2016 was a big year for us here at Incalescent Productions. And by us, I mean me…one man studio and all. We started out the year with one game on one platform, and now have several multi-platform games on the market…all in all, not too bad. But did we hit our 2016 goal? And what of 2017…what is the plan for the company in the next year, aside from trying to get that perfect tan?
While Incalescent Productions has technically been an actual company now for 2 1/2 years, it was not really until this past year that much of anything has happened with it. Before 2016, it was largely used for contract work, particularly for the main game I’ve been working on. For 2016 itself, there were two specific goals: build a somewhat diverse portfolio of games with each being a bit better than the last, and learn as much as possible while doing so. The way I set out to accomplish this was a strange New Years Resolution: take the #1GAM challenge, a challenge where you try to build one game each month. None of these were meant to be terrific games, but each was meant to teach me something new while slowly building a portfolio. Getting sales and a ton of money was not a target just yet, moreso name recognition if anything.
For the first month of 2016, this went more or less swimmingly. Extreme Dog Sculptor was my January release, and was met with generally positive feedback. It served as a good jumping off point for the challenge: simple mechanics, easy-to-maintain code base, good room for expansion. It added two new unused before platforms in Google Play and Amazon to my setup as well, making it my first true multi-platform game.
Afterwards, things somewhat slowed down. While I still hit the #1GAM challenge, it’s hard to say the rest were as successful. I started on Paths of Tzalar in February, but it was perhaps too much of a challenge to bite off within a month. It was my first solo attempt at VR as well as a 3D game, making the learning curve far steeper than I realized it would be. It instead came out at the end of March, at least the first 11 levels. But February still needed to have something to release, something I realized on the last weekend of the month. Because of this, February instead brought You Die At The End, a highly unsuccessful game by most accounts. I didn’t really learn a ton from it, the play really doesn’t do a whole lot until a minute in, and it definitely does not hit the space angle I was going with.
In April, I tried to do something entirely different for #1GAM, a card game with an underlying board. I built some playtesters, came up with a set of rules, play tested it with a few friends…and found myself lost for where to go from there. Did I want to build a board and card prototype? How could I really get this out to anyone else? Would this be something to translate to Unity somehow? Either way, April marked not only a lost month with this, but the proverbial end of the #1GAM challenge for me. While I made something small for Ludum Dare 35, it didn’t feel worthy of any sort of release for a while, which is why it sort of fell off the radar for a bit.
Instead, I turned my attention towards fixing up things that were missing, as well as focusing harder on my paid job. The company had no logo, which I fixed during the summer. Shoot At Things had been stuck on iOS only and had several bugs, plus was about to lose iAd. I pulled out the ads and put it up for free on all platforms, shortly after fixing some of the larger targeting bugs it had. I also took the aforementioned Ludum Dare 35 game and built upon it, which is where Scooter Magrew came into the picture.
Beyond that, 2016 became largely about experimenting with various ideas. I played with some web development ideas as well as Unity items, most of which I haven’t seen really ready for release until just recently. Sprite Friends is one of these items, as is Apocavalry. Additionally, I started experimenting with Buildbox during the last month as a potential way to teach my nephew how to design games. This is what led into Zombie Truck Rally, as well as a few other things I’ve been working with still to come.
Additionally, I got the chance to visit Steam Dev Days (a large convention for Steam and Game Developers) and learn a ton about game development & various techniques, as well as meet with some fantastic other developers. You’ll be seeing some of those ideas coming into practice in a little while.
All in all, I’d argue that the 2016 goal for Incalescent Productions was hit as expected, if only because the goals were perhaps a bit low. With 7 current games in our portfolio across 4+ platforms, I feel like we have gained a good starting catalog. Additionally, I without question learned a ton from each of these, even if we didn’t get anywhere near the 12 games you’d expect from a true #1GAM setup.
Now then…Happy New Year everyone, we’re on to 2017. My goals for the company, you ask? I’ll share those soon.