Fail Forward Fast
Ok, so... success on launch for the first game is laughable.
We can safely say initial sales for Prismatic Maze have been... well, effectively nil.
Literally 20 sales, probably at least half of those direct from friends & family.
3 reviews, one from a tester, one from a friend, one from someone who hit a bug & requested a refund.
I'm not in any way complaining - I'm flattered friends & family were supportive and I appreciate all the attention they've given.
In some ways, though, it's quite freeing.
I was super stressed out leading up to launch. I relaxed some after launching, but have still been quite focused on it since.
I feel like I'm starting to get over that.
The launch bug is super annoying - the lack of polish was a trade-off, but no surprise that it makes a big difference.
I think the decision to make a maze game was really a bad one in terms of market viability, maybe something that excessive polish can mitigate but I am not sure.
I have done a lot of thinking about the game design and have lots of ideas about ways to improve on that - some with this game, some with future games.
In terms of whether the project was a success or failure...
I am totally confident that the project is a success.
I made and published a game.
I found an intersection between my game engine as a hobbiest library/wpf toolset to use it in a real game, significantly expanding portions of the system and integrating with a game framework to prove its viability as a foundation of PC games.
I learned how to make games in general, how to publish a game in general, how to establish the foundation of a game company and the basic trappings of online presence.
After a few weeks post-release, I've managed to clean up some of the loose ends that didn't make the deadline and put enough plugs in the holes in the damn to prevent the thing from falling on its face...
It's been probably at least four months now since I went fully heads-down leading towards launch, aggressively cutting features, hastily putting in features to check all the basic boxes that need to be there in order to hit the deadline - almost none of which were much fun to work on.
At this point, the PC game has had its 'launch window' opportunity and it's no longer an opportunity/problem to worry about - there will be more launches, and anyone who hears about it now can get it, so any communication I do now has a tangible/actionable (and trackable/verifiable) outcome. Before this, it was all just words.
So, I'm free to do whatever I want with it.
Which means I can go back to having some fun :)
Of course, there are lots of nuts-and-bolts stuff, the main substance of real software development, but it's no longer ALL boring-yet-somehow-super-stressful stuff.
I'm still aiming at an iOS release in the next few months.
Haven't hooked up the Mac yet, that's on the list sometime this week maybe, but soon.
I think the game has more viability on mobile based on its engagement style & the input medium...
but the monitization on the Apple store & android market are pretty much shit, so we'll need to dig into stuff like F2P w/ in-app purchases (while avoiding being a dirtbag) and braving the piracy-ridden waters of android.
I always said that I didn't have an expectation that the first game will make any money, but it's been sobering how true that turned out to be.
Literally, no money haha - steam doesn't pay <$100 and the game is at $80.
So, fuck it, I can do whatever I want with it now.
And what I want to do is have fun and do crazy shit.
I got the item system working super late, really only closing the acquire-item-in-maze/use-item-to-make-new-maze loop working like a week or two before launch.
A consequence of that was I only got items in that were part of the main map generation loop - sizes, bake time, pigment seeds... a few others.
I didn't get any zooming stuff in, I didn't get any moving creatures in, I didn't get any time advancement during play (all growth on the map is during bake time), I didn't get any variation by color (except for music transitions... man, I really hit the jackpot on music, thanks Punch Deck!), I don't even have scores or item counts (exposed to the user).
I didn't get lights or visibility alterations, I didn't get teleport items, I didn't get player avatar skins, I didn't get ui skins... all of that stuff is back on the table, plus a bunch of even crazier ideas.
The maze is alive, but once it's built it might as well not be.
That's all going to change going forward.
Realistically, now that I know how this stuff works, I probably should have made it an 'early access' game, if only to communicate to people that the game will change significantly over time.
I didn't want to do that for a ton of reasons, early access is a weird double-edged sword w/ lots of down-sides... but I need to find a way to communicate to people that the "Prismatic" part of "Prismatic Maze" is a thing that has many interpretations - including the idea that I'm going to use it as a platform to experiment/explore what can be done with mazes when everything is mutable & alive & everything can affect everything else.
It'll take a while to realize some of these ideas.
I'm not making any promises, but stay tuned to see what can be done, I'm super excited about it ;)