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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #100 on: April 20, 2017, 11:59:03 AM »

Thanks for the love everyone! It's been a little over a day since I posted on Greenlight, so I thought I'd share my current metrics:



Overall the percentage looks good, but the vote totals aren't great. I'm hoping to generate more traffic through sites like Reddit and IndieDB, but I'm worried about quickly flatlining. Such are the adventures of a black box! I'm not sure what more there is to do other than keep promoting and wait it out.

Here's hoping Beer!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 01:04:03 PM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #101 on: April 23, 2017, 09:59:00 AM »

I promise to make other posts about more than just the Greenlight campaign, but I can provide some insight into these day 3 numbers for anybody interested:



You can see that there was a spike in the second day. Early in the day, the trend was actually moving the opposite direction, with less votes coming in by the hour. But then Kotaku ran a story covering the game, and traffic erupted! There's also an article on Adventure Gamers about the game. That was just posted, but I don't know if should expect the same Kotaku bounce.

Overall traffic slowed on Day 3, but I hope the votes continue to slowly tick up in the days to come. I'm not sure if I'll hit the top 100 any time soon, but I've got a good ratio and positive comments, which sometimes means even more. It's fun watching this black box, but I'll go back to full time development next week.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 01:20:51 PM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #102 on: May 04, 2017, 12:48:22 PM »

So, I know I promised future posts will be about more than Greenlight -- and from now on, they all will be, because:

A CASE OF DISTRUST HAS BEEN GREENLIT!

Thank you so very much to everyone who voted and who got others to vote! Your help has meant the world for this game. I'm thrilled that it will be on Steam!

Now it's time to buckle down and make sure it's actually a success on Steam! I've got some new stuff cooking that I think will be fun to devlog about. And some new announcements for where and when you can play the game yourselves. Stay tuned!

Before applying to Greenlight, details from other Greenlit games helped me, so let me break down the stats for the A Case of Distrust Greenlight campaign in hopes it helps other devs:



It took fifteen days total, and the game was bouncing between 30% and 32% of the Top 100 games. That number might not sound high, but I'll reiterate what I've seen on other blogs: as long as you have "enough" votes, the total doesn't seem to matter as much as percentage of Yes to No votes. I've heard anything above a 50/50 split is good with at least 500 votes, so A Case of Distrust's 65/31 worked in its favour. Again, Greenlight is a blackbox, so I'm only saying that my stats confirm previous suppositions on how Steam chooses games. But we could all be wrong, so take it with a grain of salt!

Here are the final numbers:



You'll note that that numbers haven't increased greatly over the past week. In fact, the majority of votes were in the first three days, with almost 90% of the votes in the first five days:



I'm guessing Kotaku's article was the spike on the third day, and I'm sure the Adventure Gamers article helped a bit with the tail. But for the last week of the Greenlight, the game, like many others, was getting handfuls of votes per day -- not enough to significantly impact its trajectory to the Top 100.

Overall, I think fan enthusiasm (based on vote percentage) and media attention (Kotaku, AG, and previous articles from RockPaperShotgun and Kill Screen) helped propel A Case of Distrust into the sights of the Greenlight gate keepers. Thankfully, they liked what they saw, and chose to let it pass.

One more thanks to everybody who supports this game.

I can't wait to share more with you. The beat goes on!
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 01:54:26 PM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #103 on: May 22, 2017, 08:34:16 AM »

Curious when you can play the game yourself? You might get a chance soon…

A CASE OF DISTRUST IS AN INDIECADE SELECTION FOR E3 2017!


The game will be in the IndieCade Showcase section alongside other fantastic indies. There will be a playable demo on the show floor this June!

A small personal aside: I first saw pictures of E3 in the gaming magazine EGM when I was 11 years old — those images inspired me to become a game developer! Getting to show there as an independent dev is very much a dream come true.

I designed a banner that will stand 2.5’x6′ beside the E3 booth (click for a larger size):


I’ll update you with more info as the E3 dates approach, including when the physical banner arrives. This is my first big show as an independent developer, and the first time I’ll be showing A Case of Distrust to people I don’t know. Saying I’m excited, and terrified, for this event is a woeful understatement!
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« Reply #104 on: May 23, 2017, 03:06:13 AM »

Holy cow, Ben! That's INCREDIBLE! Congratulations!

It reminds me of the story upon Breath of the Wild's release, that one of the developers asked forums about 10 years ago how to "work for Nintendo." Needless to say, folks like you and he inspire the rest of the world. If you set your mind on E3, it's amazing how you've gotten to where you are now.

Congratulations, Ben. You're a super hero in the indie game scene!
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« Reply #105 on: May 23, 2017, 05:46:23 AM »

Congratulations on getting Greenlit and selected for IndieCade! I haven't been to the E3 Showcase before, but I know IndieCade's an awesome festival! Smiley Have fun!  Smiley

(I'm almost to 50% positive on my votes, but probably still need a few hundred more votes to have a chance... (at 49% and 217 yes votes right now).)
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #106 on: May 23, 2017, 08:01:31 AM »

Holy cow, Ben! That's INCREDIBLE! Congratulations!

It reminds me of the story upon Breath of the Wild's release, that one of the developers asked forums about 10 years ago how to "work for Nintendo." Needless to say, folks like you and he inspire the rest of the world. If you set your mind on E3, it's amazing how you've gotten to where you are now.

Congratulations, Ben. You're a super hero in the indie game scene!

Haha, you know how to make a gal blush! Embarrassed To be honest, I thought I'd "made it" when I first attended E3 with Visceral Games. Showing my own game there sounds kinda... crazy. This eventually feels normal right? I don't know how other devs react, but I sometimes get paranoid working on my own -- the only people playing my demos are the ones I love, and it's hard to gauge whether I've done anything worthwhile or if they just like me. Doubts double when I realize I haven't made a commercial game on my own, only part of a large team. What was it called -- imposter syndrome?

Don't get me wrong, I love my game! But IndieCade's validation helps my sanity. And it's definitely motivation to keep making this game great!

Congratulations on getting Greenlit and selected for IndieCade! I haven't been to the E3 Showcase before, but I know IndieCade's an awesome festival! Smiley Have fun!  Smiley

(I'm almost to 50% positive on my votes, but probably still need a few hundred more votes to have a chance... (at 49% and 217 yes votes right now).)

It sounds like you're on the right track, foofter. I noticed a spike in my Greenlight numbers after the game was covered by a couple media outlets. Monster Garden has a very unique style, and you've got a demo too. I'd try sending a few warm emails to websites you like, including some screengrabs and a link to the demo. Maybe one writes about it and that puts your game over the top! Good luck! Toast Right
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 08:17:05 AM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #107 on: June 01, 2017, 03:51:51 PM »

MAKING THE (IN-ENGINE) ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER

I've gotten a few questions about the trailer, all from people who haven't seen the game in action (have you heard you'll be able to play it at E3?!). Let me clarify: none of it is video-editing magic, it's all recorded in Unity -- that is, I used the technology in the game to make the trailer itself!


I knew I wanted to create an in-engine trailer. Fans appreciate seeing the actual game in trailers, the visuals are inspired by film anyway, and the process would be much easier and cheaper than doing any real video editing.

My only pre-production was a quick idea sketch in my notebook. After that, I went straight to the game assets themselves!


I duplicated my Unity scene and called the new one AnnounceTrailer. Honestly I changed very little, because again, most of the functionality was already embedded in the game. The only minor tweaks were simplifying the text elements -- the trailer text isn't populated by any Twine story file; instead I just define colours and strings in the scene itself.

Otherwise, I wrote a very basic TrailerController script to manage the timing of transitions (wait X seconds, then transition to the next scene). Engineers will correctly chastise the hard-coded strings -- normally no bueno, let your designers fill that in! -- but since I was the only one creating this trailer, and the code wouldn't be reused, I allowed myself a few cheeky shortcuts.


The audio in the trailer is a tweaked version the travel music in the game. Mark extended the song so it didn't have to loop, and he created a more definite ending. I added that file to an AudioSource in the scene and told it to play automatically, then I adjusted the animation timing to match the music.

To get it into video form, I created an AnnounceTrailer game file and ran the game at full screen -- exactly the way I create my regular game files! I recorded my screen with Quicktime, and voila, trailer finished!

Well, not quite. For some reason the audio didn't sound great that way -- its volume was either far too low, or it had strange artifacts. So I muted the screen recording and used iMovie to combine the visuals with the music.

A simple export to MP4 later, and it's uploaded to YouTube!




The whole process, from planning to final trailer, took less than two days. And I'm very happy with the results!

We'll see if I use the same strategy for future media, but at this point, I can't think of a reason not to!



Okay wait, that's a nice story, but it's not quite complete. You see, I actually made another trailer before this one. It had similar music and generally the same vibe, but one glaring problem: it didn't hook viewers quickly! It would be good in a movie theatre, but online audiences scroll their Twitter feeds faster than a jet at takeoff! If my video doesn't grab you in the first five seconds, I might as well not create it at all.

Want to see the trailer that didn't make the cut? I'm terrified to show you this. Fair warning, it was just a first draft, with that low-volume audio problem I mentioned earlier, and a horrible recording frame rate. I even forgot to remove the Notes button -- d'oh! But this is what development looks like. Here's a day of effort for a bad trailer:






Thanks for reading! More posts soon!

Want to get notified when A Case of Distrust has a new devlog? Sign up for the newsletter now!
« Last Edit: June 01, 2017, 04:10:03 PM by TheWanderingBen » Logged

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« Reply #108 on: June 08, 2017, 12:52:28 PM »

NICE MOVES

Until now, character images in A Case of Distrust have been static. A player would choose to talk to someone, then the screen would transition to a still of the character’s face:


To keep with the Saul Bass poster art style, most of the game features stationary images, or only subtle animations. The static character art worked very well with this style! But, something felt off. Since much of the game involves conversation, players would see these images for extended periods. I realized that the longer a player spent in a conversation, the less appealing the art became.

But I didn’t want to shorten the conversations, either. In-depth characters are the crux of any good mystery, and conversations are the player’s window into a character. That was when I remembered: Hotel Dusk!




Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a mystery game for the Nintendo DS, released almost 12 years ago. Its art-style is inspired by graphic novels — more static than your typical game art. But rather than keep their images completely still, the developers give every character a few canned emotions, each with a some choppy frames. Hotel Dusk keeps its physical aesthetic while adding flavour to the conversations.

Exactly what I want! But my characters, while simple silhouettes, still look more realistic than the ones in Hotel Dusk. Each of my characters is either directly referenced from a photo of a real human, or an amalgamation of photos. In order to keep that aesthetic, I had to change from using photos to using video:




Above is the first video I used for a test. It’s my beautiful girlfriend! I asked her to perform a basic action as reference. From there, I selected a few frames and used a similar technique as I did for the static images: solid blocks of colour with paper masks overtop and underneath. Voilà:


That’s exactly what I wanted! It still fits the art style, yet adds movement so the image doesn’t become boring.

But would I be able to do that for every character? I’m in Denver, I don’t know that many people around here. Thankfully, I have a great friend back home who owns her own production company and runs an improv group! What a break! She agreed to film her actor friends performing the various roles.

Say hello to Virginia Woodall, officially the third person working on A Case of Distrust:


She’s our Talent Coordinator, gathering actors to play many of the game’s characters. I shared the first fruits of her labour on Twitter earlier this week — a GIF of the new Connor Green, played by Toronto stage actor Colin Roberts:


I’m excited for this new art style! I’m sure A Case of Distrust will be leagues better because of it! Thanks for reading, more updates soon!



(Also, working with silhouettes is fun, because costume colours don’t matter at all)

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« Reply #109 on: June 08, 2017, 01:09:04 PM »

Wow, you did a great job of keeping the style with the animations! It's hard to say but I feel like the animations might look a little too choppy? That could also just be a side effect of the GIFs, maybe it looks better in game. Looking forward to seeing more! Smiley
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« Reply #110 on: June 09, 2017, 07:00:32 AM »

I love that you used your connection to an improv group to get reference material! I'm working on a new game that's very creatively ambitious, and one of the ways we're managing scope is very similar, leveraging any and every connection to our local community and saving work whenever possible using reference photos of local locations, etc.
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« Reply #111 on: June 09, 2017, 09:13:45 AM »

Thanks for the love, guys!

@wizered67: It might be the GIFs, they seem to be playing at awkward speeds. With the fade transitions in the game, I think it looks good! But art is always just a matter of opinion Wink

@Nathy: Haha, yeah, I lucked into a childhood friend being kind of a big deal in the Toronto drama scene. Happy to be working with her! Good luck with your new project, please share it when you're ready -- loved your last devlog!



Right now I'm excitedly finishing the last of my E3 prep. Check out this sweet banner! Next time it unfurls, A Case of Distrust will be at the IndieCade booth -- come say hi if you're around!


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« Reply #112 on: June 09, 2017, 12:10:20 PM »

The new project is called Ballad of the Space Bard. Smiley
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« Reply #113 on: June 09, 2017, 02:42:16 PM »

Just skimmed through and the visuals are looking great!  Looking at the wikipedia page, I've seen some of his works but didn't know that it was by Saul Bass.  Thanks for the mention! Smiley  Overall, this is what I call the "max result with min effort" Grin   

Maybe you've seen the following, but sometimes there might be a few ideas here and there that you find useful:


ColourOnly85     http://colouronly85.tumblr.com/


Early iTunes + iPod commercials:  https://www.youtube.com/user/appleTVCnet/search?query=itunes+ipod
Some are "clean":

while others added more detail:


There's also an interesting animation:



Quote
The film contains 16 hidden messages that hold clues to the characters' secrets. Eight are fairly easy requiring only a close eye. Six are moderately difficult using various encryption methods. Two are extremely difficult requiring a genius mind to decrypt.
More about the film:  thomasbealecipher.com
While, the puzzles are probably more hardcore than what you are going for, some visuals might be inspirational along the lines of "max result with min effort".  Smiley
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TheWanderingBen
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« Reply #114 on: June 09, 2017, 05:19:00 PM »

The new project is called Ballad of the Space Bard. Smiley

Subscribed!

...some visuals might be inspirational along the lines of "max result with min effort"

Thanks for the great inspiration! Yeah the Bass style really has a pop to it, and it works well with silhouettes. It's definitely less effort than building a whole world in 3D, but working on my own this is still taking a long time!! Smiley
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« Reply #115 on: June 10, 2017, 01:18:23 PM »

Thanks for the great inspiration! Yeah the Bass style really has a pop to it, and it works well with silhouettes. It's definitely less effort than building a whole world in 3D, but working on my own this is still taking a long time!! Smiley
Yes, some things still need to be done. Wink   Unless, of course if you can find someone who does it cheaper than you're time's worth*. Grin
*(plus NDA, etc considerations)

Above is the first video I used for a test. It’s my beautiful girlfriend! I asked her to perform a basic action as reference. From there, I selected a few frames and used a similar technique as I did for the static images: solid blocks of colour with paper masks overtop and underneath. Voilà:

I'm assuming the "paper masks" were done digitally and not physically, right?  Otherwise, that would certainly take a lot of time! Grin


Another thanks goes for mentioning Text Mesh Pro!  I saw it a year ago, but wasn't really worth to get it for the Hand Money Left.   But now that it's free, it's great! Grin
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« Reply #116 on: June 10, 2017, 06:58:05 PM »

Oh snap, on the subject of paying people to do game art, Ben, if you're interested I'd love to have you contribute art for an episode of my side-project Tales of the Necronomicade. Smiley
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« Reply #117 on: June 21, 2017, 02:14:09 PM »

Oh snap, on the subject of paying people to do game art, Ben, if you're interested I'd love to have you contribute art for an episode of my side-project Tales of the Necronomicade. Smiley

Woah, I just saw this. PM me and let me know what's involved!
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« Reply #118 on: June 21, 2017, 02:28:09 PM »

E3 LAURELS

E3 is over a week old, and I’m just starting to regain normalcy. Three days of standing at the IndieCade booth and pitching my game to fans and media, intermingled with publisher meetings, and topped with networking parties. I collapsed on the couch on Friday and was still in a haze for most of the weekend.

But it was fantastic! Prior to the expo, my knees were quivering. After all, it was my first time showing the game publicly. Maybe people would hate it? It turns out, quite the opposite happened:


Those awards mean quite a lot. They’re nice to put on the game’s page, but more than that, they serve as motivation. This game has the potential to be fantastic. These prizes strengthen my resolve to not stop working until it is. All the stories written about the game work the same way. Here are some choice quotes:

  • Impressed me with its nuanced, careful construction of its milieu and characters, and the resonant comparisons it draws with the world of today –Jen Glennon, Newsweek’s Player.One
  • It evokes its setting of 1924 San Francisco perfectly –Holly Green, Paste Magazine
  • The game’s writing [is] downright phenomenal –Taylor Danielle, Twinfinite
  • The art style and the manner in which this text unfolds…is totally evocative of the era –Amanda Pillon, Sweety High
  • Super gumshoe… really cool animation and art style –The Optional
  • Adventurous point-and-click gameplay –Anthony Elio, Innovation & Tech Today

Though some of the best motivation came from the fans themselves. Allowed into E3 for the first time, they were the most excited bunch. We got every fan who played to leave sticky notes about what they liked in the game. Those soon took over the booth!


And, of course, a massive thank you to Taylor Pereira, the guy in the last picture, who flew from Toronto to Los Angeles to help me set up and run the booth. He was at once my organizer, my back-up, my sanity check, and my good friend. Thanks buddy!

IndieCade @ E3 was a resounding success. If the reception there is any indication, you’ll like the game when it releases! I’m excited to do more conventions in the future!
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« Reply #119 on: June 30, 2017, 08:40:41 AM »

I'm so happy for you ! I loved the demo and I am excited to play the full game.
I wish you all the best for the hard part of the journey (making the game fantastic) :p
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