Steel Penny Games Update - Part 2
Posted by Corbie Dillard
Jason Hughes explains what he really meant to say in his last blog entry.
You might remember that we reported on the rant Jason Hughes of WiiWare developer Steel Penny Games went on during his recent blog post. Well Jason just posted a new entry in an attempt to set the record straight as to exactly what he was trying to get across in his last blog post. It seems his rant wasn't a rant after all.
Hooboy... looks like some folks picked up on the last post and got the wrong idea. I want to first be clear to anyone who didn't realize I was taking a poke at ourselves as much as anyone else when expressing disappointment about B&S's performance. We made the game, and in a sense it was an experiment (I'll explain below), but there's nobody to blame for the final product except us. We built something from nothing and shipped it. Whether it was a blockbuster or not, I'm very proud of completing what I started. That's huge.
Anyone who kills themselves for a year or so on a project, of course, will want it to do well and is emotionally invested in the outcome, even if they're just an employee of a big company. To people who buy games, it's just another title on a list, but to the developer it's a piece of your life you will never get back. It's tough to explain to someone who isn't in the industry and hasn't had to make hard choices about how many years they have to invest in each endeavor, because so many games will stretch on for 3... 5... 9 years? And in the end, you hope it wasn't wasted. As a principal of a tiny studio, it's an even bigger part of your life because there's the ever-present guilt of seeing your family (and your partner's family) suffer to chase the dream.
And truth be told, if had the runway left to really polish the game (it's very expensive to fund a game--don't try this at home kids!), it would have been prettier and had a better UI and more gameplay modes and better rendering tech. But it is what it is. Nintendo allows re-releases of titles and if there was any spare time to put into it, I'd be tinkering with the game. Maybe someday... For the time being, we have to pay off our debts and keep clothes on the kids and the wives from leaving us.
As for the grand experiement gone awry, we drank the kool-aid. We were one of the early indie development houses to sign on with Nintendo to do WiiWare, and at the time, nobody knew what kind of crowd would surface to buy games there. It was very exciting, and to know there were 20 million or so Wii units in the world at that time meant that the market had incredible potential. So, we went forward with a design that I thought would appeal to the typical Wii user. In hindsight, to my horror, this was all wrong. The typical Wii user doesn't have any idea that the Wii can connect to the internet. The crowd that gravitates toward WiiWare is actually fairly hardcore, and a very small segment overall. In essence, we're trying to sell lemonaide in a biker bar. Heh.
In a way, I'm thankful we had the turbulence now while the stakes are still small (in absolute terms) and we can recover from it, learn what mistakes we made, and move forward from the experience a richer development house. There's two things that are important in games: shipping and sales. We got one thing right, and that's something. Now to work on the other.
We'll have more information on any future Steel Penny developments as it becomes available and hopefully it won't be too long before we hear about their next WiiWare project.