Powargrid currently clocks in at about 120 MB, half of which is the sound track, and all of which has to be downloaded before you can play. Depending on your internet connection, this may take a while!
Fortunately, Unity comes with built in streaming support: you can load a game level by level, and start playing as soon as the bits you need have arrived. So that's what I'm working on now: making sure the game loads more quickly.
This mainly involves not loading stuff before it's needed. All of our levels have a "jukebox", an invisible object that's responsible for playing the music. Currently, all these have a list of all our music tracks, so to load the very first level (the main menu), you'd at least need to load about 60 megabytes of music, even though you'll probably not look at the menu for more than a minute.
So, now the menu only comes with two songs: the familiar one from our trailer, and one other song for variety. The first campaign mission, which we expect most new players to start with, has four songs, so that also loads quickly. In the meantime, the web player is downloading the rest of the game, so by the time you get to mission two, which has all of the songs in its playlist, everything should be in. If not, you'll have to wait a short while at the loading screen (instead of waiting up front, before you got to do anything). Also, our loading screen is less boring than the plain white Unity one, since it features blobbies!
Of course, the menu scene still needs all the building models and textures, but all in all, this should reduce the loading time to about a quarter of what it used to be. Not bad, eh? We have some testing to do to make sure everything works, but we'll let you know when the new version goes live.
We've been a bit quiet here on the blog lately, but we haven't been sitting still :). We're still slowly but certainly building up Powargrid and on top of that we've worked on our visibility. And we've had previous work pay off, primarily in the fact that the very first Powargrid video review is now live.
A while back, Michiel contacted Pete from Indie Games AAA, after a tweet that he was looking for indie games to cover. Pete was generous enough to use his time to make an Indie Taste Test for Powargrid, and I'd like to show it to you without further ado:
It's very cool to see someone play our game like this. It's quite different from watching someone play while you're in the room (we've found that people are usually very aware that we're watching them, especially if they know us). And it's also very different from having people play without us there and telling us or writing e-mails about it afterwards.
And what's more, Pete's conclusion is very positive. He especially mentions the "easy to learn and hard to master" aspect, which we've worked very hard to achieve. Which made me grin like the village idiot while watching the video (and again while typing this). So a big thanks from Michiel and me to Pete and his team :). And be sure to give the Powargrid Indie Taste Test a like on Youtube!
On another note, we've published Powargrid on Game Jolt. In effect, Game Jolt is a host for indie games; you can play Powargrid (or one of the numerous other games there) directly through their site. There are few, if any, barriers to publishing your game there, and they've even made it easy to plug your achievements into their trophy system (the first comment we got there contained a request for that, which prompted Michiel to spend the better part of Monday to Tuesday night hacking that in). As far as we can tell, the trophy system on Game Jolt really encourages people to play.
Also, at the time I'm writing this, Powargrid has been played 70 times through Game Jolt and viewed 162 times. Not huge numbers, but clearly more than we've seen before in such a short time :).
We got the tip to put our game on Game Jolt at the Dutch Game Garden network lunch last week. I went there primarily to ask people what we absolutely have to do when marketing / promoting our game. Some things that were mentioned we already do, such as having (and using) a Twitter account and writing on a dev blog regularly. Others we'll start with in the near future, like seeing if we can do something on Reddit. But the one thing everyone mentioned was that we have to attend conferences so we can speak to other game creators and especially the press. And the one conference we really shouldn't miss is Game Developers Conference Europe.
GDC Europe is a huge conference in Cologne, Germany. It's also pretty expensive, but luckily there are also 'Independent Games Summit Passes' available. With these, you get access to only a handful of workshops / presentations, but we do get entrance to the conference floor. And that's the main thing. To go there and meet up with as many people as we can who can tell the world about Powargrid. The fact that the conference is in Germany is actually an advantage, since we also got the tip to talk to the German press (strategy games are really big there).
We'll have to do some work beforehand, mainly contacting people to see whether they'd like to meet up at GDC Europe, but I guess we should be able to do that. That is, as long as we don't expect that all the big names will be immediately interested in speaking to us ;). With a bit of luck, we'll have talked until our throats are sore by the time we're on our way back from Cologne.
So that's what we've been up to lately. In the coming weeks we'll mainly busy ourselves with more behind the scenes work (or work that we'll share later). In the meantime, you can always see if you can attain all the trophies on Game Jolt. Happy hunting!
- Willem -
We're Michiel and Willem. Hi!