February 13, 2017


Episode 456: What’s Coming in 2017

from Casual Gamer Chick

No Gravatar

This week, the gang ponder about the games that are coming in 2017, thinking about what they’re really interested in. The games range from Mass Effect: Andromeda to Injustice 2, among other titles. It’s a long rambling conversation, but at least it’s hope. The Gaming History focuses on the folly that was The Capcom 5.

The news items this week include:

  • Fallout 4 surpasses Skyrim to become Bethesda’s most successful game ever
  • Rainbow Six Siege year two: free loot, better matchmaking, subversive operators
  • E3 2017 will be open to the public

The Question of the Week is “What game are you looking forward to in 2017?”

This week, the gang ponder about the games that are coming in 2017, thinking about what they’re really interested in. The games range from Mass Effect: Andromeda to Injustice 2, among other titles. It’s a long rambling conversation, but at least it’s hope. The Gaming History focuses on the folly that was The Capcom 5. The news items this week include: Fallout 4 surpasses Skyrim to become Bethesda’s most successful game ever Rainbow Six Siege year two: free loot, better matchmaking, subversive operators E3 2017 will be open to the public The Question of the Week is “What game are you looking forward to in 2017?”



February 12, 2017


Shadowhand Developer Vlog #10 – Weapon properties and stealth

from Grey Alien Games

Jake talks about how some of the special properties that weapons can have in our forthcoming game, Shadowhand, such as pierce, stun, bleed, poison and more. Also he shows off the new stealth stat and character stats panel.



February 10, 2017


Magnificent Match-3 Bundle on Steam

from Grey Alien Games

Press Release: Top Puzzle Game Developers Join Forces for Magnificent Match-3s Bundle on Steam

Dorset, UK, February 10th 2017 – Top independent puzzle game developers 10tons, EightyEightGames and Grey Alien Games have joined forces to publish a Steam game bundle titled Magnificent Match-3s Bundle. The bundle contains the puzzle game hits You Must Build A Boat by EightyEightGames, Spooky Bonus by Grey Alien Games and Sparkle 2 by 10tons. The bundle is priced €17.25 EUR, a 25% discount of the list prices of the games.

“Each game in the Magnificent Match-3s Bundle is an excellent variation of the beloved match-3 mechanic. Anyone with even the slightest inclination for matching gameplay will be thoroughly entertained.” says Tero Alatalo, CEO of 10tons.

“Steam is a veritable treasure trove of amazing puzzle games, and with the latest iteration of Steam’s powerful discovery algorithms rolled out in the recent Discovery Update 2.0, finding them is easier than ever. Steam truly is a worthwhile destination for puzzle gamers.” says Jake Birkett, CEO of Grey Alien Games.

“Tens of thousands of gamers have enjoyed You Must Build A Boat on Steam, and I’m sure cross-publisher bundles like this will help in maintaining that success.” says Luca Redwood, CEO of EightyEightGames.

Click here to see the Magnificent Match-3s Bundle on Steam!

For more information on each game, see the Steam store pages:

Sparkle 2: http://store.steampowered.com/app/370550/
Sparkle 2 trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/giB9y6-cBFM

You Must Build a Boat: http://store.steampowered.com/app/290890
You Must Build a Boat trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/jKq8SnwsN9A

Spooky Bonus: http://store.steampowered.com/app/388450/
Spooky Bonus trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/v67kz89ojgQ

###




REVIEW: Mysterium (PC, iOS, Android)

from Casual Gamer Chick

No Gravatar

I have an affinity for board games. Games like Lords of Waterdeep, Pandemic, 7 Wonders, and so on. When one of the games I enjoy get a videogame adaptation, I’m usually right on top of it. Some of the best adaptations include the iOS version of Lords of Waterdeep and Puerto Rico. Others, like Ra, aren’t as well translated. One game in particular, 7 Wonders, seems to be in an eternal beta.

However, one of the less likely board games to get a videogame adaptation is Mysterium. The game can best be described as a cross between Clue and abstract picture game Dixit. The theme of Mysterium is that one player is a murdered ghost, and the other players are psychics at a seance. The ghost sends the psychics clues related to their own murder, but the clues come in the form of wildly abstract pictures that Salvador Dali would be proud of. Using those vague clues, the psychics have six game turns to determine who killed the ghost, with what and where.

The game manages to represent the board game well, which lush, moody 1920’s art deco graphics. The single player campaign is basically an extended tutorial, framed in a story where the player spends time as both a psychic and a medium channeling a ghost. The game features multiplayer modes, including a Blitz mode that promises a faster game.

The game plays best with other humans, because playing with a computer requires the player to do a sort of reverse Turing Test in figuring out either what the computer ghost is trying to say or, even more difficult, figuring out how to find out what connections the AI will make. For example, putting 4 yellow cards may not influence the computer to select the yellowest option in front of them.

Playing with other humans is a pleasure, as always. A co-op game, you’re not going to find hostile players. The interface is good enough to allow players to communicate with each other, advising which evidence they should vote for or against. Mysterium is one of those games that never fails to present a compelling session.

It’s unfortunate, then, that the population of Mysterium players is very low; matchmaking is poor, and it’s very hard to coordinate with strangers to start a game. Gamers are lucky to start four player games (1 ghost, 3 psychics), and the game really sings with far more psychics than that. Tn fact, I was never able to get a game of Blitz going.

For fans of Mysterium, this game is a must-buy, but it’s advisable for players to coordinate scheduled games to avoid the dearth of online players out there. The game is currently only available on PC, iOS and Android — hopefully, word of mouth will get more players to enjoy this faithful adaptation.



February 08, 2017


Weekday Escape N°133

from Jay Is Games

Weekday Escape N°133 Hi! It´s time for a break, three escape games are coming on Weekday Escape! You can escape from reality to a virtual world for a while! And then find your way out from three places and come back relaxed, and... Tagged as: amajeto, blog, browser, escape, esklavos, free, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, sarameya, surreal, weekday-escape



February 07, 2017


The Trader of Stories - Chapter 1

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — The Trader of Stories - Chapter 1 The Big Old Tree that Dreams came into our lives a few years ago, unfolding the fantastic universe of the Forest Bed, and telling the story of one character, Myosotis, The Trader of Stories. With Bell's Heart it got... Tagged as: adventure, bigoldtreethatdreams, browser, free, game, html5, javascript, linux, mac, mrudowski, narrative, pointandclick, traderofstories, windows




Episode 455: It’s Been a Fun Ten Years

from Casual Gamer Chick

No Gravatar

Back in 2007, Derrick and Jennifer Schommer, along with Don Dunn started the Gaming Podcast, with their unique sense of humor and take on the biz of video games (as well as starting a popular World of Warcraft guild.) The trio would move on, with Derrick starting his Everyday Drinkers podcast and Common Man Cocktails site. Jonah Falcon took over, and merged it with the Videogame Roundtable. In that time, we’ve had hosts including Jordan Lund, Paul S. Nowak, Dan Quick, Scott Dirk and most lately, the inestimable T.J. Denzer. We’ve also had guest hosts including Hilary Goldstein and the late Andrew Yoon.

This episode celebrates the past 10 years, including an intro by Dan Quick and Paul S. Nowak joining this week’s episode, to discuss this news:

  • ‘Father of Pac-Man‘ Masaya Nakamura dies at 91
  • Nintendo is gearing up for more mobile games, plans 2-3 per year
  • $500 million awarded to ZeniMax in lawsuit over the Oculus Rift
  • Asheron’s Call comes to a quiet end after 17 years

Let us know how long you’ve followed the podcast for!

Back in 2007, Derrick and Jennifer Schommer, along with Don Dunn started the Gaming Podcast, with their unique sense of humor and take on the biz of video games (as well as starting a popular World of Warcraft guild.) The trio would move on, with Derrick starting his Everyday Drinkers podcast and Common Man Cocktails site. Jonah Falcon took over, and merged it with the Videogame Roundtable. In that time, we’ve had hosts including Jordan Lund, Paul S. Nowak, Dan Quick, Scott Dirk and most lately, the inestimable T.J. Denzer. We’ve also had guest hosts including Hilary Goldstein and the late Andrew Yoon. This episode celebrates the past 10 years, including an intro by Dan Quick and Paul S. Nowak joining this week’s episode, to discuss this news: ‘Father of Pac-Man‘ Masaya Nakamura dies at 91 Nintendo is gearing up for more mobile games, plans 2-3 per year $500 million awarded to ZeniMax in lawsuit over the Oculus Rift Asheron’s Call comes to a quiet end after 17 years Let us know how long you’ve followed the podcast for!



February 06, 2017


Going to GDC? Want to try Shadowhand?

from Grey Alien Games

The creators of Regency Solitaire invite you to try out their new game at GDC.

Calling Press & Streamers

Do you want to get your hands on our unique RPG card game, Shadowhand, coming out shortly after GDC?

Would you like to meet up with Jake at GDC to check it out and chat about the game or do an interview?

Would you like to try a copy of the beta version?

If the answer to any of these is YES then please get in contact:

You can email us: info@greyaliengames.com
Or message via Twitter: @greyalien

Get in touch we’d love to hear from you!




The Witness

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — The Witness You begin in a bunker, presented with only a series of doors locked by an impossibly simple line puzzle. Finally freeing yourself of the darkness, you spill out into the glorious sunshine, awash in the Island's vibrantly chromatic landscape, only... Tagged as: download, game, indie, puzzle, rating-y, steam, windows



February 04, 2017


New Pretty Good Solitaire for iPad v1.50 with 700 Games

from A Shareware Life

The iPad version of Pretty Good Solitaire has updated to version 1.50 with 700 games.  This version adds 100 new games (the same 100 games recently added to the Mac version) and adds the ability to change backgrounds.

To change the background of any game or all games, touch the Options button on the main screen.

For more about the iPad version of Pretty Good Solitaire, see http://www.goodsol.com/ipad .

 



February 03, 2017


Midnight Calling: Valeria Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Grandma’s calling for your help in this exciting edition of Midnight Calling: Valeria Collector's Edition. The world is cooling at a speed that could cause devastating consequences and only you can help! Traverse the frigid landscape as you dig deeper into this challenging and exhilarating hidden objects adventure. Our Midnight Calling: Valeria Collector's Edition Walkthrough is bursting with illustrated screen shots & easy to follow instructions to help guide you to victory and restore balance to the world. Keep warm and get ready to battle the mystical forces behind this wintery weather adventure! 

 



» Midnight Calling: Valeria Walkthrough & Forum

» Midnight Calling: Valeria Free Trial & Related Games




Medieval Cop Adam and Eva

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — Medieval Cop Adam and Eva Sadly, you opened your eyes today and once again, you are still alive, but barely. At least, that is how sadistically minded, eternal pessimist detective Dregg Morriss might put it. For once, he only wanted to have a decent birthday.... Tagged as: browser, detective, free, game, html5, pointandclick, puzzle, VasantJ



February 02, 2017


Weekday Escape N°132

from Jay Is Games

Weekday Escape N°132 Three games coming on Weekday Escape this week, and all are from well-known developers, each one is brilliant in his own way. You choose whether you want to play one at time or all three games at once and which... Tagged as: blog, browser, escape, free, funkyland, no1game, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, weekday-escape, yominokagura



February 01, 2017


Weather Lord: Graduation

from Casual Game Guides

Weather Lord: Graduation Collector's Edition is the latest edition of this favorite time & resource management adventure! Princess Jenny along with Prof. Theodore need your help in recovering a stolen artifact that could compromise the well-being of the kingdom. Help her to manipulate the weather to her advantage, utilize her resources to their maximum capacity and secure her newly acquired position. Keep your eyes open and your feet moving as you must recover the egg artifact before it hatches & unleashes destruction that is beyond belief. Good luck and move quickly! We hope you enjoy Weather Lord: Graduation Collector's Edition.



» Weather Lord: Graduation Walkthrough & Forum

» Weather Lord: Graduation Free Trial & Related Games



January 30, 2017


Episode 454: Rather Die Than Switch

from Casual Gamer Chick

No Gravatar

Gaming Podcast is back after the one week break, and finally truly weighs in on the announcement of the Switch – and aren’t impressed. What does impress the crew is the latest addition to the survival horror genre, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which takes the radical approach of being a survival horror game. They also ponder about how great a Zelda/Minecraft game would be.

The next episode will be Gaming Podcast’s 10th anniversary, so longtime listeners are encouraged to write in.

Gaming Podcast is back after the one week break, and finally truly weighs in on the announcement of the Switch – and aren’t impressed. What does impress the crew is the latest addition to the survival horror genre, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which takes the radical approach of being a survival horror game. They also ponder about how great a Zelda/Minecraft game would be. The next episode will be Gaming Podcast’s 10th anniversary, so longtime listeners are encouraged to write in.




A Sweet Typing Thrill

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — A Sweet Typing Thrill Back in 2015, LucidShadowDreamer's text-based game Playing with Letters had us chasing a shrewd criminal through a series of boxes that could only be unlocked through riddle-solving ingenuity. Well, if you enjoyed struggling through the original, you'll be happy to... Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, lucidshadowdreamer, narrative, playthis, puzzle, rating-y, riddle, text




How Much Do You Value Privacy and Security in the Apps You Use?

from GBGames

I tend to dislike relying on third parties to provide me with services I find indispensable.

If I can help it, I prefer having control over my own services, even if it means having a poorer experience than a flashier, proprietary solution might provide .

Staying in Control of my Mental Food Sources

For instance, years ago I used Google Reader quite a bit to keep up with news on the game industry, on blogs I followed, and more. It was a great service.

And then I imagine with the rise of social media my own usage dropped without me realizing it, so when they announced they were discontinuing it in 2013, I learned about it probably on Twitter.

There were plenty of tech-oriented news sites putting out articles on replacement services, such as Feedly, which I know lots of people recommend.

But I was curious about creating my own personal Google Reader-like site. It’s just collecting a bunch of RSS feeds and showing them, right?

Before I got too far wondering how to do it myself, I learned about Tiny Tiny RSS, open source web-based news feed (RSS/Atom) reader and aggregator.

Open source means I don’t have to worry about a third party disappearing or pulling the service for one reason or another. I also don’t have to worry about said third party collecting data on my reading habits.

It was years before I got around to setting it up on my own web host. In fact, I didn’t do so until last December. But now that I have, I feel like kicking my past self for not doing so sooner. It’s incredibly useful, especially as I can’t trust various algorithms (and the algorithm writers) at Twitter and Facebook to show me what I specifically wanted to see.

And the best part is that I am in control. I can backup my data and take it to another web host. I can use my own desktop computer to act as a server if I want. I can see everything without filtering or some company deciding that NOT showing me what I subscribed to is somehow better.

I just hope I never need to ask for support, unless I want to deal with the developer equivalent of the Soup Nazi. Reading through the support requests I did see when I was trying to figure out how to set up the software left a bad taste in my mouth. Yeesh.

But since Tiny Tiny RSS is open source, I technically have the ability to take my support requests elsewhere. Again, I have more control and more options.

My Any.Do Woes

More recently, I ran into a frustration with an app I depended upon to manage my todo lists. A few years back, a friend recommended the Android app Any.Do to me, and I’ve used it ever since.

It was intuitive, allowed me to setup recurring items, and showed me my items in the order I liked, separating things that are to be addressed today from the things of tomorrow or in the vague future.

I of course used it for one-off items. Maybe someone recommended a book to me in a conversation. I would pull out my phone, open up Any.Do, and add an item to remind me to look up the book later.

But the ability to set recurring tasks was a huge feature. I set reminders for mundane things like watering my plants every week or cleaning the litter boxes each morning. I used it for regular habits, such as writing a daily summary of the prior day each morning and using my evenings to plan for the next day. I even used it to remind me to write blog posts or update my finances.

At one point it started trying to get me to install their calendar companion app, but I was fine with my current situation, and I learned I could disable the reminder.

It also kept asking me to get the pro version, but as I had no interest in syncing between devices, I was fine with the free version.

And everything was fine. Well, mostly. It had a few minor bugs I got used to over the years. Every once in awhile, the UI would get glitchy. Sometimes the tasks would look like they were reloading on top of each other, and eventually I think there would be a conflict that would prevent me from swiping a task to completion or adding new tasks. Closing and reopening the app usually cleared it up, though.

The bigger, scarier one was when I would open Any.Do only to find a blank screen. My task list, the one that that I live by, was gone!

The first time, I had a moment of panic because, hey, free version, meaning no syncing, and therefore no backups existed. But then I not only closed the app but shut it down. When I launched Any.Do again, there was my list. Whew! Every critical bug with a workaround becomes a minor bug. B-)

So, I happened to see that Any.Do had an update in Google Play, and I went to check the changelog, and all it said was “Every update is a boost to the app’s stability, speed, and security…” Maybe they finally fixed the bugs?

So I update the app, and now I find out that the syncing feature of the pro version is required in the free version.

Required.

Now when I launch Any.Do, I see a screen asking me to create an account by linking the app with my Facebook, Google, or personal email account in order to keep my tasks and lists in sync across all of my devices.

And there is no way to get past this screen so I can see my list again if I want to avoid creating an account I don’t need.

I’ve learned that Any.Do is also integrating with Alexa and will have a chatbot to help you with your to-do items. I’m sure those are great features for people who like them, but I’m decidedly not an early adopter, and I think I prefer my to-do list app to be sans A.I.

TODO: Find Another To-Do List App

So the changelog lied, and now my choice is to comply and lose a bit (or a lot?) of my privacy, search for older APKs of Any.Do and worry about where they came from and whether or not it is safe to install them, or find another app.

I decided to look for another app, but I wanted to be more careful this time. I already hate it when seemingly simple apps ask for way too many permissions.

Unfortunately, almost all of the apps I could find that focus on privacy and limited permissions were too simple. Recurring tasks are almost never available as a feature.

Privacy Friendly To-Do List by the SECUSO research group would otherwise have sounded perfect in terms of limiting permissions and providing control.

I did find an app called To Do List & Widget. It had limited permissions, which boiled down to “it needs to read and write to files”, and it lets you back up your lists manually.

It’s only downside besides a UI that is somewhat less intuitive than Any.Do’s is that there’s almost no information about who made it and where it came from. It’s definitely not open source. While the permissions allow it to do only so much, I still found myself being a bit uneasy about trusting it on my device. And besides, what happens in the future? Will it continue to be updated?

So ultimately I settled on Taskwarrior, which is a GUI app wrapping the command line tool of the same name.

The underlying system is incredibly powerful, and so unfortunately I found the UI requires me to learn how to use it. Recurring tasks aren’t as easy to setup, for instance, but I can do more interesting schedules than what Any.Do restricted me to.

And if I ever do setup my own Taskwarrior server, I can get syncing on my own terms.

I was surprised that it requires a lot of permissions, but it boils down to the app needing to create and use an account on the device and needing access to the network to do the syncing. There are no in-app purchases or ads, and the source is available so I can build it myself and read through it to verify that nothing nefarious is happening under the hood. I also have the ability to continue updating it if the original maintainer disappears.

The user interface is awkward for me at the moment. Any.Do showed me my tasks for today, tomorrow, and later, and it even had a separate category for unscheduled stuff as “Someday”. A recurring daily task I completed would show up in the Tomorrow list automatically.

Taskwarrior’s default views are showing me everything, and while they are in date order, it’s not cleanly separated. Also, recurring tasks are automatically synthesized from the template task, and so I find I can have multiple instances of the task at once in my list.

Then again, these issues might be due to me not knowing how to use Taskwarrior properly.

What’s Important to You?

Some people might balk at the idea of investing time into learning how to use an app when a more intuitive one is available.

And that’s fine. I get it.

But I’ve been starting to value my privacy and my security even more these days.

And it’s not an absurd paranoia. Recently there was news about a popular makeover app with privacy red flags. Pokemon Go was a concerning app until they changed the scope of the permissions it required to run.

I already know that Google tracks where my phone goes, which means it knows where I go. I should really turn off the GPS when I’m not actively using the map functionality, in fact. It’s always disconcerting to see the notification telling me that it is using it because none of the running apps in the background should care where I’m at.

I mean, when I took a picture at my mother-in-law’s house during a party, I got a request to upload the picture and attach it to the search results of the nearby public park. Ick.

Artificial intelligence is huge these days, and with chatbots and intelligent personal assistants such as Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa, we’re seeing a lot of benefits in the way of convenience.

To get that convenience, though, we’re handing over our data to the people behind our devices. And yet, security is rarely treated as a priority, which means that even if we trusted our data to those people, it might also be getting to people we don’t trust.

And so, because I value my privacy and security, often it feels like my choice is to opt-out or roll my own solution.

And since everything is getting artificial intelligence integrated in, it often means tolerating third parties getting access to data more or using alternatives. And if I am going to use alternatives anyway, they may as well be ones I have the most control over.

Thank goodness for free (as in speech) software, eh?



January 28, 2017


The Battle of Polytopia

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android — The Battle of Polytopia Keep the thrill of guiding your own civilization on you wherever in this free, easy-on-the-eyes resource management game that's been redesigned to be a snap to play on your Android and iOS devices! Tagged as: android, free, game, ios, ipad, iphone, microtransactions, midjiwan, mobile, rating-y, resourcemanagement, strategy, tablet, turnbased



January 27, 2017


Omnichronic

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — Omnichronic Omnichronic is a clever point and click game from Jonas Nilsson that gives you everything you'd expect from a Pirate's tale. Buried treasure. Swashbuckling. Backstabbing. Time travel. Yes you heard me correctly, time travelling pirates. Throw in some Dwarves and... Tagged as: adventure, browser, comic, free, game, html5, pirates, pointandclick




Sphere

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Unity — Sphere Sphere, a French/English first person platformer coded in Unity by Team Sphere, is an oldie from the middle of 2012. While the name may make you think of Michael Crichton, it has absolutely nothing to do with his book with... Tagged as: browser, free, game, platform, puzzle, rating-g, unity



January 26, 2017


Spirits of Mystery: The Fifth Kingdom Walkthrough

from Casual Game Guides

Fare well with our Spirits of Mystery: The Fifth Kingdom Walkthrough, as you will need it to battle the diabolical Isa in this latest installment of this beloved series! The 20 year ceremonial gathering is commencing and the heirs of the 4 kingdoms must unite to ensure peace & prosperity. But, in true Isa form things must go awry. Seek to find the secrets of the lost kingdom and save humanity before it’s too late. Refer to our multi-colored and easy to follow instructional guide to assist you along your journey to peace.



» Spirits of Mystery: The Fifth Kingdom Walkthrough & Forum

» Spirits of Mystery: The Fifth Kingdom Free Trial & Related Games




puzzlehz

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Unity — puzzlehz It's short, it's sweet, and it loops! It's puzzlehz! Remember all that information you learned in high school about waves and frequencies and you wondered when you'd need to use it outside the classroom? Yeah, you still won't need... Tagged as: audio, browser, educational, free, game, physics, puzzle, unity, webgl



January 25, 2017


Weekday Escape N°131

from Jay Is Games

Weekday Escape N°131 Escape...Escape....E-S-C-A-P-E!!! Yessssss we have three games this week! Locked in the Kitchen? PRIMERA has the solution but you need to find it! If you are a lover of symmetries, YONASHI's title is for you. Do you stress when you need... Tagged as: blog, browser, escape, free, primera, puzzle, vitaminhana, weekday-escape, yonashi



January 24, 2017


Mine of Sight

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — Mine of Sight Who doesn't like a relaxing game of Minesweeper? Between us, it's one of the best games to relax with, and not only because you get it on almost every computer ever, and is what I mainly play when the... Tagged as: browser, free, game, html5, minesweeper, puzzle, rating-g, simpleidea, zblip



January 23, 2017


Achikaps

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Android — Achikaps Is it modern minimalist art or an economic simulation? Android users can decide for themselves in this free game about mining resources, producing more advanced ones, allocating workers and fending off avian invaders! Tagged as: android, economics, free, game, mobile, rating-y, resourcemanagement, simulation, strategy, tablet, yiotro




Looking Back on 2016; Looking Forward to 2017

from GBGames

Wow, it’s almost February? I’m incredibly overdue for the blog post in which I give a post mortem of the previous year and talk about my plans for the coming year.

Which isn’t to say that I’ve been doing nothing this past month. I just haven’t prioritized telling you about it over actually doing it. B-)

WHAT WENT WELL IN 2016

As I said in 2015, I improved my ability to remember my goals. I no longer did the equivalent of setting New Year’s resolutions that I forgot within weeks. Throughout the year, I knew how well or poorly I was doing according to metrics I tracked.

Unfortunately, it meant that I was very aware of how poorly I was doing most of the time.

Last year I set out to build on my success with remembering goals by focusing on what’s needed to actually accomplish those goals.

One big and important improvement I had was in the area of project planning.

In the past, even if tried to be formal about my project management, my actual planning efforts never amounted to more than creating a list of tasks.

Now, some developers find that they can do just fine with nothing more formal than a TODO list or two, and it worked fine for me if I just wanted to know WHAT to work on and maybe even in what order.

But when you’re a lone wolf indie game developer, you need to wear a lot of hats. I had no problem with donning the Software Developer Hat, but my Producer Hat was neglected and gathering dust.

So I might spend weeks working on a particular feature or task without realizing it because I never stopped to think about how the entire project’s progress was being impacted.

At the beginning of the year, I spent quite a bit of time in project planning mode. I even wrote about how I approached it in How to Create a Game Development Project Plan. Then I dove into executing the plan.

And I was very pleased at how well following the actual plan worked for me. Even when my project started running late and surprises appeared that I hadn’t planned for, having a more active Producer Hat meant that at any given time I was focused on actually shipping my game.

Which leads me to the next thing that went well: I shipped!

I published my business simulation game Toytles: Leaf Raking for Android.

I still need to write the post mortem for it, but it is my first finished commercial project in years. While there are still features and content I wished I could have added, I’m proud of what I put together.

The release of my first commercial game in years also gave me my first sales in years. After earning $0 in 2015, I like this new trend of actually earning money from my business.

Speaking of money, 2016 was also the first time I put together a detailed budget for my business.

I used to track my expenses and income as they happened, and my aim was to ensure I had enough money in my bank accounts to cover everything.

But I got tired of learning that my bank account balance was lower than expected, only to discover that an automatic renewal on domain names or web hosting had occurred. I felt like I should be able to anticipate such regular expenses instead of being surprised by them.

So, I put together a projected budget, which allowed me to see not only how much I anticipated spending in the coming year, but also when my expenses were expected to spike. For example, I knew that my annual web hosting renewal was coming up in August.

And then I tracked my actual expenditures against the budget. It was eye-opening, and not just because I was able to quickly learn that my web host increased its rates without telling me before autorenewing. B-(

As a side effect of being hyper-aware of where my money was coming and going (er, mostly going), I also added to my budget a plan for a monthly investment into my business. I managed to add a significant amount of money into my business bank accounts by the end of the year.

Also, I updated my website, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. My blog used to be completely separate from the main site, and now it’s integrated.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER IN 2016

Aside from my newly detailed budget and more robust project plan, I didn’t have plans for much else.

I wish I had spent some significant time on creating a promotion plan for Toytles: Leaf Raking. I had done some keyword research and put together a list of reviewer contacts, but most of my effort was spent on actually finishing the game.

Once it was nearly ready, I struggled to make forward progress on getting it in front of people. I realized quite late that the reason I was struggling was because I had no real plan to make it happen.

I didn’t even blog much about it, so I rarely mentioned it during development. I was a bit too accidentally secretive.

For a long time, I had a TODO item on my list to create a skill development plan for myself. I wanted to direct my learning more rather than pick up things haphazardly, but all of 2016 passed without such a plan in place.

I read 54 books, but only 8 were business related, of which I believe only one was game development related.

My project ran late. I didn’t plan for balancing the design, and so quite a bit of work to make the game feel complete wasn’t in the original plan.

Had I published it in three months, I would have had the rest of the year to figure out how to promote it. I wanted to try earning $1,000 by December 31st, but between the late release and my lack of promotion, I fell way short of that mark.

WHAT I WANT 2017 TO LOOK LIKE

2015 was about keeping my goals in front of me and establishing habits.

2016 was about being outcome focused. I logged more game development hours in 2016 than in 2015, but the more important thing was that those hours were aimed at targets.

In 2017, I want to focus on promotion and sales.

Which means I’ll be putting together concrete, specific, actionable plans instead of hoping and praying, or haphazardly trying to tweet about what I’ve made, which is basically the same thing.

I’ve already started the year with efforts to port Toytles: Leaf Raking to other platforms. More platforms means more opportunities for people to find my game. First up is GNU/Linux, mainly because it is my development platform and is easiest for me.

But what about making other games? Project planning is one thing, but product planning is another thing entirely. I have various ideas for new games, but I don’t want to be random about picking something just because it appeals to me. It will be easier to promote new projects if I do my market research and ensure my projects already appeal to players.

My blog has historically been about running an indie game development business, and so my audience has been other game developers primarily. My customers, however, aren’t going to be other game developers and aren’t necessarily going to care about what happens behind-the-scenes.

The thing is, I like writing what I’ve been writing on my blog and don’t want to stop. Can I address players more directly, or do I need to separate my business from my blog to do so?

I am confident when it comes to creating games, but thinking about selling them is both exciting and terrifying to me, the way new things often are.

2017 is when I challenge myself to be incredibly proactive about putting myself and my work out there.

Let’s start. Oh, and happy new year!



January 22, 2017


A Call for Help

from Jay Is Games

A Call for Help Hi people, This time I want to talk with you about a more personal matter, something that is in the interest of all of us, which is JayIsGames. It has been a while since the farewell of JIG was published.... Tagged as: blog



January 19, 2017


The Happy Escape 12

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Android, Flash — The Happy Escape 12 I know Christmas is over, but there is one late Christmas present from Tesshi-e for you all - A new game! Tesshi-e´s games are not so frequent as they used to be, so for Mild Escape fans every new... Tagged as: android, browser, escape, flash, free, game, playthis, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, tesshi-e




The Happy Escape 12

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Android, Flash — The Happy Escape 12 I know Christmas is over, but there is one late Christmas present from Tesshi-e for you all - A new game! Tesshi-e´s games are not so frequent as they used to be, so for Mild Escape fans every new... Tagged as: android, browser, escape, flash, free, game, playthis, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, tesshi-e




Where is 2017?

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Mac, Windows — Where is 2017? Traditionally, Mateusz Skutnik released a new Where is #? game as a farewell from the past year. This year, it was released only as a downloadable game and it is quite short, but quite enjoyable. This time you are... Tagged as: action, download, free, game, mac, mskutnik, platform, playthis, rating-o, windows