Archive for October, 2018

Grey Alien Games to unleash Ancient Enemy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Bridport, UK, 23 October 2018 – Grey Alien Games, the independent development team behind Regency Solitaire, and Shadowhand, has today revealed their forthcoming title, Ancient Enemy.

Awakening from centuries of slumber, a fallen mage returns to battle twisted folkloric foe across sprawling, ghostly landscapes. His ultimate destination: the nameless antagonist, a dread nemesis waiting patiently in the dark fastness of a monstrous citadel, his Ancient Enemy.

An unusual, strategic RPG card game, Ancient Enemy is launching on Steam for PC & Mac next year. You’ll embark upon a quest inspired by British mythology and the Mabinogion, so expect card battling, visceral fights, mixed with bleak and evocative folklore! Loot the fallen to fill your hero’s RPG-style inventory with collectible cards, capture strongholds and gather talented henchmen. Only powerful magic and iron determination will enable revenge upon your ultimate foe.

A collaboration between Grey Alien Games and Big Robot’s Jim Rossignol, and featuring art by Jen Pattison, this is a project that brings together indie development talent from across the UK. “This is a long-overdue collaboration between myself and Jake,” said Rossignol, “and it’s fantastic to be working with Jen, whose art I have admired for years. We’re all having a lovely time.” Additionally, Ancient Enemy is supported by Bithell Games.

“I’m incredibly excited to play Ancient Enemy. One of the coolest things about selling games is using some of that cash to support other people’s visions,” said Mike Bithell of Bithell Games (Thomas Was Alone, Subsurface Circular). “Like Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand, I’m sure this award-winning team’s latest game will blow us away.”


Card-driven, turn-based battles. The new, faster, turn-based combat puts the focus on the player’s choices.
Strategic challenge. Play your cards wisely. Your enemy’s next move is revealed, and you must respond accordingly.
Legend! Draw power from the stone circles, drive back the blight. Crack open the secrets of the dark land, and see the myths spill out!
Painterly production. Jen Pattison’s exquisite painted style brings Ancient Enemy to life with expert vision.


Jim Rossignol: [email protected]

Jim Rossignol is a writer and developer. He co-founded Rock, Paper, Shotgun in 2007, and then the micro-studio Big Robot – best known for the smash-hit survival epic, Sir, You Are Being Hunted – in 2010.

Grey Alien Games, based in Dorset, UK is an indie game company run by husband-and-wife team, Jake Birkett and Helen Carmichael, and has shipped more than ten commercial games over the past decade, including Spooky Bonus, Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand.

Jen Pattison is an illustrator & concept artist working in games, TV and film. She has previously worked on GAP Project, Steam Marines 2, Quest for Infamy, Roehm to Ruin, Order of the Thorne, and Serena, and has worked with clients including Disney, Twitch, and Komixx.

How to choose what game to make next

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

I just got back from a trip to Boston where I took part in several roundtable discussions with indies and Valve that were mostly about how to make games that have a chance of selling OK and related topics.

I wanted to summarise my thinking on this topic because despite the wealth of information out there I still see many indies (new and experienced) needlessly making the same mistakes.

As per usual, my blog post is assuming that you are running a business, or are thinking of doing so. I’m a full-time indie and so I write about what I know.

Games you want to make

This is why we all got into making games right? We love games, and we want to make games. Some of us keep it as a hobby and some of want to turn it into a part-time or full-time business.

I have a Google doc of game ideas that is 27 pages long. These aren’t even ideas I have sat down to think about, they are just random ideas that spawned over time. Each page has approx. 5 games on it. So it’s approaching 150 game ideas. I could probably think about another 100 in a day if I set my mind to it.

Ideas are not a problem. Filtering them to something viable is the challenge, and that’s where the Venn diagram above comes in.

Games you can make

Unless you are a genius with an infinite pool of money and time you probably have some constraints such as:
– Your technical capabilities
– Your budget
– Your time

These constraints should help you realise that making a AAA-quality MMO is not viable, and nor are a bunch of other things.

This is why I stick to 2D games with a short development cycle (mostly) that don’t cost too much too make. Watch my talk on this topic.

Add to that the fact that many people over-estimate their capabilities and under-estimate how long making a game will take, and you run into big problems.

So make sure you are very clear about what you can realistically achieve and err on the side of caution.

Games with a market

This is simple topic and also a complex topic 🙂

Basically you must make sure your game has an audience that is big enough to generate the sales you need and that you can reach them (via marketing, community, virality etc. but that’s a whole other topic.)

However, if you choose an oversaturated market, the audience may be huge, but it will be very hard to stand out in that market unless you make a) a game with something special about it and b) one of the best examples of games in that market.

Conversely if you choose a niche market that is too small, you may not make enough sales to survive.

Also remember that unless you have a huge advertising budget, or get some kind of mega store featuring, or your marketing excels in some other way, that you will only reach a fraction of that market anyway. This is why you cannot base your projected sales on outliers in a market.

Anyway, do your research. Use SteamSpy, read postmortems, talk to indies, study the market until you have a good “feel” for what sort of games sell backed up by hard numbers. I do this all the time because it’s a constantly shifting landscape.

If you are a hobbyist dev or you don’t need to make money from your games, this greatly simplifies things and you can leave out this entire circle on the Venn diagram. Though you may still want to reach an audience for your game, depending on your motivation for making it.

Do the Math/Risk Analysis

Work out how long your game will take to make, what it’ll cost, and what sort of revenue your chosen game idea could realistically make in its market. Will you be able to breakeven or even, gasp, make a profit?

Can you get some funding to reduce your personal costs?

What happens if it takes too long or you run out of budget?

What happens if you don’t breakeven?


This blog post is intended to be a reminder for all current and potential indies rather than a deep dive into each topic. Also there are of course other considerations to take into account and those will alter depending on your personal circumstances.

Also please bear in mind that even if you select what is in theory the right game for you, there are absolutely no guarantees it will be a success.

However, I’m pretty sure that the above diagram is a good starting point in order to nudge you in the right direction. Good luck!

Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments, thanks.