BlasterMax

BlasterMax
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Monday, 22 April 2019

Planning for the future starts now!

I started A Collection of Bits in 2016 after my previous go at making video games under the title of BritBitGames failed. I'd been a very tiny part of the bedroom programmer years back in the 1980's, but stepped away from making games in 1994, and I really had no intention of every coming back to it. That was until my mother fell ill in 2009 and I had to quit my regular job as an actor to care for her.

At first I was actually quite happy to be at home, it was like a sort of long holiday. However, boredom started to settle in pretty quickly, and since I was now having to stay at home 24/7 and be a live-in carer, my life was becoming a bit dull. I couldn't go out to the places I liked, I couldn't visit the people I wanted to see. Even though I did have some spare time, I couldn't go out and enjoy it because I needed to stay home in case something happened. My mother has severe mobility issues caused by arthritis, diabetes and her age, this means that she can't even do things like get to the bathroom unaided, and I have to stay in the house. Unless she's sleeping. If I did go out and she tried to get to the bathroom on her own, she could fall and seriously hurt herself. On top of this she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018 and she's very weak from the treatment and her operation.

To help me stay sane and not go stir crazy, I started messing around with Game Maker Studio after finding it on sale through Steam. It kind of felt like cheating at first, because I was used to typing in games on my trusty C64 and seeing them come together, but I was impressed with how quickly you could get good looking results with it. It was also ideal for the types of 2d arcade-style video games that I enjoyed making, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I started working on several games, which I go into in another post on here, and BritBitGames was doing reasonably well but not really gaining any traction. It was much easier back in the 1980's to get people to buy and play your games, but I wasn't prepared for just how difficult it is for a small games developer to get noticed in the fully connected, internet driven 21st Century. I'd watched "Indie Game The Movie" and thought that it'd be easy to make something, get it out and get sales. I'd done this sort of thing in the past so I have experience, right? Should be pretty simple for someone with experience, right? HA! Some times it feels like you're in a massive hall full of people all yelling "HEY! COME AND BUY MY GAME!" but some of them have megaphones and are a lot louder than you are.

So, I came up with a plan! What if I gave the games away for free and only asked for a small donation from people if they liked them? Maybe people would download them if they don't have to pay anything unless they want to. With this in mind I gave up trying to make it rich and instead put the games out for free with a suggested donation fee of $4.00. This started to work and people began to download my games. They're not exactly flying off the shelves, so the speak, but downloads are often enough that I feel that my stuff is of some interest to some people. However, not many people are willing to pay the donation fee, which is a shame. I've had some donations from some very generous people, some of which are even quite well known developers themselves, but I'm going to have to put my plans of running this as a full-time business on hold for just a bit longer.

Unfortunately, though, things are getting a little tight here and it's looking like I might have to try and find some other way to subsidise what I do. I'm not wanting to start charging for the games because this would likely result in people just not playing them at all again, and the thrill of people playing the games I create is why I do this, but I still need to eat and pay bills. So, I've signed up for a Ko-fi account where people can, if they choose to, support me by buying me a "coffee". It's $3 each cup and, even though it's only a small amount, if enough people are able to contribute it would help me keep things moving along. Later on down the line I might even be able to give out some backer only goodies as well!

Click this button to buy me a coffee!

So, now I've got the begging out of the way, here's my plan for the future:

Eventually my ultimate goal for A Collection of Bits is to make bigger games and release them through Steam. However, due to my ongoing role as a full-time carer, this isn't possible because I don't have the time to work on big projects. Also, on top of this, if I did release a game through Steam  now it'd probably just sit around not doing much because I don't really have the audience who would rush out and buy it and I can't pay for advertising. Not that I'm complaining, and not that I'm trying to become the next big indie game sensation, but it's a lot easier to get sales when you have fans, followers, people who like and have an interest in what you do. A publisher would help, but I don't think my current games are publisher worthy, and I don't currently have anything bigger to release.

So, the goals at the moment are two-fold. The first stage, which is the one we are in now, is to continue making small-ish budget games based on retro ideas with an emphasis on fun, release them as donationware through itch.io and promote the hell out of them through Twitter, other social media sites and my blog to try and bring them to the attention of people who might want to play them, and possibly donate, while trying to build up my online presence. Alongside this I'll be running the Ko-fi account as another line of income so that I can continue to do this. The second stage will come when I feel that A Collection of Bits might be well known enough for a stab at a bigger commercial game released through Steam. This would be the point where A Collection of Bits would take steps to becoming a proper studio, and I'd have special bonuses where backers will get complete access to the full game as thanks for their donations.

So that's the "plan" moving forward. I don't really want to be asking for the donations, but if I don't try to pull in a little bit of extra income things will fail at stage one a long time before stage two can ever become a reality. This does mean that I'm going to have to try and draw peoples attention to the fact that the donations page exists, but I'm going to try and do it as in-obtrusively as possible by adding a little footer to all of my future posts. Hopefully this won't annoy regular readers too much.

Thanks for reading!

My aim is to make video games and, as much as possible, let people download them for free. I do, however, still need to eat and pay bills, so if you'd like to support me you can do so by buying me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/peteuplink this will enable me to continue doing what I do and your support is really appreciated!

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