State of the Goat July 2016

Jul
08

State of the Goat July 2016

And it runs great

Totally a thing

Hey goats and goaties, I am compelled to share the state of things here at the Tipping Goat coral. As you may or may not know, Tipping Goat is a one man army. Army is a strong word. Perhaps a one man group of five men, who aren’t terribly good at their job, but they all work for free. I don’t mean to put down my skills or accomplishments, but trying to get your own game and company off the ground is a lot of work. It’s hard, and I’m not an expert at any of it, but I have created a game I love, and that people have a lot of fun playing together. I’m proud of that, and I’m grateful to every single person who purchased the game. I’m particularly grateful to everyone who paid full price, who voted for it on green light and most of all the backers who went well above and beyond to support the game. As a result of every one of you, I have the money to pay for new art, experiment with ads and sales, and continue to show the game off at events.

Wait, Where’s E3 part 2?

I am having issues with my media hard drive, so I am writing this instead of rebooting my computer. I’ll get to part 2 as soon as I give into the Windows Update gods and restart. In the meantime I felt it time to give a big update on Season Mode and the Xbox One port, and get into what is the hold up.

Xbox One

Now I’m sensitive to feedback and one thing I hear a lot is, “what about PS4/WiiU/Mac/Linux/Magic Adventure Box 9000”. Believe me, there’s little that I would love more than to support most of those platforms (sorry, Magic Adventure Box 9000). As I mentioned, I’m just one person and I can’t split my time more than I already am and still deliver this game in any kind of time frame. Building Season Mode is work enough on its own.

The local multiplayer fans on the Windows platform are awesome; I’m one of them! But there simply aren’t enough people out there dedicated to that kind of setup to carry the game alone, or if there are, I haven’t found them all. I don’t yet have the Shield sales numbers. But this is a console game at heart, and it needs to sell a much bigger number of copies to make this game a success. Otherwise, it may be time to move on to another project. Xbox One is super important for that reason. Plus it’s the only dedicated game console with 6 player full controller support available to developers, and the only dev kit I currently have. I want to make it shine on one platform before I bring it elsewhere.

Season Mode…

I know it’s now well past my original release date for Season Mode. When I originally sketched it all out, it was basically a dynamic Challenge Mode with some custom options like team colors, team name, home arena design, and some AI upgrades. It was a neat and quick set of features with just a sprinkle of new UI. Then I’d port the whole thing to Xbox One and hope it found an audience there.

So with so much pressure on the Xbox One release, this game must try it’s hardest to meet everyone’s expectations. Hardcore local multiplayer fans tend to love SSDT, but for everyone else, they may be disappointed with the current single player experience. Season Mode will give single players a reason to come back, and when their friends come over, they can join in the season game too.

But simply playing a series of computer matches may not be compelling enough. New players may not learn all the nuances of the game and give up. Worse, a crappy tutorial could frustrate players and make them judge the game based on that. Making a tutorial that flows with the natural progression of the season is a good way to do it, but that’s more work. What about replayability? Once you beat your first season, is there a good reason to start another? Adding reasons to play again is more work. What about hidden content? You guessed it, more work. New game modes? More balls? A better interface? More music?

Bugs

Adding features means introducing bugs. Things that worked fine before might turn out to be a house of cards that needs a redesign. I have been doing a lot of work on the internals of SSDT without a ton of new features yet to show for it. But it all makes it easier to debug and ultimately develop new features. Also, it is running on the Xbox One again. I will be testing on that platform from here on out, while optimizing performance for all platforms and fixing a lot of bugs.

Bill Shakesman

Dude must code

In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But ’tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote.

-Bill Shakespeare

I care about this game, and I see a lot of bugs. I see bad UI. I see a boring and predictable AI, and I see a lot of bad code. This project is over 2 years old now, and decisions I made in the first month, don’t necessarily make sense any more. Some small things got bloated into big ugly things. Solutions that were good enough to get the job done are starting to show their cracks. More than anything, I am committed to getting this right so there’s a lot of work to do.

Not Burning Out

One thing that will kill your indie project dead is if you burn out. It’s a real thing, and it will leave you resenting ever starting the project and giving up. You have to stay passionate and committed, but not forget you are a social, biological organism with mental and physical needs. I sleep every night. I do laundry, dishes, replace cat litter, run errands, futz around in the garden, listen to my wife, clean and exercise.  It keeps me sane when there are projects in my life that I can complete in a timely fashion. Achievement Unlocked: I can empty the laundry basket. I can fill the dishwasher. I can cook a meal for the woman who works to actually pay the rent while I try to get a business off the ground. I can fold laundry and contemplate the finished Xbox release, go through a mental checklist of everything required for it to get there and be alarmed that it’s July and there’s still so much more to do — but that’s okay. In the end, the customer doesn’t care if the game was created by a one man, self-funded studio, or if a team of people did it with funding from investors. They have expectations, limited time and a lot of entertainment options. The game has to shine, and I have to survive building it to get it there. It’s okay to relax. I’m not going to release in May or June, or July. I’m not going to release until the game is done, period.

Until Then?

All this adds up to 1 thing that isn’t flexible: Time; there’s only so much of it. But don’t fret! Fixing all bugs on PC and Xbox One is my priority at the moment. Once that is done, and it’s a long list with a few big items on it, PC users have made available a special Pre-Season beta on Steam. By opting into this beta, Steam customers or customers with a Steam Key can test out all these reworkings, and enjoy the new features that are there. As the Xbox version is brought to life, the pre-season beta will get new features and upgrades until Season Mode is ready. I am working on that, and will have an announcement soon.

NVIDIA Shield owners currently have the most up-to-date build of the game, and will also be getting the Season Mode update when it comes out on PC and Xbox One.

Thanks for all your patience and support.

About rick

Founder of Tipping Goat and creator of Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. On Twitter @TippingGoat

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