Today I am going to be talking about something that I have been considering for the past couple of months and now have set myself to do. And that is to try and be more transparent about how games are developed within this company, plus my plans for adjusting future developments after 2018 development year has ended.
First though a look at some of the key events of this year:
- At the start of 2018, Steam was undergoing some changes, specifically it opened its doors to everyone, removing greenlight and allowing anyone with $100 (£79) to release a game of Steam.
= This saw the number of games being released increase from 10-20 a week to 40-50 a day (or more) In general we now see that it is much harder to get visibility on steam for a release as a result of this change and the release of so many games.
~ We saw this affect Galaxy Girls in 2017, where on day 1 it sold more copies on day 1 than any other game we have ever released, but on day 2 it sold less copies that any other game. We have never seen such a shift in visibility from the first day to the second. And led to our own disappointment when Galaxy Girls did not go into profit in its month of release, the first game to ever do that (but not the last - Similarly Alexa's Wild Night also did poor on release, however as the art style has an even smaller niche audience it did even poorer and now over six months after release it remains in a negative level costing us money)
All of this meant we needed to adjust the way we develop games, but also find new ways to make money, we therefore began developing a card game 'Harem Wars', we adjusted the way we developed our games and truth is we let a lot of our development teams go, in order to prevent us having a sticky financial situation in 2018. This initially seemed wise, we reduced our outgoings at a time we had smaller income levels. But as time passed we released that this adjustment in turn affected other things... Notably our release plans. Games started to get delayed to the point we are at now where we have not released a full game for around nine months. And so adjustments begin again, we bring back people, we hire more writers and we try our best to get things back under control. We are now at the point where things are starting to come together again. Released will likely occur each month until the end of the year:
- Starlight Drifter - Now out of Early Access and Complete
- Negligee: Love Stories - Due for Release August 2018
- Devil in the Details - Due for Release September 2018
- My Girlfriend - Due for Release October 2018
- Echo Tokyo: Phoenix - Due for Release November 2018
- Negligee: Remastered & Animated - Due for Release December 2018
All of these games have different people working on them, however when they get closer to release they are passed to me directly and I work on them prior to release to get them finalised in a format I am happy with, this is fine for these games, but hardly sustainable.
What Comes Next?
So what comes next is my plan to re-organise the company ready for development of games in 2019. During 2018 we did a number of things which we thought would make life easier for us, we created Random Gubbins, we delayed games, we let go and rehired some people and generally we were a shambles and that is really what has caused delays to our release schedule.
The reorganisation will come into affect in 2019, the full details I am still working on, but suffice it to say it will alter things as follows:
- Only two games will be developed at a time.
- I will now code all games for release (with one exception - Echo Tokyo: Reaper).
- We will have active just two crowdfunded games at any given time.
- Kopi Anget and his Studio of Artists will work on almost all titles.
- RandomGubbins will be shutdown.
- A new kickstarter account will likely be created for 2019 onwards, from that point on we will only use a single account, the basic Dharker Studios Account for all campaigns we do.
- We will also consider private funding for some game developments.
In addition to these I will adjust other things within the company, all of which I am still working out, but simply put the company will becoming 1 development team - Myself. I will code all games. Our larger games will likely have third party contractors to help us design mini-games and special features. But in general I will code everything.
Most game developments will work thus:
- I will workout a full outline, detailing the storyline, choices and other things for a game.
- A writer will then take that and create a full script.
- I will then code the script whilst artists create the backgrounds and characters.
- Once fully coded I will work on bugs and grammar via a beta whilst CG illustrations are created and implemented.
- Music Scores will be created and added and a game finalised for release.
I will be the only person coding in 2019 onwards (with the exception of Echo Tokyo: Reaper) and all other workers will be 3rd party contractors, setting their own rates for the work we hire them for. In general Dharker Studios will become smaller as a company but we will become more reliable as I will oversee, code and run every project of every kind we do.
Welcome to the future.