BoomCo Games is a young and dynamic start-up with big goals. We are committed to making fun and original games on any and all platforms. Development on our first game, Apocalypse Neighbors, is well on it's way!
So I haven’t posted any blogs in a while, I have been extraordinarily busy with work, and when I do have some time it is spent attending one of the many weddings, stags and birthdays that seem to multiply every year. No post doesn’t mean nothing has been happening though, lots has happened in fact. The biggest event of the month was probably the complete failure of our kickstarter campaign. We had prepared a good Kickstarter page, based on the model of successful video games crowdfunding campaigns. We had lots of graphics, images and some videos. We had spent months building a following on twitter (5k+) and facebook (1k+). We spread the word around friends and family weeks prior to the launch to guarantee a strong start. And we did many of the things we were advised to do by the multitude of blogs, forums and websites with crowdfunding advice. Unfortunately that wasn't enough, all these efforts led to very disappointing results, we did reach 20% of our funding target in the first couple of days, but after that we failed to generate enough interest to continue with the same kind of growth. In fact out of all the funding eventually received (28% of target) I can honestly say I knew most of the pledgers personally. So this is bittersweet, we are amazed by the great generosity of friends and family and we are very disappointed we couldn’t generate enough interest in the game. The hard truth is that thousands of followers do not translate into thousands of backers. That being said we were also terrified of a successful campaign and the associated headache of producing all the rewards, and we would have had lot’s of rewards to fulfill if the campaign had been successful.
I guess the biggest reason the campaign didn’t work is the lack of gameplay, if we had had a game demo available for journalists, bloggers and fans then they might have written pieces on the game and helped us gain momentum, but the game simply wasn’t ready for a demo then and it isn’t now. So we have refocused our efforts on moving the game forward and reduced our marketing. There is no point in contacting people and asking them to write about your game if they can’t play it, a few videos are not enough for them to write a comprehensive piece. So we have retreated from Kickstarter and reduced our media activity, we will focus on getting the game to demo level and then if we need it, we will return to Kickstarter with a more modest campaign, and more specific goals. We may have failed at crowdfunding, but we were still able to raise an additional £15k capital. Some of this money came from an investor increasing their investment and some of it came from a loaner increasing their loan to us. So in short 2 of the most awesome people in our lives became even more awesome than before by allowing us to carry on with our dream; for the while at least. We are not done yet, and we still need some cash, some to finish the game and some to hire a PR agency to help with the launch campaign. It is obvious that the priority for us is getting the game ready at the expected level of awesomeness, but being able to launch it successfully would allow us to hit the ground running and get our backers some swift return on investment.In the last couple of weeks alpha build 2.3 was completed. In this version all backgrounds for the 250 levels had been added. Most were great and a few will need some minor scale adjustments and a few background elements need better placement.We had also added the first version of specials, but these still needed some tuning, some were way too powerful and other too weak. Ammo and special ammo from alpha 2.2 had been tuned for this version, and they are almost all complete. Some minor revisions are still needed on some of them and we will continue tuning them until the game is balanced.The scoring aspect of the game is almost finished now, actions generate Dominance Points and affect Karma Meters. Some tuning is going to be necessary so that the relationship between gameplay, player growth and rewards stays balanced, not too easy and not too hard.The build also included many under-the-hood fixes and improvements, and far fewer bugs. Soon after receiving alpha build 2.3 we received alpha build 2.3.1. This version addresses more of the problems in version 2.2 and a few from 2.3.This version had more tuning to ammo, special ammo and specials, still more to be done, getting a balanced set of ammo when we have so many different ones is no easy feat.Neutral houses have been added and they can become corrupted, this system still needs more tweaking and tuning, but we should be getting there soon.The next iteration of the game should have construction and defences implemented, and more tuning to ammo and specials.
This is a long overdue post, I have been very busy and with all that’s been going on I simply haven’t been able to put my thoughts down for a while.
Alpha build 2.2 has been around for about a week, we have been playing it for a while now. This version of the game contains all ammo, upgraded ammo and special ammo. The aim for us has been to figure out whether different ammo and characters are balanced or not. Some ammo were too weak and some too strong. We are also looking for any bugs in the level backgrounds and maps, but overall the game is more stable and runs smoother. Some of the ammo is still glitch but this will be solved in the next build. At this point the only thing a player can do in the game is shoot and be shot.
Alpha 2.3 will be the biggest improvement yet; it will include all ammo, upgrades and specials. For the first time the player will be able to build and the demonic artefacts will be implemented, this version will be nearest to the final single player experience.
And concerning the financial situation: we had some pretty catastrophic news twice in the last few weeks. The first time a potential source of funding had some unforeseen problems and they were unable to liberate funding. We had to set up emergency meets last week to try to get money from somewhere else. We found someone, but then it turned out their money was stuck in bonds for another 9 months! At this point we started to get worried, but then we got some pretty lifesaving news this week. So we had some meetings, and if all goes well we have the money we need to finish the game and then market it.
Needless to say I have been to the depths of despair and peaks of joy a lot in the last 3 weeks. But hopefully our money problems will be sorted from next week!We have created a Kickstarter page and it is live, please check it out.We have tried to make the page as informative as possible. We chose to do a very short campaign (17 days), and in hindsight maybe we should have gone for something a little longer. We have 7 days to complete this campaign successfully and to be perfectly honest it seems at the moment that the campaign will fail.
But worry not, this does not mean the game won't get made. Game development is on track and progressing nicely, and we have had some good meetings last week and we will be able to raise additional capital the traditional way i.e. through loans. We would have preferred a successful Kickstarter but you don't always get what you want in life.
That being said we are going to step up marketing this week which might very well lead to a happy conclusion to our campaign. You can play your part by sharing our campaign with friends, family and co-workers and convincing them to pledge a little something.
Any and all support is much appreciated. I have been told I look like a silly fool on the Kickstarter video perhaps that is in itself reason enough to visit the page!
The month began with a new alpha build (alpha 1.3), this version of the game was far more stable than any previous versions. We were able to play levels 1 through 3 without much crashing, but 4 and 5 were a little buggier.
There are still some bugs and some elements that look weird but this version was a definite improvement. The houses are still in pre-composed configurations as there is no construction options yet. Some elements may appear to be floating in the air… they are… and this will be sorted soon! But the game now has cloud movement in the background and the AI has improved, so we are edging ever closer to the game we want to make.
Development on phase 2 is moving forward concurrently, estimated delivery date for alpha build 2.1 is 15 June. Phase 2 focuses on growing the game, adding features and assets. This version of the game will have all characters, weapons and ammos implemented, as well as most levels and a much improved U.I. This version of the game will be used to make the Kickstarter video…
Yes we are going to go to Kickstarter, we have to try! We have enough money to finish phase 2, but we are going to need some more funds for phase 3 and some money for marketing. We may be able to raise the money the same way we have been doing so far, which is by finding backers or asking backers to increase their investment. But Kickstarter seems like a good way to find the funds to complete our game and it would be foolish not try.
New game screenshots have been uploaded, the level backgrounds are for Alaska and the character profile cards. New screenshots of alpha 2.1 are coming this week and we will be uploading the new state maps as well.
Concerning design progress this are going well, we have all the characters and their upgrades ready, all the weapons and ammo are also ready, as are the special ammo. Specials still need to be designed; but once all assets are ready we begin animating them, sometime this week. Level design is moving along nicely and should be completed by the end of next week. The game is growing fast.
The last couple of days were spent detailing the scoring and points systems in the game. Basically figuring out the hitpoints, health and value of attacks and all other elements in the game; How much it takes to destroy something and how much you get for destroying it, etc.
Concerning our size problems we have found a way of cutting 50%+ of the game size down… How you say? Sound was the solution! By doing some trimming and manipulating sound formats we were able to dramatically reduce the size of the game. This means we get to keep all the levels and all the other cool stuff without having to sacrifice a single element of the game. And the only way someone can pick up on the sound quality differences is by playing with some top of the line studio speakers, not likely on a mobile device!
So things are on track, and weather is getting nicer which actually makes work even harder, especially with people posting photos of their amazing week-end getaways all over the place… No rest for the weary
Someone wrote: May was an insane month, I turned 30 and one of my oldest friends got married, that cost me about 8 days of party/recovery time. Time I didn't really have to spare...
In addition to that we started the month in the knowledge that the game was going to be delayed, that it was going to end up costing more money, and that we were going to run out of money by the end of the month. Now it is the end of the month, we have accepted the delay, there is nothing we can do about it now, quality is more important than anything else. We have also managed to get one of our investors to increase their investment quite substantially, meaning we can survive a while longer.
The first gameplay screenshots for the alpha build have been released. The screen captures are from Alpha build 1.2 on an iPhone 5, and the game has a lot of problems as can be seen from the images. Currently the game is very slow and prone to crashing; the hunt is on for bugs introduced when implementing the outer layer structures and updated destruction system… People have been sleeping at the office… The going has been slow and we have been very frustrated for the last week. That being said we are making progress and the next version should be far more stable.
The game is also too large and we have been looking for creative ways to reduce the size of assets without sacrificing quality. The 50 state maps and 251 levels represent a lot kbs and that’s without counting the secrets we wanted to add; so we need to keep the game at a reasonable size or it will fail. We all know those massive games don’t last long on a phone, if they even get downloaded in the first place. And nobody likes having to delete stuff on their device just so they can try out a game.
Progress is slow, but it is still progress. Based on current timelines it looks like the single player campaign will be complete sometime in July, and then we need to test it on multiple platforms and implement the multiplayer side of the game.So as much as it pains me to say, it looks like the complete version of the game will be hitting stores in September…
That being said we will strive to release the free demo in late July/ early August, so people have a month or so to get acquainted with the game and submit any and all comments before we release the final polished package!
We did get good news though; we have secured our next bit of investment, a fairly substantial amount that could see us through to the end of June. With this extra cash we should be able to breath for a while and get through much of phase 2. To get funds for phase 3 we will need to launch a Kickstarter campaign or find another backer.
So all in all things are going quite well, social media is growing nicely. The other day we spent a whole day in the top 100 most popular games on IndieDB ( out of 16,700+). We went all the way to 23rd! That was one of the most amazing feeling ever. And we haven’t even shown gameplay videos yet, to get this much attention for a 30% complete game, even for a day was so cool. The next day we slipped back to more humble positions in the top 500. We are not even sure of what we did to get so much attention…
Someone wrote: We still have much to do, so so much… Over the next few weeks we will complete about 90% of art assets, finish phase 1 and by end of June half of phase 2 will be complete.
So just like May, June is going to be a very difficult month, although we should have fewer financial problems. So all in all things are ok, can’t complain, I didn’t expect this venture to be easy… And anyway once you accept a challenge you must see through or live in infamy.
Yet all industries are like that, if your business has been trading for some years it’s easier to get decent predictions; but when you are a new tech start up in a volatile industry like mobile gaming, predictions don’t come so easy. Yet you aren’t going to get any money without forecasts, even family and friends want to see financials, nobody just gives away money for you to gamble with.
And yes this is a gamble… I used to gamble quite a bit… Only poker though, and I was quite good, won some tournaments and a bit of money, nothing too fancy. What I learnt then, and which applies to this situation, is that I play better when I play with someone else’s money. I take more risks and the pressure of failing is different than if it were my own money.
With my own money the fear of losing would overcome the will to win. But with a backer’s money, someone who has trust in my abilities and thinks I can multiply their money, I feel compelled to show off my skills and impress them. This psychological difference in my relationship to money means that I am more likely to succeed if I do it with other people backing me. That being said I still put everything I had in this company, it just so happens everything I had wasn’t all that much…
If I had taken a loan to fund this game, it would have been my money, and I would have been terrified to spend it and the company and game would have been stillborn. Now with investors backing the company I feel compelled to rise to the challenge and vindicate their trust in me.
So yes it is gamble, and yes it is with other people’s money. But realistically there are only three outcomes:
1- Total Success and World Domination
2- Average but survive to fight another day
3- Total Failure and banishment to a life of servitude
And I’m confident we can land somewhere between 1 and 2! So these are pretty good odds when you consider the kind of crap people waste their money on.
Investing in BoomCo Games could be the smartest thing those who trust me ever do. The downside is minor compared to the potential upside… if you are a gambler…
I really thoroughly enjoyed my 20s! I travelled the world and partied hard. I spent 5 years in University learning a little and forgetting a lot… Also playing days on end of Halo 2 online!Then I worked in bars and worked on movie sets, just enough to fund my travelling and partying. I wrote a book, which is awesome, but still needs tons and tons of work. And unpublished writer is no way to make a living…
I got a little more serious when my parents divorced… Enrolled for a Masters in Video Production and Film Studies… I did very well and got high grades… But that in no way converted the stellar success everybody dreams of when they imagine film making.
That being said I still landed a dream job: organising video production for eSports events. However two things happened that made this job less dreamy. Firstly it was long hours and terrible pay and secondly it made me realise I missed creating.
I wanted to create, and my first love had always been video games. I realised that last summer when I was rummaging through things I’d been saving since I was kid: magazine clippings, stickers, drawings and stuff I wrote. There I found the first video game idea I wrote, when I was 9… but for some reason video games always seemed like this insurmountable task only genius coders and giant corporations could make.
So the plan was write a book, then make film of it and then a game… But it turned out that film was a very hard industry to make a living in, and concerning writing, well the time it would have taken to finish the book would have had me living on the streets before I ever got published.
Then one of my friends, who works in mobile gaming, asked me to come up with good game and app ideas and then we would go into business together. And I came up with some great ideas… But unfortunately my friend kept pushing back the moment he could quit and start a business with me.
So I just wrote a Game Design Document for Apocalypse Neighbors, designed hundreds of mock-ups and started BoomCo with another friend who was good with money.
That was 6 months ago… If I hadn’t done that, I would be 30 and I would be miserable. But I did it, I took the leap of faith, I chased my dream. And so I am happy, I am where I want to be, where my inner child wants to be. Work is hard, so now I have to party… hard!
I’ve gone from desperate to joyous a lot in the last weeks, some days things just look insurmountable and then some days it seems like you will conquer all. Last week saw a crappy Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday was a pretty good day, hope is re-kindled. Then Thursday was crap, but ended on high note. The game is progressing, but not as fast as originally forecasted and that is so frustrating. Phase 1 is almost complete, but three weeks late because of some changes to house structures; very important changes that will make the game awesome-er, but time consuming to implement.Currently the team is working on shrinking the game; we want the final product to be under 100MB, but still be high quality.
There are still a few minor corrections concerning physics of destruction, but things are looking good on that front.The enemy AI has also improved, it no longer just pounds the same place over and over again, now it systematically destroys whatever is closest to it.The animated home menu has now been implemented, there are few minor tweaks needed concerning this but overall it is looking good too.The campaign map is in the game and it looks awesome! We haven’t implemented turns yet, so you have to wait for your enemy to shoot, if you try to shoot at the same time in level 1 and 2 you can knock their ammo in mid-air… If you try that on levels 3 through 5 you make the game really buggy…or worse crash. The next step involves applying the character specific layers to all of the houses and building blocks. This is a kind of Phase 1.5, once this is complete the game will have its look, and at that point we will release in-game screenshots and gameplay footage. The eta for this momentous occasion is a week or two…maybe three. This is not easy to implement and will take lots of tweaking to perfect. Phase 2… This is already running, basically this is where we build all aspects of the Single Player campaign! We have started with the infrastructure of the 50 states and the foundations of the characters. Phase 2 won’t be complete before mid-July… Then it’s on to Phase 3, multiplayer! So yeah lots of work left…
Last Friday it occurred to me that BoomCo Games now employs 12 people in 5 countries over 4 continents! That’s 14 people now striving to make Apocalypse Neighbors amazing, working every day to achieve greatness!
Not so long ago I was alone… the game was still a piece of paper and BoomCo Games was a wild dream.
Now seeing everything that has been achieved over the last 6 months blows my mind and makes me truly excited about the future.
Within the next few weeks the game should reach a point where we will be comfortable showing it to the world. This is always a big moment because the fear of rejection is such a powerful thing.Thankfully I have already failed so many times at so many different things, that I have now become quite adept at picking myself up. The more mistakes the more you learn, and I have made lots of mistakes… Wisdom is the key to success and wisdom is the experience you get from living, doing and failing. The more of that you do, the faster you mature...
I don’t see failures as a full stop, no to me it simply means you attempted something at the wrong time, if you are lucky you were too early and you can try again when you have matured. Bad timing is a killer, but good timing is glorious. To be doing the right thing, with the right people at the right time is truly a magical feel. Sleep has become a hindrance, I don’t want to sleep, I want to get stuff done!
This week is all about getting the physics right, once we have nailed destruction we can start implementing the house outer layers, the bits that give the structure some character.
Soon all the different element of all the different characters’ houses will be finished and can start being implemented them in the game. This will give the game its unique feel and identity, this is something we really look forward to seeing in the game. Once the characters have their houses, the NPC’s have their AI, and the turn based system has been implemented, at that point we’ll show the game in action, but not before!
I am tempted to release some game screenshots next week, and maybe I will...
But the AI is just retarded at the moment and the structures have no character.
All the character looks and upgraded looks are almost ready, soon after that it will be time to color them in and then May is going to be about growing the game. We need to create 51 state maps, 251 level backgrounds, coloring and animating all the characters, weapons, ammos and destruction… Software wise we have to implement construction, upgrades, defences, scoring, Dominance Points, Karma Points, specials, bonuses, friendliness, neutral houses, repairing, artefacts… Basically build the entire single player campaign… The list of things we have to do in May is unreal… I just suddenly got depressed; I need to get back to work…
Iteration 3 will be with us on the 9th of April, we are very excited, every step we take brings us closer to our vision for the game, we can’t wait to play and tell you all about it.
This version of the game will include 3 basic levels, 2 characters and 1 enemy, 3 weapons and 3 ammos.
The first version of score keeping will be implemented.The menu placeholder will be replaced with our animated menu (if it is ready in time), but you will still be able to see it online.
So, like every week, this is going to be big one! Follow us to stay up to date
Sooo...I have been terrible with social media in the last couple of days...My posts have been scarce on all social platforms.The reason: actual work! Iteration 2 was delivered last Thursday evening... So Mark and I spent the evening testing the hell out of hit.
I played the game the way I intended for it to be played, making sure things were happening the way they are supposed to.Mark played the game like crazed monkey might, this way he found bugs that may have otherwise passed unnoticed until later. The game is moving along at a good pace, that being said many things had to be corrected, many hours were spent collecting feedback on how to improve the game and thinking hard about how to proceed next. That's all done now and we are back on track for iteration 3, which will be yet another step closer to the game we are trying to make. Anyway that's why updates on the website were delayed. New images, color images, have been added to the image galleries. These show where we are heading with Apocalypse neighbours.A few new characters have been unveiled, check them out. That's it for now
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