboard controls on *one* of the menus. I must have copy/pasted code, because I expected the player to press ‘P’ or ‘START’. That’s my PAUSE scheme, not my ACCEPT/CONTINUE scheme. Oh well, it’s fixed in build 1.0.1.

The second bug was some mysterious lagging that happens when you die a ton of times. I had wondered if there would be any memory leaks due to the high number of surface related calls that I make in the game. It turns out that it wasn’t surface-related at all. I forgot to destroy paint particles that happen to fall outside the boundaries of the level. Again, oops. Again, fixed in v1.0.1.

Lastly, I have this odd feeling about charging for my work. I think a lot of devs and artists have this problem. It’s just something that we all need to move beyond. I recognize that the game is only an hour or so long, but I charged $3.99 for it (at the time of launch). I have no concept of whether or not this is/was fair. I guess I figure that at the price point of four bucks, I’d need six-hundred sales for it to be worth my time. Who knows if that will happen!

SALES & MARKETING

I didn’t do much marketing, aside from tweeting my progress, but that seems to do well for me. In August, I started Twitter with around 15-20 followers and I am at somewhere around 2400 at the time of posting this. I believe the initial release tweet had 120 RTs within a few hours. I really appreciated all of that support.

The first hour or so landed me about $70.00 in revenue. I don’t know if that’s above or below the itch.io average. I’d love to hear more about that market. If things spike or completely plummet, I’ll be sure to do a follow up post.

Again, thank you all for the support. I’m getting started on my next game…NOW!

http://zackbellgames.itch.io/ink

-Z

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INK: Postmortem

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