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Basingstoke released back in 2018 and in my opinion, it was a damn fun game that really got my blood flowing. Sadly, it went quite under the radar and it seems it pretty much ruined Puppygames.

Recently, they've posted up a two-part post-mortem on their Patreon to go over what actually happened. This is coming from a developer who has released several other games including Revenge of the Titans, Titan Attacks! and Droid Assault and they were even included in a Humble Bundle years ago.

What is Basingstoke? Apart from a place in England, it's a mix of stealth and action involving you trying to escape following a violent alien invasion. You carefully navigate different levels, collect loot, craft things to help, throw a sausage roll to distract some aliens and then make a run for it.

It's a pretty sad tale of just how badly things can go wrong for indie game developers, and hopefully some other developers will find it helpful and for us consumers it's certainly an interesting read.

To start with in Part 1 here they go over a bunch of what went right. To quickly sum that part up for the busy: things like switching to Unity made a lot of things easy, the design of the game as a whole went well including some accessibility options and the reception from users was largely positive.

When we get to Part 2 here, things get a lot more interesting. A lot went wrong. For instance, Unity does make a lot of things easy and it also makes other things very difficult as it turns out. However, plenty of it is down to inexperience too they said as they had never made a fully 3D game before. One huge problem is scope creep, where you keep adding in new ideas and at some point you have to make it playable and actually enjoyable, this is where "Basingstoke grew from a 6 month project to a 1 year project to a 2 year project"—ouch.

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Scheduling and a little mismanagement mixed in with this also didn't help they said. When you're doing something like game development, attempting to actually stick to your plans and schedules can be pretty essential and in this case that didn't happen. This led to arguments between them, that caused more delays.

What didn't help is later Puppygames had a publisher almost lined up who were "very interested in the game suddenly weren't" and they were relying on getting that support. They tried to find others but they had no bites so they were suddenly alone.

Onto the launch they had very little press (we covered it, livestreamed it and more) but they didn't get as much as they hoped elsewhere. Not just that, the $29.95 launch price was possibly higher than people expected since indie games have largely become a race to the bottom and a lot of them launch at prices far too low. However, they have now cut the full price on Steam down to $19.95 to see if it helps.

Talking numbers, they've sold almost ten thousand copies after being on sale since April 2018. We're talking less than 500 copies a month and as you expect after paying for advertising, taxes, store cuts and so on that's not a lot of money to live on.

There's a fair bit more to it, see both parts on their Patreon for the full nitty-gritty. Well worth a read.

If you wish you can find Basingstoke free for Linux on itch.io (donations accepted), GOG.com or on Steam. They're also working on the upcoming free to play strategy game Battledroid.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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15 comments
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Eike 3 March 2020 at 2:39 pm UTC
Worth noting that it's only and especially free for linux!
Patola 3 March 2020 at 2:40 pm UTC
Interesting tale, I feel guilty for not having bought it but indeed the high price made me postpone my purchase and when they made it for free on itch, I ended up giving up on buying it altogether. It is indeed a wonderful game, hope at least they don't consider the linux port a wasted effort. They really deserved better.
dpanter 3 March 2020 at 3:17 pm UTC
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Ouch, that's rough stuff.
I own 4 of their current 6 games on Steam and have been looking at that tower defense one, Revenge Of The Titans, as well. All their games have been super solid and very enjoyable in my opinion.

Actually... as I wrote this post I suddenly decided to pick up the rest of their games in a tiny gesture of support.

I really hope Puppygames has a great future!
Linas 3 March 2020 at 4:35 pm UTC
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Sad, but unfortunately not that uncommon. I've seen (and participated in) projects that have grown way out of proportion, and missed every deadline imaginable. Larger companies can recover from this by burning money that other more successful projects generate. But smaller ones can easily go under.
madpinger 3 March 2020 at 5:00 pm UTC
Sad to hear they're having issues, I have all their games, and will likely continue to get their games. This one wasn't my cup of tea, but overall I love their games. Updates to classic concepts for the most part, and well worth it.
Cyril 3 March 2020 at 5:37 pm UTC
I did not read their full report yet but it's indeed a sad story, all their games are available on Linux and DRM-free!
I bought the game at nearly full price when it came out on GOG but it seems not many people did that.

Best wishes for their next game!
PublicNuisance 3 March 2020 at 6:02 pm UTC
It doesn't look like my cup of tea but i'll try to give them $5 on Itch.io when I get my tax refund.
Dedale 3 March 2020 at 6:55 pm UTC
Sorry to read that. That said, if you have something againstturgid slow and precise you are bound to do something wrong.

By reading their full report i get a better measure of the importance of exposition, the cost of advertising and professional licenses of proprietary software. I also hope there is not too much acrimony between them because the tone suggests that.

I own four of their games. Solidly polished and fun to play. A shame they go through such hardships.
Janne 4 March 2020 at 1:27 am UTC
It's a fun game; I bought it when it was released.

I think one mistake in selling the game is that the interactive intro - and the Steam intro video - gives the impression of a fairly frantic shooter kind of game, when in reality you're spending most of your time quietly creeping about trying to avoid being noticed.

The intro very nearly stopped me from buying it; and I can imagine some buyers wondering where all the action is once they start playing.
RafiLinux 4 March 2020 at 3:05 am UTC
I love this company. All of their games have been played in my home since they first came out on Humble Bundle. Titan Attacks! is one that I am always playing here and there when I am solo or traveling. PuppyGames was the first dev company that I added to my pateron after they gave out 2 games for free on itch. I do hope they go back to 2D game making as I think their art style is unique and lovely.
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