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Where do we go from here?

  • Sgt M
  • 05/12/2019 02:41 AM
  • 412 views
Hello again, everyone!

It's been two months since I released Chapter 1 of Crescent Prism so it's probably about time for an update about where this project is going.

I could sum this up in either three sentences or ten paragraphs and frankly, I won't know how this blog will turn out until I finish typing it. So let's see where this all goes.

As I've stated in a previous blog, Crescent Prism was put aside for a while in order to work on Brave Hero Yuusha EX, a commercial remake of an older game of mine. Due to a number of changes in my work life, Crescent Prism was proving to be too ambitious for my increasingly sparse amount of free time that I had to work on games in general.

Yuusha was a much smaller-scale project that felt right at the time. I figured that with the modest success of Soma Spirits' commercial release, a spruced up version of Yuusha seemed like the most logical way to follow up on that. Work began on Yuusha in the late summer of last year and it felt exciting to work on a new version of my first truly original game. And while it felt amazing to give an overhaul to my favorite project, there were a number of signs that everything wasn't quite going to go how I expected it to.

Public interest in the game seemed to have a fairly slow start. And there were a number of guesses that I could wager as to why. Maybe people hadn't really noticed it yet. Maybe it would just take a little while for the game to catch peoples' eyes, especially with how exponentially more crowded the gamedev scene had become in the two short years between Soma and Yuusha. I eyed the numbers carefully... compared to Soma, Yuusha's performance on Twitter and Tumblr was rather bleak and tended to pull in single-digit metrics. Even evidenced on RMN, Yuusha EX's game page only garneed 15 subscribers compared to the original's 63.



It was apparent in the months leading up to EX's release that the launch was going to be a quiet one. And somewhere in that time, it became clear that a Dragon Quest-inspired game like Yuusha just didn't have much of an audience. The game's launch came and went, and while I did have support from friends old and new, it wasn't quite like what I experienced with Soma Spirits and what that game meant to me when I was developing it, and how it helped me through once of the most bleak periods of my life.

For a while after Yuusha, I felt disappointed that it never really found its niche and fell into a bit of a slump. It was around that time that I began to think about why I was making games in the first place. I realized that, following the modest success of Soma Spirits, I placed too much emphasis on numbers and metrics. On units and likes and retweets.

That is not the kind of creator I want to be. I am a hobbyist at heart and I don't aspire to be anything more than that.

So I pulled myself back up and started cleaning up Chapter 1 of Crescent Prism, which was released for free two months ago. It was a similarly quiet release. But the difference this time was that I told myself that this is okay. That as long as I'm making games for myself, and making even just making a few people happy, I think I'm doing the right thing and should keep going. Even if it's something I don't have the time or ability to pour my heart into like I used to just a couple of years ago.



I also decided that Crescent Prism would not be developed with a commercial release in mind for the time being, and whether or not that changes down the road is a decision I do not intend to make for a good long while. It's a hobby project that I can work on here and there when I have the time; one that I do not want to bound myself to deadlines. Or fight the internal struggle of putting a price on my work: something that never gets any easier and I have no idea how freelance creators can do this no problem.

Crescent Prism is a game that will be there for me. For a hobby and to have a big goal to work towards. Even if Soma Spirits ultimately ends up being the game I'm known for, Crescent Prism will always be my big one. And I hope it will be there for you all someday, too.

It just might, yknow, be a while.

Posts

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zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
4616
I fear, I truly fear, that it has become much harder for the type of games we make to have any sort of similar success to the stuff we released even a couple years ago.

To me, that's okay.

With Cope Island, I released a game that I knew I'm happy with. So if it picks up in popularity in 2 weeks, it'd be awesome. Or if it picks up in 3 months, it'd be awesome. All I know is, no matter how much time passes, I am still happy with Cope Island.

I like to believe that being the same for your games you released. If Yuusha is quiet now, who knows, maybe in a few months (years even) it will pick up. Yuusha is at a place where it is GOOD and you made the game you want. That means you can sit easy and do whatever you want to do next.

Who knows, Crescent Prism may be popular and actually give Yuusha the boost it needs.

For devs like us, making a game we are happy with is more important. Our games are rather niche and I think the only way for us to succeed is for people to clearly see that we give a shit.

Profit would be very nice, but we have integrity enough to not spam short games with tons of achievements and big anime boobs on the cover. We're trying to make profit off something that's honest to ourselves and I hope that's something that will work eventually.

Commercial or non commercial, to get people to play our games is actually one of the biggest challenges. I think marketing forces one to be relentless and a bit shameless at that. Which for me personally, it's haaaaaard haha. After some time has passed, I'm going to write a detailed article about marketing and what I did wrong, what I did right, and what I will do next time.

Either way, I look forward to Crescent Prism. I believe you do deserve cash for the effort, but I get the reluctance to do commercial. It almost feels like much more likely to succeed at the free thing, as weird as that sounds. I wish you luck with everything, good sir. Slowly may we improve rpg maker's reputation. *thumbs up emote*
author=Sgt M
It was apparent in the months leading up to EX's release that the launch was going to be a quiet one. And somewhere in that time, it became clear that a Dragon Quest-inspired game like Yuusha just didn't have much of an audience.


Or you just haven't found the audience. The main problem with a lot of indie devs trying to get their projects off the ground is that they end up marketing to gamedevs (twitter is mostly full of nitpicky creatives) just because you soared in the #screenshotsaturday metrics isn't going to translate into sales, it just means people liked your screenshot. I say all this because it's really easy to jump to conclusions based on simply your anecdotal experience, and not actually doing the research and finding out if there is or isn't a demand for whatever thing your game offers. It could be that DQ-likes don't have a sizeable audience, but I doubt you even reached the full length to say for certain.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7478
Tying personal success to external forces you have no control over is a recipe for disaster for both developer motivation and mental wellness. I've seen projects on RMN get canceled because of it, and I've been in that depressing pit myself. I'm glad to see you're finding your way out of that pit, and I'll support whatever direction you feel is best for you!

I just want to note that "Never" is a veeeery lengthy period of time to judge a game's niche success when it's only been out for roughly 4 months. Funny thing about niches is that they can be difficult to find due to how narrow they can get (which can likely translate to lower metrics). However, if the Dragon Quest niche didn't exist, I don't think the mainline entries would be doing well outside of Japan.

Take as much time as you need on Crescent Prism, Sgt. Your first priority should always be to yourself and your own wellness.
unity
You're magical to me.
11059
This speaks to me very much. I have my own struggles with the whole idea of going commercial, as I've wanted to try that route for years. But with recent health problems, I'll probably never be able to handle a commercial release, so I'm probably on the same path, just being a hobbyist and working on games whenever I'm able.

Ultimately, Red's right about not tying your well-being to something mostly out of your control, but it's kinda hard as creators to not get invested in what we make and want it to do well and get recognized.

At any rate, I'm just happy to hear that Crescent Prism will continue. It's worth waiting for, at whatever rate you're able to work on it. :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

author=Darken
author=Sgt M
It was apparent in the months leading up to EX's release that the launch was going to be a quiet one. And somewhere in that time, it became clear that a Dragon Quest-inspired game like Yuusha just didn't have much of an audience.
Or you just haven't found the audience. The main problem with a lot of indie devs trying to get their projects off the ground is that they end up marketing to gamedevs (twitter is mostly full of nitpicky creatives) just because you soared in the #screenshotsaturday metrics isn't going to translate into sales, it just means people liked your screenshot. I say all this because it's really easy to jump to conclusions based on simply your anecdotal experience, and not actually doing the research and finding out if there is or isn't a demand for whatever thing your game offers. It could be that DQ-likes don't have a sizeable audience, but I doubt you even reached the full length to say for certain.

This is the part of things that I'm the absolute worst at. I have no idea how to find an audience. I've got a small audience here on RMN, and I've got Twitter (which, like you said, isn't exactly the best). I'm absolutely clueless at how to reach an audience who might like my stuff.
Yeah, man, it's tough. There are a LOT of games out there, and all of them are competing for a finite amount of time. Creating a game that people find special is a major challenge, but actually getting them to notice it in the first place might be the biggest struggle as a dev, since none of us have a marketing degree or a budget. I was telling zDs the other day, the best thing I've found is just to send out keys like crazy, especially towards streamers/LPers/review sites that play games similar to the ones you make.

But, yeah, going the hobby dev route is alluring in its own ways. Part of me would love to just embrace the jank and shove a bunch of disparate graphical elements into something that focused more on my strengths, but I got way too tired with my day job.
As long as you are satisfied with Crescent Prism, and that's what you want to keep working on. Go for it, at your pace. If that's ever sometime fast, sometimes slow, etc, doesn't matter, what matters is you're working on something you want to be making.
Thank you all for the support! Believe me, it menas a lot that people are still following these projects of mine.

author=Red_Nova
I just want to note that "Never" is a veeeery lengthy period of time to judge a game's niche success when it's only been out for roughly 4 months.

I definitely do not disagree with you here, as there is such a massive range of time that a game could possibly "take off". Four months seems like an eternity in a market where games often average a week or two of relevance at best before fading into obscurity, but then you also have games like OFF that sat around completely unknown for five years before the right people picked up on it. It's really anyone's guess as to when a game is going to hit that sweet spot, if it find it at all.

author=unity
Ultimately, Red's right about not tying your well-being to something mostly out of your control, but it's kinda hard as creators to not get invested in what we make and want it to do well and get recognized.

I feel like once you've tasted success once, you'll want to experience it again. Something I definitely miss from my very early days of making games is "just doing it" and not caring as much about the likes or the retweets or the download numbers. There's a certain satisfaction in just making something for yourself and if at least one person played it you know you must've did something right.

After Soma, I think I started to forget what that was like. Getting the Misaos and all the recognition made me want to see more of it. So I kept going, hoping to see it again.

And then making games just... stopped being fun. It started feeling like work and -only- work. I wasn't really growing or evolving with it, and I promised myself a long time ago that if it ever stopped being fun, I wouldn't do it at all.

I want making games to be enjoyable again, because I don't feel like I want to stop doing this completely. A pastime that doesn't necessarily have to land me a job or be a marketable skill.

author=zDS
Either way, I look forward to Crescent Prism. I believe you do deserve cash for the effort, but I get the reluctance to do commercial.

Putting a price on my work never gets any easier, and it's not something I do without an internal battle. Heck, Yuusha EX ended up being $4.99 USD after I told people my original proposed price and they all yelled at me for massively underselling myself, haha. The desire to just have people enjoy what I make far outweighs my ability to say "Yes, I can confidently say my work is worth X amount of dollars" which is why I'll never be a freelancer of any sort.

I will say this particular aspect is an ongoing thing.

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