Discussion in 'Indivisible' started by Kasumi, Dec 15, 2015.
There ya go dude! Nicely done!
It has been a while. This silly, little fan game came out a year ago. It wasn't my first release, but it's definitely the first that got any sort of real attention. To celebrate its anniversary, I'll share a story about massive panic I had before it came out.
I launched it shortly after getting back from a road trip with a couple of friends of mine. The trip had a strange effect on my mindset about the whole thing. Maybe life in general. But the story's not about the trip, sorry!
The fan game is based on what is now a very, very old Indivisible prototype. The last months of working on the fan game filled me with constant worry. I had a lot of small personal deadlines for the game and I missed them all. The very last one was "before the real game gets a playable update in a way that fully obsoletes the old prototype." For those not in the know, the actual Indivisible was a crowd funded game. The developers released the version the fan game is based on to show what the game might play like. If the game was successfully funded (it was), they had plans to release "demos" of new mechanics and things to those who backed at that level. These demos were to be called "Backer Previews".
I wanted to release before the first Backer Preview.
On June 20th 2017, the developers tweeted that the Backer Preview would be coming in a few weeks:
My heart sank.
I was working as hard as I could, but I was in a "race" with an actual team with actual experience working with modern tools on modern platforms with literally a million times more RAM and an actual budget.
I was working entirely alone, on a budget of shoestrings and dreams, using bad tools I wrote myself for this fan game on a console that's older than I am.
The Backer Preview had been delayed before, but I was honestly panicking. In August, the trip came up. It wasn't planned and actually went longer than I had guessed it might. I wasn't able to work on the game during it, I don't really have a mobile development setup. So during most of the trip it was in the back of my mind that the backer preview would come out while my version was idling at the finish line.
"Why did you care so much about beating the Backer Preview to release?" I hear you asking. After spending a really long time cloning the old prototype, I didn't want more to do! And I wanted to avoid people wondering and asking why I didn't do all the new things that would be introduced.
The devs tweet again in August when I am far away from home:
It sounded very soon. After all, how much more time could I have when in June it was weeks away?
I get home. I finish the game. I actually think the difference between the game before the trip and after the trip is just a few bytes. I changed some colors on the title screen. I primarily just wanted to test it on real hardware.
I flew into action working on the promotional "trailer":
I'm still pretty proud of it. While I'm sure actual video editors would scoff, it's the first real video editing I did. I threw it together in a very short amount of time without powerful software. (It couldn't scale up by nearest neighbor, so I had to manually scale the NES version's clips before importing them.)
I do regret one thing. It doesn't say it's a fan project! On some level I think I only really expected people familiar with the actual game to play it, but there were a fair amount of people who played this who had (have?) no idea about its "modern" counterpart. I didn't really think about it, but there were definitely people that were fooled. Sorry! It also doesn't say anything about it being unofficial in the actual game... I did this because I want to match the original game. If that had credits, I'd have done that but it did not... Still, in the future if I ever do something similar again, I'll make it clear.
I actually had a different plan for promotion but there just wasn't time. I wanted to make an animation of Ajna playing NES (hand drawn, not pixel art). I still wonder what it would have looked like. :D
Having finished the promotional materials, a different worry started to sink in. How is this game gonna spread? I had like... 10? followers that were all people I knew because I signed up to twitter in preparation for launch. I didn't spend all the time just to have no one play it. So I started to test the waters on twitter. Most of my early tweets were made to test the kind of reach I had. The results were actually discouraging. Until this one:
Aseprite retweeted that. At the time, it had around 10,000 followers. I actually instantly regretted tagging Aseprite in that test tweet. Why? What if they didn't retweet the actual release?! Did I waste my shot?!
I finished testing the game. Everything's ready. And... I send it out. And wouldn't you know it, I pick a day and time when itch.io was having problems. The URL was 404ing for a bit. And I make a launch tweet to Aseprite. And Aseprite retweets it.
Aseprite retweeted both my coming soon tweet and my launch tweet. Aseprite is actually a large part of the reason why people saw the game early on. Thanks Aseprite! Thanks. I actually wrote an Aseprite Love Letter earlier in the devlog. It's just that good.
OH YEAH! Because of reasons, I just remembered missingno from here was also a large part of early exposure due to his reddit post! Hi! Thanks!
A few days later, I hear from Mike Zaimont, the lead programmer of the actual game. And he ensures the game is retweeted on the official IndivisibleRPG account as well as sharing it himself. It was also retweeted by personasama and renderling (and maybe others on the team?! Sorry if I missed you.)
Mike was super cool throughout the whole project. He was very patient with me. While he was busy working on the actual game, he still took time out of his day to answer some questions I asked just to help me make this fan game. Thanks Mike!
Obviously, fan games run a risk of getting cease and desisted and I totally understand all the reasons for this. I don't take for granted how super cool Lab Zero was about this. They knew about the project for basically its entire development cycle and let it be.
With the knowledge I have now, I probably would have made a few more changes before releasing it. There's a change I'd have made to the boss in particular, I was just too scared to change something so close to release.
Well as it turns out, the Backer Preview came out in November. Thanks for reading!
PS: There's still an unfound secret or two in this game! (Or, if it has been found, I've seen no public evidence of it.) I'd still like to write some posts about the development of this game, but apologies if the next one is a year from now!
(I'll probably cross post this and future posts in tigsource or something. I like having all the posts in one place, but it might also be nice to have some stuff read by more than the extremely diehard Indivisible fans remaining on skullheart. But I also may just... never write more posts! We'll see.)
That was such a wholesome and nice story to hear. Especially the fact that the dev team really enjoyed your hard work and dedication on the fan game. It shows that the devs care a lot for their fans.
I'm super glad you were successful on completing the fan game, and I'm interested on doodling the scrapped promotional idea with Ajna playing the NES.(seems cute)
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. If you're feeling the AJNES concept, feel free to doodle it up! It's unlikely I will at this point.
Separate names with a comma.