Saturday, October 19, 2019

EARRGAMES presents: HEXCAPE! a free minesweeper game.

It's been a very long time since I've given a life sign on any of my channels. Since then, a lot of things have happened in my life, and almost nothing at the same time. A lot of failed projects, unfinished ideas, uncertainty about the future, fear of indie apocalypse, impostor syndrome taking over, the bad situation in my country, and overall feeling really lost about how to proceed with my "career" if I can call it that way.

I always take pride in anything I create, it's a nice and reasserting moment when you're compiling a 1.0 version of anything, and eagerly proceed to polish up the front page of whatever project you're working on; However, reaching this step is very difficult overall, getting as hard as your ambition is, to try to create the "perfect" product, the next "big hit," the "this will make me rich" game. Let's make it worse by "I need to hire a musician! Royalty free music isn't good enough", "Should I pitch this game to Devolver digital?", "Should I translate the game into 100's of languages?". The funny thing is, these questions materialize as soon as you're in the prototype phase, and you haven't even decided on your final game design. * Sigh.*

This money chasing paradigm is the root of all my evils (and probably most of the indies / artists out there), when you expect too much of your creations, you'll be scared of failure, and unconsciously you'll start avoiding progress in the project. Failing is a necessary way to correct the path you take in your life. After I finished Into the Gloom, a good ball of cash followed, which was back in, idk 2015 I think, I got overconfident, I took "financial stability" for granted, but I never really took the trouble to analyze why that happened. I can't go on without thanking Flying Interactive enough, they saw my game stalled in Desura (Store which, never paid my $300 ... never forget!) and did the tasks of publishing on Steam. I don't know yet if they did some magic, or if it was because of a pew die pie hype, but the game got attention for a while. This is when the curse started!

To this day, and looking at my recent past, I don't know what made the game a relative success, but there's one thing I know: there's a game because I didn't care about its financial future. I didn't try to justify its lack of dept with useless extra features or "bang for your buck" content, it was joyfully completed, and I was proud of it; then, I put the game in "to see what happens next". But, not understanding it's success, made me shield myself behind the "I will live out of games! so now they have to be perfect and polished!" lie, and I call it a lie, because, if we compare Into the gloom with any other 3d game, it's quality is "modest" at best, I put love into that game, but I don't consider it to be very polished or perfect at all.

Then I wasted about a year, I think, trying to solve bank account problems (USD isn't my native currency, or "wasn't" at that time) was really limited to managing my funds and receiving payments from my partner, and I've been kind of unmotivated for quite a long time. In the meantime, I've mostly done small personal prototypes and learned a few things here and there.

Then Downbreak came! The nightmare project! It was literally a nightmare. I was so obsessed with "perfection" that the game almost didn't come out, it was just over because I really forced myself to do it, it ended up taking about a year and a half, which is funny, because the first two or three weeks of the game, the main mechanic was already done, even some ok-ish enough graphics were done, but this was a simple, level behind level endless game. I was just thinking about releasing it as a $1 Steam game (So I could get 1 million sales and become rich right??!!), then, "no no, it can be improved!"; Let's just add some special boxes! ... Let's add a couple of powerups! ... Let's just add a few more levels! ... What if I do the campaign mode ... I'm bored with this, but I'm just going to add one more thing.

I hated Downbreak so much at some point that it was hard to put 5 minutes into the code. The game grew a lot, and I wasn't used to spaghettification in the code in such proportions, not at this level. I was so bored that I didn't even bother to make the code clean and reusable, took a toll on my patience. So, yes, it follows as several months of investing almost no time into the game, with a feeling of imminent doom about its future, as something was telling me beforehand that the game wasn't that good, and then I tried to correct this perception (by adding more content...) the worse it got! the game almost lost it's identity, it was no longer a minesweeper puzzles, it was now a collection of all sorts of puzzles and mechanics. Some of me was delighted with this monstrosity, I don't know why, most of the time I didn't like how it was, but when I tested the builds long enough, it was great! It's hard to explain how you like something, not at the same time, but this was the case with Downbreak.

To this day, I've sold so few copies of it that I can't even add a trading card! We're talking about 15-16 months after it's release date! Wow, I really feel like the game has failed, I don't even dare to look at the game forums, even if people ask for fixes or stuff, I don't see myself compiling that game again, I have a very negative connection to it. Maybe at some point in time I should set it free.

After this failure, I realized that I needed to seriously simplify my ideas even more, it's very easy to get out of the scope of the project. Other factors might have been missing an audience, or I just had bad luck with news broadcasts, or people just don't like minesweeper a lot these days.

I entered into a strong conflict with my inner self, "The Indie Dream is over!" "You can no longer make a penny out of steam, because it is now saturated with 9 million games," "You just suck! You're a horrible designer," "You're never going to sell games again, or you're going to starve and die in misery". This feeling has been with me for some time, and it still does. But I had to accept a reality last month, would I make games if I was wealthy enough? Of course I would have! My whole dream is to build enough wealth to be able to do whatever I want, and in my case it's making games, it doesn't matter if a game idea already exists, I don't care, it's just building things what makes me happy.

So, what's all this got to do with Hexcape? (which was the point of the post)

I wanted to test myself to see if I was really "cursed" or not, I was going to make a relatively simple game, with no other objective than to release it, no revenue involved, no future maintenance needed for the game, so a completely stand-alone offline game would do it. One condition was: this game needs to teach me something new or help me improve my skills, it doesn't matter what it is. In this case, it was the new UI system, I didn't use it properly in a project (Downbreak used 3D text and world space mesh based UI, just to avoid having to scale elements later ... lazy me).

I wanted to see how efficient and reliable it was. I hated it for some reason at first, but I really like it now! It can even be used as part of the gameplay layer, as is the case with Hexcape maps, tiles, and any interactive game element is UI based (except for explosions and tile dissolve FX, all is UI based). At the end, I can now embrace a new tool for my arsenal.

So that all happened! The game is finished and I've had fun making it, a frustration-free experience. It took about a month from design to finish, a lot of testing involved and minor design changes.The best part of it? Another game in my portfolio, and a reaffirmation that I might not be cursed, just doing things the wrong way. From now on, I could make small games just for the sake of learning more, not for the sake of the pursuit of wealth. If, by chance, something turns out to be good enough, then I might start worrying about selling it again.

Feel free to try Hexcape if you're a minesweeper fan! I'm not going to promise you that you'll like it, but hey! It's free of charge. If you feel that the game is worth anything to you, you can pay what you want for a new copy and give it to someone who might like the game.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. If you've ever supported my games, I want to thank you with all my heart. Indie Devs are also humans (there may be exceptions, though), never forget that!

Wishing you happiness and success,
Emmanuel (earrgames).

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Into the Gloom 1.1.1 released!

Some weeks ago the version 1.1.0 was released on Steam, said update took a lot of time to be released since the game needed to be ported to newer engine version and many stuff had to be made again. It also featured steamworks integration, including achievements and cloud save. Since no update I ever do is 100% clean, because bugs are sneaky, there were a few annoyances left in the final build.

Today the v1.1.1 patch was released on Steam and hopefully the game won't be causing any more bugs, but if you encounter any, remember that you can actually report them in the steam forums bugs thread so they can be fixed.

I'll soon start working again in Downbreak updates, I've been a bit busy lately, but in the coming weeks I'll be back into it.

Have an amazing day!
Emmanuel (earrgames)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Downbreak! The gravity based minesweeper.

Do you remember minesweeper?

Back in the days people spent countless hours trying to clear out the blocks, now it is your turn to accomplish the feat!

Downbreak is a risk management puzzle game about finding out an optimal path toward the end, clicking the right crates clearing up your way. But beware - this time the crates will fall! Wrong choices will lead to your doom.

Make your way to the bottom!

An unknown treasure lies in the depths of a forgotten realm and you are determined to solve the ancient riddle to bring home the treasure with you.

Downbreak is all about breaking crates, placing flags and descending to the lowest point of the level. Get rewarded by your risk management skills, trade your gold and customize your magic items inventory; try your luck and fortune on the many random mini-games you will encounter along your way and prepare for the unexpected challenges that await you!

Downbreak Features:
  • Campaign mode: Experience over 300 levels of almighty mine-sweeping challenges carefully distributed through six different episodes, featuring an array of varying game mechanics along the entire journey.
  • Inventory system: Buy and earn a collection of powerful magic items to complete your strategy or simply to escape “those” moments when the odds are against you.
  • Refreshing mini-games: Special events will occasionally appear as you descend through the levels, depending on how well the task is performed you will be rewarded with several different prizes to boost up your chances of successfully beating the campaign towers.
  • Unlockable game modes: Enjoy the lifelong classic minesweeper mode with its countless level variations and layouts, pull your hair out in the difficult challenge mode and spend hours to make it to the farthest ends in the infinite mode.
  • Online leaderboards: Compete with your friends for the throne! Every single action in Downbreak counts toward the final score; master your own play-style and game mode to be at the top of the online leaderboards!
  • Optional graphic modes: Choose the in-game graphic style which makes you feel more comfortable. If lots of details are overwhelming to you or you are prone to eye strain, choosing the basic tile set templates will turn the gaming session into a delightful experience for you.

Are you up for the challenge?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Downbreak! (Currently in Greenlight).

People swept mines for ages... but now things have changed!

Downbreak brings back elements of the classic Minesweeper with a retro style modernized design, different & challenging new game mechanics and humorous presentation.

This time there will be gravity. The bombs will fall and stack as you make your way down through over 300 challenging levels. The game is divided into 6 episodes, each episode have several towers which consist of a number of connected levels. Try to uncover the secret that lies in the foundations of the ancient towers and go back home with the treasure... if you can!

After several months of hiatus (not releasing anything) I decided to try out this little concept. Downbreak is maybe an strange game and certainly not for everyone, but if you like minesweeper you might really enjoy this game.

Downbreak Features:
  • Over 300 campaign levels featuring refreshing gameplay mechanics as you progress.
  • Loads of magic items to use at your advantage.
  • Plenty of random minigames (13 in total) to get rewarded for your skills.
  • 3 Unlockable extra modes in addition to the Campaign Mode.
    • Classic Mode: Play a wide variety of maps without gravity and just like in the classic game!
    • Challenge Mode: Clear the level before the timer runs out and without dying!
    • Infinite Mode: Test your patience and focus on reaching as far as you can in the infinite towers.
  • Online leaderboards: Try to beat your friends' scores in any of the game modes and get your place in the leaderboards!    

So well, the game is almost finished, it still needs the steam API to add the online Leaderboards, achievements and those kind of things. Right now I'm just testing, adding more polish and fixing errors, but you see I really don't know how long will it take to pass Greenlight. If you feel you might like this game and want to support the project you could give it your vote in Greenlight and or spread the voice, I would really appreciate that.

In the coming weeks a pseudo demo version could come, I'm thinking it will be a small browser based game here at my site, I have to do my research first to know if it can be done of course. So anyway, my deepest appreciation to you for spending some minutes of your life reading this post, I have a lot of faith in this project and your support is really valuable to me.

Wishing you all the best of everything,
Emmanuel (earrgames).

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

So, I finally did something... Downbreak needs your vote!

Hello there! after several months of hiatus I decided to try out a little concept I had in mind. Downbreak is maybe an strange game and certainly not for everyone, but if you like minesweeper you might really enjoy this game. The principles are simple, like in minesweeper you must avoid bombs, but this time the crates will fall and stack as you try to make your way down the tower. Give it a look!

Unfortunately, there are some online features I have not implemented since I need access to steam servers for that, that is why I didn't mention anything about this small game (took me more than it should though) yet, I wanted to have it done before putting it on steam but the steam API is necessary for the final steps. Anyway below is the campaign link, if you want to know more about it ;)

If you feel you might enjoy this game I would really appreciate your vote ;)

Sincerely, earrgames.