Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ancient Enemy gets ‘honourable mention’

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Ancient Enemy received an ‘honourable mention’ for excellence in design at the 2021 Independent Games Festival.

This was particularly gratifying for us, since we have been iterating on our combat card game mechanics, which we first introduced in Shadowhand. We felt we really honed the gameplay and figured out what was ‘fun’ and what was holding players back, to deliver a really great and new card battling experience in Ancient Enemy.

Congratulations to all the IGF nominees!

Grey Alien Games to publish Clutter IX: Clutter IXtreme on Steam

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Clutter IX: Clutter IXtreme, the most addicting un-Hidden Object game you will ever play, is coming to Steam, on March 2nd.

We are very happy to publish it on behalf of Puzzles by Joe.

Explore over 1000 replayable levels, including the 100 Level Quest. The ultimate brain teaser!

2020 Review and 2021 Goals

Monday, January 4th, 2021

You can find last year’s goals here

Summary

Well it’s been a strange year for sure! I’m very lucky in that I work at home and run my own online business so have been largely unaffected by events, though I haven’t been able to go to any meetups or game conferences of course. I’ve also done my absolute best not to catch the virus which was an unexpected goal.

What I did manage to do was 1) ship a game during the first wave of a pandemic, and 2) finish working on another short project (over about 8 months). Plus I’ve done a ton of walking and improved my health. So somehow I’ve actually had quite a productive year and I hope that can continue into 2021.

The pandemic has affected some of my goals of course, so let’s see how I got on.

2020 Work Goals

  1. Grey Alien Games’ revenue is over $100K. Same goal as last year. (FAILED: Despite launching a new game, this was not achieved. We had some OK revenue as well as money in the bank from the funding deal I made in Dec 2019, so it’s been fine.)
  2. Ship Ancient Enemy in Q1 unless there’s a really good strategic reason to delay it. (SUCCESS: It actually shipped on April 9th which is Q2 BUT it was ready in Q1 and I delayed it on purpose to avoid clashing with some other big releases such as Doom Eternal.)
  3. Ship secret project 1 in Q1 (ideally) or early Q2. (FAILED: I planned to get back to this after I finished Ancient Enemy but I had to move straight onto the newly funded project and so this got delayed again.)
  4. Complete newly funded project. (SUCCESS: I finished it in December after working on it for most of the year and I am proud of my efforts. It’s not out yet because the launch is being handled by someone else, but I have done my bit at least.)
  5. I stay in business until the end of 2020. (SUCCESS: I’m now in my 16th year of being indie.)

Success rate = 3/5 = 60%. It would have been nice to hit the revenue goal, but I’m still pleased that I finished two major projects and am still in business.

Stretch Goals:

  1. Ancient Enemy breaks even. (FAILED: Alas, this did not happen. Despite a pretty good launch (on par with Shadowhand’s launch in Dec 2017) sales dropped off pretty quickly. However, based on projections, I think it will probably break even towards the end of 2021.)
  2. Secret project 1 breaks even. (FAILED: I didn’t even launch it, so this goal automatically failed!)

2020 Personal Goals

  1. Do not gain any weight by the end of 2020 compared to now which is 68kg. (SUCCESS: I lost a couple of kilos from diet/walking during the summer. Then I gained a kilo during the run up to Christmas and ended the year at about 67kg, which is fine.)
  2. Go on 10 nice walks/daytrips/long weekends with my wife. (SUCCESS: I achieved this easily as we did a ton of walks in the local area. It was really nice and I’ll do more in 2021.)
  3. Go on a week long vacation with my wife to Wales or Scotland, or maybe Ireland, and look at castles and standing stones. (FAILED: Well the pandemic meant this was not viable. However, we did take a two week summer staycation during which we didn’t work at all and did tons of walking, so I will award myself half a point. I also took two weeks off over the Christmas period. Having four weeks vacation in a year is very rare for me so this was good.)
  4. Spend more quality time with my youngest son. (SUCCESS: Perhaps the pandemic actually helped with this one as we did quite a lot of stuff together including playing Diablo 3 and jamming with piano and guitar. We also got to see more of our eldest son who came home from University for 6 months!)
  5. Play electric guitar 10 times. (PART SUCCESS: I didn’t succeed with this, but did play it a few times. I also played my accoustic guitar a bunch, so I will award myself half a point.)
  6. Go to a new fitness/health class at least once. (FAILED: Haha, well the pandemic really messed up this goal. I could have succeeded if I’d gone in January. I could technically have gone in the summer when lockdown eased but I wasn’t comfortable in doing that. I did go to an outdoors Aikido weapons class with another teacher though, and that was cool.)
  7. Make a mortgage lump sum overpayment at some point in the year. Minimum £2000. (SUCCESS: Yep! Did this.)

Success rate = 5/7 = 71%. Not bad considering the limitations imposed by the pandemic, otherwise I think I might have scored 100%! I have priorised my mental and physical health this year. It’s important at all times but this year especially so.

Stretch Goals:

  1. Work on my Cyberjam game in pico-8 for 10 hours or finish it, whichever happens first. (FAILED: My plan was to do this over the Christmas period, but in the end I didn’t spend much time on my PC as I was relaxing playing PS4 games or going for walks. I feel like I needed the break from achieving things, so letting this goal go was OK.)
  2. Go to 10 new fitness/health classes (can be same class). (FAILED)

Bonus Points

  • Still alive + healthy. I realise this has been an awful year for many people and so I’m super-grateful that it’s been OK for me and my family.
  • I’ve remained mostly positive and productive for the whole year despite everything that is going on. I hope to carry that into 2021 for a good year.
  • Ancient Enemy is 94% positive on Steam and people really responded well to the improvements I made to the game mechanics (to reduce RNG and increase tactical play) since Shadowhand.
  • The funded project I worked on was very interesting and I had to learn a bunch of new things such as: Unity, a new game genre, and someone else’s codebase. So it was a real year of growth for me as a game developer.
  • Despite my Aikido class being cancelled for most of the year, I was able to learn and teach a lot of socially distanced weapon practice outdoors (and sometimes indoors when permitted), which has been really interesting.
  • As I mentioned already I did a lot of walking, way more than my goal. I’ve got to know the view from all the major hills in the local area and have walked on the coast, in woods, in fields, on lanes, and more. It’s been fantastic and I can really feel the difference in my leg muscles and general health. Recommended.
  • We finally got a new boiler fitted as our old one was from the 1980s! It was pretty expensive and was uncomfortable having people round to do the work during a pandemic, but it went smoothly and has been working well this winter.
  • We got a new cat! Our beloved Suki passed away aged 19 and we waited a couple of months before getting a lovely young cat called Ciri (on account of her silver hair).

Mistakes

  • Ancient Enemy was supposed to be a 6 month project but was more like 20 months! (Though some of that time was spent on sub-projects.) I’m proud of it but it dragged on a bit and meant that I was unable to finish our secret project as planned. Maybe I could have delayed the funded project a bit to get the secret project done so that it wasn’t hanging over me all year, but I felt obligated to start it ASAP.
  • The funded project had various challenges as could be expected, and there were some things I could/should have done differently. I overcame some issues and (hopefully) learned from others.
  • I didn’t invest in Tesla or Bitcoin lol. I could have, but I view such things as very risky and needed to keep my cash reserves safe to ensure that I can get projects done and shipped in 2021. Hindsight is wonderful…

2021 Work Goals

  1. Release secret project in Q1. (This is my priority now, though I am somewhat dependent on 3rd parties which could cause a delay. As long as my work is done on it, then I will call this a success.)
  2. Release Shadowhand Solitaire in Q2. (I haven’t talked about this publicly yet, but it’s basically a reworked version of Shadowhand for the casual portals (+ maybe Steam) without the turn-based combat. It was nearly done 2 years ago but I put it on hold to work on Ancient Enemy.)
  3. Support the forthcoming release of the funded project I completed in 2020. (Another party is responsible for the release, so the timing is out of my hands but there are various things that I need to help with and be available for.)
  4. Release Regency Solitaire 2. (I’m pretty sure we will make this, but it’s dependent on a couple of other things such as how well Shadowhand Solitaire does on the casual portals and if we can fund the art costs. We’ve already done a bunch of preproduction and planning, and we want this to be a relatively short project so that it can come out later this year.)
  5. Stay alive and stay in business. (I’m not going to have a revenue goal this year because if our main project comes out at the end of the year then we won’t see most of the revenue from it until 2022. So it’s possible this year might be a bit lean, we’ll see…)

Stretch Goals:

I’m not going to have any this year. I failed on both of them last year and I honestly think the above list is plenty to be getting on with.

2021 Personal Goals

  1. Keep my weight below 68kg (it’s 67kg now).
  2. Have at least 4 weeks of “no work” vacation even if it’s a staycation. (In 2020 I took off two weeks in the summer and two weeks over Christmas and it was definitely good for me.)
  3. Increase my daily average distance walked from 2.4km in 2020 to over 3km in 2021. (I’m already on track to do this as I’ve been averaging over 3.5km a day for the last 6 months.)
  4. Spend more quality time with my youngest son. Specifically do 20 things, whatever those things may be. (He’s only got another 1.5 years at home before he hopefully heads off to University, so this is an important goal).
  5. Make a gamejam game. (It can be pretty small. I just want to do this at some point alongside my main work.)

Stretch Goals:

1. Make a mortgage lump sum overpayment at some point in the year. Minimum £1000. (I think it might be quite a lean year financially so that’s why this is a stretch goal.)