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

Redshirt on sale! get your space career at a 50% off discount


Attention crewmembers! Did you know you can have a life IN SPACE for 50% off the normal cost? It’s true! Our wonderful space comedy life-sim game Redshirt is now 50% off, whether you grab it from the redshirt site or from steam!. If you are on the fence, you might want to know that redshirt is the only game to feature bisexual aliens that stalk you through social media. If that doesn’t guarantee a sale, I don’t know what will, but here is a reminder of the megalodon nine recruitment video for you:

And of course you might want to check out the redshirt website before buying. Now either grab it from this buy link here, or from steam at this linky here.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to tell everyone about the sale using social media, which is of course amazingly ‘meta’ given the game…

Indie publishing of redshirt (One month into release)

So for those who don’t know, I am primarily a game developer, but I also published a game by another indie called Redshirt. I didn’t write a single line of code, as I recall, although I played it a LOT, and sent a lot of emails, and filled out a lot of spreadsheets and forms :D So the game has been on sale a while now, how has it gone so far?


Well the main thing is that the game shipped! Yay! it was pretty badly behind schedule, for all sorts of reasons, and took much longer to make than expected. The good news from my POV is that didn’t really matter. I was funding Redshirt from the profits of Gratuitous Space Battles and Gratuitous Tank Battles, so I wasn’t ‘in debt’ to fund a game that then overran, which would have been stressful. The only real downside to the game shipping late from my POV was that it clashed horrendously with the release of Democracy 3. This was a pain because it meant constantly context-switching between promoting two different games at once, and meant I spent a lot of time staring at emails from review sites thinking ‘what games am I sending them again?’ which is definitely a new thing for me.

I’d say that the hardest things about the publishing experience was the grey-areas surrounding design and polish. I’m a bit obsessed with game polish, and this is something that happens right at the end. At that point all you want to do is SHIP IT, and only a *lot* of experience allows you to sit back and go ‘no, actually we should re-do all these buttons again’, and know that it will be worth it. Because the developer (Mitu, from the tiniest shark) hadn’t worked on game projects this long before, there was a tug of war between her naturally wanting to finally finish the thing and me constantly going ‘no I think we need to tweak that again’, which almost certainly drove her nuts :D.

The good thing is, This wasn’t a make-or-break project for my company, so I could be fairly relaxed about it, unlike a big faceless publisher that wants to maximize it’s ROI and frankly doesn’t care if it drives everyone on the developers staff to a nervous breakdown or marital breakup. There was no point in being an indie publisher if I wasn’t happy to do things differently, and more reasonably.

The other grey-area was design. Mitu definitely designed and made the game. it was her idea. The trouble is, I’m a game designer by trade, so naturally whenever I’d check over a build at a milestone, I’d be frothing with a lot of ‘it would be better if you dumped this feature and added this other thing’, and to be honest, I *still* don’t really know where you draw that sensible line between ‘hands-off publisher’ and ‘creative partnership’. This is probably the hardest thing about publishing someone else’s game.

I’ve been in heavy metal bands, and the amount of intra-band argument and ‘creative differences’ you get in a band is HUGE, but at least in a band (an amateurish one), there isn’t a debate about money in there (even an unspoken one). Nobody in a band has any ‘power’ over anyone else. Everyone needs everyone else. The situation as indie publisher vs developer is different.


I’ll be honest, we never talked this through enough when setting up the deal, but I was always internally rocked by a struggle between ‘I think we should change this, and I’m the guy putting up the money’ vs ‘This is not your game cliff. You need to trust the person who has the creative vision’. This is a real dilemma, and you don’t see it coming. My understanding of the movie world is that the ‘producer’ handles this. He acts as a firewall between the studio and the director to prevent them coming to blows. We didn’t have that, just lots of nail biting and chin stroking by me wondering whether I should suggest X or not. Again, an evil money-obsessed publisher wouldn’t have let this bother them, but I did :D. Without getting all sinister sounding, I am aware that in the modern world money = power. Like it or not, I was the one with financial leverage in a situation with someone I was creatively co-operating with. It’s kinda strange.

Anyway, this all makes it sound like an emotional/business nightmare, but it really wasn’t. It was great fun. I found it a bit stressful, because I was new to publishing. Doubtless Mitu found it stressful too!. Now the game has shipped, I feel very proud of the fact that I published a game by another indie game developer. I would very possibly do it again, given the *right* game and the *right* developer (very very hard to find).

So because I’m me, and probably attract blog readers like me, you are probably thinking ‘yeah yeah, emotions blah blah, did it make money?’. :D


The short answer is yes. I’ve made a decent return on my investment, although I didn’t calculate my time, which was quite a lot. However, even given some suitable allocation of cost for my time, I think it will make me a profit by January, and a decent return on investment by the middle of next year. The game has not been on sale long, or bundled, or discounted beyond 25%, so there is every likelihood that there is ‘unrealized potential’ there in terms of sales at lower prices. We priced the game on release at $19.95.

For those interested in hard facts, The game was technically in profit in the first week(excluding my time). 21.8% of it’s income has come from direct sales, the rest from GoG, Steam and the MacGameStore. It was only released on the Apple App Store yesterday. Of the total cost of the game (which was mid 5 figures dollars), 19% was spent on marketing, the rest was contractors and development. The majority of the contracting cost was GUI art, as you would expect. The majority of our marketing budget was Facebook, attending Rezzed and Eurogamer and ComicCon. Those events were also very beneficial in terms of usability testing.

So there you have it. Indies publishing indies. A good thing on the whole. Anything that stops people going to banks or big evil megacorps is always good :D



Redshirt beams down to Steam, Gog and MacGameStore

And lo it has happened! it is redshirt release day. woohoo!


The game is finished and available RIGHT NOW from all good earth-bound web-stores, including Direct from the developer (we like this) as well as Steam, GoG and MacGameStore.

You might want to check out the video and screenshots and other fun and games over at the official redshirt website, or you may be so inclined to discuss it on Reddit, tweet about it, or maybe even be really ‘meta’ and go ‘like’ the games facebook page. (oh yes!).

This is all kind of exciting because it’s the first time positech has ever ‘published’ a game by another developer, so it is all a bit experimental. Plus it was done in something called ‘unity’ which is all gibberish to me, and in something called C#. which I don’t understand either. Anyway, it’s been kinda fun :D

So far it is selling well. The same 3 people who spend their life moaning that all games suck and are too expensive are having a busy day, but we focus more on the people who like and buy our stuff rather than professional whiners. Oh yes. Right now the game is out for mac and PC, we expect a linux port ‘at some point’ and an ipad port ‘in due course’. Enjoy!

Huge Redshirt update!

We just updated redshirt with a galactic-ton of updates and improvements. Just re-download to get the new version, if you have already grabbed the pre-ordered beta from here.


Here is the changelist:

Redshirt Beta v0.7

  • Now reduced to 160 days till the end of the game.
  • NPCs now have a variable for how often they check Spacebook. This defines responsiveness to status updates/wall posts/private messages.
  • NPCs will now check their Spacebook messages and sent friend requests more often!
  • Spacebook flirting consequences fixed!
  • How NPCs are feeling is now made more clear, especially after events/work/end of day.
  • Higher likelihood of receiving a Spacebook message from NPCs.
  • NPCs are no longer so hesitant about how many times they post about one person in a given day.
  • Romantic partners feel neglected if you don’t go on specifically romantic dates with them — they might message to let you know!
  • Now possible to die from too many sickbay visits close together.
  • NPCs get upset about one-way messaging the player.
  • Fixed end-game screen.
  • Station settings page on character creation — ability to define personality breakdown of NPCs (now have 5 fixed personality attributes in addition to previous 6 variable ones.) — personality attributes reflected on profile page.
  • Ability to define how often away missions happen, and how overzealous the holodoctor is in monitoring your health. :)
  • New NPC personality attribute: Bigotry affects:
  • — applying for jobs if you’re the wrong species.
  • — all relationship adjustments are reduced by 75%.
  • — liking a bigoted status means relationship minuses with friends of targeted species and other non-bigoted friends.
  • — whether they accept your friend request.
  • — how they feel about going to events with people of a different species, etc.
  • New NPC personality attribute: Chattiness affects:
  • — How likely they are to post statuses & messages.
  • New NPC personality attribute: Vanity affects:
  • — Whether or not NPCs feel offended that they weren’t invited out (only vain NPCs get upset now, no-one else.)
  • New NPC personality attribute: Quirkiness affects:
  • — How likely NPC is to do an event which they’re not usually interested in.
  • New NPC personality attribute: Fickleness affects:
  • — Makes for a more extreme personality — adds modifiers to everything!
  • — More likely to fall in love.
  • NPCs have one interest which they are very unlikely to ever change.
  • NPCs are now more likely to fall in love.
  • Being more effective at work doesn’t mean you get modifier to negative attributes!
  • SHOP & Inventory:
  • — Fixed free repairs bug! Repairing items now actually costs money
  • — Inventory arranged alphabetically.
  • — Added ‘repair all’ button to inventory
  • — FIXED BUG: Repairing item in SHOP doesn’t send you to top of SHOP.
  • — Ability to recycle items for 10% of their value if used up, or for however much time is left before it expires.
  • NPC rejecting an event invitation no longer gives two seperate hits to relationship.
  • Dead NPCs no longer invited to events!
  • Hurting someone you’re friends with (insults, romantic infidelity etc) now adjusts relationship proportional to how strong the relationship used to be.
  • Can now buy extra actions at any time of day.
  • Raised total rank cap to 14 (7 career, 7 charisma)
  • Fixed bug: new characters would sometimes accidentally share profiles with other characters.
  • Ambassadors are now rank 15.
  • Filled out all remaining content for random work shift occurrences.
  • Aspiration window now shows the rewards for completing the aspiration.
  • All Spacebook events are now listed in order of Action Points
  • Fixed ‘yellow alert bug’
  • Properly calculating interrelationships between invitees at events
  • Ability to navigate through older Spacebook entries (link at bottom) — can also use left and right arrows
  • ‘Get in a relationship with’ aspiration no longer gets triggered if you’re in a relationship with someone with a shuttle ticket
  • Fixed NPCs posting to someone’s profile/wall/timeline
  • Fixed bugs with switching recipient of a message while on message compose page.
  • Buying SHOP items now takes up 1 action point.
  • Visible SHOP Items and events are now limited by your current rank.
  • Linked skill/interest/etc requirements from career tree window.
  • Spacebook events/work outcomes text now skippable.
  • Being in a supervisor position adjusts relationship with the coworkers supervised.
  • Playing as Asrion means extra unwanted attention from various characters.
  • Being tagged in Spacebook status of any kind now properly adjusts relationship.
  • First instance of ‘What is this thing called love?’ aspiration to be in a relationship with already-friended NPC.

Redshirt version 0.5 released!

Hi there fellow space cadets, we have good news, version v0.5 of the Redshirt beta has been released:

redshirt_Logo_transparent_500widthYou can get the latest version simply by downloading from your original link. Any problems, just email me. Here are the changes:

  • – Happiness and Health attribute bars no longer slidable! (Fixed bug:
  • – FIXED BUG: ‘mutual friends’ list was showing wrong list of friends (
  • – FIXED: Blank spacebook feed bug.
  • – Profiles now feature clickable Interests links (also interest and skill ‘details’ windows now feature player’s current skill/interest level)
  • – FIXED: Bug where last letter would often get cut off on event/work summary screens.
  • – FIXED: Bug where events etc which both raise and lower skills were displayed in the ‘how to raise skill’ list.
  • – S.H.O.P. items now have varying ‘expiry’ dates before they need repair. Items now no longer need to be trashed and rebought; instead, can repair at any time (at varying cost, depending on how close the item is to expiry).
  • – FIXED: Bug where relationship breakup would leave your ex’s profile picture on the side panel briefly.
  • – Certain ‘romantic’ events (e.g. romantic dinner) now won’t make your platonic friends jealous if they’re not invited. (More romantic events to be added soon)
  • – Characters going to romantic events with each other (when they’re already romantically involved with others!) will trigger relationship drama. :)
  • – Failed group events (i.e. where no-one at all turned up) no longer give you the event rewards anyway.

Expect democracy 3 news soon too. Yay, it’s all happening!