Thursday, December 4, 2014

Xeodrifter Launching on December 11, 2014



Austin, Texas – December 4, 2014 – Today, Renegade Kid announced their eagerly anticipated neo-retro platformer, Xeodrifter™, will be available on December 11, 2014 for $9.99 USD in North America – exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS™.

Xeodrifter™ is the story of an interstellar drifter traveling the stars on a simple mission of exploration. We join our nomad as he embarks on the investigation of a small cluster of four planets in the omega sector, after a collision with a rogue asteroid damaged his warp core.

A scan of the neighboring planets revealed a number of energy signatures, which may provide the special material needed to replace the damaged warp core and get back to cruising through the cosmos. However, what began as a routine away-mission to fix his engine quickly spirals into a dangerous game of search, shoot, and survive.

Blast your way through alien landscapes, seek out valuable secrets, and defeat ancient guardians to unlock powers from a legendary supreme culture in this exciting journey of mystery and adventure.


Features:
Classic 2D platforming, shooting, and exploration gameplay.
Unlock legendary power-ups and gain access to new areas.
Epic boss encounters that test your skills.
Collect upgrades to extend your health and equip custom gun enhancements.
Navigate your ship between neighboring planets.
Seek out special blocks, hidden pathways, and more to reveal useful secrets.


About Renegade Kid
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid is an independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of handheld and console video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its award-winning titles including Mutant Mudds, Moon Chronicles, and the Dementium series.

For more information on Xeodrifter, visit http://www.xeodrifter.com.

# # #

Copyright © Renegade Kid 2014. All Rights Reserved. Renegade Kid, Xeodrifter, Mutant Mudds, Moon Chronicles, and Dementium are registered trademarks or trademarks of Renegade Kid LLC. Nintendo trademarks and copyright are property of Nintendo.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Brilliant Things Nintendo Does (Nintendoes)!

Introduction
Just yesterday I was having a coffee with an old friend that I have not seen in years, and we got to talking about the industry. One of my favorite subjects! J We used to work together, but he has since left the industry due to the volatile nature of most companies in the business and the terrible ways in which most companies treat their employees and their games. I am mainly referring to bad planning, excessive avoidable overtime (some overtime is unavoidable, unfortunately), and a general lack of respect and trust for their employees and their games.

Healthy Perspective
I am in a fortunate position where I no longer have a boss to ruin things for me, since I started my own company, and I cherish my position of freedom. I also see the good in how a few video game companies handle their business. This brought the conversation to my views on Nintendo, and why I think many video game companies could learn vital lessons from them – vital lessons that could not only improve their business, but also improve the industry as a whole.

Confidence
It starts with a simple, yet difficult, thing to grasp: be confident in the quality of your product. This might seem obvious, but the behaviors of many publishers in the industry suggest this is still very much an elusive concept to achieve. To be confident in your product suggests that you are trying to create something good, and that is where many publishers lose their focus.

Marketing Almighty
The majority of video game publishers are still focused more on marketing their games than creating games that are great in their own right. Don’t get me wrong, marketing is extremely important, and Nintendo does oodles of marketing too. But, the key difference between Nintendo and many other video game companies is that Nintendo does not let their marketing juice backwash into the creation of their games.

Backwash
The moment someone in game development is handed a list of bullet point features that need to be included in a game in order for it to sell well, you know they are entering the backwash zone. These features might be presented to you as “features that gamers like/want”, but often times the source of this feedback didn’t include game production staff, and was formulated by marketing departments who are focused primarily on sales data and how other games have performed in the market.

Seeds of Doubt
“But how else can we know what the players want?” you may ask. Performing analysis on what players respond well to and what is found to be fun and enjoyable is separate from how well a game might sell. As with most creative industries, including music and movies, sometimes great products sell poorly while poor products sell greatly. The quality of a product is indeed separate from how successful it may sell. Why is this? Well, lots of reasons, but marketing is an important component. This is where the seeds of doubt and confusion start to grow and mutate.

Lost Trust
The first time a terrible game sold well, it spoiled the well and ruined everything for everyone. The trust between artist and audience was destroyed. The same could be said of the first awesome game that didn’t sell well, but due to the nature of its low sales it made a smaller splash in the collective conscience. When terrible games start to sell well, the ears of many perk up and want to find out how it accomplished its undeserved success. A bad game is a lot easier to create than a good one, and if there’s a way to fool people into buying large quantities of a bad game, the publishing charlatans want to know how. It results in companies not knowing or caring about the quality of their product, so they overcompensate and draw their focus to marketing tricks instead.

One of the Good Guys
Getting back to my original point, Nintendo is one of the few publishers who I do not consider a charlatan in regards to the games they create. Their focus is simple: make a great game. Wash away any concerns of past sales data. Ignore the current trends of what is seemingly popular. Just make a product that is good at doing something. Treat it like a toy. A toy that must achieve a simple, albeit difficult, task: entertain the user.

User Satisfaction
When user-satisfaction is the sole focus of your creative team, it forces you to be inventive. It forces you to be pure, and honest. It forces you to think effectively and work effectively. Data can still be important, but game creators will more-than-likely want and need to observe and interact with players to truly learn what may or may not be good for your game. Digits on a sheet of paper are likely too removed from what’s truly important. Game design is about a relationship with the player, and involves emotions and complicated psychology. Human interaction.

Their Time Will Come
I hope you agree that marketing has no place in the game creating process. Their involvement in this process would steer the creative team down a path of me-too creation with shallow assumptions and a complete detachment from the human experience. Marketing is important. Marketing is needed. Their time to shine is coming. But, it is not now. Not in the creation of a game.

Quality and Honesty
The job of the marketing group is to take a product and amplify its best qualities to the most suitable audience. It is not to convince or trick someone into buying a game. It is to communicate a product’s qualities, so the audience themselves can determine whether it is something that appeals to them. Making a great product and effectively communicating the greatness of that product has the likely result of not only directly appealing to the enthusiasts within that audience, but also the likelihood of netting some who are perhaps only mildly interested in what the game has to offer. Not because of a clever marketing lie, but because of the quality and the honesty of the product and the marketing message.

Legacy
I am not suggesting that Nintendo is a perfect company. I am saying that their approach to creating games is often pure, trustworthy, and refreshing in comparison to 90% of video game publishers. This is why Nintendo is often synonymous with quality. This is why Mario games always sell well. This is what everyone should aspire to achieve. This is my goal. I hope it is yours, too.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mighty No.9 New Funding Misconceptions

In an effort to help clear up misconceptions about the Mighty No.9 new anime project and new funding, I am writing this blog to share what I have found out about it and to address my early tweets about it. Hopefully, this might help others understand what's up.

My first reaction to the new funding was a negative one. One of the most successful kickstarter campaigns was asking for more money? How dare they? $4M wasn't enough?

It turns out that I didn't take the time to read the information provided at mightyno9.com/en

I apologize to the Mighty No.9 team for jumping to early conclusions and adding to the misconceptions. I should add that no one from the Mighty No.9 team has asked me to write this blog post. I just feel like this is the right thing to do.

Here's my take on what's up:

Anime Project: Digital Frontier approached Comcept about making the Mighty No.9 anime. No money from the original KS has or will be spent on it. Perhaps waiting until the game was near-finished would have been better timing, but it is separate from the development of the game in every way.

New Funding: This is a way to acheive two things, 1. Allow new backers to pre-order the game, and 2. Use those funds to add additional content to the game.

The original KS campaign is covering the cost of development of the originally promised game. These new opportunities offer the potential of new content.

I hope this helps in some small way.

Jools


Friday, May 9, 2014

Moon Chronicles Launching on Nintendo eShop: May 15.


(Sorry about  the horrible YouTube compression!)

Austin, Texas – May 9, 2014 – Today, Renegade Kid announced the first of four episodes in their eagerly anticipated first-person shooter series, Moon Chronicles, will be available on May 15, 2014 for $8.99 USD in North America – exclusively in the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS™.

Experience Renegade Kid’s award-winning first-person shooter, remastered in glorious 3D. Moon Chronicles delivers an atmospheric sci-fi adventure with enhanced graphics and intuitive touch screen controls for a truly unique experience – all running at a silky smooth 60 frames per second.


Join Major Kane on a mysterious mission to Earth’s moon to investigate a unique hatch of unknown origin. With each new episode you are brought one step closer to understanding the secrets that lie beneath the surface of the moon.

• Experience the first true first-person shooter on Nintendo 3DS.
 Immerse yourself in the gripping story-driven episodic action adventure.
 Equip a variety of guns, including powerful alien weaponry.
 Utilize Remote Access Droid (RAD) to navigate tunnels and unlock secret pathways.
 Explore the moon’s surface with the LOLA-RR10 buggy, armed with a plasma turret.
 Choose from a wide selection of control schemes, including Circle Pad Pro support.

** Feel free to download an uncompressed version of the trailer, here. **



[Scan QR Code with your 3DS to view 3D screenshots of Moon Chronicles]

About Renegade Kid
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid is an independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of handheld and console video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its award-winning titles including Mutant Mudds, Moon, and the Dementium series.

For more information on Moon Chronicles, visit
http://www.moonchronicles.com.

# # #
Copyright © Renegade Kid 2009 - 2014. All Rights Reserved.Renegade Kid, Moon Chronicles, Mutant Muidds, and Dementium are trademarks of Renegade Kid LLC.Nintendo trademarks and copyright are property of Nintendo.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Moon Chronicles Pricing!?



Moon Chronicles is nearly ready for launch on the Nintendo 3DS, which is very exciting. We would like to take this opportunity to hear your feedback on pricing, as the episodic nature of Moon Chronicles is unique for the Nintendo eShop.

What is the Game?
Before we get into pricing, let me give you some important information on what Moon Chronicles is, and what our episodic approach means.

Season one of Moon Chronicles is a remastering of Renegade Kid's award-winning Nintendo DS title, Moon, which now features enhanced visuals, audio, enemy AI, and all running at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second with 3D on or off.

Season one is split into 4 separate episodes, and each episode is very close in gameplay length and content: approximately 2 - 4 hours per episode, depending on your approach.

A La Carte and Season Pass
You will be able to purchase each episode separately, when they become available this year, a la carte style.

When episode 2 is launched, later this year, you will also have an option to purchase a season pass which includes the remaining episodes (2, 3, and 4) for a single lower price.

This gives you a chance to purchase episode 1 to see if you like the game before committing to buying the entire season. If you like episode 1, you will be able to make an additional purchase for the season pass.

If you are not ready to commit to a season pass, you will be able to purchase just episode 2.

How Much Will You Pay?
Here's what we'd like to hear from you:

1. How much will you pay for each episode, in US Dollars?

2. How much will you pay for the season pass (episodes 2, 3, and 4), in US Dollars?

** Please add your feedback below, in the comments. **

If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below and I will make changes to this post if extra clarification is needed anywhere.

Thank you!

Jools

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Razor® Global Domination Pro Tour


RENEGADE KID™ TEAMS UP WITH SCARAB ENTERTAINMENT
FOR RAZOR® VIDEO GAME

Renegade Kid and Scarab Entertainment Partner to Unleash
RAZOR® GLOBAL DOMINATION PRO TOUR on Home Consoles!

AUSTIN, TX – FEBRUARY 27, 2014 – Independent video game developer, Renegade Kid, today announced it has partnered with Scarab Entertainment – video game licensee of Razor USA LLC - to develop a unique, adrenaline-charged freestyle scooter experience, titled Razor® Global Domination Pro Tour.

Razor® Global Domination Pro Tour is a robust freestyle scooter experience, where you flip grab, spin, and grind your way to victory by performing dozens of freestyle scooter tricks. Customize your apparel and gear to personalize your Team Razor™ rider. Enhance your performance and take your Razor® scooter to new heights with special upgrades that award you with increased speed and extra airtime. Travel around the world visiting unique skate parks, street jam sessions, and dirt tracks to demonstrate your skills.

"We're thrilled to be working with Scarab and Razor to develop a freestyle scooter gaming experience that compliments the authentically cool brand that Razor has established over the past 14 years," said Jools Watsham, Co-founder and Director at Renegade Kid.

“Renegade Kid was the perfect candidate to help us translate our vision for Razor to the next-generation consoles, and we are honored to have such a talented team on board for this project,” said Karim Farghaly, Founder and CEO at Scarab Entertainment.

Razor® Global Domination Pro Tour will flip, grab, spin, and grind its way onto home consoles in 2015, and is slated for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Wii U. Head over to www.scarabentertain.com for more details soon.


About Scarab Entertainment – www.scarabentertain.com
Founded in 2012 and based in Austin, Texas, Scarab Entertainment is dedicated to making quality apps and games for the whole family. The team consists of industry veterans with over 30 years combined experience developing and publishing interactive entertainment for the likes of Interplay, Sony, Acclaim, Sanrio and others. Scarab has a passion for casual content, a background in iconic pop brands, and a knack for creating award-winning experiences on mobile, social, consoles and handheld platforms.


About Renegade Kid – www.renegadekid.com
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid is an award-winning independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of home console and handheld video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its critically-acclaimed titles including, Dementium, Moon, ATV Wild Ride, Mutant Mudds, and Bomb Monkey.


About Razor USA LLC – www.razor.com
The Razor brand embodies the spirit of fun and freedom.  It defies boundaries and sometimes even gravity. The company was founded in 2000 with the introduction of its now legendary kick scooter, which quickly became an essential ride for anyone on the go. Today, Razor products are available worldwide, with a full range of wheeled goods to inspire and excite riders everywhere, including the 2014 Outdoor Toy of the Year, the Crazy Cart. Cool products and great value have distinguished Razor as a trusted global brand and industry leader.
Based in California, USA, the company sponsors Team Razor, a group of pro scooter athletes.  Razor has helped usher in the action sport of freestyle scooter riding, which has evolved from local skate parks to global competitions and tours.  For more information, please visit www.razor.com.


Trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Development Update: Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Treasurenauts, Cult County, and more!

Mutant Mudds Deluxe
Mutant Mudds Deluxe has already made its way to Wii U and Steam, and on December 17, 2013 it will be available for download on the PS3 and PS Vita for $9.99 - supporting Cross-Buy (pay once and get both versions) and Cross-Save (transfer save progress between PS3 and PS Vita). This is North America only. Delays in Europe for this, and Wii U, are due to the cost and logistical hassle of submitting to the many age rating companies in Europe. We will eventually get our stuff together and sort it out, but for now we're devoting our efforts towards the development of games instead of dancing with PEGI, USK, and such. These companies really need to learn from the ESRB, who offer a free and fast on-line service to rate indie games.

3DS owners of Mutant Mudds (in NA and EU) should be on the look-out for a free update sometime in 2014. It will be luxurious! ;)

Treasurenauts
Progress on Treasurenauts is going very well. We're happy with the game. We have received tremendous positive support from you and we're excited to get the game into your hands. However, it saddens me to announce that Treasurenauts will not be released in 2013. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong. The game means a lot to us, and we want to do it right. We need more time to make it the game we want it to be. We're aiming for a Q1 2014 release, and will have information on a more accurate date soon. Sorry for the delay, but as an independent developer we rely on the success and revenue generated from each of our self-published games. More time = better game = better sales (hopefully).

Cult County
Cult County is another game we're very excited about. We announced it very early in its development and, as with all games, it continues to progress and morph over the course of development. We'll have more news on our survival horror exploits in 2014.

Mutant Mudds 2
The development of Treasurenauts put Mutant Mudds 2 on hold for a bit. We feel that it is healthier/better for us to develop a new 2D platform game in between Mutant Mudds and Mutant Mudds 2 to maintain perspective on what Mutant Mudds 2 needs to be. We did this with the development of Dementium: The Ward, Moon, and Dementium II, which I believe helped make Dementium II a better game than it otherwise would have been if we had immediately dived into making a sequel. The development of Moon gave us creative perspective and technical advancements, which Dementium II was able to leverage.

New Games
We have two new games in the works. One of them is a 3DS title that will be announced in January 2014, and released early-mid 2014. The other game will be announced a little later down the road.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We truly appreciate your support.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Makes a Splash on Steam


Austin, Texas – November 18, 2013 – Pixel lovers across the globe enjoyed many retro-inspired moments in the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Mutant Mudds: blasting muddy foes with Max’s heavy-duty water cannon, hovering over dangerous spikes thanks to a H20-powered jetpack, leaping between three depths of gameplay, equipping power-ups from Grannie’s Attic to reach secret doors, and even unlocking Grannie herself as a playable character to travel even farther into muddy territory by accessing the ├╝ber-elite CGA levels.

Mutant Mudds Deluxe, launching November 21, 2013 on Steam, includes all of these magnificent moments while also offering a host of new features that were not available in the original. And, all of this with a glorious new HD makeover that presents Max and his muddy nemesis in big, bold, beautiful, crisp, and clean pixels in 16:9.

“After 369 emotional days on Steam Greenlight, we received the joyous email from Valve that said Mutant Mudds was Greenlit,” said Jools Watsham, Owner and Director at Renegade Kid. “Having the opportunity to finally bring Mutant Mudds Deluxe to the Steam community is very exciting for us!”

Exclusive to Mutant Mudds Deluxe are 20 new and challenging “ghost” levels that can be found in a mysterious parallel world beyond the phantom mirror. As you unlock each level in the “normal” world, its counterpart in the “ghost” world will be available too. New spectral enemies, haunting hazards, and a ghastly new ghost-shot power-up await you!

Mutant Mudds Deluxe supports Steam Leaderboards and Steam Achievements. 

Visit the Steam Store, here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/247370/

About Renegade Kid
Founded in 2007 by Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove, Renegade Kid is an independent development studio based in Austin, Texas. A developer of home console and handheld video-games, Renegade Kid is known for its award-winning titles including, Dementium, Moon, ATV Wild Ride, Mutant Mudds, and Bomb Monkey.

For more information on Mutant Mudds, visit http://www.mutantmuddsdeluxe.com.

# # #


Mutant Mudds, Dementium: The Ward, Dementium II, and ATV Wild Ride are trademarks of Renegade Kid LLC. © 2012 - 2013 Renegade Kid. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Self-Publishing vs. Working with a (Traditional) Publisher

For the first 5 years of Renegade Kid’s existence we worked with publishers to develop and release our original games, using – what some may call – the traditional publishing model. However, for the past two years we have embraced self-publishing.

Our first self-published game was Mutant Mudds – released on the Nintendo 3DS’ digital store, called the Nintendo eShop, in January 2012. Mutant Mudds was the catalyst for the change in how we approach the funding, development, publishing, and marketing of our original games today.

Having experienced two sides of publishing our original games, I thought I’d draw a direct comparison between the two as a personal exercise that may help some folk in deciding how they want to proceed with their games.

FUNDING
Working with a publisher
Back in the day, working with a publisher meant they covered the bill – the primary reason for us to work with a publisher. Game development can be a costly affair. In our experience, the monies paid to us to develop the game was always an “advance on royalties”, which meant the publisher would take our royalty share of sales until the development budget was paid back.

When the full development budget was recouped the team then started to see royalties. If the full amount was not recouped, the team did not owe any money to the publisher nor were they responsible for that. This was the financial risk that the publisher took when investing in the development of a game.

The hope was that both parties came out ahead, but this was obviously not always the case. And as such, development budgets were often kept low with the hope of making a profit with sales. This made sense, from a business perspective, but the thing that this could hurt the most was the game; the very thing we were trying to make great.

Many times we had presented a budget to a publisher – something that we felt was competitive, while still allowing us to confidently create a great game – only to have it reduced. Sometimes even cut in half! When this happened we had to re-scope the game to fit into the lower budget. This typically resulted in a game that was not as good as the original vision.

Based on what I have witnessed with successful games; good games typically sell well, especially those that have support from the publisher across the board with development, PR, and marketing. A fully realized effort – not one that has been tainted by reducing costs – usually results in a success.

You get what you pay for.

Self-publishing
Going solo and publishing your game by yourself means you’re responsible for the cash. There are many ways to fund a game that you intend to self-publish, such as your bank account, investors, kickstarter, and so on.

Some may not consider anything outside of strictly using your own hard-earned funds in your bank account as being truly “indie”. I disagree. I think what makes a team indie is the fact that you are responsible for obtaining cash to fund your game, and how you do it is on your shoulders regardless of where you get it from. 

We do not have investors or any other creative way of making cash appear in our bank account. We save a little here and there. We do some work-for-hire gigs. We try to make it work as best we can. It is not easy, but the result is something we feel good about.

The main joy I get from not working with a publisher is the freedom to develop what we want to, why we want to, when we want to. Replacing a publisher with an investor for a source of money can be equally or more distracting to the vision of the game.

I check our money situation on a daily basis. It has become a necessary habit to load up my excel doc, enter in funds earned from our current games and see how far our money stretches into the future. It is both glorious and terrifying. If things start to look really bleak – meaning; we’ll have no cash in three months – then, it is time to figure out a solution before it is too late.

Fortunately, self-publishing games digitally means that they always exist and always have the potential to earn you money. We’re still earning cash from Mutant Mudds on the Nintendo eShop today – nearly two years after its release.

PLANNING
Working with a publisher
One of the first things we always had to create for a publisher – beyond the game design document – was the milestone schedule. There was usually a release date already chiseled into stone, and it was usually a holiday season release. Therefore, we had a set amount of time for development. We would typically create a milestone for each month and list the “deliverables” that would be available for review by the publisher. Each milestone also had a payment attached to it.

Only when the publisher reviewed and approved the milestone deliverables would payment be processed – sometimes with a 30 day turnaround on receiving the payment from day of approval. Each month we ran the potential risk of the milestone not meeting the publisher’s expectations.

This use of milestone throughout the project made sense, and was a generally a good idea as it kept the project on track and everyone honest. But, it also took a lot of trust on both sides. In the best scenario, the developer and publisher could work together to resolve any issues if some deliverables did not match publisher expectations as to not disrupt the payment schedule.

The creation of the milestone schedule took a lot of work and required the input from everyone on the team. We had to break the entire game design down into the individual pieces that would create the final experience, and assign a time to each of those tasks. It was not easy. It was not fun. But, it was very important.

Self-publishing
It is understandable that some may feel as though they can be more relaxed when they don’t have to submit to a publisher’s demands. I think many developers have fallen into this trap. Anything resembling the flying by the seat of one’s pants, when it comes to game development, can assuredly result in disaster, and no game.

We have, and always will, take the planning of our games very seriously. Next to the other key aspects of game development, such as the vision, game design, technology, and art style, the planning is of equal importance. If done right, planning is the very thing that can allow you to be relaxed – with the knowledge that everything should fit if nothing goes wrong.

Something always goes wrong! Your project schedule needs your constant attention. Every task that is completed on time, ahead of time, or late needs to be noted. Chances are that all of those results will happen throughout the course of the project. Knowing where you stand in the storm of development is the only way you make it through to see sunshine again one day. OK, that was a little cheesy, but hopefully you get my point.

Publishers usually do the things they do for good reason – whether you agree with those reasons or not is your call. Something that we always consider is the ideal release date for our games and see if that gives us enough time to produce what we want. It is a good starting point, at least.

You may not be a publicly traded company with stock-holders demanding results, but releasing your game at a good time for maximum sales is always a good idea. Well, unless you don’t like money I suppose. We make games to make money to make games. So, the cash-factor is important to us and our continued development efforts.

EXTRA COSTS
Working with a publisher
Some of the aspects of game development that we were not concerned about when working with a publisher was QA/testing, age rating, devkits, and so on. The publisher typically handled all of this, which was helpful. However, those costs would also contribute to the overall development cost of the project and be included in our advance.

Self-publishing
One of the less glamorous elements of self-publishing is having to find a solution for QA/testing. Some games can get away with very little testing – as we found with Mutant Mudds – and some require a professional testing company – as we found with ATV Wild Ride 3D, largely due to the on-line component.

At the start of a project, try to think of everything that may be needed to complete the development of your game, and account for it in your budget. QA/testing can be $5 - $20K depending on the game and time needed. Devkits can be expensive or even loaned from the console manufacturer in some cases.

The ESRB kindly offers fast and free rating services for smaller digital games. You will have to sign up on their website (http://www.esrb.org) and then simply fill in their on-line short-form and be on your way. If your game requires what’s called the long-form, you will be looking at a more complicated and expensive rating experience.

GAME SUBMISSION
Working with a publisher
Publishers typically have great relationships with console manufacturers that can benefit the submission process in some emergency scenarios – definitely a benefit of having a publishing partner. Much of this might be unseen by the development team.

There is a fair amount of paper work involved with submitting your game to a console manufacturer. The publisher’s producer usually takes care of this with some help from the development team. The QA/testing team can also be a great help with this process as this is something they deal with a lot of the time.

Most of the time, you just need to make sure the bugs are fixed and follow the submission guidelines and then upload the build to a FTP server somewhere and wait. Then the publisher takes over and gets it through the system.

This is when you will typically be waiting approximately 10 – 15 days to hear back on the build. Time to get some sleep and then some fresh air.

Self-publishing
Dealing with the submission process on your own is a daunting task. The good news is that the folks who work at the console manufacturers are all awesome people willing to help you. It is important to get all of your contacts at Nintendo, Sony, etc. figured out early so you know who to email about what.

There really isn’t much advice to offer for submission apart from get reading! There are a lot of guides provided by the console manufacturer and unfortunately it is something you just have to go through to get a better understanding of the many, many things involved in the process.

PR / MARKETING / PRESS
Working with a publisher
When working with a publisher, the exposure of your game is largely handled by the publisher – sometimes with very little input or involvement from the development team. Sometimes this can be good, and sometimes this can be bad.

I should note that working with Gamecock Media to publish Dementium: The Ward was really the perfect publisher / developer relationship – especially in regards to PR and marketing. They included us on everything that was going on with PR and marketing. Nothing was done without our approval. Really amazing – especially when compared to most publishers in the industry. Gamecock was not a traditional publisher. 

Self-publishing
Trying to get someone, anyone, to care or talk about your game as an independent developer/publisher can be quite challenging. The number of indie developers who are self-publishing their games seems to be growing each day, which is a great thing, but also means there’s more noise and competition for press attention.

You need someone on your team who really wants to talk about your games to be communicating with fans on twitter and members of the press. Honest passion for what you’re doing comes across to those listening and is way more effective than just going through the motions because you know it needs to be done.

I have always enjoyed the behind-the-scenes of game development – even as a kid before I worked on games professionally. And now that I am developing my own games, I find it exciting to talk about what we’re up to and engage with like-minded folk who are interested in our games.

I started a youtube channel and blog where I blab about random development occurrences. I tweet out random game-related things on twitter. We have a facebook page, which is a little neglected, honestly!

When it comes to sending out review codes I send a personal email to each member of the press. I started from scratch, and slowly accumulated a list of contacts at various websites and send them all a code for our games when I have them.

Due to the fact that we do not have a marketing budget, yet, I try to start the awareness of our a new game a few months before the intended release date. It can start with the name, a logo, some key art, or even a single screenshot.

We have been fortunate with Mutant Mudds and Treasurenauts in that they were both announced in print magazines as a special feature in Nintendo Power and Nintendo Force respectfully. Not only does this hopefully get the word out to lots of people, but always lends a sense of grandeur and legitimacy to your game that will hopefully be carried along with it up to its release.

One other big change for us is having a booth at PAX. Our very own booth! Crazy awesome. We had our first booth at PAX East 2013, and intend to continue for years to come. It is a priceless way to connect with players face-to-face. The sense of comradery with fellow developers you get at a show is exciting and helpful for everyone involved. If you have the opportunity to do so, having a booth at PAX can be a key element in your company’s growth and public/industry acceptance. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS
For the most-part, I really enjoyed working with publishers to develop Dementium, Moon, ATV Wild Ride, Face Racers, and Planet Crashers. Each project had its ups and downs, but without the support and trust from each of the different publishers we worked with, none of those games would have made it to the stores. I truly appreciate those opportunities.

However, the sense of excitement and freedom I now feel with the development and publishing of our own games is unmatched. There is a lot of risk and subsequent scary times involved with self-publishing. This path is not for everyone. But, for me; this is what I have been working towards my whole career.

I started developing games professionally over 20 years ago. I could not have imagined that I would be where I am today. I am thankful for the opportunity that I have. I treat it with respect. I look forward to what the next 20 years will bring! Viva independence!!