and again we are at the end and soon at the beginning of a year.
I have unfortunately not managed in December to create another update (due to too many requests in the day job, things that still had to be done this year in private, etc.), I’m really sorry. But I would like to write you still a small entry at the end of the year, to look back at 2021 and look into the future 2022.
Let’s look at the year 2021. In the first half, the following features were the biggest new features:
- Online Multiplayer
- New GUI
- New buildings
- Particle effects
- 2-player mode
I especially like the online multiplayer. Not that I did a perfect job there. I think it is something else to program the whole server communication and to change the interfaces in the game. I spent a bit more time there than expected. It was basically realized with a nodejs server and a little bit of thinking. The difficulty was the question, how the local servers/clients communicate with this server. In the 1st step a lobby is created with the information who is the game maker and who are the players. In the 2nd step, when the game starts, only the information is sent back and forth between the game maker and the players. The server is basically only a middleman.I have booked a server for about 70€ a year and if approximately every two months someone buys Summer Islands it is worth it.
Another innovation was the new design of the GUI. It was about time to replace the old graphics and to come up with a new concept in some places. Many concepts had to be rethought/renewed. The new more pixel graphic design of the GUI is really nice and fits well in my opinion.
Many of the new features still need some fine tuning. E.g. the tasks are good to have for now. But some tasks are just too hard at the beginning or should look at other details. Also the particle effects need a performance check. Because there is always something to optimize.
Some other topics:
Another step we made in 2021 was the creation of the DEMO. Basically unnecessary because you have a 2 hour right of return on Steam. Now you can say that the 2 hours may not be enough to test a game. I think that should always be used. But most gamers don’t use that and rather give a negative review. Exactly for this reason I created the DEMO. Since then, the new reviews are also kept within limits. Negative as well as positive 😀
I am very satisfied when the reviews are greater or equal 70% positive. This is my private goal ;)I am happy when players write their dissatisfied wishes to me directly or in the Steam forum. I read each mail carefully and note the points. I have not ignored any feedback.I think many players do not assume that their feedback will be heeded and that is a big problem with AAA titles I guess. Of course a big company can’t fulfill every wish. Even I have received wishes that I probably could not (yet) inserted. But a lot of things just need time to think about how it fits into the gameplay. With big companies you get something thrown over the fence and either it’s good or it’s not.
I like the Early Access option very much! Of course, this also requires a community of players who want to help and give feedback. So it’s optimal to integrate such a feedback function directly and easily into the game right at the beginning of development.
Another big event we participated in this year was the biggest game convention in Germany, right here in Cologne in August (if you don’t know which one I mean just use google, because the name is legally protected and the lawyers love warning letters). We joined it for the first time. It took place, like last year, completely online. Because if I think about building a real booth in a convention and then taking care of it for several days, I think that’s a lot of work for an indie developer. That’s why I found the online option attractive.
There was an indie offer for 500€. But that is only the entrance fee. With that you only got a small booth in the Online Arena Booth. So an area to which you can only get with many clicks. On top of that, there was also no search function over all games. All indie games were supposed to send in their trailers and promotional materials, then the reporters could see all the documents and the best footage were shown in the shows. The alternative was to buy commercial time for a lot of money.
As you might hear, it wasn’t really worth it. I think it’s like playing the lottery. You have a small possibility that your videos will be shown (depending on the reporters, who of course also just follow the trend). Overall, very few people will even come into contact with your game. This is reflected in the sales numbers as well. I think a steamsale generated more attention than this game convention.
Therefore I can’t really recommend it. The games that were already in the trends were also awarded and got even more attention. You really have to be there at the right time with the right game.Ok, enough about the game convention.
I also wanted to write about the sales numbers. We have sold about 2000 times Summer Islands since the early access release in June 2019. Most of the sales have been during the steamsales of course. Only 79 of them are Mac and 39 Linux. Which I’m not sure how Steam counts that exactly. Because you can still change the operating system later.
I just want to say that other operating systems are not really worth it. There are so many things that you have to consider with mac or linux and then also test. Unfortunately, the performance is not so good. So please do not misunderstand. Your hardware is not the problem. Rather the engine and the compilation.
Let’s come to the last point of this novel. What will the year 2022 bring for Summer Islands. I’m still planning to release Summer Islands in the middle of 2022, but that depends a lot on the time I have in my spare time. As you probably know, there is always something unexpected or extra work in the day job or or or. It is not really possible to plan that. I only know that I try to use every opportunity I get as efficiently as possible. When you have invested so much time in something, then I have the motivation to get Summer Islands to a very good condition.There are still a few things on the todo list that need to be worked on. Always with the question how to integrate them to enhance the game experience.
My dream would also be to develop Summer Islands with another engine, to see which pros/cons there are. Because I also notice that many problems that were reported to me are due to the engine. Such things could be avoided from the beginning. Such engines like Unity or Unreal simply bring a lot with them that you don’t have to worry about anymore. On the other hand, they are also very complex and you need some time to understand all aspects.
What I’ve learned from the last few years is that you just have to be there at the right time with the right game and with a little luck your game will end up in the trends. I don’t think Summer Islands will end up in the trends, why would it?! I think the majority of players are due to Holiday Island and nowadays the majority want to enjoy the graphics. Who can blame them. That’s why I had the idea to program a 3D experience again. Let’s see.
Ok, so far so good.
I hope you had some relaxing and nice christmas days.Then a good start into the year 2022. Stay healthy!Thanks to all of you who bought Summer Islands, supported it with feedback or just played it!
You are the heroes.
p.s. don’t forget to activate the snow option, especially now in winter time 🙂