As another year ends on the Pollywog empire, it feels appropriate to review the major events of this year and discuss the future of the business. Pollywog Games had a great year -- our best year ever, in fact! In my opinion, it's worth taking a navel-gazing moment once every twelve months to congratulate ourselves on what we did well, and to talk about where our hobby might go if things continue to go well.
Last year, I wrote this about our long term prospects as a business: "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." That is still pretty much true. While we are several orders of magnitude more profitable than we were last year, Jan and I are still a far cry from being able to quit our day jobs and support ourselves making a living on creative products, and that's ok. We both have lives outside of making games. The important thing is that we have a good time working on fun and interesting projects.
Another thing I wrote last year is that "2019 can be a year focused on making and releasing great games!" This was ... half true? Making games, yes. Releasing games, not so much. The only published game we worked on was Card Crusade, which saw a great deal of content expansion and other improvements. Jan has been prototyping new ideas, several of which will probably be see a 2020 release (or at least reach beta testing), but our creative output has not been terribly prolific.
One of the lessons learned from Card Crusade is that quality really, really matters. We thought we could just ship the game as it existed in December of last year, but it turned out in order to see the success that it did, a thousand important improvements needed to be made. So we're taking some time to make sure that future games meet the high bar that players have from the consistently great output of other creative studios.
My proudest moment this year was when our game got featured in Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer, and a bunch of other online review sites. We didn't get the App Store feature we were hoping for, but Touch Arcade drove more downloads than expected by keeping us in the "Hot Games" bar at the top of the website for over a month. There was a day in March where we got over a hundred downloads in one day! Those numbers dropped off quite rapidly but the feeling of accomplishment has never left.
Another satisfying thing is that nothing besides our game shows up in the first several pages of Google search (and DuckDuckGo, and Bing) results for "Card Crusade". We're also the first couple of results for "Pollywog Games". This is something I used to be really worried about. Google search was a total black box mystery to me, and feeling like we cracked the code and created a little corner of visibility is really cool.
We continued to update the game through October of this year, adding new features like glory levels, UI improvements, new cards, altars, and lots of bug fixes. While there are always a million things that can be improved and added to any game, we're very happy with the way Card Crusade has turned out. It's not perfect, but it's still enough to keep me occupied for hours at a time.
As always, we are deeply indebted to friends and family who played (and still play!) Card Crusade regularly. Since August of 2018, more than 20,000 high scores have been submitted to the leaderboard. At around 2,500 downloads, that averages to roughly eight score submissions per player, not counting pirated Chinese copies, of which there are weirdly very many. Some people did way more than eight, though -- the highest number of score submissions for a given name goes to Biscuit, a player who submitted 177 scores over 6 months!
We haven't let go of this idea from last year! The game itself has gone through several permutations but is now mostly finalized as a sci-fi turn-based adventure game. It takes inspiration from ENYO and classic Metroidvania games.
Started work on a new game: “Alone on the Ark,” a sci-fi turn based adventure game where you wake up the last person alive on a city-sized ark ship that was supposed to carry the last remnants of humanity to salvation. pic.twitter.com/QasEhXMYDw— Pollywog Games (@GamesPollywog) December 14, 2019
One of the previous permutations of Enyovania was an XCOM-like dungeon crawler where you play a team of soldiers, clearing rooms and collecting loot. Our current hope for the Barnard's Star title is to make a multiplayer turn-based XCOM-like battle arena. Think League of Legends meets XCOM.
Things have slowed down a bit for us in recent months, but we are making more prototypes and testing more ideas than ever. Soon, one of these will get far enough along to push into a production cycle, and we'll have something for you to test and give feedback on! For now, join our Discord server to hang out with us and see everything we're up to.