I should really update this thing, shouldn’t I?
So, after two years of work, Redshirt opened up pre-orders just a few short weeks ago! Pre-ordering means you can download and start playing a beta version of the game straight away, and I’ve been blown away by all the support we’ve received so far, and so grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to provide feedback and bug reports. Seriously, thank you.
For most of those two years, it was, of course, mostly just myself staring at the game all day, with publisher Cliff of Positech Games on hand to give his usual brilliant mixture of wise-but-carefully-stern-feedback(!), but the moment that things changed drastically was when the first influx of players sat down at the computer at PC gaming show Rezzed back in June — the first time the game had been demoed publicly.
From there, it’s felt like a sort of (mostly sleepless, caffeine-fueled) whirlwind until the Redshirt beta/pre-orders launched in late August. We’ve received some very kind press coverage from outlets ranging from Gamasutra to RPS to The Escapist and beyond; and that definitely helps with motivation.
Of course, what I also meant to do during that period was also blog more and create more ‘Developer’s Logs’ videos, but that ended up not entirely working out.
You see, one of the more personally surprising things I have learnt from this whole journey (again, this is my first ‘proper’ game) is that it’s so easy to be myopic when one is panicking about code; I mean, I found myself even putting off writing this blog for way too long because I’ve been busy dealing with bug reports!
It’s funny, because I always thought that taking care of stuff like publicity/marketing and such would be the fun and easy part; and, up to a certain point, reaching out to people to tell them about your game is cool, but it’s also something that I unexpectedly found to be wracked by two problems:
- Like many other developers (so I’m told!) you are often up there with your own games’ biggest critics. (Not necessarily the games’ biggest critic, because, let’s face it, there are some very awful, vocal people out there!) So while you want to tell other people all about the game you’re working on and — in theory — love and are passionate about, there is a definite constant voice (of fluctuating volume, depending on your mood) telling you that you’re just fooling yourself, and no-one could ever possibly want to play it. That is tough to overcome.
- This is related to the above, but doing anything other than working on actual development feels a bit chore-like, especially when you are doing it because you know that you technically should, when really, all you want to do is get back to working on the game because you become convinced that is all that “really matters”. (Of course, this is ever so slightly silly. As the old idiom goes, if a game gets finished on the internet, and no-one is there to play it, does it really exist?)
This second part is kind of weird; I’ve never considered myself entirely an introverted shut-self-away-and-get-on-with-work type (I am actually the weirdest combination of really-liking-the-company-of-others-but-being-kind-of-shy, but that’s another topic!), but I think the pressure of working on a project of this scale definitely drew that out of me.
I think this reason — amongst so many others — has been why working with Positech Games as a (definitely non-evil) publisher has been such a great decision for developing Redshirt. Having Cliff be able to take some of the pressure off ‘oh gosh what should I be doing to promote the game?’ has really helped as I’ve fumbled my way through this whole process. I mean, in future, it’s a balancing act I need to work on perfect; but Positech has been brilliant in essentially providing The Tiniest Shark with what I think of as its ‘indie training wheels’. So, yay for them!
What’s next for Redshirt? Well, in case I haven’t already mentioned (have I?!), the beta is out now of course, so you can preorder the game to access that! After a couple of weeks spent offline (I was on away mission ‘Get Hitched’(!)), I’m now back to responding to our beta player’s feedback and adding new content, and am regularly releasing updates until the big final release. Which again, excitingly, will be through the redshirtgame.com website, as well as Steam and GoG! So, beta players, keep an eye on your emails, and also on the forums and Facebook page for news on new versions available.
If you are currently playing the beta, we’d love to know what you think!