Weekly Dev Journal 13: What a week!

This has been a really exciting week for us!
On Monday, we released our “Alpha Demo” for Race The Sun on Kongregate.com, and then on Tuesday, we opened up our store for preorders.

Through the help of our friends, followers, and Kongregate users browsing for new games, Race The Sun started out with a rating of about 3.6 out of 5 – not bad for a game in an alpha stage. This rating seems to have helped give us a little bit more visibility on the site that it doesn’t have without a rating, because sometime on Wednesday morning, our active concurrent users jumped to around 25-30.

Then on Thursday, something big happened: Kongregate featured the game in their “Hot New Games” section on their front page, which sent our active concurrent users into the 200-250 range. As of the time of writing, we’ve had almost 70,000 visits to the game. This is exactly what we were hoping for!

We’ve had a nearly continuous stream of feedback from these users – and what’s more, the game’s rating has been creeping up steadily. At the time of writing, we’re at a 3.85 rating.
We’ve also gained about 150 newsletter subscribers, and sold a few pre-orders too.

It’s a really great feeling to get comments like these:

“ahhh … the wooshing sound of obstacles next to you, the awesome feeling of going super-fast and still dodging everything, the awesome moment of crashing head-on … this game is amazing” 

“So simple, so beautiful, so very entertaining. You’ve helped lower my workplace productivity by at least 5% this week!”

“instant classic.”

“I’ve played a lot of games, but this one just gave me the chills! Awesome game, really awesome, good job, guys!”

“It has the same mad rythm and feeling of doom as Canabalt. I don’t know why I’m rushing towards the sun, but it sure as hell feels good. Great work there.”


This gives us a lot of reassurance that yes, this game can find an audience! And it’s great to feel like we’re past that awkward middle stage of development too.

It’s also been awesome to be able to respond directly to player’s comments for all to see – and to see this communication be appreciated in turn by the players. This is a level of interaction that simply wasn’t possible on iOS with Monkey Drum. Huge kudos to Kongregate – they have a developer/gaming ecosystem that really rocks.

So far through this great feedback, we’ve learned that a few things are really important to people, and we’ll be looking into the following changes and additions:

1. Volume/mute controls! About every 5th comment is from someone telling us how important this is. It hadn’t occurred to us before!
2. The “Tris” need to be more visible (this is something we’d heard occasionally before.)
3. We need to do a better job of explaining the upgrades and controls. A lot of people are missing the fact that Escape pauses the game, and how the objectives and player abilities work.

In addition to these things – I’m working on re-writing the logic for spawning buildings. The current system simply scatters buildings randomly, increasing them in density with each stage. The new system will use pre-determined building patterns (which we will design mostly by hand) rather than purely randomized placement. These patterns will then be selected from randomly and “stamped” into the world as you progress, becoming gradually more complex and dense.  This should make for some much more varied and interesting gameplay – hopefully addressing the occasional complaint that it’s not really necessary to do much to reach the sunset.

Depending on how things go, we may integrate the tools for designing these patterns into the game, so users can design their own challenges.

This is really just the start for Race The Sun. As exciting as all of this is, we’ve got a long way to go before we’re bringing in revenue to support us. The front-page feature will end, and the stream of new users will slow down. But having this level of feedback and early fans is a monumental step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading along through our development!

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