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.
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.