Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat is Available Now! (Windows)


Hey there RGCD friends and family! It’s James here, albeit a rather more exhausted James than usual. You see, after 18 months of late nights and weekend crunch sessions, our admittedly not-to-be-taken-seriously little arcade-style quasi-shmup Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat has finally been released for Windows as a launch title for Game Jolt’s all-new Marketplace!

Priced at $4.99 (plus VAT), the game is available to buy at both Game Jolt and itch.io, and we’ve launched a Greenlight campaign to get it on to Steam as well. Conga was a game designed for competitive score chasing, and we really want to get it onto Steam so we can use their online leaderboards - so please, give us your thumbs up!

We’re still working on the .APK version for Android devices with controllers, and that will of course be provided for free to anyone who buys the game from either of the storefronts listed above. If Greenlit, we’ll also provide you with a free Steam key too :)


I recently wrote a few words about the development of the game on our blog, as well as the reasoning behind the price point, but basically the short version of the story is that we really want to revisit r0x Extended EP and give it a rather ambitious update for its Steam launch. Consider it a ‘two-point-oh’ revision, with extra game modes, more enemies, greater stage/wave variety and massively refined gameplay using all the lessons that Conga taught us.

RGCD currently has over 2000 followers on twitter, 1000+ on our mailing list and a similar number on Facebook. If a third of you fantastic people out there reading this can help support us by buying the game, then we’ll reach our break-even target. So please, give us a hand spreading the word (we can provide review copies on request), and hit one of those widgets below! :)



Monday, 9 May 2016

Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat Release Imminent!


Exciting times! Here we are, 18 months after the first playable prototype of Conga Combat, and finally the game’s initial Windows release is only a couple of days away. Play Expo Blackpool proved to be exactly the stress-test we’d hoped for, with hundreds of games played bug-free and only a single additional feature request from the public (a few people pointed out that there should be a way to quit the game when paused). And that’s it - for now there’s no more work left to do on the Windows build.

We were lucky enough to be one of a couple of dozen developers invited as first-rounders on the new Game Jolt marketplace (opening to the public on Wednesday), so we decided we’d use that opportunity of potential ‘feature space’ to set Conga free into the wild. The game will also be available to buy on our itch.io page as well, and we’ll be launching a Greenlight campaign to get the game onto Steam on the same day (Conga is a game that was designed to use online leaderboards, so it’s a perfect fit). We’re still working on the Android .APK; there’s some optimisation to do to see if we can get it running at at least 50 FPS on low powered devices, but more critically the shader code for the sine-distortion effects used on the game titles is currently completely borked on the Amazon Fire TV.


The past three months of development-weekends have been pretty soul destroying for Jamie and I, a period of time that can be summarised as an ever-repeating cycle of finding a bug, fixing it and inadvertently creating another, but at the time of writing the game is pretty much 100% there. Amazingly, despite the hundreds of hours put in, we both still enjoy playing Conga in short bursts - which I guess is a good sign. I even recently managed to loop it twice, although I still haven’t managed to conquer the game by beating it three times. I do wonder if perhaps we’ve made Conga too brutally hard? I guess we’ll find out soon!

Since the last time we wrote about the game, our main focus has been on implementing the achievements system, stats, player feedback/ratings, credits, intro and laying on a thick coat of final polish. Like 2014’s r0x EP, Conga has it’s own built-in achievements and stats system so that it offers players some reward even in the DRM free version of the game. Doing this has of course also made it easier for us to eventually implement other platform API’s, such as those used by Steam, Amazon, Google and (possibly/hopefully) Game Jolt. A huge amount of time was spent tweaking these so that the game doesn’t ‘give it all away in the first 30 minutes of play’, but to be brutally honest, if I set my mind to it and beat my double-loop record, I reckon I could probably manage it in less.


You see, Conga is a SMALL, traditional arcade game. With a single loop of the 12 stages/4 dimensions technically possible in less than 5 minutes, you might ask why we feel it is worthy of the budget $4.99 price tag. That’s not a simple question to answer, but nonetheless we have our reasons;

  • With only one life per game (plus an additional hit-point per level achievable by collecting armour pods), Conga is quite challenging (read as “it’s 1986 coin-op style hardcore”). I have my doubts as to whether or not anyone will actually reach the ‘game conquered’ message. I’ll be happily proved wrong though :)
  • The mix of scripted and randomised game events give Conga a LOT of replay value. That and the quick ‘one button to try again’ functionality combine to give it that compulsive one-more-go vibe. We’ve tested the game at several events and it’s genuinely hard to pull people away once they’ve got into the zone.
  • We’ve not made a big song and dance about the competitive local multiplayer aspect of the game, but it is quite a laugh (when you can actually make out what the hell is going on amongst all the flashing and screen shake).
  • Although original, the game concept is admittedly quite simple, but we’ve made the very best game that we could out of it in all respects. The controls, the menus, the transitions, the flow of the game... a huge amount of work and attention to detail went into them all.
  • If/When Greenlit, those friends/global scoreboards are going to make it a whole lot more fun to play. High score competitiveness is what Conga is all about. Jamie and I have furiously been trying to better each others scores now for a year, and we still enjoy giving the game a blast. I’m still in the lead by the way ;)
  • You’ve never played anything quite like Conga. That’s a fact. Rob Remakes knows where it's at :)


In respect to the above points, we feel that the price is both fair and reflective of what we’d feel happy paying for a game of the same scale and standard. In these days of crazy-cheap games it also gives us room to move with future sales and promotions. Also, ignoring the unpaid time we’ve put in, Conga has already cost us about £1K in assets alone. That's no huge sum, but it's still money that we'd really like to get back to reinvest into giving r0x EP a console-release worthy update. However, even achieving that is ‘quite’ an ambitious target for a low-profile indie like us, equating to something like 350 sales. If we manage that, there’ll be some serious high-fiving going on here at RGCD HQ! :)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kickstarter Version of Tiger Claw Available for Download!


First up, let me start this post by clarifying that the results of our C64 compo are in hand and will be announced ‘sometime in May’. Jamie and I have been insanely busy lately - not only have we been wrapping up the final 1% of the work left on Conga-Combat (which now even has its own page over at itch.io), but shipping all those Tiger Claw carts took quite some time and effort!

Anyway, the last Tiger Claw cartridge was sent in the mail two weeks ago, so they should have all arrived at their destinations by now. Apart from one, which has been returned to me from Australia(!) If you think that might be yours, please drop us a line asap! (Obviously I know who it is, but I don’t want to disclose names publicly, and I’ve already emailed the individual to no avail).

Friday, 1 April 2016

RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition 2015

Hey, this is no April 1st joke! The fifth RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition concluded at midnight on the 31st of March with 11 entries (9 of which are brand new games for the Commodore 64)! The final line up is as follows:

  • Alienator (Georg Rottensteiner)
  • Blap N Bash Revisited (Richard Bayliss)
  • Bug Hunt (Eric Hilaire)
  • Icicle Race (John Christian Lønningdal)
  • Pickle's Pod Patrol (Steve Ody)
  • Platman (Andrea Schincaglia)
  • Qwak (Daniel Hotop)
  • Ring On A String (P-a Bäckström)
  • Slime Deluxe (Mike Johnson)
  • Terra.Heaven.Eternity.Arctic. (Simon Quernhorst)
  • Vortex Crystals (Richard Bayliss)

Congratulations to Georg Rottensteiner, Richard Bayliss, Eric Hilaire, Saul Cross, John Christian Lønningdal, Steve Ody, Andrea Schincaglia, Daniel Hotop, P-a Bäckström, Mike Johnson, Simon Quernhorst and their collaborators for making the deadline!

Well, that's it! The vote sheets will be sent out this weekend and if all goes to plan we'll have the final results ready to announce in a few weeks time. Grab the games here and fire up your C64 or emulator and enjoy!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #4

Wow! Even with the two month extension, the time has whizzed by - there's only a few hours left for this year's competition entrants to complete and submit their games! Since February's update there's been quite a lot of progress and few new entries, but before we have a look to see how our devs have got on, it's (finally!) time to discuss this year's prizes!

This year our competition has four sponsors (well, five including RGCD). First up there's the £250 prize fund (a good chunk of which was generously donated by our own Antonio Savona), with £100 going to both first and second place, and £50 to third. In addition to this, Jens Schönfeld of Individual Computing has kindly agreed to send us two of his RR-Net MK3 cartridge boards and a handful of Commodore Billboard/Funet double-CD's, and I'll be offering up my entire Psytronik Software disk and tape collection(!) I've been collecting these for some time (with many sent to me by Kenz as part of our collaborative release agreement), but I haven't had a datasette or 1541 drive for years, and I'm unlikely to pick one up again in the future - so I'd rather they went out to someone who'll get some real use out of them!

Finally, I'm excited to announce that Stian Søreng is sending us three of his long-awaited 16KB cartridge C64FC 'dev kits' - a cartridge board that links your C64 to a PC/Mac via USB, allowing you to send 'real' cartridge rom files direct to the hardware. The perfect solution for those wanting to see their cartridge games running on real hardware. Oh, but of course, the REAL prize is that each entrant will receive their entry on their very own, 1-of-a-kind, exclusive boxed cartridge :)

Anyway, now for the bit you've all been waiting for, status update #4!



Competition Entry #1: Alienator
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


Hey! I received an email from Georg just minutes ago with the 'final as it is likely to get' version of Alienator! I've not had a chance to fire it up on the old breadbin yet, but Georg gave a pretty decent description; "Alienator is a spruced up Space Invaders game. 99 waves of nasty Vogons are at it again and you're our last hope to avoid their poetry. Shoot enemies and collect power ups! Careful though, you never know what the power up will accomplish. Defeat all 99 waves (with a few laughable bosses strewn in) and save earth!".

I'm looking forward to giving this a blast! Not sure what the meaning of 'poetry' is in the above context though!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Huenison Released on Steam! (PC/AmigaOS 4)


The day is finally here! Huenison has thrown down the gauntlet and challenges you to enter (and doubtlessly perish within) his mind control wells! If you are brave enough to face him, then head over to the game's Steam page where a bonus 1-week 20% discount awaits! (Current price with discount is £3.19/$3.99).

As previously mentioned, all customers who bought the game for Windows and AmigaOS 4 back when it was available as a download from our online store and other legitimate sources should have by now received their free keys. Hit us up on the contact page if we somehow forgot you (a few emails bounced)!

Spaceman Splorf: Planet of Doom (C64)


Some of you may already know this, but I've been pestering Vanja to provide artwork for RGCD for some time now. After seeing her amazing looking artwork on various unfinished C64 game previews, I have begged her time and time again to collaborate with someone and get something released. And you know what? With the help of coder Andreas Gustafsson, she finally has! Enter stage left, Spaceman Splorf!

In the first of several planned Splorf outings, Mermaid and Andreas have played it safe by opting for their first project to be a 'simple' one-button arcade score chaser. But to be fair, there's more depth to Spaceman Splorf: Planet of Doom than you might initially realise. Sure, it has amazing graphics (the introductory cut-scene is worth the download alone), but Vanja has really gone to town with the 8-song soundtrack too, with the introductory theme borrowing from Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and even Dune! Oh, and it has twin-SID support too for extra dopeness.


Add to the mix some of the cutest animations and game graphics I've yet to see on a C64 and a full highscore system, and really there's very little more you could ask for. It's up there with C64anabalt, in my opinion, as a classic 1-button game. Despite the casual style (fire to thrust upwards, avoid borders and meteors, survive as long as possible), I find myself regularly going back for one more game - and I've been lucky to have been playing it for weeks already. It's a keeper.

If Vanja and Andreas can maintain the momentum and complete their next two planned projects (a Spaceman Splorf shmup and adventure) with the same attention to detail that they have employed here, then they'll be way on their way to the top of the C64 gamedev scene. Shame it's not 16KB, because this could have been a serious contender in our competition.


Grab your copy of Spaceman Splorf: Planet of Doom here (from the official website).
Run it using VICE (free software).



Important Note for RGCD Cartridge Fans!

Vanja and I have discussed the possibility of creating a nice Spaceman Splorf cartridge package (game cart, comic, postcards, A3 poster, DX case, 25mm button badge), and have worked out that we could do it for about ~£25 a piece (depending on quantity made). However, some additional work would be required for it to be 'GS' compatible, so before committing we'd like to have a rough idea of how many people would actually buy the game. So... it's over to you to decide whether or not this happens!

Take 10 seconds of your time to fill in this simple Google form to express your interest :)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Huenison Hits Steam on the 26th of February! (PC/AmigaOS 4)


It's been a long time coming, but the date is finally set! Huenison arrives on Steam in just over three days time, with an introductory 20% discount on the regular $4.99 pricetag and including the AmigaOS 4 version as free DLC with every purchase (undoubtedly a first for Valve?!)

Created by Retream and released in collaboration with RGCD, Huenison is an innovative puzzle-shooter that takes various elements from Arkanoid, BOH, Decathlon, Dyna Blaster, Impossible Mission, Oil's Well, Pac-Man, Pang, Qix, Slam Tilt, Space Invaders, Tetris and Vital Light, and puts them together in a hectic arcade mix. All in retro visuals and synthetic sonorities that recall the revered Commodore 64's SID chip.


As promised, the game now includes Steam achievements, trading cards, badges, emoticons and backgrounds to collect as well as many minor improvements and bug fixes that were identified during the lengthy Steam integration process. Check out the downloadable demo over on the game's Steam page here!

As previously mentioned, all customers who bought the game for Windows and AmigaOS 4 back when it was available as a download from our online store will be receiving a free key in the next couple of days - so keep an eye on your inboxes!

Tiger Claw - Arriving in Your Mailbox Soon!


We're fast approaching the end of the second month of 2016, and finally Tiger Claw is just about ready to ship. The amazing bespoke artwork by our good friend Jon Davies was completed a few weeks back (I suspect that many of you will have seen this already on either Twitter or Lemon64), and I'm pleased to announce that all of the print material has been ordered and is currently being processed. With each game coming with a poster, a professionally designed and printed manual (thanks to Chris Mantil), new format RGCD and Lazycow stickers and a button badge, Tiger Claw certainly sets a new standard for future RGCD releases.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Developer Diary: Powerglove (Amiga)


We've been keeping this one quiet for some time now, but it's finally time to let the cat out of the bag. Our good friend and regular collaborator Lazycow has reached the point where he felt comfortable publicly sharing his progress on the enhanced Amiga conversion of his popular C64 run 'n' gun platformer, Powerglove. Matthias is no stranger to developing on the Amiga of course - he already has a number of previous releases available on his website from 'back in the day', so it was really only a matter of time before this port happened.

Powerglove is already shaping up to be his most ambitious Amiga game to date, so I'm super excited to post his developer diary here on RGCD. Oh, and to save you asking, we're planning to release this one as a boxed CD and/or 3.5" diskette at some point later this year :)

Saturday, 30 January 2016

RGCD News Update

Another week, another blog update! James here, back again as promised with a few brief yet IMPORTANT announcements cut 'n' pasted from our recent newsletter! So without further a-do, let's get to it! :D



Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium (Second edition) Kickstarter


Yet again RGCD are back to provide some exclusive cartridge-based goodness to Sam 'Bitmap Books' Dyer's latest Kickstarter campaign, and this time we've teamed up with those award-winning C64 heroes over at Prior Art!

With Sam's 'Commpendium' being primarily an -art- book, Prior Art's recent smash 'Caren & The Tangled Tentacles' seemed the obvious choice for the cartridge treatment. Coded by RGCD's own Dr. Martin Wendt, he'd previously invested a good amount of time and effort in optimising the performance of the (formerly secret) 1.3 cartridge version, with rooms loading almost instantly. Oh, and talking of rooms, I should mention that this Kickstarter build will also include a whole bunch of NEW ones!


So what are we planning for the package? It'll be the usual mix of badges, stickers, manual and an A3, double-sided poster (rolled) - more details will be confirmed when we are closer to shipping.

Unfortunately nearly all of the 100 cartridge perks were snapped up in the last 48 hours, but there are a few signed ones still available at the £75 backer level. Missed out? Don't feel too bad. Back the book at ANY level and you'll get the game on a USB 'cassette' with a whole bunch of other extras that you can play via software/hardware emulation :)



Huenison is on its way to Steam!


In case you missed it, Retream and RGCD's AmigaOS/PC puzzle-shmup Huenison was successfully green-lit for distribution on Steam some months ago. Cool huh? Well the even good-er news is that Saimo has been diligently working through Steam's convoluted integration system and the game is currently pencilled in for release in late February (hopefully complete with the AmigaOS version included as a free DLC)!

Please note that the reason I'm letting you guys know isn't because we're after your coins - it's because if you bought a pre-EUVAT copy from our online store then you'll be receiving a Steam code from us at some point in the near future! :D

Keep 'em peeled...



RGCD/RGCD.DEV are back at PLAY Expo Blackpool 2016


...and we'd love to see you there :)

Ok - full disclosure... I've volunteered my (professional?) services to Replay Events again to assist as their 'indie liaison', so technically I'll be working there with Jamie (and John?) manning the RGCD stand. Being a retro/indie crossover event, we'll probably be showing off a mix of both olde and newe stuff - but yeah - the offer still stands; if you want to meet us in the flesh, please come along!

Located at the Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre over the 30th April - 1st May weekend, PLAY Expo Blackpool attracts over 5000 attendees from all over the UK during the two day event. It's a real mix of people due to the variety of systems, exhibitions and activities - some come for the coin-ops, pinball and retro stuff, some for the current gen and indie games, others for cosplay, highscore tournaments and talks from game industry legends - but the majority are interested in the whole spectrum of video gaming culture.

If you - or a friend - has a new game that you/they've been working on, then you might be interested to know that unlike some other expos, the indie section at PLAY Expo Blackpool won't be hidden away in a separate hall away from the main ruckus. Indies will be centrally located within the main exhibition space, i.e. where the people are. Prices for exhibiting are extremely reasonable:

* £180 Standard booth (1x table, 6ft backing board, space and power for 2x PC/Console set-ups, 2x Exhibitor passes)

* £300 Large booth (2x tables, 6ft backing board, space and power for 4x PC/Console set-ups, 4x Exhibitor passes)

(Note that wired internet, PC hire and additional exhibitor passes are available at an additional cost. Please drop me a line for further details).


Speaking from personal experience, exhibiting is quite simply the best way to get honest feedback about your game, giving you the perfect opportunity to fine-tune areas of your design that perhaps your family, friends and fans are too kind to question! It's an invaluable experience, and you just cannot get the same level of discussion and interactivity with players of all ages anywhere else. It can be a little daunting, but most certainly will help you to develop the skills (and contacts) to succeed in what is undoubtedly the most competitive gaming market of the 21st century.

If you would like me to hear more then please get in touch (I've composed a document that covers all the basics). You can drop me an email or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. Further information on the event can also be found at the PLAY Expo Blackpool website.



Thanks for all the Orders! :D

Phew! It's been an insane week, packing the scores of games that you crazy C64 peeps have bought from our online store! We sold more cartridges in the past fortnight than in the past SIX MONTHS. Several games are now out of stock again, but most will be back again next week - so keep an eye on this blog for announcements.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

RGCD Cartridges Back in Stock / Upcoming Releases


As some of you have already noticed (thanks guys for the orders!) many of our formerly out-of-stock games are now available to buy again. Hot off the assembly line, Super Bread Box, Bomberland, C64anabalt, Guns 'N' Ghosts, Powerglove and Rocket Smash EX are back on the virtual shelves in our online store. While you are there, make sure you check out P0 Snake and Gravitrix - we're down to our last few copies now - and when they've gone, they're GONE!

While I'm here talking about C64 cartridges, it's probably worth mentioning our upcoming games. Jam It by Throwback Games is currently being remastered to load faster from cartridge, and then it's off to the print shop for the box inserts (illustrated by none other than Oliver Frey) - so that'll be available in the next few weeks. After that, we've got the final version of Moonspire sat here waiting to go, and literally just today the final 64KB version of Tiger Claw arrived in my inbox. This one's going to be a real prize for those C64 in Pixels Kickstarter backers, as not only have we commissioned a special piece of new artwork for the box, but we've also completely packed out every last byte of the cartridge space, with not one, not two, but THREE easter eggs for you to find! ;)


Note that if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still contact Chris Wilkins of Fusion Retro Books directly and ask to pre-order a copy of the book and Tiger Claw cartridge - we've yet to issue him our final invoice so there's still time left! (Not much though!)

Finally, some bad news... The blue cartridge shells we used for both The Vice Squad and Mollusk Redux are no longer available, so those two are now officially out of print. Maybe one day they'll appear on a compilation (which is something we *are* considering for our older titles), but for now that's it!

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #3

What? We're into the third week of the year already? Where the hell has the time gone? Sure, we've been busy here at RGCD HQ, but I can guarantee that our competition entrants have been busier! Let's see what they've achieved in the past seven days...



Competition Entry #1: Alienator
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: In Development)


Well! What do you know? I guess my previous post about Georg withdrawing from the compo must have made him feel bad or something because... he's back! "Looks like with the deadline extension I feel to have to keep participating. Thinking hard about what to do I came up with something very simple. Let’s see if I can make it fun!"

At a guess I'd say that Alienator looks to be something of a Space Invaders clone, but knowing Georg I'd be surprised if there wasn't some clever twist thrown into the mechanics. Good luck!



Competition Entry #3: Escape from Area 64
(Developer: Christian Gleinser - Status: In Development)


Christian has also been in touch this week to share a screenshot of his entry and some brief information. "The current title is Escape from Area 64, but I'm not sure that the name will be kept. It's a maze game with randomly generated mazes, and you control two Alien guys who are trying to escape from an underground bunker."

Well, colour me intrigued! It's not clear if both aliens are controlled by one player (or if it is a two player game), but I'm sure that will be made clearer as the game's development progresses. Anyway, I like the old school vibe that Escape from Area 64 has going for it!



Competition Entry #4: Creepy Crawlers
(Developer: P1X3L.net - Status: In Development)


Ah! My bad. Since receiving the above screenshot I've corrected the title of the game to Creepy Crawlers. At a guess I reckon it's some sort of arcade-style Centipede or Galaga game - but if there's one thing for sure about P1X3L.net, it's that we should expect the unexpected. Looking forward to it guys!



Competition Entry #7: Platman
(Developer: Saul Cross & Andrea Schincaglia - Status: Complete! Awaiting Final Submission)


Just a one-line email from Andrea this week, but it was a positive one! "Platman is complete, all functions are available now!" - So, that leaves me just waiting for the game to arrive in my inbox :)



Competition Entry #8: QWAK
(Developer: Saul Cross & Daniel Hotop - Status: In Development)


Finally some fresh screen shots and more promising news! Daniel writes, "Here are three screen shots, I was hoping to get the other 'looks' in for you but not yet. I've been working on fixing and optimising the code and data, the code is a lot better now and smaller but I might start running into raster time issues. I've worked on graphics compression and char compression and the packed game is currently a healthy 8.12K."



Competition Entry #9: Blap N Bash Revisited
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


No real changes since the last time I wrote other than this game is now officially complete and submitted! Well done Richard!



Competition Entry #10: Circle 64
(Developer: P-a Bäckström - Status: In Development)


As I hoped, my last post prompted P-a Bäckström to get in touch and introduce his entry. "My kids recently tricked me into installing this really stupid and annoying game called 'Circle' on my phone, and I just couldn't stop playing. Circle is really super-hard and impossible. 20 points one time, 3 points the next time around. So, what to do if you can't beat the darn game? Well, make your own clone of course!"

"I started fooling around with some code, and got more and more things in place. Then I remembered your compo and thought what the heck. The idea of having it on an actual cartridge sounded great. Being a cartridge based game and all, my thoughts went back to the old days. The vision is (for now at least) that the game will have the looks of an old Atari 2600 game, yet being a clone of a fairly popular and new 'app'. Meaning somewhat blocky gfx but with smooth transitions, gameplay and sporting 'real' physics."

"As far as I can tell, the physics and gameplay are working really well. My kids approve at least ;) And it had me fixing a bug in the Mac OS X port of VICE too! The extended deadline is all for good. It will give me more time to polish, and introduce some demo-like effects where suitable ;)"


And until next time, that is all!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Looking to the Future


Waaaay back in 2009 I started this (well-disguised) Blogger page as a stop-gap whilst a proper new RGCD website was being developed by Elliot, a close friend who helped me start the original disc-based magazine in 2006. However, after making a good start, Elliot became super busy with real life commitments so the proposed work on the replacement site never happened. Until now.

I may have mentioned in passing that Jamie is in the process of leaving his job and going full-time at RGCD. Well, one of the areas we're looking to branch into is providing web design services for people - so the obvious thing to do was to finally give this site a much-needed rework for our portfolio.

Currently Jamie has been going through the process of recreating our site in WordPress, creating his own custom widgets to replace the (surprisingly good) Blogger ones and implementing a lot of new features and functionality. However, one of the issues that has come up is how to streamline our incredibly convoluted 'shopping' system for our growing catalogue of Commodore 64 games.

I first set up the RGCD BigCartel shop as a replacement for the chaotic list of PayPal buttons that I used to have on the original and now-closed shop page. That worked well enough for a while, but then last year due to changes in the EU VAT laws, we had to move the digital products (downloads) to a service that handled the VAT payments for us (itch.io) as RGCD's activities fall way below the ~£80,000 threshold required for VAT registration in the UK. This is far from ideal, but it's not completely impossible to work with... yet.


Later this year, the EU will be discussing what is going to happen with the extension of these complex VAT laws to physical sales. When this comes in (probably over the next 2-3 years, but maybe sooner) it will cause a complete shit-storm (again), just like it did for digital sales. So with that in mind our plan was to migrate all our products, physical and digital, to itch.io.

Not only do itch.io handle EU VAT, but they offer us a fantastic and simple to use system for viewing our sales statistics and finances. The individual game pages are easy to edit, they have a widget we can embed elsewhere and it helps us to get a LOT of eyes on our new releases.


However, although potentially possible, using itch.io for physical sales comes with it's own pitfalls. Currently itch.io is set up only for digital sales, so there is no simple system for handling physical orders (no automatic collation of shipping addresses, discounts for combined postage, etc). We could try embedding their widget into BigCartel or even our own site - but ultimately it's all becoming a little messy.

So I'd like to open the question to you guys, as ultimately it is *you* that this is for - what would you prefer us to do?



Option One - Move completely to itch.io...

...and hope for system improvements down the line(!) At the moment this is one of the more favourable options from our side (looking to the future). Doing this would mean that for each game, prior to release we could build and pack every cart and have them stored ready for shipping - saving us valuable time on 'picking orders'. We'd be able to do this by offering the download of a game at one price (free even), and then having a secondary product price for the cartridges (pay the minimum of £xx.xx to 'unlock'). This 'higher price' item could potentially be a simple form that the buyer downloads (or even fills in online) and sends back to us complete with their address, etc.
Pros:

  • Very quick and easy to implement.
  • Less time spent hand picking orders = faster shipping and more time being creative!
  • Embedded widgets that we can add to our own website (and others).
  • Indie marketplace (lots of eyes on our games).
  • They handle the EU VAT charging and payments (so we don't have to)
  • Potential for support for cart and physical sales to be added properly in the future?


Cons: (not many, but they ARE biggies)

  • No shopping cart and no combined shipping!
  • We'd have to manually collect shipping addresses from customers.
  • Prices are in USD.
  • One postage-inclusive price worldwide, potentially making the games more expensive for people in the EU (there's roughly a ~4GBP/5EUR difference between postage to Germany compared to Australia, for example).



Option Two - Move physical sales back to RGCD...

...and use itch.io widgets on our site for the downloads (thanks to EU VAT). This was Jamie's initial suggestion; if BigCartel is just a fancy looking piece of middleware that sits between the customer and PayPal, then why not just create our own shopping system for buying physical goods direct from RGCD using the PayPal API?


Pros:

  • We'd have full control of how the system worked (and can implement changes if it doesn't).
  • Back to having a 'one-stop shop' for all our releases (thanks to itch.io widgets).
  • PayPal offers a shopping cart and a 'method' for calculating combined postage.
  • Impressive addition to our web-dev portfolio.

Cons:

  • An epic amount of work in comparison to option 1!
  • More time spent getting the implementation/support right = less time spent on making games.
  • More time spent hand picking orders = slower shipping and less time being creative!
  • Potentially a *LOT* harder to get 'eyes' on our products than by using itch.io.
  • With EU VAT for physical products on the horizon, this is just a short term fix.



Option Three - Ditch BigCartel & itch.io and find another solution (BandCamp? Etc.)

Before setting up our itch.io account, I looked into several other options - out of which BandCamp was the only other site that remotely suited our needs (handling VAT payments, physical and downloadable versions of the same product at different prices. We (in theory) could shut up shop at both itch.io and BigCartel and move there.

Pros:

  • Fairly quick and easy to set up.
  • Offers a shopping cart and (possibly?) combined postage.
  • They handle the EU VAT charging and payments (so we don't have to)


Cons:

  • Games would have to be listed as music releases(!) so the soundtrack would be more prominent than the games.
  • More time spent hand picking orders = slower shipping and less time being creative!
  • Potentially a *LOT* harder to get 'eyes' on our products than by using itch.io.



Option Four - Do nothing and just continue as usual...

...yep, this *is* an option of course. We can (and most likely will) just continue using BigCartel, and keep physical and digital sales in completely different places - for now (remember, those EU VAT law changes are coming!) The pros and cons of this are completely obvious - you (and we) have already been living with the current convoluted system for years!


So, there you have it! Any feedback on this brief analysis would be very, very useful. Of course there ARE workarounds for some of the problems that each option presents; please note that I've tried to keep things simple in this post.

Oh, and please let us know if you can think of any additional functionality/pages/features you'd like to see on the new site. Jamie and I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #2

Important(!) After holding a group-email discussion with the entrants, we've decided to extend the competition deadline by two months - so the deadline is now midnight between the 31st March and the 1st April (00:00 GMT on the 1st April 2016).

James here, back again with an update on our ongoing competition and some surprisingly good news; not only are (most) of the projects mentioned in my previous post still active, but there are also a couple of new ones too!

We still don't have any prizes sorted out yet, but we are working on it :)



Competition Entry #1: Unknown
(Developer: Georg Rottensteiner - Status: Withdrawn!)

However, starting off on a more negative note, sadly Georg has opted to pull out of the competition. He explained that he "did start something but it just didn't work out" and that the extension wouldn't make any difference to him as he hadn't invested any time into the project for months. He does however intend to enter again next year - so we'll see you in the next round Georg!



Competition Entry #2: Vortex Crystals
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: Complete & Submitted!)


In the previous update I left Richard a public request for enemy spawn animations to be added to Vortex Crystals, but it seems that there's just no memory space left for it in the 16KB compo build. However, as with his entries in previous competitions he does intend to work on a 'full' version later this year so maybe we'll see them in that?




Competition Entry #3: Unknown
(Developer: Christian Gleinser - Status: In Progress)

Not a lot to say here other than Christian has been in touch to say that although he wasn't going to be able to make the original deadline, he'll try to finish in time for the new extension.



Competition Entry #4: Creepy Crawlers
(Developer: P1X3L.net - Status: In Development)

Again, not much to report other than ALeX and Retrofan have said that they're still in the competition.



Competition Entry #5: Unknown
(Developer: John Ames - Status: In Development)

And again, as above.



Competition Entry #6: Icicle Race
(Developer: Saul Cross & John Christian Lønningdal - Status: In Development)

At last! Some actual news! John wrote to me over the weekend with the following update:

"Saul and I actually have had a 90% finished game for over half a year (or more) - you know me and those last 5% of code! There are also a lot of levels to map out, but that will be easy, it's just something we need to do. I will certainly focus on finishing the game and had planned to do that before the deadline, but I dont mind if you stretch it as that would also give Saul and me more time to polish it further."



Competition Entry #7: Platman
(Developer: Saul Cross & Andrea Schincaglia - Status: In Development)


Frustratingly, I received one of the shortest updates ever regarding what is undoubtedly one of my personal favourites this year (for nostalgic reasons). In his email Wanax simply explained that "Platman 16K version is almost ready" - which is great I suppose, but after seeing and sharing the YouTube video above on Twitter I was really hoping to be able to play the damn thing! ;)

Come on Andrea, let's have a proper preview next week!



Competition Entry #8: QWAK
(Developer: Saul Cross & Daniel Hotop - Status: In Development)

No news on QWAK, but I do at last have a contact address for the developer now, so I'll start pestering him for updates. Hopefully I'll have some information to share next time I write.



Competition Entry #9: Blap N Bash Revisited
(Developer: Richard Bayliss - Status: In Development)


Whilst discussing Vortex Crystals with Richard via email, I suggested that he should look into the possibility of fitting his recent bat-and-ball game Blap N Bash into 16KB - after all, at the time of writing it was still hit-or-miss whether or not we'd achieve the minimum of six completed entries required for the competition! Richard suggested initially that this might be achievable, and after a few tests wrote back with some good news. "I have made a 16KB version of the game, but I had to sacrifice the hi-score table", he explained, and then added that rather than entering it into the compo straight away he would design 16 new levels for the game. Nice work Richard!



Competition Entry #10: Unknown
(Developer: P-a Bäckström - Status: In Development)


Finally, a new entry from a member of acclaimed demo group Booze Design! With Booze behind some of the most popular and impressive demos in recent years I'm super-excited to see what P-a 'ruk' Bäckström has been working on. Only starting a few weeks ago (and with just over two months left), I'd like to wish him - and the rest of you - the very best of luck!