My name is Mike and I am the founder of in Principle Inc., a one man independent game dev studio based in Alberta, Canada. I'm not going to GDC, because I'm a daft but happy gamedev, and here's why...
About two months ago I released Thrusty Ship on Steam and I decided to put the Demo up on Itch, so everyone could check out the game for free and decide for themselves if it was their thing.
I have a problem as a dev. And it's a biggun. :) I'm both bad and unwilling to do marketing. I'm like a blacksmith working in his shop: I like to labour on my creations, but I don't like to talk to people to try and push said creations on them. It's not that I don't want to tell everyone that my games are available for them, it's that I don't pretend to know what others are going to like, I don't like being pushy, but most of all, I like to write code. Further, I am so bad at marketing, that every time I invest either time or money in it, everything produces no return on investment that I can tell.
Following the same logic, here's why I didn't go to GDC, even though I can easily afford it. I don't want to go and spend time and energy talking to other game devs, networking, showcasing my game to players in person, organise a booth, figure out the logistics, etcetera. I want to write code. I want to be in my basement and labour.
Here's a bit of data for all those who are interested:
1. I've worked on Thrusty Ship for 5 months, averaging 12h a day, taking one day off (Christmas)
2. So far, Thrusty Ship sold precisely 24 copies on Steam, and 0 copies on Greenman Gaming, to my knowledge
3. So far, Thrusty Ship has been wishlisted 228 times on Steam
4. So far, Thrusty Ship has a median time played of 90 minutes on Steam
5. On Itch, the demo has been seen 131 times. It has been downloaded 28 times
6. During development, I ran about 100 playtests with users on Twitch
7. I invested some money to advertise Thrusty Ship's release on Keymailer
8. Keymailer requests for review copies came in, 165 of them. I sent them all keys. As far as I can tell this produced no return (as in no reviews or similar)
9. In total, Thrusty Ship was covered by 10 YouTubers. I don't think the videos hit 1000 views in total
10. In total, Thrusty Ship was covered by 22 Twitch streamers. These are people I spent a few weeks reaching out to personally, both before and after release
Now based on this information, it would make a ton of sense for me to stop working on Thrusty Ship, and move on to something else. Find a publisher or a partner, attempt to improve this chronic failure of my work problem I have. But again, I don't want to. Thrusty Ship is one of my favourite games I've worked on. It's an easy to pick up, stupidly hard to master game, and I like it a fair bit.
Here's a brief list of why I, as its creator, like it:
1. Thrusty Ship is a different platformer. People have compared it to Lunar Lander, yet it has no contact damage, so hitting things is a central part of the game, which makes it quite a different experience. I have a lot of trouble slotting it into a genre. Is it a puzzle platformer? Is it a rage game? I don't know
2. It has a ton of content: 72 levels, 15 ships, 5 of which has special abilities that change the way you play dramatically
3. It's merit based. You have to earn your medals in Thrusty Ship. In playtests, I have observed the players' inner completionist take a proper beating
4. It has that "I lost and it's my fault" feeling that I think is quite empowering to the player
5. It's simple to pick up and play, but it requires skill (therefore practice) to get good at. And when you're good and you perfect a tough level, boy does it feel like an achievement (video evidence)
6. It's a polished game, with lots of attention to detail and nearly no bugs, to my knowledge
7. I think it's begging to be speedrun, and my Twitch audience seems to think so too
As of late April 2019, Thrusty Ship is going to receive a major facelift in graphics (aka it will look a lot prettier) and it will also have a level editor, so that players can build their own levels and share them with others to torture one another. Why am I doing this, despite being essentially certain nobody will ever use it? Because I want to. Does that make me daft? I think so, but then again, I'm doing what I want to, which makes me happy.
If you made it this far down this post, thank you.