Hi, I'm Blake. my big project is a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchmen'. you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchmen and sabotaging a building to delay an unstoppable one-man army.
I know I haven't been doing as much as I should have with my site for the past while. That is because the game's development - and my creativity in general - had to take a back seat while I focused on real life things: job applications and such.
After a couple of weeks of applications, I'm happy to say I was recently offered a job that I'm excited about (and may share more about some other time). With that sorted out, I should be able to dedicate more time to the game again. That being said, despite how hectic this past month was, I still managed to move forward in some cool ways:
Knowing that a bunch of people are behind this game has made me more motivated than ever. I know tower defence isn't the most popular genre anymore, but there are people out there who still love it and want to see a game like this get made - this is something I'm grateful for so I'm going to continue moving forward and doing my best.
On that note, any advice as to how I can get more beta testers? I have a small group of people that I trust, but I think it's time to open up my game to a few more people. There is a reddit group out there dedicated to giving feedback, but it is small...I'm not sure if it would offer enough feedback to be useful.
I am still researching publishers. I am going to keep on editing the demo, and when it is fire flames, send it out to the best publishers I can find. If you've read my previous entries, you'll know that I wasn't too sold on the idea of using a publisher at first, but now I am thinking more and more that the publisher route may be the way to go.
Hey guys, it’s been awhile. This is probably the longest I’ve gone without a blog entry since starting this blog back in Jan 2017!
Anyway, I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to, and how the game’s been going.
Since coming back, there have been some interesting developments:
1) The game’s core mechanics have changed - As a result of taking such a long break, when I started working on the game again I noticed some problems that I had previously been too close to see. One was that the game got confusing at times - there was too much going on. What I have therefore done is simplify and streamline some of the core mechanics. It has led to a TON OF WORK, but this is good, and these changes are taking the game in a great direction.
I can’t believe how many changes this game has gone through...
2) I’ve started working on a playable demo, and hope to have it completed by the end of this month. A playable demo is a good place to start so that I can get feedback. It is also a good thing to create to help with development number 3.
3) I am looking for a publisher! (or at least, I am considering it). I realized one of the major problems this game faced from the get go was marketing. A good publisher could potentially get this game in front of a lot of people, which is what I need. Who cares if I create one of the best tower defence games if no one ever hears about it or gets a chance to play it? A publisher could also potentially fast track this game’s development by offering support in the right ways.
I am really excited to share the news that Forgive Me My Henchmen now has two musicians working on the project! And not just any musicians...these guys mean business!! I wanted to quickly introduce the two rockstars who are going to be helping bring Forgive Me My Henchmen to life!
Blake has already composed, produced, and recorded four original albums. He also has extensive experience working in 'da club' as a DJ, and has opened for some big names. This man has scored 40+ short films, as well as numerous feature films and video game projects, and I can't say how excited I am to work with him. He's based out of Vancouver, Canada, and here is his site, which showcases some of his music and also goes into his work history in more depth.
I had previously been worried a lot about the music for this game. I knew stock music just wouldn't cut it, but finding the right artists for a project can be really tough! I'm really happy how this has all worked out. This game needed great music, and that's gonna happen! Can't wait until everybody gets to listen to the final result :)
A few weeks ago, I took a weekend off from Forgive Me My Henchmen to enter into a game jam.
For those of you who don’t know, a game jam is a competition when you’re tasked to make a complete game within a time frame (often 48 - 72 hours). I entered into the Ludum Dare Game Jam, which is one of the biggest and oldest. There were over 6000 people who signed up, and over 3000 people who submitted games.
The games are usually centered around a theme, and the theme for this jam was:
“Combine two incompatible genres”
That is why I decided to create a rhythm / puzzle / stealth game! In it, you play as a sneaky ninja, who must penetrate an armed facility to the beat of the music. You can use boomboxes to distract and move guards, and the game is filled with humour and epic dance moves.
1) Spend more time at the beginning thinking through everything - my process has typically been try something, keep what works, remove what doesn’t, try again. This is great for a game which is has tons of time that you can put into it (like Forgive Me My Henchmen) but for a game that you only have 72 hours to develop, you really need to have a crystal clear idea of what you want to develop as soon as possible. Otherwise, you spend too much time in development, not giving you enough time to polish/improve the game.
In my spare time, I am going to keep on developing / working on this concept - I think with a lot more work and polish, I could develop it into a really entertaining puzzle game - we’ll see.
Today, I wanted to share story from my life - it is the story I go back to whenever I need inspiration, or whenever I need a reminder that things ain't so bad.
Anyway, after taking a pity pamphlet from this kid, I realized how good my life is. Even when I've hit rock bottom, it has never been in a grape suit. And herein lies the lesson:
No matter how tough things get, at least you're not grapes :)
This was a long time ago now, and even to this day I think about this kid (now a man) and think of who he might have become. Personally, I hope he moved on from this lowpoint and became something great...like juice.
For more nonsense like this, follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy. You can also follow the game's development @FMMHenchmen
I have felt the full spectrum of human emotion this month, haha. But really, the best way to explain this month is that it has been divided into two parts:
Eventually though, I got sick of feeling sorry for myself. The game itself was getting - and continues to get - amazing feedback. Furthermore, it was becoming clear that the major reason why the kickstarter failed was because my pre-marketing was shit, and there were simply things I failed to do. It was hard to keep on feeling sorry for myself when I realized that my success or failure was within my control. This is what has led to the second part.
2) Getting Back On The Horse
This part was difficult. On the day I started programming again, I remember not wanting to, but also knowing it was time.
I also decided to enter into another Ludum Dare Game Jam!
For those of you who don’t know what a Game Jam is, it is when a developer (or small team of developers) makes a game - start to finish - within a short time frame. In the Ludum Dare Game Jam, that time frame is 48 - 72 hours.
This was my second jam, and this game was a lot tougher to make than the first one, but I had fun with it. Equally as importantly, other people are having fun with it so that makes me happy :) It’s not a perfect game, but I think the idea has potential - what do you think?
Anyway, I’ll likely write about the game jam more in depth sometime. That’s an entry to look out for. Until then, cheers guys!
Follow the game's development on twitter (@FMMHenchmen), on facebook, or follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy
After my kickstarter campaign didn't succeed, I was going to take a step back from developing this game, but my game's antagonist wouldn't let me. This is how the conversation went down:
I wanted to write about some of the mistakes I made during the kickstarter, and also write about some of the things I think I did well. Hopefully, by writing about these, anyone who is about to launch a kickstarter can learn from my mistakes, and also repeat my successes. By writing this, there is small chance that I may get to learn from my mistakes too ;)
1) Assuming I’d be the exception to the rule
If you assume (like I did) that you will be the exception to the rule, you will may feel totally unprepared if a strong launch doesn’t happen (like I was).
A better approach is to expect the best BUT prepare for the worst.
What if you slip into obscurity? What will you do then? Spending time thinking about these harder questions is a much better use of your time then thinking about what message you will write after you hit your 25th stretch goal.
2) I didn’t have a demo
A lot of the successful indie kickstarters are from previously successful indie developers, or developers with status in the industry. Why? The reason why is that backers like to back people with CREDIBILITY. For unknown developers such as myself, one of the ways that you can help to build credibility is by providing a demo. I didn’t (for this reason) but I know excluding one harmed my project’s success. Lots of people won’t even play a demo, but it just reassuring to backers to know that one is out and available.
3) I didn’t make shareable content
If you are lucky, your campaign will have organic growth - when people mention it to other people, who in turn mention it to other people etc. One way that you can encourage this to happen is to make your content easy to share. There are two parts to this:
1) Having tons of share links and creating content that is good at explaining your game.
2) Creating visually appealing content.
I’m really weak artistically, therefore I am especially bad at that second item. Let me give you an example:
The image on the left was the one I used in my campaign. Two weeks in, I redesigned it, creating the image on the right. Which one is more shareable? It’s obvious right?
I also didn’t have any downloadable videos. Why this was such a schlep is because it meant that I couldn’t write to / get involved with any groups that post videos about new kickstarters/indiegames etc. Seeing as video is one of the most popular ways to consume media, not having downloadable videos is (in my opinion) a death sentence.
What I Did Right
1) I believed it wasn’t over til it was over
Not long after realizing I wouldn’t be the exception to the rule, I had the realization if that things continued as they did, I wouldn't hit my goal. This realization was about as pleasant as a swift kick to the testicles.
2) I had lots of gifs / links
Before I launched my campaign, I browsed through lots of other kickstarters (successful and not). Without exception, all the successful kickstarters have a ton of visuals. What you’ll also notice is that successful campaigns generally avoid big chunks of text, instead they break it up with pictures. This makes the whole kickstarter more approachable and visually appealing - I can’t stress how important it is.
I’ve been on a few kickstarters and it is difficult to find out more about the game than is provided on the kickstarter page - why? Because they don’t provide links to other sites/pages that may be of interest. I think I did a good job of posting links to my blog/twitter account/etc, and what that meant is that people who wanted to find out more about the game, its creator, or its development could do so if they chose. This is another way that you can build credibility (which I mentioned before is so important).
3) I got back to people
I think for the most part, I could be depended upon to get back to any/all backers who had any questions or comments - heck, if backers decided to invest in you, so how can you not invest back in them? Treat your backers well, it will help you build an awesome community plus you’ll meet some really cool people in the process.
And that’s it for the breakdown! I hope it helps a bunch of people.
A special thanks to Lincoln who suggested I do a kickstarter post-mortem.
Also, in other news, I’ve started dedicating whatever time I can to the game’s continued development, and looks like the game might be getting some music soon :) I’ll keep you guys up to date, and let you know how that goes.
Follow the game's development on twitter (@FMMHenchmen), on facebook, or follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy