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matthornb

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A member registered Nov 09, 2014 · View creator page →

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I go with handmade styles a lot. Like real world, handcrafted miniature art. It isn't outright unique but it is nonetheless rare, and that means it stands out. I have "miniature multiverse" in development and the initial concept was thinking about games of the Myst/Riven sort and wondering what it might be like if someone physically built entire fantasy worlds with a handcrafted attention to detail.

And so I kind of figured out how to capture 360 degree views inside some sprawling O scale miniature environments and created my own Unity workflow for building a 360 node based puzzle adventure game. Used a 4k action cam and took photos at 15 degree rotation increments for each node, stitched them into 360 Panos, layered animation in and swapped out the sky. Used basic spheres with a double-sided unlit shader. Made heavy use of playmaker.

Then there is a second miniature art project "miniature miniature golf" or "miniatureminigolf" it is a simple isometric mini-golf game but all the graphics, again, assembled in scale miniatures with that particular tactile charming and colorful look.

You can check my profile for more info, I also have game dev asset packs (pbr textures, 3d models) and an etsy shop offering printing services + papercraft kits and such.

Agreed with the other posts here.

2d ui is often more intuitive, more accessible, just easier for many devs, and depending on the genre and game design there may not be a strong reason to make everything 3d from a game play pov.

Besides, some 2d titles actually do still look gorgeous. 2d game engine does not always mean 'low res pixel art.' I've seen beautiful hand drawn 2d work like in indie title 'Gorogoa' and painterly work like 'Braid' or recently 'The Master's Pupil' and then there are my aesthetic niches which vary...  can sometimes include handcrafted miniature art, I have an isometric minigolf game and a first person Mystlike puzzler, both of them are in the works and each one of those two done with realistically detailed large scale miniature art. 

And then there are the many, many 2d engine games that still make use of 3d rendered art. So many old 90s games did this from Simcity 4, rollercoaster tycoon, The Sims, Starcraft, the original Fallout. Myst, Riven.  Less common now as 3d is more attainable than it once was but still a valid dev route especially given the continued presence of lower end systems (mobile gaming) and the fact that it is possible to make a 2d game run and look beautiful on nearly any system. 3d games with that sort of fine, intricate art detailing will typically have higher hardware requirements as the cost of the added freedom of motion.

Now, some game developers on the indie side have done amazing stuff with 3d games.

I know a number of solo indie devs who made 3d games which look graphically amazing. Carlos Coronado, Danny Weinbaum and a number of others come to mind.

It clearly isn't impossible to do 3d art in a 3d engine really well as an indie, it just adds complexity and work. Danny Weinbaum spent over 7 years working on his "cozy, pacifist skyrim knockoff" - an open world game called Eastshade. 

He made about 2 million $ in Steam sales from his project, another reminder that though 3d is harder in some ways, if you do it well it can also be worth it.

But it is always also a gamble, to some extent, what if those 7 years had resulted in a total misfire? What if nobody even notices your game after you have been pouring years into it? 

There is something to be said for doing a smaller thing, a demo or similar, and throwing it out to the world game jam style as a way of confirming its core conceptual appeal. A way of checking if you are going off track before committing to a huge production. If the small example finds an audience, then it is likely the larger extension of the basic thing will too. And that is exactly what got eastshade moving in the first place, it is why Danny committed 7 years to it. Because he started with a little, modestly successful short project "Leaving Lyndow" and learned from that, that the sort of game world he was making appealed to a lot of people. 

I don't have a demo, I am diving straight in (for better or worse) and just gauging odds of success based on whether people respond in any way to early imagery and material relating to my work.

Maybe that is dumb but I know even if my efforts fail I will be okay life wise so... I just realize that even if some of this fails hard it isn't the end. I have game asset collections gaining ground steadily and a successful Etsy print services shop. I have fallback, that is valuable. Don't risk everything on a gamble that could fail horribly. Have a backup plan!

Was glad I was able to participate.

Didn't wind up submitting the new pack I had planned to have ready in time but submitted a different existing one, still... hope this goes well and makes a real impact on the ground during this crisis.

I hopefully will be there as a bundle buyer too, as soon as the bundle is live, I don't only want to contribute a game asset pack to the bundle but want to financially support the charitable cause as well.

I don't see a Discord here, or anything specifically set up for building a team.

 These comments and threads, the whole discussion setup here could in theory still be used to organize teams but almost nobody's posted anything with them, there are what, five total message threads so far?

The submission deadline's now under four days off anyway - given the time this apparently began the submission countdown is more than 80% over. 

At this late stage getting a game project started from scratch will be difficult even with a team, but if you want to do that go for it. 

Hopefully, someone here responds and actually is interested in the same thing (assembling a team project).

This said, there may also be value in submitting an old existing project if you have one. The jam does not prohibit submission of past projects.

Nor does the jam even require the project submitted be a game. An ebook/artbook, a game asset pack useful to other devs, a tabletop game design, maybe a music collection/soundtrack... any of that is seemingly acceptable and can offer a possibility for anyone who feels a fully built game is too much to do in the time remaining. I'm going with a new 3d model asset pack. Been working on it the past week, a few hours a day,  but time is running out fast so maybe a few of the textured 3d objects on my list of things to include will be cut to hit the deadline. Will admit I am struggling to keep that going steadily. Had hopes of putting 75 hrs in and ending up with 40+ objects but now it looks like 25-30 good 3d objects is likely all I'll have done in time. I'm working on object #14 now.

That is well within the lines of the stuff I've launched in the past (texture map packs, 3d model packs) and it plays to my strengths. Think about what you are best at and maybe consider that as your emphasis - if you cannot find team members to round out a full fledge gamedev project and will find it difficult to get all aspects of that done well in time.

One more bit of advice, keep scope realistic and somewhat flexible, and have a reasonable minimum time margin for error. Studies on productivity seem to indicate that projects have on average mostly close to a 25% mismatch between expected time involved and time actually required in practice. Things go wrong and can take longer than expected so plan things with the core of the thing done a day or so before submission deadline. Think about the common practice of 'gray boxing' where everything is set up with the simplest possible prefabs, ie the typical trite gray cube in the game engine. Often a smart dev will just throw those cubes in, maybe varying simple colors, and build the level out of just that and build, test all critical interactions. Audio clips are placeholders too usually. Everything but the core interactions and gameplay. As soon as the game works and is playable, even if in a really ugly way, then the next step is replacing all the ugly bits one by one with more polished equivalents. This is common industry practice and it makes sense - often the code and the game mechanics are the biggest unknown, and by getting the hardest, most bug prone or uncertain elements nailed down first, you can figure out if the thing will work sooner and avoid dead ends in level design (making 3d stuff in good quality only to scrap it later as the design plan shifts around).

Thanks. 

I've been rapidly pivoting to working on a completely new (game development asset pack) quietly for the past few days with intent to submit it to this bundle, and this extension will make it possible to expand that further by the submission deadline. 

I didn't realize this jam was even taking place until last week so am a bit late joining, but I have by now set pretty much everything else aside, so will hopefully have something really solid to submit in time. Have already put 20+ hours into working on my entry, likely it'll be well over 50 hours of effort by the submission deadline.

A quick question: What is the bundle's duration once live? Does it continue being available indefinitely or is there an end point? Maybe that's a clueless question on my part, maybe there's a standard for things like this, I just don't know how these things normally go and I don't think the FAQ addresses this.

I will second the use of social media. It's worked for me on https://matthornb.itch.io/ but it isn't the only way to go. It's part of a broader effort that in my case has involved trying everything I can think of and doubling down on anything that sticks. In my case I'm trying to actually sell some of my stuff, cheaply, but sell nonetheless. Some of it's free but most of my work is set up at a price of a dollar or two.


If you (whoever's reading at the moment) , as seems perhaps to be the case for the OP, are not interested in making sales, you just put together a small free game, and want somebody to be aware it exists, that is one thing. In that case, what follows may be total overkill. But for anyone here who seriously intends to make a substantial, well-built indie game or games, and is trying to sell it, this may be useful to you:


Ultimately if you believe your game is good and genuinely deserves to be noticed, you should not find it too hard to promote it. 

Start with social media connections you already have, along with in person connections. Find related communities and groups and post there. Be an active user, comment, be helfpful where possible so you're not merely spamming.

Find communities that are actually likely to enjoy the game you made. The suggestion's been made to go for users of the same game engine, but that's a way of connecting with game developers, not the wider base of actual game players. Search for player communities first, not other game devs, though the game devs are certainly potentially useful in giving assistance and advice from a development POV. 

I'm odd that way though - so far most of my released content has been designed to be of interest to game developers, not players. As such, talking to game devs actually makes sense for me. If you're selling a game, that's one thing - but if you're still working on game dev, as I am, and what you've actually ALREADY RELEASED is asset packs (seamless texture packs, 3d asset packs, etc) that are mainly useful for 3d artists, level designers, game developers, not players, then the logic of interacting with game devs becomes more clear.   

Consider cutting a game trailer together, that showcases best aspects of your game - post it on YouTube with a link to the game page. This can drive traffic in a big way if the trailer is good.

Consider also messaging smaller but relevant Youtubers who are into your genre of game, see if any of them would be interested in it. You'll get mostly no response, but now and then someone might actually do a Let's Play of your indie title and that too can result in attention from the public.

Know that even if your ad budget's nonexistent, there's always some sort of grindy way of pouring time in rather than money. I've churned through the posting of literally 500+ Youtube comments in the last year or so, and this has a VERY LOW effectiveness but there's always someone out there, wasting time reading those. But having posted those for about a dozen hours across hundreds of relatively well-selected videos with viewers who may have actual interest in what I'm saying, the outcome has had an effect in pure traffic terms, similar to spending $20 in an optimized way, on ads. I know this because I also spent money on ads a few times. Basically if you do YT commenting that way, it pulls in maybe 15 click thrus per hour spent commenting. Not great, and it'll be a slow burn - many of the click thrus will arrive in the weeks or months after the comment's posted, not the first hour or day. 

I spend on ads in a mix of different spots, trying to hit the right audiences. I used to love a particular slot on the now-defunct banner exchange 'Project Wonderful' and I'd hold that slot 24/7. For a price of $0.02 daily, I could have that tiny banner position and run my best-designed banner ad on it for that size, and get 8-10 clicks on that slot EVERY DAY. From real people, no less. That's almost unheard of - and it took me some messing around before I found it. I was grabbing 4 or 5 visitors per penny spent. To have traffic that cheap that's not bots is extremely rare, most of the time the cost per click thru is going to come out to $0.20, give or take, across most major ad systems. But if you are able to find an out of the way advertising system you can possibly save some doing that. Everyone immediately thinks of Google, Meta, Bing, etc... but the ones nobody's considering can in some cases be better. Banner ads broadly are considered dead, but if you find the right site that has a related audience, and your ad design's good, it can still work and be cheaper precisely because nobody much is using that format anymore.    

Other than all that - the ad campaigns are absolutely useless if you're advertsing something nobody finds intriguing. So make your game look and sound great. Visuals are the #1 first thing people will notice about a game, and while ultimately gameplay will keep them playing, the graphics are often what gets them to give you a chance in the first place. Is it fair? Not really, but it's pretty much the reality. Also make sure you hit the sweet spot of conveying your premise well, specifically what exactly makes your title a bit unusual, what makes it stand out as different from other titles in the same broader category.

It may be the game's story having a unique hook, maybe it's a rare game mechanic that's super creative, maybe it's just the art style being uncommon.

When I began a couple of my projects (Miniature MiniGolf, Miniature Multiverse) I realized the core game design foundationally was never that special, just a good if relatively typical example of the respective categories. What made these titles stand out as unusual was the fact that every single scene in each of them was handmade out of O scale minis using detailed, fairly realistic model-railroading style techniques. So that's something odd which immediately grabs attention when everything else is going for standard 3d.

Top-down/isometric view minigolf where the courses actually are built using miniature art assembled on a table top?

Or a loosely 'Myst-like' adventure game, 360-degree panoramic UI, but all the worlds and settings you explore are built by hand, highly detailed in that particular way, and have a similarly tactile look?

No, you might argue, not unprecedented, but at the time I started these two projects I think the only remotely similar thing of any kind that yet existed was a semi obscure '96 title, "The Neverhood' - the visual design of which was made entirely from polymer clay. Only since I started have others started also jumping into the idea of, 'traditional miniature art in a video game' as seen in titles like Armikrog, Lumo City, and Truberbrook. What continues to hold uniqueness in my adventure game is it's still first-person - and so far the others with similar aesthetics are not.  

So think about whatever it is that can make your game stand out. And make that your message. Have an 'elevator pitch' prepared for your game, that is... figure out how you'd describe why it is special in just a short phrase. And then use that phrase or similar, as the core of your promotional campaign, be it comments, social media posts, heck, even the game's website. Know people will often drift off after a few seconds even if they do click a link so try - if you can - to grab them in those first few seconds so they keep reading. Start strong, fill in details below that. Have trailer, screenshots, and any other elevant visuals accessible. End with a request from the visitor to the page. Not a pile up of a ton of options - focus on one core thing, which is getting them to play the game or if the game's not done yet... persuading them to wishlist it somewhere (usually Steam) 

And yes, seriously do consider making your work available on multiple storefronts, not just itch. SO MANY PEOPLE USE STEAM. It's a mistake to ignore that audience. 

Thanks! That's greatly appreciated!

I'm working toward some larger new sets of VFX clips too later this Spring/Summer, so hopefully that goes really well and you'll like those too.

The updates I've planned are described in this devlog:

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/devlog/663011/sales-and-major-updates-in-early-2024

:) 

Just went ahead and supported you with a small payment. Hope you keep making adventure games here and there, as you've got a knack for that. Whenever your new KS shows up for "What was found at Ravenhill" I'll make sure to back the creation of that a bit as well plus any future [possible] Kickstarter for additions to this game [Seclusion] someday. Good luck - and I hope you are able to keep making games. 

 

https://matthornb.itch.io/

WHAT IS THERE ON  THIS ITCH PAGE?

- a lot of efficient, even mobile-friendly 3D assets, both .FBX and .OBJ, with UV maps and textures, including contemporary interior objects, suburban/urban street details, and nature objects [trees, bushes, grasses, wildflowers, ferns...] across multiple types of outdoor settings.

-VFX elements and video overlays for use in videos, cutscenes, etc. Explosions, fire, smoke, debris bursts, water FX and other elements. Much of it is real-world photography at high speed against a flat black or blue background for easy compositing.

-2300+ texture image files, across well over 600 total materials, seamless PBR materials based on a wide range of real-world photography sources.

-some free assets in the mix too, including a snow overlay, some digital explosion FX, and horror/blood assets. More free assets likely to arrive soon - there are some free 'seasonal' objects there, for autumn, and while that's currently a freely-downloadable subset of the Forests & Flowers paid asset pack, it will be expanded at some point to become a free standalone pack of multi-holiday decor/details. 

-a few pages relating to indie games in development but they're generally not quite ready for release yet. Most of them are likely to go live on Itch within the next 9-10 months if everything progresses as planned. Some maybe as early as this May, and I'm hoping that generates a lot of activity once it happens. Some of the games will have demos [some features limited but still playable] or free versions with all features functional but some ads placed on the menus.

-several teaser pages for additional asset packs due to be released between now and fall 2023.


WHY IS THIS BEING MENTIONED RIGHT NOW?

I'm about to launch another one of my ridiculous bundle sales. St. Patrick's Day sale, 93% off bundle of everything I have here.

So $2.27 for 3000+ asset files with more on the way over the rest of this year. Other sales will exist around the year, mainly during holidays.


ARE THESE BUNDLES ANY GOOD?

I've made around a hundred sales of asset collections and/or bundles to date between Itch.IO and Etsy and while most people who buy these don't take the time to post feedback, when they do it's usually very positive. I figure this is just the start - the more positive comments and ratings accumulate, the more people will be willing to make the choice to buy, and this could finally snowball into a much bigger thing.

More feedback -> more sales -> more resources to create more, better updates and additional assets -> happier buyers -> more feedback.

I'd really like to expand all of this dramatically over the next few months, and I'm putting a lot of work into making even more asset content, based on the hope that eventually the effort will be profitable or at least break even, despite the low pricing, simply because a lot of people are interested. I'd like this to be a full-time thing and would love to finish 2023 with thousands of new additional assets created, and a bunch of long-awaited indie games released.


And I get the sense that many people ARE really interested even if most viewers have not made a buying decision yet. I've seen over 100,000 page views on my Itch analytics, since the pages began opening in early 2018. That's thousands of people visiting, and visiting repeatedly, opening multiple pages per visit. Thousands of downloads, especially on the free asset packs. 

So I'm thrilled by all of that, and I'm excited about where this could be headed.

Thank you all so much!

Fantastic indie puzzler, very colorful retro scifi look (60s-70s) and a core mechanic very similar to 'Superliminal' but taken in another direction and made third person. No idea why more people aren't seeing that this game exists - whatever team made this GOOD, FREE game should be getting more attention than this!

The monochromatic style is definitely unusual, but it works. Reminds me of the old Twilight Zone. I am not normally 'bugged' by moths but this little experience managed to be creepy for me despite that. So good job.

If you or any other devs are looking for textures and 3d stuff, I have a lot here and way more on the way soon. So consider taking a look?

Solid short game experience, definitely scary. If anyone (developer?) is interested I have some textures, vfx, and 3d asset packs that might be useful for something.

Wow. Nice job on the graphics, story, and mood in general.

I see now why this is in the first page on 'New and Trending' on Steam, and the #1 slot on Itch.IO.

Congrats. If you or anyone here is ever interested, I've got some pretty extensive texture/3d asset collections here, going on sale during holidays all of them bundled together for under $3 during events like tomorrow (Presidents Day 2023)

https://matthornb.itch.io/

Thanks.

And... despite all the work, a few items I was developing were not included in this update due to still-unresolved texture issues. Even some of what was finally included had some problems that I'll still keep working to fix in the next week. (For example, several meshes have incorrect scaling or misplaced pivot points.)

But on the plus side:

I have now added some small details [potted plant, various single books and groups of books, a pair of glasses] and multiple ceiling fan objects, TV set and TV stand in three materials, plus two different bookshelves each with two texture options. Plus a few fixes and additional items in the next few days. I'm still working on this.


Congratulations on your INCREDIBLY successful Kickstarter!

I remember playing your old Flash version in the '00s before Telltale hired you and man, you've got a sense of humor and a knack for storytelling. I can see why you were chosen by the studio while it was growing and thriving. 

Unfortunately, it sounds a lot like things took a bad turn later on.

I feel bad you're going through so many tough things but am happy that at least this one thing went well for you today.

I'm definitely looking forward to your upcoming remastered releases and any new episodes of Nick Bounty or any other adventures, you consider making in the future. 

Matthew Hornbostel, game dev, game asset creator /  https://matthornb.itch.io/

Wow. Really unnerving moment, when it recognizes your name. Which is a cool, genuinely scary idea, kind of reminds me of the creepy WTF moment in 'Inscryption' where the game asks to hold one of the files on your system as collateral, has you choose it, and threatens to delete it if you play unsuccessfully. 

Those moments when a game gives you the sense, the hint of real world danger, of something actually at stake, whether it actually is or not?

That stuff is genuinely scary! 

And you clearly know that and get it.

It's a reason why your game is still so high up on itch's front page. So congrats on that.

-Matthew Hornbostel (asset pack creator, indie game dev)

matthornb.itch.io

An eerie example of what can be done in a short span of time.

I know it was rushed but I personally think it is still well enough executed and scary enough, that I am at least sort of impressed, and the fact that it's done this well certainly explains how it reached the front page of itch!

Sometimes I think it'd be better if I focused on 'game jam' type projects of modest scope (like this one you made) instead of going for more ambitious efforts that take forever (prone to feature creep) but now I am where I am on my own productions. 

Maybe for the best. :/

Just hope to get something DONE fairly soon and hope my work merits anywhere close to the visibility your project has wound up with.


Matthew Hornbostel, asset pack creator, indie game dev

https://matthornb.itch.io/

Hilarious and hopeless all at the same time.

Superbly silly commentary on the idiocy of the modern workplace and love the way the developer of this game responds to player comments as it's so fitting.

Excellent spin on the typing sim.

Matthew Hornbostel, https://matthornb.itch.io

60 million downloads? Holy **** now that is an impressive accomplishment!

Congrats Team Terrible, you have somehow kept this game on the front page of itch for months and months on end and by now I can't help but check it out just to see why it's still there.

And you know what? You did a really good job making the worst possible sort of babysitting scenario into a genuinely scary game. So that's pretty extraordinary. Very impressive start to your studio and I hope you build successfully from there.

-Matthew Hornbostel, indie game dev and developer of game dev assets. https://matthornb.itch.io/

Thanks so much for this encouraging comment! :)

I'm late, I realize, in posting the new update but it's getting close now. 

Should be ready to go in under a week.

Hilarious. Simple, funny concept but sometimes those ones are the ones that take off. 

Congrats btw, on getting to the very top of the first page on itch.io, that's astonishing and I figured you'd get noticed at some point by a larger crowd, glad it happened for you.

-Matthew Hornbostel

http://www.miniaturemultiverse.com

https://matthornb.itch.io/

Another incremental update: 40+ additional texture maps (new image files, including some seamless diffuse, specular, displacement, normal, and ambient occlusion maps) are now included in this collection, bringing total included texture image count well above 450, as of April 2, 2022.  

Amanita Design, your art styles are always incredible.

Samorost and its sequels have a very handmade look. Machinarium is so charming it's amazing. Just... wow.

I am making some stuff that is handcrafted-looking and analog styled.

Maybe a few of you would like to take a look? One of the things is a point-and-click panoramic adventure game (first person Myst-like) made with miniature-art graphics. (It's called "Miniature Multiverse" and it's in active development) and there are also many other little things there too. Going on sale all in a bundle for about $1 on St. Pat's 2022.

https://itch.io/s/68184/st-patricks-day-2022

This is actually the start of a great idea, it's not far off from the 'collections' feature that already exists [private or public collections of projects that users like] but what indeed does make this different from existing collections as implemented, and why it matters, is really the fact that collections now don't have all that much to notify you when a thing in your collection has changed or updated. I approach this from a creator POV, but for players it's also a useful feature. And currently there's simply no feature on Itch to handle that situation of project-specific updates. 

I myself personally have a bunch of 'follows' and 40 'followers' so clearly some people on Itch do use that, but not most. It's like the Itch.IO star rating/review system, it's not being used anywhere near enough, or well-understood or noticeable enough, to be useful to most people here. 

Itch's setup for tracking and interacting with projects, users, etc... it is a hodgepodge of features that should be better connected to each other in some way. We have collections, that's nice, and ratings, and follows. Is there some way to streamline these functions and tie them together in a singular panel? We don't really even need a wish list per se, but some sort of merging of the collections/follows that includes all of the best features of both in a single, robust system.  

When you realize you have had thousands of people visit your profile and 40 of them followed you as a dev (not a specific project even, just... you as a developer? sort of?) and a completely different group of people put you in various collections, and only one person has reviewed you (a person who's seemingly not in either of the other two groups) you realize how problematic and messy this is.

I have had around a hundred $ in sales total by now - all asset-pack stuff - but the audience that is interested in that content is expressing that interest in a ton of different and disparate ways that do not intersect much and are very uncoordinated.

I can't help getting the feeling there's a weakness in the Itch community and site that's not only my own decisions [yeah, I'm sure I've made some mistakes in my profile and that's a part of the experience I've had], but also more platform-wide and structural confusion for users. Connecting and improving these mixed up features won't solve everything, and undoubtedly it will pose a challenge to figure out how best to do it, but if you get it right... it could help. It could be a start to making that better. 


--Matthew L. Hornbostel, https://matthornb.itch.io/

Nice. I'm not really actively focused on marketing my game content yet, as my game dev work is fairly ambitious from a 'solo dev' POV and still unfinished, but I have been trying for the past two years to promote my game assets. Now you're recommending Reddit and I'm like, OUCH, I've already experienced Reddit and Facebook and in my experience they're super awful at times as online settings go. 

Though, mostly that's my fault. I say stuff that's way too honest and personal and self-hating and that of course leads to some waves of 'holy **** what is wrong with you' and usually ends with me sobbing and near-suicidal, sometimes due to total strangers eviscerating me, and yet I still go back and make the same self-deprecating errors again later because I AM mentally ill (4 different diagnosed mental health issues) and I DO want to self-harm and actively self-sabotage a lot of the time. I'm not going to hide that I say dumb crap, it's all out there in the open anyway, all my sickest weirdest secrets are public info. And I am okay with this - I KNOW and ACCEPT that I'm blacklisted and known to be a liability to every possible employer, and that I will never be hired - that I am stuck unemployed and that I will be working 12-14 hours every day on tasks that average around $3/hour in pay. (Best case. Usually it's like $1 or $2, somewhere between those) I sometimes refer to myself as the 'hardest-working unemployed guy in the area' and that is kind of true. I aspire to make over 10k in a single year of work soon.  That'd be nice. I could live on that. I could cover the cost of my meds myself. It'd be good if it happened. Anything past $12 or $15k a year, probably would give away to charitable causes so others can succeed who deserve success way more than I ever did. Would love to make an impact for the good of the world and those in it. 

YET: My creative products and services, somehow continue taking off along an exponential curve. Either the buyers somehow don't know or care if my mental health is a total disaster. Maybe they don't do cursory research into my open-book train wreck of a life. I don't know. They don't seem to notice or care, given that I'll do work for them at less than half the price most others will, and I'll do it consistently well. And for every glaring psychological flaw I've got I have an achievement despite it - University graduate with 3.67 GPA, Eagle Scout, 20+ years experience with Photoshop, 3d art, VFX and a ton of other things usually that I began doing in my teenage years circa 1999-2005 and put thousands of hours into unpaid, to the point where I was actually pretty good at the work. .  

I think it arguably borders on spam occasionally, but I've been including a link to my Itch profile in YT comments routinely as part of a sort of signature. I will comment [usually very positively] on the video and then have the sig at the bottom. The same concept works well on Discord, big web forums/bulletin boards, etc. Often you can have a banner image for that, and I frequently make mine an animated GIF or animated PNG, which is increasingly widely supported on modern web browsers and looks cleaner than dithered GIFs. But if I have more room, just a JPG:


https://matthornb.itch.io - My Itch profile

Key here is that the sig has to be relevant to the forum or video channel. I rotate sigs based on the group I'm posting in. So on YT, I might focus on 3d assets (if a 3d animation-related video) or texture maps, on anything relating to interior decor, maybe Etsy prints and handmade art, on anything sculpture/miniature related it'll be my indie game efforts with Miniature Multiverse or maybe my papercraft models on Etsy, Video and VFX videos, would definitely focus on my video assets (VFX stuff - pyrotechnics elements against black backing and so on) and it's been interesting that I've done this on maybe 250 YT videos now and it is not damaging my YT comment feedback/interactions as far as the algorithm they use is concerned, because I also post actual replies to the video and conversation, not just the links, and the links even are relevant to the group that's watching the video so they get upvoted. 

One key thing here is, if you believe your content's good, you'll be able to get past the hurdle of 'IS THIS SPAMMY OR TOO PROMOTIONAL' because you actually believe in the content you are promoting, even if you don't believe in yourself at all, and think people will want to see the sold assets and will benefit from knowing about them. If you don't think that, you shouldn't be promoting it to begin with. But because I actually believe my products are solid and that they're great value compared to existing alternatives, I have no issue guiding people to them. You need to believe in what you are selling, and if you don't, then rework it tirelessly and make it better until you do think it's worth promoting.

HOW DID THIS STRATEGY WORK IN MY SITUATION?:

It has gone okay -  my results, after a few years, tens of thousands of pageviews (profile and project pages on Itch) and around $100 in sales, a handful of comments, and as of a few days ago, two five-star reviews from a buyer. I do get the sense that the contents of my profile are primed to take off arbitrarily starting right about now. Just like my Etsy shop where years went by with zero ratings, then someone reviewed a thing, and the outcome there's been 89% quarterly growth on average the past 9 quarters in a row. Currently I'm seeing hundreds of $ of purchases every month, getting within striking distance of $1000 a month now, granted 70% of that is consumed by shipping, fees, materials, etc, but it's still a real gain. And the same pattern hit years earlier on eBay for me but there... too many awful customers and a poorly thought out business model. eBay selling for me has been on hold since early 2020 because I was making dozens of sales each year and losing money doing that, moreover also burning through hundreds of hours of work for customers who then, some 20-30% of the time, demanded full refunds and threatened scathing reviews if said refunds weren't sent. And I gave the refunds. I let those people hold me hostage and erase my shop completely in the end. It's a shame though as many of the people there were good, but enough of eBay is toxic and scammy that it effectively killed my store there.    

There were hundreds of hours put into making the content I've gotten onto Itch.IO so it's unclear if it's worth it from a financial perspective (likely never will be able to make even close to half of minimum wage doing this stuff) but the content has been useful to a number of people here, so that's something. And at least I haven't lost money making it, just a few months of my time (which, according to Adam Smith's staggeringly stupid free hand of the market, was worthless for decades and now suddenly has value for some reason?) so that makes my venture on Itch a step up from eBay IMO.  

The upside though, is that something else outside of Itch.IO has taken off like crazy. My Etsy shop, and in particular, printing services. I'm making a decent amount doing that while still undercutting pretty much everyone else out there slightly, pricing-wise. Hoping that booming success over the last year will be beneficial elsewhere - propping up stock media asset pack development, game development, and other categories of bargain-priced creative products. 

By no means flawless but the use of sound here is pretty great.

To any developers here, if you need any blood/gore/horror visual elements in future games, I will be posting a bunch of new 3d/texture material of that sort in a few days for free.

Matthew L. Hornbostel, https://matthornb.itch.io/

Fantastic short horror game, not reliant on jumpscares but genuinely creepy. Great sense of suspense and mood, there is an eerie buildup but the ending leaves me with more lingering questions than real answers.

It is amazing how many indie games on itch.Io do so much that is clever and genuinely scary with the horror genre, and it seems that's why arguably my weakest asset pack (the blood spray pack) is by far the most downloaded thing I have ever posted on itch.io.

That and, it is free. But if that is what the gamedevs here want (horror stuff) I will happily make more of that. It is clearly a huge phenomenon here on itch!

So I will be posting a major update to that free asset pack in the next few days with more disturbing horror elements. As in, more gore, blood, body-horror stuff. And some general-purpose horror-genre visual elements.

https://matthornb.itch.io/ - my itch profile

https://matthornb.itch.io/blood-spray-particle-fx-clips-free - the blood spray pack that I'm about to update.

BTW I also have some small indie games in the works - not just gamedev asset packs. But so far, most of what I've posted is game assets for game creators. Hope to offer more of both in the next few months... often available for free. If anybody's interested.

New updates will be posted in this and a number of my other asset packs over the course of the next week. I am still working on these asset packs - they're growing every so often with new additions, not static and they're not being abandoned!

Truly, wondrously lovely 3d art.

I just gave you a five star rating. These environments are gorgeous!

I will soon send a couple $ your way as well, as I would like to encourage you to continue making worlds.

Matthew L Hornbostel,

https://matthornb.itch.io/

Liked Cloud Climber a lot. Great work for a free game. 

Posted a review just because I felt it kind of deserved one.

So much bleakness and atmosphere here. Yes, it is a five-minute walk tops. Yes, it has a cartoonish texture style. Yes, it guides the player and just flat-out tells them what they should do next which is not great design. No, none of that really ruined this brief experience for me.

Writing is minimal in some ways, and fragmentary, incomplete, but it does enough to get a sense of the concept across. I wasn't entirely sure if the character was the last one left there or not - but clearly things had fallen apart very badly for his society which we seem to see as the last one left on Earth. Most of them maybe turned on each other shortly before this walk?

Ending was therefore both sad and beautiful, bittersweet. If the people there had lasted or held out a bit longer maybe they would have seen this. Maybe there are others still alive and they will. But not everyone.

It may be a brief story but it works enough, it is a good and genuinely interesting concept, and if the dev wants to push onwards to something longer and more substantial I would be willing to back that a bit TBH.

Us Indie devs need to stick together and help each other. It is a tough field and maybe we can assist each other in what we're doing.

I know firsthand - I have a ton of things on itch.IO and they are doing okay so far but not exactly going great. I keep working on them though. Hopefully someday some of that will take off nicely. https://matthornb.itch.io/

Short but a good concept.

Keep at it.

Incidentally, I find it fascinating how many indies on itch do cool stuff with the horror genre in particular, it seems to be most of what is on the itch.io platform. I am not sure why, exactly, but maybe horror is a good category for indie devs just like it is for indie filmmakers?

Matthew H,  https://matthornb.itch.io/

I tend to go with Unity+Playmaker for 3d, Construct for 2D.

But I'm coming into this from an art background, 2d/3d art is my main strength, not code. 

I'm not great with code.

And I'll second the commenter who pointed out that well-supported, often-updated engines with a decent user community are important.

Unity has the single biggest userbase of any game engine, about 50% of game developers worldwide use it, it's simply not going to just go away any time soon. And Unreal is the #2 biggest userbase [almost 30%] and likewise will be around a long while.

I've used really niche engines before - years ago, in the 2000s - and had a lot of ambitious projects fail utterly, just simply unravel, because the engine devs stopped updating the engine! For example, Adventure Maker, which hasn't been updated in over a decade. I made no less than three games using it, and they only run on Windows XP or older-than-XP Windows, that is if they were even released (two of them I gave up on after hundreds of hours' work because I realized the engine was doomed. I still have the graphics assets but all the interaction would need to be redone from scratch in a new engine and I couldn't escape the sinking feeling of, it's just not worth it now. I also tried using Gamesalad on a couple of projects, and that didn't end well either BTW. 

If I'm going to recommend just one engine, it's Unity. It's what I settled on anyway.

Huge, and I mean huge, userbase of well over half a million people now, that can answer almost any question you pose, massive flexibility, can be used to make 2d and 3d games, for a ton of platforms. Main downside of Unity currently is it doesn't scale well to large teams the way Unreal can, but that is something that Unity Technologies is very actively working on. It's kind of an irrelevant problem for indies anyway. And as for the query, can you make good quality games with Unity, ie the 'image problem' Unity faces, I think you can and the list of Unity-made games on Wikipedia demonstrates this wide-ranging potential for a ton of solid stuff in many genres. Just that most of the best games built in Unity, people don't realize that they are Unity-made games because the devs cut out the Unity branding. Unity can also be optimized very well, it's reasonably efficient and lean, as evidenced by the sheer number of visually stunning yet smoothly-running mobile titles developed in it (like 'The Room' series, 'Monument Valley', series, 'Alto's Adventure', 'Temple Run 2' and many other examples of Unity games that somehow still look good while running on a potato, so to speak)

Unreal is the second really great choice. It's clearly better for certain types of game [eg 3d fps or third person] and very scalable for larger teams. It also has a superb community and a ton of features. And it is quite efficient as 3d engines go, nicely optimized. The projects done with it often look amazing.

BTW: my presence on Itch.IO is https://matthornb.itch.io/ and I'm working on a few new indie games but not released just yet.

Mostly 'Myst-likes' [first person puzzle/adventure] as that plays well to my strengths.

  

I do however, have a TON of stock media assets there also, already, royalty-free for gamedevs. A few free ones, mostly paid, but even the paid stuff is not expensive. 2000+ asset files [overlays and decals, seamless photography-based texture maps, video VFX elements based on real-world high-speed video, and a lot of 3d asset files too across various categories.]

That stock media stuff is all bundled together for $1 every now and then (90% off) like April 2-4 [Easter sale, coming up very soon] and the $1 pricing also includes early preorders of any indie games I make and release on Itch during the next couple of years.

STOCK MEDIA (Asset packs): The various stock media asset packs are all licensed in a fairly straightforward way, you can make derivative works using them as a resource (eg games, VFX shots in videos or cutscenes) with no real constraints, and there are no other limitations to that usage really aside from the obvious, that you cannot just resell the package of content as is. Any more specific or unusual use cases, let me know. I will try to answer those questions but in most such cases the answer will be 'yeah, you can do that.'

GAMEDEV PROJECTS: The game dev projects listed all exist in a state of completion that is well over half done and therefore it is possible to show some material to the public, but some of these, asstated on their respective pages, may not be fully completed until late 2021 at the latest. I am putting a great deal of time and effort into them generally, and some of these projects are now very close to ready to release, with far more there in some cases than what is posted on the game pages themselves.The game pages all include text noting the status of the project as an effective preorder. The typical pricing will climb on these individual items generally after each item launches. 

As each game is debugged and the last remaining graphics elements, etc, are implemented and fall into place, I will be posting them and you will be able to download them (over the next few months) but for now, the timeframes described in the text on those game pages are usually pretty realistic assessments. Panoramic Worlds, for example, I am really trying to get out before the end of February (this month) as it is actually pretty close to complete. And then the minigames, will be posted over the next four or five months as I spend some of that time working on those and the rest in the background filling in bits for Miniature Multiverse and the new Vivid Minigolf, to be posted later in 2021.

The trickiest one is Miniature Multiverse, and it is also the most discussed and anticipated generally. There are about 150 hrs. of work left on it still, which sounds like a ton but I have already poured in close to a thousand working on it since 2016 so... I am thinking it isn't too far off at this point.

Some of these might run into unanticipated obstacles slowing them down, I cannot predict exactly which ones and where, but I will keep at it and get them all out there even if it takes more work than was initially planned.

But you will get to play them as they're released. Even if in some cases it takes a while.

REFUNDS: If the fact that you did not notice the 'preorder' status on games specifically is upsetting to you, I recognize that I am largely at fault for this and will definitely be willing to refund your purchase and (still) allow you to keep the stock media packs as they are, and use them in your projects. I realize some of that was not marked clearly enough and that not everyone reads all the text, and I will attempt to fix it today to make the nature of those particular listings more visible and obvious for future buyers.

I did see the most recent PayPal transaction which I think is likely yours, and can absolutely refund it if you want given the situation.

It's a bit short but very well made.

I am impressed!

BTW, if any of you want 3d assets, seamless texture maps and decals, etc, for future game dev efforts, I am running a sale right now and the Hermes devs might find that interesting? I am open to requests so... might make some scifi and space themed 3d assets in future if that is useful to you and you are requesting that. 

$0.97 for 2000+ asset files:

Here is the sale link.

Thanks!

What a quirky and fun idea!

Funny, eerie and just plain odd.

I like it.

BTW, if you need any gamedev assets in your future game projects, I have 2000+ assets for $0.97 right now, and that is just the start!:

https://itch.io/s/45319/93-off-sale-2000-assets-for-097

Let me know what 3d assets you could use, if people are making requests for certain things I will be likely to fast track them.

Thanks!

Hey, Geoff, great first project! I think your gamedev work shows a ton of promise and the mood you captured is definitely a bit weird and creepy but mostly just amusing!

If you would like assets for your next project, or if anyone else here is doing creative gamedev stuff, you may want to take a moment to view this sale I am running:

https://itch.io/s/45319/93-off-sale-2000-assets-for-097

93% off a lot of game assets (97 cents for 2000+ asset files, as stated in the link) and there are some free ones available as well! 

And I am welcoming suggestions for future (realistic looking but also efficiently built) assets added to these collections so if you need a 3d modeled item, Geoff... let me know, there is a good chance I will add it!