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

The blog post the day before release

So lets do this. Lets lay out what I’m thinking / hoping / dreading. And look at how we got here :D. Initially my plan was to do Gratuitous Space Battles 2 as a nice relaxing project after the mental weightlifting and stress of doing Democracy 3, which may look like just a screen with some pretty icons, but is a fiendishly complicated and intricate simulation that is pure HELL to code. Making a nice simple sequel to my space game was sure to be a nice easy ride in comparison, and would relax me.


That was in August 2013, when I first started talking to the spaceship artist about how to do proper 3D-style lighting effects. Here we are 20 months later. It may not seem like it took that long, because it happened alongside some of the Democracy 3 DLC, and I worked on it for *ages* before going public with what I was working on.

Back in the early days, screenshots looked like this.


They look a tad better now :D.

At some point along the development path for the game, things started to balloon out of all possible proportion. I got insanely ambitious with the technical side. I’d never done much multi-threading or multiple-render target stuff before, and fairly limited shaders. Suddenly I was going full-throttle with all that stuff. I bought two 27″ identical monitors purely to test the huge 5160 res possibilities for high-end hardware. I added more and more effects and content, and ended up giving in and hiring people to do a lot of stuff (hulk graphics, sound effects, we design) that I would have previously done myself. The cost went up, and up and up. The game has cost more than double what Democracy 3 cost, and that excludes my time. 20 months work. Yikes.

So here we are. The game is on sale already through my site as a beta but at midnight GMT tomorrow (16:00 PDT) it will go live on steam, humble store and GoG. At some point the next morning, a cheeky little ad campaign will start up to tell the masses about it. I will become loud and annoying on twitter, and become very, very stressed.

Imagine taking no salary for twenty months, putting a big chunk of your savings in with the salary, and rolling a dice. That’s game development, and it is terrifying. Not just for game one, or two, but for game ten, eleven… This is a very very high stakes nerve wracking game, and at some point between midnight tomorrow and whatever time I drag myself to bed I’ll know if I made a good bet or a bad one.

I’m eating lots of chocolate to combat the stress.


5 thoughts on The blog post the day before release

  1. Just a wild guess but I think PC gamers may be a bit hyped about certain anticipated console port. Whether it’s good or not, I would guesstimate that any press hype you get out within next couple weeks to two months is going to go unnoticed by those who aren’t solely into space ships. (I would venture that people into space ships are often also into planes, tanks and.. .cars etc)

  2. (Oh yeah, certain “console port” vendor is also claiming their game was separately developer for the PC but as far as games go, if it’s available for consoles, then you might as well call it a console port as the mere consideration for pad-playability tends to drive the entire design)

  3. I could mention this at some forums I mentioned GSB1 at but my instinct is that it would be best to save the hype until after 60/3 days has passed. (60 hours assumed length of that anticipated title and assuming people play 3 hours a day).

  4. you’re awesome, cliff. deep breaths.

    “We have to believe that a creative being lives within ourselves, whether we like it or not, and that we must get out of its way, for it will give us no peace until we do.”
    –Mary Richards

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