Posted by Alex Jordan on
Cute Things Dying Violently: "The Violent Change America Needs"
Cute Things Dying Violently: "The Violent Change America Needs"
ApathyWorks now has a press kit. I wonder why...
For all your text, review, screenshot, trailer, and credit needs!
Busy busy busy. Important game things that are going on:
Things that are going on that are getting in the fucking way of finishing CTDV:
I'll make up for all my silence once I'm given a chance to, you know... take a deep breath. Until then, I recommend following my Twitter feed, since 140 characters is something I can type reliably.
ApathyWorks now has a new Facebook page! Please Like it!
Between that page and this blog, I'll be showing off new Cute Things art in advance of the PC release!
Also, part of me died when I had to capitalize the word "Like." Wait, there I go again.
More info on the facelift that the PC version of Cute Things Dying Violently is getting in a bit. But first, here's some YouTube videos of a very funny dude playing through my game and commenting on it all the while.
More after the jump.
Or at least they pretend to. For long enough to humor me, anyway.
First up, an article on Supply and Demand on Xbox Live Indie Games that I posted way back in September has made its way to Gamasutra, where it was yesterday's Featured blog post. Nice!
Secondly, Tim Hurley over at Gear-Fish roused himself from his stupor long enough to review Cute Things Dying Violently. (Tim, it's been out for about four months now.)
Finally, Tim also snuck a few interview questions my way. I hold forth on the usual game dev subjects like upgrading CTDV, future games to be made, and platform preference, but Tim also threw a curveball my way regarding cooking. That was a really fun one to answer.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I traded emails with Stefanie Fogel at VentureBeat about Cute Things Dying Violently and developing for the PC. Well, some of my quotes have appeared in her latest article about Xbox Live Indie Games developers switching from Xbox to PC, and you should read it here.
First off, I should point out that I'm quoted in this article alongside the likes of Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac), Robert Boyd (Cthulhu Saves the World), and DJ Arcas (FortressCraft). That is, to be blunt, a huge fucking honor. These guys are all players in the indie community and are talented developers with great games on their CVs.
Also, to be blunter, I don't necessarily deserve to be quoted alongside them. As the article points out, Cute Things has only sold 17,000 copies so far and will probably only gross 30k or 40k by August 2012. These guys all have popular, well-known games that passed 100k sales with their eyes closed. In short, I'm not a peer, I'm a wannabe. That doesn't make me any less awesome, mind you! Just not as awesome as these guys. But one day...
Another thing worth mentioning is that Stefanie only shared a few snippets of the quotes I gave her and the things I discussed. The two paragraphs in her article that discuss me blend a few disparate subjects: I discuss that Cute Things did pretty well but also that the poor filtering on the XBLIG Marketplace scares away potential customers. I also have a bland throwaway quote about how the PC is great for indie developers (no shit), and then that comment about how most of the Uprising developers have abandoned XBLIG.
A few sentiments missing from the article are that I appreciate (and I do!) the huge success that Microsoft and others have afforded me through XBLIG. I don't relish biting the hand that feeds, and I don't think Boyd (a former XBLIG developer) does either. But there are superior opportunities elsewhere. That's just the way it is. 20k copies sold on XBLIG versus 100k copies sold on Steam is a no-brainer.
Speaking of which, I say in the article that I'd love to get my game on Steam, and I would, although it's certainly not a foregone conclusion. I'm certainly not trying to be presumptuous... just because I appeared in a prominent article alongside some wonderful, prominent developers doesn't mean everyone should hang on my every word, or that my game is destined for greatness. I still have my work cut out for me, and I really want to earn a spot alongside those developers.
I've been working steadily on Cute Things for the past few days, and decided that I didn't want to just throw a bland bug-fixing patch at the 360 version. Since I'm also busy working on the PC port of the game, I figured that Xbox owners should get in on the fun. And oh what fun it is! Yessir, we're talking about 18 new Achievements, leading to 24 total if you include the Special level Achievements.
Also, they'll still be called "Achieve Mints" on the 360, thanks to Microsoft's lovely mouth-breathing tendencies.
Cute Things Dying Violently was something I expected to program in three or four months. It wound up taking fourteen. Even so, most of the major gameplay stuff was done by Chrsitmas. So what the hell happened?
I'm assuming that the back eight months of development mostly involved tying everything together. To figure out whether or not this is true, I'm going to go through my code base and determine what was gameplay-related, what wasn't, and where certain tedious batches of code were downright inevitable:
Do you like the Cute Things Dying Violently soundtrack? Shut up, of course you do. It was written for me from scratch by the handsome, talented, and somewhat disease-free Zack Parrish. Mr. Parish is a pretty cool dude, and you might be surprised to know that he banged out the entire soundtrack in a week. A. week.
Or, you could click this thingy, which is also fine:
... especially when you go out of your way to screw things up.
The latest version of Cute Things Dying Violently on the 360, version 1.1, added aiming tools and a bunch of other features, including patch notes that explain how the aiming tools work. Unfortunately, because of a big booboo that I made, those patch notes don't show up on the Trial version of CTDV. Y'know... the version that people use to decide whether or not they want to buy the game? Yeesh.
Using the aiming tools causes a -1 Critter penalty. In the full version, the game then helpfully explains what the penalty is and why it happened with a lovely tooltip. But those tips don't appear in the Trial version, which is especially problematic, considering that you need a perfect score to advance to the second level of the game, which you won't get if you use the aiming tools! The game will get stuck, and you won't know why. YEESH.
Hurrying to fix this now. As it stands, I'm in the midst of implementing a bunch of PC-specific features, so I gotta make sure I haven't broken the 360 version's code anywhere else before I roll out a new patch.
Hey, it seems like someone (other than me) went and made a Facebook Fan page for Cute Things Dying Violently. Since this Facebook thing seems to be catching on and will no doubt be considered a major fad one of these days... perhaps with it's own movie, or whatever... I recommend you go and Like it right now! My self esteem depends on such things.
One of the things I've made of point of doing these past two years (oh my God, has it really been two years on this blog?) has been analyzing and re-analyzing the Xbox Live Indie Games market. I concluded that XBLIG was a "tough" market that only certain types of games could succeed on: small, funny, and quirky games. That was wrong, for two reasons. One: big, unfunny games have succeeded on XBLIG. Two: and the "success" is often very, very relative.
Cute Things Dying Violently will hit 13,000 copies sold tomorrow, which is amazing, but also the reason that "relative" success has those quotes around it. Even as one of the best-selling games on the XBLIG platform (was #3 for two weeks, is now #12), it won't make enough revenue in a year to pass as anything remotely resembling a salary, considering it took 14 months to develop. So success has a ceiling.
Or does it? The makers of FortressCraft, a MineCraft clone for XBLIG, made over $1 million USD from their big, unfunny XBLIG title. Their success doesn't have a ceiling.
These are just two examples of many that I've been considering for the past month or so. As more and more XBLIG developers are becoming bitter that their games barely sell at the $3 price point (as opposed to the $1 one that CTDV took advantage of), I think it's important to revisit microeconomics, specifically the tenets of Supply and Demand:
It's that time of the year again. Having worked on Cute Things Dying Violently for longer than Michelangelo worked on the Sistine Chapel*, I have written a post-mortem to document every up, down, left, right, in, and out of that process. Maybe some back and forth, too. I dunno, whatever. You can read the whole thing here.
I should warn you, though, that it's long as hell. 14 or 15 pages long, in fact. Why? Because I'm a good writer, and I like writing, and because I am like Samson at the gate when it comes to fighting the ADHD-riddled masses out there, wielding my wit and shining knowledge like the jawbone of an ass. Is that even still Samson? I can't remember, but everyone can enjoy a good chuckle about the fact that I referred to my wit as coming from the mouth of an ass. Get it? GET IT?
For anyone who wants to skip to the summary, I've posted it below the fold:
Jeff over at Just Press Start has been crying big crocodile tears recently, seeing as how I forgot to link to the podcast the he invited me on to last week. Maybe I'm just embarrassed by the fact that I ran my mouth so much and that it turns out I'm physically incapable of shutting up? Well, here it is, Jeff. You can stop crying now, jeez.
Here are the list of changes that users can expect in CTDV version 1.1:
- Increased wampas by 75%
- Martyrdom perk now drops 10 grenades simultaneously and is mandatory on all Critters
- Lowered the rate of fire on the MP5K submachine gun
- Added more pink
- Added capability for playing with a 3rd and 4th player in local multiplayer
- Removed capability for playing with a 3rd and 4th player in local multiplayer, because of spite.
- Increased Critter volume by 1000% and speaking rate by 500%
- Increased Critter voice pitch by 200%
- Added new quests to Westfall
- Fixed bug where Xbox DVD tray would eject disks directly into your scrotum at high velocity
- Fixed the "Jesus infinite respawn" glitch
- Fixed all misspellings of the word "vagina"
- Fixed bug wherein software would become self-aware and try to join Skynet
- Added approximately 2.3% more fun
Cute Things Dying Violently is getting a lot of rave reviews, but the ones that aren't-so-rave usually have one thing in common: criticism of the controls. A lot of players aren't getting a sense of depth and angles by just relying on the ingame arrow and its color-coding, so I've added an Aiming Tool! You activate it with the Right Trigger:
As I say in the video, I'm looking for feedback on how to implement this so that players can't abuse the Aiming Tool as a crutch. I don't want the challenge of some of my existing levels to simply evaporate. Feel free to provide feedback on this blog (sorry for the CAPTCHA), on YouTube, or on Twitter.
Reviews are slowly but steadily coming in for Cute Things Dying Violently (and hey, check out that neat release link to the right). The responses are incredibly positive, ranging from liking it to outright loving it. Here are some snippets:
I can honestly recommend this title to anyone looking to just demolish cute things or build a level with your friends. Seriously go have fun with this title, I had hours of fun, and it’s replay value for an indie title is very high.
The ingenuity displayed in the puzzle designs surprised me more than once. The amount of variety on display here is truly stunning, and new ideas kept coming even towards the final boards. How often do you see that in a game, Indie or otherwise?
Cute Things Dying Violently is on the whole, a good action puzzle game. It is polished in ways that many independent games (especially on the XBLIG channel) simply aren’t. The graphics and sound effects are good enough, and the music fits rather well. The mechanics are new and fun, and make the best of the controls required of them. If you don’t mind a challenge, Cute Things is a definite buy for the mindless creature puzzler genre fans.
This may be the funnest game on Xbox Live’s Indie showcase. Every aspect of the game is amazing, from the ease of play, the difficulty at later levels, the humor, and even the price. Coming in at 80 MS Points ($1.00!), this deal is too good to pass up.
The challenge and likelihood of frustration is mitigated by Jordan’s witty writing. Tutorials are included in many of the levels, and they all contain cheeky one-liners and amusing fourth-wall-breaking gags. The critters are written as over-the-top adorable, which makes it that much funnier (or horrifying, depending on your perspective) when you accidentally send one to its doom. Players will also get a chuckle out of the Hate Bot, the game’s main antagonist, as it’ll occasionally mix up its “Destroy!” calls with a random out-of-context line.
The overall package of Cute Things Dying Violently is fantastic. This is the addictive puzzle game people have been searching for since Angry Birds started getting old. You have a solid, addictive hook in the mechanics of the game with a layer of wit on top. I think this game is definitely worth picking up and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it eventually end up on other platforms.
I'll post more reviews as I get them!
Cute Things Dying Violently is now available on Xbox Live Indie Games for 80msp/$1.00!
While I'm busy taking a victory lap, please peruse the Articles section if you need to refer to the game's Walkthrough or tutorials on how to use the Level Editor.
Oh hi, I didn't see you there. I'm an Alex and I make game things:
ApathyWorks' Cute Things Dying Violently is coming to Xbox Live Indie Games (for 80msp) on August 24th as part of the Indie Games Summer Uprising! We're talking about a seminal moment here, up there with Grover Cleveland's inaugural address in terms of historical impact.
What is CTDV? Well, it's a game about Critters. And the Critters need your help! You flick them around each level to get them safely to the elevator. Between the Critters and their salvation lie puzzles and a ton of murderous objects such as spikes, buzzsaws, fire, and a homicidal, bucket-headed robot. It's up to you to save these Cute Things and prevent them from Dying Violently.
In addition to a singleplayer campaign of 60 mind-bending, reflex-testing levels, players can also earn certain Achieve Mints: sweet, leafy green awards that unlock up to 6 special challenge levels where you can hone your murderous abilities. Cute Things Dying Violently also features competitive local multiplayer, where two players face off to try and save their own Critters while simultaneously killing their opponents' with a variety of amusing powerups. Players can also try out the built-in Level Editor and use it to create and play their own (inferior) singleplayer and multiplayer levels.
If you are interested in getting a free download code to review and/or lambast CTDV, please email me or tweet at me (http://twitter.com/#!/AlejandroDaJ/) and I will provide you with a code on or after August 24th. (That's when Microsoft releases the limited codes, because they're stingy buggers.)
That's all for now! I hope to see you playing my game! I'd even settle for seeing my name on the subject line of a very nice Cease and Desist letter. See you August 24th!
-Alex "AlejandroDaJ" Jordan
Cute Things Dying Violently will be released on Xbox Live Indie Games on Wednesday, August 24 and will cost 80 Microsoft Funbucks/$1.00.
In case you didn't realize it, this is incredibly exciting and you're allowed to dance in place for a few moments right now.
Courtesy of Ryan "MasterBlud" Donnelly at VVGTV, the same guy that had a heart-to-heart with me a while back. He mostly just futzes around with the game, but it's fun to watch nonetheless:
Internet! Sweet, precious Internet! Oh, how I've missed you. I knew we'd be apart when I moved into a new apartment, but I couldn't have fathomed how much I'd miss your sweet, sweet embrace. Or how much the value of going in to work would increase once it became my primary method of going online.
Anyway. Did you gather that I moved to a new apartment? I did. I also dislocated my shoulder in the process. Good times.
ANYWAY. Indie Games Channel interviewed me and asked me a buncha cruncha questions about Cute Things Dying Violently. Lots of good material there (they also gave my boss character a name: the "Hate Bot"), but I gotta say that I especially enjoyed answering the question about providing advice to up-and-coming indie developers:
IGC: What advice can you offer to other aspiring developers that might also be looking to become a one-man development crew?
AJ: Keep working at it, because knowledge comes slowly. Expose yourself to all major aspects of game development: programming, 2D art design, 3D modeling, rigging, animation, level design, sound engineering, writing… everything! To be a one-man team, you need to be a jack-of-all-trades. Maximize your strengths, and if you identify weaknesses that might be holding you back, only then look for third party support. (There’s a lot of good places you can buy 3D models, sound effects, or music, but the cost quickly adds up, so you better know what you’re doing.)
Identify what markets you’d like to put a game in, and figure out what kinds of games sell in those markets. Play to the market’s strengths, and go multi-platform if possible to increase your sales and downloads. Draw up a list of gaming journalist sites that might be able to spread the word about your game. Look at the list, then make it double in length. Contact all of them, then find more to contact.
Also, join a community. Make friends with fellow developers, because their support and advice is invaluable. Be active on Twitter, and have a blog or website.
If you quit your day job, game design is now your new job. Hurl yourself at it, and make sure your days are spent productively. If you don’t quit your day job (like I did), cut back on design effort if you’re feeling stressed or real life is intruding, but never stop completely. Recognize that you have a constructive hobby (that can make you money!) and learn to enjoy it. Just keep plugging away, and make sure your skills keep improving, too.
In the mad dash to have a presentable beta of the game for the Indie Games Summer Uprising voters, I was constantly redoing artwork. Seriously, most of my art had a half-life of 48 hours. The problem with that was it was incredibly hard to keep consistent PR materials out in the ether.
To rectify that, here's a new (ish) CTDV trailer, showing off similar footage from the same trailer but with new Critter art and ingame object art. Enjoy! That's an order!
First off, I'm exceptionally proud and excited to say that Cute Things Dying Violently was one of 8 titles selected to participate in the Indie Games Summer Uprising! I came in 6th (certainly not complaining!), and here's the complete lineup:
All of which are excellent games, and I'm proud to be considered in the same category as them. There's yet more to accomplish on CTDV before it's ready for prime time, but I'm good for it! I won't let the Uprising down!
Pun intended, yes.
Additionally, last month I received an award for Around The World, almost a year after its release. Ryan at VVGTV nominated it for Best Educational Game and the voters agreed, netting me a Golden Dude Award:
Wednesday night, I was interviewed by Kairi Vice over at IndieGamerChick. (That's not her real name. She admitted as such after I accused her of being a rogue LAPD cop that lost their partner and now lives on a houseboat.)
It was a really good interview that primarily focused on developing Cute Things Dying Violently and competing in the Indie Games Summer Uprising. There was ample opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the game, as well as a frank discussion about other Xbox Live Indie Games developers and their titles. All in all, a very solid, enjoyable interview, thanks largely to the skill of Kairi, who's only been blogging since early July. I hope she becomes an even bigger friend and ally to the XBLIG crowd.
Read the interview here, or else. It also includes some new screenshots and a new YouTube trailer that shows updated graphics, including new Critter animations.
I made the Top 25 of the Indie Games Summer Uprising contestants, and now I'm trying to turn that "25" into an "8." To do so, I'm fractically - and I really mean frantically - rushing to make the game look better and better before the next round of voting closes on Monday the 18th. I received a couple of suggestions to redo the Critters, so, with great relish, I did so:
Initially, I had a hard time redesigning them from the simple white blobs, and for a silly reason: I was emotionally attached to the simple white blobs! I'd been staring at them as placeholder art for the better part of a year! I was comfortable with them!
But then people started criticizing the blandness and simplicity of them, and I started worrying about my ability to get into the Top 8 of the IGSU. Therefore, ambition trumps attachment. For those of you that know me personally, you now have yet another reason to be wary of my friendship.
I am working my ass off. Guess why?
That's why. Check it out.
As I've said before, the prevailing opinion of my chosen market - Xbox Live Indie Games - is that it isn't that great. Sure, you're given access to an honest-to-God video game console to develop your games, but XBLIG (a) doesn't have much market penetration, (b) is limited to fairly gimped versions of games without Achievements and Leaderboards, and (c) is still suffering from its initial impression as a dumping ground of shovelware.
To rectify this, a bunch of proven, quality-driven developers banded together last December to release their excellent games under the moniker of the Indie Games Winter Uprising. And with a new season comes a new Uprising. But instead of the titles being self-appointed by the developers, like during the Winter Uprising, this Uprising will involve community voting.
The first round of voting is going on now: the four gents running the Uprising are taking stock of all 75 contestants and will narrow that number down to 25 finalists. Starting on Monday, July 11, the voting will be opened to fellow XBLIG developers and Uprising participants, to narrow down the 25 finalists into 8 lucky duckies that will be part of the Uprising. Following that, the entire public will have an opportunity to vote on an additional 2 "fan favorite" games to be part of the Uprising, putting things at a nice round 10 titles on display.
Cute Things Dying Violently is by no means a shoe-in to be selected for the 25 finalists, let alone one of the 8 or 10 games that will get to participate in the Uprising. That said, I think I've made a unique, polished game with plenty of style and humor to spare. I'm optimistic that I'll make it in, and really look forward to hearing back.
Oh, by the by, click the image below to see the CTDV page and all my new media on the Uprising website!
Sorry for the dearth of updates, but I've been working my ass off trying to get the mysterious and volatile Cute Things Dying Violently done in time for an Xbox Live Indie Games promotion (more on that in a bit).
That said, a part of working my ass off involved making PR materials as opposed to just slaving over my codebase, so here's something I shat out that I'm actually quite taken with: the game's first trailer!
More updates soon once I have time to catch my breath.
It turns out that I've been busy lately. No more "Project Squish" moniker! This is the real deal!
I've been scrambling to finish things up for the Indie Games Summer Uprising that kind of came out of nowhere, so the hell with what was going to be a concerted PR campaign. I'll take "piggyback off of lots of official journalists' attention" over my own efforts any day.
More promo materials to come soon as I continue this mad scramble towards the Uprising.