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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.


The Good


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.


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.


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.


The Good


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.


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This was very insightful and interesting to read. This is a huge project and there was clearly too much to give attention to, so obviously not everything would be 100%.

I do disagree you're awful at writing. I liked the characters, I thought their personalities were coherent and the dialog was meaningful. As I played I was genuinely curious to meet the husband again to know what he would have to say. Maybe the story wasn't super engaging because it wasn't meant to be (?) seeing dialog bits were too sparse admidst the gameplay.
This was a good read ♥. Glad you posted this. Especially the stuff about, the trouble with breaking the mold and having to change the original ending, due to what's happening in the world today I've thought about this stuff too

Yeah, definitely keep at this. This was no small feat. A lot of this stuff seems like it's more of a marathon than a run, which is something I wish I knew when I was younger. None of my teachers ever said anything about that. We had this assignment in photography class, years ago, where we had to do a class presentation on who they were, their family life and their body of work - it never came up that these guys had bad days and chose to kept going. It never came up that, it wasn't the first take they did, but their 7th or 16th take that they finally found some amount of success - if we knew about these trials sooner, if we knew it was the every day stuff that eventually lead to their success, we'd probably feel a lot more confident about the work we're doing, no matter how small.

Looking forward to what you have planned in the future. I enjoyed reading this, a lot.
Thank you Cal. Might of been abit hard on myself here or there.

I think there should be at least two people for a commerical indie game. One deals with gamedev whilst the other handles community building/marketing.

Would definitly not reccomend to quit your day job and work full time on your game like some people on twitter or reddit attempt to do. I tried that for a year and ended up being miserable and unproductive, meanwhile I found having at least a part time job made one more productive with their time. Even if it was 8 hours work and 3 hours plus gamedev everyday D:

The gameplay/story loop had an sparse tempo e,g investigate the hotel for 15 minutes with no dialogue and then cutscene on completion. The worst offender was probably "find entry to hospital, get key item from hospital, escape through the sewers" all with little dialogue. The start and endgame is story heavy but midgame is inconsistent.

Think that's why I feel like CYE has an identity crisis, part of it wants to be story driven whilst the other wants to reach the next set piece.

I am finding it fun/theaputic to write about though XD

Edit: Just spotted your message LBR, My main takeaway is to not work myself into a bubble and get outside help. Going to try and take a more chilled approach from now on and not place too much pressure on myself.
Going to try and take a more chilled approach from now on and not place too much pressure on myself.

This is definitely the best takeaway you can get from a scenario like this. It's better to step back and re-assess why you make game and the things about making them that you enjoy than to just quit entirely because it didn't work out.

And remember that it is okay if commercialism isn't the path you want to continue down towards. It takes so, so much more to get a game out of the swamp now than it did even just five years ago and you can't blame yourself for not having the absolute lightning strike of correct circumstances that it takes to get a game noticed now.

Even with the mild success I had with Soma Spirits on Steam, Brave Hero Yuusha ended up being a bit of a flop and it got to the point where they were only ever selling if I put them on sale for like fifty cents. My numbers have only been dropping ever since. But as long as it took to cope with failure, I managed to find reasons to love making games again. And I'm sure you find find that love for gamedev, too.

Excellent read, congrats on the game release regardless of the results! Very few devs make it this far. First few games aren't guaranteed sell just because well, they're your first games you tried to sell. So yeah I wouldn't be hard on yourself on that front since that's another wall to climb on top of the one you just did.

Just out of curiosity how many wishlists did you launch with?
@Sgt M & Darken. Thank you both for the words of encouragement. You can only read too many case studies and online tutorials in how to prepare but going through
the process yourself is totally different and the only real way to gain experience :)

author=Sgt M
Brave Hero Yuushaended up being a bit of a flop and it got to the point where they were only ever selling if I put them on sale for like fifty cents. My numbers have only been dropping ever since.

Aw I think it might of reached that stage now. Was super pumped for the Halloween sale and was thinking "Yes my game is horror, could get word of mouth going" so I did a 50% discount and sold two units D:

I have noticed my sales do better when it dosn't coincide with Steam holiday sales, wasn't too disheartened but made me thoughtful enough to post this blog. I have a price cut under review at the moment, so will see how that fares before hitting the 90% button.

Just out of curiosity how many wishlists did you launch with?

Roughly the 600 mark. Did read somewhere that it must be at least 1000 to appear on the front page at launch, maybe steams algorithm didn't pick it up as much.

At the moment my wishlist counter stands at 1350. with 100 units sold (majority through sales) and 7 returns. 27 units were wishlist conversions, all the rest were from people passing by.

What I could never figure out was why the wishlist conversion rate is currently sitting under 1%. And what are the contributing factors behind it?

It's fascinating what the psychology behind potential consumers plays into purchasing behavior vs wishlisting
and how it all comes together. Pretty sure I'm not alone in trying to figure it out XD
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