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[Game Launch]: Space Mercs – launches on Steam August 2nd

Hello space mercenary Giants!

Valve has approved our launch build and it brings me great pleasure to announce that Space Mercs will be available for purchase on Steam starting with August 2nd 2019 (today)! I’m pressing the big launch button around the hours

  • 10:00 AM PDT
  • 13:00 PM EST/EDT
  • 20:00 PM GMT + 2.

The game will be available on Steam for Linux and Windows for the price of $9.99 USD or the regional equivalent!

Game Description:

Join the mercenary group known as the Blue Ravens, start completing missions, hunting down ships and climbing your way up the galactic war ladder facing off against hundreds of enemy combatants all out to get you. Dodge, roll and blast away at your enemies, completing objectives and making a name for yourself as the most badass space pilot the galaxy ever saw.

The game features epic scale battles with more projectiles than stars in the background and rightfully earns the name of “Extreme Arcade Space Combat“. Heck, we might as well put the tag “Bullet Hell” in there somewhere because that’s how it feels when you’re right in the middle of it!

Earn credits, grind missions, upgrade your ship’s internals or weapon systems and take down that battle cruiser before it has a chance to target you!

———————

Thank you for following the development of the game so far! Remember, this is just the beginning – all Bearded Giant Games receive updates (content & bug fixes) for at least a year after release! So hop onto the steam forums or on our discord server and let us know what you think!

Extremely humbled by your devotion and interest,

The Bearded Giant!

 

 

 

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Wishlists, Revenue and Launch estimates for Space Mercs – live data

Hello Analytical Giants!

Yesterday one of our Imgur posts went viral! It reached around 95,000 views and 1130 upvotes and was featured on imgur’s front page! A lot of people seemed to like the game’s concept and look and that gave me a huge moral boost. The situation, at the time of posting, looks like this:

Not bad but what does that mean for the game? Well, Jake Birkett from Grey Alien Games, know for his steam economics posts and Shadow Hand, published a recent article that takes a look at the conversion rates between Steam Wishlists and Week 1 sales. You can read the full post on his patreon, but here are the highlights:

  • Week 1 sales = Wishlists number X 0.5
  • Year 1 sales = Week 1 sales X 5
  • Factoring in steam’s cut and taxes, your total revenue in the first year will be Year 1 Sales X 0.6.

The article goes really in depth and offers a ton of examples of how this applies to the reality of being a game dev on steam, covering a small game (in terms of development time and investment), a medium sized one and a full size production. I really recommend you reading it (and supporting him on patreon – a really worthy investment), but let’s return to our current situation with Space Mercs!

Before the imgur post went viral Space Mercs was sitting in on 189 wishlists after about a week of being present on Steam. To put it into perspective, Ebony Spire, at launch, had about 200 wishlists. So we were already around the same numbers with about a month and a bit more to go before launch. Now let’s apply Jake’s numbers to our current situation:

  • Pre Imgur wishlists – 189
  • Week 1 unit sales: 189 X 0.5 = ~94 copies
  • Week 1 revenue = 94 X $10 = $940
  • Adjusted for tax and steam cut: 940 X 0.6 = $564
  • So 1 year revenue from the game should be around 2820$

Not bad but certainly not the best outcome. Now let’s factor in yesterday’s imgur post and see how the math has changed. Out of 95,000 views and 1100 upvotes the game received 85 more wishlists. This put’s it at roughly 274 wishlists. Applying the previous calculations we have:

  • 274 wishlists X 0.5 conversion rate = 135 units estimated to be sold during week 1
  • 135 copies X $10 = $1350 gross revenue in week 1
  • After steam’s cut and taxes I will be left with $810
  • Year 1 revenue = $4050.

With yesterday’s post our launch estimates have increased by almost 40%. Not bad at all but this estimates are based on the assumption that NOTHING will change wishlist wise and things stay as they are. Let’s go even further down the rabbit whole and make some assumptions and guesses.

Our worst day in terms of additions on steam was June 3rd where we only 6 added it to their wishlist. Assuming we’re going to hit even more rough patches let’s place our estimates that, at the worst of time, in the days leading to launch, we’re only going to get 4 wishlists. With 43 days remaining till launch that means we can expect a worst case scenario of 172 more wishlists putting Space Mercs at 446 wishlists on launch day. Let’s do the previous calculations again and see what we’re going to face when the game launches:

  • 446 X 0.5 = 223 units to be sold
  • 223 X $10 = 2230 week 1 gross revenue
  • $2230 X 0.6 = $1338 week 1 net revenue
  • $1338 X 5 = $6690 revenue in the first year!

The game’s development is spread out over 3 months and we’re currently right in the middle of development – and we’re looking at no delays yet! This means that, based on the current estimates, I’ll make roughly 557$ / month in the game’s first year – literary the average salary in my country. But if we are to do the same calculations based on time spent developing the game we would be left with $6690 (our yearly revenue) / 3 (months of development) = $2230 per month of development!

So things aren’t so grim as I was expecting (assuming our worst case scenario doesn’t end being much much worse) however I’m sure I can do better than this. And I want to document this launch and progress towards it so hopefully it might end up helping more indie developers! Jake’s post is an amazing resources that makes a difference between me biting the dust financially, having to get a job, and surviving to make another game so I plan to add to it!

I’ve made a google docs spreadsheet which can be viewed by anyone, it’s public data! I will adjust it as time goes on, update it with the number of wishlists and estimations! By the time we launch we can draw a pretty picture on how accurate the data was so other developers can plan accordingly.

You can view the document here. The “Estimates and Wishfull Thinking” tab contains the current data, by days since this post has gone up. Rows marked with green and a date after them reflect the wishlist data on steam on those dates. Those without a green background are estimated wishlists on that day. At the bottom of the document there are a few fields that display the target wishlists the game need before launch, the current wishlists, the current estimates and the number of wishlists that are missing. It looks like this:

As it stands now the Space Mercs steam page looks like this:

Which reflects the state of the game during the public beta/demo release. Since then the game went through a ton of changes and the current steam page doesn’t reflect the game’s state! For one, this is how the game looks like at the current time and date:

Quite a few things changed since the public demo and the current beta (6)! For one, there’s a new cockpit view and a 3D radar! The main ship has changed, graphics have been tweaked and things are, on average looking way better. So a Steam Page overhaul is a must. The current demo up on steam will also be taken down because it does not reflect the current state of the game.

I’m also missing a trailer which I hope to have finished before launch happens. This should increase the amount of wishlists and sales tremendously, I hope!

For now this is the reality of what I’m facing. You can help make it a bit better in a few ways:

  • Add Space Mercs to your Steam Wishlists and buy it when it comes out.
    • Adding the game to your wishlists can also help us moving the data analysis forward
  • Share the document above with other devs of interested people. They can use it for their own estimates and survival.
  • Become a patron of bearded giant games and get access to the current beta.
  • Follow me on twitter and tell me that everything will be alright!
  • Buy one of my games on BGG!
    • I keep 98% of the revenue this way!

Thank you GIANTS!

 

 

 

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Space Mercs – Beta 1 released

Hello close-to-release Giants!

It’s time to roll out the Space Mercs Beta 1 to all our Patreon subscribers and amazing Discord users who do not take turns taking jabs at my under powered development pc! Snark aside this is what to expect in the first beta:

Performance first and foremost

The game was designed to work and look great on the intel HD 4000 series of integrated graphics card. I know a ton of Linux users are having it on their laptops and I want to make sure they are covered. I’ve been testing the game on my 2012-ish Elitebook 2170p 12” laptop and performance is stable with slight dips when huge battles are happening.

So as Beta 1 rolls out all of you get access to one of the game’s missions: A full on frontal assault of a space station together with some wingmen. It’s a bige battle with ~70 ships, a huge titan ship that spawns in and quite a few turrets blasting away at you from the station. It’s a medium-difficulty mission and I want to see how well it runs on your pc’s.

Gameplay and feel

As soon as we get performance out of the way the subsequent beta’s are going to focus on gameplay and feel. In Beta 1 you get to fly and annihilate everything that moves. Bullets are flying EVERYWHERE, from AI space ships, turrets on the station walls and if that’s not enough, a well placed rocket or a miss managed AI ship might send an asteroid hurling towards you. You guys will have to fly in style and use the Boost (SPACE) and roll (Shift + A/D)! Since it’s one of the missions that happen mid-game you already have access to the prototype hull-regeneration script that triggers when you take down an enemy ship so in-between objectives make sure to pew-pew some red targets out of the way.

If performance is settled (aka it runs well on everything) then I’ll unlock more content in Beta 2 and more features. Just know this: your main weapon is randomized at the beginning of the level. Weapon load outs from Beta 2 onward.

If you’re a Patreon subscriber you already have access to the #test-release channel on Discord! That’s where you can find a link to the latest beta. If you’re not a patreon subscriber you might still get in. Jump on the server and let us know your specs.

Screenshots, Videos and Gifs

It’s beta but it’s not too early to get the word out about the game. If you’re playing the Beta make sure to press R if you just stumbled on a cool sequence of events. Pressing R will record and export a gif of your last 5 in-game seconds to /home/user/.config/unity3D/BeardedGiantGames/SpaceMercs. Feel free to share it everywhere you want. The same thing goes for twitch streams or youtube videos! Heck send us a link to it when it’s up, I want to see it.

 

Blow them up, Giants! o7

 

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Space Mercs – Linux Beta on the 20th of May

Hello mercenary Giants!

We’re going to do a Beta test for the game on the 20th of May on our Discord Server! The game is shaping up for release and I want to make sure it’s in the best shape possible – and that includes the game’s feel.

Just like I did with Ebony Spire‘s launch, the game will be in beta until it’s deemed complete. That means we’re going to do rolling betas: Release 1, get feedback and bug reports -> fix them -> release another one. Repeat until complete.

That being said the game might receive drastic changes while in beta – from flight mechanics to weapons use to balancing. Ebony Spire got 2 new enemies during the beta and an entire set of new items in the world map. IIRC I even threw some procedural generation in it before launch at the players behest.

But in order to avoid being overwhelmed with all the suggestions I’m also unlocking features throughout the Beta period. That means, the first few releases will only feature the Quick Battle mode – the action packed core of the game. I’m interested in how do you guys like the “Feel” of the game! Once that is nailed more features like the Campaign and post-game mode will unlock.

But that’s enough talk, here’s a quick gameplay trailer I made for the Beta. And, as an added bonus, the footage was recorded on a 8 year old laptop with an Intel HD4000 integrated graphics card so It’s safe to say: Performance should be top-notch. Lowspec Linux gamers – this bearded giant’s got you taken care off!

How do you join the beta? Hop up on Discord and fill out the form. Depending on your system specs we might give you Beta access. Want to make sure you’re in the Beta? Become our Patron because your support is really needed!

Fly safe, Giants!

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[Announcement]: Space Mercs launches in June

Hello Space Giants!

If you’ve been following me on twitter for the past few weeks you know I’m working on a new game for the Store! Today I’m ready to announce details, name, features and a launch period for my latest Linux 1st Initiative-powered Game!

 

As you have already figured out from the image above the game’s name is Space Mercs. It’s a 3D dogfighting game set in space where you play as a new Mercenary recruit for a faction caught in a galactic wide war. Throughout the game’s 30 mission campaign you will dodge, chase, fire, escort and absolutely obliterate enemies ranging from small drones to huge battleships while bound to a single rule: “If it moves, it dies“.

The game features four different game modes, two available from the start and two that can be unlocked by progressing through the story:

Quick Battle: You are given a random ship, a random amount of wingmen, a random objective and must face off a random amount of enemies. It’s literal chaos bound to keep you by the edge of your seat.

Campaign: 30 action-packed missions that can be unlocked and explored via the Bulletin Board. You get one or more targets, an objective, reward and are sent out into space. Completing the objective rewards you with credits which allows you to purchase more ships. Destroying anything else outside of the objective will reward your with Prestige which allows you to upgrade your new ships. The backstory of the game, lore and conversation can be explored via the use of the Command Line Interface in the game. Read emails, access restricted folders and explore your Station’s computer via a bash-like interface.

Duels (1 v 1 / 3 v 3) is a mode unlocked via campaign progression that allows you to gamble some of your heard earned prestige in battle. Win and multiply your Prestige, loose and it’s back to grinding enemies on missions you can defeat.

Survival is your reward for finishing the campaign. Jump between procedurally generated sectors and defeat a ever growing list of enemies and go for the highest score possible.

The game is designed and developed under the Linux 1st philosophy and will release first for Linux in June! In addition to the Command Line Interface, used to navigate your Station’s and Ship’s computer, Linux is consistently the galaxy’s favorite operating system and, as such, easter eggs and throwbacks to our favorite OS are abundant It’s up to your to discover them all!

Bearded Giant patreon subscribers will get access to Beta Builds for the game starting with May 20th in order to ensure the game performs at top standards as I plan to support even the low-end Intel GPUs (albeit with some effects turned off for HD4000 series). When I designed the initial prototype for the game I wanted a space battle with hundreds of ships, all targeting me or ships from my wings! The goal of this game is to make you, the player, feel like a badass pilot when you successfully manage to avoid and fly between enemy projectiles. Your feedback during the Beta period will decide if that is the case.

The screenshot above features the Campaign screen! The 5 slots on the bottom side of the screenshot? Different menus you can access:

  • Market – spend Credits to purchase new ships
  • Hangar – upgrade your ships by spending Prestige points
  • Bulletin Board – advance through the plot by accepting missions from different factions
  • Bar – have a chat and challenge other Mercenaries to duel you in a 1 v 1 or 3 v 3 configuration. Win and get all the glory you need to upgrade your vessel.
  • Survival – Unlocked at the end of the campaign.

On the right side of the screen lies the game’s cli! You can use it to explore the previously mentioned 5 menus in more details. The market might be selling 5 expensive ships but do you know what other pilots think of them? Just cd into it and cat the reviews.txt file to learn about some of the hidden stats (like energy regeneration or maybe hidden scripts to be executed during flight – also via the ship’s command line interface).

I’ll return with a post about the Command Line Interface in a couple of days – a design post. It’s inclusion not only allowed me to spearhead the development of the game and reduce development time significantly but also serves another purpose: to familiarize new Linux users to the terminal. Just don’t expect to be able to write bashscripts for it because that is not happening!

I’m not 100% decided on the price of the game right now. I’d like to say it will be around $10 for the Launch but the price might go up especially if I’ll end up having to port it to Windows! You’ll have to lurk around on our Discord Server to find out more about this before the game goes live.

That’s it for the announcement post. I gotta go write a ton of press releases and get in touch with a couple of Linux gaming people to see if they’ll be interested in a build once it drops. I’m hoping that with this game I can net enough little space-bucks to afford to work on the Bearded Giant Store full time and deliver games for Linux with an ever increasing level of quality!

Thank you Giants!

 

P.s. press coverage of the announcement? Here’s a zip with the game’s logo and screenshots.

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Farm Life launches on Linux on April 23rd

Hello Giants!

Five months ago I’ve setup the Bearded Giant Store as a mean of distributing my games to the world without having to worry about spreading my resources too thin on 3rd party platforms and stores. It’s also back then that I wrote the Linux 1st Initiative – the driving force behind this website existence, and made public my desire to have Linux as a 1st class citizen on this website. At the end of the manifesto I also mentioned that I’m interested in bringing more games to Linux as a platform and now, just five months later, that part of the initiative bore fruit!

Why bring a premium Match 3 to Linux?

When most people think of premium games they don’t usually think of Match 3 or casual games so when I announced I’m porting and publishing a game in the aformentioned genres some eyebrows were raised. Honestly there are multiple reasons for partnering with RVL Games and bringing Farm Life to Linux but here’s my favorite one:

Linux as a platform is growing! We know that from Steam’s Hardware reports, from the amount of Help and Hello posts (mostly titled with “Migrated”) on reddit and heck, even Linux Tech Tips started paying more and more attention to Linux. As more and more people jump on the platform and we get some growth so does the variation in taste and types of games. What I’m saying is that amongst new users there are those who love and want casual games and if we, as a platform, can’t fulfill their needs they might just go away. So if you ask me why I’m porting and publishing Farm Life well, here it is: There are barely any quality Match 3 games for the platform and a demand for them might start popping up soon! Heck it looks to me like an underserved niche.

Besides, if the game performs well (and in time it should), I might get some more work porting and bringing new titles to the platform from developers who otherwise would not have it on their radar. In case of RVL Games this is a good tryout and if they like it they might bring more of their catalogue of games here (not necessarily to the BGG Store) . We keep looking at Triple A studios and asking them to bring their big titles over but what about the smaller guys and their audience?

The Linux 1st Initiative doesn’t just mean that I’m exclusively making games for Linux and that’s that. It’s about putting Linux first and doing my best to help it grow. In exchange for that I hope to make a decent amount of revenue to keep me going for as long as possible. Hopefully till there will be no more need for me to do this but hopefully longer.

Farm Life - aunt linda's farmWhat’s up with Farm Life?

The port is done. Last RC is being tested on the Bearded Giant discord server but things are looking sweet. I know from the Steam Hardware survey that there are a lot of low to mid-end machines on Linux so part of my tasks during the porting process was optimizing the game for those machines. The lowest spec I tested the game on is my NAS machine with a Intel J1800 CPU and Integrated Graphics at a smooth 40+ FPS. In order to make sure the game runs on low spec hardware and with Farm Life being a unity game I had to play around with a ton of things ranging from Unity Terrain support, particle effects, shaders and more. It wasn’t as hard to port as it is to make a new game but it did have it’s challenges. Heck I even used my experience in designing match 3 games from my time at Mobility-Games to update some levels a bit for those of you playing through the classic mode of the game.

And the game is great. When I signed with RVL Games I knew they had tons of experience designing casual games but I did not expect to enjoy Farm Life so much. The levels are fun but the storyline and the minor details on the Farm Area of the game are amazing. When I refer to the game as a Premium experience I don’t mean that it just doesn’t have In-App Purchases. I mean the whole package is premium. From the characters and their bios to the birds flying around and the cars stopping near the farm with a subtle halt that imitates a cartoon car braking.

I’m actually happy the original developer decided to take a risk with me and my little store as I believe many will benefit from the game being here (in terms of satisfaction). I really hope the game does well on Linux as that might mean more developers like RVL Games might join the fray (again, not necessarily on the Bearded Giant Store – any new game natively brought to Linux is a WIN for ALL OF US).

So when is the game coming out you ask? On Tuesday, April 23rd. Sometimes at noon in Europe. I want to celebrate the launch with a beverage in my hand and my cats will likely kill me if I start drinking before 5 PM. It’s going to cost you 6.99$ and you’ll get around 10+ hours of fun (likely more if you don’t just skip through the story) and working fullscreen support (learned my lesson with Ebony Spire thank you very much). Ogh and building up the farm is pretty fun. The game looks great, in my opinion at least.

So join me in discord for any last minute drama that’s normally bound to happen with my releases. Worst case you’ll just see Sheo pestering me about something non-essential and get a laugh out of that. Or in case socializing on the new mass-appeal discount-irc discussion system isn’t for you drop us a follow on the Store’s Twitter page to stay up to date. Or just refresh your browser every 10 seconds like I did for the Dragon Age Origins launch a decade ago (no really, I almost broke a keyboard back then waiting for it to launch).

P.S. Some screens from the game

 

 

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Bearded Giant Games brings a premium Match 3 to Linux

Farm Life aims to bring the joy of old-school Match 3 experience in a premium, DRM-free, package for Linux users.

Bearded Giant Games, the Linux 1st developer, acquired the rights to port and publish Farm Life for Linux users on the Bearded Giant Store. In Farm Life the player rebuilds, regrows and reclaims her aunt’s farm that was lost to the passage of time. The game features a cast of colorful characters that will nudge you on the right path to success, while other claimants hope that you fail.

The game is free of any stigma associated with mainstream games in the genre. It’s 100% free of any DRM, Ads, In-App Purchases and analytics/tracking. Bearded Giant Games aims to stay faithful to the Linux 1st Initiative and Privacy Policy and this can be reflected in any game their work on and bring on board.

Farm Life - header

The one man studio took the decision to partner with the original developer in order to grow the studio’s catalogue while also serving an identified niche in the Linux Gaming Community (exhibit A, exhibit B). The success of the release hopes to prove that Linux can be a viable platform for Indie Developers regardless of the genre as long as they offer quality releases and non-predatory mechanics and marketing tactics.

Farm Life for Linux is current in Beta on the BGG Discord and undergoing a full QA review process. Bearded Giant Games is in the last stages of the release process aiming to provide solutions for known Unity issues that Linux gamers encounter (such as monitor selection, resolution kinks or rendering issues that can be bypassed via launch options).

 

Press Details:

Developer: RVL Games

Publishing and Porting: Bearded Giant Games

Game Title: Farm Life

Genre: Match 3

Logos and Marketing material:

Contact e-mail: contact [at] beardedgiant.games

 

 

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[Announcement]: Outwarp 50S – your favorite coffee-break shoot ’em up for Linux

Hello Giants! 

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I’m working on a new Game! A devilish hard shoot ’em up that you can play one handed while you sip from your favorite coffee mug! It’s developed using Pint, my work in progress framework, and the core of the game is done! You can shoot, you can dodge, you can change your ship’s height on the map, since we’ve got a small faux-3D feel to the game using 3D perspective projection and all that in less than 50 MB of Drive Space. Check out the screenshot and we’ll get back to the nitty-gritty details after you glance at it!

Outwarp 50S SHMUP

Outwarp 50S

Outwarp Fifty-Es (or Es-Ogh-Es) aims to scratch a few itches:

  1. Gameplay sessions will be short (but not do to the lack of content). You’ll probably die in the first 10-15 seconds during your first playthroughs
  2. It auto-pauses when you switch to another window so hopefully you can sneak in some practice sessions at work
  3. Comes with a low memory footprint! In the current form the game gulps up around 48 MB of ram! It’s going to eat up 96 MB ram at maximum but I’m aiming to get it as low as 32 MB.
    • The idea is you can keep running it in the background and go for another run when you have the chance.
  4. You can collect tokens that are dropped by enemies or destructible environment elements! With them you can
    • Unlock new ships with different weapons, power up’s and special attacks!
    • Unlock new environment segments that can alter your current run
      • Enemy types with new movement patterns
      • Bullet types with various configurations and effects
      • Power-ups and
      • Even more destructible elements
  5. It aims to be the shmup you play while your steam client updates or your favorite online game is queuing you up!

Outwarp 50S’s source code

And let’s not forget my Linux first initiative! The game is developed on Linux and will release first for Linux. If enough interest in it will be gathered I’ll port it to another platform. Or you can port it yourself given that the source code of the game and engine (more on Pint in the next few days) will be available under a MIT license. Like my previous games the only thing that stays proprietary are the graphics because I need to make a living and have to pay to get some art! But you are free to get your own open source art assets into the game and distribute it with those.

What’s left to be done

The core of the game is completed. I need to hire an artist to get some quality pixel art graphics for the game and start working on the audio elements. The game’s content has been established but pacing and feel still needs work. Abilities will be added and removed constantly as I juggle around with the difficulty and feel of the game. Adding new content to the game is easy tho’.

Bullet patterns, enemy paths, enemies, power-up’s and even map segments are defined and controlled via CSV files. Map segments are designed in TileD and exported to Pint in simple Lua scripts. Technically, you can use the CSV files to make your own shmup with your own rules without even touching the source code. I’m aiming for a release sometimes near the end of Q1 (aka March). The game should be done by then but I want some buffer time to make sure all the art will be ready and given that I’m moving into another apartment I want to make sure I won’t backtrack on the launch date.

But fret not, if that happens, you will be updated. I’m planning a weekly development update on this blog with info on how development is going. Due to my privacy policy and commitment to protecting your data I do not have or use a mailing list so you’ll have to follow me up on twitter (or the facebook page) to stay up to date with new blog posts. You can also join our Discord Server for more updates in-between keyboard discussions and Sheo’s mad ramblings. Or go the old school way and refresh the Bearded Giant Game’s front page every day :).

If you’re wondering about the final price of the game, I haven’t decided on one yet. It’s going to be between $3 and $10 depending on how much the assets end up costing me. I’ll come back with more information on price soon enough.

P.s. I’m aiming to fit the game on a 3.5″ floppy disk. If I can get it under 1.44 MB of drive space and have it eat less than 32 MB of ram I’ll have a special surprise for all of you. But I’m keeping it a secret for now!

Thank you Giants!