GamesCom 2017 - A short review

We attended GamesCom in Cologne last week as trade visitors. It was our second GamesCom, and we learned a lot from it. **Additionally, it was a milestone for us because we released our first game, ChromaGun, for PS4 and Xbox One!**

Hey, I’m Markus from Pixel Maniacs and this is my first blog post, so have fun reading it!

This post should not be considered a convention guide, it’s just a short review of what went well and what didn’t.

Since this was my first GamesCom ever, my colleagues who were there last year shared their experiences with me for this review as well.

Here’s the link to last year's blog posting from our CEO Ben:

http://pixel-maniacs.com/blog/2016-08-22-our-first-booth---lessons-learned-gamescom---envolved-the-ultimate-booth-guide-

What we learned from last years's GamesCom:

1) Book a hostel close to the exhibition.

Our hostel was about a 30 min. walk away from the exhibition. Not a short distance, but definitely an improvement!

Except for our merchandise, we had nothing heavy to carry (unlike last year).

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Raise Your Hats Build #301

We've introduced a new car, customization features and overall improvements.

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Introducing ChromaGun Community Maps

Hey there, Test Subject!

we're incredibly excited to finally present to you, what you've been asking for: The ChromaGun Community Map Editor! [Applause Sound]

This new mode lets you create your own ChromaGun maps, and share them with the community using Steam Workshop! Axiomatically, you'll be able to play maps other users have created, as well.

THE BEST MAPS WIN

On top of the free update, We're giving out $50 in Steam Credit to the 5 top-rated Community Maps! Easy as 1,2,3:

  1. Create a Map & Upload it to our Steam Workshop
  2. Get Rated by the Community
  3. Win, if your map is among the Top 5

In detail: simply create a map, upload it to our Steam Workshop, and have the community rate it. If your map is among the Top 5 highest-rated maps on May 20, 6pm (CET), you win! Easy peasy.

Of course, you're more than welcome to stream, or record your creative process! If you drop us a short line, we'll try to stop by and cheer you on.

Up for the task? If you've activated automatic updates, you should already have the Community Map Editor. If not, Get the free update on Steam now, and start buildin'!

Get ChromaGun Anniversary Update

THE ANNIVERSARY UPDATE

Needless to say (though we'll say it anyways), the Community Maps aren't the only new thing to ChromaGun. We've been working hard to deliver a whole new ChromaGun experience! Here's a quick rundown of everything that's new in this week's free update:

  • Community Map Editor: Create own maps & upload them to Steam!

  • Play, Rate and Comment on other players' maps

  • Major Graphics Overhaul

  • Performance Improvements

  • Controller Support

  • Plus, a 50% Discount on Steam this week!

Here's a comparison of the old, and the new ChromaGun:

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What Steam Direct Might Mean for us Indie Developers

Recently this week Steam has announced they are going to replace the Greenlight process with a program they call Steam Direct. As an Indie developer generating revenue via Steam it makes sense to take a closer look which impact this might have on us.

I'd like to share my thoughts here, as we're quite new to the pc gaming industry don't expect every idea to be correct, please share your corrections & opinions to me via twitter @blochmann :)

1) Will my Games not be discovered any more because of the mass of new games published?

Everybody has read the steamspy tweet about 38% of all >10k games on Steam being launched in 2016. I do not think that this number is going much higher if Greenlight is replaced with a system more comparable with the Apple or Google Play Store:

  • Steam will still have some kind of quality check procedure for the reason alone to avoid malware or trojans beeing spread over Steam. You still won't be able to upload total bullshit. Apple has recently announced that they are going to take Apps offline which haven't been updated a while. I'm sure Valve is aware of these kind of problems that might arise in future the easier it gets to add new content on Steam.

  • In addition to that, like the both big Apps stores they are going to charge a fee and you'll have to fill out a bunch of paperwork to participate in the program. The fact that less than 60% of all greenlit titles (which have proven that at least some people are interested in the concept) have been released so far also shows that having the idea for a game and actually producing the game is a huge difference.

Anyway, assuming that the number is actually getting much higher, I personally don't worry about this. Nobody is waking up in the morning and thinks "I want to play a new game, let me check all 10,000+ games on Steam and buy those I like most". People are usually getting their information about new games from various other sources and then go to Steam and search a particular title.

Yes, there is some decent traffic and discoverage coming from the Steam Store itself, especially if you are participating in a sale, but how much traffic you'll get is controlled by the Steam algorithms. Steam wants to earn money by selling games. As they have limited attention per customer within their rankings, newsletters or other advertisements to show them the products sold on Steam, they will always try to show you those games you are most likely going to buy.

See the mentioning of a game on a page of any Steam ranking as an ad placement where Steam will try to get the highest CPM (cost per mille, in this context revenue per 1,000 views of the "ad") possible.

The titles usually displayed will not be games which did not manage to get enough attention to pass the current Greenlight system. So if you have no sales at the moment, you won't get a lot of sales from game discovery on the Steam platform itself in future and vice-versa. If I'd be Steam I would definitely also track and credit the amount of converting traffic that comes from other sources than Steam itself as it makes totally sense for Valve to get game devs promoting not only their title on Steam but the total gaming platform itself by sending traffic to the Steam pages.

To keep a long story short:

Of course it would be nice if Steam would only have 30 new titles per month, but that's not the case since a couple of years. I think the shift from Greenlight to Steam Direct will not change anything on this point, even if there is a slight increase of games on the platform.

Keep promoting your product on external sources and expect still getting additional coverage from Steam itself.

2) Ratings will get more important - get good Ratings :)

I still think that the average quality of the games on Steam might decrease a bit (although Steam Greenlight is imho not an guarantee for good quality games). If not, customers might still say to themselves "okay, so there is no review process anymore, so I assume the games might have a low quality".

This might lead to the ratings getting even more important. I guess Steam had the same thought when they introduced on Sep 12 of the past year that they added more filtering options checking the ratings of a game and announced to calculate the overall rating of the game only by customers which had actually bought the game on Steam.

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New Custom Noses and Spoilers, CDT Build #281

We have added a monocle, a pig nose, a beer can hat and a foxtail.

Thanks to Flokatiteppich, lumiangames, Penus and everybody else

for suggesting and voting in our gadget thread.

Currently hats in general can be selected from either nose or spoiler menus. We'll add customization menu for hats in the future.

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Can't Drive This Xmas Updates, Build #275

We've added new Items to customize the vehicles. Now you can put on a Santa hat or Rudolph's antlers. We've also reduced the reflections a bit.

There's a already few changes queued for 2017 and we're busy integrating them. Expect more vehicles and items to customize them to come :)

Merry Xmas everyone!

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Let’s Have a Word… Build #268

Remember the days when you couldn’t yell at each other after a round, even though your friend played like an idiot?

Well, these dark days are over! Now, with the built-in chat, you can rage at each other at your heart’s content – and discuss who's fault it was to get to that darn game-over screen.

Have fun, and don't be too rude.

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Switch Seats and Trapdoor, Build #266

Rematch and Switch Seats

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Charity Project Completed: 18 Penguins Adopted ✓

2 weeks ago, we started a campaign for raising awareness of how easy it can be for game devs to build a linux version of their game.

We promised to donate 100% of the revenue we make through the linux version of our game in Oct to charity.

Here are the results:

  • we've made $757.40 in revenue, 100% of that has been donated

  • 18 penguins have been adopted from the linux sale revenue, you can see their digital counterparts happily walking around in the main menu of our game:

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Save The Penguins! We're Donating 100% of Linux Sales to Charity

Update Nov 1:

This is completed, you can find the final results here:

http://pixel-maniacs.com/blog/2016-11-01-charity-project-completed-18-penguins-adopted-

SHORT VERSION (TL;DR)

1) Buy our Game "Can't Drive This" on a Linux Machine (get it at http://store.steampowered.com/app/466980)

2) 100% of the Revenue we receive from sales for Can't Drive This for Linux in October, will be invested into adopting penguins in South Africa from here: https://sanccob.co.za/adopt – Saving 1 Penguin costs about 6.4 sales.

3) The adopted penguins will be named after the top users on the leaderboard "Penguin".

Deadline is 11:00 am on Nov 1, Germany Time

CURRENT PENGUIN COUNT

15 penguins at the moment, last update Oct 22, 3pm CET

LONG VERSION

We have recently released of Can't Drive This for Linux. Hooray!

We want to raise awareness for Game developers, Unity Developers in specific, that it might be easy to port your game for Linux and it's most likely to be worth the investment.

LINUX VERSION – PROFIT & LOSS

OR: ARE LINUX SALES THE ONLY METRIC THAT MATTERS?

This is what the current profit/loss calculation looks like:

Cost:

  • 1 day of a developer, let us assume $30/h cost = $240

  • Testing: $0 It is not hard to find linux gamers who beta test your game on linux as the linux community is usually quite helpful and likes to support new programs and games beeing added to linux

Revenue so far:

  • $633 since last week (Updated 22th of Oct)

We will of course post the revenue we have made in October, on Nov 1.

Beside the monetary aspect of the Linux version, you might also take other factors into account:

  • Linux is a free platform, supporting it is a good decision, morally

  • The Linux community is thankful for every Linux port you build and will talk about your game. There are also a lot of lists and databases that refer linux games, bringing you traffic and links to your website. The links to your website will increase the rankings of your game's website or landing page in search engines.

  • Linux users tend to be technically talented and might be able to give you very qualified feedback, and usually send you output logs and detailed information about their machines, in a support or feature request.

ABOUT SANCCOB

The organisation is based in Cape Town, South Africa and rescues oiled up penguins. They wash, fed and care for them for a few weeks, and then release them back to nature, as soon as they're strong enough.

Every year, SANCCOB treats almost 2,500 seabirds, of which approximately 1,500 are endangered African penguins at its centres in South Africa.

Here's a statement from Francois Louw from SANCCOB:

"SANCCOB’s primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered species like the African penguin. The organisation is an internationally recognised leader in oiled wildlife response, rehabilitation and chick-rearing; contributes to research which benefits seabirds; trains people to care for the birds and educates the public to develop behavioural patterns that benefit marine life and the environment."

Here are some pictures of their daily work:

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Clans & Penguins, Build #247

Good news, everyone! You can now open your own Clan in Can't Drive This WHILE saving Penguins! Whaaaat?

Clan Leaderboards

We've added support for Clans and Clan Leaderboards!

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Linux, Tiles & Contribution, Build #228

So, we've been working on some things and they're all finished now!

Here's what you'll get in this wonderful update-like update in this update:

Linux Build

In an ode to all users of PenguinOS, we've launched the Linux version of Can't Drive This, now available to download via Steam. Everything should work fine – if it doesn't, please do let us know!

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Snapshot: Dafuq Are We Doing?

I'd like to give you a short insight into our current projects in this post, to give you an idea of what's coming soon and which developer is doing what.

In alphabetical order, sorry Valerij:

CHRIS

ChromaGun Level Editor

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Connecting the world, Build #221

Hey fellow Can't Drive This addicts. Yes it is true, you are now able to play with your friends all around the world. This may cause some latency, when you are far away from each other, but will increase the thrill.

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Can't Drive This Build #216

Updates, updates, updates! We've improved a lot of little things again.

Consistent Tile Animations

Animation of moving parts does no longer reset on placement. This should improve your gaming experience quite a bit :)

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Can't Drive This Release Party

We finally released CDT. This, of course, had to be celebrated. Thanks to all our friends, guests and visitors! It's been a great evening :)

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To Infinity, And Beyond! Build #191

Let's start this one off by saying Whoopsie!

Looks like there was a major oversight on our part, and somebody glitched their way to a global highscore of 55 Thousand points. That's 31 miles, almost double the circumference of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland! Here's a video of how that happened:

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Can't Drive This Update 22th of Sep, Build #189

We ship another pile of updates within a week! How nice is that?

First of all, thanks to every streamer out there. Your feedback is an invaluable source for improvement.

Barrel Roll, Stunts and Yaw Steering

This is a big one: The first stunt features have landed! You can now show off with some barrel rolls and back flips when jumping, plus the yaw steering behavior now gives you even more control when landing.

Thanks jnkchris for the feedback on the new air controls :)

The first video shows the new features. The second shows the old/default behaviour:

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Can't Drive This: Update 19th of Sep, Build #165

We had sent out the first bunch of keys to streamers 3 days ago.

A couple of streamers have played Can't Drive This now, we've watched all of them and have noted everything that was mentioned as "improvable" :)

We've changed following major stuff in our latest update, it went live on the 19th of Sep at about 8 pm CET (for all of you who have a press-key)

The changes:

1) The difficulty

Not only the stream of German streamer @HirnsturzZockt showed us, that the difficulty of the game especially during your first round was way too high.

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Streamers! Get Free Tickets for TwitchCon 2016!

TL;DR

Play our Game "ChromaGun" on your Stream, find this TwitchCon booth and win 2 of 10 Golden Tickets to the Chocolate Factory 3-Day-Tickets to TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego (We're giving away 5x2 Tickets):

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Lessons Learned: The Ultimate How to Organize and Run a Booth-Guide @Pixel_Maniacs

We had been attending the GamesCom in Cologne last week which was the first booth we ever had & want to share our experiences.

Hey there, it’s Ben from Pixel Maniacs,

We are definitely far away from being exhibition pros, but I wanted to share some of our experiences, maybe it helps some other gamedevs.

You might also have some advice for us, and might find my advice shitty :) I'd love to hear your feedback and extend this list to make it some kind of a collection of tipps for gaming exhibitors. These 2 sentences give me the opportunity to write whatever I want and to steal your thunder, feels good, man.

This posting is an improved version of this posting on reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/4yg9iq/our_first_booth_lessons_learned_gamescom/

Special thanks go to the awesome comment of the redditor with the very creative and mind-inspiring username user/SplatterPoop.

Some background information:

  • we had 1 tiny booth promoting 1 game with 1 pc

  • twice a day we had a stage show with a gaming contest

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Fanlove and Colorblind Mode

We are very pleased about ChromaGun's success and it's awesome to see, that people are still enjoying the game on Twitch and YouTube frequently and don't hesitate writing us emails with feedback and ideas they have for ChromaGun.

As you might know we are currently working on our next game, "Can't Drive This", which is making good progress and will be available on Steam Early Access soon. But that doesn't mean that we don't show love for ChromaGun anymore. In our latest updates we included bugfixes and added Chinese subtitles! So if you want to boost your Chinese, feel free to give the game a new try with 简化字!

But there is more! We added a special option for colorblind players! We were impressed by colorblind gamedev gonelf's let's play of ChromaGun, which inspired us to add this assistance for colorblind gamers. Watch him playing the original version and having a very hard time with it right here:

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ChromaGun Speedrun Roundup

Dear fellow Pixels,

After one month of breathless excitement, ChromaGun Speedrun Challenge finally ended on May 31. We have seen tons of amazing speedruns and had loads of fun, interacting with you on Twitch and YouTube. It really makes us happy to see how much all of you enjoyed the game and didn’t just play it for the money. We received waves of positive feedback as well as suggestions for improvements and new features for the game. We are really impressed by the enthusiasm and love you showed us.

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Meet "Can't Drive This"

Remember the fun you had, building race tracks for your Matchbox toy cars to instantly race them? Can’t Drive This lets you relive those good old memories by letting you sink into a fresh gaming experience, where you race a track another person is building on the fly.

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