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Announcement

CYE What went right and what went terribly wrong retrospective.

Happy birthday!





One year from release, it's probably time to look back how the game did. Consider this as a educational self analysis. I'll break down the good and bad in the following categories. Marketing, Story and Gameplay. Along with final thoughts. Spoilers throughout.



Marketing


The Good


Trailers

Releasing regular small gameplay snippets and story teases over social media was remarkably fun albeit a little time consuming but I do honestly believed they turned out great in the end. There was difficultly in trying not to show off the whole game, however there was a good balance throughout. Had good reception with facebook groups and sub reddits, twitter was a mixed bag though.










Contacting press/media

Would file this under hit and miss. Did manage to secure over a dozen reviews on independent websites and youtube channels, but this was out of over 200 emails. Google alerts is absolutely fantastic to find out where people are talking in regards to your game.



The Bad


Target audience.

Even today, I still don't know who my game is for or where to find them. It doesn't fit under the rpg horror game template and it's too cute looking for survival horror, there isn't anything in here that breaks the mold. The most likely problem was that in my mind the game was aimed at people who wanted to play a "survival horror game in rpgmaker" which in itself is probably the most niche audience you can find.

Development started in 2012 and I guess the marketing aspect is from that era as well, e,g posting on forums and seeking reviews on web pages and not utilizing discord, instagram along with twitch to build said audience. The media landscape has changed and I was marketing from the past.


Not using GIFs more.

A static screenshot is less interesting than a moving one.

Normal screenshot.


GIF screenshot.


The GIF animation better represents the game than the lifeless screenshot I'd used back during the promotion stage. Should of showcased them more in hindsight.


Reviews

They were mixed. I was rushing towards the finish line and should've took more testers onboard in the early days to help with an outside perspective. I do think the game is in a much better place after a year of updates and fixes. From the looks of it, people do tend to take more notice of steam reviews than written press, all it takes is one negative review to absolutely annihilate sales D:


Zero post marketing

Launch day was the most stress inducing time I ever had in my life, with the end result with me having severe burnout. Five plus hours everyday for almost two years is not good for your mental wellbeing. I really wanted a break.

However, having extended holidays during a crucial period is no way a good idea and plays a major factor in killing your game before the first hurdle. Got to keep that momentum going.


Story


The Good


Set Pieces

This really tested my amateur directing skills along with my drawing but it really paid off in the end and helped throw the player off at times (in a good way.)






The big twist

That it's not neither a viral outbreak, ghosts, cults, witchcraft nor the main character going crazy. Instead it all turned out to be the protagonists husband unintentionally obtaining a magic necklace containing an jackass genie!

The first wish he made at the beginning "I wish this town would go to hell!" kicks off the events of the game and the second wish close to the end "I wish everything was just like before" placed the main character into some sort of time loop. Hence why Chloe sees "No time" and "Not now" prompts whilst out exploring. Not to mention various factions in the town competing to acquire (Rupert) or destroy (The devil) said genie. Of course it all comes across as convoluted at times but I'm quite proud how it wasn't the usual silent hill/resident evil survival horror plot template that we've all seen before.


The Bad


I'm awful at writing.

Hand on heart, I'm not confident at all with how to write a story. I got big ideas and know how to implement them but I can't seem to nail characterization down at all. Looking back, I should of had the main character have some more down time with the kids to help build up their relationship and also expanded more on some key plot elements. There was also a dramatic shift in tone from horror straight to action adventure three quarters in the game that threw a lot of players off.


Delivery on dialogue was way too slow.

I should of picked up on this part a lot sooner but it only caused a lightbulb moment after an number of reviews and editing in lets plays showed how big the problem was. They've been cut down dramatically through updates, however it did hurt the game in the subsequent months after launch.


Changed the ending at the last minute.

The original ending was very bleak and anticlimactic, basically everybody died in the end with only Rupert and the pet cat surviving! It wasn't fun to make and with the backdrop of the global pandemic, I thought it was for the best to create a somewhat happier ending rather than have gloom and despair. The trade off was to delay the game by two months to accommodate the changes, however I do think the final sequence is far more entertaining and I'd rather have it to be somewhat imperfect than the "everybody dies!" alternative.


Gameplay.


The Good


Presentation/details.

The main character Chloe has over 3000 sprite cells, from shouting at her children all the way to disemboweling the Devil. I did commit to making her an incredibly robust playable character that reacts to every situation.



My personnel favorite detail actually goes to her two kids when Chloe aims her weapon in game XD




Enemy variety.

Originally I wanted to make every enemy unique, however 200 plus monsters would of been overkill. Managed to make 63, some of them are admittedly edits of each other. I was proud of how they turned out, even if they're a little too cute.



I'd achieved almost everything I set out to do.

90% of all the ideas that were in my mind ended up in the game. Some things that I thought were impossible became possible and translated from thought into game better than I could ever expected. And for that I'm immensely proud.


The Bad


Level design.

Most of my attention was focused on sprites and you can sort of tell how uninspired some of the levels turned out to be. Most of the interiors came from one humongous tileset and outside in the town looked largely the same. With only one or two areas being the exception.


Making a action game in RPG Maker XP.

There were a lot of concessions made due to the engine. Midway through development I ended up having to cut the running feature due to lag, however it was literally a month before release where I'd thought about transferring to MKXP. After some help, I managed to get it to run on there and realized that I could bring back some of the features that were initially scrapped which led to the next problem...


The game wasn't 100% ready at launch.

There were still a number issues that I thought were sorted out but turned out not to be the case. I sent the review code one week prior and ended up receiving emails saying that they can't complete the game. Turned out I uploaded the wrong folder D:

I should of never of crunched myself for a release date that didn't need to be crunched for. I was so fed up of making the game on and off for several years that I wanted it to be out the way for good. Turned out I was still making changes up until the week gone past!


Final thoughts!

Cover Your Eyes started development in 2012, semi abandoned in 2015, rebooted in 2019 and released one year ago today on the 6th of November. I always wanted to make a video game but I'm still not sure if the painful dev time was worth all the missed opportunities throughout my twenties. From an commercial standpoint it was a absolute failure but as creative endeavor it was an startling success.

With the past successes of commercial RM games of yesterday, part of me probably got my hopes up way too high. And consequently ended up going away from commercial gamedev a little jaded and bitter. End of the day, the buck truly stops at me and shouldn't of made too many rookie mistakes. Regardless, I am very proud of the game and actually fulfilled my life long dream of something to call my own.


Will I make another game? Yes.


Will I take eight years to do so? Hope not. But I won't beat myself up to get it finished next time around.

Announcement

New CYE update and 40% off!

Copy and pasted off the steam announcement page.


Quick Intro

Wasn't 100% sure what to call this update. Even though I've made many changes, I was half tempted to call it a special edition but there's not a vast amount of new content to qualify as such. Best call it a remix for now.


Key changes



Cutscenes

- Chloe, Bella, Rupert, Sally, Jake and Sandra now have more facial expressions in story segments.

- The moon ellipse from the trailers is back in the game. Was originally removed before launch due to early game pacing issues.

- General wait time between dialogue has been cut down by 75%. Now measuring at 0.25 seconds.

- Small dialogue change in the subway and prior final boss.

- Slight extension to the subway crash.

- Screen text on Chloes thoughts after exiting the radio station.

- Small grammar fixes.


Gameplay

- New gameplay segment in the Radio Station. Be quick on the movement keys!

- Three of the side buildings in between the Church and the Hotel have been moved elsewhere. Purely to help with early game pacing.

- Some of the bigger side buildings have unlockable shortcuts back to their respective entrances, reducing instances of backtracking

- The Door Store has been completely removed, served no purpose.

- New requirement to gain entry to the Radio station. Wanted to have another ladder section.

- New requirement to gain entry to the School. Wanted to have another bed section.

- Running stamina lasts a little longer.

- Handgun damage has been reduced slightly, most enemies require one additional shot. Help encourage the player to use other weapons more.

- Added slightly more 9mm ammo early game to help compensate for reduced handgun damage.

- Added a couple of shotgun shell pickups.

- Three new enemies. Introduced in the nightclub, sewers and the first house on the way to the Hotel.

- Baby spiders now have an accompanying sound effect to warn players that they’re in the area.

- Reduced Donald and Ruperts firearm damage late game.

- Reduced the Headteachers hit points for her respective boss battle.

- Other small changes I can’t recall off the top of my head.


Music

- Music volume has been increased by 30%.

- Replaced almost all the interior music in nonstory areas, every building now has their own theme. Beforehand there used to be only one song that was played. Please note it is existing music repurposed with different speed/pitches and not new recordings.


Quick Outro

Most of the changes have been done in relation to feedback in the last few months, hopefully it’ll turn out to be a much better experience in the long run.

Announcement

Sequel! Hold Your Nose!

After months of secrecy, I can now officially reveal the sequel to Cover Your Eyes...



Hold Your Nose!


Face off against the dark forces of Uranus (The planet) and sanitize the enemy from within. In this action packed sequel to the self proclaimed GOTY of 2020.





Don't believe the hype? Let's see what the press got to say...




Release date 2034

Platform PS7, Xbox 180, Nintendo Light, Dreamcast.



Announcement

Four months old. Good excuse for a update!

30% off steam
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1188290/Cover_Your_Eyes/

30% off itch.io
https://starskipp.itch.io/cover-your-eyes




Patch notes


Reworked the running system.

It now no longer recharges over time and is instead refilled by the syringe, adding an extra element of item management. The reasoning behind the change, is due to how people engaged with the game when the original update was implemented.

I noticed players used to run past enemies and speed through most of the game, having way too much ammo and syringes by the end. To help with this change, I added food items for people to eat in order to recharge some stamina, along with an extra syringe early game. I’ll revert the changes if it’s unpopular.


More interaction

There are six Television Sets the player can turn on and off in the game world, each with unique animations and sound effects.


Cutscenes

-Sally now smiles when teasing Jake (After the Hotel)

-Chloe now hugs Sally after rescuing her. (Art Exhibit)


More background effects

Glowing street lamps. Water dripping from the ceiling. Radio Station sign now flickers. Outside extractor fans. Windows have faces looking outside. Kitchen sinks now have water bobbing up and down.


Other changes

-The player no longer auto equips the handgun after cutscenes.

-Two extra save cats in the Hotel.

-Three new enemies introduced.

-Switched two enemy types outside the hospital.

-Added one extra cardboard box in the houses leading up to the hotel.

-Changed enemy movement speed in the subway.

-Changed some floor tiles in the last level.

-Added eight edible cakes throughout the game. Restores 10% health and 50% stamina.


Future

There might be one more extra update for CYE before saying goodbye. Despite being under the radar since release, I’m very proud of the game and how it came to be :)

Announcement

30% off this Christmas and looking for a review :)

Stay safe over the holidays.




https://store.steampowered.com/app/1188290/Cover_Your_Eyes/

On another note, I would love to see how CYE would fare with a review over on RMN. The main problem is the price point being the major barrier. If anyone is interested in reviewing cover your eyes, drop me a private message and I'll hook ya up with a review copy <3

Announcement

27 fun facts behind the scenes and OST

Just for fun! In other news, I've uploaded the soundtrack via youtube (Yay!) and sold zero copies over on itch.io during Black Friday. (Boo!) (Okay maybe because I did it on the wrong weekend) Will be doing a postmortem soon on what went right and what went terribly wrong D:


1. This weird sequence was created by me taking pictures of my mouth and eye in different positions. Zero budget gamdev for you ;)



2. The project was totally different in 2012. The initial concept was called Radiation Nation, an 80's inspired zombie defense game. Some of the character designs were carried over and expanded upon in CYE.



3. After seeing the first wave of rpgmaker horror games. I wanted to do my own take on the subgenre, more in line with resident evil. The idea was to design an dynamic environment where enemies can break down doors to chase the player. Too laggy in the end.




4. SPOILER! in order to progress, you have to sacrifice the family cat to a hungry giant monster! Partly inspired by the companion cube in Portal, where GLaDOS asked the player to dispose of your one and only inanimated friend. In this case, the cat survived the ordeal.



5. The character designs for Chloe and her family were a subconscious recreation of my irl family. Charlie is based on my dad, Sally my older sister, Chloe my mother and finally I'm represented by Jake. Wasn't intentional but only noticed midway through development... Spooky!



6. Whilst looking for a composer in 2013, I came across a game called Lisa. Really liked the soundtrack and ended up commissioning 18 tracks from the developer.




7. Sometime in 2016, one of my old college friends wanted to do some music for his university degree. We agreed to meet in a pub and he came in with a suit and tie on. It was a bit of an eccentric afternoon, kept calling me Mr. Moore (my last name). He made 8 additional tracks.





8. Colin originally appeared in my old tech demo "The Lost Girls" back in 2009. Thought I'll bring him back one last time XD



9. I had a custom plush toy of Chloe to help motivate me in finishing the game.



10. There's only one moment of voice acting in the entire game. The main antagonist was giving a cryptic monologue and the intention was to spook the player by suddenly hearing the villain speak to them directly. Voiced by my irl girlfriend.




11. Chloe gets the wind knocked out of her 12 times.




12. The 2013 to 2015 iteration didn't have one single line of dialogue written. The story was suppose to be entirely wordless and focused on the visual side. Old intro below.





13. In 2015, I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 24 years old. Was having six partial seizures a day, which entailed me randomly falling on the floor and screaming in public. Most of my "friends" up and left out of embarrassment. Had to put the game on hold.


14. Early on, you were able to hold Left Shift to run! It was cut midway through development because it made the game so much shorter and would required me to have made bigger environments/rebalance enemy speed in order to compensate.



15. Another cut feature was the flashlight. No specific reason, just couldn't find a place to fit it in with the scenario.



16. Before the cat, the old save system required the player to find videotapes in order to save progress. Scrapped the idea because I didn't like the idea of "balancing" saves or forcing the player to keep playing until they found the next tape.



17. The first character I came up/designed in CYE was the "Emoji killer" ironic because in the final game he only had 3 minutes of screen time.



18. The initial hotel lobby and corresponding rooms have a similar layout to the entrance hall in Mad Father. Wanted to add a easter egg for the eagle eyed rm horror fans out there XD



19. The family cat Buttons is a tribute to my real life cat who's also called Buttons! Sadly he passed away in 2017 but he'll live forever in CYE <3



20. I mucked so much around with the default RGSS, I'd unintentionally broke the text boxes. Found a workaround with using pictures >.<



21. There's a not so subtle nod to resident evil with some of the games graffiti.



22. Another track that hit the cutting room floor. This was suppose to be the final boss music, however it proved to be a mismatch for the sequence so I opted for one with a faster tempo XD





23. Had major art fatigue whilst designing the art exhibit, to the extent where I decided to ask my partners grandmother for help. She was kind enough to let me use her paintings to fill in the gaps :)



24. Throughout the game, Chloe's appearance will change at key points in the narrative. Took inspiration from Resident Evil 2 with Leon and Claire's subtle costume changes. Always thought it was a neat way of showcasing character development.



25. If the player is with their kids and enters the ready stance, the avatars children will cover their eyes and ears to avoid the ensuring violence.



26. Went a little overboard when it came to the players character. Picture was dated over a year back, it's probably more than that now.



27. Creepy ghost girl was the last addition to the game.



Announcement

50% off on Itch and other stuff.

Thought I'd do a three day sale over on itch.io for black Friday. Kinda forgot I had the game up on there.

$4.99 for the next three days :)
https://starskipp.itch.io/cover-your-eyes

It's been a exhausting couple of weeks since launch, however I did gather tons of feedback which has made a much better game overall. The two main ones that surprised me were...

1. How much people liked Chloe, even though I written her to be selfish and not likable throughout.

2. People being surprised how long the game was.

Have been thinking about my next move recently, if I should do another solo game or perhaps join a team and help others out. More on the latter though, as I feel really burnt out by the experience. But yes, I am now a free agent looking for additional work :)

Announcement

Public demo available.

Figured it was about time to put one up. Represents roughly 15% of the full game and should demonstrate the story, combat and gameplay loop for those who are interested :)

Announcement

Cover Your Eyes - Available now! :D

Yep you heard it! A game that's been inactive and dormant on the game pages of RMN since 2013 is finally completed and out in the wild! Very excited and happy that I can now close this chapter of my life and start afresh. Massive thank you to Gibmaker, SpaceZeta, Dingaling, LordBlueRouge, Make_it_Magik, Puddor and Caluino for helping me out. Without their contributions, the game wouldn't resemble what it is today :)


Available now on steam.


If you want to help out retweet this tweet or tell a friend :)


Here's the 15 second launch trailer (lol)




On another note, I have tried reaching out to review sites for the last three weeks. Sent out 93 emails, received 11 replies and acquired 6 reviews. Which I'll update this blog post accordingly when they go live.


Reviews
Interesting note. Some people loved the combat, others didn't. Some people got stuck on puzzles, others not so much. In hindsight, I should of been more pushy in gathering a bigger pool of testers. Consequently reviewers turned into playtesters, hence why some early coverage is mixed :(

Hey Poor Player 4/5
(Came out of the blue and was a nice surprise)

Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval
(One of the early reviews, I managed to implement his recommendations to improve the gameplay mechanics)

Game Asylum 6/10
^Only played 40 minutes worth out of a six hour game -_-

The Gamer 2.5/5
(Oof, it's a shame because I sent the updated file with changes last Monday)

YouTube review by Bad Ghosts




What I found sad is the amount of unanswered emails from indie friendly publications. However I'll keep on trying and see where CYE goes in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, if you want to see what 5 years of procrastination and 16 month crunch looks like? Play Cover Your Eyes :o

Announcement

Game is 99.99% ready.

Almost there! I'm hoping to have everything done by the 6th of October. I've squashed as many bugs and imperfections as I can during the last couple of weeks and just waiting on my testers final reports.

I'm actually surprised by the super positive feedback so far. Replaying and testing the same game day in, day out is a little grating but having feedback from fresh eyes is very inspiring.

Even though the game will be finished on the 6th. I'm still sticking towards the November release date, just so I can concentrate on marketing for the next month.

On another note. With help from orochii, Ancurio and Roza, the project is now running on mkxp-z. With zero lag, zero screen tear, adjustable window and 60fps, the game plays and feels totally different.

The main pro of the change is that combat feels snappier and responsive. However there was a slight negative with regards to the music timings being off. Rpgmaker xp had a slight freeze when a bgm came on and I originally adjusted certain sequences around the subsequent engine handicap. So in response I had to replay the game and rejig the timings to accommodate the changes.

Final note. Should I go DRM or DRM-Free?

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