So... I Made a Game Called Shoot-a Story (Part 2: Unexpected Developments)

Quick set-up: In June of last year, a started making a game called 'Shoot-a Story', which is, to put it simply, a Space Invaders-esque game where you shoot at classic literature. Oh, and everything in made out of text. And you can destroy the menus. Last September, I wrote about how development had gone up until this point, expecting development of the game to be over. Now, seven months on, I talk about how development very much didn't end and where the game has ended up going in the time since.

Further updates to the game are unlikely...

Well, yeah... about that. Seven months ago, I fully expected Shoot-a Story to be a thing that happened and then nothing else to ever come from it. Maybe a few downloads on Android here and a couple plays on GameJolt there, but not much else. The game worked and was, as far as I was concerned at the time, 'done'. As it turns out, I was quite wrong about that.

In October, I brought out a Halloween update for the game, bringing in five new horror themed passages and three new 'scary' fonts (Comic Sans not included, even though it is of course the scariest of all font styles). The game also released on Windows Phone at the same time, and, to my shock and delight, got a positive review from Windows Central, resulting in total mobile downloads (on all platforms) jumping from around 100 to around 2,000 and making Windows Phone the most popular platform for the game by far. To say I was pleased to get a positive review would be an understatement! Equally pleasing, I also found out recently that the Windows Phone version was positively covered by Iranian website Digiato alongside Five Night's at Freddy 2 and Kingdom Rush Origins, which is a fact that will never become not surreal.

Another update arrived around Christmas, bringing five further levels themed for the holidays and a change to Christmas-themed music. This update also led to another new platform for the game, Windows 8. While the download numbers aren't exactly high for Windows 8, they are slowly catching up to Android and I'm fairly pleased with how they're doing.

So, onto today, where the third big update for the game is set to arrive tonight. This update brings in another six fonts to play in, improved menus and the 'Word Search Challenge' mode, which tasks players with finding and destroying 60 words from within the passages in the game. As per tradition, this update also brings the game to another new platform - Desura.

For those who don't know, Desura is a PC marketplace very much like Steam. Unlike Steam however Desura is still curated, so getting a game approved to appear on Desura is an impressive feat. The game launches at 11:00 PM BST tonight (just under five hours away at the time of publishing) and is as always free to download, so if you fancy playing the updated version of Shoot-a Story on PC you might want to pop over to its Desura page. The update will also be making its way to all other platforms over the next few days.

So, the new list of platforms Shoot-a Story is on is as follows:

Last time I wrote about the game, I expected development to be over. This time round... well, I expect development to be over again. Well, OK, only for a little while. There's still plenty more I want to add, so while no new features might make their way in May, maybe stay tuned in June?

As a final note, it would be amiss of me not to mention I now have a website! If you want to find links to play Shoot-a Story, Cyber Drop and a couple of things quickly created in game jams, with more set to be added fairly soon, you'll want to go over to

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So... I Made a Game Called Shoot-a Story

Quick set-up: In June, a started making a game called 'Shoot-a Story', which is, to put it simply, a Space Invaders-esque game where you shoot at classic literature. Oh, and everything in made out of text. And you can destroy the menus. I started out doing short update blogs, which can be found on Tumblr, but very quickly I stopped doing the posts and instead just kept working on the game. This post is pretty much a sum up of everything I did since the last post.

So… Shoot-a Story. That was a thing. In fact, it still is a thing. A finished, playable, out-now on multiple platforms thing.

In my last update, over two months ago (!!!), the game had one level, one font, basic menus and no game over screen. Now, the completed version has:

  • Controller support
  • Five different levels from classic literature
  • Three different fonts to play the game in
  • A custom level mode (GameJolt only)
  • Kevin MacLeod Music
  • Leaderboards (GameJolt only)

I haven’t worked on the game non-stop over the last two months, but I'm happy with where the game has ended up. It’s playable, unique, bug-free and, most importantly, fun to play.

If you want to play, it can be found and played for free in the following places:

So, what now for Shoot-a Story? Well, not much, really. I've made Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and PlayStation Mobile versions, to see if the game still worked on those platforms. They do, but alas I'm unlikely to release the game on those platforms any time soon.

Further updates to the game are unlikely, but I’ll fix any bugs if they arise and add new levels if enough people request them. Part of me would love to create a version that worked with chat from a Twitch channel, but I don’t think I'm going to get the time for that any time soon. I'm also willing to create custom versions of the game for people if they ask (Giant Bomb Classic Quote Edition, maybe?), as in theory that wouldn't take that long to set up.

Thanks to everyone who’s played the game over the past couple months, and thanks for all the feedback I've gotten over the time. One day, likely in a few months from now, I’ll likely doing some sort of post-mortem, so people can find out what the numbers are really like for a free game that’s had no advertising outside of the odd tweet. For now, if you’ll excuse me, I've got some Hamlet monologues to go shoot at…


What the hell is Steam Greenlight?

This is an idiot's guide to Steam Greenlight, to hopefully answer some of the commonly asked questions about the service and maybe present it to people who may have not heard of it previously.

What the hell is Steam Greenlight?

Put simply, it's a service for people to try and get games onto Steam. Users of Steam then vote for games they like, and if the game gets enough votes it might get onto Steam.

Finally! I'm off to submit Half Life 3 and Minecraft to finally get them on Steam!

No. You can only submit games you own the rights to onto Steam Greenlight. So no trying to submit Modern Warfare 4 or Red Dead Redemption.

Will 'big' games have to go through Greenlight?

No. Greenlight is pretty much only for 'smaller' indie developers to try and get onto Steam. Bigger developers still go direct to Valve.

Do I get to play the games on the service for free?

No. You can't play any of the games on Greenlight through Steam, only vote for them. You can of course play the games if they are on other services such as iOS, Android, Desura, Indie City or XBLIG.

I've made a game. Can I submit it to Greenlight?

Of course. It'll cost you $100 though.

$100?! That's a rip-off!

The $100 fee is to keep out fake submissions from people who didn't know the answer to the second point, with all of the money going to Child's Play, so Valve don't actually make any money from it.

The $100 fee is also a one-off fee per developer, not per game. So once you've paid your $100, you're welcome to submit as much as you like.

Of course, there's a bit of a debate about this fee, but that's a post for another day...

But $100 sounds like a lot! Is that more than other services?

Compared to other major PC services, that's about, oh, $100 more. Both Desura and Indie City allow you to put your game on their service for free, but of course take a cut of every sale.

Comparing with other platforms though, a one-off $100 fee is quite cheap, with both iOS and XBLIG being $100 a year to publish on those platforms. Android is a little better though, with only a one-off $25 fee to get onto Google Play.

OK, fine, I've paid the $100. How many votes do I need to get onto Steam?

Nobody knows. Even Valve are still working on what the number of votes needed will be.

Do the downvotes counter the upvotes?

Nope. Downvotes simply hide the game from the person who downvoted it.

Once I get the amount of votes needed am I certain to get onto Steam?

Even then it isn't certain. Valve still reserve the right to still reject games from getting onto Steam even if they reach the number of votes needed.

Have I missed a point or got something completely wrong? Feel free to post it in the comments!


Indie Bundle Backlog Battles #4 - And Yet It Moves

Developer: Broken Rules


From: Humble Bundle 3

Platform: Wii, PC (Steam, Desura)

Price: £6.99 (Desura)

It's been a while, but at last the battling of backlogs moves on.

And Yet It Moves was released on PC in the April of 2009, and on the Wii in the August of 2010. In the summer of 2011, it was included in the 3rd Humble Bundle, the first bundle that I bought. Now, almost a year later, having playing through two of the game's three chapters, I'm here to review it.

In the game, you play a nameless paper cut-out, which travels through the levels by running, jumping and rotating the game world. By rotating the world, you can get to places previously inaccessible, and can complete puzzles that block progress. Momentum plays a big part in the game, as it you move too fast, you'll be killed on landing.

The game has a very unique graphical style to it, as the game world looks like something from a paper college, including all of the platforms and objects you come across, such as grass, tress and, at one point, a gorilla. This allows the game to play about with objects appearing in the foreground, giving the player the feel that they part of this environment.

The soundtrack is sparse, with the in-game sound often just being the sound of the college jungle surrounding the player. This gives the game a slight relaxing element to it, a minor juxtaposition to the sometimes mildly-frustrating levels.

The game regularly adds new elements between each level, be them puzzles such as giving a banana to a monkey, a springy branch or moving platforms. This means that, although the gameplay of rotating the world doesn't evolve, the game manages to keep fresh throughout.

The game itself appears to be about 4 hours long, with replay value to be found within extra modes such as one that limits the number of rotations you are allowed as well as the in-game achievements, which also link up with Steam.

My 3 hours of playtime with it were a pleasure, with the sense of achievement often great when a mildly-difficult puzzle had been defeated. In the end, I have to say that And Yet It Moves was an enjoyable puzzle-platformer that I can easily recommend to other fans of the genre.

Who is this game for? Fans of platforms, puzzles. rotating worlds, surfing branches, paper men, killer bees and horrible deaths.

Is it worth the price? If you're a fan of puzzle-platformers, then yes, by a long way.


Indie Bundle Backlog Battle #3 - Alien Zombie Megadeath

Developer: PomPom Games


From: The April Fools Bundle, Indie Royale (as of writing, it's still going!)

Platform: PS3, PC (Steam)

Price: £3.99 (Steam)

This may be from the April Fools Bundle, but believe me when I tell you that this game ACTUALLY exists. There are aliens. They are zombies. There is death. It is mega.

The game has a very unique style to it, with there being a sense of depth whilst at the same time not making the game feel 2.5D. 2.25D maybe? Meanwhile, there are a range of alien zombies (zombiens?) to be found within, with each very different to the last. The design of the characters also manage to give the game a slight retro feel, even though everything else in the game feels extremely modern. The soundtrack, meanwhile, does a good job in fitting with the gameplay, with it's slightly techno-vibe sticking throughout.

The game itself is a blend of a platformer and a shmup, where you have to jump and drop between different levels, all the while shooting the zombiens that are coming your way. Most of the gameplay involves you taking down various waves of the zombiens, with the aim always being to score as many points as possible and unlock medals, and thus unlock more levels. Dotted throughout, however, are other types of levels including 'Bomb Drop', 'Space Babies' and 'Boss Battles', which mix up the game in it's 70 levels enough to keep it interesting.

The game also includes some features that were much-needed, such as online leaderboards, which I'm in the overall top 500, which either means I'm amazing or not many people own this game. These leaderboards add much replay value to the game, as do the medals, which there are 4 of in every level, and the survival levels, the closest this game gets to the standard 'horde' mode. The game also features local multiplayer (which I sadly didn't play), Steam achievements and XBox controller support, which makes me wonder why the game was never released on XBLA as well as PSN, as it would have fit in well on the platform.

Sadly, here isn't much more that can be said about AZMD. In my 2 hours of playtime, I found that gameplay doesn't really evolve past 'shoot stuff' and every so often 'carry this... and shoot stuff!'. However, the game still managed to remain enjoyable even with this lack of depth, and I can easily still myself going back. I will get past level 25... one day!

Who is this game for? Fans of platformers, shooters, aliens, zombies and space babies.

Is it worth the price? Hells ya!


Molydeuxlette #1

Last weekend, an event took place called 'What Would Molydeux?', a gamejam where people around the world attempted to create games based on the tweets of one Peter Molydeux, a satire of Peter Molyneux in 72 hours.

I've deiceded to see what the end products are like. As such, I've had pick random numbers, and these were the 3 I got. So welcome to What Would Molydeux roulette, or 'Molydeuxlette'.

69. Mystical Bunny

Tweet it's based on: "You control a mystical rabbit at a bus stop during Winter. You must find as many creative ways as possible to make people miss their buses."

Not much to say here, as the game isn't actually finished. You can't interact with the person at the bus stop, making her miss her bus. Instead, you must move left, where you can interact with the outside of an hotel.

205. Big-Business Morale Pigeon

Tweet it's based on: "You are a Pigeon who must go around the city trying to persuade business men not to jump off buildings by retrieving items from their home."

Well, it does exactly what it says above. You play as a pigeon, who jumps from building to building to retrieve items so people don't jump to their death. Quite fun, in a weird way, and also had an alright soundtrack.

22. The Spandex Parable

Tweet it's based on: "You know, what if the aim of the game was to resist actually completing it? That kept me up all night yesterday. "

The best of the 3 I've played today, thanks to it turning out to be both a decent platformer and a game with great voice acting. Without the voice, this game wouldn't be anywhere near as good.


Indie Bundle Backlog Battles #2 - A Kingdom for Keflings

Developer: NinjaBee


From: The NInja Lightening Pack, Indie Royale

Platform: XBox 360, PC (Desura, Gamersgate)

Price: £13.99 (Desura), 800MSP (XBox)

A Kingdom for Keflings was originally released on the XBox 360 in 2008, with the PC release coming 2 years later minus XBox pad support, which is a little strange, to say the least. The aim of the game is for you, the local friendly giant, to get... well, FORCE the little people, the 'Keflings', to mine and build stuff in order to improve their city. Why? Beats me.

The graphics serve their purpose perfectly in this game, with there being great ease to tell the difference between different buildings and between a miner and a lumberjack, for example. The changing seasons the game features is also a nice touch, mixing up the look and feel of the game at regular intervals. This is also aided greatly by the soundtrack, changing with the seasons and fitting in with it's surroundings.

The gameplay, however, I found to be a little... how do I put this nicely... dull. I can understand why people would enjoy it, and normally I'm a great fan of world creation games, but this one bored the tits off of me. Creating buildings is surprisingly easy, with it being achieved by building different sections and then combining sections to create the building.

On the other hand, movement around the world and management of Keflings and resources are a complete pain in the arse. In this PC version, movement is mostly through clicking, although you can also control yourself with keyboard controls, but this is never told to you ANYWHERE in the game. Hell, I only discovered this in the last 5 minutes... So, top tip: use the keyboard controls to move. Don't make the same mistake I did!

Management of Keflings meanwhile, quite possibly the most important element of the game, is painfully slow. While giving them their first job is normally an ease, having to click on them (which is quite difficult to do if they're moving, it turns out), remove their previous role and take them to their new role just takes too long, even longer if you then need to tell them to start taking resources to a certain place. A sub-menu where you could control each Kefling's role may have removed a little of the game's cuteness but would have made it MILES faster to play.

In the end, according to the game, I only played an hour and a half of the game, but it sure as hell felt like it was longer. As I said, I can see why people would enjoy this and it's sequel, A World of Keflings, but sadly for some reason it just never clicked with me.

Who is this game for? Fans of city creation games, building stuff, controlling people and being a giant.

Is it worth the price? For it's current price on PC, sadly I'd say no. For it's current price on the XBox 360, if you like this kind of game... maybe. For the price I paid for it (£1), I can't moan. Well, I CAN, but not about the price.


Indie Bundle Backlog Battles #1 - 3079

Firstly, a quick introduction to this new feature from me. Ever since my first PC indie bundle, the 3rd Humble Bundle, I have bought pretty much every major Humble Bundle and Indie Royale bundle, as well as one Indie Gala bundle. How much of them have I played? Well... not a lot, if I'm honest.

And thus the 'Indie Bundle Backlog Battle' was born. I am going to go through every single bundle game I have, play them and review them. Although you won't be able to buy them in the same bundle I have, I'll still be able to recommend the diamonds in the indie rough. If you aren't into indie games or PC games, then this won't be the blog you are looking for. But if you are, please follow me into the first review...

Developer: Phr00t


From: The Alpha Bundle, Indie Royale

Platform: Desura, GamersGate (Steam possibly in the future)

Price: $8.99

Welcome to 3079, quite possibly one of the weirdest and yet most enjoyable games I have ever played on the PC. As the developer puts it, it's a mix between Minecraft and Fallout, and as someone who hasn't played either of those, I'll take his word for it. A huge sandbox game with giants, swords, rocket launchers and voxel graphics? I'll take an order of that, please.

Speaking of those voxel graphics, MAN this game looks good. The stand on a mountain and look at the view kind of good. The lighting adds greatly to this effect, with day/night cycles often and game changing. In the light you feel that you could take on anyone. At night, however, running often feels like the better option. The soundtrack also often an air of drama to the whole proceedings, with the music often striking up with danger is about.

And believe me, if my 4 hours with the game are anything to go by, drama will be about and death will be regular. Once you've crash-landed on the planet (it's actually a better idea to turn off your jetpack off and fall, otherwise you'll lose all your starting equipment... guess who didn't know this at the time?), your first quest will be to find someone. Once you've found them, your adventure begins! At least, that's what should happen...

Instead I showed why I don't play RPGs and punched the quest giver in the back of the head, which royally pissed him off. Damn that part of my brain that always wonders what happens if I do something twatty in a game. Now, instead of getting regular quests from people, I was having to fight off these people. And giants. WITH MY FISTS.

4 hours later, and multiple giant deaths later, and I still haven't gotten any quests. Erm... oops. However, I have managed to kill some giants underwater, get blown up the one time I found someone who'd talk to me, defeat 3 giants in an epic siege and actually get some weapons. So, what's not to like?

Really, in my 4 hours I haven't even scratched the surface, plus I've likely played the game completely wrong. So, will I go back to the game? Well, seeing as I've not even touched the quests or seen the multiplayer yet, I think the answer to that is a big fat yes.

Who is this game for? Fans of Minecraft, RPGs, mayhem and punching giants who have rocket launchers.

Is it worth the price? Hard to tell, but at the moment I'm leaning towards yes.


Indie Games' Forgotten Step-child

Over the past few years the rise of games released by independent developers has been clear to see on the PC and mobile platforms, thanks to the likes of Steam and the iOS platform. However, in the background, there is the forgotten step-child of indie games; welcome to XBox Live Indie Games, coming to a 360 near you now! Unless you live in Ireland. Or Australia. Or most of the world, pretty much.

When the platform was released to the public in November 2008 under the title of ‘community games’, everyone had such high hopes for this platform where every Tom, Dick and Harry could, in theory, release a game of their own for people to play. Then they found out that the lowest price point was 200MSP ($2.50/£1.67), that the game’s trials only lasted 4 minutes and, most importantly, that the games didn’t have achievements, annoying achievement junkies worldwide. Nowadays of course you can get them for the low, low point of 80 virtual spacebucks ($1/£0.66) while trials now last 8 minutes (a luxury I tell you!). As for achievements, well... Let me put it this way, those junkies are still annoyed.

Over the years, Microsoft hasn’t exactly helped bring attention to the indie games. When the new dashboard was released in 2010, indie games were moved to the “Specialty Shops”, along with the amazing success that was Game Room (1000 retro games in 3 years? Yeah, right...), developers rightfully complained and Microsoft eventually put it back with the other games. However, only a year later indie games were again moved, this time behind multiple menus and a vague tile called ‘Game Type’. This time, indie games weren’t the only victim, with XBLA and Games of Demand also moved there. Great job all-round there, Microsoft.

It can hardly be said that some of the service’s content promotes it in an amazing light, though. I mean, if I asked you what came to mind when I mentioned XBox Indie Games, I bet there were 5 things; zombies, twin-stick shooters, avatars, massages and Minecraft clones. Hell, if someone releases a twin-stick shooter where you kill zombies in a Minecraft world while playing as your avatar, the whole time the game giving you an amazing back massage, it would most likely make the gaming industry implode from the shock. So, developers, please don’t.

That’s not to say that the service doesn’t have some amazing games hidden within. Off the top of my head I can name ‘Cthulhu Saves The World’ and ‘Breath of Death VII’ by Zeboyd Games, ‘Wizorb’ by Tribute Games, ‘Dead Pixels’ by CSR Studios, ‘Volchaos’ by Fun Infused Games, ‘Growing Pains’ by Smudged Cat Games and pretty much anything anything by Radian Games. Some other developers even started on the service, such as Halfbrick Studios, the Australian developer of ‘Fruit Ninja’ and ‘Jetpack Joyride’, who actually released their first game, ‘Echoes’, as a XBox Indie game as well as a PSP Mini.

However, most developers who hit it vaguely big as a XBox indie soon find that they can hit it even bigger on the PC and iOS platforms. Zeboyd Games released their two games on Steam and beat their XBox revenue within the first week and are now making the long-awaited 3rd part of the Penny Arcade series; Fun Infused Games top-selling game is actually an iOS port of another of their games, ‘Hypership Out Of Control’; Radian Games’ ported their most popular game, Crossfire, onto iOS and, more recently, PC and had bundled it exclusively bundled in the Indie Royale New Year Bundle, which sold over 30,000 copies.

It’s easy to see why these games sold so much better on other platforms. On the PC, Steam tends to promote any and every game upon release, be them huge like Skyrim or little indies like the Zeboyd games, giving them a whole new host of eyes to peek upon their games. Even the Radian game ‘Super Crossfire’, which currently isn’t even on Steam had the support of the Indie Royale bundles to promote it. As for the mobile platforms, iOS also does a great job in promoting great indie games, separating the wheat from the chaff, an issue XBox indies have yet to get around. Even if games aren’t heavily promoted by Apple, the availability of the App Store worldwide is sure to lead to some kind of increased sales, such was the case for Fun Infused.

This isn’t to say that all indie games on the XBox sell badly. ‘Fortresscraft: Chapter 1’, a Minecraft clone, became the first game on the service to gross over a million dollars, even after removing the 30% cut for Microsoft, for its developer last year. Digital DNA Studios also recently grossed over a million dollars thanks to their Minecraft-inspired creations, ‘Castleminer’ and ‘Castleminer Z’.

In the end, it’s safe to say that I haven’t really shown XBox indie games in the brightest of lights here, instead showering praise on the other superior services available. However, I’m not saying that XBox indies should go away, and, if anything, I’m trying to say the exact opposite. It is one of the easiest ways to develop and self-publish a game on the Internet, with possibly the most exposure of any service of that kind. Also, without XBox indies, would any of the developers I’ve mentioned above who have since moved on to greener pastures be well enough known to be allowed on a more elite service like Steam? Most likely not.

What I’m trying to say is this: Yes, the indie game service found on the XBox isn’t exactly the best you’ll find out there, and Microsoft should really do more to promote it. And yes, developers who publish their games on there shouldn’t be expecting to be the rare case that makes tons of money, but should rather be doing it as a stepping stone to one of the bigger, better services out there. Gamers shouldn’t look down on the service either, just because it doesn’t have achievements. Rather, they should be checking out the service every so often, and giving a couple of games at least a demo while taking a massive detour from the massage games and other such shovelware. I mean, if you don’t like it, you may have just wasted 8 minutes. However, if you do like it, it’s only some virtual spacebucks to keep playing, right?