As I was reading through Twitter, I came across a few 2018 retrospective blog posts from game devs that I admire (TiNYTOUCHTALES, Facepunch) and thought it would be worthwhile to write one for Pollywog as well.
2018 was a really good year for us -- in fact, it was our best year ever! Though it has not yet been a hugely profitable venture, starting an indie games studio has been a lot of fun and has the potential to be a sustainable business in the future. We are quite happy with our regular lives and day jobs and don't have any plans to quit anytime soon, but of course, anything can happen. Now that the legwork of starting the business and figuring out how we want to do things is out of the way, 2019 can be a year focused on making and releasing great games!
It turns out making games in your spare time is not as difficult as we thought it would be. Once you've developed some skill in Unity (or whatever game making software or framework you use), you can be quite productive with just a few spare hours each week. The way we see it, it's a good hobby that might turn into a "real" business if we get lucky, but if not, we still had fun making games that we're proud of.
The big news of the year is that we released our first game ever! An early access build of Card Crusade came to the Android and iOS app stores in early December. The game took pretty much the whole year to develop; Jan and I started talking about making a game around January, decided on an idea in February, built a prototype in March, started play testing in May, and updated the game every 1-2 months until a release in December.
It's an immensely satisfying feeling to release something you've created. The day it released, we did a promotion on /r/AndroidGaming and got ~$400 of revenue. While the number in actuality was smaller than we were hoping for, it felt so much bigger than I expected. And the comments we received were almost exclusively positive -- out of literally hundreds of commenters, only one person said something even remotely negative.
We have plans to continue updating Card Crusade and to take it out of early access hopefully in January or February of 2019. At that point we'll start some more aggressive marketing campaigns, including (hopefully) getting featured on the app stores, which would be a HUGE boost to sales. There will be more cards, more monsters, and a few brand new things that we're still polishing up!
A special thank you goes to the family and friends who helped us play-test for almost six months while we built the game. Without everyone's encouragement, we certainly would have never finished the game and Card Crusade would have gone to the dust bin of history. We're also especially grateful to anyone who's bought the game, emailed us about it, and participated in our Discord server, which is steadily growing by the day!
If you follow us on Twitter or spend any time in our Discord, you'll see that we have a few ideas in the works for 2019! There's two that are worth mentioning here.
Since Card Crusade was designed as basically a mashup of Slay the Spire, Pixel Dungeon, and Dream Quest, it seemed only natural to design a new project the same way. Jan had the idea to combine TiNYTOUCHTALE's game ENYO with a classic metroidvania adventure game (inspired by countless hours sunk into Hollow Knight) and started some prototypes to that end. What we have now resembles neither ENYO nor a metroidvania in any meaningful way, but the name has stuck as sort of a working title for the project.
We've gone back and forth on a few designs, but the plan for now is to make a sci-fi roguelike featuring lots and lots of items (mostly guns). Sort of a turn-based Enter the Gungeon, probably. Stay tuned for updates on this one!
Jan and I have another brother named David who has worked on a hex-based strategy game called Portunica for the last few years. The idea has gone through several iterations over the years, but we are reviving it as a simpler game based more on chess than on Warcraft. Oryx Design Labs has been nothing but good to us, so we're going to keep using their sprites for a while!
We're excited to be working with David for this game and look forward to what the future holds! There are no concrete dates or plans but we certainly hope to have both games out the door sometime in 2019. At the very least, we are planning on beta releases and play-testing with both these new titles, just like we did with Card Crusade.
This year has been great for Pollywog Games, and 2019 looks like it's going to be even better, with Card Crusade coming out of early access and a few new games being released. We have followed a mostly "open production" model of making games by having most of our design discussions on our public Discord server, showing prototypes on Twitter, and play-testing as soon as we have a workable build. I hope we keep doing that as it goes a long way towards maintaining our motivation and getting us great feedback from the community. Let's keep making fun games and growing our little community!