Redlight – Greenlight: Our experience with Blowhards

The famous Steam channel “Greenlight” is about to perish according to Valve at least. There was a lot (!) of games pushing through when the announcement was made. We got greenlit with our game Blowhards couple of months before this and I can’t imagine what problems a small indie developer had the latest weeks trying to get through the dying platform.

Our Greenlight was a catastrophe in a lot of ways. In others, it was a true eye opener for us as a team. In hindsight you can always wonder for yourself “What on earth were we thinking?!”. But when you’re blind to your own project, this always comes as a big shock.

What on earth were we thinking?! Pushing for our greenlight with what seemed like half a game, temporary assets which looked like shit and no clue what greenlight really meant as a developer. The ”looking like shit” part is not my personal opinion though, I’m exaggerating for some dramatic effect.

The voters of greenlight want a full fledged, perfect, good looking, awesome experience while browsing the greenlight submission games. Or they want a “Pooping simulator”. Who knows? All we know is that:

  • Our shader looked out of place and very plain (because we had the default one)
  • Our platforms didn’t match the background or the characters.
  • The particle effects were boring
  • Too few characters

During Greenlight:

Blowhards without shader for Greenlight
Blowhards before and during Greenlight

After Greenlight:

Blowhards with shader after Greenlight, much prettier!
Blowhards after the Greenlight

And this was 1 year in the making of Blowhards.

This was the first anyone had said a word about our mediocre graphics and mismatched themes. Why didn’t anyone say anything before? And why the hell didn’t we see it? We had done testing and shown a lot of images of the game before this point.

I would like to think that we were blind for our own project because we had iterated on our first early alpha and it looked infinitely better than what had been. But apparently it wasn’t enough to convince the real crowd. We put our minds together and went full dev until we had the full fledged and awesome product we are so proud of today. And this is so important, to actually gather feedback and support from the players and testers. We just found this out a little too late, so our greenlight process took us a couple of weeks and a buttload of messages to friends and people for support. When everything was at its lowest we thought about rebooting our greenlight with the updated… well, everything. But a late weekday evening we got that mail from above telling us we pushed through it.

Greenlight stats for Blowhards

With 255 “yes” votes and (sadly enough) 374 “no” votes someone on Steam thought we should be given a chance at a release on said platform. I think this must be an all time low for a greenlight submission, but I have no sources for this statement. We were really happy this happened pretty soon though and not after several years as some games been on greenlight.

When we talk about our greenlight submission we now have a deeper understanding of it. You don’t just post a tech demo of how your game works, you have to post a beautiful, inspirational and original proof of concept. Or you post a game as a joke and somehow get greenlit despite people yelling about what the industry has become. But all jokes aside, we will be better with actually testing our future games towards users who are not friends or classmates or who has an affiliation with us as individuals at all. You need those people’s feedback too, but not only theirs.

And it’s not about doing a masterpiece, even if that helps, it’s mostly about what the market wants and needs. But it’s important to be sure and stay true to your project, even if these things happen. It is really easy to get carried away both in a good and bad way. Even if we did the marketing images, the description, the responding to comments and the everlasting refreshing of our stats page right, we never truly tested our product towards the actual market. We thought we had, but apparently we hadn’t. We learn and we live, and we will do better next time!

Another important thought we will carry with us towards greener hills and future projects is a simple one:

Stay positive
/Chris

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