Spandex Force: Champion Rising in IndieRoyale Bundle

June 14th, 2014

Haven’t gotten yourself a copy of the superhero puzzle RPG Spandex Force: Champion Rising yet? If not, get your rear end over to IndieRoyale.com! Except for my game, you’ll also get these games for a ridiculously low price:

  • Doorways
  • Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages
  • Famaze
  • Restaurant Empire II
  • Knights and Merchants
  • Finding Teddy
  • Turba
  • Don’t Move

I don’t really approve of this race to the bottom for indie / casual game prices. But there’s no denying that my Desura sales have…well…increased quite dramatically as a consequence of this. So I’m a happy camper. The revenue I get from this bundle will go towards things like financing a Steam Greenlight submission, making concept art for my next project, and give a much-needed boost in general.

Spandex Force: Champion Rising isn’t the worst-performing of my games, but it’s by far not the best either – so I’m happy to see that the bundle gave it a bit of a boost. I’m slowly writing a more thorough post mortem for the project, but I’m waiting to see how it’s performed in a few portals before I say anything definitely.

But enough of that. Go buy the bundle!



Spandex Force: Champion Rising Reviews

May 4th, 2014

So, my newest game Spandex Force: Champion Rising is out and while it hasn’t made an impact on the gaming scene in general, there are a few noteworthy articles and reviews:

IndieGameMag reviewed the game in the latest magazine, and also mentioned it in this article:
http://www.indiegamemag.com/igm-forum-find-spandex-force-champion-rising/

AndroGaming had an article about the Android version of the game:
http://androgaming.com/spandex-force-champion-rising/

Mouse ‘n Joypad reviewed the game:
http://mousenjoypad.com/reviews/pc/spandex-force-champion-rising-review/

It was previewed on YouTube by Tomass as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPbY6wFGcJE

Another review on Indie Alt Repeat:
http://www.indiealtrepeat.com/2014/04/review-spandex-force-champion-rising/

And one more review on Indie Love:
http://indie-love.com/2014/04/29/spandex-force-champion-rising-review-by-mike-andrews-jr/

All in all, the reviews have praised the cynical wit, the theme and the concept itself. The gameplay has been hit-or-miss, but that’s actually expected as it does attempt to appeal to both casual and core gamers without committing to either group. But the most surprising thing for me so far is the general critique of the art! To be honest I thought the game looked pretty nice for what it is – a simple 2D puzzle RPG. But I guess one must live and learn.

A more thorough post mortem will follow, and there are more articles and reviews coming up…and the game will appear on a few distribution portals as well shortly. Not to mention that an iOS and Mac version is in the works too. Despite that, I’ve already started looking ahead at my next project – but so far the only concrete idea is a TV production simulation game, where you have to manage egotistical actors and cut soul-selling deals with bloodthirsty networks. We’ll see if anything comes out of that!



Thwack! Zok! Ka-pow! KarjaSoft Releases Spandex Force: Champion Rising

April 11th, 2014

April 11 has finally come, and that means the release of Spandex Force: Champion Rising for Windows and Android! The press release follows below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thwack! Zok! Ka-pow! KarjaSoft Releases Spandex Force: Champion Rising

April 11, 2014 — Independent game developer KarjaSoft releases the tongue-in-cheek superhero puzzle RPG Spandex Force: Champion Rising.
Spandex Force: Champion Rising is a hex based superhero puzzler that features match-3 battles against villains and crooks threatening the city of Vigilance Valley. The player has one month to transform an everyday citizen into a superhero, aided by the Blizzard Wizard’s dubious tutoring.

The game is filled with minigames that let the player rescue old ladies in distress, raise the hero’s reputation, or train to enhance his or her physical, elemental and mental powers. The cast includes colorful opponents such as the Heavy Mob, Countess Conundrum and Professor Aphasia, as well as evil robots, corrupt government officials, heroes in need of anger management training – among many others.

Spandex Force: Champion Rising is available for Windows at the price of $6.99, and through Google Play with an in-app purchase of $2.99 to unlock the full version. More information and demo downloads can be found at the official webpage:

http://www.spandexforce.com

Trailer:

http://youtu.be/L_dxOMJgmE8

Screenshots:

http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ChampionRising01.png
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ChampionRising02.png
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ChampionRising03.png
http://www.spandexforce.com/screenshots/ChampionRising04.png

Press kit:

http://www.karjasoft.com/press/sheet.php?p=spandex_force_-_champion_rising

About KarjaSoft:

KarjaSoft is a one-man game company owned by Miro Karjalainen that started developing casual computer games in 2006. The first release was the fluffy arcade game Sheeplings in 2007, followed by Spandex Force in 2008, the adventure/pet raising game Wildhollow in 2009 and Spandex Force: Superhero U in 2011. Spandex Force: Champion Rising is the spiritual sequel to Spandex Force and Spandex Force: Superhero U.

Contact:

Miro Karjalainen
KarjaSoft
info@karjasoft.com
http://www.karjasoft.com

###

NOTE TO EDITORS: A review version of Spandex Force: Champion Rising is available upon request. Please contact Miro Karjalainen at info@karjasoft.com.

So, what are you waiting for? Go download the game already!



A Web Designer I am Not

March 2nd, 2014

At long last I have updated the web design of all my web pages. That includes this blog, the KarjaSoft homepage, the game pages for Wildhollow and Sheeplings…and, most importantly, the Spandex Force series pages.

The word “series” is key in the sentence above. Previously I viewed the Spandex Force and Spandex Force: Superhero U as completely separate pages, for two very different games. However, given the upcoming Champion Rising I’m forced to realize that I have in fact created a series of games. As a consequence I aligned the design for all three game webpages, and added more visible links to each game. After all, if someone likes the humor in one of the games it’s highly likely that they’ll be interested in the other games too.

Which of course means that I will have to make a buy-all-three-games bundle as a promotional item, once I launch the newest game. Not doing so would be criminal neglect from my part!

Another thing worth noting is that the design is…serviceable, but not great. I’ve tried to make innovative and cool web designs in earlier years, but right now I find myself focusing on usability rather than pure looks. All sites are designed to scale up or down according to the device screen size. As I have a Galaxy S3 phone and a 1920 laptop I’ve made the pages scale decently to both of those resolutions – but with a bit of luck they will look good on all in-betweens as well. Bootstrap is really a godsend for all of these nitty gritty responsive design issues – but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to use it plain vanilla style. The only way to get a page you’re happy with is to do some manual editing of certain aspects.

For example, having a completely collapsable menu is something I just don’t like. It looks ridiculous and is much too cumbersome to use on small devices. So I’m overriding a lot of the default behaviors like that. Also, I had to dig into how the @media CSS items work. I know that all “true” web designers will scoff at simplifications like this, but I found that the only way to keep sane is to limit the responsiveness to two levels: @media (max-width: 767px), and @media (min-width: 768px). Keeping track of all other variations outside of that just becomes ridiculously complex.

Finally, something struck me that I should have seen a long long time ago. In my games I’m adamant about always giving the player feedback – scale buttons when hovering over them, or change the opacity, or do something at least. On my web pages I’ve been using non-responsive static images as links for way too long. So, in an attempt to join 2014 I’ve finally employed some simple CSS3 opacity transitions as well, to try to give a more playful experience to the visitor of my sites. We’ll see if it works out well or not.

All in all, I’m happy that I spent these long hours digging into Bootstrap and modifying all the pages. I still have some work left on the actual game as well – but this little detour was necessary!



Indie Games for Profit or Fun

February 22nd, 2014

Recently I read an interesting article about optimizing app revenue by applying…questionable business methods. My initial thought, as a developer primarily focused on making fun games, was to scoff and huff and frown at the dubious ethics on display. As can be seen in, for example, a Gamezebo comment on the article I was not alone in having that reaction. But after some careful consideration I’m not so sure that I agree with the Gamezebo critique after all.

The article reads like a common get-rich-quick scheme, listing a number of steps and a simple procedure to follow in order to get app revenue:

  1. Buy Low, Re-Skin, Repeat. Only Make Games
  2. Monetizing in 33 Days
  3. Choosing Your Theme
  4. Publishing
  5. Repeat

The game developer in me thinks that this sounds awful. It removes the creative aspects of game design, and only focuses on maximizing profit.

But what’s the problem with that? Really?

A very simple way to measure customer satisfaction is to observe how many people download/play/buy your apps. If enough people actually download and play these re-skinned games to give a substantial ad revenue, isn’t that a clear indication that you’re actually making a product that fills a gap in the market and fulfills needs? So what if it’s not the height of creativity and design?

Most successful game development teams have a combination of game production and business acumen. The game producing side are the ones focused on making the best game possible; to satisfy the end user optimally. The business side, on the other hand, is focused on maximizing the revenue. The normal situation for a small indie developer is to focus on the game production side, and try to get a publisher to focus on the business aspects.

I think that most indie developers’ knee-jerk contempt of re-skins and soul-less games stems from their lack of interest in the business side of game development. I don’t approve of the original article’s message, but I don’t approve of dismissive “better than thou” developers either. Designing a game for end user satisfaction is important, yes, but profit is also important. Without profit there is no way to keep a business running. If an indie developer has any plans for going full time, the business side of things must be observed. In my view, people often forget the fact that art has always needed a patron of some sort. Mozart didn’t write his operas with only thoughts of musical purity. Michelangelo didn’t paint for his own sake, making purely aesthetical decisions. These days the free market is an artist’s patron instead of kings and nobles – but the concept still holds true.

Personally, I’m fortunate in having a day job I’m very happy with so I don’t have to focus on maximizing my profits when making games. But I respect people who do. Just as I respect people who create wonderful game designs. Both skill sets are necessary to become truly successful.

Note: there are many examples of accidentally successful game developers. But for every Flappy Bird story where a developer with no business sense has become successful there are thousands of garage developers who can’t understand why their awesome game isn’t successful. Exceptions exist to every rule, and bringing up a few odd cases isn’t enough to invalidate a general statement.