Friday, 28 September 2018

The Making of Smash Halloween Pumpkins - The Challenge Indie Game - Developer Story And Postmortem

Hey guys,

After releasing Captain The Runner game, I set out with another interesting platform action game, the genre which I love the most, called Smash Halloween Pumpkins: The Challenge. Yes, it is a Halloween themed platform action game which is released on Steam.

I can still recall when I got an idea of making a Halloween themed game. It was when I watched a GDC talk presented by Jake Birkett and his story of surviving 11 years in the game industry without a hit. He presented some of his games in that video where he had a Halloween themed game as well. At that moment, I made my mind. I said to myself, " Hey! I wanna make a 2D Action Platform based on Halloween theme." Why not? There are obviously not many Halloween Themed games on Steam and the world needs more great Halloween themed game. Finally, I successfully finished making the game within a month. Yes, it took me a month to finish the game.

I have created all the assets of the game myself except for the music. My art style is kind of different from all sorts of pixel art and I am proud of being different. 

The game got released on Steam on 14th September 2018. Today on 28th September, I am writing this article and I can say there is a few weeks sales data which I can show here. But I will not expose the numbers because of the Steam NDA(Non-Disclosure Agreement). A small graph can be more than enough for you to even show that it has sold some copies. 

I have been working on many project all at once and I am trying to get them out to the public within a month or two months or six months. Well, I am no longer working on a year long project because it is too risky for me at this moment. So, I am focusing on small scoped projects. As I have always said that I am a fast game designer, artist and programmer, working around 10 to 12 hours a day including Saturday and Sunday. Well, holidays are not for me to be honest although I sometimes get overwhelmed by the amount of work left.  


The Release: 
The game got released on 14th September 2018 on Steam with a pricetag of $0.99. The reason behind putting such a pricetag for my game is that it works for me but that does not mean it will work for you. Being an unknown indie developer, having a higher price tag might not be the best option. It depends upon lots of things like development budget, timing etc.

It was released with an introductory discount of 30% that means it sold for $0.69 at the time of launch which lasted for a week. After that, it was still selling at a full price. However, people usually don't buy an unknown title from an unknown indie developer at a full price.   

I indeed got some traffic directly from Steam and I used Google Analytics to take a look at some numbers. Here is the information given below:

Here is an interesting data. I did not get much traffic at the time of launch. But as soon as it got a positive review from a Steam customer, the visibility increased by two times than what it got during the launch week.
So, how did the game do on Steam? Well, You have heard about lots of successes but the developers usually don't want to discuss about their failure. I am kind of different person. I have failed so many times in life that I don't have a fear of failure but I just never stop making games. I am madly in love with my work, trust me. I can't live without making games for a single day. 

The sales did not go well. That's given because I am hardly doing any marketing outside Steam and without marketing it is impossible to sell many copies. As an indie developer, Tim Ruswick said, "You sell zero copies of your game by default." That's true.

My game has sold pretty less, that is, < 200 copies. Most of you will consider it as a brutal failure. Trust me, you can sell around 100 to 500 copies a week on Steam now-a-days due to increased number of releases without external marketing. There is also an article written on Gamasutra about it.


It does not matter even if it fails because I am very proud of the game I made and I am really glad to be able to publish it on Steam and get it out to the public. You should always remember that Launch day is not the end of the life cycle of the game. You can use many post-marketing strategies to keep selling the games you make. I love launching and shipping games. I am honestly less embarrassed to put my work out to the public. People often get annoyed by negative reviews but it really does not matter if it gets bad reviews or good reviews as long as you learn something from them. 
You can check out Smash Halloween Pumpkins: The Challenge game on Steam:
I am currently working on a new game called The Christmas Gifts and I hope it does well on Steam but I highly doubt it though. 

Thanks for reading the article and I hope you found it useful.