Post Mortem: Commander Wallis and the Tentacled Menace

So last week we finished and released our first game, Commander Wallis and the Tentacled Menace, on itch.io. Here’s how we did:

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We knew this was going to be hard, and the stats confirm that we’ll have to fight for every single user. In a crowded (market-)place, it’s hard to get noticed. On the other hand, it’s kind of great that 28 people downloaded and played our game! We feel we accomplished our goals with this release: learning the technical, design, and managerial lessons we needed.

What Went Well

The process of making a game in one month worked out pretty well. The overall strategy aspects, the story, the graphics, those turned out nicely. Technology-wise, we chose NW.JS for our platform, no game engine or framework, just a thin wrapper around WebGL – performed well for our purposes and was fun to program with. Doing lower level development without a game engine gives you certain freedoms and even speeds up development in places, but on the flip side it comes with a reduced feature set (especially since we only have a month to finish the game). In the case of Commander Wallis, this trade-off was perfectly okay.

What Could Have Been Better

The game has some pacing and UI issues which could make it less suitable for some players. I’m not sure we would have actually needed to make 10 levels, considering that most players will probably only play to the 3rd level, tops. Getting people interested in the game was very hard, and we could have made it easier by providing a press kit and some gameplay video. We also should have launched the website and the Twitter account first, to build up a (small) audience instead of just putting it online on release day without context.

These are all actionable lessons we need to keep in mind!

Release: Commander Wallis and the Tentacled Menace

We’re making one game every month in 2016, and we’re publishing every one of these games, as we hopefully get better at this over time!

Our first game is out now: Commander Wallis and the Tentacled Menace

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It’s a turn-based retro strategy game, available for free on itch.io, for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

In this game, you take on the role of Commander Wallis, a medieval watchman who must protect the shrines of the Holy Spheres from a sudden onslaught of tentacled beings of unknown origin. It is your job to prepare the defenses, place troops, and then coordinate the battles.

We focused a lot on strategy aspects and issues of balance. As you progress through the levels, you get access to more types of units and defensive measures, and we wanted to make sure every unit and item in the game has a unique purpose.