Hello, I'm fedellen and welcome to episode 2 of my new Monday devlog series. I can already feel the difference in how productive this simple routine can be. The healthiest part is probably outlining a couple achievable dev goals every week. Our main goal this week was to put some polish on our Early Reveal Trailer as well as prepare our Press Kit and Press Release for some sort of formal announcement of Sonar Smash. Basically I'm just making up a reason to contact the press as early as possible as we prepare to push into a community beta.
Early Reveal Trailer and Press Kit
For the majority of the week abonbon has been out of the country working on a show for her day job but we did manage to collaborate on preparing our trailer. I may post a ton of videos on twitter but my video editing skills are still a work in progress; luckily abonbon has valuable video editing experience. The black sidebars on all of my videos is fine for posting my game dev updates but they didn't look appealing to me when I presented my Astral Defense trailers. We have decided to try something new with some big bubbles floating around and a couple watermarks.
I'm quite pleased with the game play content and the general pacing I've used with the clips. My target length was 45 seconds but it ended up at just over a minute. I wanted to showcase a small snippet of all 7 sonar abilities and of course some cool things that happened during my recording. Along with the trailer will be the unveiling of an awesome original track composed by abstractionMusic. The trailer is all ready to go and our plan is to upload it to our YouTube on Tuesday and then to push it to our social media accounts on Wednesday.
The Press Kit came together pretty easily due to some swift copy pasting from the Astral Defense kit. We have a lot more to add and change before launch but I'm feeling good about it for now. I cannot stress how important of a step getting this all set up as early as you can for your games is. The articles I had written about my tiny game took information directly from my press kit and in some cases were basically carbon copies. My homemade press release is also ready to go and distribute.
It feels really good to have this practice run and was relatively effortless to set up. Having just done all these steps for a full game launch does have it's advantages. I'm doing my best to set up a good pipeline for contacting the press and setting up our pages as early as possible for our projects. Nobody knows about your game unless you tell them, then they need somewhere to follow your progress. Now we can tweak and polish everything over the coming months.
Hard Coding Things
Although time was pretty limited this week I'm very proud of what we accomplished. I credit some of this to some good advice recently about simply hard coding things. You can spend days trying to figure out the "best" way to program something or trying to make an over-engineered behavior in which you can copy paste into future projects. For fledgling indie devs the probable truth is that you're going to be more experienced next time around and aren't even going to use said over-engineered behavior because you've learned how code more efficiently. Performance wise nothing has changed for me from simply hard coding a bunch of menu screens when game play isn't even present.
We have some very clear marketing tasks in the front end of next week. First and foremost will be the launching of our Early Reveal Trailer tomorrow. I'll be hitting a few of my existing press contacts and researching some new ones on Tuesday night. On Wednesday we'll upload it through our social media channels and I'll email my press release around to more contacts and self submission sites. It seems like a lot but I'm going to treat it every bit like a game launch so we can learn more about what works and doesn't work.
For the development side of things our goal is to begin putting in some sound effects this week. On that note there is an odd Android only music looping OGG issue I hope to resolve. We have a good chunk of playtesting / balancing / debugging to be done as well to prepare for Beta. There is also lots of little coding and graphical polishing to do with the implementation of so many new menu screens. A big stretch goal would be to start implementing my little track selector idea which will house several backlog tracks from abstractionMusic's patreon music.
Thanks for reading,
fedellen, Pixel Pajama Studios
Hello, I'm fedellen and this is a test of the devlog broadcasting system. My intent is to start a weekly devlog where I write about what we've been working on, some personal indie dev insights, as well as lay out our main goals for the next week. I've been reading that this healthy routine can vastly improve our productivity as well as give our potential engaged audience another place to follow our past and current progress. Maybe Mondays are a good day for this?
I'm quite uncertain on the type of formatting I want for this blog on the web development side of things. Overall, I'm loving the new layouts we've been tweaking with across our domain and I'm getting more comfortable with diving into the CSS/HTML code so I'm sure it'll work out in the end.
We're Pixel Pajama Studios, a tiny indie game studio based in Minnesota, USA currently focusing on making pixel art games designed for mobile. We're abonbon and fedellen, two self-taught hobbyist indie developers and parents wishing they had more time. In May of 2018 we began our pixel art journey as an enjoyable hobby to share together. Quickly, we shifted focus towards turning our art into games.
Our first real project was a 2d pixel art adventure platformer called Adventures of Duck Guy. The scope ended up being a little too large for a first time project and is currently on hold but it did end up being the perfect environment for me to learn to program with Stencyl. After 6-8 months of on and off development I decided I was proficient enough to simply make a tiny game and put it out on the market -- Astral Defense.
For any indie devs reading this, I highly recommend polishing a game with a very limited scope and putting it out there. The learning experience is absolutely amazing and you grow your brand no matter the result. Not to mention you're building an amazing portfolio for yourself and learning how to 'finish' a game, which is a very important skill. This is probably especially important if you're working on a very long project; take a break and release a game.
Sonar Smash Development
Currently we're working on Sonar Smash as a team. I'd describe it as some super advanced dolphin Galaga in your pocket. We tend to get a lot of Ecco the Dolphin related comments on Twitter and Instagram, as if its the only pixel art dolphin in existence. The original plan was to clone Astral Defense in another theme but we ended up expanding on all of the mechanics and making something I think is very unique and special.
I'm very pleased with the game play in it's current state and proud to say we'll be moving towards a community beta involving our mailing list and Discord soon. In the most recent weeks I've been building lots of new menus and continuing to balance the procedural generation and enemy AI while abonbon has been tweaking and polishing numerous sprites and animations.
Overall our main goal next week is to put some polish on our upcoming Early Reveal Trailer with which will also premiere and showcase an original track by abstractionMusic. My focus will be shifting towards web development and marketing to get us set up to formally "announce" Sonar Smash. Mainly by finishing up our press kit and preparing a press release. On the coding side of things I also hope to piece together the rest of the Daily Rewards system which includes writing the auto saving system and creating the stat/power selection screens.
Thanks for reading,
fedellen, Pixel Pajama Studios