- posted on Sun 21st September 2014 8.25PM
There's been a lot of talk about alpha funded games getting into deep water recently so I thought it would be interesting to post a blog discussing the future of Maia and of Machine Studios LTD, the business I have now formed to develop it and future games.
First some context. On Steam alone, over it's lifetime and including sales, Maia has averaged $1,515 a day. That number is massively skewed by the release sale and subsequent coverage, but a good base point to work from. A month with no big releases or coverage sits closer to half that amount. These numbers are currently increasing as the game matures and could increase by a lot more. I, perhaps optimistically, hope to see a day where we stay in the charts without being on sale.
In short, things are very healthy.
At our current burn rate, running off cash reserves, with no further sales of the game, development can easily continue for about five years. That said, current development has a few bottlenecks I would like to hammer out of the pipeline, which will push up costs by a few thousand.
So at the rate I would like to be developing at, it is closer to three years...[Read Blog]
- posted on Thu 23rd January 2014 10.40PM
Today I read a piece by John Walker, where he asserts that having an open development process is a bad thing. I responded on Twitter, but I feel I need a few more characters to explain myself. While Johns argument seems sound, in a superficial manner, he fails to understand the role of a games designer, how games production in general works and the reasons why a developer might turn their ear to their customers.
The foundation of Johns complaint is that a democratic development process cannot work, because the input from ill-informed people will lead the developer astray. Here's the thing: Open development is not democratic, only the developer is holding the wheel.
Open development is about providing the users with the information they need and communication channels required to allow them to critique your work. It is not about compromising the design process in an effort to pander and please.
By talking openly about features I am forced to defend my ideas. I have to provide a reason as to why I feel an idea works and justify my thought processes...[Read Blog]
- posted on Wed 11th December 2013 5.05PM
Seven days ago we launched on Steam early access. It has been a frantic hundred hour week and finally the dust is starting to settle. Eight hundred emails answered, many more waiting, forty patches distributed, two hundred gigabytes of content uploaded and ten thousand lines of code hammered out. Phew!
We chose to release a public alpha at a very early stage in development. Effectively, we put out a work-in-progress, a detailed proof-of-concept that would give people a unique insight into how we're building the game. Releasing such an early build was a risk, but I still strongly believe in community driven development and the launch has definitely vindicated my thinking. We've completely transformed the game since release and it's entirely thanks to you guys! I really want to thank everyone who took to the forums, and email, and who submitted their problems, their feedback and their ideas.
The launch exceeded all our expectations, in fact it blew them away. We certainly didn't expect to be featured on the front page of Steam for so long. We spent several days outselling games like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty at one point we even became the #2 seller...[Read Blog]
- posted on Tue 3rd December 2013 5.00PM
Maia 0.38 is ready and is minutes away from launching on Steam Early access!
It's a pretty huge milestone for me and the team.
Steam keys will be going out to people who have already preordered some time in the next few days.
- posted on Fri 4th October 2013 9.49PM
This blog has been a little neglected, but none the less, things have moved on at great speed!
Maia has been Greenlit!
We are aiming to release to early-access in December.
If you can't wait, you can preorder for immediate access to alpha builds!
- posted on Wed 10th July 2013 1.55PM
Maia has launched on Steam Greenlight!
Please give us your vote!
We are currently just about to enter the top 100 games on the service. A few more votes will help push us over!
- posted on Wed 19th June 2013 6.56PM
The 0.28 alpha is now ready for download in the members area.
This release is a patch for 0.27. It brings performance increases, a lot of bug fixes and even some new content.
AI is currently idle and won't build things, although there is already lots of content to check out. Let us know on the forums if you have any issues!...[Read Blog]
- posted on Thu 16th May 2013 12.00AM
Alpha keys have now gone out to all backers. Check your junk mail if you missed it.
The upcoming alpha 0.27 will be released in a week or so, however there is already a tech demo up on members.maiagame.com to check out.
- posted on Sun 10th March 2013 9.15PM
Apologies for the lack of blog updates. As you can imagine things have been hectic around here!
So what's the status of the game?
With funding through Kickstarter and Indiegogo secured, we are now in full development. The plan is to release a new trailer on April 15th to launch a Greenlight page and public alpha sales.
We are in the position of having a large amount of our static assets done and in the game. With more complex things like character animation also starting to work their way in. Here's a video of the day/night system along with some of our new assets and rendering engine.
This week the website will be going live, which will allow users to start downloading alpha builds and other goodies. Check out the forums for regular updates and sneak peaks of what we are working on.
- posted on Sat 3rd November 2012 2.27PM
Maia has launched on Kickstarter. Please support us in creating the most ambitious indie game ever made and help us to resurrect the god-game genre.
In just three days we have raised 25% of our budget, but there is still a long way to go. Please share the project where ever you can.
- posted on Sat 20th October 2012 9.21PM
After a few sleepless nights, I have the games particle effects system in and working!
This will be used to create steam, smoke, fire, explosions, dust and other volumetric phenomena.
The steam picks up lighting from the surrounding lights. (currently only one or two at the moment, so if you're eagle eyed you might see it pop ) I hope to extend this at a later date to create really nice atmospheric lighting.
I'll now be moving on to polishing up some character animation code. That will allow me to get some videos of the IMPs at work and perhaps even the colonists having a bumble about.
One last thing: I don't usually blog about press, due to them then covering my blogs and then causing some sort of infinite recursion loops. However, I recently did a really long interview with PCGamesN that has got a load of detail about the game in it. Give it a read and share it!
- posted on Wed 17th October 2012 12.00AM
Big news! We are planning on releasing our first alpha in mid-january! This will be a basic game-play prototype and tech demo, a few game mechanics will be fully functional, and there will be lots of interesting features to check out and play with.
The alpha release will be carried by several big name digital distributors but also be available for purchase right from the site. Get on the mailing list to be notified the second we go live!
To help us achieve this I am going to open up funding at the end of the month! I wont say what yet as it's not 100%, but it's going to be big! Here's a clue: The game featured prominently in an interesting Edge article last week.
Using that funding I hope to employ another artist or two and a programmer on the project to help move things along towards the alpha. There's lots to do, and few extra pairs of hands would get things chugging along nicely....[Read Blog]
(1) comments : OrtwinS,
- posted on Tue 2nd October 2012 12.00AM
This morning I woke to the brilliant news that Maia has been voted to win the Indie Dev Grant by purchasers of the Bundle-in-a-box. This is excellent timing, as I took the game full time yesterday!
I am going to be crunching for the next two weeks to bring the game to a state where I can start releasing game play footage, so this small cash injection is a massive boon for me.
I want to thank everyone in the community for your amazing support and for your votes. You've been great guys, I'm really moved.
If you'd like to join us on the adventure, we now have something for everyone! There's Reddit, Twitter, IRC, Facebook, the newsletter, the RSS feed and of course the Forum. Phew!
In development news:
The character artists are finalising the polish on some of the colonists...[Read Blog]
- posted on Sat 22nd September 2012 8.25PM
This blog was originally posted on GamaSutra. I do think piracy is a problem, but I will always put my customers first:
Yves Guillemot recently claimed to have statistics showing that PC game piracy rates (95%-93%) are as high as non paying F2p users. Using this data point he that asserted Free to Play is the future. Indeed to me this data proves exactly the opposite. It shows that the current model with paid-for products and a high piracy rate is the way to go.
If you are going to have the same conversion rate to paying customers whatever you do, you should do as much as possible to remove all barriers to entry and reduce costs to ensure a higher profit margin. Spending time and money implementing IAP's, the inevitable complex "always-up" server back-end and other mechanisms, is wasteful and is an unnecessary burden on your business.
It's also damaging your IP: Many users don't want to see their favourite games made free...[Read Blog]
- posted on Fri 14th September 2012 2.06PM
Maia is a nominee for the indie dev grant funded by the Bundle-in-a-Box. For every 100 bundles they sell, $10 goes into the grant. Purchasers then get to vote on a game they would like to see the grant go to.
If you are getting the bundle, and would like to support Maia, please give us your vote. A small cash injection like this one will be invaluable to our planned development ramp up in October.
In other news we now have an RSS feed for the game:
So now you can keep up to date with all our wonderful blogs!...[Read Blog]
- posted on Thu 6th September 2012 5.19PM
It's been a pretty strange week. I shared a quick video of the first person mode. It wasn't finished. I didn't even think to put this site's URL in the video.
Four days later and its got 18000 hits on Youtube. The site pushed 6GB of traffic in a day. Twenty Seven thousand people hit the site in an afternoon. I've had two major digital distributors email me.
But I'm not sure what I've learnt from all this. I don't have a demo out, I'm still refusing to take preorders and my media releases are patchy. I'm yet to write a single press release. The website is painful to read and makes irritating noises. In fact, by conventional standards, I'd say I'm probably doing everything wrong.
So why is this working? I think, firstly, being honest about the game works. Talking to the community, engaging and discussing with them, is so important. Not for marketing, but genuinely addressing peoples expectations, taking on board their ideas and criticisms. I'm pretty surprised that on several forums and message boards I have had people thanking me for honestly talking to them about the game...[Read Blog]
- posted on Mon 3rd September 2012 12.46AM
I've spent a few hours tonight getting the first person mode in. In the game you will be able to posses IMP bots and use them to dig, build and fight in first person.
Be sure to check it out in HD, or you'll melt your eyes.
Although non essential at this stage and unlikely to be in the first alpha, I really wanted it prototyped, as it looks awesome. Definitely good trailer fodder.
Bonus points if you can spot the ZX Spectrum!
Come discuss it on the forums.
Development may be slowed for the next month, as I am currently deciding how to continue my doctorate. One of the potential outcomes of this is me taking Maia full time. I'll need to seek funding at that stage, either through pre-orders or kickstarter etc. Now that's a scary thought!
- posted on Wed 15th August 2012 2.06PM
Here's a quick look at the first test of the fluid simulation the game will be using.
It isn't properly surfaced or shaded yet, but still gives an interesting insight into the terrifying awesomeness of the Lava.
- posted on Tue 17th July 2012 11.27PM
Maia has its own renderer. Custom written and unlike any other indie game has ever seen.
The gameplay relies on your careful use of lighting to guide your IMP bots, adjust your colonists moods and also to avoid attracting the attention of curious alien fauna.
To do this the game needed a renderer that could allow the user to place lights anywhere they wanted, and to have no limit to the number that could be displayed on screen. This system needed to work on even the most lightweight GPU without crippling the framerate and leaving the game unplayable.
I'm going to explain how the hell I did this.
- posted on Tue 3rd July 2012 12.00PM
This is the post you've all be waiting for. Things have been seriously heating up behind the scenes.
It's finally time to start showing off this Alpha and its powerful engine with some glorious screen shots.
IMP bots diligently mine out a new area for the player:
Master the complexities of interior design:
We are yet to get detailed human characters into the game, but they are coming soon, and they are going to look very awesome:
- posted on Thu 21st June 2012 9.46PM
Things have been a bit quiet for the last month. Lots of little developments are going on behind the scenes to get ready for the big ramp up.
I've been working on the site to make it a bit more user friendly, whilst also adding some detail to the theme. It should look nice whatever size screen you have and if you run an obsolete browser the effects will now fail gracefully.
The game has taken many steps forward and a few steps back. A shakey motherboard cost me a lot of time and lost a small amount of work. It's not a problem though, as everything gets iterated constantly during development, so chances are it would have been redone anyway. I've upgraded my rig now and its obscenely fast, which will speed production along significantly.
The renderer is almost completely done, with most of the core shaders ready. Gameplay is now at the front of my mind now. Rooms can be created and lights and furniture placed. Animation code is mostly in and I hope to start adding AI agents this weekend. Once we have that I can start seing how things interact and where I need to take them.
I now have six people working on the project on and off. Its really great to check my emails every morning and find them full of new art and ideas! In fact, its all looking so good I want to show it to you...
I'm going to be putting out an awesome media release as soon as our twitter account reaches 1999 followers...[Read Blog]
- posted on Fri 25th May 2012 10.24AM
I'm proud to announce Maia, my new game.
I have been playing with the idea of making my own god game for a half a decade now. The genre has always been an obsession of mine since the Amiga period (well in my case Acorn). Bullfrog games defined my childhood. Its surprising its taken me this long to crack and commit myself to making one!
I hope to make this an interesting, ongoing, long term project that can evolve and expand. The ground work of design is already fixed, but will likely adapt based on community feedback.
The game is currently in alpha. I have written a sophisticated graphics engine that can deliver hundreds of thousands of lights and a layered compositing pipeline to create the visuals that I think the game deserves.
I have hired the best concept artists I could find and have had them visualise my thought processes and create some amazing artwork. Its really stunning to see what they have come up with, I can't wait to show you.
I hope the PC gaming community will help me finance the title through alpha funding. I will start offering preorders soon to help subsidise some of my costs...[Read Blog]