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December studio update and Pint progress report

Hello Giants,

Welcome to the last Bearded Giant Games studio report for 2018! The store has been live for a while now and sales have been steady. I’m happy with how well it performed ahead of my initial launch estimate. Starting with January 2019 I’ll open up a new blog category titled Sales and Transparency report where I’ll go into details on how the studio is performing. Hopefully people will be able to learn from my experience and I can grow both as a business and as a developer.

For the past few days I’ve been bedridden, struck by the flu so I had enough time to work on Pint, my new internal game engine. It’s pretty stable and nice so far and I cannot wait to push it out into full production use soon. In the video bellow I’m rendering ~1400 sprites for both backgrounds + the enemies on screen. All scaled, transformed and translated and the FPS is over 100 even on my little Chromebook 14. The memory footprint itself is also extremely small with the game eating less than 48 mb of ram.

Graphics are all placeholders from google images/oga for testing purposes. I’m using a neat little rendering technique inspired by how the scene/roads are rendered in a game like Outrun and it seems pretty fun. Once I add support for animation frames in Pint I think I’ll have a pretty nice demo to release alongside the engine. It just needs some explosions, some screen shakes and proper animations.

On the game development side I have no new game in progress right now however I am toying with a few ideas. I like the faux 3D and fake perspective usage in other games and I’ll probably play with that for my next title. The goal is to have a working game prototype by the end of January so I can focus on developing that in the upcoming months. I’ve already been throwing out some ideas and started a few debates on this subject with people from our Discord server (you are free to join the server and tag along in the conversations as they happen) so I guess I’m narrowing down the list of possible game candidates from a handful to 3-4 projects. Only one will survive in the end!

That’s all for this Studio Update. Pint development is going great, evolving slowly but steady into a framework I can use and abuse in the future. The discord community has been growing nicely in the past few weeks and more and more people are learning about the Linux 1st Initiative (a huge thank you to GamingOnLinux for their shoutout and the discussion it started on their article).

Thank you Giants and Happy Holidays! 

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Studio Update – Store, Linux and Direct Distribution

Hello Giants,

As you may have noticed the website has drastically changed. The itch.io and Steam widget are gone, the blog has been revamped and the entire landing page is a store. I’ve been hinting at this move for the past few months ever since this tweet. What’s going on?

In short, I’ve been toying with the idea of running my own store page for a while now. Ever since 2009 actually, when Ubuntu came up with the software center. I initially named this idea as “Games for Ubuntu”, according to the checklist and .txt manifesto I had written back then.

Back in the day there weren’t many gaming stores besides Steam and getting on that one was out of my reach (capabilities and experience wise). I was still in my honeymoon phase with Ubuntu as an Operating System (switched to it back in 2006). Fast forward a few years and in 2011 I self-published Pimps vs Vampires on BMT Micro for a whopping total of 8$. Mutant Gangland came around and itch.io was revealed so I jumped on it and fell in love hard. A few more years passed and I released Ebony Spire: Heresy on steam. However the release of the Anniversary Update for ESH got me thinking. 

I don’t want to handle a hundred different builds for all the platforms and stores the game is on. I don’t want to have to work hard to bring my own traffic to steam so I can keep making more sales instead of the “organic traffic” steam sends my way. I hate having to check several different forums, channels, e-mails just to stay up-to-date with my community of fans and users, I just want to make games and release them. I want to spend more time giving love to my projects instead of updating 4 different distribution channels, translating pages, writing different press releases and making separate builds.

Que the Bearded Giant Store and Linux #1st Initiative

The Bearded Giant Store is my attempt at solving most of the issues mentioned above since It allows me focus all my development efforts towards a single, unified, platform. Whenever I release a new game it goes straight up on my page. You can purchase it directly from me with no middleman involved to handle distribution or updates. I screw up it’s on me. I succeed? 98% of the spoils go to me. Discoverability is only up to me. No more translating a store page to several different languages hoping the steam discoverability algorithm pushes me up the list or spamming steam support for information on when I can add trading cards so I can attract more users and please the algorithm. Feedback and support is done through my discord server. Announcement and releases are made available via blog posts such as this one.

I’ve also chosen to remove other distractions from my development life. I know most of my players are Windows users however, for me, it was a hassle maintaining Windows builds and testing them out properly. This is why I wrote the Linux #1st Initiative. This doesn’t mean that my games will only be available on Linux but it does mean I’m targeting Linux first. I can develop a game on the platform I’m most comfortable with and make sure it’s air-tight in terms of design and implementation. When I released the anniversary update for Ebony Spire I discovered some issues on the Windows build that I quickly fixed. Turns out, on release, I broke the game for the users close to my heart (Linux). Que another set of updates to Steam and Itch. I just don’t have the man power and enough computers to test and support several platforms. This is why I’m embracing Linux #1st as a modus-operandi. I’ll write my games on Linux and release them for Linux. Once development is truly done, once quality can’t go any higher and once I’m done having to fix or tune stuff I’ll be able to focus on porting the game to other platforms.

And another advantage of going for Linux as my main target? I don’t have to compete as much as I do on Windows and I can lower my expectations and sales goals. This allows me to stay as small and nimble as possible. I can also start growing a small audience from this point onward that will look for me and my games here. 

Purchasing the games directly:

You can purchase all my current and future games directly from me. PayPal is the only payment processing service I’m using for now. I’d use Stripe but it’s not available in my country yet. But I’m sure I’ll add more options in the future as the need appears. But you don’t need a Paypal account and you can pay directly with your credit card through Paypal. You’re not renting the game from me through a license that goes away if my store goes away. You get it DRM Free and you are encouraged to make backups of it. You are also free to mod the hell out of them to your heart’s content or make derivative with their source code. Which brings me to another point.

Que Pint as my new in-house framework and engine:

I’ve been running on the back of external frameworks and engines since 2010. My games had a portable Lua core that I would use to wrap specific rendering and input functions from third party frameworks so I can re-use my code if I decided to move to something else. With this new change in approach to releasing and developing my game I decided to drop my previous tools and setup new ones. And like my games they are developed and built on Linux. It’s going to be fun porting them to other platforms in the future :).

Thanks to great (for me) Ebony Spire sales I can afford to do all of this. I’m not interested in short term success and I’d rather be more stable in the long run. My goal is to be able to retire making my own games and luckily enough there’s a ton of time left till my retirement (decades even). The move to hosting my own store and selling my games directly to consumers is a long term investment. If you ever played Game Dev Tycoon you know the feel I’m searching for. (Re)Starting small, improving my design, my tools and platforms, gathering an audience and building a back-catalogue of games and I’m not sure I can achieve this by chasing ever-changing platforms, users and trends. And once again, if I fail it’s all because of me. I think it’s a good decision.

Welcome to the Bearded Giant Store! Here you can purchase my games directly from me. You get the games, the source code and support a little indie that builds games and tools for his favorite platform! Join me on Discord if you want to chat or stay up-to-date.