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

Big Pharma Released!

So its that day! The lab management/strategy game Big Pharma, developed by Twice Circled and published by Positech Games is officially released. woohoo! Its now playable in English, German and French on Windows/OSX and Linux. Plus you can now grab it from Steam as well as the Humble Store as well as GoG or direct from us. Hurrah!

Games take a long time to make, and a lot of work, blood, sweat, tears, and debugging. The first time the phrase ‘Big Pharma’ was used between us was on 21st February 2014, and we were going back on forth on ideas and names before then, so its at least eighteen months in development. That may not sound long by the standards of Duke Nukem et al, but it is a long time to stay focused on one game as an indie. Hopefully its going to pay off :D


I’ve released a lot of games, I’ve been doing this for ages, and am in a lucky position that if a game doesn’t do well, I can shake it off, at least theoretically. However, emotionally, you always get wrapped up in anything you work on. Although this is Tims design & code, I also feel like I’ve nailed my name to it quite brightly and obviously. Publishing a game is a bit like getting up on stage in front of 10,000 or 100,000 people and shouting ‘I think this is awesome! whose with me?’, and then waiting to see who cheers. Kinda scary.

Its even more scary these days because most games sales figures are ‘more-or-less’ public on steamspy, and you can see how well a game is doing. Other stores are available, and there is a margin for error…but even so…


One of the scariest things about shipping a game as a publisher is that you have basically placed a bet of somewhere north of a hundred thousand dollars on someone you met 18 months ago…and then on release day, with no guarantee that it was a good bet, you have to double-down on that bet and spend MORE money letting people know about the game, with ads etc. The REALLY scary thing about being an independently owned publisher is that this isn’t shareholders money, its MINE. If I fuck up, I could not only look stupid, but have just lost a bucketful of money as well. This is something that I think British people take to heart more than Americans. In the USA failure is ‘a step on the ladder to success’. in the UK its just failure.

Thankfully Big Pharma is a fucking excellent game that I am myself totally addicted to. I suspect it will do just fine :D.


2 thoughts on Big Pharma Released!

  1. The real issue is game development costs in time and money vs market size.

    Back in the 90’s risk was lower because games cost a hell of a lot less to make. Duke nukem 3D’s budget was $500,000 dollars. That isn’t a lot in todays AAA game industry.

    The point is that the tools to drive down game dev costs are not yet in existence. I remember when a successful videogame only needed to sell on the order of 100,000 units. It’s a much more reasonable goal to shoot for then trying to reach everyone.

    Game development is only a risk because of the time and expense and difficulty of creating something fun, the better tools to make compelling experiences for less time and money the less risky releasing a game is.

    I’m still a firm believer in a good game will sell itself. If you think of all the major properties that still exist today they got their start small. Final fantasy as a franchise started as a small budget 8 bit videogame.

    Civilization started from a relatively unknown PC game and its success was all word of mouth. If you think of all the major genres that exist today, they got their start through word of mouth when game developers had next to no advertising budget.

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