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

Settling into Early Access

So Production Line has been in Early access on GoG and Steam now for about three weeks now. We were in pre-release pre-order thingy for a long while before that. I’m almost at the point now where steam sales equal the number of pre-EA sales, and things are ticking along quite nicely. At one point there was a BIG discrepancy between the review scores of pre-order direct customers (97% positive!) and Steam, but the overall steam review score is creeping up (76% positive as I write this).

Basically we went into EA with an under-done tutorial and poor game balance, and although you can say that about absolutely every single EA game I have ever played, apparently we shouldn’t have done that. Thankfully improving the tutorial was fairly quick, and although the game is far from balanced, its much better than it used to be, as is the GUI.

Interestingly the game is phenomenally popular in Germany (our #1 sales country) despite being only in English, hence today’s update provides all the code support required to enabled multi-language support, and I know a bunch of players are already keen to help out with a fan-translation, so that should be something we can get into the game pretty quick.

I’ve been using keymailer to send out youtube keys, which is revealing in just 1)How many people with FUCK-ALL followers and viewers think they will get free keys, 2)How few people who even request keys actually accept them and 3) how few of those even install, let alone cover the game. I am close to thinking that the traditional ‘send out youtube keys’ part of PR is close to useless. Most of the youtubers who have actually driven traffic are people who presumably bought it, as I never sent them a thing.

My strategy for Production Line has revolved around two plans:

  1. Try to be as responsive as I reasonably can on youtube/twwitter/reddit/facebook/forums/steam to everyone with questions or comments about the game
  2. Regular updates and regular developer blog videos.

This is all FREE, but it takes up a lot of TIME. Fortunately as a workaholic whose job IS his hobby and who lives in a field with few friends, I have lots of time. Hurrah? In all seriousness I do wonder if the true equation of indie game success is something like this:

GameSuccess = ((Experience + Originality * (1.0 – SocialLife)) – (0.1f * NumberOfChildren)) * (AdvertisingBudget + GenreProfitability).

Probably not far off anyway. The amount of indies I meet who seem to know EVERYONE, who are very extrovert, who have been to every show, and have played EVERY game, and are incredibly well travelled and love to party…whose game you can then look up on steamspy and realize they are living on food bank donations is non-trivial.

Anyway, I am in the happy position to be able to work on PL in a relaxed and fairly calm way, because believe it or not Democracy 3, our politics game from 2013 is still making enough money to keep positech running even now. Speaking of Democracy 3, I have EXCITING news that is coming soon, although for horribly technical reasons its not *quite here yet*. Anyway… expect version 1.23 of Production Line today, its a cool update featuring touchscreens, cameras, a better car-sales design, and multiple language support.

3 thoughts on Settling into Early Access

  1. Thanks for this insight. If you could redo your EA launch what would you have put more time into? And what part of the game would you sacrifice to get that extra time?

    1. I would have spent time on a better tutorial. I thought that was more acceptable under EA< (and certainly seems to be common) but people got annoyed about it. I guess I wouldn't have worried so much about optimization.

      1. Yeah, having a completed tutorial isn’t something I’d expect EA purchasers to want. I guess that first 10 to 30 minutes is really important.

Comments are currently closed.