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Let’s talk about publishing Space Mercs

Hello Giants!

I launched the Space Mercs Linux and Windows demo this weekend on itch.io and the Bearded Giant Store. It’s been an amazing weekend for me – the first time I release a game (or a demo) where 90% of the feedback was positive while the rest 10% just focused on improvements needed in the options menu.

People on the BGG discord, reddit and twitter have been very vocal about their opinions in a good way and that tells me something: That I’m on the right track with this game. However, there’s a grim side to it:

Did you spot it? On itch, after 48 hours, I only managed to get 158 downloads of the demo. Those of you who’ve been following me on twitter know that I need about 500 copies sold during launch month in order to be financially secure till the end of the year. At a sell price of $9.99 that’s around $5000. This would cover my rent and mortgage + cat food and the occasional beer with fellow devs in Bucharest.

Looking at how the demo fared in the first 48 hours it’s clear to me that, even with the improvements suggested by the community, on launch I will not be able to reach my target. If I can’t generate 500 downloads of a free demo, I can’t get 500 sales of a paid version. Simple as that.

screenshot - mission 3 - huge battle with lasers flying around. Space Station in the background

And while I’m still going forward with finishing and launching the game at the end of June, maybe with a small delay to accommodate some of the feedback raised during this weekend, something needs to be said: The chances of me being able to release/make another game this year after Space Mercs are going to be grim. The company is not going to close down but things will move a lot more slowly till next year, as I will have to get a job again.

This is why, after thinking about it for a while, I came to conclusion that I need a publisher for the game. There’s no way I can generate enough interest on my own to reach my target. As such I’m calling out to my followers and friends out there: Help me find a publisher for Space Mercs that can bring the amount of attention the game needs.

I’m an amazing developer and designer (references can be given upon request). Been in the industry as a professional for 9 years and worked for a handful of professional studios. However, as much as I try, I cannot handle the marketing and publishing side of the business – not yet at least. As such I require a publisher to handle that.

The game, on launch day at the end of the month, will feature:

  • A 30 mission campaign in which the player, upon each mission completion, upgrades his ship performance, weapon loadout and abilities
    • missions differ in:
      • scale of the battle (from 3-4 enemies up to hundreds of them)
      • objectives that need to be accomplished
        • from destroy X enemies to disable specific ship components on huge enemy ships or stations
      • settings, both Visual (how the universe look, the station types, asteroid field size, etc) and Gameplay (area of play, debris the player has to navigate between)
  • A quick battle mode that puts the player in a team death-match like environment against 50 – 100 enemies which random objectives thrown in based on the unlocked campaign objectives.
  • A survival mode where the player has to jump from Sector to Sector to acquire better weapons and abilities while being chased by a huge enemy ships that aims to destroy him (which ties into the campaign ending)

As for performance and spec, the game is designed to look good and run even on lowspec systems. In it’s current state the game runs amazingly well on Integrated GPU’s (like the Intel HD 4000) or low end dedicated cards (GT 730) even at 1080p resolution with all effects turned on.

With the help of a publisher I believe the game can offer quite a few more things to make the experience even better:

  • Cinematics for the missions at the beginning and end
  • Better audio support – from voice acting (radio chatter) that can offer the player better information regarding the objectives they need to accomplish to a better soundtrack and SFX
  • Localization
  • Proper QA done – not just me spending a couple of hours with the game each build

The game has been in development for barely a month and a half – and the demo is the result of that. I can work really fast and I am extremely efficient at delivering. I’m a game designer who had to learn to code back in 2006 when engines weren’t in my reach to their price of entry.

I need a publisher who can get the game the attention it needs, which I can’t. My only request is that the game needs to come out with Linux support – it’s something I won’t budge out on.

I’m writing this post because I need to focus on finishing the game before the end of June deadline and I cannot afford to chase down individual publishers. Giants, I need your help to get the word out to indie publishers about this post and game. Please tweet about it, share it on reddit and get a hold of your contacts in the industry. I need your help and support in order to continue making premium games the way you like it!

Thank you Giants!

Publishers or interested parties: You can get in touch with me via e-mail or twitter! Let’s talk about how we can make this work! The game can be ported to the Nintendo Switch and I believe it will work really where there. I can’t afford to apply for a devkit at this stage.

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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.