Quick update, March ’18

Just wanted to give a quick update on what’s been happening at Solanimus.

We’re moving along as usual, working on Bushwhack Racing to have it fully playable at East Coast Game Conference (ECGC). I’ve also been getting a DRM-free version of Signal to Noise ready to release alongside the release of Signal to Noise Tournament Edition, the web version of the game. This past weekend the team focused on Bushwhack Racing was in the office (this included my birthday, but at least the work was still fun).  We did a quick sprint to get some more momentum going on the game’s development. We definitely got some good work done, and I think we’re certainly on track to be able to show the parts we want to show at ECGC next month.

You may have noticed we haven’t yet removed Signal to Noise from Steam. It’s still going to happen, so don’t be confused. I’m just getting the timing right in relation to the other plans we have.

Let us know on social media if you’re able to make it to ECGC (April 17th to 19th)!

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Removing our own game from Steam

Signal Splash- Complete

That’s right. We’re planning to soon remove our game Signal to Noise from the Steam digital marketplace. Let me explain why.

The Bundle Mistake 

Shortly after release, we participated in a bundle in which we were unable to select the price nor any sort of tier limit in which our game would be available. We honestly didn’t think they (the bundle distributor) would do as low a price as they did, but they did a ridiculously low price that cost us quite a large amount. Not only was it lost revenue, but the customer base of this bundle distributor is not exactly awesome. We got some new players (found to be directly from the bundle) that weren’t at all our target audience, and of course, didn’t get into the game whatsoever. They did however, leave reviews, all of which were negative.

So the bundle was a huge mistake. Why not just keep going after that? Well, let’s continue.

Key Reselling

After the bundle finished, we figured that the damage had been done. However, even still long afterward, we found that keys were still being distributed in not-so-small quantities. To sum it up, to this day, many thousands more people have bought the game so that Solanimus gets no money than those that have bought the game legitimately. They were buying Steam keys on questionable websites elsewhere on the internet, and therefore literally no money was getting to Solanimus for the game. Since there’s more than a negligible chance these people would never buy the game legitimately anyway, we of course got even more players way outside our target audience, and of course, more negative reviews.

Note: I don’t blame the audience metrics completely for our negative reviews, as some things did need to change in the game (and they were changed). However, almost all of the negative ratings have been attributed as I have described.

Making the Decision

After much further deliberation and considering the state of the Steam marketplace for independent developers (not good), we’ve come to the decision that this game will no longer be available on Steam. That way we will avoid the illegitimate key distribution issue, we will be able to not give the revenue share to Valve for doing practically nothing to help developers (their recommendations system is a joke), and other problems we’ve encountered thanks to the current state of Steam.

Steam is a disaster of a marketplace right now

It used to be a big deal to get onto Steam. It’s just not anymore. It’s easy to find all over the internet people that talk about how Steam has become horrible. Here are some unfortunately true things I know of:

-Steam doesn’t sell you games, they sell you licenses to play games.
-The bulk of Steam’s community is toxic, especially to newcomers (Note: there are some great people on there too, mind you, but they can probably be found easily elsewhere as well)
-There’s no better way to dilute the value of your game than putting it on Steam: people rarely buy outside of sales on Steam, and with those that do, you still give Valve 30%, not to mention that they hold back your disbursements if under a certain threshold, even after first holding it for two months by default)
-If Valve bans your Steam account, you no longer have access to your games, and they are not required to tell you why you were banned. In some cases, they have banned users for unknown reasons and only have returned the usage of accounts upon the creation of lawsuits by players that apparently have a lot of money involved.
-You are not allowed by Valve to resell your Steam games or accounts. If you do, you can be banned. Tell me… how is that ownership of your games that you paid for?
-Steam is full of a mess of games now, and it’s very difficult if not impossible to break to visibility. There is a lot of luck involved at this point. Honestly, anyone who says differently is just in denial.

…and it goes on and on. These problems with what is widely considered to be a monopolistic digital marketplace for PC games are part of our reasoning for changes we want to help facilitate in this industry. We’re working on it.

In conclusion, Signal is planned to be removed completely from Steam within the next month. Today I have banned all unredeemed keys from the mentioned bundle, so don’t bother trying to get the game illegitimately. Hopefully that’s over with. I will post on social media and in the Steam updates for the game that the unredeemed keys have been banned to minimize the number of people that could get burned buying cheap keys.

Where will the game be available now? Stay tuned. For now, I encourage you to buy the game using the buying widget on the main Signal to Noise site.

Talk to you soon.
~David

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Announcing the latest projects

Last week I sent out just one cryptogram with a hidden message regarding announcements to be made this week. The message was: “The Signal Com is not Bushwhack but is non zero.”

No one that saw it apparently figured it out, and I suppose possibly there weren’t many that saw it anyway, so I decided to not send any of the harder ones. :D

Nonetheless, it’s time to make the announcements. You may or may not find a connection between that original encrypted message and the actual announcments.

-Bushwhack Racing™-

We’ll be releasing an alpha for a wacky, humor-driven kart racer called Bushwhack Racing on December 23rd of this year (just a few weeks away)! This alpha is winter-themed and therefore being called Frosty Bushwhack. It will be available in HTML5 form and for download on PC starting that day. The game will feature bizarre characters, environments, karts, and weaponry. Keep in mind this is just an early version, so it will be free and we welcome ideas from anyone and everyone! It will feature local multiplayer on one keyboard and/or using controllers, will just include one track and a couple of characters, and also a Time Trial mode.

-Signal to Noise Tournament Edition™-

On a yet undecided date in the near future, Signal to Noise will be releasing in HTML5 form. This will be called Signal to Noise Tournament Edition, and will feature one core track weekly on which players can compete for the high score. We want to push recognition of some awesome scores and techniques in Signal. There’s more coming for the game as well…

-Signal to Noise Live™-

On another yet undecided date in the near future, Signal to Noise will be soft-launching (in a currently undecided region) on Android. This will be called Signal to Noise Live, and will allow players to play Signal on the go, of course with controls optimized for strong ability to play on mobile. Once we feel that things are done correctly and at a good place after the soft launch, there will be a full launch on other marketplaces in other regions. After that, there is planned an iOS release of Signal to Noise Live.

-Signaverse™-

The main focus of Signal to Noise was to bring a unique hardcore arcade-like experience to gamers that maybe haven’t found the depth of competitive arcade gaming immediately apparent. One thing we’ve noticed is that Signal to Noise seems to work best in a crowd setting, and of course we’re aware that competitive gaming these days is mostly done as Versus play, which draws larger and larger groups of people. From that, we’ve begun work on a sort of spiritual sequel (not an actual sequel) to Signal to Noise in which multiplayer is the focus. This game is called Signaverse. While much experimentation is still being done, Signaverse is mainly focused on the realtime music driven procedural environment and gameplay aspect, and will be bringing a very unique type of versus competition to players that can’t be found anywhere else.

And finally…

-NonZeroNet™-

NonZeroNet will be a new type of platform for games. It is a platform in several ways of using the word “platform” and is planned to be an end-to-end, idea-to-distribution, complete ecosystem for game developers everywhere. While I’m sure that may sound vague, you’ll see more and more explanation as it gets closer. Meanwhile, all game developers are welcome to talk with me about how we can help them with their ambitions. That’s who this is about. The developers.

NonZeroNet is the result of seeing a multitude of problems first-hand and second-hand in the game industry. More and more, there are developers all over the world working hard on the games of their dreams, only to release to “crickets,” and closing up shop immediately after. I personally get really sad when I hear so often about substantial layoffs hitting studios and other studios shutting down. This industry has so much more potential than what is being shown right now, and this is us doing our part.

Note: This post will be updated with the landing page information for NonZeroNet when it is up.

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…Now, please, please don’t be concerned that there’s too much going on and we’re spread way too thin with all these projects. We have some good plans for how this will all be rolled out, and honestly, it’s not the tons of work it might seem like (at the risk of sounding underestimating). Lots of things are changing right now, and I know this will be remembered as a transition period for gamers and game developers alike, so Solanimus is transitioning too.

Thanks everyone! Stay tuned!

~David Klingler

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Two years of Signal

Today marks the two year anniversary of the initial release of Signal to Noise!

While a sentimental day for the team, it was honestly somewhat annoying in the days following the launch in 2015. There were some technical problems at launch (Windows 10 had just taken over millions of computers and Unity, the engine for Signal to Noise, did not yet have full support for it), and much of the player base was not at all the target audience we were going for with the game’s design. Alongside some problems outside of our control, we had our own share of mistakes as well. This made the launch less-than-stellar, but we decided that the support we were shown leading up to the release of the game was enough reason to stick with what we believed in and to continue updating the game to make it what we truly wanted it to be for the player.

The initial launch was admittedly timed poorly and was premature for where it was in the development cycle of the game at the time. We had plenty of development issues earlier in the year, and that was technically the fourth time we had built the game (all earlier versions were redone because they didn’t feel right to us). We got a few pretty poor reviews, but took those back to our desks and continued to work on the game to fix the problems seen by both ourselves and the players on Steam. It was during this time of updating the game that we went strong into more contract work to keep things going, as sales of the game obviously weren’t supporting our further ambitions.

Since that launch of Signal to Noise (and even before the launch), we’ve learned many things regarding the current state of the game industry. I’ve always paid close attention to what goes on, and especially now there’s much I disagree with and think isn’t optimal. It is these observations we’ve made that have led us to developing several things in tandem that will work together to help in furthering games as a medium, giving people a lot of fun and memorable experiences.

Next week Solanimus will be announcing multiple projects that have been in the works that are sure to affect anyone who reads this. Throughout this week starting today, I’ll be sending out cryptograms to people, and everyone is encouraged to share the cryptograms with whoever they want so that solving it will be a group effort. Encrypted are messages that hint at everything we’re announcing next week. You’ll also be able to find the cryptograms on our social media accounts which are linked in the upper right on the home page.

The first people to send each of the solved messages to us (through email, direct message, mention, etc.) will win some pretty cool exclusive things having to do with the announcements.

Best of luck figuring out the messages this week! I’ll be back next week with the announcements.

~David

Signal Splash- Complete

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Aw yiss… Monday!

Signal Splash- Complete

Hey! David here from Solanimus.

Some people might know that I really like Mondays. I kinda don’t like the later part of Sunday, and I kinda don’t like Thursdays, but Monday for me feels like I hit the reset button. It gives a lot of hopeful possibilities for the week! Well today is Monday and it’s about time for a post. I’ve missed some posting here on the Solanimus site, and finally have the newsletter integration pushing new posts through to the newsletter members (subscribe to that newsletter on solanimus.com, people!), so time to catch up a bit.

Solanimus has been mainly on contract work, as those following on the site will know (yea, a broken record, I know). We’ve been working to get back into a good position to focus more on our own IP again, and we’re definitely getting there. Had a good meeting recently, and some old team members are coming back alongside the fact that we’ve added Ethan on board who’s doing quite well. As I normally say, we’ve got a lot in store for you all!

One thing entrepreneurs I follow seem to talk a lot about is your edge which I guess could also be referred to as your attitude advantage. Well, the Solanimus edge is coming back with a vengeance. Ok, maybe not vengeance exactly, but you know what I mean. We’re making a comeback, and the comeback is real. Signal to Noise is still being worked on, and a new game is on the way which we’ll be talking more about shortly. There are other things we’ve been working on, too, and it all will be working together in a way.

I always like to say we’ve got a lot in store for everyone, and that it’s “coming soon!” all the time. Well, I can promise you this: it will be worth the wait. ;)

~David Klingler

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Signal to Noise with Live Music proven at ECGC

The East Coast Game Conference went well last week (so did Pixelfest, for that matter), and Solanimus finally showed Signal to Noise to event attendees with the live music from Eight Bit Disaster at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh NC! The game analyzed the music in realtime as it was being played on stage and then affected the game right there in front of everyone’s eyes. The whole thing turned out great, and I want to shout-out/thank Tom Klingler, my uncle, for his help in getting it all to happen. Of course, thanks to Eight Bit Disaster as well!

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John Romero (Dangerous Dave, Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, Gunman Taco Truck, etc.) did his keynote and it was cool to say the least. It was mostly about the early days of id Software along with programming principles they followed during that time (and some before and after id). I was the only person in the audience that had seen one of the photos in the presentation and that made me laugh. I also talked with him later on in the evening and he said he remembered me from GDC two years back and that we had talked about Ms. Pac-Man for like half an hour. That also made me laugh because his memory is so ridiculous!

The talk I did on Thursday morning, “Creating Something from Nothing” turned out pretty well, had a pretty full room, and some pretty good questions afterwards. I believe it’s recorded, but not sure yet where the recordings will be organized.

By the way, Friday the 13th The Game will be coming out on May 26th so you should totally like play it like crazy. We have multiple friends that have worked a lot on that game and it’s going to rock your socks off… and maybe your head too (see what I did there) :D   Hopefully there will still be another Solanimus blog post before then, but just wanted to mention it either way.

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Pixelfest, ECGC, Construct

There were (obviously) some roadblocks with the porting of Signal to Noise involving some engine issues that have now been fixed in Unity. The animator, Daniel, is now checking and fixing animations that may have broken in the conversion to the updated version of Unity. Once that is completed, I’ll be able to continue with where I was in the porting for macOS and other systems.

Pixelfest is this coming weekend in Virginia. We’ll be driving up there in the morning and are showing Signal to Noise. We were hoping to have another something to show, but being spread thin on contract work has prevented that from happening fast enough. You’ll see our latest work soon enough, though!

Also looking forward to ECGC later this month. Solanimus will of course be showing there. One thing in the works is something we’ve never done with Signal to Noise before in public, but once that gets confirmed to be happening I’ll post about it on here. I’ll be speaking this year at the conference in a talk called Creating Something From Nothing. It’s mostly about the nature of starting a game company with no experience or money as well as game design itself. If any of that interests you, be sure to come at 10:15 on the 20th (time may get changed so make sure to check the schedule)! Nathan, former intern at Solanimus, is doing a talk as well, so be sure to check his out too.

Construct 3 is in beta at the moment, and is looking pretty cool. I’ve recommended Construct 2 to many people before starting out in game development, and Construct 3 looks to be a worthy successor!

I suppose I could talk about some contract work we’ve been doing lately. I’ll think about it. :)

~David

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Solanimus at Playthrough Gaming Convention this weekend in Raleigh NC

Yes, Solanimus will of course be at Playthrough Gaming Convention this weekend in Raleigh NC. Come on by and show us how pro you are at Signal to Noise, and if you’re playing in the melee tournament (being held by the Carolina Games Summit at Playthrough) I (David) hope to see you there as well because I plan on playing too!

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Signal to Noise for macOS

Anyone following the progression of Signal to Noise is probably aware at this point that we took a long time last year to fix problems that we found were affecting players. The game is much better now in the eyes of many, and we’re moving ahead with porting to other platforms. It looks like the first port out will be for macOS, and we plan to have that ready and available on Steam, GameJolt Marketplace and IndieGameStand by the time Playthrough Gaming Convention comes around later in the month.

After the macOS port, Linux follows, but depending on how problematic finalizing that shows itself to be, the Linux port may be stopped at least temporarily, as we’re planning for mobile next (iOS and Android). More details on the mobile versions will come as we get closer to their release.

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SoulJam has begun, new year

Happy new year!

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SoulJam has begun, and is going from the 1st to 31st of January. It’s a welcoming game jam with a precise theme that I think will bring some creative results: ironic new year resolutions.

Wanted to mention again as well: the winning game of the jam wins $100 from me.

Check out the SoulJam game jam here: http://jams.gamejolt.io/souljam

 

By the way, Signal to Noise is at the time of writing still 80% off on Steam for the winter sale.

 

Here’s to a great 2017 for all of you,
~David

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