• Andrew Jonhardt

Release uncertainty

Last week, I released a new game, Shoplifting Godot:


I always intended Shoplifting Godot to be a side project for figuring out the UI, sound, and other basics of the Godot game engine. I never intended for it to have a future, and I was expecting to drop another game right after it. I had the whole of the last week off, and I knew it would be more than enough time to finish and release the game I've spent more than a year figuring out, and for this other game to quickly overshadow Shoplifting Godot.

I encountered a few surprises with this plan. First, I was surprised at my own dismay when no-one provided feedback for Shoplifting Godot on release day. It's weird when people doing exactly what you want them to is upsetting.

Second, I was surprised at the reaction of my roommate to Shoplifting Godot. I hadn't shown the game to anyone before release, and he was the nearest person I could grab to get immediate feedback. As soon as he "got it" (it took him a few minutes of playing, as Shoplifting Godot in its current state is very unfriendly), he immediately declared that the game was both fun and the best thing I've made so far. He even when a step further, and began insisting I should drop everything else I was doing and develop Shoplifting Godot into a complete title.

I was not prepared for this response. I spent the next hour comparing Shoplifting Godot and the project I've spent more than a year on, Project Splatter, and by the end I had to admit my roommate was on to something.

Shoplifting Godot, despite its roughness, is immediately fun in a way Project Splatter was not. This makes sense, as Shoplifting Godot is an extension of the design for the old game Shoplifting Boy. A game that, despite its age, was still solid enough for a number of people to remember it and help to declare it the first true stealth title.

The most reasonable way forward would be for me to drop Project Splatter and pivot entirely to a commercial version of Shoplifting Godot, but I'm not going to do that. Project Splatter was essentially finished; all of the pieces were done, and the project just needed assembling. I've decided to take the pieces of Project Splatter, change the design, and produce something new as a learning project.

My plan for the next 2 weeks is as follows:

  1. Finish Project Splatter and release it as an experimental browser game with a real dumb name.

  2. Make changes to Shoplifting Godot in accordance with the feedback I've already received, and then re-release it as a browser title to help with getting additional playtesting and feedback.

  3. If I actually manage to finish 1 and 2 within 2 weeks, I'm going to start trying to get as many people as I can to play both. If I can discern a preference from players, I will move forward with making the preferred game into a full title.

Point 1 is going to be the hardest part for me. The biggest struggle for me remains implementing a new design, even if everything feels planned out in my head. It's a confidence issue I'm working on, and I believe returning to my job next week will help provide focus.

My next post will be 9/20. Until then.

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