Since the last time we’ve updated the blog here, a lot has happened. We’ve been officially licensed as developers to both Nintendo and Microsoft, meaning that technically, Vlambeer games can now come to any of their platforms. That makes us licensed to all three console platforms, the two big mobile platforms, Steam and Humble Store. That's all sort of insane considering where we started just three years ago.
Apple declared Ridiculous Fishing their iPhone Game of the Year, meaning that after the whole cloning debacle, Ridiculous Fishing did not only do overwhelmingly well for our little team, but also won not only a wide range of critical awards, but also both an Apple Design Award and an Apple Game of the Year award. The game then started climbing the charts again, making it all the way up to the top 20 of iPhone apps for the first time since it’s launch almost a year ago. We’ve launched two minor updates last weeks, adding localisation for French, Italian, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese at Apple’s request. We also hope the long overdue update of Super Crate Box iOS should be due for the first week of 2014.
Sony finally has LUFTRAUSERS in what hope is the final technical requirements check before we get a launch date from them. As you all know, certification has been a slightly overwhelming process for us and we also hope that Sony will look at streamlining their launch process. Rami spoke to our good friend Shahid Kamal in London about the platform and our experiences, and we have to say that we’re still extremely impressed by the way Sony treats developers. Everything feels personable and Sony does a lot of things to make developing for them a pleasant experience, from finding good marketing opportunities to making sure they check in every now and then and ask what is up. We’re revving up our Playstation 4 dev-kit to start exploring the technicalities of bringing Nuclear Throne for Playstation Vita and Playstation 4.
Microsoft has launched ID@Xbox, which is definitely an amazing achievement by Microsoft’s Chris Charla. He has been tirelessly working to get the companies indie program up to speed after what can easily be described as an embarrassing E3, and the fact that ID@Xbox is as polished and streamlined as it is is a testament to how fast something can turn around. Five months ago, we were interviewed about working with Microsoft and said it was a distant possibility based on their terms back then, now we have nothing but a single major complaint left: launch parity. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the whole thing, but essentially the problem is that forcing people to launch at the same time on all console platforms is problematic for a lot of indies and their limited time and resources. We also feel that allowing for exceptions might be even more troublesome, because unlike Microsoft’s general movement towards technological democratisation by making every Xbox One a potential dev-kit, this still creates a artificial and curated barrier. Still, considering that Charla started from zero, the progress he made so far has been great - and the plans for making each Xbox One a dev-kit are super progressive.
On the same day the iOS version of Ridiculous Fishing won a Dutch Game Award, we suddenly launched Ridiculous Fishing for Android. At first, the launch was a mixed experience for us. We worked really hard to make sure the game was as good as possible on as many devices we could test for, but we’ve learned that compared to the smooth launch of iOS, a launch on Android is more like a global hardware test. You can only test on so many devices, and suddenly launching the game onto 3500+ highly fragmented pieces of hardware simply means you can’t deliver a problem-free launch. It was quite painful to see that people using problematic devices complaining on Reddit that we considered Ridiculous Fishing for Android a second-grade release, as we poured in a lot of effort to make this port happen for the many people that asked for it. On the other hand, the Humble Bundle Mobile launch was great, though, and we’ve also received a lot of great responses from Android gamers. In the end, we're feeling pretty good about the whole launch.
Steam Early Access has been a really fun experience. Nuclear Throne’s development livestream now amasses over 100,000 viewers per week, which sort of validates our idea that game development can be presented in a way that’s entertaining for non-developers. The idea of “performative game development” - live, with all its problems and little surprises, instead of neatly cut and filtered by a professional camera crew - was something we wanted to explore while working on what is essentially a really fun action game. We’ve also been really happy about the Let’s Play community picking up on the game, with specifically NorthernLion, Sleepcycles and Tengu Drop doing amazing videos of the game. The development of Nuclear Throne was at a breakneck pace in November, when Jan Willem added crowns, crown vaults and a new character, and we’ve been taking a bit of a breather in December to recover and get ready for more hard work. We’re still having an amazing amount of fun developing the game, and interacting on the Steam Forums has been really rewarding as well. The game has an amazing community that happily keeps adding to the Nuclear Throne Wiki, makes amazing fan-art, shoots really useful gameplay videos and gives us in-depth feedback on how they play. We're just super excited about the whole thing.
We also launched a bunch of our older (non-Windows 8 compatible) games on Itch.io, which is a nice Bandcamp-like storefront for games.
Rami has been touring Scandinavia and Germany and will return to the Netherlands at the end of the weekend, while Jan Willem decided to take two weeks off from the crazy Nuclear Throne update schedule by celebrating the holidays somewhere in the Southern parts of Africa. While the Nuclear Throne livestreams will continue, this does mean that updates will cease for a week or potentially two. For now, there’ll be one more update, tomorrow, before the end of the year. We hope that you’ll be back with us when we kick off 2014 again.
So, that’s probably all for 2013. This has been an amazing year. Thanks, everybody!
— Rami & Jan Willem