I'm not dead. Just stuck in a hole of endless procrastination and struggles. I'm not sure where to take Project Sonnensystem next, in part because I haven't gotten quite enough feedback on the game. The seeming failure of the giveaway sucked the energy out of me.
So, here's the info I was able to salvage from that experience.
First? I need to pace myself; the giveaway was supposed to be a big update and I sprinted to finish it all over the course of a week, and burned myself out so the final product that shipped out to the 100 winners was a lot crappier then it should've been. Small, incremental updates, made over the course of a week? Might be more doable. I need to avoid burnout above all else, because once it starts, it's really hard to pull out of.
Secondly? Just running public giveaways isn't the right way to get feedback; if I want to get really good, reliable info, I should probably keep my beta-testing group to folks I know and trust to give good feedback in a timely fashion; I STILL only got a single piece of feedback from the giveaway group, while talking to other fellow developers has yielded so much more good info.
Thirdly? I need to polish a lot more. I went full feature-crunch mode with the giveaway, but I didn't spend enough time polishing those features. My best Ludum Dare entries have only taken 5-15 minutes to beat, with minimal mechanics, but everything's polished enough to feel really good when playing. It's not just the mechanics that need work in Sonnensystem, but also the world itself; better planets, with more variety and decorum, resources that aren't all just crystals, that sort of thing. I could diversify so much, and make the game feel so much less like a No Man's Sky ripoff. I need to work on that.
Finally? I need to do something just to keep myself going, like set a daily development time goal of, say, 30 minutes to an hour. Integrating coding into my daily routine, working on Sonnensystem, and staying focused should help keep me from slipping back into the lazy state I've been in.
Now, onto a more normal status update.
I've been procrastinating in all sorts of ways; lounging around in MMOs like Star Trek Online or EVE, obsessively exploring the universe in Space Engine, or even working on pushing Unity to it's limits in making all sorts of almost-to-scale space stuff, like a 50km-wide Dwarf Planet, or even making a (albiet much smaller than in reality) fairly good looking Brown Dwarf star. Some of that work can be re-used in Sonnensystem, like how to design more realistic planets, or certainly replacing the Dyson Sphere with a small Dwarf star.
I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things by, at the very least, making a small game update with some polish improvements and more usable menus, but I plan on going as far as releasing a playable demo/tutorial here on IndieDB so everyone can get a taste of what Sonnensystem will really be like in a way videos can't convey. I'm still debating how to MAKE that tutorial, so some feedback would be appreciated.
Finally, if I continue struggling with Sonnensystem, I might step back for a little while and let my brain reboot, while still being useful, by working on some smaller side project, like updating one of my past LD entries, or making some other little mini-game. Preferably, said mini-game should have at least SOME stuff in common with Sonnensystem, like the microplanets; I might get some brilliant piece of inspiration on how to make Sonnensystem's planets better, or some idea on how to solve an on-going gameplay problem. But I'm not sure I'd be willing to risk getting sucked into another project and leaving Sonnensystem in Development Hell.
That's all for now.