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matthornb

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

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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!

Lapso looks really cool! I played your demo (Lapso:Nimbo) on Steam and it was a very promising indication of how good the final game is likely to be.

Your graphics in particular are superb, really good atmosphere and art. I am wishlisting Lapso and look forward to its launch.

- Matthew L. Hornbostel, matthornb.itch.io

There are no comments on this? Really?

This is all awesome Pinhead Games, glad to see you landing on your feet again with Nick Bounty games after your time working at Telltale.

I will be buying some of your work including this, soon. I played the original Flash games you made back in the day and they were very funny!

-Matthew L. Hornbostel, matthornb.itch.io

Your work is always amazing and atmospheric. Thank you for this beautiful walk in the park. :D

(3 edits)

Sorry about that. Yes, I see the issue - the OBJ/.mtl content in this package had some .mtl texture file references saved with absolute, not relative, file paths. This of course means the texture files won't load by default on a different computer where the asset pack was saved in a different folder than it was saved on mine.

Sorry you ran into trouble with this, but I sincerely thank you for bringing it to my attention. I'll also look through all the other asset packs and see if this issue shows up elsewhere. 

Edit, an hour after the initial [now apparently deleted] post - I've reworked this asset pack (as quickly as I could) and have just posted the update [fix] for these files via Butler. I think these items should now all open in most 3d apps with textures correctly loaded by default. I'm now checking the other asset packs and will attempt to fix any other similar issues I may notice across other asset packs, within the next day or two. Until those new fixes are all pushed onto itch, don't be too surprised if some of my 3d objects need the related image textures added [reconnected] manually in your 3d software.

It all comes down to what people will accept in the market and what your goals are as a dev and making those two line up.

FREE WITH DLC:

Having the base game free with paid add-ons seems to be very common now - the entire freemium market is based on the idea of a free but in some way limited version to reel in new players at a large volume. Piecemeal DLC and the freemium model in general drives everyone nuts, of course, but people still go along with it, we had a chance to avoid that model and it turned out to be so profitable on mobile that it spread everywhere and is now the de facto standard (much to the detriment of real playability in many cases). I personally saw the model take shape in the early 2010s and decided NOT to support it - I'd only pay for iAP that offered legitimate content. No wasting real cash on in-game currency, no loot box nonsense. Any game that does this will not get my money. Now - there are cases where I'll sometimes buy DLC, if the price drops low enough to be worth it, as with games like Cities Skylines and Planet Coaster... I figure it'll be worth it and it adds actual features and new elements to the game that genuinely improve it and give it more replay value. [Not just some ridiculous single cosmetic thing or ingame currency that adds zero longer-term value]

But that's my view. I'm clearly out of touch with how most people play games as I see my personal purchases as a form of incentive to the developers to keep making certain types of things and not others - I reward good practices with a buy and avoid supporting bad ones. 

Generally, the expected tactic with freemium though is to have a ton of paid addons, iAP that start off with a cheap (99 cents typically) but still valuable addition, just to get players over the psychological hurdle of paying. Once that happens, they may make additional larger purchases more easily later on, spending potentially a very large amount of cash. This is a common practice. 

You might make the free version ad-supported and make the 99-cent upgrade to an ad-free version plus some extras... this both is a way to monetize the 'free' players and at the same time adds incentive to make the initial purchase. This too is a widespread tactic. 

I'd advise adding actual new content with every buy, new levels, new gameplay functions and elements, not in a way that makes things unbalanced or pay-to-win but... make any purchases worth the money for players.

BIG SINGULAR PAID GAME:

This is the old school format all games used to use. It's pretty self-explanatory. Make a game. One single self-contained thing. Sell it. Key here is to price it at a level that players will pay, but that's about as high as can be solidly justified, and then eventually, later on, offer bigger and bigger sales / discounts to sweep up the players who are not willing to pay the initial price point. That way at least you gain something from them and not nothing. It's an optimization thing... you want every target player to pay as much as they're willing to individually. 

BIG PAID GAME WITH DLC LATER:

This is the model that is now common on higher-end systems. It allows the developers to still price 'the AAA game' at $50-60 at initial launch as has been standard for PC video games since the late 1980s, while compensating for the effects of inflation since that time, by tacking on another $50 or more in segments of DLC post-launch. This allows them to make $100+ off a single game. The developers and publishers will argue this is valid due to currency inflation reducing the value of each dollar, dramatic increase in cost of modern gamedev due to a massive ongoing rise in expectations for graphics, and players balking at a singular $100 payment and insisting that a game still must cost below $70 at launch. Players will counter-argue that the gaming audience has exploded in tandem with the cost of game development. This is true, but it's not actually a strong argument when we analyze the numbers.

So in 1993-94 when Myst topped PC game sales charts consistently its original release ultimately sold just over 6.5 million copies (then an unprecedented and record-setting sales number) and had cost about $650,000 to develop, made by a team of seven people. 

Now for a comparison, in the modern gaming era, GTA V [for example] released in 2013, cost $265 million to develop, had a team of over a thousand credited developers. but also sold over 130 million copies across all higher-end platforms. 

So the cost in developing a higher-end and cutting-edge AAA game, even factoring out inflation, still exploded to roughly 250x higher, a staggering jump, in a span of exactly 20 years. Ultimate sales, meanwhile, of the chart-topping games, of 1993 and 2013, show only a 20-fold increase in sales volume. So it's understandable for modern higher-end games to raise price points well above the traditional $50 or so that was once standard. 

But what about indies? There's a lot of data that supports an initial release price between $10 and $25 for most indies. Go higher and most players will balk at the price. Go lower, you're leaving a lot of money on the table. I go lower but then... I'm completely insane.

MY INSANE AND MISGUIDED STRATEGY:

I am frequently bundling a ton of indie titles plus giant batches of gamedev assets together during sales, every one of my assets bundled together for around $1 or so, despite all the market data saying that's a dumb move. I don't care - I know the increase in sales volume will not be remotely sufficient to compensate for the loss of revenue per customer. But my focus is and always has been on the players, and buyers, not so much myself or my well-being as the developer. My personal tendency is to avoid higher pricing and strip everything as low as it can realistically possibly be before I start to LOSE money consistently while making things. I've run shops on eBay and Etsy that combined have now accumulated over 500 sales. I have - for the moment at least, no negative ratings on either. I also have made no profit whatsoever, all factors considered, on either storefront, over seven years. That's after over a thousand hours' work, for essentially $0 net gain. It's gained me a reputation as the guy who refunds or did refund, orders at the drop of a hat, who is insanely generous and overdelivers often, who ultimately takes a loss on roughly 40% of orders and in so doing erases the slim gains made on the other 60%. 

Note, this will fail from time to time when a string of people have damaged items in transit and the refunds and costs pile up too high. My losses on eBay in early 2020 were in the hundreds of $, which left me struggling to cover all the other orders that came in the same wave. Some of those items got shipped months late, with effective 150% refunds, extra shipped items that were not requested or ordered, and handwritten apology notes. I've been working pretty damned hard to send $450+ of cash and materials out to a list of people who bought from me in the first third of the year, and new listings have been stalled completely so I can fully resolve all the earlier ones. 

I'm now similarly sinking thousands of unpaid hours into game dev, especially an indie title called "Miniature Multiverse" which has cost me not just unpaid time but roughly $1450 that I have largely funded on my own, by doing $3/hr microtasks on mTurk and the like, a few hours/day across a list of different platforms. I work 12-14 hrs. a day in all, much of it on gigs and various things that pay less than half of minimum wage (or rather often, on personal projects which pay me nothing at all) and I'm technically considered 'unemployed' though am not taking actual unemployment from the US govt. 

This is normal for me - I have traditionally had a vast depressive and self-destructive streak and a tendency to sabotage myself out of a deep-seated belief that other people are more valuable and more genuinely human than I am. While I'd like to someday make actual money on itch.IO or (somewhere) I don't realistically think it will ever work out and that's okay. I'm at peace with being considered an utter failure.

I don't need to make much - if I earned over $20k for the first time in my life some year in the near future I'd probably just donate everything above the $20k mark. 

Because what else would I do - spend it? That's stupid, my workflow doesn't require anywhere near so much cash. I'm completely used to doing everything myself on the cheap!

Save it? That's also astonishingly dumb in a world where the planet is dying, and the US [as well as every other country] is headed for a total and utter collapse over the course of the next 10-20 years. Currency will be worthless. So will stocks, bonds, etc. It's not like this is in any way a secret. Trump fans might deny it and press the accelerator on the economy as it sails over a cliff off of reality, but I know and the data shows that our world economic system and its assumption of ongoing indefinite growth is foundationally untenable on a finite planet where many core resources are now rapidly decreasing in availability. The climate's shifting so fast that I actually would be surprised to see us make it to the late 2020s without a massive 'Great Depression or worse' crash. And that is an optimistic sort of scenario to me - what'd be unacceptable is a nuclear war or mass starvation and a situation in which a bunch of nations implode completely into violent chaos and cease to functionally exist. 

I'd rather just make a bit more somehow and keep creating cool things, give away the rest to help people, and when the big crash does hit at some point I will simply accept death at that time rather than sacrifice my ideals just to survive. Survival is dumb. There's no way it's worth surviving what's coming. I'd like to hope there's an afterlife but I've got no real certainty of it. Maybe there is. I don't pretend to know. I do know that even if it isn't real, I still would rather die young on my own terms than live at a great cost to the others around me. I'd rather be remembered as a kind and generous person than be actually still alive and hated/feared because I did what I had to to continue living. Being a good person is important to me. Being rich, happy, or alive a long time, isn't. I know my priorities and they aren't normal. I guess that's just me being pathetic but... really I kind of look forward to my own death. Whether it's some sort of heaven or just not existing anymore. Both sound pretty nice actually.

But that's just me. I'm weird like that. The good news is burnout's no issue here - I won't live to retire, I'm fine with that, so I can just work my ass off for another 15 odd years and then die at the end as I'm running out of steam. Sounds pretty great to me as I actually enjoy a lot of aspects of this work. Would be nice if the work or its revenue I pulled in made some impact on people though. I would especially love it if some of it survived for a while. In retrospect, am totally happy with the Etsy / eBay thing because those items I sold - paintings made and shipped usually for somewhere well under $15, sometimes less than $1 in certain cases - made a TON of people happy. And they, or some of them, might actually still exist after the grid goes down. That's actually a good reason to do plenty of that and not just digital art stuff. 

But that's me. You do you. I wish you all the best, hopefully you come up with something great with your gamedev efforts.

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

https://itch.io/t/823488/how-can-i-get-more-views-and-downloads-on-a-game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Furniture and Interiors Asset Pack 2020






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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, here's some context:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any suggestions?

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

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

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

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

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

Y'know?

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

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

What do you all think about this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://eastshadestudios.itch.io/eastshade - I bought it on Steam during a sale, and I personally felt it was well worth it.

Lyndow entry area:


In the great shade under a giant tree:


The day / night cycle is gorgeous too. 

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


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

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

Yes, good advice from all of the people here.

Other notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SALE PAGE: https://itch.io/s/30811/fathers-day-to-july-4th-sale-90-off-again



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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

-Matthew L. Hornbostel, creator of numerous games and game assets on https://matthornb.itch.io/

Celticz: My primary current email is matthornb@gmail.com, FYI. You can reach me there. 

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

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Furniture and interior objects asset pack has just been released.

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

I have in the past 2 days released and am about to post a first free update to, a furniture and contemporary indoor/interiors asset pack.

https://matthornb.itch.io/furniture-and-interiors-asset-pack-2020 - a collection of textured and UV mapped interior 3d models in .OBJ and .FBX formats. Textures are either minimally compressed .jpg or 32-bit .png when surface opacity varies on an object. All files are combined into a .zip file to make downloading simpler.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats on this, you deserve it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew L. Hornbostel, matthornb.itch.io

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

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

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

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

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

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Halloween 2020, another 90+% off bundle sale!

My Itch.IO Halloween Sale

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

STOCK MEDIA ASSET PACKS:

On matthornb.itch.io - lots of cheap paid collections and three free collections.

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

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

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



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





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






BONUS - INDIE GAME PREORDERS:

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

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

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


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


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


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

https://matthornb.itch.io - thanks for reading, here is a link to my itch profile and additional preview material for all of my asset packs!

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

I have over a dozen followers.

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

https://matthornb.itch.io/