I've got to a point with the mobile-slash-new version of MARDEK where I can upload it for testing, and start figuring out how to release it. I've also enabled membership for this site, so you can create an account and comment on these posts and the forum if you want. Sorry that it's all taken so long! I imagine this... transition may be fairly stressful for me, though, so I'm going to write out various thoughts and things here.
First, a note to the beta testers: the new version is the one that I made basically 'from scratch', and as such certain features are missing, and - most notably - keyboard controls don't work, for the most part! It was made with mobiles in mind, so you control the character and menus and things with touch (or mouse clicks, in the browser). However, on the mobile version, you open the menu by tapping with two fingers at once, and the chat popup by tapping with three fingers at once, which obviously can't be done with a mouse, so you still have to use Enter and C to open those, which I know is awkward. I'm planning to add keyboard controls soon; I'll need to if I'm going to distribute this browser version to Flash portals and such.
Other features that are currently unfinished are mostly cosmetic or minor, I think. Here are a few:
- There's no end of episode screen, so it'll probably just crash when you get to that point (everything else works alright though, I think).
- You can't scroll through entries in the encyclopaedia (and the Lore section doesn't exist, but it didn't in the other version either).
- Many character model animations are missing (since the game works without them; I'll add them over the course of testing).
I know there are many other things, but these are the few that come to mind for now.
If you've created an account on this site or intend to, then hello! I hope to build this into a positive community, over time. I know Fig Hunter meant a lot to a lot of people, and I hope that Alora Fane can mean a lot to a lot of people too. I don't know whether the internet even works the same way that it did all those many years ago, what with the prevalence of social media and everything, but we'll see.
As for me, despite the 'inner peace' I discovered at the beginning of the year - and which held me aloft for most of the year - I've been experiencing worrying symptoms of depression recently, and the old stress headaches I used to have constantly in the Fig Hunter days have made an unwelcome return, too.
I imagine this is partly because I know that I'll have to do a lot of unfamiliar things to release this game, and I don't exactly have any close friends to rely on for support or anything. I'm all alone every day, and that takes its toll on the mind. It makes it easier to avoid things, but avoidance only exacerbates anxiety; it's never a solution.
Thoughts creep in like "what if it isn't successful? What if it doesn't make any money? What if people hate it? What if I've wasted my time, and none of this pays off?". Worrying about the future - what ifs and maybes - is pointless, of course; it's not something that's actually happening right now, so what reason is there to be upset by it? What will happen will happen. We'll see. Or so I'm trying to tell myself.
I'm doing an awful job of convincing people to like my product, though, of course! Clearly I'm not a businessman. What I should be saying is "you should buy my game because it's amazing, and you should tell your friends to buy it too!", or whatever, but I suppose I've never been comfortable with that kind of attitude. I'd much rather be honest, as I love reading the honest words of other people; I feel it creates more of a personal connection between writer and reader, rather than an impersonal consumer-producer one.
It's not as if I don't think that MARDEK is worthwhile though. I really, honestly am proud of what I've made, and I look at it and play it and hope that others will see it the same way. I'm uncertain though because I don't really even play many games at all myself these days, so in many ways I don't know what I'm up against, or what the 'climate' is like. What sells. What doesn't. My hope is that MARDEK might be something a bit different, and its appeal could come from that; it may not be a Flappy Bird or Candy Crush clone or whatever, but that's because I didn't make it for the sole purpose of making money. I made it because I had a story to tell, a world to build, a message to communicate; I poured my heart into it, and I hope that allows it to stand out amongst the mechanically-manufactured dreck that Companies produce in order to leech off people!!
That's how you promote your work, right? Yes, surely. I totally know what I'm doing.
Anyway, some big steps are ahead of me, and honestly it feels like I have a mountain to climb. Or, uh, at least a huge flight of stairs. If you look at a huge staircase as a whole, it can seem impossibly intimidating, yes... But if you look at only one step at a time, then that's not intimidating at all. Taking one little step is easy! Effortless, even! And before you know it, you'll be at the top. (I'm saying this to myself, mostly.)
One thing I've been meaning to do for ages is audio or perhaps even video blogs, about my progress and my thoughts, but it feels awkward to talk aloud to myself, and I don't know whether people would even want to hear it. I've said all this before. I'm sure I'll do it eventually. Probably.
I've also set up a Patreon account, as I said before, but apparently I need to fill in some tax form to get money from it at all, and I don't know for sure how to do that, so I'm looking into it (it asks me for my 'tax ID number', and I don't know what that is). I also don't know how to make rewards work. What I wanted to do was to give Patreon patrons a special symbol besides their names on this site, but I don't know how to do that on a technical level. I could create a link to a script on the Patreon page that you see after pledging, which enables the symbol on your account, but then anyone could find or be given that link and get the symbol without paying anything. Or I could do it all manually, but I'm unsure how to manage that.
I also don't know what to give for rewards anyway. Those who donate more than $20 (or $10?) a month could be beta testers, perhaps, and maybe $1 a month allows you to access browser versions of MARDEK on this site, and $5 a month gives you, uh...? I'm not sure. If you have ideas, I'd be interested to hear them! Oh, I'd like to include some kind of Credits page in the game, though, which would list patrons, but I don't know whether to list everyone who contributes even $1, or only those who contribute a certain amount.
I'd link to the Patreon account NOW, but I don't feel comfortable getting money from it if it's not all sorted out properly first. I don't want people to give something without getting something fair in return.
I've probably said this several times already, but here's what I'm planning to do about releasing MARDEK:
- I'll release the first two episodes (bundled together in one game) for free to Flash portals and stuff, just to announce to the world that this is something that exists. I don't know how well that'll go, though; I get the impression that Flash portals have dried up a lot since the Good Old Days, so I don't know whether it'll even be seen there. I suppose I should contact some people about what to do, but I'm not sure who
to contact. I'm out of touch, as I've said before.
- I'll also release the mobile version to the Android and Apple app stores; again, the first two episodes will be free.
- Then I'll FINALLY start working on Episode 3, at long last!
- Once that's done, I'll release it as an update to the mobile version, meaning that it'll appear on the Episodes List menu, and can be unlocked for a small fee; probably $0.99 or something. I personally think that that's a tiny amount for what it is, considering that people freely buy Candy Crush lives for the same amount, which I think have far, far less 'value' (a MARDEK episode will probably linger in your mind for a long time afterwards, and can encourage all kinds of speculation and discussion about what might happen next, what's going on in the characters' minds, how you played through it, etc, while a Candy Crush life is spent then gone and your life hasn't changed at all, even if you complete the level).
- I may also upload a browser version of the episode to this site, but only patrons would be able to access it. OR, if it's possible, I'll make it so that if you buy the episode once, you're able to access it in the browser or on mobile devices. Since I don't exactly play games myself, I don't know what the common practice might be with cross-platform games. Whether buying something in one gives it to you one all platforms. I suppose I should have done more research about all of this, but... eh.
And... that's it, I think? I don't think I'll release future episodes to sites other than this one, UNLESS I need to attract more attention to my work. I suppose I'll have to fumble blindly forwards and just see what happens, while hoping that I don't make some terrible mistake along the way!!!
Now. With that said, I hope that you can get something positive out of my work, either MARDEK or this site! It'll be a few more days at least before MARDEK is actually released (it needs testing again first), but I'll try to do that as quickly as I can.
I'll read and try to reply to any comments here!