Spaceslingers | Episode 1.0.0.0 "The Eagle is landed!"


Spaceslingers is a fun and mind-bending sci-fi gravity-based game, where the only obstacles between you and your goal are the most powerful celestial objects in the known universe!

KEY FEATURES
  • PLAY: Challenge yourself with a multitude of unique and difficult deliveries to make!
  • AVOID: Many celestial hazards fill your path with death and destruction!
  • MASTER: Learn to warp spacetime by flying close to exotic objects, lowering your delivery times!
  • COMPETE: Perfect your route for each delivery to climb the leaderboard rankings and crown yourself the best interstellar deliverer!
  • BUILD: In-built delivery editor allows you to build your own deliveries for others to try!

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Denied!
YOUR TASK
Spamazon, the local intergalactic delivery company, has hired you to service the Core Quadrant, which has been in sore need of deliveries since the last person doing them was spaghettified in the bowels of a black hole. You'll take on a huge variety of gravity-based puzzles, facing death, destruction, and insanity around every corner, on your quest to become the universe's ultimate deliverer. Plan your paths by thinking about the gravitational potential of each object on your route and figure out the perfect angle and power to launch with so that you will make it to your target planet in one piece.



Spaceslingers in all it's glory

With tons of deliveries waiting to go, you'll need all your wits and nerves of steel to come out the other side alive. Remember, interplanetary delivery is a hard job, but someone's got to do it!

IMAGES
You Ain't Getting Outta This One
Orbituary
Path Through A Wormhole
Oops

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UPDATE LOG
17th November, 2020 (4am AEST)
Spaceslingers is released! It's been a big part of my life for the better part of a year and it's finally out! It's been so much fun being able to show everyone on the board the development of the game and the feedback and encouragement I've found here has helped me immensely as I went through the highs and lows of trying to bring this thing to life. So a big thanks to everyone who participated, even if it was only a like on a status update. Special thanks to @O.Stogden for a lot of support and also going through the scary trials of a release at roughly the same time as me! I hope everyone who gets it enjoys it!

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17th November, 2020 (10:45pm AEST, 5 hours to launch)
The launch is happening tonight (well, tonight for me). It should be available at 10am PST (the Steam page is lying right now) unless I run into trouble launching it at that time, in which case it will be 5pm PST (the Steam page will have retroactively not lied). I'm pretty nervous right now...I dunno how the game's going to run on a bunch of different people's computers, I dunno how people are going to receive the game, etc, etc. Terrifying stuff, to be honest, public judgment always is. But I've done the best I can and I've just gotta let the little bird fly free and hope there aren't any big eagles waiting in the wings, to mix metaphors confusingly. I'm pushing the last pre-launch update to the servers soon and then it's just a bunch of pacing my lounge room or something until 4am rolls around.

Making games has always been a massive interest of mine (I think I share that trait with most people on this forum) and it's been a wild ride going from releasing broken game jam games and abandoning ambitious projects left and right to trying to make a commercial product that I can be proud of. I know that the game isn't going to cater to everyone's tastes, but it was started as a personal project and so it was never aiming for the most commercially successful market or the widest audience. It was aimed at people who love spacey stuff, physics and people who don't particularly like twitchy action games. And I think I've at least somewhat succeeded at hitting that mark. If nothing else, it's definitely the most ambitious project I've taken through to full completion. In fact, I wouldn't say that I've pushed any other "completed" project to anywhere near the same level of "completion" that I have with Spaceslingers. As everyone says, the last 10% of the project is 90% of the work and that maxim held true for this game as well. Getting all those last little bits of polish in was a huge amount of work and I hope that it shows in the final product.

So if you haven't already, and this little devlog has sparked your interest, head over to https://store.steampowered.com/app/1369800/Spaceslingers/ and plop down a wishlist (or a purchase if you're reading this after tonight).

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9th November, 2020
Well...I guess I should've been advertising this before now, but I wasn't 100% sure I'd be able to get past the finish line in time. Now that I'm only 90% sure I won't, I guess the time has come. Launch has been set for 17th of November, 2020 PST (that's 18th of November, 2020 in my upside down fair dinkum Australian time). I'm still in the process of making levels (and lucky, because I literally just came up with a new mechanic), and there's the odd thing here and there that I need to fix up, but as far as I can ascertain, everything seems to be in enough of a working order for me to be able to release this little labour of love in a week and a bit.

It's terrifying and exhilarating to be this close to the finish line. A good 6-7 months of pretty solid work (not particularly long in game development standards, but a long time for me personally) has gone into this little beastie and it definitely holds a piece of my soul within it's bits and bytes.

So yeah, life is stressful, but making games is fun. I hope you guys will enjoy Spaceslingers once it's out there in the wild.

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5th November, 2020
I've cut the start of this devlog out, as it's long and involves a tragedy revolving around windows breaking itself and locking me out of everything, read it all here: When Windows Breaks Itself...

On a brighter note, I’ve got a lot of updates done to the game, release is getting closer and closer and I’m pushing myself as hard as I can to get everything up to scratch for it. I recently made a new “showcase” gif for the game:


I added a “dilation line” which you can see following the ship above. It shows how much time dilation you underwent (light blue is heavy dilation, pinkish is little dilation). Rejiggered and added a lot of graphical flourishes as well as fixing some more spaghetti code that lies behind the scenes. There’s a lot that’s been done since the last update, but I’ve forgotten most of it due to the terrifying windows ordeal.

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9th October, 2020
Been working my little fingers to the bone to get this update out before the Steam Autumn Festival started, but I didn't quite get there in time! Regardless it's a pretty substantial update to the behind the scenes stuff. The delivery selection screen has become a lot juicier and most of the spaghetti code I had in there (because I was rushing to get the previous version of the demo submitted to Steam) has been removed and everything is a lot more elegant now. I've also updated the way the game saves, which I hope doesn't break any previous saves people had but I'm pretty sure won't. The game is really starting to come together and there's a bit of competition for the top spot in the leaderboards, I've seen it go back and forth a fair bit so far. Give it a try and see what score you can get: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1369800/Spaceslingers/

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4th October, 2020
Well, here culminates, if not the ending, at least a large portion of my journey towards releasing a commercial game. The demo is on Steam. Download it and play here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1369800/Spaceslingers/

I'm feeling a lot of things right now. Nervous, vulnerable, a lot of imposter syndrome (is it imposter syndrome if you're actually an imposter? My mind says that's what imposter syndrome is but my heart says I'm an imposter), excited, a little nauseous...It turns out that, at least mentally, there's a big difference between uploading a casual build to itch.io saying "thought this game was cute lol might delete ltr", and uploading a demo build to Steam which is meant to showcase a game to potential customers. Even when I've been making non-commercial games for many years. It just resonates in a different spot within your soul. In any case, spaghetti code abounds. Here is an impression of me when someone plays the game:
I had to do a massive crunch to get everything working properly for the Steam festival (though, I somehow doubt it'll actually be worth the crunch), and that crunch came with a number of concessions on clean and efficient code. My plan right now is to slowly update and squeeze out the spaghet before launch, but we all know what happens to the best laid plans...

In any case, I'm excited for people to finally be able to get their hands on the new Spaceslingers. The one that I've been dev-logging about for awhile now but haven't had a playable version of. The one that I've grinded my fingerbones against a keyboard for months to make. The one that I've spent countless hours tweaking and sculpting in the dead of night. The one that has existed only in the shadows of my harddrive until now. The one that I wanted to make.

So, to whomever of my ephemeral and digital friends that play this, I hope you have as much fun playing this as I have had making it. I hope it brings you both the meditative moments of planning and the frustrating drive to complete that I've experienced. I hope it either awakens, or furthers, a love of space and the universe in all it's glory. And I hope you complete your blasted deliveries in record time.
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22 September, 2020
Well, this devlog has been a loooong time in the making. I've been hard pressed managing my time between home and the upcoming Steam launch, so I haven't really had time to sit down and write about what I've been doing. But having just completed the new Steam trailer, I feel like I can treat myself to stopping work for the rest of this afternoon and write a bit about what's been going on. So first an (incomplete due to memory) list of things that have been done:
  • Complete graphical overhaul of the game.
  • To go along with above, a complete graphical overhaul of the promotional materials, including a new logo (Some people were unhappy with the previous font used for the logo, so here's to you folks :p ):

  • Added in proper physics. Before I had it so that you hit something and you kinda just bounced off it randomly, but now I've gone in and added juice to the collisions and also made the smaller bodies react appropriately to your collisions, which has been a lot of fun and also made the game a lot more entertaining.
  • Added in a 'ghost system' that displays all of your previous attempts upon completion of a level.
  • Reworked and updated the scoring system (although it currently only functions within the Steam eco-system, something I'll have to fix before the release date for other platforms).
  • Completely overhauled delivery selection screen, with a lot of 'bouncy bouncy' tweening going on.
  • Reworked the code behind the scenes involving the delivery editor, which helps everything function smoother and (hopefully) has led to no (or less) bugs compared to before.
  • Reworked the tutorial so that there's more of a step-by-step process involved, rather than just a "free play" area that had consequence free flying (which it was before).
  • Added in a tips system for when you're dying a lot on a delivery (currently is not customised to the specific delivery, so it's more "general advice" but that may change in the future).
  • Added in comedic criticism from your corporate overlords when you fail a delivery.
So that's all the stuff that I can remember, plus the many things that are too minor to mention. As the Steam Autumn Games Festival is approaching, I've been pushing hard to get a proper Steam demo ready and that's getting very close. I'm hoping to launch that within a weeks time from now (or thereabouts) so that I have some time that people can playtest it and find any bugs before the actual festival happens.

As I said at the start I've just completed the new trailer, it's the one at the very top of this post, which was a genuine slog. I really have to give a big thanks to all the people in this community that gave me ideas and tips during the creation, it wouldn't be half as good as it is without all of your input! Makes me feel warm and fuzzy. The amount of footage I recorded and re-recorded has done my head in and noticing minor issues and having to record whole sequences again just to fix them was pretty frustrating. Video editing is my least favourite part of releasing an indie game and I'm glad that I've got this particular one over and done with.

To go along with the new trailer, I've completely rebranded pretty much all of Spaceslingers promotional content. This keeps everything in sync with the updated graphics of the game, as well as being a breath of fresh air after staring at the same stuff for the last few months. I've also grown artistically over the course of developing the game, as well as gaining a better mastery of the graphics tools I use (Inkscape, GIMP, DaVinci Resolve). I've had a lot of this stuff just waiting on the backburner for when I finish with the new trailer so I can make everything cohesive and consistent at once, rather than having pieces of varying quality and look all over the place, so I'm pretty excited to be able to push it out into the public.

On the coding side of things, physics, juice and polish has been the name of the game in this update. I've been going through everything and adding bounce/juice/tweens/etc wherever I think it fits and I think that that, along with the new physics system, has really added to the feel of the game. I've also been muddling my way through finding the best way to store data when it comes to Steam and I hope that I have it figured out. But it's hard to test properly by myself, so I guess I'll see when other people start playing the demo. I'm also quite intimidated by the idea of having to create a system outside of Steam to hold all the data and high scores once I release on other platforms, so you might be seeing some posts by me after the Steam launch as I try to figure out online databasing and best methods for storage and retrieval, etc. It's not something I've ever done before.

That's about it, I think. This update has been the culmination of nearly two months of solid work and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
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3rd August, 2020
I've been doing a bunch of stuff: revamping the level editor, rejiggering the level selection screen, reformatting the way in which levels are stored, etc. There's been a huge amount of changes behind the scenes. It's now possible to create different Cosmos' (Cosmii?) and save them to disk, making them easily shareable. There's also a slick new interface to make that process as easy as possible. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but the next thing I'll be working on in the level editor is adding in a way to load other people's cosmos in to your game (I mean, the code is there, just not the GUI capability). Doing this basically required an entire rewrite of the way I was saving levels, as well as a bit of jiggering with file code that I've never done before, so it was a learning experience and I have no idea if what I ended up doing is in any way "industry standard" but it seems to work fine (for now...).

Being able to create different Cosmos' created a kind of cascade effect, where I then had to completely redo the level selection screen. This was fun, but also quite time consuming. I wanted the level selection to feel more like a place in a universe, rather than a list of names, so I've changed it into a physical place in space, where you can select galaxies and then select systems within those galaxies. It's a bit nicer I think, but I'm still not done with it, it's kind of barebones right now and some things need repositioning and some buttons/information needs to be added in, but it's coming along quite nicely (I've been swapping back and forth between the level editor and level select as I've been working which has made progress on both go half as fast, but allowed me to tune it better to what I need as problems arose).

On top of that, I've also been working hard at adding "life" to the game. Apparently, life comes exclusively from particles as that's what I've been working on. I redid the particle effects for all the major celestial bodies and I've still got some more things that I want to add particles to, but so far it's really beautified the game. A lot of this was done to try to make screenshots of the game pop more because that's literally the only thing people pay attention to when looking for games (and I'm pretty sure calling your game a puzzle game is a special kind of death knell). So making it as pretty as possible is important. Here's a video showing the things I've added so far:


I've also created a blog where I'll be posting updates, dev-logs, anything related to the game. You can find it here: Spaceslingers Blog

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22nd July, 2020
Well, after making the trailer and getting some feedback on it, I've launched my Steam page. Probably a solid 2 weeks worth of work purely devoted to getting everything up and running with that. It's a nerve-wracking kinda thing, as we all know that something like 90% of games (especially indie games) make basically no money, but as I said in my last dev-log, I'm more interested in the experience rather than the cash, just hoping to make back enough to cover the steam fee and maybe a potential future steam fee or two. If you're interested in the game, I'd encourage you to wishlist it. Now that I've actually got the page up, I'm going to do a marketing push for the initial day or two and then start divvying up my time better between actually working on the game and promotional stuff. If anyone has any questions about the process of launching a Steam page, feel free to DM me or ask below and I'll see if I can answer it without breaking NDA things.

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21st July, 2020
A little while ago I decided that I'm going to be putting this game on Steam when I'm done. A couple of reasons for this:
  1. I think it's a pretty neat little puzzle game and I've put a lot of work into it, especially graphically, which is a rarity for me.
  2. It's a good dry run for any more ambitious projects that I might want to put on Steam later on, I can learn the Steam ropes with this and hopefully earn enough to get back the Steam fee for this and get some extra to pay for the Steam fee for the next project I might want to upload there.
  3. The relatively small scope of this project means that I'm not investing huge chunks of time and then being desperate to recoup that in some form.
  4. I've never really released a commercial project before and I think it'll be an interesting experience, regardless of success or failure.
That's the main reasons at least. So over roughly the last month I've been delving deep into the act of setting up a Steam page and working functionality into the game so it can talk to Steam. It's been an interesting and cool process (seeing the Steam popup in the corner of the game for the first time was quite a feeling). The majority of the time though, I've literally just been making additional media and not really working on the code that much. There's roughly 4 million different images you have to upload to Steam (perhaps a tad of exaggeration there, but still, it was definitely a laborious process) and these images are all in various sizes that are not quite compatible with each other, making resizing and rejiggering a pain.

Then there was the trailer...Oh, the trailer. This was by far the biggest pain in my arse. I haven't done any video editing really and it was quite a steep learning curve getting comfortable with how everything works. On top of that I started with an editing program that ended up being broken in a hidden way (intentionally broken by the company that owned it because a new version had been released and they clearly wanted everyone to upgrade), so about three quarters way through the project I had to restart in an entirely different program and relearn everything coming from that programs perspective. But I soldiered through and eventually came out with a little trailer. It's not perfect, but it's as close as my currently shallow skills are going to allow, so here it is:


I'm interested in some feedback on the video, is there anything egregious that I might be missing? Does it excite you? I was trying to strike the right balance between "showy" and not lying about what the product was and I think I got there in the end, but I'd be interested in hearing from both people who've played the game and people who haven't what the trailer says to them.

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5th July, 2020
Not much fanfare for this update, just a million little tweaks that collectively make it more of a game than it was previously. Options menu works properly now, with the only thing that's not functional being the resolution changes. I still want to add a v-sync option, but I forgot to do it when I was making the graphics and haven't gotten around to adding it in yet. Making the nebula was both fun and frustrating. Originally, I had a single image that tiled, which you can see in the last spoiler screenshot above, but I really didn't like the obvious tiling so I always knew that I was going to redo it. Problem number 1 was making nebula images. I use Inkscape for graphics and I didn't really have a clue how to make a nice looking nebula, but after a lot of trial and error and deep diving into the internet, I came out with a relatively simple method that ended up making some really nice looking nebula. They pop a lot if they are on their own on a black background, but it was much too noisy to simply add them in, so I had to lower the opacity a lot, which removes some of the impact of them, but ends up being much better for the game overall.

Then I had to come up with a nice way of getting them to exist without tiling. I went into optimisation mode and tried a few techniques to get them filling the screen nicely without hurting performance. I eventually settled for placing them on a surface and then only drawing the part of the surface that is in view. This meant I could draw them all with a nice gpu_set_blendmode(bm_add) so that they would combine their visuals in a glowy way, rotate and scale them and not have the constant impact of batch breaks (the game barely chugs along without any nice visual flair, due to my poorly optimised physics code). And I could also save the surface to a global buffer so that when the level gets restarted due to failure, it can just read the buffer instead of recreating the whole scene (also prevents me from having to save the positions and settings for each nebula). I'm really happy with how they turned out.

Then finally, there's various tweaks to little systems throughout the game and a lot of rejiggered graphics: blackholes, whiteholes, planets, asteroids and moons all have new graphics, as well as the popups that occur upon failure or completion throughout the game. The audio options took a lot of work to function smoothly, and they still need a touch more work to get perfect, but there's always tomorrow. That's about it, it's one of those major, but somewhat minor updates.

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14th June, 2020
The list of stuff I did for this update
  • Graphical updates to a lot of things (new ship design, title screen rejiggered, celestial objects have had some tweaks, lots of new particle effects, etc).
  • The new Puzzle Editor is way better than the old one (it's been rebuilt from the ground up and has a ton of new/better features and heaps of QOL changes).
  • Lots of little adjustments to things have been made (like the targeting reticle, ability to lock your engine power so you can aim consistently without changing the power, etc).
  • Camera updates (though, I'm still working on some of the kinks in the camera).
  • New puzzles (I've literally redone everything, so even the very basic tutorial levels are a little different).
  • Sounds and music are now properly a thing.
  • Plus a ton of other things I'm forgetting to mention.

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8th May, 2020
Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I've been getting bored being stuck inside. I took a break from my other projects to create this fun little puzzle/physics game. The physics is coded from scratch, which was...interesting. It's mostly done, just polish, a few bug fixes/optimisations, some more puzzles and it'll be completed.

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Did a bunch of graphical tweaks/updates and added in a few new game mechanics, namely white holes which push the ship away from themselves, asteroids which are generally used as a wall to cut off specific routes and moons which introduce a timing aspect with their orbits. Here's a teaser of me playing through some of the introduction levels I've made
Edit: Just realised the new version I had uploaded to Itch was not in fact the new version, so just saying, I have updated it properly now lol.
 
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I've been hard at work over the past few days getting the Puzzle Editor up to scratch. I'm close to finishing, but still another days work or so left, so in the meantime, here's a little video showcasing it:

 

Yrbiax

Member
Hey, i tried your game.

Pretty cool game, kinda wished there would have been more levels.
Somekind of sound effect when reaching planet could make it feel more satisfying.

I love how you can see whole trajectory in editor, made it really easy to plan levels. :)
I was about to suggest being able to change moon rotation speed and map size but looks like you are already working on it.

Got this error when i was playing one of my custom levels:
___________________________________________
############################################################################################
FATAL ERROR in
action number 1
of Draw Event
for object obj_level_select:

ds_map_find_value argument 1 incorrect type (undefined) expecting a Number (YYGI32)
at gml_Object_obj_level_select_Draw_0
############################################################################################
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
stack frame is
gml_Object_obj_level_select_Draw_0 (line -1)
 
Thanks a lot for trying it out =) There'll be a lot more levels when I'm actually done, getting the puzzle editor working better was kinda necessary before I built more levels (as you probably noticed, it was a little clunky and not many options). There'll be sound effects and some more graphical flair sometime in the next few updates, they always seem to be the last thing that I focus on. And thanks for linking the error, but it should already be removed because I rebuilt the level editor from scratch.
 
Wow, that took awhile, but I've finally gotten to the point where I feel comfortable releasing the new version. There's way too many changes to go through, so I'll just list a few things:
  • Graphical updates to a lot of things (new ship design, title screen rejiggered, celestial objects have had some tweaks, lots of new particle effects, etc).
  • The new Puzzle Editor is way better than the old one (it's been rebuilt from the ground up and has a ton of new/better features and heaps of QOL changes).
  • Lots of little adjustments to things have been made (like the targeting reticle, ability to lock your engine power so you can aim consistently without changing the power, etc).
  • Camera updates (though, I'm still working on some of the kinks in the camera).
  • New puzzles (I've literally redone everything, so even the very basic tutorial levels are a little different).
  • Sounds and music are now properly a thing.
  • Plus a ton of other things I'm forgetting to mention.
I've still got a fair bit to do before I get to the point where I'll start calling it "complete" but it's more finished than it's not right now, a lot of what has yet to be done are things like bug fixes/optimisations, juicing some more stuff, getting the options screen running (a lot of the behind the scenes code is there, but there's just not a GUI to change anything yet), a lot of optimisation for the physics (especially the prediction system which can tank FPS in some very specific circumstances) and a million other little tasks that still have yet to be completed, but it's really coming along nicely. I feel like I'm in an 800m race and I've just passed the 600m mark. One or two more "pushes" like this update and it'll be done.

Head over to my itch.io page for Spaceslingers to download the latest version.

(Also just wanna note, I'm specifically looking for feedback on how fast it runs and any suggestions for quality of life improvements to aiming/camera/etc).
 

Crimson

Member
I downloaded Spaceslingers, and it's pretty fun!
I agree with the more levels sentiment, but I'm sure those will come.
The only other thing I can think of is a restart button (I couldn't find one, at least,) that lets you immediately restart the level, so you don't have to wait for your ship to (sometimes slowly) fly out of bounds to retry.

Good work!
 
@Crimson thanks a lot for giving it a go :D

I've been meaning to put in an instant restart, but it's one of those things that slipped my mind before I uploaded. I'll chuck one in soon. And yeah, definitely more levels coming, my focus for this update was really the puzzle editor (because I needed it to create the levels efficiently, hahaha). But it's starting to get to the point where I don't have too much else that I need to add/fix and I'll be switching my focus from programming stuff to properly designing a bunch of levels soon.
 
Just uploaded a minor update that added the ability to instantly restart the level by pressing R. I've also fixed all the camera problems as well as a few other minor tweaks not worth going into. Currently working on one last celestial body: the Layover planet. This is, in essence, both a new launchpad and a check point, it's useful when crafting longer levels. Once you've hit it, you can launch again in the same way you do at the start of the level and if you lose afterwards, you'll restart on the Layover planet, instead of at the start.

I'm close to having that finished and then it will just be optimisation and creating as many levels as I humanly can.
 
Another update! A lot of reworked graphics, the options screen working, nebula in the background, it's all coming up Milhouse! Have a read of the main post to see the more in-depth devlog for what actually went into this update.
 
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So, I've posted a bigger update edited into the main post, but there's been a lot of behind the scenes work involving Steam over the last few weeks and I've got a trailer going. Interested in hearing some feedback on it:

 
Added a new devlog to the main post. Shareable cosmos', updated menus and a bunch of particle effects are just a few of the things I've been working on.
 
New devlog! New trailer! New logo! Nearly two months of work went into this one and there's a lot to unpack. I've updated the OP with the juicy details.
 
Soooo, new devlog is out...and a Steam demo! It's been done for the Steam Games Festival Autumn Edition, so I might take it down after the festival (rumour has it that demo's reduce sales) but then again, I may not. It's kinda like russian roulette, but with a demo instead of a gun. In any case, download it here: Spaceslingers Steam Page. The full devlog is up in the main post above, so have a read over that for all the trials and tribulations.
 

O.Stogden

Member
Just one bug report so far, in that you can't disable in-game tips. I guess the choice isn't being saved when you leave the options menu. Other than that I'm having fun!
 
Ah, I'm dumber than that you see. I both forgot to set the correct script to turn off tips (it was interacting with the tutorial toggle, lol), but I also forgot to check if tips was on or not before I spawned the tip...I've got it fixed now. Uploading the new build is scary, it's got a lot of behind the scenes changes (involving getting the non-steam leaderboard work started) that I've tested but not heavily tested lol.
 

curato

Member
Just point of curiosity. How many Wishlist did you go live with? Also when I did a press push for the steam festival, I didn't just throw keys out. I did a press release and offered Steam Keys. I only gave keys to the ones that responded. I handed out far few keys, but I had almost a 100% percent success rate of at least getting a video done of it. I even got a few news sites that just about reposted my press release word for word and just used pics from my media kit..
 
Just point of curiosity. How many Wishlist did you go live with? Also when I did a press push for the steam festival, I didn't just throw keys out. I did a press release and offered Steam Keys. I only gave keys to the ones that responded. I handed out far few keys, but I had almost a 100% percent success rate of at least getting a video done of it. I even got a few news sites that just about reposted my press release word for word and just used pics from my media kit..
I think I launched with around 200 wish lists, which I absolutely knew meant that the launch was not going to go well. I had random coverage from sites due to my press releases as well, even got covered by space.com, it just did not lead to any noticeable sales.

With the keys, I was messaging youtubers , twitch streamers and journalists and would give keys out to those who responded. Very few did and the ones that did, well I can only assume that’s where the grey market keys were coming from.

There were a few videos done on Spaceslingers, but they were all by very low effort indie game aggregation sites and just showed unedited footage by someone who had no clue how to play the game or interest in learning, so eh.

Just to be clear about the intention of the write up, it’s not to b*tch or “woe is me” or even get advice on how to improve sales (I don’t mind getting that, but it wasn’t the intention). The point is to show both the anatomy of a failure to people who are going to release their first game, so they can learn from it and also to point out specific places where I would try something different and knowledge that I think might be helpful to know from the start of development.

I’m happy with having gone through the experience of releasing Spaceslingers even if it didn’t do great. It was fun developing it, I learnt a lot and I had already made sure that it being a financial failure wouldn’t hurt my lifestyle beforehand.
 

O.Stogden

Member
To throw in my 2 cents. (And data)

TRF launched with around 330 wishlists. I gave keys out via keymailer mainly, I was on a couple of small Twitch Streams <20 viewers, and on 3 or 4 youtube channels, which combined had about 1,000 views. It received no publicity or coverage from indie game review sites, despite me playing with a reviewer in the online multiplayer as he wanted to test it for writing his review, and contacting a couple of indie game reviewers. I had a few positive reviews from Steam Curators, however I am doubtful if Steam Curators bring any meaningful traffic or marketing value, as they are mostly memes at this point. And the majority of Steam Curators will take your game and run with it, without ever writing about it.

Within the first week, those 330 wishlists turned into about 25-30 sales. After that, the rest of the wishlists remained dormant and none of them really purchased the game, so I got around an 8% wishlist conversion ratio. This is below average, and I hear most games on Steam achieve closer to about 20% conversion ratio.
 
Very similar to my experiences @O.Stogden, just with less YouTube coverage for me. I’ve heard a lot that wishlists are a good indicator of success (and follows as well, as in the “Follow” button that shows up in Steam alongside the wishlist button), and anything less than a few thousand is going to be an indicator of varying degrees of failure. I think this comes down to two things:

1) Low wishlists is just generally indicative of low public interest in the concept of the game.

2) Low wishlists generally means early sales will be low which means that your ranking in the Steam algorithm will suffer and less people will be exposed to the game, making it much harder to grow organically.

It was definitely true for me and sounds like it was true for you as well. These both then bleed into general sales as the algorithm has decided against you. Makes it harder to reach your niche, although it’s not impossible to come back from this kind of start, from what I’ve heard, just difficult.
 

curato

Member
Yeah that is the bottom line of it. It is hard to get the coverage and the wishlists you want without marketing budget. It is so hard to heard with so many developers.
 
Yeah, marketing is really goddamn hard. At least as hard as the general dev, if not way more. The market is flooded, people aren't interested in indie games as a "thing" anymore, there's nothing but the raw naked game that you can use as a hook and if it doesn't catch on, it REALLY doesn't catch on. As @O.Stogden have said in their breakdown (read it here, it's really good! An Analysis of Marketing & Launch of TRF), twitter isn't marketing, it's networking. Streamers and to a far lesser extent game journalists are who will sell your game and if you can't get them interested, you probably will not earn back your dev-time in dollars.
 

curato

Member
Yeah most of the people that have streamed my game I met through networking on twitter. No one huge, but that is the way of it. You are right though the networking is great but you once you have the connections you have to use them to get out there. I just did one the other day that I loved the format of. I actually got to sit in voice wise on the stream and answer questions and make commentary which was really nice. Most people just do the personality and you may or may not be invited to sit in chat. I would do all those streams that would have me. I got a few huge streamer that wanted a key but I haven't seen a stream yet. I am going to try a gentle poke when I get my next round of fixes out. Funny, with the steam festival, I had a surprising number of Spanish speaking game sites pick up my press release. Surprised me since i didn't even have a Spanish version.
 

otterZ

Member
I've been playing Spaceslingers for the last few days and it is really fun. Nice work!

That top score in Callin - Hurin is a really difficult top score to beat! I've almost given up . . . but not yet . . . I've still got a few space slings left in me.

Looking forward to playing the Alchmentalist in the future. I hope it goes up on Steam as I will Wishlist this game.

I will be sure to leave a review when I reach halfway through the Spaceslingers game progress at least. How crisp the graphics and type in the UI are really stood out to me. I will put up a forum post on how to achieve crisp and clear type and graphics this week asking for tips as my UIs look like pixelated retro flight sim UIs in comparison lol.

On the above discussion about marketing. Yeah, I think marketing games is tough, especially in an over saturated games market. Most of the keys I gave 'influencers' ended up on free game key sites, only about 2% ended up being used to actually review or breakdown my game. I kind of got bored of wasting time and haven't done any marketing since. I just really listen to player feedback in the community forums and have fun making improvements players want to see - if they are happy then I'm happy, as I want my game to be what they expect it to be, not what I am second guessing people want.

If someone asked me, albeit even with my painfully limited experience in marketing, what one tip I would give them for marketing a game, through my many initial failures and experiments, I would give just these two tips: 'Focus on the players not the game.' and 'Let the players control the game's roadmap'. 100 minds (or if lucky enough . . . 1000 minds) are much more imaginative and inventive than just a developer's 1 mind or even a team of developers, just weed out the odd non workable idea and implement the good player ideas.

And I see this with Spaceslingers - there is a discord group I think, you have been soaking up player feedback, asking for feedback in the forums etc . . . that's what attracted me personally to buying your game. Not because you are one of the programmers / game makers I respect on the forums, not because you are proactive and completing games, and not because I was looking for a space physics game. . . . It was because of the feeling that the developer cares about his craft and about players being happy with what they expected to receive is very attractive.

Mind you, I wouldn't have seen the link if you had not replied to one of my questions in the forum - so that was marketing right there doing its job . . .

Then I wouldn't have played your game and then come across a link to the Alchmentalist . . . so maybe marketing is controlling me more than I think lol ;)
 
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@otterZ thanks for the kind words! I used vector art for all the art in Spaceslingers, specifically the program Inkscape, and export it at 1080p (as a png, not a vector format). Then I have the "interpolate colours between pixels" graphical option turned on in GMS which makes any downsizing that happens for different resolutions be handled pretty gracefully (at least as far as my testing went). Took me a little while to get the workflow going well (Inkscape has a few oddities and limitations, but it's free which kind of makes up for that) but once I knew what I was doing it was pretty painless to create nice clean graphics relatively quickly (my limited art skills notwithstanding).

I agree a lot with the hiveminding of the game dev. Everyone has different perspectives and experiences and brings unique things to the table when they talk about what they would do or want, which is awesome. There are so many things I wouldn't have done in a bunch of prototypes/games I've made if it weren't for suggestions from people (here and elsewhere). I think the only problem with it is sorting the chaff from the wheat. Sometimes I think an idea is not going to work when it turns out it works great, or vice versa, I think it will and it doesn't, and that can sometimes lead to pretty hefty development time costs (depending on what is being implemented). I like to think of the "auteur" trait as being more closely related to being able to intuitively know what will work and what won't from amongst all the possible options/suggestions rather than purely producing something perfect alone from within yourself.
 

otterZ

Member
Thank you for the heads up on how to make clearer and sharper graphics in GMS. Much appreciated as this points me in the right direction. I will get busy experimenting.
 

otterZ

Member
I just finished the final levels of SpaceSlingers @RefresherTowel and left a review on Steam. That was really fun. Some of the levels were really challenging too, especially that last level - had to think outside the box on that one.
In one of the levels I got lucky, as my finger slipped off the mouse button as I ran out of room on my mouse mat, and it somehow hit the planet lol.
 
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