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There are some good answers elsewhere on this forum. All you really needed to do was look through similar threads already posted, like this one:

It is sort of obvious, but great art style and visuals will help get people to notice your game, and good gameplay and game content beyond that will get them to keep playing. 

Also note that statistically, the more games a randomly selected developer has released in the past, the better the odds of a new game from that developer doing well, by a fairly big margin, vs. a game from any randomly selected developer with a shorter track record. I am not sure if that pattern has more to do with the improvement in the typical dev's skill level over multiple projects, or the fact that they've slowly built a community, or maybe, the simple mathematical reality that bad developers tend to fail commercially and then give up quickly, i.e. it may simply be that good developers usually last longer and the really bad ones get filtered out?

Or it may just be the Rovio phenomenon - Rovio making 20-odd little mobile games (yes, on phones predating the first gen iPhone) before they hit gold with Angry Birds. But it wasn't accidental, they leveraged the revenue from each game to make the next one bigger, more polished, and more effectively marketed as the ever changing target-platform phones started to be able to run better and better quality games. Angry Birds wasn't indie, it was from an established developer that didn't have an accidental hit at all, but a mathematically calculated, strategic one backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in carefully and cleverly allocated social media ad push getting it to the top while the market was not yet saturated. Then sadly, they milked it and had no really new good ideas for the next big thing, they were like Zynga, one cynical innovation in freemium design, being turned into dozens of variants of the exact same pile of broken garbage. With occasional exceptions ripped off with zero meaningful improvements, from actual indie developers' games nobody has really noticed because those indies couldn't spend their way into the mainstream like the knockoffs could. Yeah, I despise the people saying I should make the next Angry Birds, firstly because I don't really like Angry Birds very much, and because it is not indie. I want to make something bigger, better, deeper, and most likely, nobody will notice it. But that is how the industry works, a lot of lame crap is now becoming hugely successful simply due to manipulative marketers and a frequently lazy playerbase which refuses to spend a couple $ on a great game and instead downloads freemium stuff that is inherently broken and never seems to connect the dots on this... that freemium games are almost 100% garbage.

But whatever... the basic deal is, a lot of people are struggling with this. They want to know how to get to a successful game release. But truth be told, you won't make money as an indie game dev. Don't be upset by that, it is just how it is. Twelve indie games a year become hits, out of thousands, so it is kind of a lottery really, and you will never be the winner of it, nor will I. The market is saturated with indie stuff already. So unless what we are doing is exceptional, it won't stand a chance of being noticed by the public, and even if it is genuinely outstanding, it is still unlikely to be a hit.

Yeah, we can aim for the support positions like asset pack creation now that the indie gold rush is over, but even that clearly is difficult to do successfully.

I know, I have 1600+ seamless textures and overlays/decals, 160+ video VFX elements, 120+ 3d assets, split across almost ten different asset packs, and they have sold, about 30 times in all, which is amazing, but nobody has rated even one of them so it is getting hard for the development of them to be much worth continuing past 2020.

They will go on sale again together in a bundle for just $1 total, on Labor Day Weekend 2020, and I would love to see about $10+ in sales this time but that is unlikely as no sale I have ever run here has actually made that much. I would love for someone to rate them but that is even less likely. It is okay. I will just keep at it. 

Because I am kind of out of other better options right now.

Start with the aspect (or two) of the project you anticipate will be your most difficult to implement, even if that's not the part of the project you're excited about. If you can get a small-scale prototype of that core feature set working, the game will be more likely possible to complete in its entirety. For 'Miniature Multiverse' my concept was broken early on - I couldn't figure out a way to do the interactions or rather, wasn't sure what engine would work for the project, and I couldn't find an effective high-res way to capture the first-person panoramic miniature art.

Both problems I finally solved around 2016, so that's when I started to fast track that project. The solutions were a GoPro-style camera [actually an alternative smaller than GoPro and cheaper], that could be fit into the worlds instead of mounted above them, as earlier attempts had tried to capture the entire panorama off the reflections of a 2" chrome ball bearing, but I could never entirely get enough resolution or minimize distortion even with a polar unwrap of an image captured with a 20-megapixel camera and a good optical zoom. Realizing I could finally get good results with a tiny camera rotated at 15-degree increments for every node, just stitch that all together with a panoramic image editor, was one aha moment, the other was custom designing a panoramic adventure game framework in Unity despite the fact that nobody else was really doing that with that engine. But Unity was flexible enough that with Unity as an engine and Playmaker for visual scripting, I could make it work.

Start small and build on that limited release, and get feedback early. This may not apply so much to 'Miniature Multiverse' but I'm considering changing that plan to match the plans for other projects that ARE episodic, like 'Crowdsourced Adventure', 'Panoramic Worlds', etc. And other projects are so focused in scope to begin with that the limited release is the entire plan. I have four such short games being packaged for $1 as 'Matthew's Minigames'. There's much to be said for starting small, and leveraging the first small proof of concept to build momentum in later projects. I certainly did that with videos. My first video project was cheesy and awful, only a minute long with 4 very simple VFX shots [in 2001] and worse, no cast besides me. But once people saw that little thing, then the one after it, and so on, my reputation sort of snowballed locally and suddenly I had casts of as many as 20+ people appearing in some of my projects, projects that would have failed utterly if I hadn't started smaller and built up to that sort of scope. Sadly, 90% of that stuff is not online - many of the bigger projects had one or two flaky cast members who never ended up signing any talent release form. So legally, it's risky putting things online that not everyone's signed off on being widely public. But the lesson - start with something small and show it to people - still stands.

Focus mostly on one project at a time if you can. I'm awful at this, I know. I have too many projects. But usually there's one that is prioritized in any given timeframe until it is complete. Others still get some attention in a rotation but more than half my time goes into the 'core project' until it is done or reaches an impasse. For the moment, that is still 'Miniature Multiverse' which is going to be the biggest focus for me until it is done, with the only exception being someone paying me to do a thing other than that. Which is to say, when I see a freelancing opportunity handed to me that can help fund the remaining costs of the project I'll take it. Multitasking though just doesn't work. You cannot focus on more than one task at a time. And the best work, the work you're in a flow state doing, really engrossed in, you don't get there until you've been focused on it for at least fifteen minutes. So in general I don't spend less than an hour or two minimum, on a project on any given day, before pivoting to a different one.

Pull in other resources and people if you are utterly lacking in a specific skill area. I am not able to compose music, so I've either licensed stock music or had people here compose tracks for me at a somewhat low but reasonable pay rate. I am okay with visual scripting but pretty poor at 'real' code as I understand logic but am not great with syntax or details in most programming languages... I would frequently code something, run into an error and waste hours digging through the code only to realize a stray typo or semicolon / spacing issue was ruining all of it. Not that traditional scripting's bad - in many cases it is way more efficient and far more flexible - but if the interaction's such that it'll work faster in an FSM I often prefer that. My strength is art and if you have a strong point, a useful gamedev skill... you can leverage that one skill area and trade work with others barter-style or work for pay / then hire someone, which is essentially the same idea.

These are basic ideas that I think can be useful. And finally, one other obvious one, save and back up your project regularly. Locally, and in the cloud. If there are three copies of it you are unlikely to run into massive loss of work. Which can happen on projects that you've worked on for years. I'd also advise choosing a popular, actively developed/supported/updated game engine as the basis of your project. I have some old minigames made with Adventure Maker and that engine has not been updated in a decade essentially, and won't support Windows 8 or 10. Which means my games are utterly unplayable for most people today and will need to be reworked in an entirely new engine, same with the old Vivid Minigolf which used Gamesalad and that has been discontinued and the game is no longer playable due to that. So that game's now being remade in the newest Scirra Construct engine. [Construct 3 - I started off remaking it in C2 but have just begun reworking in C3 for futureproofing reasons. Crowdsourced Adventure likewise will shift to C3 soon.] 

I hope all of that helps - if you're interested in any of what I'm doing, check out the links above or visit my Itch.IO profile, Thanks!

$0.79/hr, specifically, plus cost of any project-specific niche materials involved if applicable. If a person here wants me to help with their project but can't afford that cost per hour somehow due to lack of budget, but still wants free /cheap art made for their project, etc, they can pay in the form of some sort of authentic feedback or activity on my profile, either a comment [20 mins. work] a follow [40 mins. work], or a rating of one of my free asset packs. [one hour of work.] or a paid one [four hours of work, but you'd need to buy the item for usually about $1 or so]. 

Doesn't even need to be glowing feedback, just honest & fair. 

My profile is and you can see that I've released a ton of stock 3d assets there. I can output to common formats such as .FBX or .OBJ with 2d assets and texture art in typical image formats such as .png.

Furniture and Interiors Asset Pack 2020

Given the fact that I've made a bit over $50 in total sales and tips there, but have yet to receive any customer ratings of the stock-media content, despite putting well over a hundred hours of work into all of it combined, I figure maybe it'd be worth it to do this just in hopes of building up some sort of activity there in the future.

I've had thousands [over 10k] views between the profile and all the subpages there. I know if ratings or positive comments are posted from others that my sales will improve. I know because the only feedback there is on a product called 'Triumphant Artists Complete Collection [2018]' which by itself accounts for about a third of my sales - sales that started to appear there more frequently after that comment was posted. I'm convinced that if there were some buyers rating this material it would take off in a big way but that has not happened yet.

This is a first-come first-served kind of deal so if anyone is up for this and would like to get things rolling, contact me at; if you delay others may jump in first and eat up a lot of my schedule so you might need to wait a few days/weeks before I get around to your project.

Nice little Mystlike adventure game! Hope you continue expanding it because it's, as you said, rather short.

I'm also doing some things in that genre. My itch profile is and I have a number of in-development adventure games shown there.

Yeah, itch is awesome! And I am always happy to see this sort of positivity, that is how game dev communities should be!

Okay, here's some context:

I have now made over 30 sales of paid items and had over 160 other downloads of free content that I released... just over 200 downloads in all and thousands of views on my profile and pages.

Not one of the 200+ downloaders, paid or not, has rated anything. The most anyone has done is leave a brief comment, which incidentally has been a huge victory for that specific listing - it now comprises almost half my sales.

I know the statistical logic for ratings is that usually about 10% of people rate items they download or buy, and that the number is higher if they had a very strong positive or negative reaction to the item that was bought.

Here on that 10-20% range hasn't been the case at all and I am unsure why.

Is it just that the items are so cheap that they're impulse buy fodder and that maybe they then provoke a neutral (mildly satisfied) reaction, not a bad one, and thus people feel it is not worth bothering to rate for something they got cheaply and were modestly happy with but not elated by?

Or is this a case of statistically unusual and anomalous bad luck, or a more systemic issue with itch ratings not being prominent or encouraged on the itch platform? I have rated a few, like ten, other peoples' games in a positive manner (I like a lot of things, I am not super nitpicky, so my ratings tend toward 4-5 stars) and such, and according to itch's own data apparently almost nobody on has posted that many ratings. "Of people who have rated anything, 98% have rated fewer items than you". (Why?)

I have, on eBay, gotten hundreds of positive ratings, about 70% of buyers and sellers there rate me in a transaction. It is a cultural thing and it is kind of expected, and on Etsy... maybe 45% of buyers rate. Why is it so much less likely for anyone to rate items on

Finally: are there any ethical strategies any of you use successfully to encourage reviews/ratings/comments?

I am not inclined to do things like pull in third parties (friends, family) to rate, or incentivize ratings with a bonus like a gift card, extra content, etc, as none of that is really ethical. I do have text on the pages encouraging reviews, ratings, comments, any sort of feedback and there is a little PDF readme actually in many of my asset packs which does the same.

Kind of wonder what else I can try that will actually get the ball rolling there... without impartial feedback on the asset pack pages, people are unable to fully assess quality of the content, and as a result I have had literally thousands of people passing through my pages and not buying anything, or buying (rarely) but not actually rating.

I am at a loss here. I have spent $60+ advertising this stuff in the last year, over 300,000 fine tuned banner ad impressions and 450 clicks just on one ad network alone, I have also been pretty actively and effectively pulling traffic in through Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram... my own websites... and the sales at current levels, don't manage to recoup that effort.

Any suggestions?

Note, I do have a few ideas I am brainstorming here... like making a free pack of 3d assets and/or seamless textures with another 3d object and seamless texture added free, for every rating posted on any (paid or free) asset pack. The more ratings accumulate on any asset pack, free or paid, the larger that additional freebie collection gets. I will commit two more hours of effort to adding that for every single bit of genuine feedback - rating, review, comment - posted on any of my product pages.

In other words, if people will review my work, it will result in some new stuff I am working on, being posted as freeware, rather than tacked onto existing paid packages. This seems sort of clever, in a way, as the incentive for public response is more free public releases, not tied directly to the person who posted the rating but made available simply for everybody. 

But is that a good route to pursue? Is it, to put simply, a good idea that is acceptable? Do any of you have a better one?

Maybe in lieu of wasting more time, money advertising, I can donate a dollar to some widely respected charitable cause, for each review or star rating posted for the rest of 2020 on any page of mine, up to maybe $20/month? 

Yeah, I am serious. I am willing to try a lot of things, would be prepared to incentivize responses, but obviously not in a way that is directly tied to or paying off, on any direct individual or personal level, the specific person who is doing the rating.


If any of these, or any other idea, seem to be viable or acceptable, or maybe not, let me know. I am just trying to find something that works.

Because itch's review system right now is less than ideal. It doesn't get used by anybody much, and that means most games and assets on itch, do not have posted public feedback of any kind. That is bad for players/buyers who cannot assess quality of things they see on itch, and it is bad also for developers of the more high quality and high value content, who likewise cannot convincingly demonstrate the value of their work with users' responses to it.

What do you all think about this?

Matthew L. Hornbostel,

I have loved a ton of games over the years in a variety of genres. Picking one favorite in all that time is nearly impossible to me. 

But... in terms of sheer impact on the course of my life and work, often the earliest ones seem to be the most influential and impactful.

Maybe it is the nostalgic aspect, the fact that I was such an ardent game-player in childhood, or the fact that in the early years (1990s) the field was truly new... but when you look back at that decade in retrospect, you can see so many things coalescing and establishing norms for the first time, the first MMOs, the first FPS and multiplayer FPS, RTSs, simulation games, a whole host of genres taking shape and form, and a degree of experimentation suddenly emerging that is now only really seen in indie games. You could see a real revolution occuring in 3d graphics - prerendered first, then the advent of early realtime 3d. 

Nowadays, of course, it is far trickier to push graphics forward, you have games like GTA V that cost over a quarter of a billion dollars to make. And that has resulted in a sort of Hollywoodization of gaming, tons of polish but proportionally fewer brand new IPs, lots of sequels, high development cost per game and therefore fear of taking really major risks outside of the indie scene. Not to say experimentation's gone, it isn't at all, but there is a disconnect between 'indie' and 'AAA' now. Back then, every studio was small, every game was made on a budget that today would be considered indie. Look at the original 'SimCity', at the start of the '90s, essentially designed solely by Will Wright. Or 'Civilization' by Sid Meier. These were one-person operations. Indie. 

Then in '93, two competing visions for the future of gaming by two little teams, changed everything (yet again).

Doom - the first multiplayer FPS, with a fast, fun rapid fire game design and (crude looking) early realtime 3d levels. The choice of dynamism and excitement.

Myst - everything Doom wasn't, basically. Slow paced, super detailed but also sort of static (prerendered visuals) because realtime games then couldn't hold much detailing at all. Myst demanded careful observation to complete, it was puzzle based, exploration based and told most of its story through its intricately designed game worlds. 

Between these two, the seeds for today's plethora of great games were formed. The realtime 3d format, with all its freedom of motion, yet with the attention to detail and visual realism and imagination of Myst. 

And I felt like, at the time, as a child, aspects of both were going to change everything. And actually, they did. Now we have these vast, freely explorable open worlds, incredible attention to details, all of that merged together.

So that was me as a kid. I came out of Myst and its sequels absolutely entranced by the aesthetics and the sheer audacious skillfullness with which the worlds were made... watching to see when realtime 3d would be able to match that level of detail and richness and depth. By the mid-late 2000s, we were unquestionably arriving there.

Today? I am past college, past some failed career efforts working for others, but am now setting off on my own, an indie game dev, with my strongest area of skill being in the field of 3d art and animation.

I also do some video production and VFX stuff, traditional art and handcrafted miniatures, etc, and a lot of that is being mixed in various ways to make games that look hand painted or hand drawn,  games made with realistic 3d art, games even made with O scale miniature art. I have a lot in the pipeline and it is moving forward and this couldn't make me happier.

So in retrospect, the range of emergent early games may look like utter garbage by modern standards. Fine. But that old wild west of the early games industry, from Simcity to Civ, Civ 2, to Doom, Myst and Riven, Half-Life, Age of Empires, Starcraft, Roller Coaster Tycoon, etc, that era is what showed me the sheer potential of the gaming field. It was that timeframe that made it clear that someday I would want to do 'this'. Because there I saw a massive, diverse wave of innovation of the sort that only is possible in the stumbling nascent years of a new art form.

I am thrilled by everything that has developed since then. Many of the games you all have mentioned were touchstones to me as well. When I explored the art-deco city of Rapture for the first time in 'Bioshock' or the overgrown Aperture Labs in Portal 2 or the desolate yet beautiful sands of Journey, or the dystopian City 17 in Half Life 2, the sense of lingering dread and existential horror in 'Soma', and a multitude of other experiences of various types... each giving me a sense of place and history and the experience of being transported and immersed in a world that was truly new and fascinating. I may be starting small, but someday I would love to evoke that sense of awe and mystery and enchantment myself, with a story and a world of my own.

That is my goal. That is where I am heading, or at least trying to someday go.

But right now, a lot of work needs to be done first. I still have a lot to learn and much still to do.

-Matthew Lyles Hornbostel,

Totally agreed on Dr. Langeskov, a very funny and clever short little game, that has actually quite generously been freeware since its first release.

 There is no good reason not to check it out. It's by the people who did the also-brilliant 'The Stanley Parable', so sharp humor + insightful dismantling and examination of assumed video game tropes and designs is a given.

-The Stanley Parable asks us a lot of things about the design of games but primarily why games, structurally, don't give us more choices while also asking if the choices given in a game can really mean anything. 

-The Beginner's Guide asks us to examine the relationship between a creator and their creation, and examines the danger of reading too much into an author's work. It is a comment on obsessive fandom, basically.

-Dr. Langeskov, finally, asks 'what if the player were not actually starting this game as 'the player', but as some sort of backstage assistant in the game environment setting things up and triggering events and hazards for the real player of the game?'

Davey Wreden, Galactic Cafe & Crows Crows Crows = awesome meta commentary.

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The open world game 'Eastshade' - it is one of the most beautiful and ambitious indie titles I have ever seen.

The core developer team seems to be - from what I can tell online - essentially just five really dedicated people, who have been building this world for years, the rest of the credits basically is just a ton of voiceover people they brought in to do various characters in the world.

They've made a really peaceful and pretty 3d game world that spans roughly 2 or 3 sq. km in area, but doesn't feel sparse or empty. There are a fair number of interactions, characters, landmarks, etc, spaced nicely all over that. The game has a bit of a crafting aspect as well and manages to be both peaceful and engaging. I don't even know how to categorize it. It isn't a mere walking sim or a conventional adventure game puzzler, more like an unusually colorful Bethesda game in some aspects, but pacifist, no death, no danger, but still definitely fairly fun, and somehow made by a development team about 1/20th the size. - I bought it on Steam during a sale, and I personally felt it was well worth it.

Lyndow entry area:

In the great shade under a giant tree:

The day / night cycle is gorgeous too. 

My map, seen recently on the Eastshade Steam guides section:

Basically, this entire game is a great work of art. 

It has a few rough edges but basically is still an amazing acheivement given the small studio source. 

Yes, good advice from all of the people here.

Other notes:

- The game has to be good enough in playablity to hold players' attention in a crowded market, and also needs to look good enough to get them to play it in the first place. Visuals, audio, and interactions should all be solid. If your game has a narrative element that should be done well too. The more effectively you can showcase your game's appeal on its page the more people will respond to it. And this is a factor too - beyond just getting people there in the first place. 'Programmer art' is not going to grab attention. Learn how to do 2d/3d art or find someone who can. Personally, I'm on the opposite end, I am passable at programming and technical stuff but art is actually my forte. So that works in my favor. My weakest spot is composing music - I could acquire stock audio for everything but I've opted to hire a musician I found on itch to compose a score for my game 'Miniature Multiverse'. Sound adds a lot of mood to games, and makes them more engaging and immersive.

 -There are a few key numbers involved. The number of people who have any awareness that your work exists, the percentage of people who see any sort of promo for your game who actually click the link to look at your game's page, the percentage of page viewers who bother to download/buy and install the game, and the percentage of those who stick with it and like it...  In my case over half a million people have seen banners, blog posts, forum signatures, text links, mentions in articles, webpages of one sort or another that connect to one or more of my pages on [This thread included] but only about 11,500 total pageviews of my itch content. [According to Google Analytics] and only 200-odd downloads, mostly on the tiny packs of free content. My actual sales + tip volume is under $50 total but it may still grow once there's some indication of quality from unbiased customers. (I.e. About $50 in sales but nobody's actually reviewed anything I've sold yet) In general, only 8-10% of buyers will post a review. But once that first rating is visible, things can start to snowball and that's what I'm hoping will happen on my content. In the meantime, I've been having some periodic ridiculous bundle sales at 90+% off, the next one is actually 93% off for example. [June 21-July 4, 2020] and I hope that works out well enough to generate some sales and ideally a few reviews too finally. 'Social proof' is what marketers call it. But it's really just a fancy term for reviews or ratings that show that at least some of your players liked the game you released. The ratings are harder to get than the purchases, and purchases are harder to get than simple free downloads. But sales and ratings are - even if difficult - very important, especially if the review is from a well-known gaming reviewer.   

Community engagement. You can leverage your existing communities and social networks, and that's a good starting point. If you have a bunch of email contacts, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, if you have a website [and if you're serious about this, you should] these are all places to mention what you are working on and that you have made a game. Ditto for any relevant gaming or otherwise related groups you frequent. I.e. bulletin boards and the like. Forum signatures are great, most forums will give you a way to add a signature or image link, something that is placed at the bottom of every one of your posts. Don't spam, try to make your posts helpful and give them actual useful content. (Like what I'm doing here). Be ready to respond to criticism and feedback, as long as it's constructive and not just vicious and personal in nature. You'll need a thick skin as usual online. You may want to keep tabs on your game trailer video if you've posted it on YouTube (which you should), Instagram and Pinterest can be good places for screenshots and concept art/sketches. I have well over a thousand people seeing my boards and pins on Pinterest every month. That's a good thing, social media feeds [text or media] are good to post updates on every now and then relating to your project. Twitter especially, relevant hashtags like #ScreenshotSaturday or #MondayMotivation can be a source of attention. Try making your own tag too that ties into your project. [in other words, #YourGameName. Then you can search every once in a while, and then politely respond to anyone on social networks who happened to use it in reference to your work. Gives you a good overview of what people are saying about your game.

Finally, note the importance of a launch window. Build up publicity in a way that is tied to the launch day - so you can pull in a sudden, large wave of traffic, enough to push your project up the ranks into the places where people actually can see it as popular on Itch, Steam, etc. This strategy of a 'publicity burst' on launch day is frequently successful. The idea is to hype the game in the weeks prior to the stated day, build a fanbase of sorts before release, and let them know when the game will come out as soon as you yourself are sure you can hit that mark. Then throw out lean, well-targeted campaigns on the day of, including publicity with any gaming outlet that expresses any interest in mentioning your PR materials/package - i.e. a folder of video trailer or trailers, screenshots, a summary of the game's concept, game wallpapers, release date and game title at the top, basic core info and materials that make it easy for a reporter to throw together an article about the game. Paid ads are also an option, with Google, Facebook/Instagram, Bing, Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter... all of these are places you can run a campaign of your own design and tweak it / optimize it for under $60. Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of these really, are great in that you can target specific niche interests, so if you have a game with a particular audience in mind (say for example, 4x turn-based strategy) you could target those who've 'liked' the Civilization series, Stellaris, Endless Legend, etc.  That will improve the number of people who will respond to your ad positively and be likely to actually be interested in your game. 

In general, games make most of their revenue very quickly after release. This has been shown to be generally the case in recent years, though there are exceptions - games like 'Psychonauts' or 'Beyond Good and Evil' with critical and player acclaim but minimal publicity out of the gate, are usually the exceptions, such games may have insanely long runs, most of the people who bought Psychonauts did so more than five years after its actual release. These games of course didn't get the green light for any form of sequel until around a decade after the original launch and were initially seen as flops. Then there's the scenario where a game starts strong and manages to stay strong in sales for years. The classic example would be 'Myst' which released in Sept. 1993, and managed to top annual game sales charts for Windows for three straight years [1993, 1994, and 1995] which is basically unheard of and I don't think any game's ever done that since. But 'The Sims' came close to doing that in the early 2000s, certainly, and in doing so sold a then-unheard of 14 million copies of its base game by 2002. ...and The Sims did this in a very similar way [appealing to, and drawing in, vast swaths of casual or nongamers, often women, who had never really much played video games before]. But, historical slow-burn or cultural-phenomenon anomalies aside, don't be surprised if the first 48 hours after launch net you 10-15% of the revenue the game makes in its entire run, or if the first month post-launch raises as much as the following year. That's far more common, to some extent with indies and especially true with big games with pre-existing name recognition and fanbases present at the outset. Grand Theft Auto V, for example, cost $265 million to develop, but made basically all of its costs back in the first two days following launch. 

FINALLY: Your first project will probably not make an impact in the wider world. But keep at it. Leverage your previous small successes to make better and better games every year. One of my biggest pet peeves is anyone who says I could make "The Next Angry Birds" as if that was not made by Rovio AFTER they'd already launched over fifty other titles for multiple platforms. It was not indie, and it didn't just come out of nowhere. Most overnight successes are years in the making. Yours will be too. Be patient and put in the work. Keep learning, keep building skills, and keep making games. Someday, if you keep at it, things will improve. Your work will get better and your results will improve. If this is your dream, don't give up.

- Matthew Hornbostel, 

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I agree. Some buyers might find a project, buy it on a whim or download free without tipping, realize it's amazing, better than they expected it to be after they download it and experience it, and want to tip *after* having experienced it. I can see this being useful both for myself as a creator, and as a player who has been pleasantly surprised by several of the games I've bought, only to realize the tipping option's no longer easy to do post-purchase.

-- Matthew Hornbostel, game dev, game player, and maker of game assets:

Impressive earnings, and I don't see a problem with aiming to make something off of your work, the work itself has costs attached and funding is needed to continue developing fresh game content at any reasonable pace. That is just how things are. I do a lot of sub-minimum wage work on mTurk and a few other online venues unrelated to gamedev in order to finance my gamedev efforts, and I am sure that if my games / assets sold better then I would be able to pivot to doing that full time. I would do game development and creative work full time in a heartbeat if it were generating enough to work out that way.

My earnings at this time on itch, total at nearly $50.

That is earnings off of asset packs for game devs, not games, generally. I have made a little over 20 sales, still zero ratings of my content. Some of the customers have tipped, generously as well, probably due to the perception that my content is underpriced relative to comparable other assets on itch.

The asset packs, that raised the $50 cost me, in all, around $300 and a few hundred hours of work to develop. 

I also have a number of games in the works but they're starting to drift a bit behind schedule yet again in 2020 despite my best efforts. Those vary but the most costly and ambitious one has been 'Miniature Multiverse' which has cost me over a thousand unpaid hours of work and now just over $1350 in development funds.

I have drawn in thousands of views on my itch profile - now over ten thousand pageviews total according to Google Analytics - and the little freebies there have been downloaded nearly 200 times, but the general absence of ratings and feedback is holding most people back from buying or downloading anything.

Feedback, real, authentic and hopefully positive feedback, showing up on my assets could be a colossal game-changer for me. The attention is there but the lack of feedback is holding everything back from really taking off.

I am initiating another major bundle sale from June 21 to July 4, 2020, a two week span during which everything I have posted on itch is bundled for 93% off ($0.89).

That includes 1500+ seamless texture maps, 150+ video VFX elements, 75+ 3d objects, and more.


I also have some outbound links on my main profile that include websites, social media feeds, an Etsy shop and so on, the Etsy shop has seen a modest recent boom even despite coronavirus, due to the first wave of ratings/reviews there from 3 out of my first 7 Etsy customers.

ETSY shop: - lots of original artworks on canvas shipped to buyers, consistently priced under $20 per item - even 18"x24" original paintings on stretched canvas - with free shipping on all orders over $35.

I also have an eBay shop which has admittedly deteriorated a bit recently, in terms of shipment speed and customer service. But it does have 387 positive reviews and zero negatives. The 'mixed' positive ratings recently happened as a result of some buyers basically exploiting a generous refund policy, they would claim item never arrived or was ruined and I would refund  without even asking for a photo of the damage. I have just recently changed this policy not for my own benefit (though that policy did eliminate my razor thin profit margins and cause the shop to usually operate at a loss) but because it was adversely affecting legitimate customers who I was struggling to deliver items to due to scammers depleting my funding balance to the point where I really genuinely could not cover all the other shipments in any sort of timely manner.

But my eBay shop is here: and I plan to post  batch of new listings soon. The eBay shop's been known for selling DVDs of my stock media and personalized art listings, so buyers can have custom paintings, pastel or colored pencil art made based on their own subjects, at pricing similar to the Etsy pricing.

Basically, I would love it if my creative work netted me more than $1 per hour on average but this hasn't happened yet, not even close, so I am stuck doing a fair bit of tedious microtasking at $3-5 per hour to keep things afloat and moving forward.

But that is my status, I have parents who cover a lot of my core living expenses. I have, generally, free room/board and that is why I am able to do any of this in the first place. I can make under $5k a year and still be okay for the near term... I am what is referred to as 'long term unemployed' despite working 11-12 hours a day, so go figure. Long term I would hope to make more than this and maybe actually someday move out and have my own place so I am less of a burden.

Maybe I could even start giving to worthwhile causes, which I would do with any amount earned above $10k a year if I ever reached that income level. Business should not be simply about making money, should be about making an impact on the world for the better. My view anyways.

Wow, what a nice puzzle game. Beautiful clean art style and great creative puzzle design and really interesting little levels. I'm rather impressed!

-Matthew L. Hornbostel, creator of numerous games and game assets on

Celticz: My primary current email is, FYI. You can reach me there. 

Sorry, everyone else, for hijacking this page, I kind of did, and I apologize for that.

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Furniture and interior objects asset pack has just been released.

I am unsure if this category is an acceptable space for non-game releases. If it is not allowed to post (game assets) then I apologize and the mods should feel free to close this thread.

I have in the past 2 days released and am about to post a first free update to, a furniture and contemporary indoor/interiors asset pack. - a collection of textured and UV mapped interior 3d models in .OBJ and .FBX formats. Textures are either minimally compressed .jpg or 32-bit .png when surface opacity varies on an object. All files are combined into a .zip file to make downloading simpler.

This is my seventh game asset pack. It has been released during the first 24 hrs. of a Memorial Weekend bundle sale of game assets and is included in that discounted bundle of seven asset packs for the next two days. (As of time of this post anyway)

I will attempt to push a free update to this pack and some of my others as well, before the end of the sale but no guarantees that will all be ready in time. I have worked hard on a lot of projects, and maybe been a bit too assertive and made things awkward in the attempt to make people aware of them. I am sorry for any problems this may have caused. 

Again, in none of these cases was I intending to violate rules. If at any time I have unwittingly done so, maybe due to specific rules being unclear, please let me know.

Thank you developers of for creating such a wonderful and user friendly game site.

That's subjective. A thing is worth what people are willing to pay for it, and in the case of indie and mobile games a lot of people are hesitant to pay anything - thus the epidemic of broken 'freemium' games lately.

It is a challenge to overcome that psychological barrier of convincing people to pay for something. Especially in my case on, I have made an absurd amount of material available for a ridiculous pricing level during sales, like this Memorial Day sale (May 22-26, 2020) I have a ton of assets for game devs bundled at 93% off, 1500+ texture maps, 120+ video elements, 75+ 3d assets... for under a dollar. And nobody is buying currently. Because of the whole social proof issue - no reviews or ratings kills trust. My profile on itch

$85 - amount I have spent so far promoting my shop

$450 - total cost of camera gear and materials for occasional stock video shoots since the first stuff from 2013.

Over 400 hours put into making stock textures, video, and 3d assets. After that first 400 I sort of stopped counting.

$1900 - total amount spent so far on developing indie games I am trying very hard to launch this year.

1700+ hours poured into the gamedev stuff (projects) I have worked on that have teaser pages on itch. (That is only some of my gamedev work, however, there have been many defunct, failed or financially unsuccessful but nonetheless launched projects.)

10,000+ - total number of page views on my itch profile and projects. I continue to promote this anywhere I can and I have many views but few buyers.

Sales volume I have achieved on itch is at about $40 total so far... So major loss margin so far, fewer than two dozen actual customers and ZERO reviews, ONE comment from a customer. I am financing a lot of the work with mTurk gigs that pay under half of minimum wage, or selling art on Etsy/eBay here and there.  I want to scrap the tedious gigs part, and do game development and creative work full time - but without customer ratings and an uptick in sales it will continue to be an uphill battle. Oh well...

Sorry for griping and going on this rant, I know it doesn't help. But suffice it to say that people like you who would consider paying *above* $4 for great indie art like the stuff CavesRD makes? You are kind of an anomaly in today's market.

Congrats on this, you deserve it!

I love seeing all the cool puzzle/adventure games showing up on and yours has always been one of the more promising examples here.

My games on have not yet been released but I do have a lot of game assets launched for indie devs and I have done enough game dev work to realize how challenging it can get and how much is involved in making content as good as yours.

Yeah, if this is really what you want to do, and you have a great idea, or at least an idea you love, break it down into concrete steps, substeps and things needed to make it a reality.

Then just move forward on those pieces, until they're all complete and your game's done.

Then launch it and promote it, and repeat the process. 

Also be sure to play to your strengths and enlist help where you lack ability. I've enlisted a musician for my game 'Miniature Multiverse' because I know that I'm not skilled there. But I am a very capable artist and while I'm not a strong coder I can certainly handle high-level 'visual code' in Construct 2 or Unity + Playmaker without too much difficulty, so that's how I handle most interactivity.  

But do realize indie gamedev is super competitive and odds of making a lot of money on it are extremely low. Don't expect much, especially early on with your first game.

Also, don't aim for things that are so ambitious they're impossible to realistically complete. Don't try to make a giant MMO, start small and build a proof-of-concept [usually with a ton of placeholder graphics and audio] first to make sure the crucial and hardest-to-solve mechanics work, and once you know the game can be made playable and fun in a limited state, focus on adding to that prototype with nice visuals and sound and more variations of existing interactions, more polished everything. 

For my game 'Miniature Multiverse' the idea was a first-person puzzle/adventure game [i.e. sort of a Myst-like] with realistic-looking O-scale miniature handcrafted graphics, it's cost me $1200+ and the concept began in 2010, but only moved forward in earnest around 2016 or so. 

I had a few key things to solve, at the outset - firstly how to capture panoramas inside a scale miniature gameworld, what software to use as a game engine, etc. I tried several engines and VR-tour softwares before realizing that this could work with Unity. As for the panoramic capture, the first steps were missteps but I eventually solved it when the cameras got compact enough and high-res enough that I could mount them inside the model setpieces without issue. [Prior to that I tried using a [then] high-end 14-mp, $140, digital point-and-shoot cam with optical zoom mounted above the mini world, capturing reflections off 2" chrome ball bearings with polar coordinate unwrap. The resolution that resulted was never good enough.]

Bu in 2016 I revisited this with the breakthroughs of the rapidly evolving Unity engine and modern, super-compact GoPro-type action cams. That's when I tested this all again and realized, yeah, I can do this. After that, been developing it heavily for four years, will try to release a full game by the end of 2020.

It'd be great if we had a few more tags focused on categories besides games, i.e. game assets, physical games, soundtracks, etc.

When trying to identify relevant tags in non-videogame categories it can be a challenge to find much in the tag list that's useful at times.  Maybe the tags list could vary with a few category-specific additions or removals depending on what category you are searching through?

There are now well over 7,000 physical board/card games and 10,000 game assets on, for example, so it's getting to the point where this is a real issue for both creators trying to tag their work and for people browsing, looking for specific types of niche things in non-videogame categories that lack adequately descriptive tags tailored to where they are actually searching. 

Some of the tags are only applicable in certain categories and irrelevant for others - that consistency in tagging lists may have some upsides but often it makes the tagging and searching situation less than ideal.

I won't provide a list of specific changes, and I'm unsure what the best approach even is here, this is open to community input and discussion, and is just a casual suggestion from someone who mostly has posted game assets, not games so far - and who finds the existing tag set a less than ideal fit for much of what I've posted and searched for on

Matthew L. Hornbostel,

Yeah, I played C&C a bit too back in the day though that series just got more and more ridiculous as it went, and then it just sort of deteriorated to the point where nothing of quality was showing up, which I suspect was largely EA's fault as a meddling publisher. [RIP Westwood] I'm not sure why Starcraft 2 didn't do better - it was certainly well-designed in most respects but not popular enough to avert Blizzard's wholesale shift into the MMORPG category and away from doing anything more with the RTSs with (Starcraft/Warcraft). Basically the genre's been dormant or dead for 13 years now, following the release of SC2, aside from the occasional throwbacks embracing nostalgia like mobile port of C&C or the HD remaster of the original Starcraft and the first two Homeworld titles. (If you don't recall Homeworld, well, it was pretty noteworthy being an RTS circa 2000 with a true 3d map where combat and navigation were in sectors of fully 3-dimensional space, not just built off of a 2d terrain. Better executed and more genuinely 3d UI than, say, Star Trek: Armada 2 which was essentially still a 2d game in mechanics sense but running in a 3d engine and given a sense of depth)

And I'm really sort of unsure why this genre is gone but the 4x category, or at least the Civ series in particular, continues to hold out, even thrive.

There've been actual occasional attempts - not especially high-budget, but legit attempts - to revive it since SC2. Look at Cossacks 3, or Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. Neither got much attention from the gaming public. But the genre isn't entirely gone. It's just niche.

Cool. I'm impressed by your pathing on the bugs and the fact that stuff isn't locked into a grid of preset spots. Moreover, this just looks fun.

 I've always had sort of a soft spot for the RTS genre and to a lesser extent its simplified offshoot the tower defense game. I recall playing the Age of Empires, and Starcraft games a lot growing up, and Rise of Nations too. Not sure what happened to the genre, exactly, but I think it suffers from many of the same structural issues that led to the decline of 'Ameritrash' board games like Risk and Monopoly, in favor of Eurogames, namely the presence of player elimination and runaway advantages for the player who is winning, plus the games just tend to drag on a bit too long and often lack a real spread of alternate strategies in favor of 'dominant' strategic paths that are always the same within each civ or faction. When a game cuts out the weakest players halfway through and has them just kind of sit there doing nothing except wait for the next game to start, and it is obvious who will win for the last 30-40 minutes of a game, that's a design problem. If somebody can find a way to solve these recurring design issues in the genre while retaining the essence of the genre's appeal, and take advantage of modern graphics, they might be able to revive the category and breathe new life into it [maybe].

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Halloween 2020, another 90+% off bundle sale!

My Itch.IO Halloween Sale

$1.25 for over a dozen sale items,  mostly a bunch of massive asset packs, plus included preorders for a bunch of my assorted gamedev efforts, indie game productions that are nearing completion! 


On - lots of cheap paid collections and three free collections.

Over 3gb of assets / stock media here with even more in development for future free updates to these packs, including:

-Over 100 stock 3d assets already, with more in the works, across a variety of asset packs. There are many plants and outdoor details, from bushes/shrubs to flowers to rocks, branches, trees, mushrooms, cacti... and some generally useful interior 3d objects and furniture items in another pack, with other items, street details, launching between now and the start of the Halloween sale. This will - all in all - be a lot of great stuff for both both outdoor landscapes, outdoor urban areas, and contemporary interiors. It's all low-polycount so certainly suitable for realtime 3d, particularly for use in levels in games aiming for high end mobile / midrange or low end desktop gaming. 

There will also be an overhaul of some of my smaller free packs of stuff. You might have seen the snowfall freebie or the free explosion Fx clips, but the horror/blood spray pack is the one I would most want to call attention to as there will be some additions to it in the form of a bit of new vfx video elements and some included 3d models as well. So you'll be able to download that updated version of that free asset pack by the time Halloween 2020 rolls around. The free 'blood spray pack' has consistently been downloaded more than any other I have posted here and my hope is the update will further build on that success.

-Over 1500 texture maps by now, across multiple asset packs. These include not merely seamless diffuse maps that tile beautifully, but also associated bump, normal, and spec maps, and sometimes also opacity maps. Great stuff for 3d artists, and much of it very high resolution - even up to 2048x2048 in many cases!

-Included across the various asset packs, over 150 video elements, stock clips of explosions, fire, smoke, sparks, debris bursts and splashes of water. Tons of material and much of it in HD, often shot at 60 or 120 fps high speed, and almost entirely against either black backdrops or blue, to make keying easy for video VFX or game cutscenes. 


The gamedev stuff I'm tacking on for this sale, may in some cases be a ways off from actual launch, anywhere from 2 months to as much as a year, depending on which project we're discussing, but they're all productions that are well beyond the halfway mark and some have been in the works for 5+ years... the actual list of minigames included:

-Miniature Multiverse, a sprawling puzzle/adventure game with over a dozen realistic-looking and detailed gameworlds created with O-scale miniature photography. You can explore and uncover the secrets of, a litany of imaginative miniature fantasy worlds in first-person view! The bonus material is also included in the sale.

-Vivid Minigolf Redux. A remake of an older minigolf game project with more content than the old version. Also uses miniature graphics.

-Panoramic Worlds. An adventure/puzzle game made in a more conventional realtime 3d, open-ended with potential for periodic free updates for years following release.

-Matthew's Minigames, a batch of four experimental small games, premium form of them, that include Eracer, a hand-drawn racing game, Easely, a hand-painted adventure artgame, Spiral Skies, a short scifi adventure, and Vortex, a monochromatic dark sci-fi experiment.

THAT'S ABOUT IT - on a lot of holidays I have sales, about ten times each year you'll see a bundle deal with about 90% off sales on content I've personally spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars making, that's not hyperbole, I really have spent that much time and cash on this batch of creative content! - and if you buy now, or have bought in recent months, please take a moment to comment, rate, review, or otherwise post some feedback relating to these assets! That input helps a lot! Even comments on this thread on the forum would be nice, questions, suggestions for future updates/additions to these asset packs, etc. All of that is absolutely welcome! I'm hoping this gains some traction; my focus has always been on making great, massive things, and underpricing, in hopes of making up for that with high sales volume and happy customers leaving positive feedback. I've yet to see a lot of sales though - only a little over 30 people have bought from me - and none of them took the time to rate/review, so any ratings or reviews you decide to post during this sale would be immensely helpful in helping these otherwise money-losing passion-project efforts finally take off on Itch.IO! - thanks for reading, here is a link to my itch profile and additional preview material for all of my asset packs!

I'd say make fascinating creative content and promote it/show it on these forums and elsewhere [YouTube, Pinterest/Instagram, etc]. Followers will be nearly unavoidable then. Worked for me.

I have over a dozen followers.

Would be better though,  if they were at all responsive to my recent activity. For example, my current [92% off] Earth Day sale that ends in 7 hours.

First platforming sequence really is fairly tricky, takes a bunch of tries to beat, almost no margin for error there.

Still, aside from some timed stuff being a bit annoying, I do respect that you made this game solo, mad props to anyone who can make a nice looking game on their own.

I know firsthand that it is a difficult process!

Matthew Hornbostel,

It's an old outdated copy of Lightwave purchased years ago. I used it heavily back before Blender was really the super-flexible open-source 3d-animation powerhouse it is fast becoming now. I'm still comfortable with LW, but Blender has improved dramatically and is taking over more and more of my workflow the last few years. There gradually became more and more things Blender could do that LW couldn't do, or couldn't do quite as well, as time passed, and there was no reason not to do those things in Blender since there was no cost to pivot to the Blender software. The physics simulations in Blender, especially, things like fire/smoke and liquids, my old copy of LW simply can't do those things at all. There are still a few assorted things I'll still do in LW but only because I'm good at that workflow and I already have the license.

Keep in mind that LW at its peak circa early 2000s had 80,000 users and was considered a major VFX software package, used extensively for VFX sequences on TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Voyager/Enterprise, Lost, Heroes, Firefly, etc. The software goes back further of course, one of the first versions of Lightwave was used for 'Babylon 5' back in the early '90s. Lightwave is still being actively developed but there's less and less of a userbase, the high-end professional users are shifting to Autodesk's 3ds max or Maya, the lower-end indie users to Blender. Lightwave is stuck in the middle and the center pricing range around $1000, is largely being vacated and all the programs in there are struggling to maintain a userbase. Also didn't help LW that several of the core LW programmers split off about a decade ago, to found the team which created Modo.

At least it's not entirely abandoned; it's still being improved on, just not fast enough - and at least it's still another alternative [like Blender/Modo/Cinema 4d] to Autodesk's recent near-stranglehold on the 3d industry. I still feel bad for all the Softimage users who saw their software of choice get bought by Autodesk, then torn apart and cannibalized for the best feature ideas, and then ultimately completely discontinued. There were 50,000 Softimage users! They had a big legacy too, in the early '90s Softimage was used for the digital dinosaurs in 'Jurassic Park' and the photorealistic 3d world renderings in the PC game Riven, among other graphics-industry milestones. 

But anyway, that's all history now, I'm moving along with the times and I'm pretty happy with Blender lately.

Game Engine, 3D: Unity + PlayMaker and a few shaders.

Game Engine, 2D: Construct 2 by Scirra.

2D graphics: Photoshop

Compositing for video productions: HitFilm Pro.

Video Editing: Vegas Pro

3d models and animation: Lightwave, or Blender. my workflow includes about a dozen or so niche utilities and plugins not mentioned.

My itch page with a lot of my self-created asset packs + teaser pages for some upcoming games:

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First game that was actually 'completed' for me was a little Myst fangame called 'Sehv T'devokan' (age of peace, translated from the fictional D'ni language) in 2004. That was a small project made with Adventure Maker and it no longer runs on recent versions of Windows. ( 

I came fairly close to making a game of my own design based on a story of my own, Traveler's Enigma, in the same engine (2005-2010) - seen on along with teasers of many other things - but abandoned the project once it was clear that AM and in particular the advanced features of it like panoramas, were broken on anything newer than Windows XP and that the developer of the toolset was no longer actively updating the software.

During the 2000s I was also in college, so did a lot of stuff related to class coursework, mainly video and handcrafted studio art stuff, not game development. My video work though dated back earlier, to 2001, as well as my VFX work, and I was doing a wide range of things that the video department teachers didn't, themselves, understand how to do. One classic memory was in a sculpture class - we were basically assigned to make a 'scene' or miniature diorama in three weeks and I made a three minute stopmotion comedy video called 'Tinyville Disaster' in which a town of stop-motion clay people are terrorized by a normal full sized human who stomps around their city Godzilla-style. The video was played to the class several times and everybody was blown away by how much more I did than what was technically assigned. That was one of many similar situations, though.

My archive of personal video projects is rather pathological, over 7 hours of material, over $6000 in production expenses, and well over 1800 vfx shots. Most of that stuff is still to this day, not available or posted online due to years of bad legal decisions. (A bunch of people never signed talent release forms, paper or digital)

I ended up graduating from University of Houston with a GPA of 3.67, Phi Kappa Phi honors, major in Media Production, minor in Studio Art.

I also did some stuff in GameSalad including a little web minigame called 'Vivid Minigolf' seen on, but the arbitrary 10mb filesize upper limit of the HTML5 output damaged it badly. 

I also made an Android APK (Prodigal, on with the Corona SDK, or at least the graphics and SFX. My dad was the designer and coder on this and I assisted. It came at a time when I was sort of starting to dismiss religion as nonsense and I felt a little weird making a 'faith based' game that did not reflect my own emerging view of the world.

There were other projects - I helped with some stuff with the ineffectively managed but well intentioned 'nonPareil Institute' for about a year after that. I was the only person there who understood how to use Adobe AfterEffects so that was some of what I did, making iterations of a game trailer for 'Lightwire' and organizing a course on the topic of Adobe AE.

 Yes, in answer to he question about how I was on the nP crew, yes, I have autism. I also struggle with OCD and clinical depression.

After it became clear I was not going to be a paid staffer ever at nP, I left,  and proceeded to scrape together project funding very slowly through a mix of freelancing and online sales. I have shops on Etsy and eBay, along with my space here on itch on - I have 387 ratings, 100% positive, on my eBay account and two good reviews on Etsy, but frustratingly none of my now 20-odd customers has yet rated my work on itch and it has kept my asset packs from ever taking off. (so far)

I have been stuck doing a ton of microtasks to keep things afloat. I do a lot of mTurk tasks and online audio transcription at $3/hr or so. It is mind-numbing and it would be nice if someone here would hire me at a similar pay rate to make 3d or graphics content for them. Don't know if that will realistically ever work out though. 

Still hoping something elsewhere will turn out well. Something creative. We'll see. I know mental illness is a red flag to conventional employers but I am fairly bright and creative, and I am able to work hard, and I am convinced that sooner or later I will make something work out.

I am slowly wrapping up work on an indie game called 'Miniature Multiverse' and intend to launch on Itch.IO and Steam by the end of 2020.

We'll see how that goes. 16 years after my first game I might actually have my first modest success as a game developer here. Even if it flops, I will continue pushing forward. I do have a number of other unfinished projects that can be wrapped up afterwards even if the first attempt fails. I will keep trying until something works.

(Incidentally, there are a bunch of my things bundled together - game assets - on sale at 90% off right now. $0.89 for five asset packs on, an Easter sale still active for the next 12 hours roughly): - that includes dozens of 3d assets, over a thousand texture maps, over a hundred video effects elements. For under a dollar.

I also come from a background that involves a Studio Art degree and Media Production degree, so my focus has often involved handmade or video art, and I am making a game with miniature art graphics called 'Miniature Multiverse' and it may be relevant to what you're looking for aesthetically to some degree. It involves first person exploration of extensive O scale fantasy environments.

I am also using mini art for an improved remake of an earlier miniature golf game, that is titled Vivid Minigolf but in development has often been jokingly referred to as 'Miniature Miniature Golf'. Basically I was stuck in the first version with GameSalad's arbitrary 10mb filesize upper limit for HTML5 and that ruined the quality and scope of it, so now I am kind of redoing the core mechanics from scratch in Construct 2 and adding some new courses and such and making it work nicely on touchscreens as well as with a mouse and keyboard, and letting it be playable in high res.

I also am doing some stuff selling paintings online, on Etsy, and selling massive piles of stock media of my own creation here on itch. You can find a lot of links to things on my Itch profile. The Pinterest link on my itch profile especially contains a pretty thorough listing of the paintings I have made the last few years. 

Finally, I am looking at making a realtime 3d minigame called 'Easely' which is about creating portals with paintings. The main character can paint a scene and then walk right through the canvas into said scene. All the texture art would be scanned acrylic paintings made specifically for use on gameworld surfaces.

I also may be working more on a minigame called 'Eracer' which is a hand drawn top down racing minigame that likewise I already have a rough prototype for. 

Those are my more analog artsy gamedev projects but there are definitely a handful of others in the pipeline with more conventional 3d art styles... yeah, I always tackle too much. :)

I use Construct 2 for 2d games, Unity for 3d. I also use Photoshop.

But I also have a sprawling pipeline of scattered stuff used largely for video editing and VFX and the tools used there easily spill over into gamedev where cutscenes and the like are concerned.

I.e. Vegas Pro, Hitfilm Pro, Lightwave (yes, really, I and many others still use Lightwave) and Blender, etc. Plus a lot of smaller utilities with niche but still significant use cases. I did a fair number of my 3d assets in LW. Those 3d assets and a lot of other stuff are going on sale right now (April 10-12, 2020)

And in some cases with projects such as Miniature Multiverse, I find myself doing odd things when working with miniature art graphics lately - like simulating fluid water flowing around a rough 3d photogrammetric scan of a level that is otherwise miniature art so that the reflections on the liquid match the rest of the scene plausibly. I will do stuff like digitally extending a miniature set with digital skies, oceans and similar extensions matched in position to each node. The result is a rather unique sort of feeling of wandering around a place that 'feels' sort of weirdly analog. Because much of it actually is built realistically with O scale minis.

Wow! Amazing. I can't believe you are making all of this great stuff available for free, I just want to say thank you!

I might use a bit of this material, in my indie game 'Miniature Multiverse' and I will be sure to credit you and also give you a free copy at time of launch, as a thank you. I may also be sending a little bit of cash your way through itch at some point maybe, if there is an obvious 'donate' space placed anywhere on your Itch.IO profile.

Anyway... again, thank you.

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VR is sort of a premium format and most players on Itch are looking for free or cheap indie games IMO.

Your best bet is, as has already been mentioned, to focus on announcements elsewhere and direct people back to your Itch.IO page.

The creation of relevant, targeted announcements across various social media platforms outside the Itch.IO community has been going pretty well for me, I am drawing in 20-50 views across my profile daily lately, and that is not considering what is about to happen when my next sale starts in roughly 3 hours. From April 10-12, 2020, I will be dropping my prices pretty dramatically.

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That initial post was a great overview. I'd be curious to see what the content of the final ebook looks like. 

Bonus tips from what I've learned elsewhere:

-Make the game overall, and the first minutes of your game [especially] amazing. Once you've got people actually playing it, you want great word of mouth. The better your game, especially the start and end, the stronger your publicity. No ad campaign will be as effective as a horde of excited fans who think the game's outstanding. Critics giving positive reviews also likewise very helpful, and again that'll only happen if your game is good.

-Build a community around your work and be responsive to questions and feedback from that community. Forums and the like are great. I've taken a lot of feedback, good, bad, and ugly, assessed the useful criticism, and made improvements and additions based on any criticism that seemed valid. One Redditor griped that my websites looked like they were 'from 1998' and suggested using Wordpress or Wix. I didn't do that exactly, I know what I'm doing design wise is not going to have any Wordpress or Wix template that matches, but I did nonetheless spend the past week heavily overhauling and redesigning one of my main sites so navigation is faster, pages more responsive, and things look a bit cleaner. Those updates based on user feedback may pay off!

-Value pricing will improve peoples' opinion of your work even if it reduces profitability out of the gate. I've priced stuff really reasonably across the board myself and the result is generally glowing reviews. My eBay account is 100% positive with 387 ratings. My Etsy account is a 5-star account. My Itch.IO account has no ratings yet but once it does I'm sure the presence of unbiased 'social proof' will cause it to take off like crazy just like what's happened elsewhere.

-Legibility and clarity actually matters. You'd be surprised how much a simple and clean font like Helvetica, Lucida Grande, Verdana, Tahoma, etc, with maximum contrast against the page background, increases people's willingness to stay on a page. I changed some things like that in a few places, and saw traffic on those pages spike by 12% with no other changes made. Black clean text on a white backdrop sounds boring but it works.

-Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and open up to criticism. I've posted a lot of my work on Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArt, Pinterest, and so on. It's kind of self-promotion but always in places where it's relevant. Find the sub-spaces in these social networks where your stuff is not a distraction but is legitimately relevant and of genuine interest to people and maybe even can help solve their problems.

-A/B testing. Try having two somewhat different - in just one aspect - versions of a game page for a week each with no other changes. See which one produces better results. Stick with that one. Then narrow in a little at a time, optimizing things to get as strong a response as possible.

-Playtesting. Have people play your game before release, and watch to see where they run into issues that you did not anticipate. It's easy to get stuck in a sort of 'tunnel vision' as a designer and not realize that what seems intuitive to you may not make sense to players.

-Speed up loading time. As much as you can, do this on both websites and games themselves. Optimization of every aspect will reduce the number of people who get frustrated and respond badly to the loading time. If you get to a barrier on low-end devices where load times cannot improve without seriously compromising content, consider ways to make the loading screen 'more than a loading screen' with brief gameplay tips, a small image preview of the level that's loading, maybe behind the scenes [making-of] secrets, whatever works to make the wait less onerous.

These are just a few examples of principles that seem to be effective.

- Matthew L. Hornbostel, --- ---

Incidentally, I have a massive sale beginning soon, from April 10-12 if anybody's interested. 90% off a large bundle of recently updated asset packs! 


If it looks good aesthetically, is presented well on the page in a way that clarifies what the game is about and what makes it different than others, if it's free, or has a free portion, or at least is priced low relative to the volume of playable content that seems to be included, if there are comments or ratings or similar activity, and if it's in a style and/or gameplay genre that I like, I'll be likely to play it. There are a ton of factors that influence the probability of downloading.


But basically you need compelling positives that entice the potential player - and minimal barriers to entry. The biggest barrier to entry is usually a price tag. The reason that demos, or more recently, iAP/DLC and the freemium model have overtaken games lately (as annoying as that is) is that the idea of downloading a game for free removes that initial barrier. But there is nonetheless going to be a barrier in any game that aims to cover costs of production, whether it's the initial price tag or a bunch of microtransactions later on. [Or both]


In the case of my biggest upcoming indie gamedev project (Miniature Multiverse) the cost to me as a developer is 1000+ hours of work, unpaid, on making the thing, plus $1200+ in development costs which I mostly covered by doing a TON of mind-numbing sub-minimum wage gigs on mTurk and the like. The idea for this took shape in 2010, the release is going to be literally a decade later. [mid or late 2020]. I now am confident it can be finished before end of 2020, as much of the game is already done at this point (far more than has yet been shown to the public).

If it has a tagline, it's something along the lines of "Myst-like first-person view puzzle/adventure game made with varied, realistically detailed O-scale miniature environments". It's sort of like exploring a litany of fantastically weird model railroad sets, from the POV of a tiny figure.

The price point for players, after all that struggle, and painstaking effort? $1.50, plus a $1 pack of extras [making-of stuff, etc] for fans who really liked what I did. And that's when it isn't on sale. This Easter weekend I'm putting preorders for both the game, and the extras, and FIVE very substantial already-released asset packs for game developers, on sale in a gigantic bundle of 90% off. I.e. a bit under a dollar for seven things bundled together. It's crazy. I also think that if past track records are anything to go on, the sale - even as good as it is and with all I've done to promote it - will result in less than $10 raised in all. (I've had occasional similar sales and after all of them, I've still made under $50 total so far on Itch.IO. And while that's well over 20 sales made, nobody has yet rated anything I've sold. They can't be bothered. I even gave keys out to a handful of handpicked successful game devs on Itch for free, half of them didn't download my stuff, and the half that did, none of them commented, rated, or offered useful feedback. They just took the freebie and didn't review even though I encouraged them to do so. It's getting really frustrating. Especially since I know firsthand how much things improve the moment the first review or two show up. I opened an Etsy shop in 2015, sold nothing until 2019, fortunately my first buyer posted a five-star rating and then things sort of exploded over the next three months (that is, until the coronavirus largely gutted the market recently) and the same thing happened for me on eBay a few years before that - I sold some stuff literally for a penny + free shipping. And someone ordered it. I took a loss there but it got me my first rating, and things improved after that. I now have 387 ratings on my eBay seller account, and so far anyway, 100% of them are positive. So I'm optimistic that what has happened with eBay and Etsy will happen sometime fairly soon on Itch, and then maybe my Itch profile will then begin to sort of steadily gain momentum: HERE IS MY ITCH PROFILE. (Watch for the sale April 10-12, 2020.)

A few examples of just some of the stock 3d assets [setting aside the 150+ video elements, and 1400+ image texture maps across these five asset packs]

I was inspired on my indie dev project 'Miniature Multiverse' by something completely unrelated to video games.

Inspiration for game elements can come from outside the field you're in (gaming) and often that helps. Recall Will Wright, taking an urban planning course in college and thinking, this (building and zoning and running a city) could be a game and that ended up being SimCity. Or how the notion of megahit 'The Sims' came from watching a child play with a dollhouse. Try taking something outside video gaming and imagine how it could become part of the design of a game.

Namely, in my case the idea for a current project emerged from model railroading and the way people create those super detailed miniature scenes! In 2010 I looked at some first person camera run throughs of larger scale model rail sets and thought, wouldn't it be interesting to make a wide range of imaginative fantasy worlds (like a Myst game, etc) but made with detailed, physically real materials, and  allow players to explore them in first person view?

The miniature idea also crossed my mind in other permutations, like a racing game using remote control of RC cars over the web, in a realistic scale model racetrack. You would mount cameras like GoPros inside them and stream that video to the players plus overlays for vehicle control. I still have yet to attempt to figure out a way to do this as code is one of my weaker spots.

Another example of this was my project Vivid Minigolf. It was jokingly referred to during early development as 'Miniature Miniature Golf'. I made the error of building it in Gamesalad initially but now am redoing it in a much improved form, with Construct 2. That will avoid the arbitrary filesize limits on HTML5 and other platform output games that GS imposed.

I recall having discussions of my ideas relating to accelerometer-based AR (augmented reality) in 2011 or so, and when Pokemon GO showed up and others were saying how cool the concept was, I just shrugged and said 'why did this take so long?' and 'why haven't they pushed it further than this by now?' 

I love the idea of an AR / VR hybrid escape room, in which the player's Vr headset was a window into an alternate form of the physical room. Think about it this way, there would be a very minimalist physical space to explore, just rooms with plaster walls and roughly sculpted shapes, and the app loaded when entering the room would be in the headset mounted onto player's head, converting the boundaries of the physical space into a much more interesting and imaginative virtual world, such that the virtual space would be tracked continually to match the layout and 3d position of the real space, creating a breathtaking virtual environment to physically explore that is also entirely tactile. I am now looking at the Aryzon headset as a possible way to someday test the idea. It would be an entirely other level of VR. Alternatively, laser tag + VR, the normal tag overlaid with an illusion of using 'actual' powerful weapons, in a scifi setting, otherwise same core concept though.

These are just a few ideas of mine. 

I also have a bunch of stuff on itch, including a lot of stock media asset packs. If you want to see my ideas realized someday, buying these wouldn't hurt, and the asset packs are great value regardless especially during holidays (my next sales are Easter, Memorial Day, and July 4th, on those days bundle sales should be running that give indie game devs access to 70+ 3d assets, 120+ video elements and overlays, and 1400+ texture image files and decals, for about a dollar!

You may also want to look at some of the links there. is about to be updated heavily with new informative articles for creative types, and there are other venues like other domains I run, my social media feeds (Twitter, FB, Instagram, and Pinterest), and my Etsy shop that may be worth a look.

Thanks for reading.

It's okay. 

I am stuck with a few mental illnesses [autism, clinical depression, OCD] and some tendencies to have occasional emotional flare-ups or meltdowns, which means when I have tried working a normal 'job' I lose it because regardless of my skill level, creative ability, and intelligence, which is pretty strong, I always fail to keep the work due to either emotional volatility 'incident' or bailing occasionally to avoid a public meltdown and not being at every group meeting/hour I should be there.

All of which has kept me out of the 'conventional' job market, and then after a while I went without a job and after that... prolonged unemployment was another red flag that meant nobody would ever hire me for any in-person thing again. Never mind that I have a college degree or a massive laundry list of art and technical skills, I can't people well and I get worn out in social settings, and am a weird introvert guy. So basically my emotional weaknesses have forced me to freelance online and it's not ideal sometimes but it still works better and more sustainably, than anything else I have tried. And now I am leveraging the low-wage freelancing to slowly cover the costs of building *product lines* on itch and elsewhere [Etsy, eBay, etc] - and the hope is some of these will slowly take off and I'll be able to build on the first mild successes and just sort of slingshot from there on forward until I'm able to stop the more tedious micro tasks [mTurk, etc] and do creative work full time.

People are freaking out over this coronavirus thing and reordering their lives enormously to deal with remote work, and it's weird for me because I've been doing gigs for people online for two decades at half of minimum wage or so, and in an odd way I'm pretty well positioned because as far as I can see this is a hard time for almost everyone but for me very little has changed. I am suddenly seen as semi-expert due to the fact that I have spent the last few years working from home and I've got an edge in that sense. Other people are jumping into eBay sales blind - I have 380+ positive ratings already as an eBay seller, selling mostly made-to-order artworks and my stock media collections on DVD, plus a few scattered used items or supplies once in a while... I have almost a dozen items already listed on Etsy and it would be more if I hadn't successfully sold five of them off [and gained my first two ratings there] in late 2019 *before* the coronavirus hit. The situation we face now is one that works well for introverts, we are able to handle it better than others and we can survive it with fewer issues, and some of what I am doing may be perfectly timed if I can make it work. Handmade art, not so much, but digital content... think about it, all the movie studios are suspending production, so is Netflix, live entertainment and sporting events, talk shows, everything in entertainment is rapidly shutting down except video games. And if I can get a game out and launch it well, this could turn out well, especially given that 'virtual tourism' is one of the categories of products expected to boom like crazy this year. And I think first-person exploration in adventure games like 'Miniature Multiverse' kinda fits that niche well. I can imagine Myst-likes, VR gaming, and open-world or first-person exploration-game anything, being a big thing in 2020 as well as social multiplayer gaming, it's a way to fill the desire for A) travel to interesting places and experience them and explore them, even if airports are not an option and B) experience social gatherings. 

Yeah, I have a long track record of misfires, hard work that turned out to be depressingly unsuccessful [financially, not creatively failed] projects, but the good news is I have a good family that is able to support me and cover the bills I can't pay. Their help is crucial; my dad was a scientist [geophysicist] with a few patents over the course of a nearly-30 year career and he has been successful, so I don't need to earn a lot to manage. My family will cover a few of the core costs of my life and I cover the rest, ie they have a house and I still live in it. They cover most of the essentials - the room/board and electricity, internet, and critical stuff like food/water. And I work so I can cover a range of discretionary stuff on top of that. [Software, project costs, etc] and they are okay with it as they know I am trying anything and everything that I can, and that I am working hard even if it doesn't result in much income, but ideally at some point I will hit on something that works out and I'll be able to suddenly pitch in more and not be a burden on them any more.

So, that living situation means I can handle a lot of failures, one after another, and still survive it. And maybe eventually the skills I've built will pay off somewhere even if the past projects I built them with didn't. I actually am fairly upbeat about my near future prospects; I'm sure I'm close to a breakthrough finally, even if only a modest one. 

And your problem with the BSOD - I am really sorry that happened to you. That sucks. I don't want to diminish your problems or the five month project you lost. I had to reinstall the Windows OS on a computer once from the command line. I copied a ton of file directories off C drive using BIOS and then wiped the internal drive and reinstalled Windows on it from scratch. That happened once. Other hard drive failures in past, one from a lightning strike in a big thunderstorm that emerged really fast, others during a move between states with family or just for no evident reason. They just stopped working or began having the 'click of death' but I've been fairly lucky and reasonably well prepared; most of my work over the years isn't lost even as the hard drives get replaced because of cloud backups and local backups which are definitely a priority for me.

And yes, some desktop PCs have failed but the software's always the internal-drive and the registration info for it is on the externals and my phone, and the project files all on external storage as well and in the cloud. So if/when a computer bites the dust I can scramble to get a new one and then reinstall and reset up my workflow on it and transfer all the hard drives to the new system. A delay, sure, but not catastrophic loss. I've learned to do all this the hard way, pretty early on I started figuring this out - redundancy and backups and contingency plans for hardware failures are crucial if you intend to protect your work!

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Awesome. I love the handcrafted/miniature aesthetic, which is not a surprise to anyone given how often my game projects use it:

I.e. Vivid Minigolf, Miniature Multiverse. To name two. But I won't be participating in this jam, I'm afraid.

Still, I'm curious what some of you will do with this!

My next game is a panoramic-interface puzzle/adventure game, set in a sprawling and diverse set of over a dozen worlds, all created with detailed O-scale miniature art [digitally extended] and explorable in first person view. The cost of development's climbed above $1000, much of it miniature supplies for scratchbuilding. It will be released on Steam and Itch.IO. 


Miniature Multiverse.

It's on my profile here.

I also have a sale running on my profile, with a ton of stock media asset packs for gamedevs, which include a vast volume of textures, 3d assets, and video elements. You can buy all the asset packs plus a preorder of the game 'Miniature Multiverse' and all future updates to those asset packs, for just under a dollar right now. 

I know the feeling.

I spent well over a hundred hours working on an adventure game from 2005-2009 or so, once only to scrap it at 80+% done because the engine I was building it with [Adventure Maker] was discontinued and would not support any future Windows OSs. That project - "Traveler's Enigma' died for good some time around 2010. I also launched a game for Android designed by my dad - he coded it, I did the graphics. It never made a single penny, after well over a hundred hours of labor from each of us. Ended up being rejected by Apple for iOS and made freeware for Android... and the CafePress shop connected to that never sold anything at all either. That was a giant misfire and it ended up quietly ignored by most everyone, on I think the biggest screwup was the core concept - my dad, despite my skepticism of faith in general and thinking religion is stupid, he wanted to make a Christian themed game and apparently had no clue Apple would ban it for that reason. [Regardless of the reason they said they rejected it, which was jaw-droppingly vague, I suspect it was rejected due to its overt religious content. ]

There are two other indie games - "Isola" and "Vivid Minigolf" that likewise will be rebuilt/reworked code-wise entirely from scratch because the engine I'd used or tried to use initially was way too limited (GameSalad) so now I'm going to redo them in Unity and Construct 2 respectively. 

Also made a little Myst fangame in 2004 with Adventure Maker and am now remaking it in Unity... along with a Unity remake of a project called 'Panoramic Worlds' which was initially built in a panoramic virtual-tour app plus some overlaid code. 

So basically, off and on, I have built, to various stages of completion, close to a dozen abandoned / failed games in poorly-selected game engines. Thousands of hours poured into things that have never seen the light of day, and that's just the games. I have lost a bit of video content as well, in a few cases, and while most of it remains intact, it is STILL unlikely to ever end up online for the most part. Why? Legal issues. I have a scattered list of cast members wo've never signed talent release forms and in failing to do so ensured the video projects they acted in cannot be posted on the web without a risk of lawsuits. 

It drives me crazy - I have been shooting comedies, action flicks, sci-fi shorts, etc, for two decades as a hobby and 90% of that is still NOT ONLINE. Maybe never will be. I put $5000-6000 into those, there's maybe 7 hours of video stuff there in all with 2000ish VFX shots combined. 10k hours worked doing the entire crew thing on my own - I wrote, directed, edited, did VFX and set design, makeup, props, etc, on several dozen self-financed video projects over 20 years... Generally that material is only accessible if I show it to you in person - it has mostly never gotten released on the internet. I am considering throwing a lot of it up despite the legal risk, maybe posting it in a giant zip file on a torrent site or similar. Would never make a cent, but at least then people can see it?

Thankfully, as far as gamedev goes, I now have a really decent setup with Construct 2 [for 2d] and Unity+Playmaker [3d] and most of the graphics and audio assets from a litany of failed projects remain intact so I can go through it all and rebuild in better software. 

And I've learned to back everything up in the cloud. I use BackBlaze to do that and hopefully I won't lose my data any time soon even if a hard drive fails for no good reason as time passes, here and there. 

My next project - the one game I'm mostly focused on launching right now - is 'Miniature Multiverse' and I am sure it'll be out there on Itch and Steam before this year is over. I've got a lot of work done on that and it's a concept that has some people very intrigued by it. I also have released a bunch of stock media / asset packs I've made with 3d models, textures, video elements. All of my projects that are released or near the point of being released, on Itch specifically, are here: - a ton of stock asset pack material is on sale the next 48hrs, for a bundle price of 95 cents. Would be nice if this sale resulted in a few actual sales, reviews/ratings, comments, something, anything. :/

I've got a ton I want to do. I would like to do gamedev and art stuff and reworking of video stuff for online launch, full time but need support to get it all there. 

I am not giving up but... I am wasting a good chunk of my time the last few years doing sub-minimum wage freelance and microtask stuff at around $3 an hour to keep everything afloat, while my own projects inch forward at a rate that's kinda glacial. Oh well...

Nice work on the recent updates to the Iceland environment! BTW, I ended up tossing $1.15 your way for the rainy New Zealand map. Wish you all the best, Caves RD, (Matt) and hope things turn out well with you. Left a comment there too.

Hey Matt: Just paid a bit over $1 for the rainy version. This stuff's great, you've done a great job with the 'virtual travel' niche and at the perfect time (while we're all getting stir crazy due to coronavirus) and I wish you all the best with these virtual recreations of breathtaking outdoor scenes!

I'm doing some of the same sort of thing BTW - or trying to - with my fantasy game 'Miniature Multiverse' but I'm not quite done with that yet. 

I've got that and some stock media stuff [textures, 3d objects, video elements, etc] on sale right now via

Anyway, look forward to more from you in the future. Maybe what I spent here can help lead to future scenes and more of your stuff posted on Steam down the road? I know it's $100 and a fair bit of work, just to post a game on Steam so that's not super easy, but I appreciate that you managed to move the Kyoto and Iceland scenes there despite that barrier.

-Matthew L. Hornbostel.