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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Getting Real

So, everything just hit me tonight... The enormity of all of this... This whole "making a game" thing. I know it sounds silly, but it's caused me to have some revelations about it all.

Long-time fans may remember that this all started as me just playing around with a game idea based on a card game my wife and I was making and a technical concept that I invented years ago. Then it got popular... Well... Relatively popular. Malevolence is no Minecraft, that's for sure. But the results of the KickStarter and all of the media attention don't lie. We have a following. They like the game. They like the team, too, which is even more special to us.

It's humbling.

But when you start getting near the end of the game's development, like we are, you can't help but start thinking about numbers, and what they mean... More specifically, what they mean to us as people. After all, that's who makes games: people. What does it mean for us to make money off of a game? Especially when the game wasn't made in order to make money, but rather in order to make an awesome game?

One thousand and sixty people from all over the planet came to our KickStarter and - without any solid guarantee that they would get a game at the end - pledged money to the project, showing us that they had faith in us. I like to think that was because they could see the passion in my eyes when I spoke about this game that I have come to love so very much. And to have that reaction was amazing, but it was quite an experience watching the total amount pledged climb higher and higher. It made the entire team's collective jaw drop to see the total amount pledged bypass our requested amount so soon after the drive had started. It told us that people believed in our dream as much as we did. And that was cool.

But then the emails started. We got contacted by distribution companies who had seen the KickStarter. We already had an understanding with the people at Desura about distributing the game, and that was cool. We did some interviews that got onto Kotaku and Gamasutra which got the attention of bigger hitters like GamersGate who wanted to distribute, and that was cool, too. Then the KickStarter happened and even AMAZON wanted a piece of us, so that was even cooler. Now we're on Steam Greenlight pushing to get on there as well.

But what does all of that mean as developers? Well, as developers, any money that we make goes towards us being able to make more games. And that's great. I can tell you now that if Malevolence makes only $50, we will still keep making games. We can't help ourselves... But what if it made more than that? What would that mean?

Right now, I have a full-time job. I need to have one in order to pay my two mortgages, pay my bills, buy my groceries and take my wife to the movies. No job = no ability to live. But what if I didn't need to work for the man to do that?

My biggest expense is my house. It cost a lot of money and a certain bank is enjoying making me pay for that fact every fortnight for the foreseeable future... But what if I paid it off? The amount of money I need to live goes down (very) drastically, which means I can get away with working less. If I work less for the man, I can spend more time making cool games. As far as goals go, that's not a bad sort of goal: "pay off my house". It's a VERY ambitious goal, yes. No doubts there. No indie developer can ever really expect to make that kind of money. But it happens. Only rarely, yes, but it happens.

So that brings me to my earlier topic... I was doing some maths.

Taking into account distributor royalties, and income tax, etc, you know how many copies of Malevolence I need to sell to pay off my house completely and own it outright?

Thirty thousand copies.

Sounds like a lot, hey? I only know for sure that 1060 people are really interested in the game, and those people have already bought it in the KickStarter!

But here's a fact for you... The Steam community has fifty four million registered users. Do you know what percentage of them would need to purchase Malevolence in order for me to pay off my house?

Zero point five of a percent. 0.05%. One twentieth of a single percent.

Now, that's getting ahead of myself. Malevolence isn't on Steam. It's not even finished yet!

But if I was being optimistic - which I only allow myself to do once a year - I would think that Malevolence has a good chance of getting onto Steam, plus it's already definitely going to be on Desura, GamersGate, the Amazon Games Portal and being sold independently on the official website... That thins the herd even further, and presents it to a VERY large audience. Potentially over eighty million people (at most optimistic guess). So when you think about it like that, getting thirty thousand sales isn't that unrealistic. And that means me being a step closer to making video games as my full-time job. Not someone else's games. My games.

And that is cool.

Anyway, it's all quite a flight of fantasy and still incredibly spurious, I know. But I just wanted to write down my ramblings and let you know what buying an indie game means to the people who made it. Seeing all of the wonderful comments, the numbers of likes on Facebook, the retweets, the blog posts, seeing when you defend us and the game against the inevitable haters... I can't stress to you all what that does for us. It's incredible. It's worth its weight in gold, and you all mean so much to us for being that way.

You have all probably noticed, but I spend a considerable amount of time going through all of the various networks and answering as many people's questions as I can, and being involved in as many discussions about the game as I can, and I'm actually extremely terrified of the day that may come where there are too many fans, and too many questions, and I won't have time to answer everyone. I enjoy talking to you guys all so much that it makes me sad to think that I won't be able to do it forever. I'm toying with the notion of - when I get the forum set up - making a "Forum Friday" where I spend each Friday forum surfing and answering questions/talking to people rather than game programming, just so that everyone knows that's the day to watch for me... When it comes down to it, I'm just making a game, it's YOU guys that make it special.

I'll just finish off here by making a big apology to all of the fans who have tried to add me on Facebook. So far there has been about fifty or so. I actually reserve my Facebook page for very close friends and family, and I'm not one of those people that adds everyone they can. I use Facebook as a way of communicating with those closest to me since I hide myself away quite a bit in order to work undisturbed, so I like to keep it fairly clear of other people's posts and whatnot. So that way you know, I very much appreciate the friend requests, but I'm a bit of a hermit. I'll always try and answer you on the Malevolence fan page though :-)

Anyway, that's enough of my blathering for the night! I'm off to bed!


  1. ' I only know for sure that 1060 people are really interested in the game'
    1061, man!

  2. Given the quality of your work, and the niche I expect you'll hit, 30k seems totally doable. I'm optimistic for you, buddy!

    1. I would LOVE to be optimistic, but I think it'll hurt too much if it doesn't work out. So I try to be as removed from it as I can while still trying to nurture my baby :P thanks man! Always great to get so much love and support from fellow devs!

  3. Hi, there..

    I found your project on Kickstarter a while back, and I loved the idea! I didn't have a credit card then, and I couldn't support it, but I do now!

    You can add me to the list of interested buyers too.. :-)

    PS: As someone who's an aspiring game designer, I found the whole concept of a procedurally generated world fascinating!

    1. Great to hear! Very glad you like the game! We'll be launching the new site soon which should have access to pre-orders :)