Devlog #19: Launch Week Recap

Hello, I’m fedellen and welcome to my 19th devlog. Its been over a month since I’ve written a devlog due to several different factors. Depressing news is absolutely one of those factors and I hope everyone is staying safe. Another has been just a lack of time in general. Our son has been taking up a bunch of our time and energy lately and we’ve been getting Sonar Smash prepped for launch. I recently came to the conclusion its time to drop the weekly devlog in favor of more periodic updates.

Its been a fantastic launch week with a huge amount of great feedback and support from the numerous communities we’ve been involved in; especially our own. We’re above 700 total downloads from all platforms as of April 13th’s numbers, which is 5 days since launch. The reviews coming in have all been super positive and we’re fortunate to receive so many ratings from new players and supporters. We’re extremely humbled and grateful that so many from our communities came out to help us.

Sonar Smash Launch

In the weeks leading up to launch I was grinding out a bunch of videos. Previously I had prepared 14 content videos for the days leading up to launch but I took the time to re-record juicier and higher quality videos. Along with these 14 pre-planned videos I took several more beta gameplay videos to show some extended gameplay. All these videos were pushed through our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube in an attempt to use our social media accounts to their fullest extent and generate whatever buzz they could create.

I also distributed a number of itch.io PC/Mac download keys to friends and on distribute() but I didn’t have pre-launch mobile promo codes really figured out yet to try to send them to journalists. Nothing much came in the way of published reviews from this other than a couple smaller Twitter reviews and some private feedback. This is a huge area for improvement on our next launch. We’ve got promo codes pretty much figured out now for a live game and I’m hopeful I can do a better job of distributing promo codes for our next game pre-launch.

On launch day I sent off around 14 emails to known contacts. Not that these contacts have ever responded to me, but many of them have previously landed articles. Since it seems to be working, I formatted my emails the same as last time; a warm greeting, a brief personalized pitch, plain text copy paste of our press release, and attached screenshots. Overall I don’t think my emails landed as well as last time. One reason might have been that we weren’t giving any “new” content for them to write about since the trailer and press release were essentially the same as last time other than being “available now.” Another reason might be that we’re in a bit of a busier time in gaming news than back in February when we landed that huge set of articles.

Despite this we’ve still received plenty of press coverage from smaller publications and have made it on to quite a few lists. The email that did end up landing was the one I sent to our local news station of all things. I was invited to be Skype interviewed on live local television to talk about our game and game development in general. The interview was yesterday and it went fairly well. I wish I dropped in a few more details such “support us by reviewing our game” and I did stumble through a couple answers. I was pretty nervous going into it but was magically able to hold my composure and do some talking. Still finding it hard to believe I was on TV.

Sonar Smash Rated 5 Stars

Rainbow Sparkle Time

In the weeks leading up to launch I was grinding out a bunch of videos. Previously I had prepared 14 content videos for the days leading up to launch but I took the time to re-record juicier and higher quality videos. Along with these 14 pre-planned videos I took several more beta gameplay videos to show some extended gameplay. All these videos were pushed through our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube in an attempt to use our social media accounts to their fullest extent and generate whatever buzz they could create.

I also distributed a number of itch.io PC/Mac download keys to friends and on distribute() but I didn’t have pre-launch mobile promo codes really figured out yet to try to send them to journalists. Nothing much came in the way of published reviews from this other than a couple smaller Twitter reviews and some private feedback. This is a huge area for improvement on our next launch. We’ve got promo codes pretty much figured out now for a live game and I’m hopeful I can do a better job of distributing promo codes for our next game pre-launch.

Other Projects

Also since my last devlog I’ve been learning how to use LMMS and have begun making some more music for practice. I strive to be able to create music for our games but I still have a lot to learn. I’m having trouble putting the melodies in my head and having it sound “right.” There are lots of little music doodles I have now, very few songs I’ve deemed finished enough to share. You can check out my new Soundcloud to hear how I’m doing. My favorite song I’ve made is Happy Sunday.

Another project of ours has been progressing a bit lately as well. Its going to be a top-down puzzle oriented game where the player dodges fireballs, avoids lightning traps, and freezes fireballs into blocks to be used in the puzzles. This one is mostly my project at the moment and I’ve been having fun prototyping the various mechanics. The sprites in the game are currently left as programmer sketch art as I have no idea how I want the art direction to go as of yet, or even the perspective. Also for the first time I’m going to try come up with a bit of a story line to go along with the game — maybe even name the character?

Fireball Dash Prototype Screenshot

Next Time

As I wrote above, I’ll be changing this devlog from weekly to a more flexible periodic schedule. I think this fits better with our current real life schedule as well. This is our hobby time and even writing these devlogs can take a large chunk of time that is not always available.

Our upcoming goals mainly involve continuing the development of Rainbow Sparkle Time. As far as concrete goals I hope to prototype the title screen, pre-game select, and the game over “loot wheel.” I’ll also be actively using our social media accounts for the near future to keep pushing Sonar Smash’s launch. Personally I hope to push out some more pixel dailies and make a few more practice songs before next time as well. If you made it this far, don’t forget to go rate Sonar Smash! We could use all the support we can get for that algorithm battle.

Thanks for reading!
fedellen, Pixel Pajama Studios
o/

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