Saturday, June 7, 2014

Greenlit on Steam!

I can't believe it.  After some months of languishing in Steam Greenlight, I got a random email that it was approved.  I didn't have much hope in the first place, and what little hope I had was quickly evaporating.  But now, everything is coming up Adman!

I'm actively working on getting a Steam store page set up, getting the Windows version of the game all up to date (adding the missing Options stuff, for example).  That's more or less done, but needs some debugging and testing.

I'm also kicking around the idea of adding some Steam features, like achievements and stats and so forth.  Not sure if that will happen or not.

Getting published on Steam actually looks like a very real possibility.  In fact, I could actually go and push the "review my game" button now and get the process underway, but I'd like to just take a little more time to get everything in order.  I'd also like to get some better graphics to represent the game on the Steam store, and am looking to enlist some help for that.

So....  pretty cool stuff.  I would have never guessed this game would make it onto Steam, but I'm excited that it is.  How well will a local multiplayer game sell on Steam?  I have no idea.  What I do know is that my ability to estimate this sucks (but luckily sucks in the wrong direction).  So, no expectations.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ouya promotion...

Apparently Ouya is going to be promoting Hidden in Plain Sight over the Thanksgiving weekend.

There is also recent news that Ouyas (Ouyay?) are in Target stores across the country, which is pretty cool.  Sales have definitely dropped off since the initial surge of Kickstart units were all shipped en masse, but that is to be expected.  But it's still selling pretty regularly, and people are still spending more than the minimum, which is nice.

If you want to get it for the Ouya, you can find the game here.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Hidden in Plain Sight is going through a bit of a renaissance, which is kind of exciting.  First of all, the Ouya has officially launched, and HIPS is selling dozens of units per day.  And even though the minimum required price is $0.99, the average price people are paying is over $2, so that’s kind of cool.

Furthermore, a very popular YouTube channel has done a series of three videos, which cumulatively have over half a million views.  That’s led to a big spike in sales on the Xbox… 4000 copies sold in the first 11 days of this month.  If it’s anything like the Great SourceFed Spike of ’12, I expect there to be quite a long tail of sales as word of mouth spreads.


I got this email yesterday.  It looked like spam on the surface, but here’s what it said:

Hi I am 14 and i have played this game called "Hidden in Plain Sight ". i think you might know it. this game is really fun and i have played it with my sister and my friend and it is better than any 60 $ game i have ever bought.   me and my sister are not really close and we fight alot. this game made us laugh together and we had a good time together. its been a while since that happened. Thank you.

I was very emotionally touched by this.  It’s one thing to make a silly little game that people like playing, but to think that I’ve perhaps had some hand in helping create or restore a bond of friendship between friends or family… that’s a big deal.  So that was really cool.

I want to make a new game.  I’ve been fooling around in Unity, and getting lots of inspiration from all kinds of sources, but just am lacking the time and energy to actually sit down and work.  Maybe soon.  My daughter and I have been playing Fariune on the iPad, and she’s really enjoying it.  So my latest thoughts are a adventure’ish game kind of like Ultima IV.  Big world, lots of little puzzles and items to find and unlock areas of the world.  We’ll see.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Hidden in Plain Sight FAQ 1.0

My game has apparently reached some sort of critical mass, and I’m beginning to get a lot of the same questions over and over again, so I’ll address them here.

1)  Online multiplayer?

No.  I’m not going to update this game to support online multiplayer.  The answer is a little complicated.

When I started making this game, I was targeting the Xbox Live Indie Games platform, and just making a somewhat experimental, hobbyist game.  I had no idea that it would be as successful as it would eventually become.  I figured I’d be lucky to sell a few hundred copies.  So I didn’t anticipate a big player base, which is kind of necessary for an online game, if people want to just jump online at a random time to play.

But making an online game is HARD.  Really hard.  Anyone who tells you otherwise has never done it before.  It really would have made the coding 100x more complicated, and perhaps is even beyond my technical ability.  Because of those reasons, I led with a local-multiplayer-only approach.

In that decision, I made some specific design decisions that centered around the game being on a shared screen.  Obviously, there is no indicator about which player is controlling which character.  This was necessary (for obvious reasons), but also has turned into a core gameplay feature.  People who are better at recognizing and finding their character early have an advantage in the game. 

But the nail in the coffin, and what I haven’t been convinced of otherwise, is that the vast bulk of the FUN of the game is specifically BECAUSE it’s played in a shared space with friends and family.  It simply wouldn’t be as good of a game if it was played by individual players in their own little rooms.  Maybe if all the players had headsets, it might work, but I simply think there is some magic in the room when the game is played that wouldn’t translate into an online space.

This doesn’t preclude me from attempting to make a similar online game in the future, or even taking individual game modes and trying to make them online.  But I have no plans to update this specific game to include online multiplayer, for reasons technical, design, and philosophical.

2)  Bring this game to (PSN/Wii/etc)!

That’s really more of a demand than a question, but whatever.  Here’s the thing.  I’m a hobbyist game developer.  This means that I have a real-life job, and not a whole lot of time on my hands.  It also means that I’m doing game stuff for fun, rather than profit (though I like profit!)

I will bring the game to any console that makes it easy for me to do so.  For example, Microsoft allows us to pay them $99, and all of a sudden we’re game developers.  You can make a game and put it on their marketplace (as long as you follow a few simple rules).  Recently, the Ouya console came out, and they were even easier, allowing me to publish on their marketplace for free.  PC, obviously, has many free outlets for distributing amateur games.

So the game exists on those markets:  XBLIG, Ouya, and Windows.

I looked at the signup page for PlayStation to become a registered Sony Indie dev, and they wanted me to submit a 6-12 month business plan.  That was enough to scare me away.

Xbox One doesn’t appear to have a XBLIG analog, so I’m not sure if the game will be available for that system or not.  We’ll just have to see how they decide to treat hobbyist devs.

3)  Why is the game not available in my country?

I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind it, but Xbox Live Indie Games are only available in certain countries, and blocked from other countries.  I think part of the reason is that the games are unrated, and some governments don’t allow that.  But it’s not up to me.

You can always try the Windows version, but it’s still local multiplayer only, and requires Xbox-compatible controllers.

4)  This game is like Spy Party!

I address that here.  Read the comments, too.

5)  This game is awesome!  I want to pay you more for it:

You can use this donate button, if you think the game is fun and you’ve played it for a long time.

Hope this helps.  Feel free to contact me if you have more questions, or just want to say hi.  I love to hear from people who have played the game!


Monday, June 17, 2013

The Price of Entertainment

Pricing games…

I have no idea how much to sell a game for.  And this is fascinating to me.

On the Xbox Live Indie Games market, it’s pretty clear that that selling a game for more than 80MSP ($1) is suicide.  Even bumping it up to 240MSP ($3) will reduce your sales be MORE than three times.  I think this is pretty well documented by people who have changed the price of their game.

Now, I’ve ported Hidden in Plain Sight over to the Ouya, and I left the minimum price at a dollar.  That only seems fair, right?  Why should it cost more on one system than another?  It’s the same product, it should cost the same.

However, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the players themselves that this is too cheap, and they’d gladly pay more. 

What I ended up doing was adding the option to pay any number of choices: $1, $3, $5, $10, $15, or $50.  And this has worked out really well.  About 40% of the people spend $1, and 55% spend $3 or $5, and then there’s the occasional $10 and $15.  What this indicates to me is that I was really leaving money on the table before.

Another thing that is strange to consider is that most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend $10 to go out and see a movie.  In fact, four friends could easily drop $50 collectively for a two hour experience, if you included a drink and some candy or something.  So why is it so difficult to even consider spending $5 or $10 on something that (according to some people) offers more entertainment value?

I’m not casting aspersions… I have a hard time spending even a few dollars on a quality iPad app, so I’m guilty of the same thing.  It’s just weird.

Anyways, based on the feedback I’ve gotten, I’m going to add a “donation” product to the game.  I figure if people want to give me extra money, I should make it as easy as possible for them to do so.

And finally, I’d like to go on record again and say that I’m not doing this for the money.  It’s a nice side effect, but I’d much rather get a nice email or tweet from someone than a dollar.  In other words, the happy feeling I get from making a game that has brought some family and friends closer together is worth more to me than a dollar.

Thursday, May 23, 2013



Hidden in Plain Sight has been published for the Ouya.  The free version includes unlimited play of Ninja Party and Death Race (which I think are the two best modes, but others disagree).  For $0.99, you get the other three modes unlocked, as well as the customizable options to play with.

I'm looking forward to hearing how Ouya players like it...  if you happen to have played it on the Ouya, leave a note and let me know how it all worked out for you.