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matthornb

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

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Thanks for your helpful replies!

I will definitely start getting involved in the Discord soon and will try contacting the musicians you have mentioned.

And yes, I have a decently functional production framework for 360-degree nodes already figured out in Unity, that I figured out while developing the first few areas of Miniature Multiverse (That project is still incomplete but steadily moving forward - I would now expect it to be done some time around February or March 2020 at the rate things have been going.)

I actually tried Dagon at one point when that was first emerging, and I once attempted a big game with Adventure Maker, a project I discontinued almost a decade ago because even then I saw 'the writing on the wall' and realized that the engine probably had no long term future. The developer stopped updating the engine in something like 2007 or 2008, and it is surprising actually that anyone still uses it given how many of the advanced or plugin features in its output become increasingly broken for each and every version of Windows released after XP.  I even tried messing with a panoramic VR tour engine once, that was not even a game engine but I figured out sneaky workaround ways to script simple puzzles and interactions in it with varying game states.

Eventually though I realized Unity could do this and I started testing that with a little proof of concept... and I knew it could work.

Doubly cool is that I think it can even be done stereo VR, ie with convincing eye separation depth, under certain conditions. I have successfully tried a couple of methods that both work for that. One - which is a little nicer looking - requires the rendered scene source be a 3d scene rendered in stereo (two 360-degree rendered versions of every node and transition slightly offset) the other is a weird set of tricks using a custom designed equirectangular displacement map applied to reshape and distort the node sphere, so that from the center the illusion of varying and detailed depth is possible, even when the panorama is not 3d rendered and is primarily something else like miniature photography. (as is of course the case with about 75% of the imagery in Miniature Multiverse.)

I am toying with a range of possible rough ideas for this game jam but without the secondary theme revealed I am hesitant to fully design any storyline, or puzzles that fit it well, mostly I am waiting for the thing to start before identifying where exactly I want to go with this. Designing and coming up with neat ideas, IMO, is fun but not anywhere near as time consuming as a high quality execution, that makes those ideas into a good, polished experience.

I will say I have a couple of interesting loosely thought-out stories woven around notable myths / legends... that lead to some intriguingly weird reinterpretations of stories 'everybody already knows' and suggests an alternative explanation or context for the story that is arguably even stranger and maybe more interesting than the straightforward myth was originally in the first place.

I like the sense of having the player dumped into the storyline initially having no clue where it is headed. Keep them guessing, hit them with an interesting reveal or two - roughly at the midpoint and near the ending - to keep them off guard and intrigued as it all progresses, unsure of certain aspects of the story and trying to make sense of the information they have learned, trying to answer their questions through exploring, observing, and solving puzzles. Basically the prototypical feeling of confused fascination players felt when dumped onto the dock on Myst Island back in '93, before the thing became less mysterious and more... known and quantified.

Part of the trick is to do this in some ways I haven't already committed to doing elsewhere in any of my other stories (past or currently in development). I think I may have the seed of something sort of fresh though, a bit different than what I have already tried or planned elsewhere. A rough story structure which could work, could become something really cool if I pull it off competently and resolve the specific details and logic, delivering well on the inherent potential within its premise.

But who knows, I may botch it when time starts to run out. Can't allow feature creep here on a three week effort and need to keep things reasonably simple to meet the deadline.    :/

This looks great, I am joining this game jam. Anybody else interested in this?

I've got a lot of other stuff going on by end of 2019 so can't allocate more than maybe 2 hrs/day to this. So I would find making an entire (substantial) game in this span difficult and challenging to do well on my own. A small, short thing though is possible.

That said, I am a pretty capable 3d artist and a huge fan of the Myst series and similar puzzle games so this seems right up my alley. 

I even backed The Five Cores Remastered on Kickstarter so have already supported Icehouse a little bit indirectly without even realizing Iridescent Waves was part of Icehouse.

I am a bit experienced with Unity / Playmaker, so will likely use that as a framework. I have been testing a creative 360 degree VR method that allows a panoramic prerendered game interface like was seen in Myst 3: Exile or Scratches to function in full 3d VR but have yet to think of or design a project that would make use of it. This might be the chance to come up with one. 

If somebody would like to do some music on my project, that would be nice. But in general, I will probably figure out how to do this on my own with or without any assistance on the soundtrack. 

I don't yet have a design (plan) or story / name for my game but will attempt to come up with a production plan soon. And when the game jam starts, I will get to work on it. 

Thanks, Icehouse, for putting this game jam together.

-Matthew Hornbostel, creator of https://matthornb.itch.io and http://miniaturemultiverse.com.

Very nice! This is sort of small, granted, but I do appreciate the peaceful and vibrantly colorful mood you achieved here, and while I often love various other game genres (strategy, etc) I do definitely have a soft spot for some slower-paced experiences like this that focus on beautifully realized spaces. I think it was kind of inevitable that the walking-sim subgenre would emerge at some point in the 2000s once the realtime graphics tech made a wide range of genuinely pretty environments possible. There were early signs that this could become a thing with games like 'Myst' but it took a while for devs to actually eschew puzzles and obstacles entirely and make projects in which the gameworld and exploration stood entirely on its own. I'm a game dev myself and am personally attempting to hit some sort of balanced middle ground between the overly obtuse and densely packed puzzle designs of traditional old-school adventure games and the more open wandering-around walking sim format with my project Miniature Multiverse. It's kind of quirky analog art style [O scale miniature-art settings] but it's yet another example of an attempt to create a relaxed and artful exploratory experience. 

Anyway, I'm now following you and am curious to see what you make next. :)

Very cool demo Jason, and I'm looking forward to playing the full release version. Love the concept and aesthetic, the whole mood of the place, it all fits together well. It seems like it's very well thought out. Especially given how, the setting you designed looks great in every possible set of color schemes. 

I'm struggling a bit on that personally on my upcoming 'Miniature Multiverse' game, adjusting all the puzzles and story to both 'belong' seamlessly in the world, as there are some sections where either the imagery or a puzzle idea is kind of dominant, and my game at times feels a little bit like a widely variable set of interesting interconnected vignettes... not a cohesive, fully unified thing (choice of using panoramic photography inside detailed O scale miniature models for every world aside).

What was your design process like for this - how did you plan things out when developing Discolored? What inspired this, and how did you go about expanding on that first initial idea? Moreover, what sort of tools did you use to make this once the core design was figured out?

You don't have to answer but I always like hearing about the creative process on things like this.

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Hi everyone. Just want to remind anyone who didn't notice, that on matthornb.itch.io I've dropped all my prices drastically through July 4th.

You can buy three substantial game asset packs currently for 99 cents. These include 1200+ texture image files, 150+ video effects elements, and a bunch of 3d assets as well.

Would really appreciate any views, buys, and especially reviews/ratings as I've got some great stuff here and still a year after the first launch, nobody has reviewed most of it, it's a lot of quality material that's kind of getting lost in the mountain of other assets.

My shop's header:


Example scenes with some of the 3d plant models:



More 3d assets will be posted in an update shortly, a ton of new stuff. I am aiming to release two new stock 3d asset packs by July 1st plus post a free update to the existing 3d content using Butler. New rendered pics and a video overview on my profile page, will be posted along with that.

Again, any support would be really helpful at this time, not only given the amount of work I have put into these assets, and to support further development of additional batches of affordable game-asset content, but also because I would really like to release my indie game 'Miniature Multiverse' in a timely manner and in as good a condition as I can. Right now I am struggling to cover remaining cost of finishing and releasing it and that lack of funding has been slowing, often stalling, progress for months!

Anyway, thanks for reading.

EDIT/UPDATE, 2 new stock media asset packs just launched, plus my profile page is updated with a video discussing my art stuff.

Lots of interesting material there, and the price for a bundle of five asset packs is currently just $1.25 or 25 cents/pack!

That sale ends July 8, 2019 so if you want to take advantage of it now is a perfect time.

Well, I'm also struggling with the pricing issue and making things viable so the creative work can grow and improve over time... but like most creatives, I also want my stuff to be accessible even when that means losing out on most of the potential sales value. I've made some free stuff and some cheap stuff that's currently on a ridiculous sale, and when I pivot from just 'game assets' to actually releasing game content, I have decided that certain extremely ambitious titles of mine e.g. Miniature Multiverse, which has cost me over $1200 to develop and hundreds of hours' unpaid labor, will not have a free 'lite' version but will be priced very reasonably. And with other smaller game concepts, I intend to have a visually lower res variant that is output for HTML5, in-browser, for free and a standalone Windows/Mac version for $1 or whatever, with higher graphics resolution. It's not even that I'm deresing the free version to incentivize the paid one, it's just... my stuff's very graphics heavy and if it isn't compressed it won't run in a browser! So that kind of makes sense for me BTW.

Interesting info on Patreon alternatives, MxKit. Thanks.

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Hi itch.io admins. I think I've encountered a bug in your GIF upload or display system.

I uploaded a .GIF image as a cover image for one of my stock media collections, one with a bunch of video FX elements and texture maps - the Autumn 2018 Bonus stock media asset pack. 

The GIF looks really weirdly wrong in the still preview, when running Itch.IO on Google Chrome, on Windows 10, and possibly in other configurations as well. It looks like it's not using the first frame of the .gif image as the still, but instead blending all the frames together in an ugly jumble, so that the title of the asset pack that does not change over the play of the GIF, is the only part that is recognizable and the rest of it just looks like static. 

This was not the case when I first uploaded it, it seems like something done to the Itch.IO platform in the past month screwed it up.

I tried modifying the GIF to remove the first frame and then reuploading, but it still looks wrong. Can anyone explain why this is happening?

You can see what I mean on my profile, the third item down is a messed-up GIF:

https://matthornb.itch.io/

It looks ugly and messed up as a still but it does play back correctly when moused over. I have no idea what is causing this but it is detrimental to my profile as a whole, and gives a terrible first impression of the product in particular.

EDIT: Apparently the GIF was slightly off on the aspect ratio and that caused the issue somehow. By adjusting the aspect ratio of the gif I was able to reupload and make it look better.

Depends on if the toolset you're using makes it relatively easy to port your game to Linux. If it's easy, it's worth doing. Or even if it's not that easy, but your game is making a lot of sales on Windows and Mac, then it's probably still worth it. But if it's a lot of work and has low potential, don't bother. It's all about cost/benefit analysis. Is the potential advantage of having your game on Linux, worth the work involved? The answer depends on the specifics of your project.

There are a lot of Linux systems out there overall, sure, but Linux only has a modest share of the desktop category. By most measures, perhaps 2-3%.

Mac, maybe 6-8%, Windows the other 90%. So as far as higher-end desktop systems go, Windows is still persistently dominant.

But factor in all the tablets and phones and the fact that Android derives a lot from Linux, and the sheer number of digital cameras and little 'smart devices' that run off Linux variants, and you'll realize Linux is pretty much everywhere in one form or another. There are hundreds of millions of devices running off Linux. 

Note: The most widespread OS now is Android. There are over a billion phones and tablets using it. But Android users do tend to be stingier when buying things; the average Android user spends way less on apps than the typical iOS user. 

After that, Windows and iOS, are the next two biggest markets. Each of these markets has in excess of 400 million devices active.

Then Mac OS X and various forms of Linux.

My project 'Miniature Multiverse' is currently being built with Unity and my aim initially is for desktop Windows/Mac/Linux but I'm also hoping to launch a mobile version perhaps, some time after, if things are going well. With Unity my game is not too much work to port across desktop systems.  The only reason I'm slower on mobile, is that I'd need to figure out the touchscreen interactions before that'd work. But I'd love to have my game running on mobile!

Don't panic about the initial lack of reviews. I've been dealing with the same thing on my asset collections.

Just keep promoting your asset pack and continue selling... and keep in mind that in general, on most big marketplaces (from Amazon to Steam) usually only 2-5% of customers will rate a thing they bought.

That can be extremely frustrating when you know you have something amazing that's being ignored. But it's reality.

Focus on getting people to look at your work, landing buyers, and impressing those buyers with the quality and value of your product. People who have strong emotional reactions (positive or negative) to your product are most likely to take a moment to review it.

And some people are just inherently more likely to post reviews than others, for whatever reason. Habit, I suppose.

There are venues like eBay where ratings are more standard, and a large percentage of people will leave them. But most marketplaces aren't like that. Itch doesn't seem to be. So don't be surprised if it takes 20, 30, even 50 sales before someone posts a review.

Hi. Matthew L. Hornbostel here. "Miniature Multiverse"My Itch page

My personal bits of hard won advice from prior misfires:

-Choose a game engine that is well-developed and actively supported, and ideally cross platform. I made a game with 'Adventure Maker' in '04 and the engine has not been updated since roughly 2007, and games made with it do not run on current Windows systems. I poured so much work into a second project with that same engine only to realize by around 2010 that it'd never work out.

-start relatively small, build up from there. Have something you can point to early on and it'll be a great confidence booster.  Feature creep's a real issue for me, and many other devs, and thankfully I got this right with video productions, but sadly not so much with games. Flitting from project to project in a rotation always has been a flaw of mine as well, it is hard not to though when I have so many ideas I think are promising!

-Play to your strengths. I am not a capable programmer but am a good artist. So I make heavy use of my art skills. Often the look of a thing is the selling point initially with my stuff.

-Break all the tasks in your project  into  organized categories and chunks within a category. Get them done starting with the 'unknowns' - things you aren't sure you know how to do. There should be a handful of these in any project. If you have none, you're not pushing yourself to grow your skill set, but if there are a ton it may be that you're pushing yourself into territory you aren't ready to pursue, and it may become discouraging quickly. For instance, with 'Miniature Multiverse' my first big challenge was capturing first person panoramic views inside a scale miniature, in high resolution,, and setting up a panoramic interface in Unity that was flexible and functional. Often for me it's the interactions and technical stuff that is the unknown factor.

-Keep at it! Don't give up! And...make note of your progress, try to keep things moving forward, and don't be surprised if there's more effort involved than you expected at the outset.

Yeah. No kidding. Making a series of immersive and substantial 3d spaces, with VR support even, like what you've done, must have been a ton of work. But the result's impressive.

I appreciate what you've done with this game. It's a fun little game and a cool concept.

But I do wonder if you'll get stuck renaming it at some point given the fact that the name 'Myst' as a game title is, I think, copyrighted by Cyan Inc. But given the fact that this is freeware I would hope that's probably not an issue. [Confusion aside]

- Matthew L. Hornbostel, matthornb.itch.io.

Looks absolutely amazing. Love the atmosphere you achieved here, and appreciate the work that went into recreating this beautiful place. 

I always like things like this that immerse you in a compelling and well-realized setting. I am trying to do the same sort of thing with a lot of my currently ongoing projects such as 'Miniature Multiverse' which has some fairly easy puzzles and a bit of story but mostly is just my attempt to allow players to explore interesting imaginative game worlds! 

Yeah, marketing in general sort of sucks, but it's unavoidable and if you've made a great, creative game and you poured yourself into it, for years on end... and then priced it reasonably, then you shouldn't have too much trouble marketing it. You'll find it's easy to promote your game just by default, because you actually genuinely believe it is a worthwhile game that people will like, maybe in some cases even love if they only knew it existed. But the biggest key takeaway in any case is your game must provide great value for buyers. The buyers who buy it will then be far, far more likely to support you as a result. They become your fans.

I'm convinced that indies can punch above their weight marketing their work, even if their budgets are small. The less important keys, after you've made a great game, are:

1) leveraging and growing existing social networks, online and offline, posting your release announcement on FB, Twitter, etc. I also really like Pinterest, as it's inherently visual - so it's a perfect place to post beautiful images of your game's artwork. 

2) Signatures in any forums/bulletin boards or online communities you frequent. Just a simple .JPG banner image of your game and its title, with a link tot he game's website or store page,  and then just have it there as your default for the bottom edge of your posts. Best if the posts are substantive and the community is a relevant group that might actually be interested in your game. If you have a website for your game, like, an actual one with a nice domain name, then you can make and post those banner signatures on a page there, plus desktop wallpapers, printable poster art, social 'follow us' links, etc. Maybe a few of your connections and followers, fans, what have you, will actually use them and this will go viral. Make it as easy as possible, for your stuff to go viral.

3) Advertising. I hate how expensive it can get but sometimes you can get amazing results by testing out variants of an ad and seeing what works and what doesn't on each platform - or in marketer speak, A/B testing) and then pouring the rest of the budget into whatever form is proving most efficient. I'm kind of thinking Google, FB and Twitter are popular but there is potential in smaller and less obvious ad networks if you know what you are doing.  I've had modest success promoting stuff on Quora and Bing, as well as Reddit. Key with the more cynical Reddit though is not to be overly sales-y. You should write simple casual ad copy that includes a pic that encapsulates your game, the name of the game, its most interesting features, etc. I used to get amazing mileage with a few banner ad networks including Project Wonderful, but PW is gone now, too bad. In general know what the terms mean. CPM is 'cost per thousand views' and usually it is about $0.10-$1, more precisely targeted ad networks frequently can cost more in CPM but deliver higher CTR or 'click through rate' - the percentage of people who see the ad and click on it. Typically this is around 1% at best, as people tend to ignore ads, but a great ad can sometimes be fine tuned to 2% or more. Finally, CPC is 'cost per click', meaning the amount spent for each person who actually clicks the ad. But the key at that point is to find the RIGHT audience so they're more likely to respond to the ad no only by clicking but actually *buying* your game, at which point hopefully, if you optimize it all well enough, you wind up with a few ad setups that have a great ROI, or 'return on investment' such that every dollar spent results in multiple dollars worth of sales. I have NEVER had a product with a substantially positive ROI from any of these networks but hopefully with more and better product lines, over time, that will change. Marketing... while the options vary, in general the ad itself and the subset of the audience it displays to, are usually more crucial than the network used.

4) Multiple games, multiple product lines. The more stuff you've got that is actually decent, the more the probability of a visitor finding something they like and actually want to buy. Also make sure your game pages include links to the bigger store and that each game or product includes a little .PDF readme or something, that gives any help needed for players, with controls or whatever, and also identifies the creator of the game and links back to the official site and storefronts. 

5) Finally, incentivize retention from past customers and try to keep them in the loop post launch. Email lists or social network follows are great; if  people like your first game they are the best chance for immediate sales of your next one. It's not enough to grab sales, try to build a following and while you should not constantly spam people, you SHOULD respond to comments and questions from players and you should post when there's real news relating to what you are doing next. I've seen so many successes fail to repeat because the audience drifted away. Don't be that game developer who was a one hit wonder, and then was ignored in every game after that. Do what you can to build on your momentum instead of allowing it to disperse and dissolve.

Incidentally, here's a small .GIF related to my upcoming game:


http://www.miniaturemultiverse.com

https://matthornb.itch.io <- I also have some stock media collections that are similarly very extensive and like my game have been built up over multiple years of work before any of it wound up on Itch.

I've put well over $1k into MINIATURE MULTIVERSE, and I do realize it's an oddball project - a first-person panoramic interface graphic adventure game with O scale miniature graphics.

It will be launching this summer hopefully... barring surprise delays. Over ten imaginative and varied worlds in handcrafted miniature, 25 major 'areas' and 200+ panoramic nodes. It'll be on Itch.IO and Steam at a standard price of $1.50 and the two versions will launch at roughly the same time. (I intend to submit the Steam version first, then post on Itch shortly after that.)

Think of it as a 'Myst-like' art/narrative game (made in Unity), but with the charm of miniature graphics and far less obtuse puzzle design than the old-school adventure titles, so that I think won't alienate most players.  Lots of challenges in designing this but I'm excited to finally see it through.

Hi all. I've been on itch.io for only a few months and already have made some sales and have all my three paid listed items in the top 10% of 'popular' section. Here's my advice, broken down, for indie devs:

1) Make a creative, high quality product and price it very reasonably. I particularly like going for 'under served' niches and pushing pricing as low as I can justify in hopes this will boost volume of sales and ideally ratings/reviews, improve customer satisfaction, word of mouth from happy people, etc. There are a lot of indie devs here on Itch.IO, almost as many devs as players, and way fewer items in the Game Assets section than in 'Games' so I focused on asset packs out of the gate - which you can see here, with intent to launch my games ie. Miniature Multiverse, a bit later.

2) Promote like crazy online. Forums you're active on, social media, wherever you have a presence and following, use it to hype your project, and if you followed step 1, there won't be a lot of complaints about your mentioning it. I'm doing that now. And if you're thinking, 'selling makes me uncomfortable' then maybe you need to look back at step 1 again, make your product better for customers, until you actually know your product is good and a real bargain for customers, then hopefully you will be able to feel comfortable selling.

3) Visuals sell. If you have some cool imagery, put it front and center, to grab attention, and know animation can be very effective too if you want to go the GIF route.

4) Yes, let people donate. I've had under 20 actual sales [so far], but had multiple buyers buy my items and leave a tip. That happens more frequently when the item is free or dirt cheap AND also good, you'll find people will appreciate the work you did - hundreds upon hundreds of hours of it - and they'll tip more than you think they will.

5) Upsell with a discount - bundles are awesome, people will often click on one item, see it is part of a bundle, and end up choosing the bundle instead even if it costs more. Of course, they're also getting 2 or more products, not one, but it doesn't really matter to you as the 'cost per item' is negligible in a digital store!

6) Use the item itself as advertising. Including a note within the downloadable, like a PDF readme or something, works great. Add your website and itch profile links there, and include discount codes because nobody is a more promising prospect for future sales than people who have already bought one item from you and were pleasantly surprised by it.

7) Your itch.IO product pages should, when useful, remind people that you have other items on Itch.IO, or stuff in development. And better, you can post free stuff, little free samples or demos, that then grab traffic and direct people to the full paid version as an option. Many people will gripe at this, saying it is a paywall, but I think a small paywall is better for the players and for the game quality, than the inherently broken model of freemium nickel and diming. But if you want the full game playable without a payment, try this: Put ads on the loading screens in the free version, ads for your other products or other peoples' ads, but not the sort that aggressively and annoyingly interrupt play. (This is why a loading screen banner between each level, makes sense) and then offer a paid premium version with ads removed and some extras like the soundtrack, an artbook/making of video, etc. That way it feels more worth it. Incidentally, I'm trying this with 'Panoramic Worlds' about one year from now. There's an interesting aspect to that launch also insofar as the game is not finite, it will continue being expanded and the additions will happen faster the more often people are buying the premium version.

8) Make your game available to as wide an audience as possible, on as many platforms as possible. I love HTML5 for this reason, but it is also limiting in many ways and that's why I'm focusing on desktop systems Mac/Windows - for some graphics intensive games. But if you can make your game run in HTML5 more power to you!

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/download/6ESawH3AGOJNP8QiXbIcjeciRa_fCgId9q267hGs - another download key, for the 2018 Triumphant Artists Coomplete Collection.

https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection/download/tQtY099_ccOKhQPs9BeCgey4ChDmhUhrXmzwdx2V - another download key for the Autumn Bonus collection.

I've seen that most of the keys in the first post are claimed - and downloaded - but the ones after that generally aren't yet. Of course, so far, neither are the ones in this post. 

I do ask that you not pirate the downloaded material as this will severely compromise its viability on this site (and) if I cannot make at least a few dozen sales of this sort of stuff by end of year 2019 it will most likely mean no new stock media from me in 2020 - . This content launching on Itch.IO in Q1 2019 is probably my last shot at doing this kind of work and so far, despite a few buyers, it's not looking like it'll work out this time either. And that's sad if true because I was really hoping to release a lot more over the next decade if it turned out to be at all successful.

And, again, if any of you are finding this material useful, I strongly encourage you to leave a rating / review on the related page. More ratings means more long term sales potential and as a result accelerated development of more stock-media content and faster completion of my struggling indie game prooductions like 'Miniature Multiverse' as well. For TACC 2018,  the place to post a rating would be https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018 

And for the bonus autumn collection, https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection

And the 3d nature pack: https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack

Thanks!

Congratulations Eastshade Studios devs on releasing Eastshade! I've been curious about this game and this world ever since I experienced Leaving Lyndow and now it is here, and it looks amazing. I'm looking forward to buying & playing it soon. 

-Matthew L. Hornbostel, indie gamedev.

Wow. Incredible graphics, and very intriguing if short. Would be thrilled to see more from you.

I love this type of game - I'm making some adventure games too - and you nailed the atmosphere on this one.

Great job!

-Matthew L. Hornbostel.

It's a shame your group disbanded. This was a very cool demo, and I would have liked to have seen more from all of you. 

-Matthew Hornbostel- seller of games / assets, matthornb.itch.io

It depends on what you're doing with the 1.7GB - the amount's big, sure, but it's lower than many of the 'professional' games out there, and if you have a lot of scenes/levels in your project it could be understandable. I know my project 'Miniature Multiverse' is likely to approach that sort of filesize range, and I've got a giant batch of stock media [textures, video files, etc] already posted, that is 1GB in size, just barely fitting within the normal limit.  Basically, if your project's ambitious in scope with a ton of content in it, and you really need the filesize, then by all means use it. See if you can get the Itch.IO staff to approve it.

Hello, Henning Koczy - Matthew L. Hornbostel - 'matthornb' here. I have a few things on Itch.IO right now but only stuff in the 'game assets' section, no actual games yet.

As a fellow indie game dev who is actively learning to use Unity, your game is really an inspiring example of what an individual can build with this engine. I'm impressed.

Your use of lighting, your animations, interactions & puzzle design are all quite solid and your uncle did an amazing job setting the mood with the music. 

I have to admit I'm a sucker for the sort of atmospheric exploration puzzler you've created, I'm an acknowledged fan of the Myst series despite the flaws and age of that series, and I love exploring imaginative  game worlds in first person view, and I enjoy solving puzzles, especially when they do things that are creative design-wise. I appreciate this 'The Witness' style of minimalist art you used here, it works well in this case and I personally feel your little game world is fascinating. I cannot help wondering what you would do in terms of design, world and puzzle wise, if you made a 'Foxhunt 2'.

Puzzle/adventure games, and puzzle platformers, seem to be a great category for indies and solo devs. 'Braid', 'Fez' and 'Gorogoa' are some outstanding examples of inventive puzzle, art, and game design done primarily by a single developer. Games like those - along with a number of notable but somewhat smaller projects like yours - inspire me creatively and give me some degree of hope that maybe I can make a game myself, on my own terms, and have it turn out well. 

I am not really in a great position to back you right now but I will donate at least a few dollars as a thank you for this beautiful game when it's reasonable for me to do so. 

(Right now I've got my own projects like Miniature Multiverse which are my top priority as far as budgeting is concerned. Once that launches, though, especially if it does at all well, I'd like to give back a bit to other developers working in the graphic adventure genre. Basically anyone who I think could push the genre into new and fascinating directions. You're one of those people now, I think, and I'd like to support - and play - whatever game you create next. )

So, the Thanksgiving Sale came and went, and now - after about a month of no sale going on - the Winter Sale is active.

50+% off the bundle of my 3 stock media packs, or if you move fast, you can still grab free download keys here.

Some of the initial 9 keys are astonishingly - after a month - NOT YET CLAIMED.

And I'm giving out more - another six one-use-only download links - on top of that.

Once a link's been used and the contents of the link downloaded, that link closes and cannot be used again. So hurry up and grab your free stock media (it's free for you, anyway, but it cost me a lot to make - I put hundreds of hours and a couple hundred dollars into making it.) 

https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection/download/JHn7gfjbjqdt9o__LWg6YjmTpb_QgadX9Uf5aJAb

https://matthornb.itch.io/autumn-2018-bonus-collection/download/TwWdw5_DdhbnfRiEF_UFLtDiP7oAi7uviWITnrNL

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack/download/EVHW9P5pl96f6ePYFi1CuKh__jLt9lEsSvLQupb8

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack/download/3Z3H_SwrvloC1KhXAdPCgHF0U1JsINWCfp0_iMMe

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/download/d5IGlafxNMz1i43mKe8DJOOkOUTbsWllndGqlg_T

https://matthornb.itch.io/tacc2018/download/QWNLZVnB_6b4stZOf4OWJkhBFfp7_tLiWtLc...

And if you find it useful, I'd love it if you'd please come back to the related page and rate/review what you downloaded. Let others know what to expect with these stock media packages. Because I think if people realized how great of a deal this was or that this content existed at all, there'd be far more activity here.   

And activity can lead to later sales, and sales means I'll be able to justify and cover dev costs, of continued releases of completely new stock media packages in the future plus more frequent and substantial updates to the already existing ones. :)

Hi everyone. I'm the weird loser dork Matthew Lyles Hornbostel.  I'm an indie artist (here's some stuff I posted on Pinterest) and an eBay seller of handmade art and the like, with 320+ ratings on my eBay account, 100% of them positive so far. I make some indie videos which I write, direct, record, edit, do VFX and sound design on... etc. Pretty much I do everything except fill all the roles acting, because otherwise the projects I envision simply won't get made!

I also do indie game development, and a lot of traditional art (painting, sculpting, drawing with pencils and pastels, etc). I do a lot of 3D animation in my projects and love what can be done in 3D in my creative pipeline with modern hardware and software, but I also retain a soft spot, however irrational and impractical, for extensive use of miniatures and physical effects elements.

You may have noticed my recent [substantial] involvement in posting a bunch of different stuff on Itch.IO just in the last 3 months. In that time, I've expanded my roster of games and game assets here markedly, but some of the biggest stuff was in the work for years before making it to Itch.IO. I have been doing 3d stuff since I was a teenager, and now I'm over 30. So I have a decade of experience doing this crazy stuff - freelancing for below minimum wage or just doing creative work without salary, either to help others in my social circles [friends, family] who need my assistance, or often just  for the fun of it, because I have some cool idea I'd love to see realized. 

I'd like my creative work to someday result in a full time income so I can ditch everything else, all the gigs around the edges and just make games and art stuff all the time basically. And if it were really to take off... well, I like the idea of supporting a long list of other people and other causes, because there's so much desperate need in the world and I like to help people. And this is what I'm good at, so if I can someday leverage this stuff into some reasonable measure of success, i.e. annual income climbing to $16k or more per year, then it'd cover my basic costs personally and creatively with extra to spare, and then that extra would be given out to everyone in some manner to thank them for all the assistance everybody's been giving me that is helping in getting me to that point. But at the moment, I'm on disability, I have some mental disorders and other weaknesses, nobody will hire me to a normal job -  so I am stuck freelancing and selling stuff online and supplementing that with a bit of govt. disability cash which, I want to get off of soon by earning enough annually, over $12k/year, to get off of that entirely. And I'm not quite there yet. I do creative work for 14-15 hrs/day, average income a bit below $2/hour overall. I sometimes make $4/hr or so, and other tasks $2-3/hr, some less, and there's also a couple hours/day in there, on projects just for fun, on top of that, projects which have no real likelihood of paying off but which I'm passionate about.

So yeah. Gig economy lifestyle. If I made say, roughly $3.50 an hour on most of my work it'd get me to my target. But I don't have enough work yet that pays that well.

I am attempting some passive revenue by releasing sale items on Itch.IO but for 'passive income' it's an awful lot of work and I've averaged maybe 20 cents of income from every hour worked on the products being sold, and those items are the best cases.

So here are some notable failing [or should I say flailing? They seem to be going all over the place!] projects I've got displayed on Itch.IO (there are a few others, outside of Itch, but these ones are the most relevant to this community)

Miniature Multiverse

 This is a first-person puzzle/adventure game I began thinking about making in 2010, and which has been gaining momentum continually since then, with over two dozen substantial areas, realized with fairly realistic looking handcrafted miniatures, extended digitally. I basically captured panoramas inside O scale models built in my garage, TONS of models, you have no idea how much space this is taking, because much of it isn't yet posted due to spoilers or other reasons. But it's been a big time sink and the costs of developing it are pretty high for an indie with a low income. That said, I'm thinking it'll be out there by the end of February 2019 at the latest even if sales here on Itch.IO don't really materialize at all to cover the remaining $235 in costs. So yeah, I guess I could describe it as having an interface similar to Myst III/IV or Scratches, but higher visual resolution than either and art made primarily with miniatures and not digital 3d renders. It's being built using Unity 2018, PlayMaker (a visual scripting system that is great for rapidly assembling variations of a lot of the most common interactions) and a few postprocess shaders. And lots and lots of scale models photographed with a knockoff GoPro style little camera locked into a position inside the miniature environment, that shoots 20-megapixel stills, it's rotated around in 15-degree increments, then the stills for every required position in the miniature world are stitched together into 360-degree panoramic nodes with the roof of the garage replaced by a digital extension, generally some sort of sky matching my vision for the particular world. So that's kind of my process here. It is pretty involved and it has to be repeated carefully for 200+ different 360-degree nodes. Right now I'm missing the last fifth of the game; the final puzzle sequence and five different miniature sets that still need to be built, captured, integrated into the project. If I really push myself though it should be possible to do within 60 days, 90 if the assembly of the remaining models is pushed back a month due to limited funding.  I hope it somehow breaks even at least on the physical materials cost of making it but I'm a bit skeptical that it will. 






The 2018 Triumphant Artists Complete Collection

This started around 2013, when I was selling the earliest version on eBay as a DVD product I physically shipped to customers. But it's expanded threefold in scope since that point, and dropped dramatically in price too. We're talking about 1GB of texture and stock video elements. 1250+ texture image maps, and 100+ video elements designed to be compositable for motion graphics work (i.e. cutscene videos, or visual effects work) - It started off on Itch.IO for $3.99, quickly dropped to a baseline of $1.50, and [currently] is on sale from Nov. 20-30, for 87 cents. Great Black Friday fodder.




The Autumn 2018 bonus collection.

201 additional texture image files, 15 new pyrotechnic elements shot in 60fps high speed 1080p HD. Currently discounted to 58 cents.



3d nature model pack

My most recent asset collection includes more than a dozen 3d plants and objects, for use in your realistic looking outdoor landscapes for games, architectural previz, VFX, etc. detailed enough to look decent prerendered but low poly enough to be used by the hundreds in any good game engine. .FBX and .OBJ format, mostly .PNG or minimal-compression .JPG textures. It's available for 63 cents during the current Thanksgiving week sale. I'm planning to add some more models to this soon, as in a few days before the sale is over. (I currently expect to acheive incremental updates tomorrow and on Cyber Monday to this pack in particular, bringing the total included model count to around 30 at that time)


So... that's the main stuff available on Itch.IO at the moment. 


There's also a bit of other stuff though - one thing is a tiny freeware package of blood spray elements for use in action or horror videos/cutscenes... a mini adventure game project called 'Spiral Skies' in development, but kind of on the backburner until Miniature Multiverse launches... a Miniature Multiverse artbook, hint guide and 'extras pack' including a small game demo, and a last chance for people to see their names credited in game... that's showing up at the start of December 2018, roughly two months prior to estimated release of the full game. $1 batch of stuff aimed at enthusiasts.

Note that while all of these items have accumulated a ton of views, and although the attention directed towards my work here on Itch.IO has been snowballing seemingly exponentially the past week, sales volume remains weak due to absence of meaningful customer reviews or ratings. The closest I've gotten was one customer who posted an enthusiastic comment on one of my product pages. In hopes of generating some publicity and ideally provoking people to actually rate the asset packs, I posted 9 free download links on Black Friday. Still no reviews yet though. In fact, some of the free download keys still remain unclaimed at the moment.

It's also worth noting that the biggest bargain currently active is this one:



And there are additional perks for any bundle buyers, should the sale unexpectedly hit a list of sales targets, starting at $200 in total sales by end of Nov. 30.

Now, given that the sales volume across all my stuff on itch is still below $10 for the past 45 days, even this initial goal threshold seems highly unlikely to be met. But I suppose it's still possible. If the sales total hits $500 everybody who bought the bundle for $1.49 gets Miniature Multiverse for free at time of launch, along with the extras connected to it - which would, in total, add up to $6.10, not $3.60, of already arguably underpriced content for $1.49 if that actually occurred. 

Not holding my breath though at the rate things have gone so far, given the current climate of passive disinterest and weary wariness currently surrounding this sale. 

Still, a few of you have shown excitement about what I'm doing, and I really appreciate the positive responses when they do materialize.  It makes me think maybe I'm not utterly pathetic. ;/

It's encouraging, and helps keep me motivated to continue working hard, release of new games and game assets in 2019. If this starts to go at all well, somehow, either in November or later (Christmas sales? New Year's?) then I'll probably keep at it for as long as it shows some sort of potential.

Note to all - if the Thanksgiving Mega Sale 2018 [which has amazing deals in its own right] hits the $200 mark by the end of Nov. 30, anyone involved in that sale who buys the 'bundle' gets not only all that stock media content but this item, the Miniature Multiverse Extras, too. And if the sale reaches the lofty aim of $500 in sales, the full game 'Miniature Multiverse' will also be tacked on for all bundle buyers, so that'd be $6.10 worth of content on Itch.IO for $1.49.  Over 75% off the individual items' prices!

I'm surprised, quite frankly, that this hasn't already generated more momentum. But I suspect that's mainly due to the lack of ratings on most of these products and the fact that the bonus items tacked on aren't quite released yet... so if you are hesitant to pay for items with no reviews, why don't you rush over and grab said items for free -there's a limited supply of free downloads still available right now - and then maybe you yourself can fix the 'lack of reviews' problem with your own genuine feedback relating to the quality and value of these items.

EDIT: This product's finally been released in time for Thanksgiving, and I ultimately changed my plans and opted to keep the price of the bundle at a flat $1.49 for the duration of November 21-30.

I've also offered some free download keys for this and other items and some are still left so if you want any of this stuff, check that out:

Free downloads, limited supply so grab them while there are still some left!

Amazingly after 18 hours, these are not yet all taken; if the top link for a product download is already claimed, you can move on to try the next one for a given product, and so on, and claim that. 

Also, do keep in mind that any potential bonuses from the sale are not applicable to people who download one of each of the free downloads. Those extra bonuses - which quite bluntly are looking highly unlikely to reach the goals by now anyway - would only apply to bundle purchases.

UPDATE - lots of views [hundreds] are showing up on all of my asset packages after this item was launched and all my products went on sale, but few purchases, and no ratings from those buyers who have bought them. 

I got one comment posted from a customer on another one of my asset packs, about a month ago, which is great, but in general most of the people around here are hesitant to jump in on any of the items I sell, until there's more clarity from unbiased users/game developers regarding the strengths and weaknesses of my products.

So... I've opted to give a few downloads of this and my other assets & stock media out for free, first come first serve. If you want to review what you download, that'd be helpful but it's not by any means required.

Here is the link. <- just three free copies of each product available here for now.

Note: Even if you do get in on this first, and download one of each of the three products with the provided download links on that page, that counts as three individual asset 'purchases' for purposes of the sale I'm running.

In other words, no potential for extra stuff tacked on like you'd get if you actually buy the three-item bundle which I've got on sale for $1.49. 

I thought that detail needed to be clarified. 

Anyway, thank you all for looking at this content, hopefully some of you will end up finding it useful.

Launching on Itch.IO versus other shops:

Funnily enough, as my first products here are asset packs for creatives / game developers in the game assets section, the fact that Itch.IO has almost as many developers as buyers is exactly why I chose Itch.IO, well, that and the fact that the barriers to entry are virtually nonexistent - no obsessive curation process with finicky reasons for rejecting giant collections of genuinely valuable content. 

I've also tried launching my stock media on the Unity Asset Store, several times, each time was rejected for some trivial reason relating to a subsection of the asset store guidelines. Each time I fix a problem there relating to naming conventions, demo scene organization, etc, in an attempt to get approved, it takes days to fix the problem simply due to the sheer number of items in the package that have to be slightly adjusted one by one to match the criteria of the store.  I've yet to attempt Unreal, but that is also a future plan of mine.

So here's how I tackled the promotional and sales challenges for my stuff:

So here is some of what I've got right now, things I am either working on or have already released and put on sale:

https://matthornb.itch.io/ 


You can see that one of the things that's sort of worked well for me already, aside from promoting the content on my websites, across my social media feeds, email lists, contacting all the people I've networked with, using a little bit of carefully targeted advertising, and personally promoting my work, mentioning the stuff in forum posts like this one, here and in half a dozen other major boards frequented by indie developers, was giving people sales out of the gate. My products are released right before holidays or major sale events in general, and then included in a sale with discount from the get go. That helps me to make the most of the launch window, and the brief span of visibility in the 'Most Recent' list, and try to get some sales and ratings right out of the gate, if possible. And if there are no sales initially, I can still try other tactics like releasing small items for free [i.e. a demo or separate free product] with links back to the larger list of items I'm selling. I also try up selling with discounted bundles and attempt to connect each of my items back to the other products I've released.

I've always had a tendency to under price things, according to my family and friends, but in my experience if I don't under price them for the first year or more, nobody will buy them for *months* after they go on sale. I have a routine pattern of setting prices that drop to under a dollar, and then FINALLY someone buys it and exclaims, that it's incredible bargain.  And then they rate it or worse, don't - and eventually somebody rates it, reviews it, and it's this enormously glowing review, and then the sales kind of snowball from there, and the prices double or triple afterwards, or more, but people are still generally amazed at the value of the item and still post very positive reviews. 

That's exactly what happened with me on eBay; I sold a more limited smaller variant of this same stock media pack as far back as 2013, on a DVD, and nobody bought it until I sold at a loss, dropping the price to literally one cent. Someone bought it. Reviewed it, stellar review. Same thing soon after when I was selling made to order commissioned artworks [pastel, acrylic, gouache, colored pencil] at large sizes, for 99 cents. It was a money loser too for the first year, I think my profit margin was usually -500% or worse, and sales were sparse, I probably lost $400 and so so many hours spent doing work that was costing me money. Now I've got 320+ ratings on my eBay account, 100% of them positive. And both those product lines have now begun selling profitably there. The same essential tactics, I suspect, will apply successfully to Itch.IO, with the main difference being Itch.IO, as a digital storefront, has no shipping cost attached to it, which makes losses mostly just hundreds of hours of time worked making things, but at least not also hundreds of dollars in cash on top of that.

I can't say my crazy methodology has resulted in much activity sales-wise here so far - I think 5 sales, 14 downloads in all on Itch.IO at this point - but I do now have over 100 people looking at my assorted Itch.IO pages every day, that is, all of my products combined. The single biggest attention-grabber though isn't an asset pack, and it isn't complete yet [indie game Miniature Multiverse, which has 3300+ views despite not even being released yet.]

My suspicion is that a lot of people are interested in what I've released but the lack of responses and ratings from previous buyers has most of these potential customers in a condition of uncertainty. "Is it really any good?" they're asking. And everyone's kind of on the fence, waiting for someone else to go first and review it, so they know exactly what to expect [from an unbiased source, not the vendor who inevitably is biased in favor of his own work].  Reviews are helpful for game devs, but there's not as much of an infrastructure in place for reviews of game assets, which is a downside to that particular niche, aside from the fact that the game dev community is smaller than the number of people who play games!

But in short, my personal answer to the question about promotional tactics  is ultimately summed up as this:

-publicize as many places as possible, tell everyone you can. Advertise and network and promote as much as possible.

-accept losses out of the gate, or at least set prices very very low from the outset to drive those key first sales and more critically, those first few reviews.

-have some freebie out there to direct people to you much better paid items.

-have multiple items on sale, and be sure to connect them together with links. Bundle them.

I don't know if this personal strategy is going to end up resulting in a ton of sales in the case of Itch.IO but I do know it has worked for me on eBay and I know I'm getting a lot of views on Itch.IO now. So maybe this will work here too, given a bit more time.

Recently launched set of 3d plant/nature assets I created and am actively expanding with new content, now on sale 42% off for Thanksgiving and as part of a larger more discounted bundle [$1.49] that includes all three paid stock media packs I've released so far.

https://matthornb.itch.io/stock-3d-nature-models-pack

And here's the bundle this is now part of:

https://itch.io/s/14555/mega-thanksgiving-sale

And here's an image of some of the 3d plant models rendered in a 3d landscape:

Thank you for reading, hopefully if the sale goes well it'll help me efficiently wrap up development of an indie game I'm working on right now (Miniature Multiverse). But even if not, I appreciate the positive feedback I've gotten already from the few people who have bought my stuff, and hope they find the content useful in their own projects. :)

Great - I was not aware of this but now will go through my projects one by one and add the relevant tags.

The game development process relating to 'Miniature Multiverse' is taking longer than I'd hoped, for a litany of reasons. 

I had hoped the Halloween stock media sale would generate more sales volume than it did, and though the handful of sales which did occur were greatly appreciated, they will not be sufficient to improve rate of development meaningfully on 'Miniature Multiverse' and in effect served to slow down production; the bonus pack and release on Itch.IO consumed a fair number of hours and sales amounted to below $0.50 per hour allocated to this side venture. I would be further along on Miniature Multiverse now if the stock media had been shelved and I'd instead done more transcription, since that at least earns me around $2/hr in practice. 


I had also hoped some of the interactions and other tasks would be possible to finish more quickly, but that too is all going slower than I'd thought it would, and taking more hours in general. Even the bonus pack, while it's a cool concept, is going to involve some amount of time itself, and will effectively push back release of the complete game by a few days.


There are also issues with children underfoot [I'm an uncle of three toddlers and they're here at this house often] and that's an enormously adorable time sink and distraction that can be exhausting in itself. Thanksgiving and Christmas also will cause delays; due to family in town.
So while I had aimed for a release of the extras pack on November 12, 2018, and the full game on December 18th, 2018, I am now forced to push back both dates. The extras pack is now aiming for release on November 20th, 2018 [though possibly a bit sooner] and the full game probably January 10th-15th, 2019.

 I wish this were not the case, but here we are, and I don't want to release a bug-ridden product.
This will be 'done when it's done' people. :/

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Thank you too, for posting your comment, for your order... you even tipped! That's all really awesome of you! Thanks! :)

My stock media collection contains 1000+ texture image files and 100+ video elements, all royalty-free, within a downloadable package that's the focus of a 30% off launch sale for the first 72 hours after release.  Normal price is $3.99 and it's reduced to $2.79 during the sale.

I'm hopeful this will make a few sales early on to help me cover some remaining costs related to wrapping up some indie games I'm trying to complete.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I hope you find the contents of this collection useful.


Things usually go viral because they generate a strong reaction that provokes social sharing.

Often that is some sort of novelty/awe, laughter or anger/urgency.

People share things that amaze them or that are unique, beautiful or otherwise exceptional in quality.  Personally I am a visual artist first & foremost so I try to draw attention with outstanding graphics and artwork, as I get the sense that's my best shot at standing out here.

But if you make people genuinely laugh with something hilarious that can work too. 

And a lot of times when people are shocked or angry about something that is happening or about to happen, they'll tell others and mobilize against it, even when the thing that upset them in the first place turns out to be a total fabrication (i.e. phony clickbait political news stories spreading on Facebook)

Some other thoughts:

-- incentives. If there's an upside to sharing, then people will more likely share. (I.e. a discount for those who post about a game on social media). 

-- time limits. People might buy, and spread the word, if a really good sale is available, and is not going to last long. I'm going with a discounted early access [just one dollar] and will keep the pricing as low as I can justify even after my game's fully finished, because I am hoping it'll provoke impulse buys and that the larger volume of sales will compensate for the small amount earned per sale.

-- low barriers to entry. That is, if the game's playable for very cheap or better yet,  free it will be easier to access and more likely to spread. This is why 'freemium' and ad-supported games have become a common thing; they can be downloaded without spending any money. Of course, such game experiences are generally pretty flawed and low quality, but they tend to spread anyway.  A limited but still fun and playable freeware game demo, though, can also potentially be an effective way to offer a tantalizing freebie without compromising the full game with broken freemium game mechanics. I am likely to release some small portion of my project 'Miniature Multiverse' for free at some point, in keeping with this concept.

Virality is not very predictable.  Orchestrated, costly promotional campaigns, however, are [relatively] predictable.

You can do a lot right and still not get much attention simply because the indie game scene is so crowded... and big studios will likely drown your work out. Your odds are actually better if there's some traditional promotion in the mix to get the ball rolling. Posting on relevant gaming forums helps, and leveraging all your various social networks. You can also identify people you follow on social platforms who are popular and message them with information about your game. You can even give them a free copy of the game, or an exclusive bit of media [in advance of the game's release] that nobody's seen before, that they can post... it benefits them because they feel and look like they have an 'inside scoop' on your project, and you may benefit from the exposure. Paid advertising can also work but only if it's lean enough [well targeted, low cost per acquired customer] to be effective in generating more revenue than it costs. 

I HATE when people ask if I'm going to make the next Angry Birds. I do not have a million dollar online ad campaign backing my launch like Rovio did. People think that game 'went viral' and to some degree it did. But really it became a phenomenon mainly due to a strong promotional campaign right out of the gate and good timing early on in the life of iOS when fewer than 100k apps existed on the platform. It was not indie, and it demonstrates how effectively big ad campaigns at launch can propel a game into a widespread hit. It also demonstrates how if you can force your way into some top 10 or top 20 list, like 'most downloaded'/'most popular'/'best selling' you can multiply the exposure generated by your ad campaign and make vast sums regardless of your game's real merit, if you have a studio with enough cash to make that happen.



That's about as much as I can think of about virality at the moment. If anyone else has suggestions I missed, feel free to add them to this thread.

Good advice, everyone. Thank you. I agree with pretty much everything you've all said. Well-written, error-free promotional text telling people what the game is and what the experience of playing it offers them, good visuals also are extremely helpful in drawing attention, especially visuals that move [GIFs, video]. I know Itch.IO lets you use GIFs, as a main game image, I am doing that for my new project and that's great because you can generally show a bit more actual gameplay, content in the game, more than you can with a still image.  

As for things 'blowing up' that usually happens only when the game project is exceptional in some way [innovative or unusual game mechanics, a surprising/clever concept, an amazing storyline, really genuinely funny humor or just really stunning artistry/creativity in other ways]  or has a head start due to intentional large scale promotion. Though there may be some exceptions, and some things might gain notoriety due to their sheer idiocy, usually I like to think that things take off due to actual merit and effort on the part of the developers.  Sometimes, though, it's just a matter of having money and a big ad campaign, as much as I hate to acknowledge that.

I've always despised it when people ask if I could someday 'make the next Angry Birds'. Okay, reality check, Rovio had made dozens of games leading up to that, and they launched it initially with a sustained promotional campaign of close to a million dollars.  I could make a game like that, I imagine, given enough time and effort, but A: that's not the sort of game I want to make and B: If I made something akin to it, most likely nobody would notice due to lack of promotion.  Notice how the Myst devs [Cyan] launched a cheesy minigame 'Bug Chucker' which combined an 'Angry Birds' launching mechanic with variable circular gravity sources, but nobody in the broader public really noticed it, they only noticed AFTER the idea was grabbed, modified, and heavily marketed by Rovio as 'Angry Birds: Space'.  There are actually many, many other examples of indie mobile titles getting ripped off [often by Rovio or Zynga or similar] and remade just different enough to avoid copyright violation, but basically stolen and relaunched with a giant marketing push so everyone knows the ripoff but nobody's aware of the original indie or small-studio title.  If the indie dev is lucky, they get hired by the studio that wants to exploit their idea, instead of just having their ideas stolen from them. [like how Kim Swift got hired to expand the prototype 'narbuncular drop' into 'Portal'.]

So yeah, I just want to remind everyone that the business side of things often wins out over real imagination - and often indie devs will languish in obscurity as their ideas get co-opted. The worst part? I - like many indies - cannot realistically copyright/trademark all of my own work because the range of my work is too **** extensive, there are too many different projects. I can prove I made it all, sure, beyond any reasonable doubt, because I have all the raw unprocessed files, even miniatures and physical assets and designs written or drawn on paper, but the cost of litigation in court simply isn't worth it, it'd bankrupt me on my $150-200/month total development budget that I'm raising by doing sub-minimum-wage transcription and similar gigs. [I really appreciate the fact that places like Mturk exist so I can make $4-6/hr reliably.  Because if they weren't there... I'd be making absolutely nothing at all.]. So yeah - I'm working about 8 hours a day on freelance gigs, made to order artworks for customers on eBay, stuff like that, and 8-9 hours on my own projects.  I'd rather just let my work sometimes get stolen, or pirated, at least then somebody sees it.  So that is kind of the reality for me. I imagine the same applies to many other shoestring-budget indies. As an indie, you just kind of have to accept your work that you put hundreds or thousands of hours into, will be exploited and someone else will make money off of your labor. It's not fair, but it's how things are. You have to believe in your idea, be so determined to see it become a realized thing, believe in what you're trying to create for its own sake and for the people who'll enjoy seeing it finished. But don't expect to make much money, maybe none at all, as an indie dev. It's almost 100% certain that a profitable project won't happen. You need a fallback to fund your indie dev work BTW because you'll only lose money developing indie games. And if it's about the money and not the love of the work it'll fail.  Just make the best work you can, and accept beforehand that it won't take off and that it'll be stolen and a lot of people will hate it and trash you and troll you for no good reason.  And do it anyway. Because if you don't realize your vision through your own sacrifice, it won't happen. And it absolutely MUST happen because the projects you're doing, they're an obsession, you cannot live with yourself not having them happen. That is key I think, it's the attitude any indie dev needs to have to keep going.  

You've just got to be so focused, so determined to complete the work with no pay, only expenses and loss, no gain except for the fact that the work is done, that it borders on insanity. You need to be crazy to be an indie game dev. It's the only way you can sustain it IMO.

Depends on what you are trying to do with your project. The demoscene has made some amazing projects fit into insanely small filesize using procedural methods, including a full FPS [kkrieger] with procedurally generated textures running out of a 96kb executable, a 4kb landscape flyover with motion blur [Elevated], and a beautiful space flythrough in 64kb [Mercury - Fermi Paradox].  There's also a UDK level made with just a single 512x512 texture map.

So extremely efficient use of assets is possible.



But what these people are doing, is it recommended? I'd argue that it's unnecessary - interesting, sure, with a certain novelty factor, but most AAA games on Windows are in the 1GB range for a reason, namely that recent generations of PCs can handle that sort of file size.  And if they can handle it nowadays, why not take advantage of that and push it for the best graphics quality possible?

The other argument, aside from hardware and download filesize limitations, that's been put forth in favor of procedural or highly minimalist graphics, is not needing to hire artists. That's questionable, however, as procedurally generated art rarely looks as good as intentional, artist-made art, and to generate procedural content isn't any cheaper given the extra time required in programming, that negates any efficiency gains made by less work for artists.

My take: this focus on efficiency in storage used is practical only up to a point; yes, it matters, and you certainly should aim for as low a filesize and as minimal hardware requirements as you can, unless that means severely compromising the quality of the finished project.  

if nice graphics and animation are important to the appeal of your project, and the platforms you're aiming for are desktop platforms, it may be worth allowing for some more file size.  I personally am an artist and not so much a programmer, so my projects will tend to emphasize the atmosphere and aesthetic style that are my strengths, and not so much complex interaction, especially early on without any other team members.  So if the visuals are key to my project's success, and a strong asset for me, then it makes sense not to slash filesize to the point where that appeal is compromised.  It's all about finding the right balance, and there are rarely real rules for this, mostly just guidelines.

Would I like to have my current project (Miniature Multiverse) under 10MB? Sure, there's an appeal to doing so, but IMO I'm more concerned about its quality than its efficiency, and it's important having some beautiful visuals to show on Itch.IO for promotional reasons if nothing else. If your project looks great, that absolutely gets you more attention, more views, clicks, downloads, sales.  That matters more to me, than keeping it extremely lean and extremely efficient.  Those sales could be vital to my ability to effectively expand not only that project but also a long list of others down the line.  It could make it possible to even someday hire musicians, programmers, etc, on short-term tasks, to solve specific, particularly tricky things I want to do later, which couldn't do as well myself.

So I would say that keeping filesize down to tiny levels is good only to some extent, under some conditions for some developers and some platforms.

I use, among other game development tools, Unity, Construct 2, Lightwave, 3ds max, Blacksmith 3d, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere.

I'm making realtime 3d games in the Unity engine and 2d in Construct 2.

Lightwave and 3ds max are my main two 3d art tools, but I sometimes use Blacksmith 3d as a '3d paint' utility.

Photoshop I use for texture art and 2d graphics, sometimes I also use ShaderMap 2 to generate normal maps and such from photographed texture assets.

After Effects and Premiere are my go-to tools for compositing and video editing, respectively, but recently I've been using Resolve for color correction, and Fusion 8, sometimes, as it's a great video/VFX tool and it is available for free.

Currently I'm creating a little adventure game called Spiral Skies. It is days away from completion at this point.

Spiral Skies