Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Democracy day!

Have you voted yet? Do you even know what I’m on about? Obviously I’m talking about the most important event of today globally, which is that Democracy 2 is today’s daily deal on steam. Grab it while you can! while stocks last etc! And if it gives you a taste for politics, there is apparently an election taking place today in a country called The United States of America. Which one would you vote for? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

Apparently it’s ‘too close to call’, which i think is a cynical ploy to get us to buy more posters and buttons. Also, apparently this is the first time election spending has gone over a billion dollars. That’s more than the entire budget of my last game. Shocking.

Don’t forget to retweet, or tweet, or generally tell the world that Democracy 2 is the steam daily deal today.

Insulating my ancient roof

Sooo… in-between all my games stuff I continue my hilariously slow process of trying to make my 1750’s drafty house more energy efficient. The big area of the house that is still horribly uninsulated is the attic, which is a sort-of spare room, which we never really use. Maybe twice a year.

because it’s so old, it’s not like insulating a new house with regularly spaced rafters and throwing down some nice easily unrolled insulating thingies. You need to use ‘breathable’ insulation. The attic has about eight wall panels that cover the eaves. I’ve insulated behind 3 already, and today I finally finished the fourth. here is the panel at the start.

behind that is a notable lack of insulation, and some thick felt like stuff hanging down. Look behind and around that and we find that the current insulation is…

Rubble! Yes rubble. huge pieces of slate, stone, some straw, a few long bits of wood, some newspaper, some stuff which I briefly panicked was asbestos, but we now think was just plaster dust. When I say ‘some’ I mean about a dozen bucketfulls of the stuff. methinks modern insulation has moved beyond ‘fill the eaves with rubble and straw!

And here we are with me having put down a nice thick layer of insulation instead of all that dust and rubble.

And here we go with another layer on top of that so it’s double thickness. Insulation achievement unlocked +10 points. Well done.

Apparently it started snowing in the west of England today, so maybe I’ll find out sooner than expected if it makes any difference whatsoever. It makes me feel better anyway :D

Median time played on steam for my games.

Something very interesting is happening with Democracy 2. because the game is now on steam, for the first time ever I am getting accurate figures for how long people play the game for. Steam tracks that automatically and gives you nice charts and graphs for it, which is very handy.

The values for Democracy 2 are staggeringly high. They won;t seem high, when i tell you what they are in a minute, but from chatting to other devs, and looking at my other steam games, they are disproportionately high.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Democracy 2 is a pretty complex strategy game, that is based around running a fictional country. It has a fair bit of text to read, but nothing like the backstory in a game like dishonored. It’s a game of balancing competing needs (which is essentially what all strategy games are), and it has a lot of variables to tweak, just like all my games do.

The median time played right now is 2 hours and nine minutes. Does that seem short? Trust me, it’s pretty long, because the values are massively dragged down by people who buy games on impulse in a one-day sale, and only ever play them once. (Steam only counts games that have been actually played for a minute or more). For those who love comparing stats, the average time played is 3 hours 33 minutes. The game has been on steam less than a month, so you would expect that value to rise over time, as people revisit the game (although D2 has not been in a steam sale, which might explain some of this)

That compares extremely well with Gratuitous Tank and Space Battles. The average play time per session for both games is pretty much identical, but there is a massive difference in the distribution of time played. GTB basically hooks everyone for at least 20 minutes, then there is a falloff downwards until you reach this massive spike at 200minutes+

With Democracy 2, everyone is playing at least an hour, then there is a smooth drop off to the eight hour mark. D2 doesn’t have this weird U shaped distribution like GTB does.

Which would imply…errrr?  maybe that GTB does a bad job of helping people through the mid-game, but if they manage it, they are hooked and play forever. I wonder if people get stuck on a specific level, and then either make it through, and keep having fun, or they give up? some aspects of the game design are based entirely around avoiding that situation, but they may be failing.

two things I definitely conclude are that a) it’s good data to have and b)Democracy 2 does very well despite it’s age.