April 5th, 2013
WOAH, you guys are still alive? You bet we are! We’ve recently been more active on Facebook / Twitter than our blog, so some of you guys who follow us might already know what we’ve been up to for the past few months.
One of the biggest thing that happened in our office was our recent switch to Unity3D. It was a hard decision to make, since we needed to stop the production of any new games for a while. That meant no revenues while we were learning Unity, which is kind of a big deal when you’re a tiny indie developer like us. We still need to eat and sleep under a roof, but you knew that already. Right?
We also created a bunch of tools to help us export our Flash assets / animations and re-import them in Unity. That way we can still work in Flash and keep our current art style. There’s a pretty similar tool online called the Grapefrukt Asset Exporter, in case you’d like to do the same thing. On the Unity side, we are using a tool called 2D Toolkit to handle our frame by frame animations, and mostly everything you can see on the screen. It’s not free, but it’s less expensive than developing our own Unity tools for that. We’d suggest you take a look at it if you’re new to Unity and would like to work with 2D art assets. It has great support as well, which is always nice!
First thing we did once we got the basics covered was to port Knightmare Tower to Unity with our brand new tools. It served 2 purposes: teaching us how to make/port a complete game in Unity, and let us publish the game on mobile devices without having to find a business partner to do it for us.
Our main goal was to port the game to mobile, but then OUYA came around and we decided to give it a shot. The deadline was pretty close and we crunched a bit to get the game out for the Kickstarter release (March 28th). The game is now available on OUYA, and it’s also featured in the store, alongside 8 or 9 other games like Final Fantasy III, Wizorb and Canabalt!
As we were going through the game during the porting process, we took the time to revamp and upgrade some little aspects of the game. It’s not different enough to be called a sequel, but the experience is better than it was with the Flash version. The game was going to be played on a TV screen with a controller instead of a keyboard, so we made sure that it was optimized for it. Here’s what we did:
Now that the game is out on OUYA, our next goal is to make it available for mobile devices. We’re still not sure which devices we’ll target first, since we never developed for mobile ourselves yet, but you can assume it will at least be available for the latest iOS devices. We’ll definitely keep you guys updated on that.
We’re also waiting for Unity to add the PS4 / PS Vita support to the list so we can put Knightmare Tower on there as well. We’ll try to bring it to Vita first, and see for the rest.
Once we’ll be “done” with Knightmare Tower, our plan is to repeat the process with Burrito Bison Revenge. Porting it to Unity should be significantly faster than porting Knightmare Tower was. We already know how to use Unity, we have no new language to learn and we already have our tools.
We’re not 100% sure on which platforms the game will end up first, but we know we want to bring it to mobile for sure. We might revamp BBR like we did with KT, so if you played BBR and thought of things that could have been done better, little features or small adjustments that would make the game a bit better, please let us know!
Speaking of BBR, the game won a Mochi Award for Game of The Year (Player’s Choice) at Flash Gaming Summit in San Francisco! We’re are soooo happy about this, we can’t thank all of you guys who enjoyed and voted for the game enough! We love our fans, we definitely do.
We know, it’s been a while since you’ve seen us work on anything new. We started prototyping something potentially bigger and different than what we usually do, but we decided to invest our time in Unity before anything else. It’s currently on the backburner, but it’s still a project we’d like to invest some time in. Before that, we’d like to get our most popular games to other platforms, though. Be sure that we’ll post about it as soon as we’re confident enough that it will be a fun game.
We’ve also received a lot of requests for a 3rd Burrito Bison, but we have no clue what we could put in there to make it worth your time. We will definitely THINK about it, see if there’s enough new and interesting elements we can find to justify another sequel, but it’s nothing official. If you have some cool ideas for a 3rd BB, definitely let us know!
By switching to Unity, we now have access to a much wider set of platforms and audiences that we did with Flash. We still love Flash, but we’re not sure yet what we are going to do with it. The Flash gaming market has a lot of advantages (free to try, LOTS of players, easy to play, no installation, etc) so we don’t want to just throw it out the window.
On the other hand, if we want to have a Flash version of our games, we need to develop them twice (port them). The Unity Flash exporter isn’t quite there yet, but even if it was, it would produce really heavy files (all bitmaps, no vector). We would go from 5 or 6 mb to around 100 mb, which most gaming sites would just refuse to upload for understandable bandwidth reasons (also much harder for the viral version to spread around).
There’s also the Unity web player, but it’s really far from being as present as the Flash player (most people still need to install it before they can play Unity games) and we would also still have that file size issue. We could do free Flash demos instead of full games to reduce the file size, but we still have that “develop twice” issue. You might start to see why we’re still unsure of what we’ll do with Flash, and to be honest, we have absolutely no clue!
Even if we’re not completely sure what we’ll do about Flash in the future, we’re super excited about all these new opportunities we’re facing. Having access to all these different audiences also means that we can allow ourselves to develop different kinds of games. Kinds that would normally not do that well on Flash because of the typical sponsor requirements (stuff that makes players grind and come back often to generate more revenues from ads). We can experiment a bit more and we think it’s super exciting. It almost feels like going from paying in our backyard’s sandbox to a whole desert!